The Two Week Curse(5)

By: Michael Chatfield

“Sure, I’ll go get you something,” She said, turning and leaving.

Erik pushed his head back into his pillows.

Here lies Erik West, used by many, loved by few and weakling.

He snorted at his own thoughts, he was a warrior, but when had he fought for himself? Now when it was all coming to an end he was filled with regrets and weakness, he wasn’t a warrior charging forwards into the breech, he was a sad man wasting away in some hospital till his time was up and they’d only need to change the sheets.

He didn’t regret serving, nor did he regret his time with the military and private security contractors. He wished he had been able to pursue more things in life that the military had kept him from.

Thankfully the nurse returned quickly and added some new chemical to his IV.

“Thanks,” Erik said.

“No problem,” The nurse looked like she wanted to say more, but what was there to say.

Chapter: 5

Chapter: Wolf or Sheep

Erik woke up to the sound of snoring, he looked over to see a familiar sight. Rugrat, they had served together since they left the military.

They’d saved one another’s lives too many times to count and they were brothers even if they didn’t have the same blood running through their veins.

Rugrat had been in the convoy, he’d been the one that had run through the bullets and carried Erik back to his truck and saved his life by putting tourniquets on his limbs.

Erik didn’t say anything as he let Rugrat sleep in the chair. The man looked like he had been through hell, his hair growing out, his cowboy hat off at an angle as he wore a suit that looked like it had been bought at a discount store and had been used too many times.

A nurse came in sometime later, opening the door Rugrat’s eyes cracked open as he looked to the nurse and the awake Erik.

“How are we feeling today?” The nurse asked.

Erik let out a long sigh and a shrug.

Looking between the two the nurse gave a compulsory smile.

“I’ll bring some food around in a few minutes,” She said before leaving.

Rugrat pulled himself up, his tan fading a bit as he leaned forwards.

“How was it?” Erik asked, he didn’t want to ask, but he needed to.

“They were nice ceremonies,” Rugrat said, his voice forced as he looked at his hands a heaviness fell over them as they sunk into their own memories.

“I heard that you’re okay to leave?” Rugrat asked.

“Yeah, I would,” Erik snorted, bitterness written all over his face.

“Got the fucking two-week curse, two weeks I’m gone,” Erik said flicking his hand to the side with finality.

Erik instantly regretted his words as he saw the look of pain on Rugrats face, it was as if he had punched him in the gut.

“You don’t know that,” Rugrat said, a defiant look in his eyes.

“Rugrat,” Erik started.

“Don’t you start that defeatist shit with me, I just watched three of our friends get put in the ground in the last fucking week. I ain’t having you give the hell up on me too. No one knows what happens when you disappear what they do know is that the people that go, can do anything before they leave! I heard that there was a person that had been stabbed but their body repaired itself!”

Erik gritted his teeth getting frustrated.

Rugrat got up, pointing at Erik.

“Are you a fucking wolf or are you a fucking sheep?” Rugrat’s eyes burned into Erik’s/

“I’m a fucking worm now!” Erik yelled.

“You’re Erik fucking West, you’re a fucking Wolf,” Rugrat poked Erik in the chest so hard it hurt.

Erik flopped onto the pillows, tears in his eyes as he let out a self-deprecating laugh.

“A wolf huh? Fat fucking good I can do.”

Rugrat grabbed him by his hospital gown and yanked him up so Erik could smell the sweat and see the stubble on his face.

The veins on Rugrat’s neck and hand were popping out as he looked at Erik, as if searching for something, looking for that spark, that fighting spirit.

With a frustrated yell he let Erik go and punched the wall.

Erik wanted to say or do something, but he felt like an empty shell, a being without purpose, without a use. Just a hollow shell no one wanted or needed.

Seeing Rugrat facing the wall, his shoulders slumped in defeat, he felt his heart hurting, he felt his anger and frustration rising, instead of directing it towards himself he directed it towards what had happened.

It was what Rugrat said, anything was possible to the people with the two week curse he would beat this, he’d break this fricking thing.

