Chapter THREEDr. Osgood took Jonas’ pulse and blood pressure, marking them in a notebook. Next, he took three vials of blood from his left arm. I’ll run a toxicology screen to see if any of the experimental drugs could have built to toxic levels. That would explain the psychotic episode.
He walked to the lab bench on the opposite side of the room, unaware that Jonas awoke; first one eye opened, then the other.
Fully awake, eyelids half open, Jonas scanned the room, making sure not to move a muscle. If security was watching, he appeared sedated.
Jonas’ heart beat quickened as his vision locked on to Dr. Osgood. A hate unlike any he’d known built inside him. His teeth clenched and his heart pounded as if it were trying to breach the restraints of the rib-cage. Nothing was more important at this moment than to kill. It was the only way to satiate the hunger and the loathing.
His muscles tensed in anticipation of attacking his prey when he was held back by an unseen force. Something strong and heavy pinned him to the table. Although he saw nothing, he felt it breathe; a hot, dank, foul odor. He felt the heat on his face.
As the force moved closer, the smell made him want to vomit. Knowing he had lost the battle to get up, he gave in to the invisible force. As his body relaxed, the pungent odor made him feel euphoric. His nostrils flared as he inhaled more of the intoxicating scent.
The being was so close that Jonas suspected he would be able to taste the spirit’s flesh if he stuck out his tongue. The euphoria spread throughout his body while, at the same time, the fury subsided.
The spirit, his friend, spoke to him in such guttural tones, the words seemed to carry weight. Not yet, my son. Your time has not yet come. You must be patient.
But when, my father?
Before the sun rises in the east, you will be a free man. Free to do my bidding. Free to bring about a new reign of terror, one that will bring me out of the shadows and into the light. One that will bring hell to earth.
Dr. Osgood, oblivious to what was going on, ran the blood samples through the computer in a process that separated the chemicals in Jonas’ blood. While he waited for the readout, he had the distinct feeling he was being watched.
Turning to where Jonas lay, he could have sworn he had seen Jonas smile. Rubbing his temples, he thought, I need sleep. My mind is playing tricks on me.
It was 4:00 a.m. Dr. Osgood was no closer to discovering the reason for Jonas’ peculiar behavior than three hours earlier. He’d run blood tests, CAT scans, EEGs and nerve conduction tests, all to no avail. All came back negative; dead center in the middle of the normal range.
He was so tired he felt he could fall asleep standing up. He yawned as he walked over to the gurney. For what seemed like the millionth time, he took the inmate’s vitals and for the millionth time, they read normal. His pulse and blood pressure were so consistent it was spooky.
Opening his notebook he wrote,
The only significant findings at this time are: there are no significant findings. The patient’s pulse and blood pressure have not deviated one beat since I first took them. That strikes me as very odd.
Placing the notebook on the lab bench, Dr. Osgood walked over to the overstuffed recliner used for hypnotherapy sessions. He massaged the back of his neck. I’ve got such a headache. I just need a little sleep, then I’m sure things will seem clearer. With that, he closed his eyes. Within seconds, he’d fallen into a deep sleep.
At 4:55, Jonas felt the weight again on his chest. This time, inhaling the beast’s breath did not calm him, in fact, it had the opposite effect. Jonas felt anger build within him. He lay on the flat surface while his disgust for the world churned within. The beast moved close to Jonas’ face, so close that the air became thick and putrid.
It’s time, my son, it moaned. It’s time you took your rightful place in the world as the son of the Dark One. Jonas felt his ‘father’s’ lips on his as it breathed into his mouth. The breath held the unmistakable smell and taste of death; decomposing flesh, but not human flesh. The smell was much more acrid, so subhuman in its qualities that it had an eternal essence.
As the sour, fetid breath filled his lungs, Jonas felt it course through his bloodstream. The further it progressed through his body, the further his mind moved into the past. Every evil thing his aunt had ever done to him flashed through his mind. Memory-driven, intense hatred filled his heart to such an extent he had no doubt it was time to extract revenge on those who caused it to happen.
As quick as the weight came, it was suddenly gone. Jonas’ eyes, fiery red, opened wide. His pupils dilated.
In one swift move, Jonas leapt. In an instant he was at the doctor’s side. Though he wanted him to feel the pain and torture he had known, he knew there was little time.
Jonas glanced at the clock: 5:02 a.m. He had to move fast. He had a ten-minute window, from 5:00 a.m. to 5:10 a.m., when the security cameras were disabled to accommodate a computer backup.
