|A Scary Story
Author: Kristen Elizabeth PM
Sit back, Greg. Relax. While you can…Rated: Fiction T - English - Gil G. & Sara S. - Words: 3,095 - Reviews: 25 - Favs: 17 - Follows: 2 - Published: 10-28-06 - Status: Complete - id: 3219072
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author's Notes: Halloween is my favorite day of the year, the one day when you can be anyone you want to be. And there's candy, too. Bonus! Thanks to PhDelicious for her beta-ness. And thanks to whoever issued a scary story challenge (not to be confused with Geekfiction's Trick-or-Treat challenge); this is what I came up with, and I hope it's spook-tacular.
Sorry about that.
by Kristen Elizabeth
"I've got nothing, guys."
Nick shook his head. "Uh-uh. We all took a turn. No backing out, Sar."
"She just doesn't want to go after me," Greg declared. "And I can't say I blame her. I'm a hard act to follow."
Sara looked up at the rearview mirror and caught a glimpse of his smirk. "Greg, I heard scarier stories than yours in grade school."
"Ouch!" He put a hand to his heart. "You wound me."
In the passenger's seat, Warrick was the voice of peace. "Hey, if the lady doesn't have a story, let her be. She is the one driving through this nasty-ass storm, after all."
The downpour had sprung up on their way back from a double murder in a rural community that Sara wasn't even sure had an official name. It was a moonless night; she could barely see past the beams from the Denali's headlights. Every now and then, lightning streaked through the darkness, followed by the rumble of thunder. They hadn't passed a car in miles.
And it was Halloween.
All of this together had inspired Greg to propose that instead of passing the time arguing over radio stations, each of them share their best ghost story. Nick had lost the coin toss and gone first with a story about a hitchhiking ghost trying to get to her senior prom. He swore up and down that it had actually happened to his frat brother.
Warrick followed with an abbreviated version of The Hound of the Baskervilles, one of Sara's all time favorite stories.
Greg's story had been silly and not at all scary, and she'd had to stifle a laugh in several places for the sake of his ego.
Now, apparently, it was her turn.
"No, it's okay," she told Warrick. "I'll do it."
Greg rubbed his hands together. "All right! Just try to top me, Sidle!"
She watched him through the mirror. "Sit back, Greg. Relax. While you can…"
My roommate was Heather Nyland from New York. To this day, I believe that she took one look at me and started thinking of all the ways she could corrupt the earthy bookworm from California.
I learned fairly quickly for Heather, a good time wasn't complete without alcohol. So I avoided any and all invitations to go out with her and her friends for the first few months. But then…I don't know. Something changed after my eighteenth birthday. I stopped trying so hard to resist her. She was having such a good time at college. And I certainly wasn't making any friends in the library.
It was a very cold night in early November when I agreed to go out with Heather. Someone had scored a case of beer, and the plan was to go to a local park, drink and wait for the first snowfall, which was supposed to arrive at any moment.
We never made it to the park, but the beer started flowing as soon as we left the dorm.
Heather and I were the only freshman in the group, and the only girls. The rest of our group was composed of sophomores guys she'd met at a bar the week before. Halfway through the case, one of them…Brad was his name, I think…he asked us if we'd heard of Pleasant Hills. Heather said it sounded familiar, but I never had.
"Pleasant Hills…" Brad began, making his voice as dramatic as possible. "…is this old children's hospital. It's been abandoned since the fifties. They say it was shut down because of all the fucked up things they did to the sick kids. And now…it's haunted by all the spirits of the ones who died there."
I didn't believe in ghosts as a general rule, so this story had very little effect on me. Plus I was only halfway through my first beer. Heather, on the other hand, was on her third; the story sparked something in her.
"Can people go there?" she asked.
The boys all looked at each other. "Sure. If you've got balls of steel. The place is fucking scary," one of them said.
"Oh, we've got the balls. Don't we, Sara?" She didn't even wait for me to say anything. "Let's go. Right now."
I couldn't do much to stop it. I was in the backseat, wedged between two beer-soaked guys. I was really more bored than anything. The idea of a haunted hospital was no more thrilling than a case of beer and a snowfall.
We drove for half an hour, taking the back roads. The moon was half full, so there was just enough light to see the dark shapes of trees all around us. It was a lonely stretch of road, maintained by no one. There were no cars behind us, and no cars passed us going the other way.
We turned off the road onto little more than a flattened dirt path that ran deeper into the woods. The high beams illuminated our way, yet also created deeper shadows all around us, where anything or anyone could have been hiding, watching our car go by.
And then, the trees stopped.
