Three: Red Ink
Something was wrong with the stars. The normal shapes of the constellations were gone, replaced by a pattern that was free flowing and garish.
Many of the stars were larger, almost as big as the sun at noon and they were pulsating rapidly like celestial bird hearts. The sky itself looked
warped, misshapen, and seemed to be drooping, sagging, falling down like something in a Dali painting. Marvin thought his terror in the tunnel and on
the crumbling stairs was the apotheosis of fear. Those horrors at least had been earthly and understandable. This was beyond his conception. It was,
God help him, like being forced to watch his mother being raped. He vomited hot thin bile down his already bloodstained shirt and collapsed onto his
hands and knees as dry heaves racked his body.
Eventually they passed. Marvin stood up slowly on quivering legs. His head swam momentarily, floating and inflating, then sort of drifted back
down to normal sensation. He lit a cigarette breathing the familiar smoke in slowly and risked another look at the sky. Normal. A perfectly normal
October night, stars of standard proportions in their customary positions, a three quarter moon hung low in the sky, the expected suggestion of
vastness above. Normal.
Marvin thought the air inside the hospital must have been worse than he'd imagined. Perhaps some toxic fumes had concentrated in that final
stairwell. Maybe he was just hyperventilating or maybe he was going mad. He wondered if that was anything like what Van Gogh had seen as he painted
"Starry Night". Maybe it was a flashback, or temporal lobe epilepsy. Millions of tiny wheels and gears of panic began to whirl in his head. But
no, there was nothing wrong with the sky and nothing wrong with Marvin and even if there was at that moment it didn't matter. All that mattered was
finding a way out, preferably without having to reenter the poison confines of the hospital.
Marvin checked his watch. It was broken. The crystal was fractured and the movement completely strange. It hurt his head looking at it.
Marvin placed his hands on his thighs and crouched over, breathing deeply. He counted to thirty and back, ran through the classification system for
organisms, kingdom, sub-kingdom, phylum, sub-phylum, class, order, family, genus, species.
Marvin felt better, more clear-headed. He started to consider the possibility of climbing down the side of the building. It had all kinds of
ledges and nooks and Marvin thought it just might be possible to make it down in one piece. That's when he noticed his car parked on the shoulder
across the road. The hood was up.
All of Marvin's earlier fear of encountering the Red Doctor crystallized like cold glass shooting through his veins. The world reeled. It was
like the whole of existence was a thin film floating on the surface of a churning body of water. Reality was boiling. The distance from the roof to
the ground was fluctuating, growing and shrinking erratically, like a "fear-of-heights" vertigo sequence in a movie played at double speed. The
hospital was shrieking, like its joints were being ground together by a tremendous force.
The quality of Marvin's panic was impossible to articulate. He lurched away from the edge of the roof afraid that he'd get pitched off the
side like a drunken cowboy riding a mechanical bull. His body felt displaced in space. The world seemed to shift and distort with each minute
movement of his head. Turning away was a labor and took forever. When he finally did the world had calmed, still rippling, but slowly, like a heavy
heat haze incongruous with the actual temperature which must have dropped twenty degrees since Marvin had arrived at the hospital.
The surface of the roof looked stretched and pulled like a newsprint image on silly putty. The cracked, asphalt surface was like a black, alien
desert. In the distance an immense cathedral dominated the landscape. It was a rooftop entrance to the attic, he realized, a small structure
distorted, the Red Doctor’s den. Marvin blinked, and then standing halfway between this nightmare church and him were the three girls. They were
perfectly still and seemed to float above the liquid wavering of the space around them. Two of them were pointing at the attic's door, which hung
slightly open. The third was looking up at the sky, one small hand held out tentatively as if she were checking for snow.
