Saturday, December 19, 2015

Blogging Break

Hello World!

Thanks for being such fabulous readers over the past few months! I've been so excited to share my fiction and random thoughts with you guys. Unfortunately, due to health issues, the holidays, and family travel, I won't be able to write or update as regularly.

Don't fret though! I will be back in January with more installments of The Horrorphiles, awesome news, and a reinstatement of Art Fart Fridays.

Until then, I hope you have an awesome holiday season full of lights, friends, family, and merriment!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Part 26

NaNoWriMo 2015: The Horrorphiles, Part 26
By Stephanie Thompson, 1,684 words

No Frills, Just Chills. Click Below.
Chapter 23 (la-di-da-di-da), continued

“So, how are you really doing today?” He asked again eventually.

“Better I think. I guess I can’t really remember.”

“Well last time I saw you, you were crying, so this is definitely better.”

The conversation was halting and awkward. Did he not know what to say to his dying girlfriend? Or did he not know what to say to his dying ex?

“Is Becky here?”

She didn’t care if it was rude to keep asking for the person who wasn’t here instead of talking to the one kind enough to stay with her overnight. She kept thinking of two things, how annoying it was to forget the date as you were dying and that judgement scroll the clattering skeleton with the bowler hat had given her. Lacking she was lacking in nearly every category.

“Becky had to go to work. She was here a lot when you were first brought in, even though they didn’t know if. . . When you’d wake up. I guess she used up all her days off or whatever. She’s driving back and forth a lot.”

“Were you here for any of it?” 

“Yeah, um, a couple of times,” he said, clearing his throat. “The hospital called since . . . Since I was one of your emergency contacts. I actually got here first.” He cleared his throat again. “Not that it was a competition.”

She finally looked at him. Her heart did it’s emotional flips-flops  and her mind kept going over the questions: were they together? Were they separated? Were they friends even? Was he here out of some kind of administrative obligation? Because he was a decent person?

Maybe it wasn’t the just the date they’d forgotten as they were dying. She’d forgotten the last two years, gone, eroded, probably forever. Is that what it was like for her parents in the fire? For Aunt Wanda who’d gone to sleep in her own bed and never woke up again in her death bed? Was the whole life flashing before your eyes wrong and instead you watched it disappear in reverse? Had they all died remembering a time before she even existed? Did they forget all about her? Was she going to forget them too?

She stared at him in silence for awhile, adding to the awkwardness of it all but she just couldn’t bring herself to ask.

“So, “ he said at last looking away. “I mean. . .” He stopped a second time. “So, what was it like. . . Being in a coma or whatever?”

She really needed to be able to move her body again because she wanted to shrug  but didn’t dare try it. The more awake she was, the more her body hurt at each attempted gesture. 

“I’m not really sure,” she said.  

While she couldn’t articulate what it was like to be in a minute coma, she was starting to understand what it was like to be out of one. A constant verbal exam. She was also aware of her brain for the first time, like she could actually feel it getting tired, as if it ached after a set number of questions. And there were so many questions.

“Jordan, what are you doing here?” she blurted.  She was still staring at him, watching him in profile, willing him to look back at her. But he did the opposite, repelled like a mismatched magnet (or whatever). “I mean, I don’t know what we are. Last thing I remember we were broken up, but you wanted to get back together. But. . .” A dry, sarcastic laugh tried to come out but the dryness in her throat made it sound more like a toad croak. “I can’t remember . . . I can’t remember anything.”

His back was to her, blocking half the  white board and half the clock. His arms were crossed in front of him, pulling his plaid flannel shirt as taught as his tense shoulders.

“We shouldn’t talk about upsetting things. They keep saying you need to stay calm and you’re going to be confused and scared at times. Maybe I should get a nurse?”

She wasn’t sure if he was talking to himself or her. He started for the door.

“Jordan!” She said it with a painful urgency. Painful because she was trying to reach out like she was going to physically stop him

She grunted a bit and he rushed back to her side, adjusting her bed and pillows, hushing her down and telling her not to move and fussing, in general. None of which helped, made her feel better, or distracted her from her question.

“I don’t need a nurse. I need a friend. I need you. I need you to tell me about us, what happened to us.”

He didn’t look away from her this time. His eyes were dark and bloodshot, sad and tired.

“Back in 2013, I did want to get back together. We never talked about but days after leaving you I realized I’d made a huge mistake. I tried to take it back, I tried to talk to you but you never responded. And, eventually, I moved on.” He swallowed hard. “I started dating again. Never anything serious. I always missed you. When the hospital called because I was still on a list of emergency contacts… I guess… I had to be here. I’m dating someone else now but. . . But I still care about you.”

His words, like the words of the doctor’s, went in circles in her mind, overlapping each other, crashing into each other so that they didn’t makes sense just nonsense wearing out her brain. One thing was clear, it was a mistake. A mistake to ask him. A mistake to insist he tell her. 

“Are you okay?” he asked, after a long silence. “Should I get a nurse?” Then after another pause. “Should I leave?”

“No!” She said suddenly, bringing on a new rush of pain. “No, I don’t want to be alone.”

She didn’t want to be alone because alone she would probably fall asleep and when or if she woke up how much would she would remember or forget this time? She was scared to wake up again. 

“Ok, ok I’ll stay until Becky can be here.”

He patted the back of her hand again. It still wasn’t comforting. It was meaningless, empty, borderline annoying. And awkward. Everything was awkward now. And worse she was tired again. Her mind just kept repeating what he’d said, like it was punishing her, and she still couldn’t make sense of it or how she should feel about it. All she could really think were follow up questions she didn’t want to ask. But she didn’t want to sleep, she would not sleep. She had to make conversation.

“What . . .” Do you mean you still care about me? “What about your job? Do you still work with your dad?”

“Yeah, yeah, contracting is good. Plus being the son of the boss is good. I can have as much time as I need….As you need.”

“And…” What does your girlfriend think … “And your family are all good?”

“Yeah, everyone is good … fine.”

He pulled his hand off hers. “This is awkward, isn’t it?”

She didn’t answer.

“It’s awkward, I should just leave. I shouldn’t have stayed.”

 “No Jordan, please don’t leave.” She leaned forward again, ignored the pain, but couldn’t catch her breath. “Please. I don’t have anyone else to keep me awake.” 

“Okay, now I need to get a nurse, cause that sounds. . . strange”

“No. No. Just listen, just listen first.” She couldn’t tell if the rushed breath was anxiety or pain but his hand was on the doorknob like he was still going to leave. 
“Just listen. Every time I close my eyes and open them again, it’s a different day, a different year, a different place than what I remember. What would you do in my place?”

He didn’t speak. He didn’t move.

“Please just stay and talk to me. We don’t have talk about personal stuff, tell me the past two years of Raven stats, if you have to, just don’t let me fall asleep.”

