Sunday September 4th, 2016

The exercise:

Having caught up on comments up to last month's installment this morning, I'm feeling inspired to return to the House of Mercy.

This morning Kat took Max and Miles to the park to meet up with some friends, so that's why I had the opportunity to work on the backlog here. After lunch I took Max to a different park so that he could ride his bike around (in a different location) and play on the slides for a bit.

After picking up a couple things in town, we came back via the garden to get beets, carrots, and cucumbers for dinner. We haven't done roasted beets and carrots in a while but the cooler weather inspired us.

Tomorrow we're heading to Kettle River for some time in nature and a picnic lunch with Kat's brother and his family. Might meet some other friends there as well but they haven't confirmed yet. Either way, should be a good time.


"Are you girls new here?" Bradley asked as he took another drink from the bottle. He was a tall, muscular man and it was taking a while for the tainted booze to do its work. There were only a few sips remaining by then. "I don't 'member seeing you 'round afore."

"Just started today, honey," Anne replied with a smile from her perch on his otherwise pristine desk. She was still bothered that she recognized his name but couldn't put it in any sort of context. She just kept hoping it wouldn't come back to haunt her. "But I can tell already that you're somebody important around here."

"Oh, you know it, girl. You know it." Bradley tapped the right side of his chest, looked down to find his name tag on the left, then tapped there instead. "Head honcho of security. Promotioned two weeks ago."

"Very impressive," Julie said, her smile not coming as easily as Anne's had. She was nervous. Terrified, really. She just wanted to bash Bradley over the head with the whiskey bottle, shut off the cameras, and make a run for it. "You must know all the ins and outs of this place then, hmm? All the secret passages?"

She tried to tack a giggle on to the end of her question but she knew without looking at Anne that she was not a good enough actress to attempt that sort of thing.

"Hah!" Bradley actually slapped his knee and tilted his head back to laugh at the ceiling. The oblivion of unconsciousness could not be far away now. At least Julie hoped so. "This ain't no movie, cutie pie. There's only uno way in and out of here." He leaned forward to tap a monitor and had to steady himself on the edge of his desk to avoid falling off his chair. "Dis door right hurr."

"That's what we figured," Anne muttered as she watched the video feed from reception. Then, brightening her tone before Bradley noticed, she quickly added, "So you can see everywhere in the building from here? Even... right in this room?"

"Nah, no need for dat, honey girl. Ain't nothing bad gonna happen hurr. Safest place in da world, right hurr wif me. Truss me on dat one."

"Bad? Of course not!" Anne said, returning the bottle to Bradley without taking a drink. "Naughty, though?"

Bradley leered at her for several seconds before finishing off the contents of the bottle and tossing it aside. Anne's heart caught in her throat as he stood up, his intentions unmistakable. But as he tried to take the first step toward her he fell forward, hitting his head on the edge of the desk right next to her.

"Oh my God!" Julie gasped, her hand flying to her mouth. "Is he dead?"

"Who cares?" Anne asked as she began shutting off all the security cameras in the building. Twelve eternal seconds later she turned back to Julie with a wild smile on her lips and a touch of crazy in her eyes. "Come on, let's get the hell out of here!"


morganna said...

Julie started for the door behind Anne. Suddenly a buzzing filled her ears, and the air in front of her shimmered. She tried to push through, and found herself flung to the floor, on top of the unconscious Bradley. The buzzing resolved itself into words. "Not so fast, my pretty girl. Don't think you can escape my domain so easily."

Beyond the shimmering, Julie could see Anne's worried face peering in through the office door. She could see her lips moving, but she couldn't hear anything but the soothing droning buzz of the being, the person, the wonderful worshipful entity who would save her from the drudgery of real life. She lay on the floor, staring up at the blissful, rainbow shimmering in the air, a beatific smile on her face.

Out in the hall, Anne was growing frantic. Julie wasn't responding to her, and she couldn't get back in the security office. She simply could not get through the doorway. She was beating her fists against the empty air, sobbing with frustration, when she heard footsteps coming down the hall towards her. It was Babs.

"Did you really think escape would be so easy? Did you really think you could just waltz on out of here? No one leaves the House of Mercy. No one! No one!" There was a touch of madness in Babs' voice. "Cecilie has your friend now, and there is no escape!!"

Anne turned to Babs. Maybe she could get some information out of her, and free them all. "What is Cecilie, and why is she here, in the House of Mercy?" she asked softly, keeping a wary eye on Babs.