Each step toward the doorway brought back an increased measure of normalcy. The girls were gone and felt immediately vague, like an old memory
of a childhood friend who moved away in the fourth grade. The hallucinogenic episodes were extremely disturbing and Marvin had no idea what was
causing them. It couldn't just be fear. It was true that he was terrified, but he had been in bad situations before and fear had always focused his
senses, not distorted them. He thought maybe he'd been harder on his circulatory system then he realized and he was stroking out or maybe it really
was some kind of seizure. He supposed he could have hit his head worse than he thought sliding down the stairs. The line of thought was
unproductive. Instead, still moving slowly toward the ominously dark geometry of the attic, Marvin tried to make a list of what he did know and could
He was on the roof, at least thirty feet up. To get down he either had to go back through the potentially toxic, definitely dangerous interior
again or scale down the side of the building like Spider-Man. Neither notion appealed to him. In either situation he'd be an easy target for the
Red Doctor and the building itself was treacherously decayed and fragile. Even if he could make it down his car had been tampered with and was likely
inoperable. He had a vision of the distributor cap, neatly dissected and labeled, sitting on the side of the road. Then there were the three girls.
A trick of the light the first time, an outright hallucination the second? Probably, but that did nothing to dispel the outright freakiness Marvin
felt from the sightings. He was disturbed by the possibility that he was somehow seriously poisoned but there was nothing he could do except hope
that the episodes stopped and he would ultimately be okay. He felt damned from all directions.
The open metal door into the attic bore the signs of decades of exposure to the elements. It was pitted and completely rusted through in some
places, like the skin of a burn victim. Marvin pulled his do-it-yourself mace from his pocket, wrapping the end of the chain around his hand, and
slipped through the narrow opening. Inside it smelled like something forgotten rotting in the fridge. Almost solid seeming shafts of moonlight
pushed through the empty panes of the empty windows breaking the oily darkness. Much of the large, rectangular room was filled with tons of what
looked like military issue survival supplies. He supposed the hospital might have been designated as fallout shelter during the cold war.
The storeroom dominated the attic's interior. A wooden door, gray and splintered, led to another section. Marvin opened it with a light push.
Something crawled off the door across the back of his hand and he jumped back and swung his weapon reflexively. The heavy lock hit the door and took
a satisfyingly deep chunk from its surface. The door swung quietly in; the spoiled garbage smell rolled out. A short hall, maybe fifteen feet,
extended down to a wall dominated by the remains of a full-length stained glass window. One wicked looking shard remained bound to the frame like a
single red tooth. Colored glass pieces covered the floor. Some had been noticeably swept aside. Four doors, two on each side, lined the hall.
Marvin followed the path through the glass to the room on the far left and opened the door.
The putrid smell was overwhelming and Marvin gagged uncontrollably. A wall of windows let through surprisingly bright moonlight, like a spotlight in
the sky, allowing Marvin to easily make out the interior. A gurney, twin to Marvin's wandering friend in the basement, sat crookedly across one side
of the room. It looked like someone had dropped a case of rotten pomegranates across the table and all over the floor and the walls around it. Blood
and effluence were everywhere. In the stark chiaroscuro lighting it was like a swamp of red tar dotted with tiny islands of fat, cartilage, splinters
of bone and clumps of hair. Various saws, clamps and other instruments, rusty, antique looking things coated in human fluids, were lying haphazardly
around the operating area.
The other side of the room was practically filled by an oppressive looking metal desk. It was relatively clean except for a few stray splatters of
blood and a gray-green arc of dry liquid across its front. On top of the desk was a battered, brass kerosene lantern beside a large open book. A
glance at the cover revealed it to be the old med school staple "Gray's Anatomy". Words had been cut out from the book's pages, no doubt the
source of the doctor's labels, and judging from the swiss cheese condition of the text it looked as if the doctor had been a busy, busy man. Marvin
wondered how in the world the police could not have found this butcher shop that had obviously been in operation for many months at least.
Next to the book was a red, leather case, about a foot in length. Marvin unbuckled and opened the lid. The texture of the skin was soft and fragile
but it was perfectly intact despite the case's obvious age. A family heirloom perhaps? The inside was lined with deep red velvet. Housed inside it
were scalpels of various shapes and sizes, some so strange Marvin couldn't imagine what work they were designed for. There were eight, pristinely
clean and glowing silver with reflected light, along with a slot for a ninth.
