Sharon’s note: So, I’ve always fiddled around with scary elements in my stories, but this is the first time I’ve ever tried to write straight up horror. It’s fun, because it’s requires a different style than I usually use. Horror is a much more visceral genre. I normally shy away from longer descriptions with a lot of sensory words, because in general I don’t like them. They bore me, but I’m trying something different, so new skills are needed. I’m also loading up my reading list with horror books to get a better feel for it. I’m excited about seeing how I progress through my work as I learn. Warning: Some swearing and a pretty generic starting point for a horror story.
“I appreciate you doing this for me, John.” I used my flashlight to move another strand of cobweb out of my way, shifting my backpack so I didn’t drop it. My breath was hot and humid as it curled inside my mask. The nose piece was starting to rub a little raw where it was pinned under my glasses, but I could still taste the almost oily dust that hung in the air. I wasn’t going without it.
“Yeah, it’s not like I’m doing you a favor.” The security guard walked a few feet behind me, studying the building map under the light from his cell phone. He sneezed again. I’d offered him one of my masks, but he’d refused. “If I didn’t need the money so bad, I’d tell you to fuck off.”
My toe caught on a raised bit of linoleum and I stumbled. I threw out my free hand to grab a nearby door frame, and the metal was almost slick, making me lose my grip. John seized my flailing arm and righted me.
“Thanks,” I shot him a quick smile that he couldn’t see. He grunted in response. I looked at my hand, and it was covered in a black, sooty grime “Ugh.”
“Ya know, the old admin office is a lot cleaner.” John had dropped the map when he grabbed me. He stooped over to pick it up, so I couldn’t see his face when he added, “And it’s a lot closer to the guard shack if you need help.”
I wiped my palm against my jeans. They were going to be filthy before the night was through. “I’ll have the radio. It’ll be fine. Besides, I want the full experience. There’s been no official ghost sightings in the new wing. I want to sleep in McBride’s actual office. If I want to impart my readers with a real sense of the tragedy of this place, I have to feel it myself.”
“It’s just as creepy in the new wing as the old wing,” John grumbled. “It’s all just empty space. Just up front you’re less likely to spend all night lying dead in a stairwell with a broken neck because you got lost on the way to the bathroom.”
The hallway ended in another T and I peered down both directions. To the left was another stretch of peeling, crumbling floor, gray smudged walls, and endless empty door frames. The light faded out before it reached the end, creating false sparks in the distance as it hit any bits of ancient metal. On the right a set of warped wooden doors loomed, grand and oppressive. Thick chains ran through their handles and were bound with a heavy new padlock.
I licked my lips and barely noticed as the tip of my suddenly dry tongue scraped cotton. “So, I’m guessing the old wing is through there.”
John laughed, then coughed again. “If you’re scared, we can turn back now. I promise I won’t tell your ‘readers’.”
My stomach tightened with the effort not to snap at him. Instead, I forced my voice to stay even and calm. “I am not afraid. Now, if you want your two hundred bucks, take me to McBride’s office.”
“Alright.” He rolled his eyes and pulled the massive key ring from his belt. As he fumbled to unlock the chain he muttered to himself. “It’s your funeral, bitch.”