There was always healing potions and healing spells in those games. Do I try and fight, even if for him, or do I just waste away here?

There was a noise outside of the room of people talking. Someone was raising some kind of argument.

Erik’s jaw flexed. He knew that voice.

“Your parents arrived yesterday,” Rugrat said, reading his thoughts.

Erik let out a deep breath. His brow pinched together and black lines appeared on his forehead as he rubbed his right temple. All right, so I’ve got two weeks before I disappear. I need to know more about what this means.

“Rugrat, you know anything about this curse?” Erik asked.

“I looked into it a bit. You see a screen in front of you when you woke up?” Rugrat asked.

Erik nodded.

“Well then, you’ve definitely got that. The screen showed your stats, I guess. You can upgrade them, get strong and use magic, like that Dungeons and Dragons stuff,” Rugrat said.

“What about titles?”

“Titles?” Rugrat frowned.

“It gave me a title, something about nearly dying and coming back again.” Erik shrugged.

“Oh, well.” Rugrat looked awkward but then faced Erik right on. “You might have died on the operating table when they were getting you fixed up.”

Erik pursed his lips, trying to assimilate that as his head moved back and forth slightly. “Okay, well, that’s interesting to know.” Erik didn’t have time to think on all of that right now.

“How do you feel? Stronger?” Rugrat asked.

Erik moved around. He noticed that in his vision that there were two bars: one was blue, the other green. “You know what the bars mean?”

“They’re your Stamina and Mana pool. It’s the amount of actions that you can do before you need to drink or eat something, or Mana you can use on spells before you need to regenerate it,” Rugrat said.

Erik took in his words and continued his investigation. His stumps were itchy. He checked on them, thinking that it might be a rash coming in. “The hell?” Erik looked at the skin that lay under the socks on his limbs.

The mangled skin should have taken a few months to smooth out, but now there wasn’t a scar to be seen.

Hope rose in his chest, but he suppressed it. He didn’t want to raise his spirits only to have them drop immediately afterward.

He put the socks back on.

“It’s been three days since you turned into a blue smoke machine, which means there are eleven more days,” Rugrat said, holding nothing back.

The door opened. An older-looking gentleman with a refined bearing and a perfectly pressed navy-blue suit looked from the hulking cowboy-hat-toting man in the room to Erik.

Erik didn’t miss the flash of disappointment in the man’s eyes as he looked to Erik.

“Erik.” A woman, wearing a skirt and matching blazer, pushed past him. She looked as if she were on the verge of holding back tears as she moved into the room toward Erik.

His features only hardened at these actions. His mother and father were upper-tier mover and shakers in medical and business circles. His father was a surgeon while his mother was a business leader. The two of them had created a medical empire in various hospitals across America.

His father hid his thoughts through his patented Doctor West smile that made him seem carefree and laid-back, but underneath there lay the heart of a viper.

His mother was the one to play to people’s emotions, using their guilt and emotions to get them to do what she wanted.

Out of the two, at least his father would lose the smile after he was home. His mother was manipulative and fake in everything that she did.

“Mother, Father.” Erik looked to them both, his face pinched together.

“Erik dear, when we heard about you losing your limbs, we were distraught. We would’ve flown over.” His mother held his head between her hands and looked into his eyes.

“Rugrat, get my discharge papers. Could you give me a ride home?” Erik asked.

“On it.” Rugrat, sensing the odd atmosphere in the room, quickly left. The door closed behind him.

Erik’s father frowned. “We told you again and again to come and work for the family hospitals. Your sister and brother both listened.” His eyes thinned in anger as a snarl appeared on his face.

“Well, go see them. Seems that they’re your perfect children.” Erik had even less regard for the two snakes who were his siblings.

“Erik,” his mother admonished. “We’re family. Nothing can come between us!”

“We were never a family, just the surrogates for you. Doesn’t matter much anymore,” Erik said.

“You will be coming back with us to New Hampshire, where we will take care of you,” his father said, brooking no argument.

Erik started to laugh, getting more and more crazed by the end of it.