On instinct Marvin checked the case's depth, picked it up and shook it lightly. Something thumped around loosely inside. The velvet lining,
knives and all, pulled out easily. Underneath was the doctor's pamphlet. It was identical to Blackwell's in every way except the cover was red
instead of black. Frayed scraps of leather inside the case's hidden compartment indicated the former location of bindings meant to prevent such easy
detection of the secret manual. Marvin sat down, removed his camera from around his neck, placed it on the desk and opened the book. The light from
the moon wasn’t strong enough to read by and so after a brief deliberation Marvin lit the lantern.
The handwriting may have been the same as in Blackwell's book, small and cramped, but this time the ink was red. Marvin read…
"Behold for there shall be a coming of a season to end all seasons. A final season of
Samhain, the season of culling. A time of metamorphosis, when the bonds of nature
shall be undone and the fabric of all things shall unwind. In this final season the earth
will move and break apart, mountains will rise and crumble, the sky will boil, the sun
will grow cold, the stars will bleed, the moon shall take on the aspect of worms, the
clock will die. Beast and fowl and man alike will wage war upon all others. The sea
will rise and attack the land with savage fury. Spirits and creatures now hidden
and dormant shall return and be apparent. The few who survive this mad season of
most glorious design shall come to understand this time as a heralding for He who
stands beyond the edge of natural things. He who was ancient when creation was young.
He who has fallen and represents the Fall. He shall arrive behind His catastrophic
announcement and His aspect will be one of wrath and He shall come accompanied by
legions of angels of vengeance in a myriad of forms and they shall be His pure agents for
they shall be Him for He is One and Many, King and Court. And He and His Court
shall wage a war of revenge on nature and its aspects including all manner of plant, beast
and man. And Nine noble judges shall be viewed upon with favor by Him and His and
they shall be bestowed with gifts by Him and with these gifts will come a privilege
of servitude to Him and the workings of His design. And those who are to be deemed
worthy by Him will be those who have believed and worshiped with proper reverence and
sacrifice in the age before His final season. It is the purpose of this fellowship to engage in
said worship with proper reverence to His glorious designs and proper sacrifice of nature
and it's children, which He finds so hateful. And they shall-"
Marvin actually smelled it first. The thick, cloying, rotten-sweet odor of the Red Doctor's operating room was cut infinitesimally by the flat,
metal scent of freshly sharpened steel. He saw it next, a brief flicker of light shining off the blade as it moved deftly through the darkness with
terrible speed. Marvin's hair was grabbed rudely by a rubber-gloved hand pulling his head up and back, extending his throat. He saw the other hand,
the left, glide gracefully into place. The knife was poised effortlessly, like it was an extension of the hand. It was pointing forward, held at a
slight angle. The blade was vertical, he meant to slice one of Marvin's jugular veins lengthwise. The hand hovered for a brief moment contemplating
the cut, then the scalpel came in with fearful precision and speed.
Marvin pulled out and swung back his right arm, which was holding his lock and chain in his lap. By sheer luck it wrapped around the doctor's
leg and Marvin tugged it forward fiercely, at the same time leaping up from the chair, knocking it backward into the Red Doctor. The doctor fell,
maliciously ripping out a fist full of Marvin's hair as he went. A small grunt escaped the doctor as his back slammed into the floor. Marvin drew
back the chain and pivoted, ready to bludgeon in the Red Doctor's head while he was prone, but the doctor greeted him with two swift kicks, one to
each shin just below the knee. Marvin stumbled and jammed the small of his back on the sharp corner of the massive, metal desk.
The Red Doctor rose with quick and fluid ease. He closed in on Marvin, grabbed his right arm, the one wielding the chain, pulled it up and out
and twisted it sharply, sending an explosive shot of pain along its length. The chain fell out of fingers that refused to work. The doctor's left
hand moved across Marvin's right with a blur. The soft flesh of Marvin's palm offered no resistance to the blade. Blood, a dark purple well of it,
poured out of the deep, clean slice, cresting with each beat of Marvin's pulse.