To her surprise, Babs collapsed on the floor, sobbing. "She is the one who controls us. She makes us take in women whose husbands hate them. We restrain them, and she feeds on them in the night. I used to be a proper nurse, but now I live in fear of Cecilie." She sat up and pulled down the shoulder of her smock. There was a livid mark there. "See, she feeds on me, too. Just enough to control me, and find me if I ever escape."

Anne stared at Babs. "How can we defeat Cecilie?"

Babs grabbed her arm and pulled her down the hall. "Quiet! She would have destroyed you for the question if she weren't so intent on your friend. We must move quickly, before she takes over Julie's body."

Babs dragged Anne through the halls, talking as she went. "Once we were a proper mental hospital. But one day we took in a comatose woman and tried to help her. But we discovered that she was no woman, she was a vampire, and we had invited her in. Since then, she has been controlling all of us, and feeding off the patients, particularly the ones consigned here by their husbands -- their rage is particularly filling, I understand. We have maintained the fiction of being a mental hospital. Cecilie swore she would kill us all if we were discovered."

Babs suddenly stopped. They were deep in the basement, standing outside a triple-locked door that glowed ominously. Anne looked at Babs. Babs shrugged. "Cecilie's body is in there. Kill her, and we are all free."

Babs manipulated the locks, and the door swung open. An odor of decay emerged. Anne could see a woman's body lying on a slab. It glowed with the same pale effervescence as the door.

Greg said...

@Marc: that's a nice little scene with the girls trying to be movie heroines and getting away with it, and I like how gauche Julie feels about the whole affair. I really did think by the end of it that they might just manage this!

@Morganna: ...and then you brought Cecilie back in the nick of time to remind them that this isn't over till she's all sorted out! Great writing, and I like that Babs is back in the picture again and the vampire revelations and... well, everything actually. Now we just have a body to destroy and a hospital to free and maybe there's a happy-ever-after at the end. But with us three writing, why do I feel that there might be strings attached to that?

"You have to destroy it," said Babs, her voice desperate. Anne looked at her and saw fear on the woman's face, her hands shaking as she returned the key that had opened the door to the keychain hanging from her belt. "You have to."
Anne turned and looked into the room again, her heart thumping in her chest so hard that it actually physically hurt. She took a step towards the room, looking at the body on the slab.
"Kill her," urged Babs, her voice grandmotherly, reassuring. "The vampire has to die!"
It was the grandmotherliness that did it: there was a sudden memory of being here for the first time and hearing Babs, smelling the perfume, and the woman on the slab was suddenly someone she knew: she was the snotty receptionist who'd lied to her about Julie being in here until Babs came. Anne stopped, and wobbled as Babs' hands hit her in the small of the back.
"Get in there!" Babs voice was angry, buzzing now, but Anne was as solid as a rock as she turned around.
"Why haven't you killed her before when you had the key?" she said. "She's a vampire: daylight should do the job."
"So clever!" snarled Babs. Her hands moved so fast they were a blur and slapped Anne across the face, the blow stinging like the Canadian wind in winter and straining her neck. Tears came to her eyes. "But not clever enough, miss clever-clever! Bad girls like you need to learn to take their medicine." She lunged again at Anne, who, too stunned to think of anything else, dropped to the floor, her legs giving out beneath her as though she'd been kicked in the back of the knees. Babs stretched over her head and her feet kicked Anne's hard. Anne tucked her head in and tried to roll forward as hard as she could and Babs flew over her and sprawled on the floor behind her.
Inside the room.
The glowing door seemed agonizingly slow to move, and Babs was on her feet and charging at the door as the crack between it and the frame finally shrank. Anne leaned against it, hearing the click of the latch engaging, and prayed. There was a thump on the other side but the door didn't even vibrate. She stayed leaning there, sobs coming from out of nowhere, straining her ears. Was there a keyhole on the inside? No clicks, no pressure of a door being forced open despite her weight. Tears blurred her eyes as she heard a couple more thumps: the door seemed locked tight after all. She sank back down to the floor, her neck aching, her lungs heaving, her heart still pounding like she'd run a marathon.
Then she remembered Julie.

Marc said...

Morganna - I am impressed with how quickly and deftly you moved us from a failed escape to the basement, while introducing us to the real villain of the story along the way!

I think we're in for an exciting final three months of the year :)

Greg - and you've run with it beautifully! I liked the sinister turn from Babs (and I have to admit the image of her leaping over Anne's head like that is a delightful combination of horrifying and hilarious).

And now... what to do with Julie? And shall those two be simply left in the locked room? I can't say that would be a good solution to things.

The safest for the time being, surely, but in the long run...

Hmm. October is fast approaching! I shall get to thinking.