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Empty Hallways

Empty Hallways

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Empty Hallways

ratings:
5/5 (1 rating)
Length:
224 pages
3 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Jun 26, 2013
ISBN:
9781490527475
Format:
Book

Description

David Hartlet is a troubled man. His demons are many and his option few. His only hope appears to lie in the care of the skeptical Dr. Schraeder. Schraeder, a scientist and psychologist with a lengthy history of caring for the mentally ill, believed David to be making more of his troubles than are actually there. What Dr. Schraeder, and even David himself, cannot know is that David's troubles are far beyond his own scope.

Many years before David's visit to St. Marguerite's Hospital, tragedy struck and left a mark upon the hospital that no amount of time could heal. That mark, deep and scarred over, was ripped open again by David's own tormented heart. David and the rest of the denizens of St. Marguerite's have found themselves face to face with the ugly spirit of the hospital, alive and aching for a revenge it believes it is owed.

Can David and Dr. Schraeder find a way to stop the spirit? Or will they be forced to relive the dark secret of St. Marguerite's firsthand?

Publisher:
Released:
Jun 26, 2013
ISBN:
9781490527475
Format:
Book

About the author

Andy Lockwood is a writer, an artist, and above all: a dreamer. When not slaving away, he spends his time buying books he does not have time to read, and delving into mediums he has no time to fully explore. He currently lives in mid-Michigan with his three cats.


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Empty Hallways - Andy Lockwood

Empty Hallways

a novel

Andy Lockwood

Copyright © 2013 Andy Lockwood

All rights reserved.

ISBN: 1490527478

ISBN-13: 978-1490527475

To those who have always encouraged me:

my family and friends,

my heroes and idols,

my cheerleaders and my peanut gallery.

...and to the monsters:

who lay in wait under my bed,

who hide in the shadows ready to snatch me up,

who keep me afraid of the dark.

This is for you.

"One ought to hold on to one's heart;

for if one lets it go,

one soon loses control of the head too."

- Friedrich Nietzsche

Table of Contents

Cover

One

Two

Three

Four

Five

Six

Seven

Eight

Nine

Ten

Eleven

Twelve

Epilogue

Acknowledgements

One

––––––––

Tonight, the wind whipped around, threatening to force its way into any opening, the rain falling from the sky helpless to do anything but be thrown in any direction the wind decided it wanted to flail. Tonight, trees that stood motionless for decades, even centuries, started a slow dangerous dance. Trees that knew the landscape before anything had been placed on it, could easily sacrifice themselves tonight to open the landscape up again, if just by a little. Tonight, the world was alight with lightning and thunder and the fury of Mother Nature. But inside, people just locked themselves away and tried to focus on happier thoughts.

Inside, away from the storm, David sat at his desk, palms down on the polished wood, forcing himself to breathe steadily, calmly. It was the second Sunday of the month and regardless of what else had happened, there was a routine to follow.

All of the maintenance in the house was on a timely schedule. The garbage was dragged to the curb on Wednesday night. Bills were dropped in the mailbox on the first and third Mondays. The water softener was refilled on the first of January, April, July, and October. And among all these duties, every second Sunday of the month, David pulled his revolver from the bedside table, oiled the gun inside and out, and then changed out the ammo. There was just something about his regimen that brought peace and calm to his hectic everyday life. Ellie always found it hard to keep a straight face when he tried to explain just how important a strict schedule was. Her laugh, it was -

David furrowed his brow, forgetting which chamber he has already run his cloth through. He shook his head and started over. Her laugh was like- 

He pushed the gun away, the oiled metal spinning slowly on the polished surface. He stood up and paced the room. Why couldn't he remember what she sounded like? He snatched up her picture, caressing the glass with his fingertips, the gun oil tracing a line down her cheek. It had only been two months, but already things were slipping away. It started out as inconsequential details, which brand names she preferred over others, which shoe she put on first. And then he started forgetting bigger details, how she liked her eggs at breakfast, which route she preferred to get across town. Now he was forgetting the things that made him fall in love with her in the first place.

A tear crept forth in one eye; it welled, blurring his vision, making him panic for a moment. Whatever Time wanted with him, he wouldn't let it take all of his memories of her. He would never forget her smile, the way she felt pressed up against him in bed, how cozy and peaceful she looked first thing in the morning. She always woke up like an angel. She made every day nothing but bliss and heaven on earth for David.

But those days were over. She was gone and he had shed tears already. He remembered crying for days, pouring tears until there was nothing left. When he was out of tears, he continued to cry, for days, just dry, ugly weeping.

Eventually, he crawled out of the darkness and found the only thing he had left, his routine. His beloved regimen. So he took to a calendar and plotted out his days, his weeks, until he had mapped out his first year without her. And then he did the only thing that was left: he started to move on. But that was when Time crept in and started stealing things that belonged to him, taking his memories of her. David wasn't ready to let those things go yet, but he didn't want to go back to that dark place he had crawled out of either.