Marvin's free hand groped behind him on the desk, seeking the kerosene lantern. Instead it found the heavy, open textbook. He swung wildly,
clipping the doctor above the eye with one of the book's corners. The doctor let Marvin go as he reflexively brought his hands up to the small, but
ragged gash Marvin made on his forehead. Marvin took a pace forward, closed the book and swung again. The abused volume disintegrated on impact and
the Red Doctor fell through a flurry of shredded paper to the floor. Marvin ran up and started kicking at the doctor's head and ribs with berserk
One red plastic hand snaked out and grabbed Marvin's ankle, the other swiped along the back of his knee. A lance of agonizing pain paralyzed
Marvin as the doctor's knife cut into the tender tissue behind the joint. The doctor erupted upward, knocking Marvin back with uncanny force.
Marvin hit the wall, fracturing the ancient plaster, which billowed around him in a caustic, powdery cloud. Marvin sagged and slid down to the floor.
The doctor walked forward slowly. In the plaster haze he looked ethereal, a scarlet specter, a blood wraith. Marvin tried to scramble back up,
forgetting about the wound running the length of his right palm, and slipped back down on his own slick blood, hitting his head against the wall
again. Marvin's vision began to dim and tunnel.
Marvin was incapacitated beyond fighting. The Red Doctor scooped him up as if Marvin were a child. In three gliding steps he carried Marvin to
the gurney and laid him down on its blood-encrusted surface with unexpected, matronly gentleness. Marvin tried to get up but the Red Doctor pushed
him back with a firm hand shaking his index finger at Marvin in mock scolding. Marvin could see the other hand pulling something out of the pocket of
the doctor's scrubs. A syringe. The doctor uncapped it, held it up in the moonlight, examined it briefly and flicked the needle a couple of times
then swung it down to Marvin's neck. Marvin tried to roll aside but the doctor's other hand grabbed the raw, torn flesh of Marvin's right hand
with a hard pinch, freezing Marvin with a fresh bolt of agony. The needle slid in, the doctor depressed the plunger and pulled it out in one quick
movement. He let it go as soon as he was done with it and the glass vial shattered on the concrete floor.
Marvin gave only one inarticulate squeak of protest, the last he had in him, as the doctor strapped down his arms and legs. The doctor picked up
a pair of long scissors off the floor, which he used to cut open Marvin's shirt from collar to waist. Marvin watched the doctor float back over to
the desk where he opened his case and replaced his current scalpel with a fresh one, apparently meticulous only about his knives. He glided back and
hovered above Marvin then brought up his right hand and pulled the skin above Marvin's sternum taut. Then the left hand came in and began cutting
open the flesh with slow, cautious pressure. Marvin could barely feel it, like dental work under heavy Novocain, but he closed his eyes, the only
refuge he had left.
Marvin started to feel vague, probably more from shock and blood loss than whatever the doctor had injected him with. He felt himself slipping
away, jumping willingly into the merciful senselessness of unconsciousness. Marvin knew he had to get free and out of there before the doctor finished
his work but he was just too tired to think about all of that at the moment. He just needed to rest and clear his head. He was just going to sleep
for a minute and then figure out what to do next. He just needed to sleep for a minute…
…he had the strangest dream…
In his dream Marvin was still in the hospital, still in the doctor's office, still strapped on the gurney, still cut up and bleeding. The
doctor was still making an incision in Marvin's chest in preparation for an unspeakable operation. He cut the numb flesh down to the fourth rib. In
fact the dream was so much a continuation of what he had just been experiencing that the only reason Marvin recognized it as a dream was due to the
impossible nature of what happened next.
As the doctor cut, Marvin could hear a soft, moist rip, the sound of his skin opening. Suddenly the room was pierced with a high-pitched,
inhuman scream. The cutting stopped and the scalpel fell, bouncing off the table and onto the floor. Marvin's ears were filled with an insane
animal growl, high pitched and savage. It sounded familiar.
