…a somber quietness befell the ward, as if it had been a radio blasting tragedies, and now it was dialed back to blissful tranquility. The echoes of screeches from wheels faded, the agonized cries of pain and torment having died out, the monotonic sound of heavy equipment buzzed down.  

It was simply…peaceful.  

Emma strolled down the corridors, wheeling along the cart containing the many pills for the many diseases. How strange it was, that these tiny capsules of medicine, these tiny rays of hope, could save lives. She knew their chemical compounds, yet that did not unravel the mysterious power they held. Somehow, if she knew, this magical illusion would be gone. If we unmasked everything, revealing its true nature, what wonder would there be left? Once we see the face of truth, no matter how ugly or decrepit, we can no longer reject it. We would be forced to accept it. Thus, we nestle in our delusion, taking comfort in its obscurity.  

At least, that’s what Emma thought as she strolled along. Until the sudden, loud clank of a metallic tray interrupted her train of thought.  

“M-Miss Asc! W-What are you doing up and about!?” 

The widened eyes of Nurse Ratched met Emma’s as she turned around. The woman looked shocked, frightened even. But as her eyes connected with Emma’s, they softened, and the fear evaporated.  

“Oh, Emma…it’s just you dear. You looked so much like one of my coma patients, I was quite positively spooked. She’s been in a coma for so long she shouldn’t be up and about if she woke up from it. How tragic, at such a young age even, not her fault at all I’ve heard. Life can be so cruel can’t it? Oh, I’m prattling on, aren’t I? You finish your round dearie, I’ll handle the west wing tonight, alright? Someone needs to watch the west wing. You got this wing covered, Emma. You’re such a diligent, young worker Emma, I’m amazed at your endurance…” 

The weary eyes of Nurse Ratched drifted from Emma as her worn-out body floated into the corridors, her figure practically merging with the stiff whiteness surrounding her. She looked like a ghost; a fading light dimmed by the many years of watching human suffering. Emma hoped her spark wouldn’t be extinguished, that it would live on and ignite the ones around her with the passion for life. Human life was too valuable to be snuffed out. Too valuable not to be cherished.  

Emma greeted each and every patient with a smile, all she received in return were empty glares and mute expressions. The night always seemingly draped the ward in a constant gloom, as if a witch had cast a spell, one which broke only at dawn’s radiance. However, Emma was determined not to let it deter her. If she could not break it, she would cure it, regardless of what the remedy was.  

Only a few hours into her shift she felt out of breath, as if the bleak mood was depriving her lungs of oxygen. She allowed herself a few moments to catch her breath in one of the chairs residing in a patient’s room. Across her, the reflection of her own face returned a tired glare. The heavy bags beneath her eyes revealed how the many extra hours were taking their toll. As she brushed a lock of brown hair out of her eyes, the most peculiar hallucination transpired before her very eyes. The reflection did not replicate her movement, it just watched her, expressionless. Yet, it was as if the reflection’s eyes called for help. Startled, Emma quickly rose, the reflection still staring dead straight. She quickly scurried out the room, her heart a locomotive fueled by the coals of fear.  

“Must be seeing things, working too hard. Yes, yes, that had to be it. Don’t be silly now, can’t dawdle any further, more people need my help. More people need me…” 

The hours dragged on, and bit by bit, Emma felt the same gloom creep upon her. As if to smother  her consciousness into the same indifference affecting the patients, to cast its curse upon her. Despite the determination of her mind, the flesh was unwilling. From her medicine trolley, she snuck out a tiny capsule from the vial marked “Modafinil”. Thievery appalled her, yet she considered this no act of theft, but an exchange. A single remedy for her continued efficiency in helping others. Some leeway must be allowed on this exhausting road she has taken. She needed her own ray of hope. 

“Miss Lepius! Miss Lepius!” 

Startled, Emma lost the capsule and it scurried across the polished tiles and hid beneath a desk. 

“Wh-what is it?” she replied, hiding her guilt in a fit of coughs.  

“I found someone outside! I think he needs medical attention, but I can’t find Dr. Hannibal anywhere! I was able to get him into a bed, but could you watch over him while I find the doctor?” 

The young nurse, Flo, raced a hospital bed down the corridors, panic erasing basic hospital etiquette. In the bed was a patient unlike any Emma had laid eyes upon before. The white bedsheets were wrapped around a giant behemoth of a man, covered in black, from his unruly beard to the short snippets of hair atop his head, to every article of clothing he wore. Seeing the black clash against the white was as if an equilibrium had been broken, a disturbance in the natural order.  

“I’ll take care of him Flo. Go and find the doctor, the patient is in good hands,” Emma reassured her dear colleague.  

“I can always count on you Em, thank you.” 

Illustrasjon: Adobe stock // Mary Long

And as quickly as she had appeared, she vanished, much like Nurse Ratched, merging once more with the obscure whiteness engulfing her. Her focus shifted to the man. His eyes were closed, and his breathing heavy. She gently wrapped her hand around one of his. It was rough, his skins hardened by physical labor, and blackened by dirt. She could feel the strength it harbored. 

“It’s gonna be okay, we’re here to help you,” she said softly.  

As if a spell had been broken, his eyes opened. They floated around the room, like a ship adrift in a great ocean. But they finally found their guiding star, connecting with Emma’s. 

“You’ll regret it. You’ll regret it. They always regret it. You’ll regret it. You’ll regret it. They always regret it.” 

Like a record player repeating the same melody, the man kept repeating this mantra. His eyes being stranded in confusion, yet something else was lurking beneath the surface. But instead of taking a deep dive, Emma remained at surface level, only seeing a person in need of help. 

“What happened?” she asked, hoping to pry some answers that could lead her to the correct diagnosis.  

