Matthew grabbed the bowl of candy corn off the table and rushed to the front door where kids were impatiently pushing the doorbell.
“Coming,” he hollered and pulled the door open. There was a man in a police officer’s uniform. Matthew looked around him in search of the shy child that had probably ducked behind him when the doorknob turned.
“I’m sorry sir,” the man said. “I’m afraid your wife and child are in grave danger.”
Part of Matthew was waiting for the guy’s serious expression to crack into a smile and for a playful laugh to go along with a, “Just kidding. Trick or treat.” But another part of Matthew began to panic as an image of Kim clutching a terrified Maddie to her chest flashed through his mind.
The officer remained calm but stoic and Matthew’s heart rate rose. He cradled the bowl of candy against his gut and used his free hand to grab his keys from the small decorative table and his jacket from the hook by the door. He left the candy corn on the front step.
“Are you gonna drive or should I just follow you in my car?” But the officer was already getting into a car and starting the engine so Matthew hurried to the driveway before he lost sight of his escort. As he pushed the gas to keep up, sugar-seeking kids in costumes flooded the sidewalks.
Matthew sat in the car for a minute when they finally came to a stop outside the hospital. He had to close his eyes and breathe deeply before he could open the door and step out. The officer was nowhere to be seen when he’d reached the sidewalk in front of the building’s main entrance. He couldn’t even spot the car. The guy must’ve gotten another emergency call.
It didn’t matter. Matthew strode up to the front desk and inquired after Kim and Maddie.
“I’m sorry sir,” responded a woman with whiskers drawn on her cheeks and black cats walking across her scrubs. “I don’t show them in our system. Who did you say you spoke to?”
“An officer. I didn’t get his name. He took off again after we got here.”
“I’ll go check with my supervisor. See if we have anyone matching your description. Wait here.” She walked off and Matthew looked around for a seat.
“I think I can help you.” The man’s face was obscured by the orange jack-o-lantern grin painted on it. “Kimberly and Madison, right? I’m afraid their condition is… grave. Follow me. I’ll lead you to their room.”
Matthew let the man lead through twisting hallways and down darkened stairwells. He turned a corner and the man held open a door. Matthew could see Kim and Maddie resting on beds. He walked through and looked over his shoulder as the door swung shut. The man had vanished. It took a moment before his mind set right the backwards letters on the glass window of the door. Morgue.