If Becky was here she would make some Nightmare on Elm Street reference, maybe “I’m your boyfriend now, Nancy”  her favorite or (think of another one weirdo, this can’t be the only Freddy quote you know), another favorite or maybe she had a new favorite after two years. Or more correctly maybe Veronica had forgotten whatever the new thing was. What was important was that Jordan didn’t look like he was leaving.

“Raven stats will put you to sleep faster than anything.”

“Tell me the price of screws then.”

Jordan laughed. She laughed a little too, even though hurt. It felt good to hear him laugh again.

He finally hung his coat on the hook on the back of the door.

“How about I tell you what’s been happening on (figure out some freakin’ show they might have watched together….this is not as hard as you’re making it)?”

Chapter 24

Ronny woke up to Becky sleeping across from her in a darkened room. Hospital again, she thought for a reason she couldn’t remember. Where’s Jordan? Again she thought for reasons she couldn’t remember. She needed to read the clock across the wall. She knew it was important, that clock and something else, what looked like a white board but the dim light from the hallway didn’t light either enough for her to make it out clearly.

“Becky,” she said in a loud whisper. 

Becky didn’t move or make a sound. She tried kick her with her foot but remembered too late that the she shouldn’t try to move.

“Fucking hell,” she said, loud enough to wake up Becky at last.

“And a fine howdy doo to you too,” she said in gruff, middle of the night voice.

“What time is it?” Ronny asked.

“Why? Are going somewhere?” She still sounded mostly asleep but she turned on a light near the bed.

It was was just past 11 o’clock. The white board informed her the floor nurse was Monica. This information only eased her mind partially. 

Read more in Part 27.

Thanks for Reading!

Monday, December 14, 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: Part 25

The Horrorphiles, Part 25
By Stephanie Thompson; 1,628 words
Chapter 22 (seriously, no more asides), continued

She bottled it up the best she could, which wasn’t that great. She cried but didn’t sob. She kept talking as normally as she could, trying to act like she didn’t notice, like it wasn’t happening at all.

“I can’t. . . I don’t know. . . . The nurse said it was 2015 but my mind is stuck in 2013. Um, so I think I’m two years younger, I guess that’a plus.” She tried smile even laugh a little but failed, she simply cried more instead.

“Hey, now, it’ll be ok. Just do what the doctor’s say and you will get better.” He paused like he wasn’t sure he should say the next part. “And I’ll be here for you, if you need me.”

She wanted to ask about their relationship, to explain more about what she didn’t remember. But the lump in her throat only produced more tears instead. She stopped trying to say anything. She just let Jordan pat and squeeze her hand until the tears finally dried up, in silence. Where was Becky, it was only Becky she could talk, only Becky who would know everything and tell her without trying to hush her up and make her get some rest. And Becky would know what to do.
Neither of them heard her come in but like right on cue, Becky was there.

“What are you doing here?” She said.

Jordan didn’t let go of her hand or look away. He spoke softly like he was still talking to Ronny and not Becky at all. “She asked for me.”

Becky looked like she always had which was a comfort all by itself. Her long, almost mid back length hair, dyed a severe jet black, was pulled into a sloppy bun, practically completely undone like it looked at the end of a work day, and her bangs formed a harsh straight line just above her black penciled in eyebrows and dark rectangular prescription RayBan glasses. She had thick black eyeliner on her upper lid and a smudged black liner underneath. Her dark brown eyes sparkled in between like she’d been crying in the car. Her lips were painted bright red, always, she never left the house without lipstick even if she skipped the brow and eye pencil she still had her lipstick. She drew more attention to her mouth with by having her bottom lip pierced with two silver thin rings. She wore all black all the time right down to her mid calf combat boats. She had ear piercings all the way up her left ear and only two in her right. She worked at a bookstore downtown and pretty much hated everything and everyone except horror movies, her cat RayRay, and Ronny. She was just the kind of friend to get tossed out of a hospital while her friend lay comatose and just the kind of friend to block the numbers of ex’s after cursing them out. She was just the kind of friend she needed right now, the kind of friend she’d always needed.

“Well, they’re going to get pissed again, if we’re both in here. How much longer do you plan on being here?”

“How ever long Ronny wants me here,” he said tersely.

It was obvious they didn’t like each other but Ronny didn’t know if what was recent, whatever had gotten them thrown out of the hospital while she was . . . Sleeping, or if it was a long time on going feud.

“It’s ok, Jordan. I’d like to talk to Becky for a bit now. I’m sort of tired so, I don’t think I’ll be awake much longer.” She squeezed his hand for the first time since he arrived. “If you could come back tomorrow, I’m sure I’ll be even better than.” She didn’t sound like she believed a word she said. She tried to smile to back up her verbal optimism but she failed once again.

“Yeah, sure, Ronny. I’ll be back tomorrow.” He managed a smile, his dimples shone briefly as he patted her hand again. Her heart sung out for him like it had when they first met, and ached for him like when he left. Did that mean they were still broken up? That they broke up again? Would she ever remember it right?

When Jordan left her attention, such as it was, went back to Becky who was watching her with astonishment.

“That’s the most coherent thing you’ve said since…”

“Yeah, well, I guess I was. . . I don’t know. . . Out of it.”

She snorted. “That’s putting it mildly.”

No one said anything for a moment. Veronica was very, very tired again. She hadn’t felt so exhausted just a moment ago. It was all she could do to keep her eyelids open.

Becky set at the head of the bed in the same chair vacated by Jordan. “I’m kind of pissed at you,” Becky said with a half smile.

Up close her eyes looked tired and bloodshot like she hadn’t slept in days and instead had spent the whole time crying. That wasn’t like Becky.

Veronica didn’t say anything for a moment. Her mind was sort of swimming, like she couldn’t pin down reality. Was she dreaming? Sleeping again? Or awake?

“Yeah, I figured,” she said.

“What do you mean?” Becky eyed her suspiciously.

She wasn’t sure herself. She had something in her mind a moment ago. She sort of remembered Becky being weird, sort of arguing. But when? How?

“After those texts,” she remembered. “You wanted me to come home and I didn’t. I should have just left when you wanted.” Her lids were half closed like they were moving of their own accord and she was too weak to fight them off. But they were opened enough to see Becky’s expression change to concerned.

“What texts?” she said.

And they were open enough to tell she was feigning her ignorance, lying. Becky had a tell tale lip chew when she was lying and right now she was chewing off the heavy bright red lipstick from one side of her bottom lip.

“A-ha,” Veronica said weakly. “I knew it was all true.”

Then she couldn’t fight off her eyelids anymore and Veronica was asleep again without dreams.

Chapter 23 (la-di-da-di-da)

When she woke up again the white board told her Fred was the floor nurse. The clock said it was 930 and the light from behind the blinds and the activity in the hallway let her know it was am. Jordan had his socked feet crossed at the ankles resting on the corner of her bed. The bed, she corrected. She wasn’t going to get too comfortable here either.

