The creatures scuttled frantically on the floor beneath my chair, scratching their tiny claws along the dented linoleum as the scrambled toward my slippered feet. I yanked my legs up away with a wheezing screech, using thin arms to lift weak limbs from the floor and out of the monsters’ reach. I hugged my knees awkwardly to my chest as I rocked in the worn old recliner, crying softly to myself. The monsters continued to fight among themselves on the floor, clawing bloody gouges in one another now that I was momentarily our of reach.
Blessedly, the humming flourescent light flicked on and the creatures scattered. “Bea! What’s going on in here? Is everything all right?”
The soft-spoken young woman in loose blue clothing stared at me, obviously concerned and waiting for an answer. I continued rocking to comfort myself, trying to keep calm. Breath, keep calm. She didn’t see the monsters slowly creeping toward her from the shadowed corners of the room. They didn’t like the light, but it couldn’t keep them at bay for long with such a tasty morsel within easy reach.
“The monsters…” My voice was a scratchy whisper, breathy with panic, but I had to warn her. The girl was so friendly when she helped me dress in the morning, when she led me to the bathroom, or helped my when I struggled buttering my toast in the dining hall. Fear welled up, thick and sour in my belly. “Run! They’re going to bite you!”
She glanced around the room as I sat huddled, shivering in my nightgown, legs still drawn up out of reach despite the creaking pain in my knees. Her gaze swept right over the creatures without any sign of acknowledgment or recognition of the danger. They capered between her feet, snapping at her thick soled rubber sneakers.
Her kind eyes met my wide, fearful ones. “Bea, Darling… There’s nothing here to be afraid of.” She pantomimed looking under the bed and flicked through my sparse belongings in the closet. “There’s nothing hiding in here that could hurt you.” One of the grizzled skeletal monsters was attempting to claw it’s way up the pant leg of her blue uniform. She gave no reaction. “Now it’s time for bed. Do you need a sleeping pill?”
“No pills… no pills…” I shook my head violently from side to side. “I can’t sleep. They’ll climb into the bed. Why don’t you see? They’re going to bite you!”
The young woman glanced around in confusion, still oblivious to the danger clambering at her feet. “Bea, what’s trying to bite me? There’s nothing here.”
Their slavering little tongues licked at her shoelaces. Claws made a tic tic on the tiles to avoid her determined steps as she walked to my chair.
“The creatures are going to eat you! We need to get out!”
The young woman placed her hand on my head. “You don’t feel like you have a fever.”
I swatted her hand away, mind racing. If I used all my strength, I might be able to jump forward with enough force to knock both of us out of the tiny room and into the hall. We could slam the door, shutting the creatures in the room. They’d be trapped.
With that thought in my head, I stood on my chair, wobbling slightly on knobby legs. The air felt cold but invigorating on my bare legs. I could do this.
“Bea! Don’t do that, you’ll fall!” The sweet young girl shouted, but it was too late. I pushed against the springy cushioned seat of the chair with all my might. The heads of several toothy grinned creatures followed this motion with obvious glee in their eyes.
My effort wasn’t enough. I sprawled, landing half on top of the blue clad woman as she attempted to break my fall. Both of us fell hard to the linoleum. I screamed and screamed, watching the tiny claws and gnashing fangs dance around us as the nurse struggled to her feet, trying to help me up. My knees hurt.
“John, help! I need a haldol injection stat! She’s having a hallucination…”
She had both of my wrists in her strong hands, guiding me to the bed as I struggled against her, lashing out in fear. But I wasn’t strong enough. And I was distracted. The little gremlins could reach my feet now. The slippers had fallen off in my attempted escape so my bare skin was unprotected. The closest creature leaped onto my left right foot, digging sharp tiny claws in for better purchase.
I screamed. The pain was cutting, burning as they scrambled up my legs, the nurse failing to come to my aid despite my cries. “Get them off, they’re hurting me!”
A middle-aged man huffed into the room with a syringe. “Hold her tight, I don’t want to hurt her.”
I shouted again, my voice echoing sharply in the cramped and mostly vacant room. Despite the agony of the demons shredding my legs, I still could feel the tiny poke of the injection in my arm as the two of them wrestled me to the bed.
“Shhh… Bea. Relax. It’s okay, we’re here. There’s no monsters.”
I tried to respond, but I could already feel the medicine flowing into my brain, dulling my senses, limbs growing weak. I collapsed into the bed.
They covered me up, monsters and all under the cozy flowered comforter.
The young nurse held my hand for several moments as I floated on the edge of consciousness. “There’s no monsters Bea. The medicine will make them go away. Just breath. It’ll be okay.”
I continued to fight against the effects of the medication, but it was no use. My breathing slowed and my eyelids began to droop despite the tiny demons manifesting anew in the dark corners of the room, the few under the covers still gnawing at my toes and scratching up my legs. My hands lifted to swat them away, but instead flopped weakly to my sides, no longer mine to control.
Fear growing even greater, more frantic, I watched as the young nurse flipped off the light.
All i could do was whimper as she closed the door behind her, voice echoing in softly. “Dementia’s so sad. I hate working in a nursing home.”
As the monsters ate away through my skin, into the throbbing muscle and deep into bone, all I could do it pray. Soon I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep…