Sharon’s note: So, writing this is harder than I thought. Horror is a genre of grit and demons, but it’s the personal type of demons. Horror is about people, and has to be character driven to make people really feel the fear. I generally create story driven narratives. It’s what I like to read, so that’s what I write. Venturing into horror is more of a writing exercise than anything else, to help me grow as a writer. It’s fun, but it’s making me stretch my brain. Warning: Author is a big advocate of stretching. It’s good for you.
Walking through the door to the old wing was like stepping back in time. The floor was wooden, pitted and gray with age. Instead of the square industrial fixtures of the new wing, these were retrofitted gas lamps. They still weren’t working, but they looked amazing.
“Is it my imagination, or is it less dusty in here?” I scruffed my shoe against the floor, and while grit crunched under it, I didn’t get the expected poof.
“Just because there’s nothing living in the old wing, doesn’t mean there’s nothing moving around in here.” John rubbed his fingers over the can of mace on his belt.
“Does pepper spray work on ghosts?” I chuckled.
John dropped his hand and marched ahead. “McBride’s office is upstairs. Once you’re settled in, I have to go make my rounds. Use your radio if you need me, otherwise I’ll be back in the morning to clear you out before shift change.”
“This is so great.” The hall opened up into the old hospital lobby. The floor changed to slate gray tile, and the walls were mostly wood paneling. An ancient abandoned wheelchair was backed against a counter, and that was all the furnishings that remained. “It really feels haunted, doesn’t it.”
“All you’re feeling now is the creepiness of being in an empty building. When the real haunting starts, you’ll know.” He pointed, and I followed the gesture to a large window overlooking the lobby. “That’s his office there.”
“He liked to keep an eye on things.” The glass itself was surprisingly clean, sparkling in the light of my flashlight, but all I could see beyond it was a black void.
“Most monsters are control freaks.” John pointed at a plain wood staircase under the window. “There. Take those up. His office is the big double doors on the right.”
“You aren’t coming with me?” I raised an eyebrow. John’s eyes were dartling rapidly between all the doors, always coming back to the stairwell to McBride’s office. He was starting to sweat. I half laughed. “Wait, you’re actually afraid. You really believe this place is haunted.”
“I’ve seen some things.” He glared at the windows, then at me. “Look, this is your last chance to come back with me. I’ll meet you down here first thing in the morning, but I won’t go up there looking for you.”
John walked back the way we had come. I talked to his back. “Hey, can I interview you about your experiences here?”
“Sure. Add another hundred bucks to my fee when I come to get you in the morning,” he called over his shoulder, and then he was gone.
I hefted my pack and swallowed hard. The sounds of the security guard’s footsteps faded quickly, and I admittedly felt less secure with him gone. With just one light, the darkness crept uncomfortably close. I could almost feel it curled up against my back. Oh, well. No good complaining. This was what I had asked for, after all.
I turned away from the exit and started up the stairs to McBride’s office.