Jordan was wearing different clothes than the last time she saw him. But the last time he saw him, they were at a party, not a hospital. She paused. Was that right?
 She wanted to wake him up but she remembered it hurt too much to move. Because she was in an accident, she’d been injured. But she wasn’t sure how? On a bridge? No, a fog, driving in a fog.

She went to speak but whatever thing they kept putting in her mouth  stopped her from moving her tongue properly but she was sort of getting use to it and she was able to manage something that enough sounded like Jordan for him to wake up.

“Hey, you’re up. Let me get a nurse.” 

He was up and out the door before she could figure out how to say anything else.
Fred the nurse came in, took out the plastic tube, gave her some whatever and they played a round of 20 questions where Ronny still got most of the answers wrong. She knew they wrong though she just couldn’t remember the right answers, so he told her she was doing better. He told her it was the 23 of December 2015, a Monday and she was at Good Memorial Hospital in Vermont. She didn’t know what the hell she was doing in Vermont other than getting in horrific car accidents it appeared. After all the question and answer with nurse Fred, she was bored, annoyed, confused, and scared.

“You had me worried again, Ronny,” Jordan said after nurse Fred left.

“What do you mean?”

“The last time you gave conscious answers was Saturday,” he said. “It looked like you were slipping away again.”

She didn’t know how to respond to that. She really didn’t know what was going on. Why couldn’t she remember anything? Why couldn’t she stay awake? Was she really doing well or was everyone saying that so she wouldn’t freak out when they turned her her brain turned jello or swiss cheese and she actually didn’t have long to live.

“But that’s ok, you’re obviously doing well now,” Jordan said when she didn’t say anything for a long time as if he was reading her mind.

He moved the chair closer to her head and took her hand gently. Her hand and her face were probably the only parts of her body that didn’t hurt. And her hair. Her hair didn’t hurt.

She didn’t look at Jordan afraid that she would burst into tears. She kept looking at the white board. Tracing the letters in her mind. The Floor Nures Fred. The Date December 23, 2015. Patient Name Veronica Granger. Two of the questions on the brain damage questionnaire they kept asking her were on this stupid board. She could read it it just fine, she remembered the alphabet, obviously. Was her brain so damaged she couldn’t remember the date even when staring right at it? Was this what it was like to die? Had Aunt Wanda forgotten the date in her last days? Thinking it was August of 1979 instead of October 1999? What about her parents?

Keep Reading in Part 26 

Thanks for Reading!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Part 24

NaNoWriMo 2015: The Horrorphiles, Part 24
By Stephanie Thompson, 1,691 words

Gotta Read 'em All:
See more Inspiration on my Horrorphiles Board.
Chapter 22 (Seriously, no more asides), continued

She didn’t answer him, she just stared at him, tears still rolling down her cheeks. She tried to control her crying because this wasn’t a man she wanted to share her emotions with. She was scared, she was upset, she was confused and he was  going forward like a bull in a china shop to tell her something even worse than what he’d already said. Maybe he wanted to heal her, give her life back to her eventually, but in the meantime he was not compassionate. He was just another in a line of old white men telling her the worst news of her life in the same stern, nearly robotic, voice.

“It’s not 2013, it’s 2015. It’s December 21st, 2015.”

She didn’t know what to say or how to feel. Again she simply couldn’t understand what he’d said.  She understood the individual words but her brain wasn’t comprehending.

“I don’t understand.” Maybe that was going to be the only thing she’d ever say again.

“Your car accident was on the evening of December 6th, 2015 and you arrived at the hospital on the same date. You were in a coma for approximately a week, then you were in a vegetative state, occasionally waking or moving. This is the most conscious you’ve been for the entire time.”

“Why…why?” She was trying to ask why she didn’t remember two years of her life. Why was her last memory some random weekend two years earlier? But trying to say more than the one word made her lips tremble, made her eyes feel like releasing a torrent of tears. She couldn’t say more.

“You have suffered a great deal of trauma and we can’t be entirely sure of the full extent of your brain damage without more time and tests. Let me get a nurse for you, okay?”

And with that, and without much change between settings, his comforting and compassion duties were over, so much as they were, and he left her room. The room.

She sat there for she didn’t know how long staring at the lump at the end of the bed that was her feet. The doctor’s words kept running through her head forwards, backwards, maybe upside down, she didn’t even know. Brain damage. Brain damage. Braindamage. Braindamagebraindamagebraindamage.

The sun was beginning to set, changing the color in the sky, when she woke up. The clock across from her said it was 4:30 but she couldn’t remember what it’d said when she saw the doctor. Or if it was even the same day. 

“Ok, Veronica, both your friends are on their way. But you can only see one at a time. Who would you like to see first?” She spoke as if they were in middle of a conversation. Maybe they were.

She erased the white board with the floor nurse’ name on it and wrote a new one — Monica.

“Whoever. . . Whoever gets here first,” Ronny said eventually.

Her throat was dry still or again. She started coughing again.

“Here let’s get you some water.”

She had a couple small sips before Monica started with the questions.

“Can you tell me your name?”

“Please, don’t ask me those questions again. I’m too tired.”

“I know, sweetie, but I have to ask because you went to sleep or unconscious again, since the last test. It’s real important cause it let’s us know about the damage in your brain.”

Brain damage? Hadn’t the doctor said something about brain damage? 

“Veronica Jillian Granger.”

“Good. And your birthdate?”

“March 3rd, 1980.”

“And where do you live, honey?”

“Washington, DC”

“Look at you, doing so awesome. Do you know where you are now?”

“I’m. . .I’m in the hospital. In. . .in . . .”

She was sure she’d been told but she couldn’t remember. She remembered the doctor told or she thought the doctor told her. Maybe it was Becky, last night. She was sure where ever she was it wasn’t where she was suppose to be, where she thought she was.

“I don’t know.”

“That’s ok. How about . . .do you remember when you were admitted to the hospital?”

She was suppose to know this too. Someone had told her.

“I don’t know. . . I think. . .”

Again she knew the answer she wanted to give was wrong. If she wanted to say yesterday she shouldn’t say yesterday.

“It’s ok honey don’t stress yourself about it. The last time I asked you these you went back out after the first one, so already you’re doing much better than then.”

“I’m really tired now. I really… really don’t feel like answering any more questions.” She was tired but she was mostly scared. She didn’t like the very fact that she had to do this and she was terrified that if she got an answer wrong, it would indicate some kind of horrific and irreparable brain damage, like she’d suddenly start speaking in tongues or say fork when she meant television.

“I know, I know. Your friends will be here soon. Let’s just try to be as quick as we can. Do you remember how you got to the hospital?”

She shook her head a tiny amount no. Her neck hurt too much to do anymore.

“What’s the first thing you remember after your accident?”