But the symphony kept repeating, on and on and on again, and Emma had no way to remove the stylus. It was as if it was bound to endlessly go on until no one was around to hear it anymore.  

“Perhaps a concussion, he seems disoriented,” she concluded.  

She gently placed the electrodes connected to the heart rate monitor onto his body. Bruises and cuts adorned his chest, like a warrior returning from war.  

“Who are you?” she wondered.  

Several minutes sped by, no sign of Flo nor another doctor. An increasing worry was growing in her stomach, rising with every passing minute. She wheeled him into an empty room and found herself a chair she could watch him from. His heart rate was stable, but she could hear the occasional mantra being mumbled. She hoped he was going to be okay.  

To take her mind off the ball of nervousness flailing in her stomach, she turned on the TV. Only the news was on, yet she found herself distracted, nonetheless. Some building had collapsed downtown, but no one was hurt. Good! Some local school had been nominated for an award. Delightful! After many negotiations by the trade union, the workers would finally get a raise. Wonderful! Someone was found stabbed in Eagle Par-. 


With a vile roar, the man twisted and winced in agony. The heart rate monitor blew up, unable to keep up with the unstable compulsion that had overtaken him. Emma jumped out of her chair, attempting to keep him from wringing out of the bed.  

“Help! I need assistance in here!” she yelled out desperately.  

But no one came.  

As he winced his head back and forth, the pillow beneath it was now soaked with blood. Emma kept screaming for help, hoping someone would aid her. When she noticed the blood, she realized this was more severe than a seizure. If she didn’t stop this, he would die. 

She would have failed to save someone.  

“I-I have to do something! Anything! W-what can I do!? Think…Yes! I can induce a coma; I should have the correct drugs in my cart. If I don’t, he might risk permanent damage to his brain.” 

Adrenaline fueling her strength, she was able to secure the man to the bed. She dashed madly through the corridor, while still calling for help, but as of right now, she herself was stranded, with no guiding star besides herself. A sense of relief washed over her, as within her grasp, she held the  drug that could save the mans’ life. The tiny ray of hope, that he would live to see the mercy of dawn once more and not be consumed by the dark.  

Just as she reentered the room, she saw the man’s reflection on the TV screen. Her heart skipped a beat, as he should not be up and ab-!   

The murderers name is Zamenis Lapin. The police have finally identified him as the serial killer they’ve pursued for several months now as the victim suffered several stab wounds in the formation of a Satanic star, the killer’s signature. The 15-year-old victim of tonight was but one of many of his victims, all young girls. If anyone has seen this man, contact the police immediately and stay far away from him as he is highly dangerous.” 

The ball of nervousness transmuted into solid ice. She felt her own breath escape her, as she turned to face the man in the bed.  

He was a serial killer. 

He compulsively twisted still underneath the straps. In Emma’s hands lied the salvation to his suffering. The clear liquid was like holy water, ready to quell whatever demon of sickness running rampage within the man. But even with the sickness subdued, the demon remained. The man could escape the suffering, but not his sins. Then, a tiny little voice whispered in the back of her mind: 

“You could not administer the drug, no one would blame you. Say he died before you could make it…” 

It was such an abstruse thought, as if it wasn’t even Emma’s own voice. She couldn’t kill anybody, she promised she would help anyone who needed it. Save anyone she could. Save them before they ended up like…mom.  

Yet, if she saved the demon, did she not ensure his continued murderous frenzy? Sentence more girls to their untimely meeting with the pearly gates? No, no, the police would arrest him, put him behind bars. And then he would be punished, perhaps even rehabilitated of his urges. Yes, he would see the light, and that all began with her injecting him with hope. The hope of life.  

Because who was she, to cast judgement upon others, to decide their fate?  

She found a syringe and pressed the fluid through the syringe and into the man. After a few minutes, his muscles loosened, and slowly but surely, the giant rested, having been bested by a tiny needle.  

Exhausted, Emma slammed into the chair, drowsiness attempting to shut her eyes.  

“I just need the pill…then I’ll be…good to go…again…” 

Yet, the call of the dreamworld whisked her away, and Emma fell into a long, peaceful sleep.  

Illustrasjon: Adobe stock // ST.art


Such a strange dream. A strange, vivid dream. It felt so real, like the line keeping dreams from seeping into reality was absolved, and like toxic waste from a factory, it polluted all it encountered. Snakes, snakes were coiling around her. She couldn’t move, nor scream as the snakes closed in on her. Strangled her. Their rough, black skin slithering across her throat, suffocating what little air she gasped for. All the while she heard a maddening whisper from their slippery tongues: 

“You’ll regret it. You’ll regret it. They always regret it. You’ll regret it. You’ll regret it. They always regret it.” 

She attempts to scream, but no words may leave her mouth with the grasp of the snakes tightening. In the horizon, she could see the sun on the verge to banish night’s gloom. If only she could hold on a little longer…Just…a little…longer… 


Emma woke up, completely perspired. Her mind was in a daze, and memory was a fleeting mirage, she could not capture it. But her clock let her know that it was the night shift. She must have dozed off. 

“Silly girl,” she thought to herself.  

She found her medicine cart where it always stood and readied herself for the night shift. As she made her rounds, a somber quietness befell the ward, as if it had been a radio blasting tragedies, and now it was dialed back to blissful tranquility. The echoes of screeches from wheels faded, the agonized cries of pain and torment having died out, the monotonic sound of heavy equipment buzzed down.  

It was simply…peaceful.  


“Tonight occurred the tragic incident of the murdered nurse. The victims name was Emma Asc Lepius, and she was strangled by the vicious serial killer Zamenis Lapin. She’s currently in a vegetative state, but her colleague, Miss Ratched, have hopes for a swift recovery for the girl. She says that Emma was the bright hope of the hospital, and if she dies, the world has lost its light.” 


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