Saturday again, and time for another dose of horror. Hopefully you’ve been following along with young SETH ROGERS who is in the hospital with his dad to visit his mum, dying of cancer. Last time, Seth couldn’t bare to look at his mum’s face, wasting away through her illness, and he ran off. Discovered in a room sometime later by a nurse, Seth has a conversation with him about his mum’s prognosis.
“You don’t know that!” Seth slid along the wall away from Red. “You’re not a doctor.”
“No, I’m not. You got that right, partner.”
Seth got to his feet. His parents had told him not to talk to strangers; this was a hospital, and this man had a uniform on, but he was definitely strange. He decided it was time to find his dad, and he moved towards the door.
“I can help your mum, Seth.” Red remained seated. Seth stopped and turned around. “If you want that, that is.”
“What can you do? You said you weren’t a doctor.”
“Nope. Not a doctor.” He paused briefly before standing up. “But I canhelp your mum.”
Red held out both hands and smiled. “Cure her. Simple as that.” He placed both hands behind his back.
“Well, why can’t the others do it? Can’t you tell them what to do?” Seth may be only ten, but he was a bright ten. This didn’t ring true. He began to back away towards the door.
“I can do things they can’t. That’s it.” He flashed his smile again.
“Ok. Do it, then. Cure my mum.”
“Well, about that,” He took a step towards Seth and bent forward until their eyes were level. “I need you to do something for me in return.”
“I want you to listen to what I’m asking Seth. I want you to be clear on what you need to do for me. This isn’t something I ask of everyone, and it isn’t something that you haveto do.”
“What if I don’t want to do it?”
“A good question.” Red stood and took a step back from Seth, and spread his arms again, smiling. “Nothing. That’s what happens. Nothing at all. You continue living your life, your mum continues living hers.” The smile vanished as quickly as it had come. “Well, the two days she has left, anyway.”
“I don’t believe you.” His tears had dried up, and now his fear was being replaced by anger. “How will you cure her?”
“With a snap of the fingers!” To illustrate his point, he clicked his fingers in front of Seth’s face.
“How will that help?”
“Well, let me show you…with a snap of yourfingers.” He closed the distance to Seth in an instant, grabbed his right wrist and yanked him closer. Before he had a chance to protest, Red took all four fingers on Seth’s hand in his palm and squeezed.
As the first bone broke, Seth screamed, and Red shoved the fingers backwards, towards his wrist. His screams covered the snapping, but Seth felt each of his fingers break, and he pulled away. He stumbled to the floor, holding the wrist of his broken hand; each of the fingers pointed at an unlikely angle. The pain was the worst that he had ever experienced, and as he hit the floor, he threw up.
He tried to stand and run for the door, but Red stepped in the way.
“Hold on, now!” Red said, still smiling. He grabbed the hand again, fighting against Seth’s scratching and kicking. Placing the mangled hand between his palms, he rubbed them together swiftly then let go and stepped back.
Seth felt a moment of heat in his hand. It felt like the time he had put his hand on the hot plate in the oven to see what would happen. He had been a lot younger, and the burns had blistered, even though he had pulled his hand away quickly.
He snatched his arm away and retreated to the corner of the room clutching the hand; the hand which was no longer hurting. When he looked down at it, the fingers were all present and correct, standing exactly as they should; no perpendicular bends, no breaks, no pain.
He flexed the fingers once, then looked up at Red.
“They don’t hurt anymore.” He resumed flexing the fingers without taking his eyes off Red, who just smiled. “What did you do?”
“They were broken, and I made them better.”
“I don’t think my mum has any broken bones.”
“Doesn’t matter. It works for more than just broken bones.”
Seth looked down at his hand and rubbed it, while he tried to comprehend what had just happened. Red stood across the room and looked at him, impassive.
“Can you really cure her? Make it go away? The cancer I mean.”
“Yes. But you need to do something for me first.”
“It’s got to be our secret.” Red made a gesture of zipping his mouth closed. “I won’t help your mum if you tell anyone.”
Seth had learned about men like this at school: paedophiles. He began to edge towards the door. Red noticed the look on the boy’s face and held up his hands.
That’s your lot for today. More next week!