“I woke up here, last night. Becky was here and a nurse, a different nurse. She gave me water. Asked me questions.”

“What is the last thing you remember before your accident?”

“I remember driving, on a road not a bridge,” she stopped because she didn’t know why she added the last part. Nobody had said it was a bridge had they?

“Um . . . And there was fog. . . And then. . .” She remembered it clearly. She knew she could remember it exactly like this but at the same time, like everything else, she knew it was wrong. She could hear tires squealing like they were skidding too and she knew that hadn’t happened before. The accident she remembered clearly involved no squealing tires. This other thing, the “not on a bridge” accident, that’s what the tires were from but it was all she could remember or what she made up to remember. But she didn’t ask about what she remembered of the accident just the last thing she remembered period. And before the skeletons, it was headlights. (This is super long and awkward and awful, try again)

“And then there were headlights. And I was here.”

“Ok. So just one last question and then you won’t have to talk to me anymore if you don’t want to ok?”

She nodded and even in up and down mode her neck still screamed against the movement.

“Do you know what today is?”

Again, she knew her answer would be wrong, she could see out the window with the last light of the day that she was wrong. The trees were dry and bare, no autumn leaves clinging, just snow and ice dusted across them. “I think. . . I think it’s October 20th 2013,’ she said. “But, I know. . . I know that’s not right.”

“Ok, Veronica, I’m going to tell you some things and I don’t want you to get any more upset, even though it might be confusing or scary, ok? Today is December 21st, a Saturday in 2015. We’re at Good Memorial hospital in Vermont. You were in a car accident on an icy bridge on Friday, December 6th. You were brought her in an ambulance with a severe concussion, broken ribs, a broken leg, whiplash, a smidgen of hypothermia, and a few other injuries but you’re going to be just fine. Ok?”

She nodded again because if she opened her mouth to say something she knew she would start sobbing and that would hurt so much more. And even though she was in the hospital bed with little to no apparent memory and a severely broken body and mind, she still thought that straight sobbing wouldn’t be appropriate for a thirty-three year old. Or thirty-five year old. 

“Now I believe there’s a young man here to see you. Is that ok?”

She nodded again tears already slipping out.

Monica motioned someone in from the hall and met him just inside the door. She spoke to him in a low voice but Ronny’s hearing was just fine.

“She wants to see you, she could really use some company right now. Some positive company. She’s more coherent than she has been before but she’s having a difficult time accepting the news of her situation. The other young woman is on her way too and what Veronica definitely doesn’t need is the two of you fighting again. So if any of that nonsense starts, I’ll have you both of you escorted out of here faster than (some folksy aphorism).”

Yes, I understand,” Jordan said throughout at the appropriate times.

He looked just as he had when she saw him at Greyson Manor. Long hair pulled back into a bun. A full but short beard. Her wore a heathered pine green long sleeve shirt with five buttons, the top two undone. His jeans were slightly baggy and dark ash grey. Plaid suspenders hung down from the waist band. His boots were half unlaced and untied like he barely threw them on in a rush to get to the hospital. 

“Veronica, remember you can push the call button any time you need me, ok?”
She painfully nodded again and tried not to think about the actual likelihood of remembering vs. not remembering. Monica shut the door behind her. Jordan pulled the one chair in the room to the head of her bed.

“How are you doing today, Ronny?”

“I . . .I don’t know. . . I don’t know, Jordan.”

She wanted to cry into his chest, breathe deep the Christmas smell of his body, feel him pet her hair, and listen to his voice vibrate in his lungs as he told her everything was all right. But she didn’t know, couldn’t remember what they were. Had they gotten back together in 2013, after Greyson Manor, or did it not work out? Would he come all the way up here if they were broken up still?

Find out what's next: Part 25

Thanks for Reading!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: Part 23

The Horrorphiles, Part 23
By Stephanie Thompson, 1,656 words

Read any of the parts before this one:
More Horrorphiles Inspiration.
Chapter 22 (Seriously, no more asides), continued

When she woke up again, it was definitely daytime. The fluorescent lights were on and the activity in the hallway was noisy and bustling. Someone had adjusted her bed so she was sitting up a little more. She didn’t know if that’s why she was in more pain or if she was more awake than last time and just felt it more. Her room was empty, she could see that much. Maybe Becky had gone to get something to eat, or maybe she was at work. The tv was on but muted. The blinds on the window were closed. The board on the wall said the nurse for her floor was Trudy Jenkins. The clock beside that said it was 1:20.

She didn’t really know how to get someone’s attention. She tried moving again and immediately regretted it. Whatever was in her mouth last night was there again and she couldn’t form the words to actually call out.

Eventually she realized there was a call button in her hand and it didn’t hurt that much just to squeeze her hand. The button didn’t call a nurse but a doctor or maybe him entering the room was just a coincidence. She didn’t really care because now she was awake enough to want to know what happened for sure.
She wanted to know if her inability to move was permanent or what was her prognosis in general. She wanted to know when she could go home so she could figure out how to salvage The Horrorphiles and make amends with Adam and Mr. Peabody since she was sure now she’d acted like a madman when she’d left and wasn’t very professional.

But the doctor was taking his sweet time, looking at her chart, reading machines, and marking down measurements. She tried to talk.

“Just one moment, Miss Granger,” he said. “It looks like you were up late again last night and got through a few questions.” He looked up from his chart. “Now let’s see if we can get you through a few more. Open wide.”

He reached his gloved hand into her mouth, less gently than the nurse, setting her off coughing again. He didn’t offer her water.

“So, let’s see, how about something easy? Can you tell me your name?” he asked at the same time he shined a penlight in her eyes. “Try to follow the light with just your eyes.”

She followed the lights as ordered but still had a bit of dryness in her throat, a tickle that seemed to block her voice.

“Do you know your name?”

She finally cleared her throat. “Yes, I know my name, Jesus,” she said, her voice just as creaky as it was the night before. “Give me a minute”

“No reason for agitation. Go ahead, tell me your name,” he said. His condescension was different than the nurse’s of last night. She had sounded like she was just talking to a child, he sounded like he was tired of holding a conversation with a phenomenal idiot. The doctor sounded like Dan.

“Veronica Jillian Granger.”

“When were you born?” He continued down his checklist.

“March 3rd, 1983.”

“Good,” he said without intonation. “And where do you live?”

“Washington, DC. Do you want my address?” She could be just as condescending and bitter as he could.

“No, that’s fine. Do you know where you are now?” 

And just like when she was sparring with Dan her own biting response had no effect on him. She was the only one getting more and more annoyed. When was she going to get back home, back to her life? Or had she run from one kind of hell to another.

“I’m in a hospital in North Carolina or maybe Virginia, I really don’t know. No one’s told me yet.”

He made some marks on her chart, flipped through some pages, then continued. “When were you admitted to the hospital? Do you know?”