"There it is," Brad whispered.
In its day, the hospital was probably an impressive building. Twice as long as it was tall. Grey stone and glass. A flat roof. Institutional and imposing.
But being abandoned for fifty years had taken its toll on the structure. There were very few windows that weren't broken; most of them were missing entirely, leaving yawning black gaps. Vines had crept up the walls and over the roof like dark green claws. The whole building seemed to sag, like it couldn't stand its own weight any longer.
And it was quiet. Once Brad turned the engine off and we all piled out of the car, there were no sounds save for the crunch of dead leaves beneath our feet. Even the wind that had been so strong when we left the dorm had died. Everything was silent and still.
There was a heavy chain link fence around the building and signs that warned against trespassing.
Heather laughed at this. "I can't imagine anyone voluntarily getting any closer," she declared. "I admit it…this place is giving me the fucking creeps." She looked at me, expecting me to agree with her.
I shrugged. "It's an old building. If you had come across it without any prior knowledge of its history, you wouldn't even look twice at it."
But I wasn't really telling the truth. There was something about the structure that just…well, made your skin crawl a bit.
"Wooo!" the guys whistled all together in that annoying way guys have when one of them brags about something, and the others feel obligated to call him out on it.
Brad put his arm around my shoulders, which was actually the most disturbing part of the evening so far. "You talk big, Sara from California…but I'd like to see you put your money where your mouth is." He pointed at the hospital. "I bet that you can't last five minutes in there."
The idea of going inside didn't scare me nearly as much as the idea of being caught and arrested. I depended entirely on my scholarships; I couldn't risk losing them. "There's no trespassing," I reminded him.
"Do you see any cops around here?" Brad pushed me forward slightly. "There's a hole in the fence over there. You can get in through the main doors; the locks rusted over years ago."
"Have you been in?" I asked.
His smile was unsettling. "I hold the record. Five minutes and forty-five seconds."
I looked at the hospital. It was eerie, sure. But there was absolutely nothing in there that could hurt me.
I glanced back at Heather. She was shaking her head, like she couldn't believe that I might actually do it. I think that's what gave me a final push towards the fence.
The guys were giving me cat-calls of encouragement, chanting my name as I approached the hole in the fence. I had to duck down to slip through it to the other side. My hair caught on the twisted metal and I had to work myself free. It was almost like something was trying to hold me back, keeping me from going any further.
Almost. It could have just been one of those things.
On the other side of the fence, the hospital loomed over me. That's when I first felt something akin to hesitation. There was no barrier between me and it any longer. And even though I'd only gone thirty or forty feet forward, I felt like I was on another plane of existence, far removed from my sort-of friends.
I just started walking. That was all I could do. Turning around would have been admitting defeat. I walked and walked, and the building got closer and bigger. I could see more details now. Rust stains dripped down from the metal window frames, licking the grey stone with color that was too bright for its surroundings. It looked as though the windows were crying blood. There was still no sound. I couldn't even hear Heather or Brad or the others. All I could hear was my own breath, coming a little bit faster as I reached the steps leading up to the main entrance.
Step by step, I pressed on towards the doors. One half sat slightly ajar, a foreboding welcome. I took a deep breath and pushed it open.
Gloom greeted me. Pitch black. It was like walking into a shadow. I took a few hesitant steps inside before the darkness swallowed me whole. When my eyes adjusted, I could barely make out three corridors to my left, my right and straight in front of me.
"Eenie, meenie, miny, mo," I whispered. The words bounced off the walls.
I glanced back over my shoulder at the world I'd left behind. Just then, a cold rush of air swept down the hall in front of me, slamming the door shut. I could feel my heart jump into my throat; I nearly choked on it.
I was sealed up in an abandoned children's hospital.
At that point, I probably should have turned heel and run for the hills. But pride is a pain in the ass. I had to stick it out for at least five minutes and forty-six seconds. I just had to.
My eyes were even more adjusted to the lack of light at that point, enough so that I could see a floor directory on the wall beside the entrance. The glass was cracked and the printed names were faded with age and exposure. I scanned the list as best I could. Surgery, recovery, medicine, psychiatry…morgue. I was just going to stand there and wait. They would never know that I hadn't gone any further than the reception desk.
And that's when I heard giggling.
It was coming from the corridor to my left, and it was so faint that I felt certain I'd imagined it. But then I heard it again, louder this time. And closer.
"Hello?" I called out. "Is someone there?"
There were whispers mixed into the laughter. At first, I couldn't make out any words. Just murmurs. Then, it stopped.
