Sharon’s Note: I didn’t start out liking horror, movies or books. I was a really creative kid, with a great imagination, so I was scared of everything. Eventually, I got tiered of being afraid, and one by one, I started to face my fears. It turns out, when you chase the monsters in your head, they run. Horror became fascinating, because it was more roller coaster ride than nightmare. I’m still learning to write horror, and it’s a hell of a ride. Warning: Terrors from the dark are rarely as scary if you drag them into the light.
It felt less like a hall and more like a mine shaft. The second door in the morgue led to a long tunnel at the bottom of a ramp. According to Ernie, it led to another building with the incinerator. He carried the lantern ahead of me, the light dancing over the struts that held up the roof and spooked the occasional rat.
“Hey, what’s with the rodent problem?” I skipped to the side to get out of the way of one that ran right at me. They seemed to avoid Ernie and Kathy.
She frowned, swinging a foot lazily at another one that passed. It jumped away with a squeal. “They congregate anywhere there’s a body. You want to find a corpse around here, just follow the scratching.”
“Why?” I moved closer to the ghosts in hopes of avoiding a rat up my pant leg.
“Damn if I know,” Ernie grumbled. “This place was strange even before my father started his experiments. It’s why he sought it out. The rats were here first.”
“Why is that creepier than anything else I’ve seen here tonight?” I muttered.
Kathy chuckled. “It gets a lot worse, believe me. There are literally places here where the dead fear to tread.”
And that made me more nervous than I wanted to admit. It was cool in the tunnel, but I only just now was getting goose pimples. I cleared my throat. “So, who is Elizabeth?”
“She was a vampire who controlled most of the western seaboard at one point. My father went through great lengths to get ahold of her, thinking that her strength would be valuable to his experiments.” Ernie shook his head with a smile. “Her endurance was amazing, and she survived long enough that she managed to break free of her containment. She fought her way through the hospital and almost made it out through these tunnels.”
“If she made it this far, what stopped her?” The tunnels were starting to feel claustrophobic as the temperature dropped further and the light didn’t penetrate as far into the darkness. “Is it my imagination, or is it getting spooky in here?”
“It is.” Ernie pointed down the hall. A lone figure sat against the wall, arms tucked around its legs. “As for the rest of the story, I think the one who lived and died it is the best one to tell it. Maggie, this is Elizabeth. Elizabeth, this young lady would like to ask you some questions.”
The figure unfolded and stood. My guess was at one time, she was an attractive woman. She was tall with sharp, delicate features. Even her skull was shapely under hair cut so short it showed scalp in some places. Her posture was perfect, with her shoulders back and her head held high. Not everyone could pull off being a naked, emaciated corpse with that much grace.
“Well, I’m afraid I haven’t entertained in a while, but I always appreciate a little company.” She smiled, showing fangs that looked too long to talk through and pale, receding gums. “Very well, Miss Maggie, have a seat, if you don’t mind the rats. You can ask me anything.”