Marvin's eyes opened and he saw the Red Doctor flailing about blindly, trying to pull off a small black and gray tiger stripe cat that had
attached itself to his face. There were almost symmetrical sets of deep, bloody furrows extending from the cat's gripping front claws between the
doctor's temples and his eyes. The cat's mouth was clamped firmly on the bridge of the doctor's nose, blood welled around its needle sharp teeth,
as it's hind legs thrashed and kicked fiercely at the lower half of the doctor's face. His mask was mangled, hanging in bloody tatters and Marvin
could see that the cat was doing the same to the doctor's lips, cheeks and chin.
With a feeling of unnatural calmness Marvin looked past the surreal combatants to the dimly lit room about them. The lines of the room began to
waver, like a cartoon scene set underwater. It was strange, but also pleasant, almost amusing, but as he watched the tempo and severity of the
shimmering effect intensified until the entirety of Marvin's visual field was twisting and turning like a washing machine.
He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to dispel the chaotic effect like a drunk the night after a bender trying to will away a hangover. Then he
felt himself rocked jarringly to one side. The gurney was moving. By itself. It pivoted slowly out from the wall then laboriously rolled toward the
open door at a snail's pace. Marvin wondered if self-locomotion was a trait shared by all of the hospital's gurneys, thinking about the one he had
seen rolling along in the basement and he laughed out loud despite his circumstances, because this event was so unnatural and bizarre it had to be a
Then he realized that he was wrong. The table wasn't moving on its own. It was being pushed. The three girls who pointed Marvin into that
slaughterhouse were now trying to save him. Three strange, silent pilots guiding him out on a blood drenched ferry. Two of them were behind his
head, straining to turn the table's wheels, which must have gone unoiled for decades. The other was by the desk. Marvin saw her grab something off
it before she ran up beside him, holding his left hand in her right, looking into his face with deep concern. Somehow Marvin could tell that this was
the one who had been looking into the sky when he saw them on the roof.
The Red Doctor finally managed to pull the cat from his face. He looked like he had been diving in a pool full of razor blades and Marvin felt a
tremendous respect and gratitude for the small, brave creature that had done that to the murderer. The doctor was trying to keep hold of the mad
animal, which was flailing about in his hand like a live wire, all spit, teeth and claws. It looked like the doctor wanted to punish it, but the cat
apparently didn't want to escape from him either. It twisted itself around and clamped onto the doctor's arm, drawing blood through the
elbow-length rubber gloves he was wearing. As Marvin's table was worked jerkily toward the open door he saw the doctor raise his arm up to club the
cat against the hard edge of the desk. The doorframe cut off Marvin's view before the impact, but he heard it, a sickening muffled thump combined
with a weak, feline yelp. The sound continued, six or seven times before the crying stopped.
The girls pushed the gurney into the hall. One closed the door into the doctor's room as the other two unbuckled Marvin's restraints with
small, deft fingers. They pulled him up and somehow he managed to stand. The anesthesia (and the fact that he was dreaming, no doubt) made Marvin's
body feel as substantial as a cloud, and he had only a little unconnected pain despite his multiple injuries. A part of him worried that he would make
his wounds worse moving about unable to feel them properly, but mostly he recognized the temporary reprieve as a blessing. Besides, he had other
things to worry about. The hallway's perspective was moving and distorting, stretching long and snapping back like a rubber band then twisting about
wildly like a suspension bridge in a hurricane
One of the girls took Marvin by the hand, his left, the one that wasn't cut, and led him down the glittering rainbow path of shards toward the
storage room. The other two struggled to position the gore-encrusted gurney in front of the door to the doctor's office. Marvin walked slowly, not
by choice, on phantom legs. He made the mistake of looking down at himself. He was bathed in his own blood, completely drenched. He felt himself
starting to faint, a funny sensation to have while you're dreaming but the girl leading him squeezed his hand and the feeling passed. She looked up
at Marvin with a solemn and sincere child's eyes and shook her head, conveying the obvious message that going out now would be the end of him.
Looking forward was not much better, however, because the hall seemed to be flowing like smoke in a strong wind. Marvin stopped, unable to make sense
of the space he was traveling through. The other two girls joined them, one supporting Marvin on either side and the disorienting sensation subsided.
