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Welcome to Bedside Manor 9

Updated: Oct 12, 2020

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This time, when we came to around the dinner table, the screams were almost entirely subdued. I went from getting my head crushed beneath Koda’s mammoth paw to sitting next to Jerry in a confusing instant, but in the moment before I died, I started making plans.

Bridget and Tobias leapt to their feet and embraced. “My darling,” she screamed with crocodile tears, “I thought you were dead!”

I also jumped up. Except I went onto the table. Before I could dive across, Wolfgang already had his knife out. I screamed for Hope to move, to get out of the way, but she just sat there, resigned to her fate. Wolfgang stabbed her in the throat, and I speared into him.

His chair rolled backwards, we crashed to the floor, and somewhere along the way he shoved his bony knee into my face and ran out the door. The little bastard was quick. And he was getting better. Hope died almost instantly this time.

“Fuck!” I screamed, getting to my feet. “He’s just gonna keep doing that every single time!”

Tobias looked around and asked, “What happened?”

I answered, still in screaming mode, “A fucking polar bear ate us because we couldn’t find the stupid attic key! This game is bullshit!”

I heard a growling noise and shut right up. It was coming from nearby… No, worse, it was coming from inside me! The seriousness of the situation slowly dawned on me in a jumbled mess of thoughts.

That was my stomach growling, which makes sense. I haven’t eaten in days. But that means our hunger level--like our memory--doesn’t reset after each iteration. Which means, we’re probably all starving right now at different rates, depending on who stayed alive the longest. But then what happens when the hunger gets too strong? What happens when we don’t have the strength to continue? Do we just start dying and restarting and starving over and over forever?

A loud chime interrupted my thoughts.

“Ah, goodie! It seems that the detective has finally arrived. Perhaps he can help us sort out this ghastly affair.”

Everybody screamed some version of “shut the fuck up” at Nathaniel. Not surprisingly, he didn’t seem too bothered by it.

We charged into the great hall, but before we could start barricading the door again, the detective let himself in and began screaming at us, “Everybody listen! Stop screwing around and solve the damned mystery!”

“MAKE US!” Jerry yelled before walking up and spitting into the detective’s face.

“You consistently underestimate the seriousness of this situation and overestimate your own competence. I will not continue to spoon feed you help. If you fail, you shall have no one but yourselves to blame. And I promise, I will let you fail. In the meantime, if you have any questions, Mr. Cholmondeley is at your disposal.”

Much to our surprise, he then turned around, opened the door, and left, slamming the door shut behind him hard enough to make the chandeliers rock.

Jerry turned back to look at us with a triumphant win-face and said, “Ha! That’s one problem solved. What’s next?”

Nathaniel tapped his way into the room, saying, “I believe now would be an excellent time for us all to come together and work as a team if we are to solve the mystery of Bedside Manor.”

“Oh shut the fuck up!” spat Loren. “You’re not even real.” She picked up the poker by the fireplace and proceeded to thwack him over the head repeatedly, with enough force to decapitate any normal human. Nathaniel just stood there and took it with a smile.

“Feel better?” Jerry asked.

“A little, actually. Yeah. You wanna try?” She offered him the poker. He accepted as she added, “It’s quite therapeutic.”

Before Jerry began his turn on the human(?) punching bag, my stomach rumbled again, loud enough to get Claire’s attention.

"You’re hungry," she said without moving her lips.

So are you, I thought.

She nodded.

“I have a bag of trail mix in my room.” I said to the group. “Split six ways, it won’t go far, but at least it will hold us over until we’re forced to eat Nathaniel.”

“It’s probably not safe,” Tobias announced, as if we needed someone to state the obvious.

Jerry responded, “It should be fine if we cook him well enough.”

“I meant leaving the great hall.”

“How about we put it to a vote?” Loren suggested. “All in favor of going to Jack’s room?” She raised her hand. Jerry raised both of his. Claire was next. Then Bridget. Then, finally, Tobias. “I guess it’s unanimous, then.”

Nathaniel--with his head almost completely flattened--spoke up with the same detached cheerfulness we’d come to expect from him. “I recommend we stay where we are. I believe we haven’t yet found all the clues in this area. Perhaps if we were to continue our search, we can bla bla bla bla bla...” I didn’t hear the last part of whatever he was selling. We’d already left by then.

We stuck together as a group (finally!). Not that it really mattered; I’d already seen what one bear could do to a half dozen able-bodied people. If there were more booby-traps or Saw-games waiting for us, no amount of teamwork would guarantee our safety.

We stayed quiet until we reached the landing of the third floor, when Loren asked her sister if it was safe.

“I don’t know,” Claire said. “It’s like listening for a whisper in a room full of screaming.”

I turned around to see if Tobias noticed. It was rather brave for them to be speaking so candidly around a spy and a member of a supernatural exploitation think tank. That’s when I realized, neither of them were moving their lips.

Loren asked Claire if we could trust everyone.

“There’s a darkness here like I’ve never seen, hiding deep inside one of us. Like the boy, only worse.”

Loren understood. She told Claire to stay close, no matter what.

I probably should have been a little more interested in the fact that Loren was tapped into our mental WiFi network, but the thing about traumatic paranormal murder disasters that nobody ever tells you is this: eventually, you hit a plateau, where nothing really surprises you anymore.

When we reached the Woodrow Harper suite, Jerry made the valiant offer to go in by himself. He had the fire poker resting over his shoulder and a big, dumb smile on his face. I realized with equal parts annoyance and admiration that he was actually having fun with this.

“I’ll go with you,” I said.

“Me too,” added Tobias.

Loren stepped up. “We’ll all go.”

Jerry walked up to the door, took a deep breath, and said, “Alright! Let’s do this!” Then, with a short charge forward, he kicked the door open. “Shit, that kinda hurt,” he muttered under his breath before rushing inside. He kept the fire poker extended, making light-saber noises as he swung and pointed it in every direction. The rest of us followed closely. A few seconds passed, but spikes didn’t fall from the ceiling, the room didn’t start filling