Prompt Day #125: Bret Easton Ellis’s’ novel, American Psycho, begins and ends by quoting common signage (like “This is Not an Exit”). Choose two signs from your environment and use them to launch into, frame, or otherwise motivate a horror story.



                The killer pushed through the doors marked Authorized Personnel Only. There was no one on the other side to stop him or ask for his ID badge. He walked into the maze like structure of the hospital’s operating suite. His boots echoed on the tile floor in the otherwise silent hallways. He was looking for the man, a doctor, who was responsible for the death of his wife and son. Never mind that they were brought here after the accident that he caused. He saw a board listing surgical procedures and the rooms they were occurring in. Beside these were written the last names of the surgeons working in that particular room. The killer found the names he was searching for. Rooms 3 and 6. He followed the rooms around the corner until he found the one he was looking for. Through the window, he could see his soon to be victim hunched over the operating table. The frame of the man seemed smaller than he remembered but it had been fifteen years ago, so perhaps it was age alone.

He pushed open the door and stepped inside. The sound of his footsteps announced his arrival. The activity in the room stopped and everyone turned. The killer shot the bystanders with three quick, silent shots, but the surgeon, was saved for something more sinister. The surgeon grabbed his scalpel and held it up defensively.

“Hello” The killer said “do you remember me?”

“No, I’m sorry, I don’t. Please don’t hurt me, whatever I did to you, I’m sorry.” The surgeon said

“You failed to save my wife. We were in an accident, she was injured, badly. Her spleen and liver. You failed to save her. I was punished for your failure. I had fifteen years taken from me” The killer pulled a knife from a sheath on his belt “Now you will suffer the same fate as she did.”

“Wait! I do remember you. It was your wife and son. You were drunk, you wrecked the car into the side of a store, yes, the little convenience store on the corner. Listen, I tried to save her, I did, she’d lost so much blood, I…” He couldn’t finish his thought. The knife plunged into his belly gutted him up to his sternum. The wet splash of his innards falling from the gaping wound was drowned by the surgeon’s screams. The killer, who had studied human anatomy while in prison, went for the man’s liver and spleen; chopping and slicing. He hit a vessel, a large one and blood spit out onto the front of the man who had been charged with kidnapping and two counts of manslaughter. The life faded from the eyes on the man who could have saved him from the manslaughter charges but didn’t. The killer glanced at the only other living being left in the room. He or she (he couldn’t tell, the body was carefully draped) lay sleeping on the table, a large incision oozed blood down the drape—or maybe the blood had come from the surgeon, he couldn’t tell. He watched the pulsations and peristalsis proving life continuing in the midst of death. He walked out of the room and further down the hall.

He entered room 6 in the same way he did room 3. This time the body lying on the table was small, about the same size his son had been. The man who did not save his son, who allowed him to suffer for days before succumbing to infection stood with his hands up, wide eyed over his surgical mask.

“Hello, doctor. It’s good to see you again after all this time. I’m sure my son would have loved to come to see you today too, but he died sixteen years ago.” The killer said

“Oh my God. Your son was the one with the bad burns after the accident.” The pediatric surgeon said, remembering. “But you went to prison. You kidnapped them when your wife tried to leave you, you were drunk and you kidnapped them. You drove the car into the QuiKPik and it caught fire.”

“Yes, and you let him die. You let him lay in pain for days as infection took over his entire body and he died in pain” The killer said. He reached into the satchel he’d carried in with him. “Now you will pay for what you did. Pay for his pain and my suffering. I spent fifteen years behind bars doing your time. You killed him, not me.” He pulled out a small blow torch and lit it.

“No!” the surgeon screamed. The killer shot him in the knees and was on top of him before the man could crawl away. He started at the man’s head, the smell of burning hair was almost too much to bare, bringing him back to that night. The night he had only tried to make her see she was making a huge mistake. If he had been able to get them both away from all the influences of her stupid family, he would have been able to make her see. He should not have beat her so badly, he knows that, but otherwise, she wouldn’t have gone willingly. Later, she would have understood he did it all because he loved her. But now she was gone and his son was gone and he had nothing.

The surgeon had stopped squealing. His face was gone anyways, his throat and chest were charred. The killer stood up. His legs wet with the blood from the man’s knees. It was time to go to the ER now. He left the torch but reloaded the gun.

He continued around the hallway maze until he saw a sign marked “Surgical Waiting Area”. He had only had to shoot two more people on his way out. He pushed through the door and out into the waiting area. Anxious families looked up at him as he stepped out. Their looks of horror reminded him of the blood that covered him head to toe and he thought he might need to go back and change into scrubs. There was no time though, so instead he walked on, ignoring the frightened stares. The door swung shut behind him. Its sign warning Appropriate Attire Must Be Worn Beyond These Doors was not seen by the man in the blood soaked jeans and tee shirt heading towards the Emergency Department.