It took me a moment to figure out that I was shivering. The temperature had plummeted so quickly that my lips felt numb. I wondered if it had started to snow outside, as the weather girl had promised it would.
The giggling returned. "Who's there?" I shouted, my teeth chattering, not entirely from the cold. The best I could figure, there were either homeless people using the hospital for shelter, or Heather and the guys had snuck in to play tricks on me.
The whispers were starting to take shape, although I couldn't be sure if I was just trying to make them into actual words. Certainly your subconscious can make you hear things if you want to hear them.
But I didn't really want to hear anything in the first place.
…with us… I could see my breath swirling around my face. Come…with us…
"Heather?" I didn't care if they were playing a joke. I just wanted it to stop.
Come play with us…
I started backing up towards the door. "This isn't funny," I said out loud. "You're not scaring me."
I backed up into something solid. I didn't scream, but I spun around, full expecting to see Brad standing behind me, grinning like an idiot.
But there was nothing there. Anymore.
Suddenly, the voices became clear. And they were all around me.
Come play with us, Sara!
I felt something brush against my right hand. Then my left. Something gripped my shirt. Pulled my hair. Touched my cheek. I felt dozens of tiny, cold fingers grabbing at me desperately. And pride be damned, I ran straight for the door.
It wouldn't open. I pulled, I yanked, I begged, I pleaded…but it was stuck.
Stay with us, Sara…we want to play with you…
Approaching blind panic at that point, I just kept wrestling with the door. I had no idea how much time I had spent going at it, but without any warning, it just opened. I fell out of the hospital, gasping for breath.
By the time I ducked back under the fence, my heart rate had somewhat slowed down. I chalked it all up to my imagination. Thanks to Brad's stories, I had been predisposed to the idea that the hospital was haunted. Therefore my mind had projected sounds and feelings according to what it expected to hear and feel, and not so much to what had actually happened.
I rejoined the group with a restored sense of calm. I felt even better when Brad looked at his watch and cursed. "Six fucking minutes," he muttered.
Heather frowned at me. "Sara, what happened to your hair?"
I reached up to touch it…and found it in a tangled mess. Like someone had been playing with it. That was when I noticed the exposed skin on my arms….and the delicate scratches from tiny nails…
"Get the hell out," Warrick finally said. "You for real?"
Nick's laugh was nervous. "No way. Never happened."
Sara glanced at him in the rearview mirror. "Why do you say that, Nick?"
"You don't believe in ghosts," he retorted confidently.
"You don't." Nick paused. "Right?" He hit the back of Warrick's seat, seeking confirmation. "Right?"
"Hey, man…you think your frat brother drove a ghost to her prom." He held up his hands. "Anything's possible."
Nick turned to Greg. "You're being awfully quiet for having started this whole thing." He squinted through the dark. "Hey…are you okay, Greggo?"
Warrick craned his neck. Greg wasn't blinking. "He looks a little pale if you ask me." He winked at Sara. "I think you won this one, girl."
She smirked as she drove on.
"It's just me," she soothed. "Go back to sleep."
Grissom turned the lamp on, making them both squint at the sudden flood of light. "How was the scene?" he asked, his voice husky from interrupted dreams.
"Horrible," Sara admitted. "But things go pretty quick when there's four of us." She unbuttoned her fly. "The ride there was interesting. I almost made Greg wet himself."
"Now that's a trick I need to learn."
Chuckling, she stepped out of her pants. "It was his own fault. He wanted to hear a scary story and he got one."
She loved the fact that Grissom always watched her undress with the same fascination as he had the first time they'd slept together. "Pleasant Hills?" he asked. Reaching behind for her bra hook, Sara winked. "Was it a children's hospital this time, or an insane asylum?"
"Does it matter?" Clad in nothing but a skimpy pair of black briefs, Sara joined him under the covers that he'd already warmed with his body. He turned the light off, and she curled up next to him, her cheek resting on his soft shoulder. A few minutes passed in content silence. "Do you have any scary stories?" she suddenly asked.
He stroked her hair. "None that I know of."
"Come on," she cajoled, pressing a kiss onto his collar bone. "It's sort of still Halloween. Tell me a scary story."
"Scary story, huh?" Grissom thought for a long moment. "All right." He cleared his throat. "One morning I woke up…and you weren't there." Sara waited for more, but he merely lifted his shoulders. "The end."
A/N: While there is no such place as Pleasant Hills, there was a place called Sunland in Tallahassee, Florida. I never made it inside. Actually, I never got out of the car. Some places just feel…wrong.
Sunland was torn down a few weeks ago, but the stories live on. Happy Halloween…