Calmly, he sat back down at the desk and finished wiping down his revolver. He placed six rounds back into the chamber and listened to the smooth mechanism lock into place. Nothing heavy or intimidating, just a .38 Smith & Wesson snub nose. Lightweight and perfect for home defense, even if just a little small for his hands. He held the grip tightly, feeling his pinky finger slip off the butt of the gun, remembering that it was more for Ellie and when she was alone in the house. At least there were some things he hadn't forgotten.

But now, two months into a life without the one thing that made it worth living, David kept to the routine, but he knew it couldn't keep him. He was only delaying the inevitable and every day that went by, the darkness crept closer to him. He found fewer reasons to smile, less reasons to leave the house, less ambition to continue the routine. There was only one person he was holding to the routine for, and he himself no longer cared about it. He stared off across the room, looking into space. The only thing that broke him from his daydream was the click of the gun's hammer locking into place. He looked down and saw the gun in his hand, ready and waiting. He could feel the hot tears coming again as he raised the gun. Never before had something so small been so heavy in his hands. He tried not to think about it as he pushed the cold metal against his temple and tried to focus, tried to remember to breathe.

* * * *

Outside in the storm, away from David's wet eyes, a car moved slowly up the driveway, hampered by the weather. The leaves and debris, pushed and pelted by the rain, made it hard to keep the windshield clear. Clarissa drove slowly up the driveway, her fingers wrapped tightly around the steering wheel. Even in the darkness she could make out the iridescent glow of white bones pressing against her skin as she crushed the steering wheel in her grip.

Clarissa hated storms. She hated driving at night. She wasn't even that much a fan of high winds. But she was a fan of David. She had - a time or two - laughed along with Ellie at David's routines and need for order. But she also understood it a bit. She had undeniable needs and routines as well. One of them was to continually make certain that her family was in good health and taken care of. Even though David was not her blood, he was still family. David had earned his place in her heart and, resistant as he was lately, she would not let him be. Three years of playful jealousy while David and Ellie dated, followed by five years of friendly envy as they married, bought a house, and warded off requests for grandchildren at holiday gatherings. David was loved and would always have a place at the Munroe family gatherings.

She pulled up along the driveway and parked close to the wrap around porch of the modest farmhouse. The house was warm, friendly and everything that Ellie had ever dreamed. It was in a bit of a state when they had first stumbled onto it, but David's years as a contractor and woodworker made the whole house that much more of an intense labor of love. A symbol of their relationship and their life together. Now, though the house was still beautiful, it was just David's.

Clarissa jumped out of the car and raced up the porch steps, almost slipping as she made her way to the door. The wind whipped around her as she constantly adjusted her center of balance, trying not to land on either end before she got into the house. She tried the door, feeling the latch spring open as she pushed forward. She was all but home free when the gust of wind came up behind her. A gust, she called it, though in the moment, it could have been a wind shear. The wind came from nowhere and hit her directly from behind, pitching her forward into the door. She braced herself to keep from falling down, grabbing the jamb as she passed through it. The wind continued to barge into the house, shoving the door hard and throwing it wide open. It crashed open, shaking the wall hard enough to loosen the nail holding the portrait mirror that greeted guests in the entryway. It slid down the wall, gaining momentum and splintering as it connected with the hard wood floor.

David heard a slam and a crash. He heard the shattering and the splintering from downstairs, toward the front of the house. He felt the thud of something heavy echoing through the floorboards of the house and the glass splintering as it cascaded to the ground. Distracted by the far away sounds, he tried to figure out what was happening in his house. As he sat listening all too intently, the gun turned in his hand. He tried to adjust his grip, but it was too late, the revolver was slipping away from him. It twisted as he tried to regain control of it in both hands, one fumbling after the other, only managing to push it out of his hands further. Panic shot to life in his brain as he continually tried and failed to regain control of the weapon, its journey nearing completion as it plummeted end over end toward the hard wood floor.

He watched, as the gun turned, the stars aligning and the barrel facing up, looking back at him as the butt of the gun connected with the solid floor beneath it. Later, David would recall that, unlike most people's stories of danger, nothing slowed down for him. Maybe it's because part of him knew he wasn't in mortal danger. Maybe part of him had figured out the bullet's possible trajectory even before the gun landed hard and misfired. David would recount a dozen different stories he had heard over the years about how amazing the human body can be when it is trying to preserve itself. None of them came close to David's experience as he was struck blind momentarily and, another second later, struck deaf as well. Pain lit up his skull and he shot to his feet, holding his head in his hands as he stumbled forward.

The panic brought on by all of the new stimuli confused and disoriented David to a point that there would be no calming down. No stopping to take a breath and figure things out. His brain told him he had to get out of the room and make sure he was going to be all right. He reached out with one hand, flailing around like a man trapped in the dark. Step, flail. Step, flail. He was getting nowhere fast and he knew it. He also figured that he had to be standing in the middle of the room for as little was within his reach, so he turned and tried to take a couple steps in a new direction. This did get him closer to what he sought; however as he swung, he walked right into the wall. It didn't hurt, but the panic made him overreact and he pushed off the wall hard, stumbling backward and losing his footing as he pitched further. His hands left his face as he reached out, grabbing at the air as he fell, his last thoughts lost, cut off as his skull connected with a dull thud against the sturdy wood of the desk against the wall. His body, unconscious and free to move with its own inertia, fell heavy to the floor beside his desk chair, a slow trickle of blood moving down the side of his face from the kiss of a bullet that just barely missed its mark and decided to bury itself in the ceiling instead.

