a short story By REAGAN BECKER
The pills seemed to call him as he stared at the medicine bottle on the nightstand. Josh peeled his bed sheets back and stood out of his bed. He walked over to the nightstand swaying forward, his hospital gown trailed behind him. His dirty black hair was messy and his dark green eyes illuminated the empty hospital room against his dark skin. His sharp facial features were a slight reflection of his 19 year old body, from his skeleton like collarbones to his frail ankles.
“What? This wasn’t here a moment ago,” he thought. Josh moved his head from one side to the other like a rabbit hiding from a predator. He grabbed the bottle, his curiosity was satisfied. Josh studied the container and to his surprise the medicine had his name on it. Examining the label further Josh discovered a chilling note.
“Take this and find out the truth.”
Without a second thought Josh tilted the bottle on it side then turning the cap until it came loose. He looked inside, his heart racing; one silver pill remained. Josh turned the bottle over, the shining oral slid into his palm. Josh’s hands began to shake as he slowly brought the pill to his lips. He exhaled and opened his mouth; the pill dropped inside; Josh swallowed. He stood there for a moment, his heart still beating out of his chest. Suddenly, Josh gasped in pain; his head pounded. Josh collapsed onto the floor shaking as his vision faded into darkness.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . Josh awoke, rubbing his head as if to relieve the bounding sensation in his brain. He got to his feet, trying to get a sense of where he was.
“Don’t worry, the side effects will wear off soon,” a voice said.
Josh spun his head around, he realized that he was on the roof of a very tall building. The wind picked up causing Josh to shake in his hospital garb.
“Wh- who said that?” Josh asked.
The voice responded, “Josh Wasion. Room 397, clinical depression patient. You tried to end your life five days ago. Overdose wasn’t it?”
Josh found the source of the voice, a tall man in a white leather jacket and dark black jeans appeared at the edge of the roof.
“How did you-? What’s going on?” Josh couldn’t figure out what to say, the pain in his head was clouding his judgement.
“This isn’t the roof of the Ellis Hospital. And I know you have a million questions, but may I ask? What do you see?” the man’s voice sounded like a serpent hissing.
The man cut off Josh, he hissed again, “Because I am giving you a second chance.”
Josh hesitated but then took a step toward the man until he was alongside him. Josh looked up at the man, but the his face was hidden behind a creepy mask of a plague doctor.
“Now, what do you see?”
Josh gazed out at the city, retelling what he saw to the man in the white coat. Nothing but the usual: streets, bright lights, people walking on the sidewalk, and cars becoming blurs as they drove by.
“No, no. Look closer.” The man leaned toward Josh, placing his pale hands on his shoulders Josh heeded the man’s words and stared longer this time. He then saw faint shadows appear alongside the people below. The shadows then became clear to Josh, they were all like the man beside him. They then vanished without a trace.
Josh tried to respond to the man, but he couldn’t. Josh just stood there in shock. The man laughed his voice was cunning, “Crazy what you can see, if you just open your eyes.”
“Now, what were you blabbering about earlier or was that just your thoughts trying to come together?” the man asked, staring at Josh through his hidden face. Josh looked at him with more anger than curiouslity.
“First off-” Josh started.
“You may call me, Zon” the man replied and bowed as if he performer, “Don’t worry I will explain everything to you when your ready.” Josh stared at Zon for a minute questioning what he was saying.
“When I’m ready?” Josh’s head was still bounding like a beating heart, “why the hell did I even take that pill?” Josh grabbed the back in frustration and began to pace back and forth. He was torn in two, part of him was curious and wanted to listen to the man. However, there was a part of him that did not trust Zon and wanted no part with whatever was going on. But before Josh could speak again, Zon spoke.
“Because,” he stepped away from the edge of the building, “you have nothing, no home, no one that loves you. Josh, you were desperate, for anything. And here I am,” Zon threw his arms out toward the night sky, “And here is your chance!”
Zon hissed “Come on, here’s the part where you say ‘thank you’”. Josh walked to the edge of the building and looked at the streets below him.
Josh sighed, “Thank you.”
Zon sprung off the ground in joy, “That’s the spirit!” He held out his ghostly pale hand to Josh, “Let’s get you out of those clothes and to your new home.”
Josh hesitated, he stared into Zon’s eyes which were covered by his horrifying mask. Josh walked from the edge of the side of the building. He extending his hand toward Zon. Suddenly, Josh felt exhausted. The pain from his head became unbearable. He became motionless and collapsed into Zon’s arms.
. . . . . . . . . . . .
Josh eyes snapped open and quickly sit up. The back of his head felt damp and he was in a completely different set of clothes. Josh was wearing a bright red long sleeve shirt with a matching set of pants that were made of silk. Josh realized that once again, he had no idea were he was. He knew he was in a bedroom that was a victorian style. With a large, very comfortable bed with an elegant brown frame around it. In the room there was a nightstand and dresser that matched the bed set perfectly. As well as the dark brown wooden floor and light gray rug which made Josh feel at home.
He quickly rubbed his eyes, trying to get a sense of what was real. Josh pulled the bed sheets back and got out of bed. He slowly made his way to a small mirror which was on the dresser. Josh picked it out and was shocked at his reflection. Everything was normal, except one of his eyes had turned from dark green to bright silver. Josh dropped the mirror in horror, it fell to the floor, making a loud crash. Suddenly, Zon opened the door and walked in the room.
In a confused tone he asked, “Is everything alright in here?”
“Yes…” Josh wondered way Zon was confused, Josh had absolutely no clue of what was going on. But instead of becoming angry at Zon, Josh calmed down and apologized for breaking his mirror.
Zon hissed, “That’s alright. Would you like something to eat?”
“Yes, please.” Josh followed Zon to a different part of the house, the kitchen. It was ten times as big as the bedroom. The cabinets were light gray along with a marble countertop which had three bar stools beside it. There was an old fashioned refrigerator and gas stove which were built inside the marble counter.
Zon walked over to the fridge and grabs eggs from the fridge, “How do you like your eggs? Scrambled? Fried? Sunny side up? Over easy? Botched? Hard boiled?-“
“Whatever is easy for you to make.” Josh quickly replayed before his host named off a million ways to prepare eggs. But before Josh could sit down at the counter, Zon had finished his breakfast. A plate of botched eggs on top of buttery toast with a side of bacon. Josh sat down and began to eat, he was starving and in about two minutes the plate was licked clean.
“That was one of the best things I have ever eaten,” Josh said. Zon handed Josh a napkin, his face was covered in egg yolk and bits of bacon, Josh quickly wiped his face.
Josh mummbed “Zon?”
Zon turned and hissed, “Yes?”
“I need you tell me what is going on. But doing this whole secretive thing, isn’t going to cut it,” Josh restrained himself to speak calmly.
“No,” Zon hissed.
The calm tone immediately faded away, “But why not!”
“Because I said, maybe we can start this another day.” Zon’s tone increased in volume but Josh was not going to take “no” for an answer.
“How about we start now.”