Thursday, November 29, 2012

THE NIGHT BLOGGER: The Graveyard Game And Other Cemetery Plots part twelve The Shape On The Stairwell

October 31st: What follows is the story of the longest Halloween night of my life. It begins with a flickering of lights and ends with me handcuffed to a hospital bed scribbling these notes out in the hope that Mrs. Vinchenzo will be able to get this posted for me.

I’ve got a bad feeling I won’t getting back to my apartment any time soon. There are too many bodies, someone has to get blamed and it looks like it’s going to be me.

But once again I’m getting ahead of myself...

The Graveyard Game
And Other Cemetery Plots
part twelve
The Shape On The Stairwell
Al Bruno III

...the Bishop family made sure I couldn’t get near Sara, there was always someone there to verbally or physically accost me. I spent all my free time in the main lobby of the Albany Medical Center trying to find out whatever I could about Sara’s condition.

Through a combination of bribes, eavesdropping and outright HIPAA violations I learned was that yes, she was awake but she was withdrawn and uncommunicative. For now she was under protective observation in her hospital room. There was talk of moving her upstairs to the psychiatric wing but her parents were having none of that.

Thankfully the hospital had free wi-fi so I spent my time in the lobby doing research, emailing my important contacts and giggling at the occasional cat picture. It didn’t even really register to me that it was Halloween until dusk.

That’s when I started to see kids from the pediatric ward being led around by a nurse wearing a pointy black witches’ hat. I suppose my heart should have been warmed by the sight of those children but I just kept watching the nurse. What she saw as a playful costume I saw as a way for the practitioners of true witchcraft to hide in plain sight.

For those of you Wiccans out there getting ready to send off angry emails let me once again remind you that I am talking about true witchcraft, the summoning and control of outer and inner forces, the signing of your name in the black book of Astaroth. I am not talking about any of that commercialized post-modern neo-pagan pseudo-Catholicism that passes for witchcraft to the general public.

OK NOW you can send me your angry emails.

Another hour or so passed, I kept myself busy with my iPhone. What had previous generations done without these little gadgets? Read books or struck up conversations with strangers probably. The poor bastards. First I played around with my ringtones trying to pick a new song to let me know when I'd gotten a text message. Once I had exhausted the possibilities there I started browsing the paranormal message board at 4Chan. I came across some  guy insisting that space aliens had forced him to breed with a Skunk Ape. I did my best to convince him that there was no such thing as space aliens so he just must have a thing for Skunk Apes.

The ensuing flamewar kept me busy until around eleven o’clock. That was when all the lights went out.

At first everyone in the hospital lobby was quiet, then there was a little nervous laughter. It wasn't completely dark, the streetlights shone in through the windows. I got to my feet and started walking.

Then the questions started, the who, what, why and where-

“Who knows what happened?”

What should we do?”

Where were the emergency lights like they have in the movies?”

Whispered conversations moved through the room, I could hear the growing panic in every voice. The hair on the back of my neck bristled. In my younger days I might have tried to warn these people something was about to happen; I would have told them that all Hell was about to break loose but I knew better now. Anything I said would be ignored or mocked, then after all Hell was finished breaking loose I would be blamed.

No one saw me slip into the stairwell. I started up the steps using my iPhone for a flashlight. A muffled crash worked its way down through the blackness. Sara was on the fifth floor. I started to rush up the stairs.

I was on the third floor landing when a shape surged towards me. It was a wide and formless snarl of limbs and legs. It screamed and shouted with a dozen voices. It flowed towards me, pushing me backwards. Both my feet were stepped on, my phone was knocked from my hand, an elbow caught me in the stomach. I shouted but none of the panicked people in the crowd paid any attention. I was just an obstacle standing between them and safety. All I could do was grab onto the hand rail and hold on until they passed.

When it was over I found myself sitting on the second floor stairway trying to catch my breath. I fumbled around in the darkness until I found my stomped, mangled straw fedora. I knew I must already be too late but I still hoped there was something I could do.

Sara needs me, I thought.

I spied the tell tale glow of my iPhone on third floor landing. It wasn’t until I reached out to retrieve it that I saw the figure lurking in the shadows nearby.

Mister Jack had seen better days, the burning bus had left the bottom half of his face looking like an explosion at a chili cook off. His clothes had been reduced to nothing more than rags and mud. The fire axe he was carrying however, that looked shiny new.

“...gck...” he said, “...gck...”

Then he brought the axe crashing down on the face of my upturned iPhone. He missed my grabbing fingers by inches...

* the sudden darkness all I could do was pick a direction and run.

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