CHARLES BILKWATER – a story

Recently I happened on a Twitter feed through a friend that purports to post horrific things. Eh, it comes and it goes. The feed is pretty lame but while digging through old tweets I did happen upon a few urban legends that they had posted. None were real, and most had ‘tells’ that gave them away but there was still an eeriness to it all and it made me think – I wonder if I could write an urban legend. A story that doesn’t necessarily deign to explain why something happened but tells you of the thing itself.  This is my attempt to do just that. It is too much of a story to work as an urban legend but I just feel it works much better as a whole and am not sure I would like it if I cut it up to make it a lead in then punch line.
Take this as it is…my urban legend.

Charles Bilkwater

  Mercy Hospital was small even by the standards of 1959. There were two doctors on staff, five nurses, and any food or drinks one might want during the day had to be brought in from home or the local diner. The single story hospital was three years old and the brainchild of a retired physician who had made his money with wise investments and a surgical invention and it was his vision that soon a highway would cut through the farmland that surrounded the town he called home for his entire life and when it came there would be people, and accidents, and sickness, and for something like this there needed to be a hospital. The doctor poured his time, money and sweat lived long enough to see the hospital built but not long enough to see the highway come. Instead of the mobile masses the hospital got sick little girls, lonely old people, and the occasional local who had hurt themselves working their land. Nothing exciting. Nothing remarkable. All of that changed on the day Charles Bilkwater came in. Not in their wildest nightmares could someone have imagined what he brought with him.

  It was noon and there was a full staff on hand to celebrate the twenty-fourth birthday of one of the nurses. The one patient the hospital had was Mrs. Calvina Gypsim, a widow who suffered from acute loneliness but who claimed a new illness every day the doctors came to check on her. She wasn’t a bother, and they liked having someone in a bed. The staff was standing at the nurse’s having cake when the young man stumbled through the double doors that stood at the front of the hospital. The man was clean cut and wearing a white button up shirt, tan slacks, but nothing on his feet. His hands were dirty but his face and clothes were clean. The man exploded through the doors and looked around first to the left, then to the right, but on seeing the five staff members his clouded face lit up and he hobbled towards them. The eldest of the five, Dr. Marshall Green put his plate and fork down and jogged up to the man and inquired if he needed anything. The man gave no answer and simply looked at the doctor with a furrowed brow. Dr. Green asked again if the man was all right and again got no reply though the man was looking at the doctor as he spoke. The doctor spoke louder and slower, in case the man was hard of hearing or deaf but still got no reply. Confused, Dr. Green turned back to his colleagues and shrugged but as soon as he did the man let out a terrible scream and fell to his knees. Dr. Green spun back around and when he did the man grabbed the doctor around the waist and whispered to him –

  “Please, please…get her out of me. Get. Her. OUT OF ME!”

  The man collapsed on the floor and a pool of blood started to form beneath him. Panicked, Drs. Green and O’Leary bent down and each took and arm and they picked the man up and hurried him towards the closest room with the nurses rushing to get bandages and instruments to examine him. One of the nurses stopped in to see Mrs. Gypsim and to make sure the man’s screams hadn’t alarmed her. When she went into the room though the nurse found Mrs. Gypsim curled in a ball under her bed covers and crying. When the nurse asked what was wrong the older woman looked up from her knees and asked –

  “Why is that little girl crying? Please make her stop. Please make her stop crying.”

  The man was still unconscious when the doctors placed him in the bed so they could not inquire as to what had happened to him. Whatever had happened to the stranger he had been severely injured and needed help immediately. The first thing that needed to be handled was the bleeding – his shirt was soaked through with blood and the pool beneath him was spreading and soaking through the bedding and the staff needed to stop the bleeding. The nurses began carefully unbuttoning the man’s shirt but were pushed aside by Dr. O’Leary who began to cut the shirt away with a pair of scissors. A nurse gave Dr. Green a wet cloth to gently wipe the blood away and when he was finished there was no sign of wound on his stomach, chest, or throat, though the blood still continued to bubble up and pool on his skin, coming up through the pores. The doctors carefully rolled the man over and cleaned his back and again found no wound but within a moment of being cleaned the blood returned and covered him once more. The doctors rolled the man over onto his back again and looked at one another with pursed lips. The five staff members stepped back from the unconscious man to talk amongst themselves. Something needed to be done or he would bleed out. There was no telling how much blood he had already lost but there was no doubt he was running out of time. Perhaps he had sustained a massive internal trauma and that was where the blood was coming from but there was no way to know for sure without opening him up. Drs. O’Leary and Green both had performed surgeries but it was Dr. O’Leary who had the steadier hand so it was he that would perform the surgery. They didn’t know if the many would survive the move and time it would take to set up the operating room so they decided to perform the surgery on the bed where he was and so the nurses rushed off to get the instruments and gas. Dr. O’Leary left his colleague to go wash up quickly and Dr. Green remained to watch the man. There was an eerie silence that hung in the room and it unnerved the doctor even further so Dr. Green let his attention slip from the man for a moment and out the window towards where the man had come from where there were only miles and miles of woodland. Where had this man come from? Where had he been going?

