LIMBO, Chapter 1 - Doctor's Visit

2 Hours Earlier…


The sun shined down on the Colorado interstate as two cars made their journey. One car, a hearse, traveled at a moderate speed while a red mustang followed close behind. As hours passed, the sun began to set creating a glare on Ethan’s windshield and he started to wonder just where the hearse was leading him.


Just a couple hours ago, Ethan had agreed to escort the body to the crematory and he was already regretting it, if nothing for the drive. It had been a long day and, despite the current situation, Ethan felt satisfied with how he handled the service. On numerous occasions he was urged to grieve, but simply couldn’t. It wasn’t that he was fighting back the tears, they just never came.


Ethan noticed it out of the corner of his eye. It was an old church on the side of the road that had clearly seen better days. Despite the sheer lack of people in it, the nearby cemetery was filled to capacity. One of the headstones stood out to Ethan; it was of an angel. It stood, prostrated with its hands clasped in prayer. The wings that should have been here were missing; broken off, no doubt by some kids looking for a cheap thrill. This made Ethan frown and he reached under his arm and felt his shoulder blade underneath his blazer. It had been two years ago since the day he had received the scars, the physical pain was gone but the memory would always be there. As his mustang drove past, a trio of crows stood triumphantly on the angel’s back, watching Ethan drive by.


The sound of static pierced the silence and Ethan flinched, glancing at the radio. It was impossible; the radio was already in the off position. The white noise gradually got louder and he began to fiddle with the controls while keeping an eye on the road. The noise stopped just as suddenly as it commenced. Ethan took another long look at the radio. As he raised his gaze back to the road, something struck him: the hearse was gone.


Looking in the rear view mirror, there was no sign of the hearse he had been following. A chill crept up his spine and he fumbled in his coat pocket for the cell phone. Hearing a car approach, he glanced out the front just in time to see a white car. Showing no sign of stopping; what bothered Ethan the most was that it seemed to be deliberately coming right at him. Ethan had a bad feeling which was quickly realized when the two cars made contact.




Ethan awoke in a dark room. An unfamiliar ceiling loomed over him and his initial reaction was to sit-up, but the pain in his chest kept that from happening. As he looked around the room he quickly deduced that he was in some kind of hospital. His eyes scanning along the room, spotting a pair of shoes; moving up he saw the rest of the body. A man in a black trench coat sat patiently in a chair a few feet from his bed.


“Who are you?” was all Ethan could manage.


The figure smiled and uncrossed his legs, walking over to stand by Ethan’s bed. He stared down at him, smiling with a little too much familiarity than what Ethan was comfortable with.


“You can call me Doctor,” he responded with a voice devoid of any kind of passion.


“Doctor who?”


“Just Doctor,” replied the man with a subtle smile touching the tip of his nose with his index finger. “I fix things.”


Doctor turned to look around, seemingly surveying the room as if it was his first time being there. He didn’t seem to be looking for anything in particular; rather, he was admiring the layout. His skin was so pale that he stood out amidst the darkness, and his mannerisms were refined but cautious. After a few more uncomfortable moments of silence, he finally spoke again.


“You must have all kinds of questions, right now.”


Ethan didn’t know where to begin. Before he could utter a word, Doctor quickly grabbed him by the throat and stared deep into his eyes. Their noses were almost touching, and Ethan began to panic as he felt Doctor’s grip tighten. Doctor’s eyes were now completely black.


“You don’t belong here, Ethan. You’re special. Not like them. Only you can cause the disunion.”


Doctor tightened his grip, cutting off the air to Ethan’s body. Ethan suddenly woke up with a tight pressure on his neck.


It couldn't have been a dream, it was so vivid. Everything was the same, only the man standing over him wasn’t. The man calling himself Doctor was no longer there, but the man Ethan had encountered a few hours ago at the accident. He couldn’t forget the face and it was glaring down at him as he proceeded to choke him.


“You should have died!”


Ethan had heard him utter these words before and as he proceeded to strangle him, he continued repeating them like some kind of mantra. Ethan desperately fumbled through the side table for anything resembling a weapon. His hands wrapped around what felt like a cylinder, it was the call button. Ethan mashed the button with his thumb several times before the man realized what he was doing. Wresting the device from his grip, the man resumed his mission. Ethan began to cough and the room began to spin.


Suddenly the door to Ethan’s room flew open and two large men in matching uniforms hurried in. One of the men body checked the stranger while the other check Ethan’s throat.


“Are you all right?” he asked Ethan several times.


The other man called out to his friend, struggling to subdue the man he tackled. After a few minutes, the two were able to overpower him. One of the men produced a syringe and injected the unruly patient with it. Ethan didn’t know what to make of this.


“Just what the hell is going on here?” shouted Ethan, completely unaware of the volume of his voice.


One of the men held the assailant’s limp body while the other stood up and slowly walked over to Ethan; his hands up in a cautious gesture.


“Sir, please calm down,” he said, slowly stepping towards Ethan.


“Or what? You’ll stick me with a syringe!”


It came without warning. A swift, but light blow to the back of Ethan’s head. Ethan flinched, not expecting this, and grabbed his head and glanced over his shoulder. What he saw surprised him. There, standing behind him, was an older woman in a white lab coat with long black hair, glasses, and what looked like a red blouse and skirt underneath. She was older than Ethan, but beautiful in a mature sense. Normally, Ethan would have given a casual wink or a smile in this situation, but he was way past the point of caring.


“What was that for?”


The woman simply smiled before giving Ethan another whack with her clipboard, “Please lower your voice.”


“Not until I get some answers,” protested Ethan. “Who are you people?”


The woman, with surprising speed and agility, pinned Ethan by his shoulders to the bed. She spoke calmly and stared deep into his eyes.


“I’m Dr. Espinosa, but you can call me Rosa. I’m the Chief of Medicine in this hospital.”


Ethan was speechless. He had woken up to a man trying to kill him, and now he was being assaulted by an alleged doctor. Seeing the clear confusion in his face, Rosa smiled and loosened her grip on Ethan.


“Now are you going to behave?”


Ethan simply nodded. Rosa turned to the pair of orderlies and gave a subtle nod dismissing the two with the stranger in tow. Rosa then turned back to Ethan.


“Try to get some rest. We’ll talk in the morning.”


“Hey, wait!”


Ethan’s protest fell on deaf ears as Rosa ignored him and shut off the lights, closing the door. Ethan was left in the dark, wide awake and unable to relax. Whoever that man was, it was clear he wanted Ethan dead. What had he ever done to him? The first time Ethan even remembered seeing the man was at the accident where he was pulling him from a burning wreck.


Ethan reached over to the nearby table and found a remote. It took a few seconds, but he was able to locate the TV hanging over his bed. Knowing that he could no longer sleep, he turned his attention to the radiant glow of the television; perplexed by Jimmy Kimmel’s awkward segues.

kt6550   kt6550 wrote
on 3/4/2009 7:19:38 PM
A good start. A bit like a Damon Knight tale; he often opens his stories this way. Please continue.

Novel / Novella
writing LesserGood
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Rating: 9.0/10

Ethan awakens in a hospital where he encounters a mysterious man known only as "Doctor."