I've lost track of the time since I first found myself in this latrophobic purgatory. All I wanted was a routine doctor's appointment, maybe a perscription for that tenacious cold I continue to be burdened with. I never figured out how I got here, either; I'd made the appointment, went about my day, and suddenly I was here, surrounded by stupid looking monsters in medical scrubs.

It's been months, maybe years since I first went looking for an exit. This "hospital" never ends, and never makes sense. Emergency rooms, operating rooms, radiology labs, admissions offices, stranger chambers I can't quite place...they just repeat, shift around and twist in on each other in endless defiance of physical law. Nothing looks like it should, either. Everything is the wrong material, the wrong proportions, weird and tasteless colors.

Filthy, too, ranging from just very, very sticky to completely caked in dried blood and bile and worse. You can literally see the germs teeming over every surface, and I know the proper usage of "literally," thank you. I've given up trying to keep their cold and sticky little bodies from colonizing my skin. I've seen them the size of rats, protoplasmic globs slithering in dank corners, hairy cilia rippling.

Most of my time is spent dodging the staff, but every so often I get cornered and have to talk or fight my way out of another superfluous injection, another round of pills that will only blind me or turn my teeth into jelly, maybe another "emergency epidermal prolapse" or "reverse ocular enema." They're worse than they even sound.

The same small crew of "doctors" seem to be in charge of everything. They don't look human, to say the least. The boss calls himself Doctor Phage, which I finally recalled is a type of virus. He looks exactly like one, a sort of spider-legged jewel. The only thing I hate more than his stupid jokes are those obnoxious ties he's so fucking proud of. He's frequently accompanied by what I've come to refer to as the needlehead, and a slimy something in a wheelchair, obscured by boils.

The cafeteria is run by, I shit you not, a giant hamburger, as moldy and maggot-ridden as the food he serves up, and you don't want to know what the janitor is made of. Every so often, I'll also spot Phage having coffee with some "esteemed colleague" of his, some big metal whatsit with chattering teeth. Scares the piss out of me, but for whatever reason, I seem to be completely invisible to that one. It's even walked right through me, like I'm nothing but a ghost.

I wish I could say the same for the nurses. I can dodge those slimy bitches for days, but I'm screwed when I finally lose my battle against sleep. They can smell me, or something, no matter where I hide, and I've seen them squeeze through a goddamn keyhole. They're almost nothing but nerves and veins, lidless eyes suspended in faces like tangled worms. Their icy touch numbs my whole body, then they drag me back to one of the operating rooms.

What will it be this time? Will I lose, or gain an arm? If they do another breast implant, is it actually going to be in my chest, for once? For a while, my brain was in some sort of plastic pouch I had to carry around, wires running back into my hollowed-out scalp. Sometimes the worst is waking up with a new row of stitches and never finding out what they did to me at least until I'm sweating bleach or something tries to crawl back out the way it came.

They always say the same thing in our confrontations, that I "just need time to heal." That I can go home when I'm "cured." Obviously that's not going to happen when they keep butchering me, and don't even know how to treat a fucking cold. You can imagine how my suicide attempts have turned out...I wake up right back on the chopping block, patched together some new shitty way that shouldn't logically work.

The only thing I have to be grateful for is that I'm not the only patient. Don't get me wrong, I'm the only thing anybody could describe as a person in this freak show, but there's at least a hundred other "regulars" who come and go, always with the same problems. There's a brain, big as a buick, always bleeding from some sort of throbbing clot. A giant stomach haunts the cafeteria at every opportunity, trying and failing to keep anything down. When I can't shake the feeling that I'm being watched, you can bet it's one of the eyeballs, always dripping an all too familiar pinkish gunk.

A crooked spine, a fractured skull, a heart literally ripped in half. I think you get the pattern.

Talk to any of these things and you'll only get enthusiastic but useless puns.

"How do I get out of here?"

"Nobody NOSE!"

"Is this hell or something? Am I dead?"

"Don't LOOK at me, EYE just ROLLED on in!"

Infuriating, at first, but almost comforting after a while. At least they're generally unaggressive. Well, most of them are unaggressive, which brings me to "the special case," as Phage calls it.

"Special case" is the worst of them all. It scares me more than any of the doctors, more than the nerve-nurses, more than the mystery surgeries or any other ridiculous, mocking cartoon bullshit the medical maze might throw at me.

It's something I can only surmise has long ago succumbed to cancer, if it was ever truly anything other than the huge, formless mass of meat that it is now, immobilized by its own bulk but constantly groaning, always groaning. If anything organic so much as touches it, it gets absorbed and doesn't come back. The thing just gets that much bigger and adds another lifeless, withered appendage or blind, twitching eye to its growing collection.

One by one, patients are being picked off, and I could easily be next if I so much as brush one of the thing's root-like tendrils. I wonder if I would at least find the relief of death, or if I would just go on living...imprisoned for eternity in a diseased cyst. I don't dare find out, but it's becoming harder to avoid, its tissues reaching into more and more rooms. Groaning. Shuddering. Feeding. If it never stops, there might be nothing else left.

None of that is even what scares me, though.

Now and then, you see, I've heard them call it by name. A familiar name.

A very, very familiar name.

Credited to Scythemantis
Followup to Doctor H.M. Phage, T.E.
Originally titled "The Hospital"