The Nightmare Sword

by 

Sunset Lake made Mike nervous, which was something that hadn’t happened since he came home from the war. Sunset Lake was a nice place; lots of natural light, pretty gardens and a big dining room with stretched white tablecloths. Still, all the old people made Mike feel uneasy. Cosmetically, they all looked like teenagers, but they were rotting inside. The cosmetics industry was far ahead of internal medicine. Everyone looked young in their graves.

Mike was happy to be in Melody’s office. Melody was the head nurse of Sunset Lake, and she actually looked all of her forty some years

“You’re a veteran,” said Melody, looking at the computer pad that was displaying Mikes’ resume. Melody was stocky, with large arms and an ample bosom. She had layers of silver chains under her blue smock.

“Yes. Ma’am.” said Mike.

“Well, I don’t want you to worry. I had a cousin that was in the war. Noatter what most people think, I blame the government for what happened, not our boys in space.”

“It’s good to hear that Ma’am’” said Mike, but really, it wasn’t. Mike never expected a homecoming parade, he just wanted to forget the whole thing, scrub that part of his life off his record, so people would stop talking to him about it.

Melody sat down, and leaned across her desk. “Mike, I like your resume and you seem very honest. I’d like you to help me protect our guests.”

“Ma’am, I’m glad for the offer. I just want to know what kind of threats you think your guests are facing. It’s a nice neighborhood here, do you really get a lot of thefts?”

“Thefts aren’t the problem Mike. Most of the people here don’t bring too many personal possessions, and most of their children keep anything that is of value. I need you to protect the people in this facility.”

“Are they in danger? Do they fight?”

“No Mike, most of them, it takes all their effort just to walk.” She crossed her arms tight around her body. “When I first started working here, I noticed some young men hanging around the building. At first, I thought they were children or grandchildren of some of the patients here, but when any of my employees would ask for ID, they would always have “Left it at home” and they would beat it. After one of my staff caught a boy in with Mrs. Lansing, touching her on her breast, we instituted an ID scan on entry to the facility and I set nurses to watch the women’s dorms very carefully. I always had someone in eyesight of all the doorways of every room, and there were random spot-checks.

I blame myself for what happened. I was sexist. I just didn’t imagine. . . Mr. Walsing started telling me that his legs were hurting, and he told me to get his Sword. He said ninjas were attacking him at night. Mr. Walsing has never handled a sword in his life. He was an investment banker before he retired. He just kept asking for a sword, to keep away the nightmares. I had them do a medical exam on him today, and I found out that he has been physically abused. They’ve hacked our system and were coming in here and since they couldn’t get to the women. . .” She stopped speaking for a moment and looked out the window, blinking her eyes.

“That’s terrible.” said Mike, feeling awkward.

They were silent the rest of the way to Mr. Walsings room. When they entered, Mike saw a slender purple haired teenager sleeping on the bed. His smooth pale skin was blanketed with soft sunlight streaming through the light yellow curtains of his room.

Melody lowered her voice. “Mr. Walsing was an engineer. He’s got these beautiful holos of the ships he designed in flight. Maybe you even rode in a few of them. These boys came in here and they hurt him. I don’t know what I am going to say to his family.”

“What about the police?”

Melody shook her head. “We can’t afford them. In this neighborhood, their rates are too high and if we default on a payment, it could be worse for us than the kids.”

Mr. Walsing’s black lashed fluttered and his eyes opened. They were a wet green color, like a forest after it’s rained. “Whose there?” he asked softly, squinting at the doorway.

Mike walked closer, so Mr. Walsing could see his face. “Good afternoon Mr. Walsing. My name is Mike. I am your sword. I am here to keep the nightmares away.”

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