It’s my favorite time of year, so I’m posting an excerpt from the first dark tale in my collection, The White Death & Other Ghastly Ghost Stories. In the “The White Death,” a reluctant candy striper suffers through a night of hell in a hospital that used to treat tuberculosis victims. (The setting is my favorite haunted place in Louisville – Waverly Hills Sanatorium.)
Have yourself a wicked little Halloween.
THE WHITE DEATH
Brenda Morris climbed out of her foster mother’s ’64 Buick Riviera and slammed the passenger door shut. She was supposed to have Thursday nights off, but the old bat was forcing her to fill in for another candy striper that’d gotten sick at the last minute.
Yeah, sick of working at a geriatric sanitarium, probably.
Brenda stalked away from the car without bothering to wave goodbye and headed towards the institution’s imposing main entrance.
She took a deep breath, savoring the brisk October air, and gazed up at the gothic monstrosity that was Woodhaven. A full moon hung so low over the hilltop structure that it appeared to teeter upon the bell-tower.
She stood still for a moment to admire the effect. “That’s just so bitchin’.”
A whirlwind of dry leaves skittered past her, and she exhaled slowly. No use putting it off any longer.
Brenda entered the ornate lobby and wrinkled her nose. One never got used to the cool mustiness and the smell of stale urine. Quite often, the pitiful moans of elderly residents could be heard echoing down the long hallways.
No wonder the place was short staffed.
Brenda climbed the winding staircase to the second floor. Before beginning her rounds, she paid a visit to one of the restrooms to wash her hands and run a comb through her auburn curls. She smiled ruefully at her reflection in the smudged mirror. The red and white striped apron made her look like a sweet, innocent fifteen-year-old.
Brenda’s foster mother – her seventh in so many years – no doubt wished it were true. The witch had busted her one too many times for smoking and sneaking out at night to meet up with The Wrong Crowd. She’d given Brenda an ultimatum: Volunteer at one of the local hospitals several evenings a week or spend some time in Juvenile Hall.
Brenda had picked Woodhaven because her dark nature was drawn to its morbid history. For several depressing decades it had been used as a sanatorium for those suffering from The White Death. Tuberculosis had claimed thousands of lives here – not including the suicides it had provoked among patients and nurses alike.
But, God, I’d rather die of a disease than grow old and useless, Brenda thought, leaving the restroom. She could hear a woman yelling just down the hall.
It was Mrs. Hauser in Room 212.
“Somebody help! She took it away! It’s mine and she stole it from me!”
Brenda reached the room and paused in the doorway, grimacing at the all too familiar sight. The old lady stood by her bed stark naked. She stared at Brenda with watery gray eyes full of righteous anger.
“Mrs. Hauser, calm down and tell me what happened.” Brenda hurried over and grabbed a blanket off the bed to wrap around the woman’s cold, saggy body.
“A strange little girl took my new robe. My pretty blue robe is gone – it’s gone and I want it back now!”
Brenda sighed. Mrs. Hauser was hallucinating again. It was probably another patient – they were always “borrowing” things from one other.
“Okay, stay here and I’ll go look for it. I’m sure the girl didn’t go very far.”
Brenda went back out into the hall, and a noise caused her to glance right, towards the elevator. Just before the doors slid shut she caught a glimpse of something blue.
Here we go.
Brenda hurried over and punched the UP button. Catching the person would be easier now. For some freaky reason, every elevator in the building insisted on visiting the basement first, no matter what floor was chosen.
She wasn’t really bothered by this fact – it just made the place more interesting.
Brenda listened to the distressing hum of the contraption as it ascended. It passed the first floor and then stopped. The doors opened slowly.
Empty. This meant the thief had gotten out on the basement level.
Well, they are loony, after all.
Brenda rode the elevator down and waited impatiently for the doors to open. When they did, she was grateful to see that the hall light had been left on. At least the morgue was located clear over on the other side of the basement.
Not that she was afraid of dead people. What could they do? It was the live ones that were scary.
As she exited the elevator, Brenda heard a cough behind her. She turned and looked as the doors began to close, but she saw no one.
The White Death & Other Ghastly Ghost Stories is available on Amazon (also B&N, iBooks, etc.):
NOTE: The book cover for The White Death & Other Ghastly Ghost Stories was created by the talented artist and photographer Danielle Tunstall. Visit her here.