“My best guess is like yesterday or last night. After the car accident. Unless I’ve been out for awhile, have I been out for awhile?”

“Miss Granger, how about we get through my questions, you give me your answers, and then you can ask me your questions and I can give you my answers okay? Do you know how you got to the hospital?”

“Presumably an ambulance. I don’t know.”

“What is the first thing you remember after the accident?”

She took a minute for this one. The first thing she remembered were the skeletons. She looked at the top of the doctor’s head bent over his clip board. His hair was greying, nearly white in some places and clearly thinning right at the top. This was not a man to mention clattering bowler hat wearing, judgmental, skeletons to. In fact, he was a lot like the clattering naked skeleton, the one arguing against her, the one who didn’t like her. No, she’d tell Becky the skeletons, the doctor only got to know the boring stuff.

“Miss Granger?”

“I woke up last night, like you said. My friend Becky was here and some nurse came, gave me water, and asked me some of these questions. Then I went to sleep. I was tired. I’m tired now too, by the way.”

“We’re almost done here.”

They weren’t almost done because she had her own list of questions to asked. And today she was more annoyed than tired.

“What’s the last thing you remember before the accident?”

Again she couldn’t tell the doctor exactly what she remembered, that’s something else for Becky, so she fudged the truth a bit, not that the doctor would knew the truth anyway.

“Um, I was at an event for this group I run. Beck texted me, she said there was an emergency, so I had to leave the event early. I remember driving but it was dark and foggy so I couldn’t see very well and then . . . Out of nowhere there were these on-coming headlights.”

The doctor wrote some more things down “Ok, this is the last question, do you know what today’s date is?”

“Well, as far as I know, it’s Sunday, October 20th, 2013.”

“Alll right,” he said slowly as he wrote more notes. Then he finally put her chart down, met her eye and smiled. “Good morning, I’m Dr. Bronsky and we’re at Good Memorial hospital (in someplace that sure as shit isn’t NC or VA). You were in a car accident on an icy bridge on Friday December 6th. Today is December 21st, a Saturday. Ok? Does any of this sound familiar?”

Sound familiar? She couldn’t even make sense of it. Dr Bronsky walked over to the window and opened the blinds. The sun shone in bright from a winter white sky. The bare branches visible from the window room were dusted with snow.

“I don’t understand.”

“There was a head-on colission with another car that had swerved on the icy. You sustained injuries from that impact, plus more from the impact of the car behind you, which pushed your car off the bridge. You weren’t in the water for long as a fire rescue truck was near by and an ambulance followed soon after that, but you’ve suffered a great deal of trauma.”

“I don’t understand,” she said again, this time with more energy, there’s something about what he was saying that wouldn’t allow her to comprehend. She could hear everything, understand the words individually, but not all together.

“This isn’t right, this is some kind of trick, a joke, like the . . . Like the . .” She couldn’t bring her to say it, just in case it was real, just in case the doctor decided she was crazy and needed to be locked up for good. “No, I need to go home.”

She wanted to do more, she wanted to push back the covers and push herself out of bed, even if she had to hobble out of the hospital, even if she had to push herself out in a wheelchair an inch at a time. But she couldn’t move without every muscle, every bone, every nerve felt like it wasn’t just protesting in pain but blood-curdling screaming in anguish. There was nothing she could do, she was stuck in this bed, stuck in this new nightmare.

“Now, now Miss Granger don’t get out of sorts, you might hurt yourself more. And we’ll be moving backwards instead of forwards. This isn’t the first time we’ve told you this information, this isn’t the first or second time you’ve woken up. Now I know it’s difficult to understand, even scary, but everything is going to be fine.”

The doctor wasn’t actually making her feel any better but she couldn’t move anymore, it hurt too much. She started to cry a little without meaning to and she couldn’t even wipe her tears. “When is Becky coming back? Or Jordan?” She asked.

Those weren’t the questions she was going to ask before but she didn’t want to speak to this doctor anymore. She didn’t want to speak to anyone but Becky or maybe Jordan. She didn’t really want to talk to Jordan either. She just wanted him near, she would feel better with him nearby.

“They will be here soon.”

She had a feeling he didn’t actually know anything about her visitors, where they were or when they would be back that he was just saying something to calm down a hysterical woman. He sat down beside her again, and put her hand on his, gently like he was trying to comfort her but comfort was the last thing she felt from the gesture. There was something worse. He was going to say something worse. She couldn’t imagine what the hell could be worse but he was going to tell her now.

“There’s one last thing I need to tell. It’s very important that you understand and don’t agitate yourself further, okay?”

Keep reading in Part 24

Thanks for Reading!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: Part 22

The Horrorphiles, Part 22
By Stephanie Thompson, 1,558 words

Read the previous parts:
Spooky inspiration from my Horrorphiles Board
Chapter 21 ( I ran out of stuff to say)

Or at least that was the only way she could explain it. Out of existence. Or out of her current existence and into another one. A stranger one. And given what her existence had been like lately, stranger was a pretty difficult place to understand.
She didn’t blink her eyes or wake up or anything like that. One second she was driving in her car, surrounded by a huge blinding white light, like a tunnel with no end and she was here in this new place. 

The new place had no substance. She had no substance as far as she could tell. She couldn’t feel a body and when she looked down she couldn’t see a body just the bright white fog or maybe light, she couldn’t tell the difference anymore. Maybe she was the fog/light, in which case she was everywhere.

There was something or someone else there though. She couldn’t see them at first but the more she concentrated the clearer she could see. Like she was clearing the fog, or herself, just by thinking hard enough or squinting. She wasn’t sure she had eyes still but it felt like she did or at least the thinking hard enough felt like squinting. Either way the figures in the fog or herself was becoming clearer. What wasn’t becoming clearer was what they were saying. Which was fine enough because she was having trouble with just the basic understanding of what she was looking at. 

The . . . Creature? . . . Being? Closest to her, for all intents and purposes looked like a skeleton wearing a black bowler hat, green bowtie and a black brocade vest. His skull and mandible moved up and down like he or she was talking, talking quite animately in fact, but the only noise that came out was a clattering sound, like dice being shaken in a Yahtzee cup.

He was clattering at another skeleton like creature. The second was also wearing a bowler hat but that was all. He clattered something back at the first one, then the first one clattered back at him again. As herself or the fog became clearer and clearer she saw more and more bowler hat wearing skeletons but only the first two were were doing the talking/clattering thing for the most part. The others sort of muttered/clattered every once in awhile like in agreement or disagreement, she couldn’t tell which. Every once in awhile the skeleton in the vest and bowler hat pointed a bony hand at her, or where at least the main part of her, the squinting part was. Sometimes the naked bowler hat skeleton would point at her too but it had a different feeling when he did it.

She didn’t know how long it went on like that clatter, clatter, clattering. And she couldn’t relax because as soon as she relaxed everything would get foggy again so she had to pay strict attention even though she hadn’t the first clue what was going on and the longer and longer it went on the more she wanted to just let it slip away, fog it up, drift off, and go to sleep.

