Wednesday, April 26, 2017

All in a Day's Work Part 4

“Why? What's in there?”

“A corridor.”

Eric sighed impatiently at him, but Sam just shook his head. Eric pushed past him and strode to the doorway. He passed through it, sweeping his light around the dank darkness. The beam shone down a long corridor bordered by a row of heavy, metal doors on either side. Each door had a small barred window in it and a slot near the bottom. Eric pushed at the door, but it wouldn't budge so he aimed his light through the window. He could just make out an empty room, surrounded by padded walls. The cushioning leaked from multiple cracks and tears in the fabric. Chains and manacles coiled in a pile in the corner of the room. Eric strained his ears. He could almost hear the wails and screams, and the foul stench of blood, human waste, and unwashed bodies hit his nose. He backed away from the door and moved on to the next one.

The cell's last occupant had left remains behind. The ulna and radius bones hung from chains bolted into the wall with the rest of the skeleton crumpled in a pool on the floor underneath. Eric placed his hand over the handkerchief still covering his nose and mouth and backed away.

“Told you you didn't want to know,” Sam said behind him, and Eric nearly jumped out of his already crawling skin.

“Don't sneak up on me in a place like this!” Eric snapped.

“Kind of jumpy for a supernatural hunter, aren't you?” Sam asked, completely unruffled. Eric considered punching him in his crooked nose, but he wasn't a violent person, and despite everything, he actually kind of liked this kid. It wasn't often he came across someone so utterly at east with things that went bump in the night.

“What sort of people did they treat here?” Eric asked as he shoved Sam out of the corridor and back into the laboratory. “I did some research. but you actually talked to the doctor. I'm more interested in performing the exorcism and going home. You seem to want to know all the particulars.”

“Adolescent girls,” Sam said. “Between thirteen and twenty-five. Mostly depression, anxiety – what they used to call hysteria. In other words, the crazy girls.  I guess they used electroshock therapy, and in extreme cases, lobotomy.”

“In the seventies?”

“Why do you think this place is haunted? It wasn't exactly working within the parameters of the law. I think it was more of a dumping ground. Not well-funded. More of a place for families to get rid of girls who were 'difficult.'”

Eric shook his head. In another time he probably would have suffered a similar fate, though he did sometimes wonder if he would benefit from professional help considering his lover was a vampire.

Eric moved back over to the laboratory table and shuffled through the papers with his gloved hands. The pages seemed to come from sort of medical journal, but out of order and they made no sense. Did you say Dr. Goodenough was in research?”

Sam nodded. He looked at the papers Eric shuffled, but wouldn't touch them.

“Looks like he might have been developing some new drug,” Eric said. “Where is he, anyway? Think he went back upstairs?”

Sam frowned again. “Dr. Goodenough, please come out.”

Eric swept his light over the table one more time before squatting down and shining it under the table.

He nearly lost his dinner.

Eric shot to his feet and quickly backed up, holding a hand over his covered nose and mouth, his gorge rising.

“What?” Sam asked. He bent over and peered beneath the table, then sighed, and Eric was once more impressed with his stomach.

“There you are,” Sam said.

The doctor lay sprawled beneath the table in a pool of congealed blood. His face had been almost completely removed, the eye sockets empty, the teeth bared in an eternal grimace. His limbs were mangled at wrong angles about his body. He still wore his lab coat and jeans, but his feet had been torn from his legs and were nowhere to be seen.

“What the hell?” Eric said in a strangled voice. “Did this just happen when he got here? He came down here before us. Are we next?”

Sam got to his feet. “No. He was already dead. As soon as he showed up on the floor above I knew he was a ghost.”

“Why didn't you say anything?”

Sam shrugged. “Most people can't see ghosts, but sometimes if a ghost gets close enough to me, they start to go corporeal. I didn't think you'd believe me."

“Was he alive when you talked to him a few days ago?” Eric demanded.

“I think so,” Sam said. “He must have come here before us and whatever is in here killed him.”

Eric felt the prickle of a thousand needles erupt along his skin. He reached into his messenger bag and dug out his box of sea salt and a feather. “Give me the sage.”

Sam handed it over. Eric poured the salt around them in a large circle, then moved the feather through the smoke coming off the sage, dragging it through the stale air of the room. Eric set down his messenger bag and the box of salt, then pulled out a book of incantations.

“Are you serious?” Sam asked.

“It's like crosses for vampires,” Eric said.

“Vampires? Are you out of your mind?”

“You believe in ghosts but not vampires?”

That shut Sam up. The chattering and whispers of the spirits escalated from the other room once again, and the shadows along the back wall began their screeching again.

“You have to stop them! You have to get rid of them!”

Eric whirled around and there stood Dr. Goodenough, his hair wild, his glasses askew, and his face intact. Eric turned to Sam as the younger man stepped out of the salt circle and approached the spirit.
“Wait, Sam...”

“Dr. Goodenough, do you know where you are?” Sam asked.

The doctor stared at him as if he'd lost his mind. “We're in the hospital. You promised you'd stop the hauntings.”

Sam flicked his eyes towards the table, and the color leached from the doctor's face. He began to fade to translucency, and his hair swirled around his head in constant motion as if pushed by a perpetual wind.

“What's there?” he asked, stricken.

“Wait, no,” Sam said, but the doctor marched over to the table and bent down to look underneath. All went still for a moment. Even the chatters and whispers ceased.

“Wait, am I...” The doctor turned to stare at Sam. “I can't be dead.”

Sam stepped towards the doctor. “What is the last thing you remember?”

“Talking on the phone,” he said, his face a mask of confusion. “With you. You said you'd fix it. You said you'd take care of everything.”

“Did you come here for some reason?”

The ghost shook his head, covering his ears with his hands. When he raised his head, his pupils had dilated, turning his eyes completely black . “NO!” he yelled. The outline of his form blurred and fuzzed, dissolving and materializing until he shattered into mist.

“Oh, shit,” Sam said. He ran for the salt circle as the overhead lights, dead and powerless for years, beamed on and began to flicker. The cages in the other room rattled, and the trash covering the floor began to levitate, whirling in a cyclone and rising off the ground.

“Do something!” Sam yelled as he dove into the circle and grabbed the sage from Eric. Eric quickly flipped open his book of incantations and began to read in a strong, deep voice.

The lights above flickered so hard they looked like a strobe light, and the debris littering the lab table flung towards them like projectiles. Crumpled paper, shattered test tubes, and broken pens bowed around the circle of salt, giving it a wide berth, and leaving the two men unharmed.

“Dr. Goodenough, please stop this!” Sam called as the wind swirled around them. “Why are you so angry?”

“What the hell happened?” Eric asked, pausing in his reading and yelling above the howling of the wind.

“He didn't know he was dead,” Sam said. “He's gone poltergeist.”

“I don't get it,” Eric said. “This is why we just exorcise the damn things and don't try to empathize or share our feelings. Exorcising ghosts should not involve hugging and crying and promising to do better.”

“I don't agree,” Sam said just as the debris slowed in its cyclonic swirl descended slowly to the ground. Dr. Goodenough appeared before them once again, his black eyes flat and devoid of emotion. As Eric watched, dismayed, the doctor solidified, his colors strengthening and melding into opaqueness.

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