Tommy woke to voices arguing outside his room. He didn’t care about his “just this once” or her “you fucking owe me,” he just wanted them to shut up so he could finally get some sleep in this damn hospital. Instead, the woman walked in and over to his bed.

“Sorry to wake you. We managed to…”

“Lover’s quarrel?” he asked. The nurse’s brow furrowed until Tommy gestured at the door.

She grimaced, shaking her head. “No, another nurse. Fighting over who has to clean up what.” Raising the bed until he was sitting, she handed him three pills with solid blue casing.

“What’re these?” he asked, popping them in his mouth and swallowing with the water she offered.

“We fit you in early to get your stomach scanned. Those will let us track how things are moving through you. And this,” she said, slotting a syringe into his IV port, “will help you relax.” Turning to the door she called, “He’s all yours.”

The next nurse was giant of a man, well over six foot and thick as a rodeo bull. Tommy had trouble caring how out of place the guy looked as whatever the lady nurse had given him hit. He was suddenly jelly, and being jelly felt damn good.

“You remember how to get there?” she asked the other nurse.


“Good. And if anybody catches you, I don’t fucking know you. Got it?”

“Yes, dear,” the man said. Tommy didn’t notice him smacking the first nurse’s ass as he drifted through his euphoria. Whatever they’d given him was nice.

“Do you recognize me?” the man asked after rolling Tommy through the first few hallways.

He opened his mouth to answer but the guy quickly covered it with a hand.

“Shh, Tommy, just enjoy the ride. Becky said you’d be pretty high so I’ll fill you in. See, my name is Sean Carr.”

A puzzle piece slid into Tommy’s mind but without more, he was left with merely a vague I know you feeling.

The nurse pushed them into an elevator, but didn’t start it after the doors closed. “I work for a man named Patrick Steele.”

One more puzzle piece, but he still couldn’t see the picture it was supposed to make.

Sean moved beside the Tommy’s bed and grinned. “You owe Mr. Steele a lot of money, Tommy, and I’ve been looking for you. Nice of you to show up where my girlfriend works, though.”

There it was, the final piece. Understanding made him want to get up and run, but the drugs he’d been enjoying before now felt like a trap

Sean must have seen the change on Tommy’s face. He pulled his scrub top up to flash the pistol in his waistband. “Don’t try anything. Shall we?” he asked, punching the elevator button.

Tommy’s legs weren’t responding. His arms wouldn’t budge. He could hardly get his tongue moving to ask, “What did you give me?”

“A paralytic. Those pills, though–they’re the real surprise.”

From the elevator, Sean wheeled him through deserted hallways. There wasn’t even anyone to beg for help.

“Here we are,” he announced as he turned the bed towards a room. Through a viewing window, Tommy could see a looming white machine. “You ready for the surprise?”

“Please,” Tommy croaked.

Sean laughed and cuffed him on the shoulder. “Little late for that, Tommy.”

“What…” he said, and his mouth stopped working entirely.

“My girlfriend says MRIs are just giant, powerful magnets. Said if you have any metal in you, they’re not safe. I can’t go in that room myself since I might still have shrapnel in me.”

“Mmm,” Tommy said. He tried to thrash but only managed to shake his head.

“I wanted to see it for myself, though, so I filled those pills you swallowed with iron shavings. She said even if they don’t come through your skin, they’ll probably turn your guts into a spaghetti strainer.”

Tommy felt a tear roll down his cheek. Sean loomed over the bed.

“Guess you should have paid Mr. Steele,” he said, and gave Tommy’s bed one final push into the room with the giant magnet.

~ fin ~


R.D. Sullivan is a writer of fiction, comedy and letters to the editor. She lives in Northern California with her family and two solidly mediocre dogs, where she runs a subcontracting business. Her work has been featured at Fireside Fiction Magazine, Shotgun Honey, and in the Killing Malmon anthology. She is also proud and ashamed of her most recent novella, Hotties and Bazingas and the Murder Cult Murders, available now. You can track her down on twitter @RDSullyWrites or over at