They seemed to be projecting an aura of stability in a small radius around him. Finally they reached the door. Marvin could see the deep notch he
had made earlier in the rotten wood when he hit it with his chain. A small trickle of thick, dark liquid, blood, was seeping from the gash. Marvin
thought that that was good. He was bleeding; the hospital deserved to bleed too.
With this irrational thought Marvin walked through into the vast, shadowy expanse of the storage room. Three slow, limping steps in he realized
his companions had vanished once again and he was on his own. As if on cue from this awareness the spatial distortion returned with a vengeance
turning Marvin's entire span of vision into a writhing, squirming field, like multihued maggots lain out in a mosaic of the room. Marvin stepped
forward and space swam about his head, fragmenting then reknitting haphazardly only to break apart again. Marvin continued on the best he could. He
felt like Seurat on speed.
Marvin could see the door to the outside occasionally, when his vision approximated normality, and he tried to make his way to it. He was
actually making some progress when the pounding started. He couldn't pinpoint the location, maybe because his hearing was as distorted as his sight,
but it was a loud, steady hammering, with a barely audible ringing persisting after each beat. He pictured the Four Horsemen, his old friends from
work, driving their horses mercilessly, their horseshoes ringing against the stones as their hooves chewed apart the world.
Marvin stopped moving, trying to locate and identify the repetitive noise. Suddenly the sound exploded in a crashing cacophony of metal and
Marvin knew what he was hearing. The doctor. Somehow in his struggle to escape Marvin had forgotten the Red Doctor. He could picture him in his
mind's eye with horrid clarity, slipping through the open space of the door, climbing over the prone gurney, gliding down the hall with inhuman
speed. Marvin ran in blind animal terror.
He went as fast as he could on his injured leg, full speed into a precarious stack of crates. Marvin bounced off them and crumpled in a heap.
The short tower of supplies teetered, paused a moment and fell, disgorging the goods stored inside across the floor with a sound like sacks of wet
flour hitting stone. It was human heads in various states of decay. One, a woman's he thought, it was hard to tell, landed inches from Marvin's
own head, rolling over until they were nose to nose like lovers making pillow talk. Much of the flesh from the top half of her face had been sliced
off. The slack mouth dropped open expelling a rank cloud of rotten, stale air.
A tear rolled down her cheek. It was red. She was crying blood. Then a second drop landed on her lip and slid across her mouth to the floor.
Marvin turned his gaze up. The blood was dripping from the remains of the cat, half skinned, which was being held in the right hand of the doctor
like a hunter's prize catch. In the other hand was one of his many knives.
Marvin rolled, evading the scalpel by inches. The blade snapped as the Red Doctor stabbed it into the floor. The doctor was quick, much quicker than
Marvin was and he delivered a sharp kick to his ribs, knocking out what little wind Marvin had left. The doctor fell on him, pinning Marvin's arms
with his knees and began bludgeoning Marvin's head with his left fist.
His punches were like hammer blows. Marvin felt little pain, but the force was immense. His head erupted with light with each hit and every burst
brought with it a microcosm of bizarre, convoluted dreams that dissolved from Marvin's memory as quickly as they came. At some point the doctor
discarded the cat and placed both hands around Marvin's throat and squeezed. Incredible pressure filled Marvin's head, then everything went
Marvin could hear the doctor laughing through his tattered mouth; a low, thick, gravel filled chuckle of amusement at it's most perverse.
Marvin guessed he was enjoying taking him out in this basic manner so removed from the artful and delicate methodology of his knives. Marvin was
fading out into the warm, woolen gray, drifting headlong into limbo. His senses were all gone except for his hearing, nothing was left except for the
sound of the Red Doctor's sick pleasure.
