There should have been a sound as she walked through the halls of Cedars Sinai. There should have been something; the soft squeak of her sneakers, if nothing else. Unfortunately, the soft rubber soles of her well-worn running shoes did nothing to amplify the slight tapping of her light footfalls. The most obviously absent sound in these cold, sterile hallways were those of typical hospital equipment, though. It stood to reason that the sounds of a hospital should permeate the halls of such a building.
This place didn't seem to follow reason.
This was definitely a hospital. The distinctive medical smell of the plastics made that point well enough, but this wasn't an ER, and it wasn't a recovery area. It was where patients went to live out the rest of their days, silent and unresponsive, forever trapped somewhere between life and death by accident or irreparable damage. Accordingly, the expression on the woman's face was a solemn one, her neutral expression showing no trace of the turmoil ripping through her mind. Nobody came to this ward without a reason, and nobody ever discussed those reasons. Life or death…those were the only options. Which one it was depended on the person.
Her yellow blouse and blue jeans indicated that she most likely didn't work for the hospital, though her tightly bound brown locks lent her face a severity and appearance of purpose befitting a nurse. Her flat, icy blue eyes gave no clue as to her intent. They showed no trace of grief, anxiety, or relief, no emotional cue that could help an observer deduce her thoughts. Perhaps that was the most unnerving thing about the young woman; she had a lack of presence and emotion more suited to a ghost than to a human being.
Halfway down the hall, the flooring material shifted from tile to faux wood, finally providing a surface that her footsteps would resonate off of. Her quick, measured steps were the only sounds in the tomblike silence. More unsettling than the nature of the wing, though, more unnerving even than her cold gaze was that every door in the sepulchral hallway was shut, the numbers on the doors the only indication of which patient lay within. After what seemed an eternity of walking, the woman arrived at her destination.
She lightly turned the knob, her hand slack and almost uncaring. After all, it wasn't as if the man she'd come to see would be getting up to receive her. He was comatose, his brain and body horrendously damaged from the incident that had put him in this hospital, in this quiet, isolated room. The young woman closed the door after she'd entered, being sure to twist the lock in the center.
Her flat, emotionless expression didn't change as she walked over to the bed, staring at the man hooked up to so many machines. There was no emotion in her gaze, no trace of caring. Her eyes were blank, mind flowing over with bright, painful memories. She'd buried so much in so many dark corners of her mind, yet the very sight of this man was enough to bring the worst parts of her life back in vivid, almost hallucinatory detail.
"Hello, Daddy Dearest," she said quietly, staring at the taped, intubated face of the man she hated. "Kelsey's here to see you again. Doesn't that make you so happy?"
Her voice was as flat as her expression, giving no clue to the deeper emotions she was feeling.. Her words were light in tone, almost sarcastic, calm and articulate; feminine in all the right ways, but lacking that essential human quality that was also missing in serial killers and the violently insane.
She rested her hands on the rail at the foot of the bed, still showing no reaction as she took a closer look at the comatose man. Years ago, his doctor had assured her that she could still hear, that there was reason to believe he could still hear and possibly understand her words. He thought that would comfort her, and it did, but not the way the doctor had intended. She practically reveled in the thought that he could hear her, that he had to lay there and listen to anything she might choose to say. She hoped it tortured him, being at her mercy like this. Besides, she was all he had now. Nobody else would be coming to visit him.
Her sisters had all moved away as soon as they could, and her mother had killed herself shortly before the incident that left her father in this condition. She was the only one left, and she took pleasure in that fact. His most hated daughter was the only company the man had anymore. She was all he got.
Her icy stare finally cracked, the beginnings of a satisfied smirk tugging at the corners of her lips. She stepped around the bed, carefully examining the life support equipment as she moved. She checked over the tubes that pumped air into his lungs, the machines that monitored his heart and brain, all the tools of science that kept life in this fragile, broken shell.
Now bent over his forehead, her lips parted slightly, a hint of pride in her otherwise flat tone. "I can't imagine how badly you must want to get off of that bed, Daddy. How much you wish you could break my bones again, choke me again, hurt me again. I bet it absolutely kills you that they just let me go after what I did to you."
Out of all the disturbing facts about this place and its inhabitants, that was the worst. This woman had been the one to put her father in this bed, and she had enjoyed doing so.
"Was it worth it?" She quietly asked, smirking. "All those horrible things you did to my sisters and I? All the things you let your friends do to us if they paid you for the privilege? All the things you made us do to each other? Tell me it was worth it, Daddy. Go on, say it."
