She screamed, vibrant, loud, unrelenting, “Stop, please stop! You’re hurting me. Don’t you know that causes me pain. STOP!”

Tied down to a white sheet covered bed, her head laid on two fluffy pillows. Martha was covered with a light blue blanket almost concealing the cloth wrapped around her wrists and ankles, anchored to the metal frame. Most would think someone cared but not quite. Cozy in her spot yet no way out.

“Nooooooo. Give me something, please. Why are you doing this?” Martha kept shouting. “You, you with the blond hair, answer me!”

He turned his steel blue eyes on her, enveloping her body in coldness. She shivered. “We have to treat your illness. Do you want to live like this? We can’t give you drugs, so be quiet. It will be over soon enough.” He kept digging for something, deep within the crevices of the bottom of her foot.

She strained to see what he was doing when another pushed her head back onto the pillow.

“Don’t hurt me. I need to know what you’re looking for. Maybe it isn’t there, maybe this pain is for nothing,” Martha cried.

The other replied, “It’s there, for sure. Hope not too deep but I can see it.” He pulled another stainless steel torture knife from the tray. The cutting took on a frenzy, mad-driven action.

Blood seeped from her foot spotting the white sheet with deep crimson red.

Martha fainted, the pain stopped for one blessed moment. She woke with a start. A bottle was held under her nose by yet another, a female with a name badge, Path. Martha could only ask, “Who are you and why did you revive me? Why not let me linger in another pain free world, at least for a little time?”

“You can’t leave this realm, you may never come back,” Path said, looking at the leaders face, asking for a way to tell Martha, to make her understand. “We couldn’t bring you back from there, it’s too far away.”

Trying to reason through the pounding pain, Martha spoke through her gritted teeth, “Realm, too far away? What do you mean? What are you?”

The blond haired, blue eyed stranger focused his icy stare down on her and cut unmercifully.”I’ve got a hold of the end of it. Really deep but has to come out.” He glanced up at his coworkers. Pulling sharply he held the item up to the light. It shown with a flash of gold rays emanating from a gold surface. An aura formed around it’s toothpick shape; yellow on blazing white, surrounded by a faint ring of crimson.

Martha stared at the other-worldly sight. The pain had abruptly departed bringing a slow clarity to her vision. The rays encompassed her, spreading through her body, surrounding her in visions of peace, yet tinged with a sadness beyond comprehension that it was gone. She struggled to regain her peek of understanding.

“Well, it’s time to return to the other side,” the leader passively said to his group of other beings.

“We just can’t leave her like this. Yes, we had to get the pick back, it has done her extreme mental damage. Here, they think she’s crazy. I don’t even know how it ended up in her foot, taken from its protective box at the gates of hell, ” she scanned from blue eyes, to the others and then to the windows filled with faces at the end of the room. “Look at them peering at the crazy woman tied to the bed. How do they explain the blood or the condition of her foot almost amputated? They see our results but not our beings. How do we explain this?”

Blue eyes dropped the golden pick into a black velvet carrying case, carefully placing it in a platinum box. Selectively moving the box on the bed towards the mutated foot, he looked at Martha now sorting through all the information. “You must understand, we are not of this realm but were sent to retrieve the  amulet. It has great power to distort the mind and send all into a dream world developed by the controller of the pick. There are many more picks, amulets, to recover and our journey is long.” He glanced up towards the ceiling. “Very dangerous indeed and used by Satan for his creation of hell. He plants them in the weak, to produce evil throughout the world. Many here, the mentally insane, may have them.”

Martha, finally quiet, turned inward as comprehension seeped in. The gates of hell, a dream world, and Satan.

“Well, she’s quiet, finally,” the doctor said, as he peered through the window at the end of the room. “Thought we were all going to have to run in and sedate her before she had a heart attack.”

The nurse, peaked hat and horn ribbed glasses, turned to look at the gathering group. ” I think she’s been screaming for about an hour. She’s probably lost her voice. Another episode to record in the mental institution journals.”

They moved as one to open the door and walk to the patients bedside. Martha lay silent, eyes staring upward towards the others pathway out.

Blood seeped through the blue blanket at the lower corner of the bed. The nurse slowly pulled back the cover as curiosity turned to shock. Before her lay a foot, cut on the bottom, with a deliberate, deep X, blood oozing from the raged edges. The others stared on, fear to confusion splayed across their faces.

“I’ve only heard about this in books and science fiction movies, stigmata. Maybe her screams were real, maybe….,” the orderly’s voice shook as he spoke.

A moment of a new potential dawned on the human group now peering down at the sculpted foot. “Untie her now,” the doctor directed.

Blue eyes spoke to the others, ” It’s time to leave. They’ll take better care of her, now.” He grabbed the precious cargo and rose through the ceiling walls. Parting, his words drifted back to the human on the bed, “Remember, Martha. This is real. There is so much more you will understand throughout your short life on earth. Be open. Through belief you will experience the wonders of the universe.”

And they were gone.


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