From behind the Doctor came a young girl’s voice.

  “Mommy? Daddy? Why is it so dark? Why is it so dark here?”

Dr. Green turned around to see who this girl was and to get her out of the room but saw only the man, who was still unconscious and breathing shallowly. Again there came the voice.

  “Daddy? Daddy? Where am I? Why is it so dark? Daddy I can’t feel anything. Daddy? Mommy? MOMMY? DADDY? WHERE ARE YOU?”

  “Where, where are you? Little girl where are you?” Asked the doctor.

  “Inside…INSIDE!”

The little girl was screaming now and as Dr. O’Leary and the three nurses returned Dr. Green was visibly upset by the turn of events. The screaming stopped as soon as the other arrived but everyone had heard the girl and the nurses looked around the room and found no one and Dr. O’Leary turned the man’s pockets out and found no radio. All of them were shaken now and the girl didn’t speak after that but her sobbing remained and sent shivers of ice through all of them and it was Dr. Green that realized with dawning horror that the crying was coming from the unconscious man, whose mouth was still closed.

The man suddenly sat up, covered again in blood, and screamed once more –

  “Please, get her out of me. Pleeeeeeeease! Sweet Christ I can feel her, I can feel her tearing at me.”

The man let out a blood curdling yell and then fell back onto the bed and was still, his body turning white as more blood oozed out of his pores. One of the nurses fainted but no one noticed as Dr. Green slowly stepped up to the man and checked his pulse. Dr. Green nodded slowly. The man was gone. Dr. O’Leary stepped forward holding a towel and draped it over the man’s face. There was an eerie silence as the four staff members looked at one another, unsure what to do. Then, as if from a distance.

  “Mommy…daddy…I made the bad man let me go…made the man…let…me…go…”

It took three hours for the county coroner and police to make their way out to Mercy Hospital and by that time it was only Dr. O’Leary and Nurse Smith left on duty. Dr. O’Leary told the State Troopers who had come out that they could get statements later if they were needed; the staff had been through a lot. Seeing the state of the body and the thick pool of blood that had soaked the bed the two officers offered no arguments. Whatever had happened here had been horrific. As soon as it was all over the nurses had been ushered out of the room and down to the lounge and the authorities had been contacted Dr. Green patted his colleague on the shoulder and told him he had something he wanted to check on and with that he left and Dr. O’Leary watched as the older man made his way out of the hospital and across the parking lot and off into the field and back the way the man had come.

Dr. Green heard the cries of the approaching ambulance and then the police car but was deep within the woods by then and too focused on the forest floor, looking for signs of the man’s trail. As he got further and further from the hospital the trail became easier and easier to follow as footprints gave way to bits of clothing dropped here and there along the way. Pieces of a dress by the look. Deeper and deeper and deeper he went into the forest until he reached a place where the trail died off with first one then the other shoe and then marshland took over. Dr. Green searched everywhere but could find nothing more of the trail of the man. As the doctor was searching though he saw a small mound in the heart of the marsh and three small crosses planted within it. Dr. Green waded into the marsh and made his way slowly to the mound, the water rising from feet to ankles to knees, and up to his thighs by the time he got there. He got to the small island and climbed out of the marsh and walked towards the crosses.

They were graves.

Three graves.

Robert Tralay – 1838 – 1866

Madeline Tralay – 1844-1866

Angela Tralay – 1860-1866.

Three graves.

The last, the little girl’s grave had been dug up, seemingly by hand from the look of it, and her casket was broken open and to the doctor’s horror there was nothing inside it but a broken doll. Lying beside the grave was a wallet with an ID that belonged to the stranger whose name Dr. Green now knew – Charles Bilkwater.

The grave was empty.

The grave was empty.

The grave was empty.

The doctor turned and looked back the way he had come and shuddered.

I write books once in a while. Curious?

www.meepsheep.com

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