She wanted to but she didn’t because she didn’t want to at the same time. And she sort of knew, could just sort of tell, that this was part of what was being debated, her desire to live. Or even whether she deserved to live or die. Or, if she assumed she was dead already maybe it was even more than that, maybe they were arguing for her mortal soul. Then again for all she knew they were arguing about a lunch order or whether or not she should become lunch.

Then it was over. Naked clattering bowler hat skeleton threw his hands up and walked to his corner until he faded into her fog. And vested clattering bowler hat skeleton approached her and handed her a little card. That’s when she noticed she had a little bit of form again. Or at least hands enough to take the card.
The card was about the size of a prescription slip. At first it was difficult to read. She had to let go of everything around her, gone was the bowler hat audience, gone was the vested one, gone was the light and the fog. There was only her hands and the card. Across the top was written five categories: Lacking, Subpar (ugh do better things with words), Average, Prime, FullFilled. Down the side was a list of attributes.

Now the card was like an endless scroll she couldn’t read them all but she got the general gist. Happiness, Will, Ambition, Desire Temptation, Sacrifice, so on and so forth. She kept scrolling down basically, her eyes moving quickly over the list, over her scores. As she scrolled down the top of the score card disappeared in to the darkness, even what she could see of the bottom was disappearing.   She kept scrolling through ignoring the attributes now and just looking at the little x’s that indicated her score, reading in disbelief until she too was swallowed by the darkness.

Chapter 22 (Seriously, no more asides)

The next thing that happened was, she woke up. Sort of, mostly, kind of. She opened her eyes to a grey drop ceiling and knew immediately that she was in a hospital. What hospital, where, or why, she had no idea. But given what she’d experienced the past couple days, waking up in a hospital was no big deal. Given that the last thing she saw, that wasn’t clattering skeletons in bowler hats, was headlights, waking up in a hospital bed actually made tons of sense.

And she couldn’t move, which also made perfect sense. She couldn’t fully feel her body, she was numb throughout what she could feel, whatever made it through the haze of whatever medication she was on, throbbed with pain. She might have moved her arm but then unintentionally she moaned in pain.

That got someone’s attention, she could hear someone move nearby. For all she new it could be a roommate turning over in bed but she tried to speak anyway. She pushed her voice out dry and creaky from a sore throat. She could move her chapped lips but not her tongue. She coughed but the most sound she could make was like that of a zombie.

“Nurse, nurse, I think she’s awake again.”

She still couldn’t see her but she recognized Becky’s voice immediately. She could see the nurse when she came in though with an expression of exasperation as though it was the fiftieth time Becky had called her in that night  . . . Or day. She assumed it was night time because the hospital was so quiet and dark but it could just as easily be day for all she knew.

Ronny tried moving and speaking more, this time moving a leg or her foot maybe, possibly, and managing a louder zombie rar. Then the nurse’s face change from exasperated to tired but business-like. She leaned over her and shined a light into both her eyes. She winced but kept following the the penlight in case that’s what she was suppose to do.

“Do you know you’re name?” The nurse asked.

She tried to answer but still couldn’t quite move her tongue right, she sounded like she was answering questions at the dentist’s office which was at least a step above zombie, she supposed.

The nurse laughed. “I’m sorry, I forgot.” She reached a gloved finger into Veronica’s mouth and pulled out a small, bent plastic tube. “Ok let’s try again Do you know your name?”

“Veronica Granger,” she croaked.

“Your full name?”

“Veronica Jillian Granger,” she said, still croaking, followed by a coughing fit that made her chest feel like she’d broken every single one of ribs and maybe her lungs and essentially like she was dying.

“Well, give her some water or something, for fuck’s sake,” Becky said.

“If you’re going to start trouble again young lady I’ll have security escort you out again. You’re here past visiting hours only so long as you’re in my good graces,” the nurse turned her back to Ronny to scold Becky. 
When she faced her again she had a small cup with a straw. In a softer voice she encouraged her to drink like was kindergartner. “Let’s try some of this now.”
Ronny took a small sip, coughed a little more, and then took another sip. 

“Ok, that’s better. Do you know your birthdate?”

“March 3rd ,1980.”

“And do you know where you live?”

She sort of wanted to protest now. She was a grown lady not a lost toddler. But she was too tired. Too tired to ask what happened, too tired to ask to actually see Becky and not just hear her, too tired to ask the nurses name. Barely awake enough to answer the question.

“Washington, D. C.”

She closed her eyes, it was too difficult to keep them open.

“And do you know where you are now?”

“I don’t know. A hospital in North Carolina, I think.” (If that’s where she is) “Maybe Virginia, if I drove far enough.”

The nurse asked whatever question was next on her checklist but Ronny couldn’t hear well enough to make it out or answer. She drifted off again in to a dreamless, possibly morphine induced, sleep.

Keep Reading with Part 23

Thanks for Reading!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: Part 21

The Horrorphiles, Part 21
By Stephanie Thompson; 1,698 words

Missed something?
Click below to find out what happened first:
Stairwell Inspiration.
See more on my Horrorphile board.
Chapter 19 (You can chek-out any time you like)

She didn’t argue, she didn’t try to defend his cold summation of her life, she kept going down the spiraling stairs, which seemed longer than she remembered.

“Do you really think it will work out this time? He didn’t want you the first time and you haven’t changed since then. Why would he want you now?”

She was getting sick to her stomach now. And dizzy. The stairs were never ending. She could see the foyer but she couldn’t reach it.

“Fine, I’ll answer for you. He won’t. He doesn’t. He will get bored of you again and your single minded obsession and he’ll break your heart all over again. He will leave you. Jordan is not worth going back to.”

She stopped at last. Mostly to catch her breath, partly to get Adam to shut the hell up. Also to stop going in circles and reassess the situation. She looked at Adam, who wasn’t actually following her apparently but was standing at the the top of stairs, shouting down at her. He was still in black and white, which seemed less out of place in the red and black dimly lit stairwell. His hair fell into his face as he looked down on her, it was the messiest he’d been since she’d met him. He was smiling, maybe he’d been smiling the entire time, maybe breaking her spirit, hurting her feelings was his goal, maybe it made him happy. She finally decided to respond.

“I’m not going back for him. I mean I’m not leaving to chase after Jordan. I’m going home. I’m getting the fuck out of this creepy ass place and back to normal ass shit. I’m just going home, back to my life, no matter what that is.”

He laughed at her. Just a little laugh at first that grew into a big maniacal laugh.

“Fine,” he said eventually. “Leave, if you want to. Or try to. Nobody really (ever instead?) leaves this place.”