Then the sound cut off, replaced by a ragged scream. The grip on Marvin's neck loosened, and the weight of the doctor's legs came off his
arms. The world faded back in. Marvin saw the doctor ripping the cat's mouth loose from his achilles tendon. Its will to live was as strong as
Marvin's was, maybe stronger and it used the last ebb of its life in a final act of defiance against the Red Doctor. The doctor threw the mangled
remains of the animal hard against a nearby crate. It hung there for a moment, then slid down to the floor. Marvin watched the light of sentience
wink out of the cat’s red/orange eyes.
Determined not to let the animal's self-sacrifice go to waste, Marvin brought his right knee up hard into the doctor's crotch. He collapsed
like a marionette with its strings cut. Marvin scrambled backward. His left leg refused to bend and stuck out like a piece of dead wood, so he
propelled himself awkwardly with his right leg and his good left hand. The doctor held himself and rocked, moaning, a steady noise that rose from a
low groan of glandular pain to a loud, manic cry of rage at this unprecedented defiance. The doctor rolled into a crouch, looking ready to pounce.
There was no escape Marvin could see, his life was about to end despite the best efforts of man, animal and ghost.
Then the room, every brick and beam, every box and crate, began to quiver violently, like the hospital was an ant colony being shaken by a cruel
child. Horrible, oscillating light flooded through the broken windows. The wind pitched and wailed, sounding like armies of insane choirs murdering
each other while singing their discordant harmonies. Sections of the walls vibrated loose, creating jagged, man sized holes. A beam on the far side
of the chamber fell in a billow of dust from the ceiling with an immense, dry crash.
The doctor looked about himself with wide, stunned eyes and while it was hard to say given the condition of his face, Marvin thought he was
smiling, like a child who thinks Santa Claus has just arrived. Marvin took the opportunity to continue his clumsy crab-walk backward, reached a wall
and pushed himself up, ignoring the heavy shower of debris raining down on him. He was steps away from a large opening in the wall and he limped
carefully to it, managing to stay on his feet despite the powerful earthquake shaking the hospital to pieces around him.
The Red Doctor jumped to his feet and ran at Marvin with quick, light steps, shrinking the short distance Marvin had managed to put between them
effortlessly. Marvin was transfixed, almost hypnotized, with fear, and he was only able to move away with an artless jerk backward through the hole.
His feet tripped over the bottom edge of the opening and he fell, landing hard on his sacrum. The doctor flew out behind him, he was going to land
full force on top of Marvin, but Marvin was frozen, he couldn't move no matter how hard he tried.
The doctor glided over Marvin, ignoring him completely, ran to the edge of the roof and knelt, extending his arms to the sky like a fanatic
genuflecting a wrathful pagan god. Marvin rolled over and pushed himself up as best he could and looked out from the hospital roof, immediately
wishing he hadn't.
Marvin saw the fabric of reality unweaving. He saw the death of nature. He saw Samhain. Marvin looked for less than a second but the vision
persisted, burnt through his eyes and into his brain like the retina scarring blaze around the edge of an eclipse. The landscape shivered like a
dying dog's death rattle. The forest burned with iridescent flames in some places, in others columns of uprooted trees and debris from the forest
floor rose into the sky in counterclockwise spirals. Lightning ripped through space from all directions, searing away the air, blanching the night
sky with jagged white scars. The stars fell in all directions in scarlet streams, colliding in celestial blossoms of blood. There was a sound
underneath the banshee howling wind like a hard-boiled egg being slowly unshelled. The sky itself was fracturing, like a pottery glaze crackling in a
kiln. The doctor was saying something but the sound ebbed and waned, hitting Marvin's ears like some unintelligible pig latin. Marvin didn't want
to hear him or anything anyway. He just wanted to crawl into the deepest, farthest corner of his mind and hide in its absolute darkness. Anything,
even oblivion, was better than this nightmare.
Suddenly the Red Doctor lifted him, hoisting Marvin above his head effortlessly, like he weighed no more than an old, well-used pillow. Marvin
struggled, the slow motion protest of a claw bound lobster about to enter the pot, but it did him no good. The doctor shifted back, stepped forward
and threw Marvin out into the night's blooming madness. A phrase slipped through Marvin's head like a stream of quicksilver, "He who has fallen
and represents the Fall". Marvin fell.