Clarissa's moment of sheepish embarrassment was gone, stolen like a leaf on the wind, as soon as the shot rang out through the house. The gun fire was almost a fitting response to the cacophony started in the entryway, all part of the rousing symphony outside. She forgot everything about the entryway, the living room, the storm around her; it was all gone, worlds away. She tore up the stairs screaming for David, panicked and pale as she forced her body to move as fast as it could, despite being cold, tired, and drained from the onslaught of the weather. She raced for the master bedroom, tears already in her eyes, her voice hoarse from screaming his name with no response.

When she pushed open the door, her legs could no longer support her. There was a smell in the air; a smell she could only assume was gunpowder. The gun was lying on the floor, out in the open, still pointing accusingly at David's unmoving form. Her heart splintered at the sight before her, threatening to crack, but she swallowed hard and found the silver lining. She fumbled for her phone, calling 911 as quickly as smooth touch surface would allow. It took another moment to fight back the scream that escaped her lips as the operator asked what the emergency was. As soon as the operator assured her that the paramedics were on their way, Clarissa crawled slowly into the room, her sobs loud, quaking through her body as she crawled forward, toward a man she knew deserved a better lot in life than he had gotten.

She took David's hand in hers and held it as she rested her tear-streaked face on his side. She knelt over him, holding herself as composed as she could, whispering over and over that David should open his eyes. He should wake up, so they could have a cup of tea and talk about what was troubling him.

When the paramedics arrived, Clarissa was little more than another obstacle for them to deal with. One pulled her down to the living room while the other checked on David. It was a quiet and tense moment in the bedroom while the EMT checked, re-checked, and then triple checked David. He looked at the gun, checked the swelling bruise near his temple, looked at the gun again and whispered a prayer of thanks to St. Michael. He walked out of the room, immediately urging Clarissa to settle down, assuring her it would all be fine. She sniffled for a moment, ready to begin a brand new tirade. The paramedic smiled and patted her knee. David was going to the hospital tonight, where doctors could keep an eye on him. Tomorrow, there would be plenty of time for answers.

Two

––––––––

David woke slowly, the rhythmic electronic beeping from somewhere beyond his eyelids gently insisted the correct direction was back to sleep, though its very existence insisted that something was out of place. Still enveloped in the warm darkness, he rolled his head back and forth, trying to get a fix on the beeping. He could feel something wrapped around his head, moving slowly with him. He opened his eyes to a dark room, blinking a couple times to verify that his eyes were indeed open. As if it had been waiting for a cue, the pain set in. It was a blinding agonizing pain, centered somewhere in his frontal lobe. It swelled and throbbed, the pain sharp and direct, centered near his temple. He could feel it push outward, and raised his hands to push it back in, if only to hold his skull in place. Only he couldn't raise his hands high enough. He looked down at his wrist and saw the oversized beige cuff around it. The cuff was attached to straps that disappeared somewhere off the edge of the bed, out of sight, possibly winding all the way around to his other wrist, identically restrained by another cuff. He kicked his feet a little, and realized that they were thankfully not also tied to the bed. A bed that most certainly did not belong to him, he noted. It was small, and excessively firm. When he moved, he heard the sound of what was likely plastic around the mattress beneath the sheets.

The more he moved and seemed to discover, the harder it was not to panic; the more he panicked the faster the beeping in the room. It comforted him to have a logical thought, that he must be in some sort of hospital, but that comfort was quickly whisked away in a whirlwind of questions revolving around why he was strapped to a bed in some unknown hospital and - worse still - why he was here, with no recollection and quite a bit of pain. Had something been done to him while he was sleeping?

He pulled at the restraints again and coughed out guttural sounds as he searched frantically for his voice.

Hu- hello? Hello! I'm in here! I need help! Please! He strained, his lungs weak, but he was also accompanied by an insistent beeping from the heart monitor, his restraints finding a way to clatter against the bed, providing a third racket to a lackluster cacophony. His strangled voice alone wasn't enough to raise someone through the wall, but thanks to modern medicine, the alarm was raised just the same.

In the dark and confusion, the minutes passed like the oxygen around him: present, but translucent, indecipherable from anything else in the air. Finally, the dull thud of a door mechanism slid open, pulling light and sound with it. David squinted against the light bouncing off the white walls and polished floor. He kept his face toward the light, forcing his eyes to adjust as the silhouette entered the room. He heaved, and coughed before he could speak, clearing cobwebs from his tired lungs.

Good evening, Mr. Hartlet, finally awake? The nurse chimed, a sound that indicated she didn't care what

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