“My momma’s dead-“
“No, Laina, you don’t know that,” Artemis said. Laina curiously stared at Artemis. She was scrunched under the bed sheets, her head pushed into a pillow, her tangled hair shrouded her eyes. “Let’s hope for the best, stay positive.”
Laina shook her head with certainty. She was sniffy.
“The nurses say their keeping her alive for a few more days,” Laina said. “I heard them talking.”
Artemis sat down on the cushioned chair near the hotel room windows. Curious why Satan had purposefully ruined her full-moon. She looked over at Laina. Artemis thought Laina did not appear upset that her mother was dead, she was now beyond acceptance. Her eyes told that story. Artemis thought Laina’s eyes were active, observant and more intelligent than her scruffy appearance.
“What else have you heard?” Artemis asked. “What have you seen, you know, you’ve been roaming the hospital?”
Laina looked around the two bed hotel room like she was searching for a deep dark secret. She shifted over closer to the lamp, she clicked it on. Her faced covered in bright light.
“They aren’t here?” Laina said.
“Like in the hospital,” Laina said. “There’s these things inside, they scare me.”
“Sweetie,” Artemis said. She moved forward on the chair cushion. “Be more specific, where in the hospital, what did these people look like? Tall, fat, so forth…”
Laina scrunched her legs toward her chest. She squished her eyes together, and then she opened them.
“Dark like,” Laina said. “They growl at me, in the night.”
“Like little tiny dark spots? Or, orbs of light?” Artemis asked. She was certain Laina had seen demonic figures. “All moving together-“
“I can’t see them,” Laina said. “But I know when they’re there, they came for my mother.”
“Did you tell the nurses?” Artemis asked.
“No,” Laina said. “They don’t like me.”
“It’s not that,” Artemis said. “They have work to do, it’s not your fault.”
“At night I walk around the hospital,” Laina said. “I go to the cafeteria, some times they give me food.”
“They feed you?” Artemis asked.
“Most of the time,” Laina said. “Lots a times, they warn me to go hide, there’s these people they want me to hide from.”
Artemis rubbed her chin. She wondered what else Laina had accidentally scene or heard. But it was getting Laina to remember in context from where she was at the time.
“Where do you hide?” Artemis asked.
“They pushed me under the kitchen counter, they told me to be quiet,” Laina said. She glanced up at the ceiling. She blinked in repetition as if her long eyelashes were butterflies floating in static motion. She stopped blinking and paused for several moments. “A dark room, it’s cold, no one goes in.”
“Who are ‘they’?” Artemis asked. “The people that help you.”
“People in the kitchen,” Laina said. She looked over at Artemis. “Some of the doctors help me, they buy me food, the nurses do too… “
Artemis got up, she started to pace toward the bathroom door, and back toward the hotel room windows.
“Are there others like you?”
“I’ve seen some,” Laina said. “Seen some get caught, I stay by myself, I don’t need them.”
“You’re very brave,” Artemis said. She stopped pacing. “What’s the dark room like, I know its cold, are there, ah, you know, a long line of drawer like things with sleeping people inside?”
“No, that’s the morgue,” Laina said. “I seen it too. I stay away from it, it scares me, I heard growls the one time.”
“I can imagine,” Artemis said. “Do you sleep at night?”
“No,” Laina said. “That’s not smart, I go to sleep in the morning, the nurses don’t bother me.”
“Go back,” Artemis said. “The cold room, imagine your inside, when you go inside, can you describe what you see?”
Laina’s eyes scanned around the hotel room. She fiddled with her fingers.
“They look like mushrooms,” Laina said. “I seen mushrooms before, in the forest, Mr. Sammons showed me, told me not to eat them, they might make me crazy.”
“Mushrooms?” Artemis asked.
“I’m sure,” Laina said.
“How big’s this room?” Artemis asked. She waved her hands in the air. “Really long, tall, when you hide, where in the room do you go?”
“All over,” Laina said. “Some times they turn on rain, it rains on the mushrooms, but stops, I have warmer spots, I can see just enough to hide from anyone that comes inside.”
“Is that your favorite spot?” Artemis asked.
“For the most part,” Laina said. “It’s not far from my momma’s room.”
“Think you can sleep?” Artemis asked. She flicked on the business desk lamp. She walked over and turned off the lamp between the beds. “I’ll leave this one, I’ll be over in the other bed, you’re not alone, okay?”
Laina shifted under the bed sheets. She looked up at Artemis.
“Are you all alone, too?” Laina asked.
Artemis sat down on Laina’s bed.
“You don’t have any family?” Artemis asked. “Uncle, Aunt… Grandma, Grandpa?”
“No,” Laina said. “It was just momma and me, I never met no one else, momma said grandma was dead.”
“I’ll find them,” Artemis said. “I’m not alone, I have friends. I work a lot, now, you need to try and get to sleep.”
End. Chapter 9.
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