August 6

The Full Moon Effect (Part 2)

[…continued from August 5 entry…]

 

Brianna was used to hearing sirens as ambulances approached the hospital where she worked.  Tonight, as a full moon brightened the night sky, the sirens seemed louder and more numerous.

In addition to sirens, she heard popping sounds — like fireworks, or distant gunshots.  An occasional crash of cars, too, and the shattering of glass.

Unseen particles drifted through the air, pulled by the Moon’s distant gravity, charged by sunlight reflected off the orbiting body’s surface.  People breathed them in, and it altered their behavior.  Made them crazy.

Lunar, Brianna thought.  Lunar, luna, lunatic.

She’d borrowed a surgical mask from the supply closet, and hooked the elastic bands behind her ears to hold the filter over her face.  Instead of signing people into the hospital waiting area, she ducked behind the reception desk and hid.

Because, from the closed double doors leading into the main ER, she heard the wrong kinds of sounds.  Usually, amid the beeps of life-saving equipment, an occasional moan of pain emerged from the ER, or a patient crying out for help.

Brianna heard those sounds now, with increasing frequency.  But she also heard…laughter.

Maniacal laughter.

And what was worse…although it was hard to locate a person’s everyday voice within the twisted merriment that drifted from the emergency room, Brianna thought one of the laughing fiends matched the high-pitched tone of her friend, Nurse Kelley.  Another deep and breathy laugh reminded her of one of the evening on-call physicians, Dr. Yoshida.

Amid the laughter, more screams from patients.  This time she could make out words:  What are you doing?  Stop.  Please, stop!

Sirens outside, and a tremor deep through the building as if an ambulance had crashed into the side of the hospital.  In the ER, metal trays clanged to the tile floor.  She heard thumps like bodies falling off stretchers, or pushed violently from their beds.

Brianna ducked further beneath the desk.  There was nowhere else to go:  outside was apparently pretty bad; inside the hospital seemed worse.

Then the double doors to the ER thumped open.  She heard a stretcher rolling across the floor, then crashing into the closed doors at the front entrance.

Footsteps followed into the reception area.  Slow steps, like the movements of a person looking around.

“Brianna?  I hope you haven’t left your post.”

She recognized Dr. Yoshida’s deep voice, but he didn’t sound as friendly as he usually did.

“Brianna,” he said, moving closer.  “There’s a bit of a situation.  We need your help in the ER.”

A clicking accompanied his voice, like two metal blades rubbed against each other.

“Ah, there you are…”

 

[…concluded tomorrow…]