He didn’t move. He was still at the top of the stairs. But something shifted and she was on solid flat ground. She looked around her, she was finally in the foyer, not stuck on the stairwell spiraling to nowhere. She wasted no more time, ran to the door, and pulled it open. She half expected to find the world disappeared, for the front step to drop out on to dead air, open space, surrounded only by stars, instead she found Jordan blocking her way. The front lawn and gravel driveway stretched out behind him but he was standing there stock still like a slab of stone. She could see her car just over his shoulder. But she couldn’t leave just yet.

“Jordan! Where have you been?”

“I was looking for you,” he said. But he wasn’t looking at her, he was looking past her.

She turned to double check, there was nothing behind her.

“What do you mean you were looking for me?”

“Where have you been?”

She actually couldn’t answer the question. Every time she thought she was in one place, she blinked and she was some place else. The closest she could answer was “I’ve been here.”

“I was looking for you,” he repeated.

She took a step back and he took a step in.

“Are you okay, Jordan?”

“Are you okay, Veronica?”

She took another step back and he took another step closer.

“You’re starting to scare me,” she said, even though she was beyond starting to and actually scared, terrified even.

“Scared of what? There’s nothing to be scared of, I’m here.”

“Yeah, I’m also starting to think, you aren’t really.”

“Don’t be scared. I’m here. Stay. Stay here with me.”

He still kept his eyes staring at something behind her. She looked back  up at Adam, or at least to where he use to be. The top of the stairs was empty. When she turned back to Jordan it was Adam instead, grinning inanely at her.

“Stay here with me,” he said, in a deep and threatening voice.

She ran past him. Adam started laughing and kept laughing in peals ranging from deep and maniacal to hysterical and unhinged. And all of it made her hand stand on end.

She ran faster than she’d ever ran in her entire life. Hot puffs of her breath disappeared into the fog that was forming on the grounds around the mansion. By the time she reached the end of the lawn she could no longer see her bright blue Nissan (I think that’s what her car is). She kept pressing the alert (or whatever) button on the fob to be sure she was going in the right direction.
She ran and ran never looking back because she’d seen enough horror movies to  know that it was when you looked back that you tripped, and when you fell, you got axed in the head the by the crazy maniac rich guy in the empty mansion that you shouldn’t have gone into in the first place.

By the time she reached her car, when she was literally touching it, she couldn’t see anything through the fog. She unlocked the doors by pushing the button from memory on the fob and she felt for the first door handle she could find. And that’s how she ended up in the backseat of her own damn car but at least there wasn’t any fog and she could see everything in the car clearly.

She climbed over the center console and pushed the start button of her car and let out a giant sigh when the engine actually roared to life. The blasting music gave her another start and she cursed as she turned it down. But overall, she felt much better. Despite the unnatural fog she was going to make it, she was leaving Greyson manor at last.

Chapter 20 (but you can never leave)

She plugged in her phone and turned it on. She ignored the dings of alerts that came with having that one desperate bar of service and scrolled through her screens until she found her GPS app. After a moment it informed her she wasn’t connected to any network so it couldn’t find her location or give her directions. She didn’t care, not really she didn’t need directions, she just needed something like a map to see where she was going. 

She put the car in reverse and pushed her foot on the gas. The doors locked automatically. She sent out a silent thank you that Adam hadn’t chased her out and tried one of the car doors while she sat their stupidly preoccupied with her phone.

She put the car in drive and pushed down the gas pedal until her foot met the floor. She directed the car in her nearest remembrance of where the curve in the drive was and the turn out of it towards the road as her car tires spit out gravel and built up speed faster than she’d ever driven before.

The little blue car icon on the GPS map moved little by little in the direction she wanted. Both she and the GPS were basically guessing since it still hadn’t found a network and was just showing a map based on her last known location but she decided two guesses were better than one. She turn the steering wheel hard when both she and the GPS guessed they were at the road, the back of the car tried to keep spinning in the direction but as the tires gripped the road, the car got it’s act together and raced even faster forward.

The speedometer needle hovered over ninety. Ronny sent out another silent thank you that Greyson Manor, or hell, wasn’t built at the top of a curving mountain pass or anything else tricky to navigate in total blindness. The fog pressed in around her car like it had weight. It was grey and ghostly like Greyson Manor itself, like the empty map on her phone. 

She kept pushing her little car to its limits even when she was sure she was away from Greyson Manner and not stuck in some Hellish loop driving away and circling back somehow. She sped on and on blindly like she was trying to race the fog. Really she just wanted to find the end of it, or a thin spot, anything where she could see or maybe pick up a satellite network so her GPS could see. Anything to feel more secure that she was in some kind of real world and not in Stephen King’s The Mist.

After 45 minutes of traveling straight in one direction she turned on the cruise control. Her car held a steady speed of around 100 mph while she stretched out her ankle and relaxed her grip on the steering wheel. She gave her up belief that she was going anywhere. The fog became no thicker or thinner. Nothing was changing anymore on her gps or cell phone. The little animated car looked like it was standing still. Her cell still had just one bar of cell service but not 3g, 4g, or satellite connection. Even her gas gauge stayed the same. She was almost believed she could let go of the wheel, recline in her sleep and take a nap if she wanted to but she couldn’t quite allow herself to do it. Still, it was plain to see, more or less, that she was going nowhere fast, literally.

Which is why, when she saw the bright double lights in front of her, two hours into to her escape from Greyson Manor, she did nothing. She didn’t slow, she didn’t move to the other side of the road, she didn’t take off the cruise control. She did nothing. Well, nothing except laugh. She laughed because even as she got closer to the lights, she didn’t believe anything was there. The lights got bigger and bigger but there was no car attached. Besides, the last time she crashed she ended up right back inside Greyson Manor, unharmed. So, she kept laughing and even pressed on the gas pedal pushing the car to 110, until she slammed into the white lights and right out of existence.

Keep Reading in Part 22

Thanks for Reading!

Monday, December 7, 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: Part 20, now with pictures!

