The ring twirled and then stopped. Danny approached it for a better look. It was in the likeness of a skull. The gemstones in the eye sockets were a deep purple, and tiny red stones made up a gaudy head covering with a plume. Danny reached for the ring, and then stopped.
Hello? He said. There was no echo.
Hello? Is anyone there? Anyone? Hello?
He picked up the ring and put it in his pocket, gave it a pat for good measure, and resumed his walk.
To his left, a light clicked on. By the sound of the click, and the distinct rattle of a chain, and by the small but present glow that invaded his peripheral vision, he knew it was a lamp. His mind flashed to the electrical box outside the hospital, which had long since been gutted. He closed his eyes and slowed his breathing, or at least tried to slow his breathing.
Danny-Do-Good did the only thing a scared little boy like him could do. He decided to be brave and turn towards the light. With both hands trembling, clutching his flashlight, he entered the doorway and followed the glow of the lamp. The room smelled like a trash bin of old latex gloves. And then there was something else. He caught whiffs of cornbread and Salisbury steak, and those smells mixed with the stench of dried urine and fresh vomit. His nose was invaded by cheap food and plastic and death. The hospital bed was neatly made and covered with a peach colored blanket. A tray of half eat’n food sat nearby, and a television above the bed displayed quiet static.
Danny-Do-Good rubbed his eyes and took in the scene. He knew that he had waited his entire life for a moment as strange as this, and he knew that he wanted that moment to be over. He wanted the light to be off, and the bed to be empty and unmade, and the TV to be dark and cracked through the screen. Imagination was lovely when it stayed within the imagination.
In all of the books and movies he had seen, he knew that oddities had a way of being there one second and gone the next. Danny-Do-Good shut his eyes, faced the door, and returned his head. The room would, when he opened his eyes, be dark as night, and he would be able to forget all of this and roam the halls again.
He opened his eyes, and everything was still there, but now there was an old woman in the bed. She was propped up in a sitting position. Her hair was a dirty white, and she faced away from Danny and looked toward a boarded up window. Her shoulders were so bony that they almost appeared to be spiked, and her neck was stained with black and purple bruises. She tilted her head to the side, raised a thin finger in the air, and in a soft, fragile voice, called for Danny.
Come in now, little one. Come in. I haven’t had a visitor in ages.
Danny-Do-Good gulped and walked forward. He stopped before he could pass the corner of the bed and see the old woman’s face.
My, my, I don’t bite, little one. Tell me, what do your friends call you?
Danny, Ma’am. Danny-Do-Good.
Danny Do good, the voice returned. Danny Doooo GoooDD. That’s very nice.
Ma’am, I. The hospital’s closed.
Oh? Nobody told me that.