Unzipping his jumpsuit, Jonas stepped out of it and immediately removed Osgood’s clothes. He slipped into the doctor’s scrubs. Next he put his prison jumpsuit on the dead body, feet first, up to the doctor’s hips. 5:05.
He allowed the body to fall back into the chair. At the lab bench, he grabbed a Bunsen burner and sparked the flame to life. Returning to the body, he burned symbols into the doctor’s chest. He tossed the burner back onto the bench. Time was in short supply. He lifted the doctor’s body off the chair, pulled the jumpsuit up over the lifeless torso, fed the arms into the sleeves and zipped up the back.
Jonas carried the body fireman-style to the gurney. He arranged it in the same position he’d been in minutes earlier, making sure to turn the face away from the security camera.
As he finished, the security camera came back to life. The security officer thought Dr. Osgood was struggling with the inmate.
“Everything okay, Doc?”
“Just fine,” Jonas replied in a dead-on imitation of the doctor’s voice. “I’m attempting to make the patient more comfortable. After I write a few more notes, I’ll leave for town, to the county hospital. I need to run more expansive blood tests. Send someone in ten minutes to escort me off the grounds, please.”
“Sure thing. Ten minutes.”
Jonas placed the straightjacket and shackles on the body, making certain his face was turned away from the camera. Then he tore a piece of paper out of Dr. Osgood’s notebook, scribbled a note, and tucked it inside the straightjacket.
Finished, he walked to the lab bench. Pretending to trip, he smashed his nose on the top of the table, and caught the attention of the security guard.
“Doc, are you okay? Are you hurt? Should I call one of the nurses for you?”
Pulling himself up, Jonas moaned. He covered his face with his hands. Blood ran through his fingers. He grabbed a towel to cover his face and stop the bleeding.
“No, but I may have broken my nose. Please send the guard now. I’ll have it looked at while I’m at the county hospital.”
“He’s on his way.”
Thirty seconds later, the door swung open. In walked Mickey.“Whoa, security wasn’t kidding when they said you busted your nose. Let me take a look.” As he reached for the towel, Jonas jerked away.
“It’ll be all right,” he said. “The bleeding has just about stopped. If I remove the pressure, it may start again.”
“You’re the doctor, I guess you know what you’re doing. How about I get you outta here and onto that bus?”
“Perfect. That would be great.”
On their way out of the room, the guard glanced at the body lying on the table. His head partially covered and turned toward the wall.
“How’s our boy?”
“Resting comfortably. I placed the jacket back on him for safety. He’ll be out for another five or six hours. I’ll be back before then, so I don’t want anyone disturbing him.”
“No problem there. I want to stay as far away from that one as possible. Besides, I’m punching out myself as soon as I walk you to the surface. I’ll pass on your message to the next shift.”
The two men walked out of the infirmary and headed down the hall to the elevator. They were six stories under the earth’s surface. The ride took a full minute to bring them to ground level.
During the ride, the guard couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t quite right.
When he stepped out of the elevator, Jonas said, “I should be back around 9:30 or 10:00, depending on the bus schedule.”
Bus schedule, Mickey thought, there is no bus schedule. It picks up on demand. Slowly, he brought his hand down to his gun belt and yelled, “Prisoner 54112, put your hands above your head and turn around slowly.”
Jonas did just as he was told and dropped the towel. He abandoned using the doctor’s voice, choosing to speak in the same guttural tone he used earlier. “Not a good idea, Mickey.”
With a speed and dexterity, cat-like in nature, Jonas brought his leg up, kneeing the guard in the groin. The force of impact caused Mickey to drop the gun. He doubled over in pain.
Quickly, Jonas used the opportunity to reach for Mickey’s head. In one fluid movement, he snapped the guard’s neck, killing him instantly. Jonas quickly covered Mickey’s mouth with his own and inhaled deeply. The guard’s spirit satiated Jonas’ hunger for death. Once Mickey’s spirit was completely captured within Jonas’ demonic state, he dropped the body on the elevator floor.
The hour, still early, the lobby of Dreamland was empty. Jonas carried and deposited Mickey’s lifeless form in the stairwell. Whether it from his added strength or from the loss of the guard’s soul, the body seemed lighter than he expected. Jonas liked the way it felt and he hungered for more. Exiting Dreamland, Jonas saw the sun make its rise over the horizon and he remembered what the Dark One had told him.
“Before the sun rises again in the east, you’ll be a free man.”
(Chapter Four Wednesday)