The Horrorphiles, Part 20
By Stephanie Thompson, Words 1, 663

Read previous posts by clicking below:
Evil Comes by Cris Alex.
See more inspiration on my Horrorphiles Board 
Chapter 18 (where I accidentally recap the beginning of the novel), Continued

Next she ran into someone sticky. Maybe she was the victim of The Blob or The Stuff, all Ronny knew was she was stuck to her like Briar Rabbit to the Tar Baby and she wouldn’t stop dancing either. Ronny’s arm kept jerking side to side with the woman’s gyration but she wasn’t getting stopped here. She left  her sweater stuck to the woman, wiping her handoff on the inside of her sleeve. Now she was down to her tank top (or is there a button up under that sweater? Find out) which seemed to attract a Wolfman who took her into his furry arms and spun her around a couple of times like a dysfunctional waltzing couple on a cuckoo clock. He was too strong for her to break away and she had no silver bullets, so she bopped in on the nose as you might for any disobedient dog. HE made a whining noise like an injured dog and released Ronny to grab is sore nose. Then he howled and went back to jumping with the crowd like the encounter with her never happened.
Ronny started making progress through the crowd, she could almost see the end of it when she slipped in a puddle next to Swamp Thing. She caught herself on a rotted zombie who appropriately fell apart under weight, his arm detaching from his shoulder in stringy mess of decomposing sloppy muscle. The zombie was the only one who reacted to Ronny’s actions at all, outraged he “Rarr’ed” to ceiling then proceeded to try to bite her. Her first instinct was to apologize, she even got as far as the I’m in I’m sorry before she laughed at the folly of trying to apologize to zombie who was trying to eat her brains like they were actually in The Walking Dead or something, when she was still holding his arm in her hand, her fingers digging through the smelly rotting flesh. So instead she beat him away with his own arm until she could run past him and finally off the dance floor. When she looked back the zombie was holding his own arm over his head, “rarr’ing” along with the music.
She thought she would never leave the dance floor. Panic combatted hysteria within her as she kept pondering the possibility of being chainsawed to death by Leatherface in the middle of a ballroom. There was no reasoning left in her to understand or figure out of this was really happening, she just needed to leave. Leave the dance floor, leave the ballroom-cum-concert venue, leave the mansion, leave (whatever state they’re in, NC maybe). She’d send the check by mail.Or flee. Fleeing was what she was really doing, leaving it all behind, fleeing the scene, getting the fuck out. 
Or at least she would be as she encountered her next obstacle, she couldn’t seem to find the door. They were hard to miss, huge like most of the other doors in the house, double doors of white oak and gold leaf, a massive scene of angels in armor and trumpets carved into them. And now they were gone. She started feeling with her hands, pressing them into walls and windows hoping to find them or any other exit. She didn’t. So she came up with an alternative, she would break a window to escape. Didn’t matter that she probably wouldn’t survive a jump from five floors up, or if she did she certainly wouldn’t be able to run or walk away. She didn’t care if she had to drag herself with her arms or if she died on impact, she was getting out now.
She found any empty sterling silver punch bowl and threw it with all her might at the nearest window. The shattering glass wasn’t audible over the music or the crowd and like the rest of the crowd the people. . . Monsters. . .fictional characters . . . Whatever nearby paid no attention to her. Ronny looked cautiously over the edge of the broken window. IT faced the front of the house. She could see her single lonely car off in the distance. Just below her was a bed of ivy freshly decorated with a silver punch bowl and giant shards of glass. She looked around the ballroom one last time to make sure the doors hadn’t reappeared during her vandalism. It felt so odd to be this unhinged and some what logical and determined at the same time. She knew she was acting crazy, that none of what just happened could be real, but she was having more success just accepting the illusion of this reality than she had all day the whole weekend trying to fight it.
She took a deep breath, swallowed some panicked/hysterical laughter and jumped, closing her eyes and pulling her knees to her chest like she a cannonballing into a swimming pool. Torrents of freezing October air rushed past her hurling her hair upwards, she almost felt like she was flying, nearly free, and then it all stopped. I’m dead, she thought since she felt no impact, no pain, nothing. I’m dead now. I’m dead.
She opened her eyes. The golden light of the chandeliers burned her eyes. There was a cold wetness on neck. She was back (still?) on the dance floor with Adam. Panicked confusion bubbled up inside her, not mixed with hysteria, not mixed with insanity, just clear terror. She pushed Adam away and wiped his wet remnants from her neck.
“What the fuck?” she said.
The dancers nearest them backed away, giving them some space, of which there was plenty, she saw as she looked around. Most of them were on the dance floor, huddled in a clump, and the huge expanse of the room went out around them, their small numbers not even coming close to filling the room. And they looked different too. Like a collection of rubber masks and poorly applied make-up. Cheap nylon outfits and rubber weapons. One person was literally wearing a sheet like a fifth grader dressed as a ghost.
“What the fuck?” she repeated.
“Veronica? What’s wrong?” Adam asked.
Then it was like she saw him for the first time that night. He was in black and white. That was the only way she could describe it. The rest of the world around her was in normal color and he was in black and white. She checked her hands, there was no smudge of make-up on her. She looked back at him.
Inside his mouth, the corner’s of his eyes, all the little places that would be pink if it was a makeup job was all grey. It occurred to her that this is why she’d assumed he was Norman Bates and never asked about his costume but even that barely made sense because he just looked like Adam. Adam with no color. 
She was sweating. Her throat was closing and she couldn’t breathe. Her heart pounded. She needed to leave. Again.

Chapter 19 (you can check-out any time you like)

This time though she had no problem getting off the dance floor or finding the door. In the hallway it was darker, cooler, and quieter. She leaned up against a wall and bent forward. She closed her eyes and counted her breaths out to three, then five, then ten. Her heart still pounded, she was still panicked, but at least she wouldn’t hyperventilate and pass out. 
“Are you ok?”
She hadn’t notice Adam following her out and him speaking gave her a little startle. “No,” she answered truthfully for the first time.
“Is there anything I can do?”
She didn’t look at him. She wasn’t bent over anymore but she didn’t want to look at him, she simply couldn’t handle it. She couldn’t handle another minute in this place, whatever this place was, because she was starting to think none of it was real. That she wasn’t anywhere. Or she was in hell. But where ever she was she got there by car so she could leave by car.
“I’m leaving. I have to go. Theres an emergency back home.” She spoke in a flat tone with no beleivability and she didn’t care that she sounded like a robot, she didn’t care if Adam beleived her because she was leaving one way or another.
“Wait, Veronica. Please, don’t leave. I’m sorry,” he said.
She didn’t ask sorry about what, She didn’t apologize or slow down to talk it out. She got to the stairs without getting lost and got down to her floor, to her room. The room. 
This time she did notice Adam following her because he never stopped talking. He kept repeating ‘pleases’ and ‘I’m sorry’s’ in different variations, combinations, and iterations. But she didn’t respond or slow down. In her room, the room, she didn’t care about what she took or  left behind. She grabbed her keys and her cellphone, both on the vanity, and was only slowed down by deciding to dig out her wallet. The rest they could keep or burn, she didn’t care. The check was still in her portfolio on the vanity. They could accept that or sue her. She was leaving.
Adam blocked her way, purposefully. She tried to move around him and he stepped in front of her again. He was talking and she was ignoring him. Nothing he said would change anything. A quick fake-out two step actually worked to trick him and she stepped around him. She was leaving.
She followed the spiraling staircase down to the foyer. Adam was shouting now, plus he moved on from meaningless polite platitudes and onto ominous threats and anger, he was harder to ignore.

“I can’t believe after everything I’ve done for you, tried to show you a good time, give you exactly what you wanted and you’re just going to run out like this. And where are you going to run to anywhere? Back to your empty apartment? Your little cyber kingdom? To Jordan?”

Keep Reading with Part 21

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