As she stood there, waiting patiently for the comatose man before her to speak, she remembered his tight grip on her long tresses when she was too young even for school. Ever since then, she'd made it a point to keep her hair pinned up, to keep it out of the reach of anyone who might use it to force her into something. Her sisters had adopted the same practice, though she was always special; she was the pretty one, the prized one, the one he paid the most attention to. He loved how feisty she became when he tried to bring her into his bed. The other girls took their medicine too easily, becoming accustomed to his perversions. Not her; she made it exciting for him by resisting.
Her eyes narrowed slightly as she remembered fragments of the night she had finally gotten her revenge. It was almost poetic that their final encounter had occurred at her mother's funeral. She had only come to the funeral for a chance to see her older sister. She'd never cared for her mother. The bitch knew what her father was doing and pretended nothing was wrong, even after the youngest of her girls had died. She deserved no more respect in the woman's mind than her father did. Throughout the entire ride back to her home town, a small part of her wondered if her father would be the same after all these years; if he'd still want a taste of her now that she was an adult.
Unfortunately for him, the answer to that question was yes.
Her heart was already racing when she arrived at the funeral home that night, every nerve screaming with alertness. Her mother's wake, the blind family that never knew a thing of their brother that had hurt her so badly…it had almost been more than she could stand. She'd wanted to jump up and scream the truth to all of them, but she restrained herself. When he made his move, it was quick, almost a blur. He'd tried to force her into a closet, shoving a rough hand down her skirt and into her underwear, touching her the same way he had since she was a small child. It was more than her fragile, barely repaired mind could tolerate.
Her eyes squeezed shut as the next moments of that night replayed themselves in her mind. She'd somehow gotten away from him, and before she'd been able to process what was going on she was running out the funeral home's front doors, each breath ragged and gasping. Her father pursued her, his face red with anger. Thankfully, years of living in a large city had taught her to keep a weapon nearby, and in this case it was a crowbar under her car's driver's seat. She spun as he caught up to her, swinging the crowbar in pure, venomous rage. With every strike she screamed, swearing that he'd never touch her again, that he'd never hurt anyone again, that he would never, ever come near anyone again. She howled; face animal and triumphant, the crowbar hanging loosely from her hand.
She stood over his broken body, coated in so much of his blood that she seemed to have been splashed with bucket after bucket of crimson paint. She could see the life flowing out of him, staining and melting the snow he'd fallen in. It was, she thought, the most beautiful thing she'd ever see.
The flashing lights, the blood dripping from her hands and hair; things happened so rapidly that night that it passed by before she could think properly. Even through her fatigue and mental chaos, the woman remembered one thing vividly. She remembered smiling. The high flowing through her veins was more pleasurable and potent than any drug she'd ever used. Despite all the pain she lived with, despite all the horrible memories, in that moment she felt more alive than ever before. In that moment, watching her father's blood oozing out onto the frozen ground, she felt that all was right with the world.
The woman's smirk slowly vanished, her expression returning to its former disturbing flatness as she scanned her father's broken, scarred face. All these years, she'd been paying to keep him alive. She was the only blood relative he had, or at least the only one who would acknowledge his existence. She held power over his life or death, and she enjoyed that power immensely. It had only been 3 years since that day, but three years was an eternity when you were in constant agony.
There'd been many days where she'd considered ending it, calling the hospital and telling them to unplug the machines. She'd always decided not to, reminding herself that she wanted him to suffer as she'd suffered. Today was different, though. It was her 26th birthday. The twenty-year anniversary of the day he'd first polluted her body. He'd ruined her; made it so that she could never be innocent, never be like the other girls, never have a child or know what it was to have a loving family. He made certain that all she would ever know was hurt. He'd failed to break her, but that didn't mean he hadn't done horrendous damage to her body and soul in the process. She'd missed out on so much because of him…
Today should have been a day to celebrate her life, not a day to dwell on the monster that destroyed it. He'd ruined her life, and she had returned the favor. She bent over, kissing her father on the forehead, whispering in his ear. "Bye bye, Daddy Dearest. It's been a blast."
She yanked every cord she could find out of the walls, ripping out her father's IVs and pulling the intubation tube out of his throat. She left the room, the din of alarms sounding and nurses running toward the room almost like music to her ears. She calmly walked toward the exit, singing softly to herself, a sadistic smile playing over her lips as her eyes slowly filled with satisfaction.
"Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me…happy birthday, dear Kelsey…happy birthday to me."