They continued down the hall toward Jon’s room. As they passed Rudy Wernbacher’s room, the door swung open and Karl rushed out, nearly toppling Jon. Karl quickly tucked something inside his lab coat pocket and sped down the hall. His face was drawn and white.
“Again,” Jon shouted as Karl sped past.
Through the open door they could see the room was empty of people. Rudy was not there. The covers were pulled back from his bed revealing a dark blood stain, the size of a dinner plate, in the middle of the sheet.
Jon gave a short gasp and lifted his hand to his mouth.
“See, he did kill him,” Jon said, his eyes wide. “He came up the elevator before us, came to Rudy’s room and knifed him. He was making his getaway. Poor Rudy.”
It didn’t make sense, of course. Walden shook his head. There wouldn’t have been any time for Karl to do something nefarious to Mr. Wernbacher, have the body removed and make his escape in the short time of an elevator ride, even though the old machine was monstrously slow.
“His family was coming,” Walden said. “Perhaps he has passed away Afi.”
“He butchered him,” Jon said in a low voice. “Look at that pool of blood. Hacked him to bits. Poor defenseless Rudy probably saw the knife coming down on him, over and over. The pain, his suffering and terror, the loss of humanity.”
“I don’t think that’s what happened to Mr. Wernbacher,” Walden said.
“Of course it is, you saw that butcher making his escape. He almost killed me too, charging out of there like a mad bull. Bastard. Even though he was old he should have been left to live out his last days.”
“Let’s go to your room. Good time for a nap.”
Jon hunched, leaning on his walking stick, and shuffled onward to his room near the end of the hall. His feet dragged and scraped along the hard hallway floor, scratching like sandpaper under foot as he shuffled. He felt very old in that moment.
“What does it matter anyway, nobody will remember any of this. We are just a blink in time. We’ve been around such a short time; I wonder how long humans will even exist. We all die. I remember when my father died.”
Again Jon recalled his father, laying in his casket, but as he imagined the face of his long dead parent, the corpse transformed itself from Magnus Magnusson to Sturla Thordarson, dressed in his burial clothes and shroud, dead eight hundred years.
“There will be more. He is on the hunt to do us all in, that savage bastard. You’ve got to stop him. Get that Nurse Clara, she’ll know what to do.”
“I’ll see what happened to Mr. Wernbacher and let you know. I’m sure nothing spooky happened.”
“I’m not used to this kind of stuff.” Jon’s face sagged as if it was melting wax.
He slowed, then stopped, leaning one shoulder against the hallway wall. He looked at his grandson and thought, ‘if you catch me down on my knees, I am not praying, I am agonizing over the unfairness of the brevity of our human existence, my existence and yours. Seventy, eighty, maybe a hundred years, out of the billions of years behind us and ahead of us. What does it even matter? How is that fair? Are we the brightest lights that shine so briefly with brilliance that we burn ourselves out and extinguish in a blink of an eye. We get so little time. Perhaps the Singularity is the answer. You’ve got to get me out of this place before it’s too late.’
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