Beyond the Open Door: Chapter 10

Chapter 10

“Congratulations on surviving working at the Clifton Institute” I say as Joseph and I raise our water bottles to Evelyn. It’s been three weeks since she handed in her resignation and I decided to take her out to lunch to the café we went to my first day of work. Joseph was even able to tag along and chipped in for Evelyn’s final lunch with us.

“Thank you, Thank you, Graduate school should be fun” Evelyn frowned as she made that statement. She was going back to school to get her Master’s in Psychology and even got a paid internship at another institution close to her graduate school.

“I just would like to say that I won’t miss this place and I am excited for the journey ahead” Evelyn gloats.

“Okay this isn’t the Oscars you don’t have to make a speech” Joseph jokes before diving into his turkey burger. He swallows a big bite and then places it down on his plate. Joseph reaches into his pocket and pulls out two flyers. He hands one to Evelyn and I. It is a flyer promoting a Fashion Show in Brooklyn.

“No way you got a runway gig, that’s awesome” I examine the date on the card and sigh in relief that it’s a Friday.

“I’ll go to this” Evelyn puts the flyer in her purse.

“It’s not a major gig, I mean it’s in Williamsburg, Brooklyn so its more of an underground designer. He isn’t famous or anything but it’s a pretty good start for me, so I’d appreciate all who can come” Joseph’s face gleamed with enthusiasm. I could tell he was excited about this job.

“Well I can’t get my boyfriend Andrew to come but I’ll be there” This would be my first runway show and I must admit I was looking forward to it.

“I’m definitely in” Evelyn gives a big grin to Joseph.

“I hope the next girl that replaces you is just as cool” I said. I was really going to miss Evelyn working with me.

“Now I am left with just Joseph and two other individuals”

“You can say it, Don and Dennis you mean” Evelyn smirked. “I don’t think anyone is ignorant to the fact that those two can be royal assholes”

“Though I have never actually seen them bother you” Joseph turns to Evelyn. I noticed awhile ago that Dennis and Don have never treated Evelyn horribly too, but I never questioned it.

“Please tell us your secret” I asked jokingly.

“It’s not really a secret, I just try to stay out of their way, that’s what they want mostly.” Evelyn finished up her lunch and looked at her watch.

“It’s almost time to go” Evelyn announced.

            I guess it was true what she was saying. Their behavior was so strange from the moment I started at this job and maybe it just had something with something I was doing. But besides them there were other things that were worrying to me. I know Andrew warned me about mentioning certain things to my coworkers, but Joseph and Evelyn were the only two people I trusted in this place and I thought now would be a good time to talk.

“So Tina it’s almost the end of November so you’ve been at the Clifton Institute for about a month now, how are you dealing” Evelyn read my mind.

“Besides the two dickless security guards riding you for everything little thing” Joseph interjected.

“I guess okay, it certainly has been interesting” I took another bite of my wrap.

“My first time planning an event a fight breaks out and I get the blame from darling Dennis”

“With Stone and Gary right” Evelyn asked.

“Yea, Dennis totally threw me under the bus, and not to mention Don burst into my office the other day like he owned it. Then there was the basement incident” I looked into their faces to see their expressions as I prepared to tell them my encounter.

“Remember when you and Larry found me in the basement and you guys thought I was having an asthma attack”

“Weren’t you having an asthma attack?” Joseph raised his eyebrow.

“Right I did, but it was because I was locked in there and it got extremely hot” I paused to make sure both Evelyn and Joseph were paying attention.

“But there was smoke everywhere and through that smoke I felt like I saw a girl, who looked horribly disfigured, a young girl.” Joseph and Evelyn stared at me in silence. It got a little uncomfortable and I started to regret saying anything. Joseph tilted his head to the side.

“You so a girl in the basement” Evelyn asks

“Yes through the smoke” I repeated.

“Through the smoke” Joseph says with uncertainly in his voice.

 “Okay look maybe I was mistaken” This conversation was not going anywhere and I just wanted it to end quickly.

“Well, I am not saying that you really did see a girl but, we all know Larry has been working at for like 100 years. He did tell me the story of the girl from smoke inhalation in the basement. This was when this place was Sister Catherine Psychiatric Center” Joseph says. It seems that Larry has been telling everyone the story.

“Maybe you may have known about this story before you worked here and knew where she died and possible panicked and thought you saw a ghost? Joseph asked.

“I don’t think so” I came off harsher then I wanted.

“I know this job is stressful, it’s not easy working in this type of environment” Evelyn rested her concerned eyes on mine.

“Maybe you should take a day to chill” Evelyn suggested.

“Well she isn’t imagining everything, someone has to do something about the things that have been going on. Maybe that’s why she’s seeing shit because it is literally insane what Dr. Clifton ignores especially when it comes to those Don and Dennis.” Joseph became a little heated

“Forget I said anything, it’s just that since I’ve been here I’ve seen weird shit” I finished the last bite of my lunch.

“I don’t even want to talk about it” I gulped my water down and stood silent.

            Going into Evelyn’s car was awkward. Joseph decided to sit in the back while I sat in the front. None of us spoke but we all had a lot in mind. Once we parked the front of the building Joseph got out of the car because he had to rush back to his shift. Evelyn turned to me and asked if I could stay for a second, which I agreed. We still had five more minutes of lunch time, so I figured there was no harm. Evelyn pulled out a cigarette, lit it and took one long pull.

“I’m not trying to be a smartass or anything, I just wanted to give you one last advice before I leave this place” Evelyn took another pull.

“I was not joking about staying out of Dennis and Don’s way. Yes, I know about the shit Dr. Clifton lets slide, but nothing is going to change that. For whatever reason Don has some sort of power in this place and Dennis takes advantage of Don’s stupidity and plays him like a fiddle.” She taps her cigarette out of the window, looking at the building as she talks.

“Don’t ever mention the fire or that girl Rachel to anyone else either. Somehow shit like that always gets back to them. Especially with the history Don had with that girl” Evelyn looked serious. I nodded in response.

“I heard he couldn’t stand her” I said.

“Well we were not around obviously but I heard the same thing. So it makes sense after her death Don became a suspect. But it was ruled an accident, the girl was a pyromaniac and that’s that.” Evelyn put out her cigarette and tossed it out the window.

“Just don’t forget what I said.” Evelyn’s face said it all. This is a warning I probably should take heed of.

When we entered the building, I headed straight to my office and Evelyn to the front desk. Up until now Evelyn never indicated that she knew there was a problem in this place. It didn’t provide me any comfort that she was leaving, and I no longer had anyone to talk to or socialize. Joseph limited his interaction with me on days Dennis was on shift with us and I understood that.

Upon reaching my office door, there was something odd. My door was slightly opened, and I always lock it after I leave. Praying that none of the patients played a prank on me I slowly open the door and prepared myself. But there was nobody there. I step in and quickly close the door behind me. As soon as I sat down at my desk, I quickly examined it. One drawer in particular looked disturbed. It was the drawer that held my mother’s last letter to me. The letter always tucked under my office supplies and notepad, however this time I saw it it had been placed on top of everything. I felt light headed. This was my private letter that I kept with me. Granted, I knew it should have not been at my job, but I don’t keep it home for fear that I’ll be reading it all the time and reliving her death. It was not something I could throwaway either.

My fists clenched the letter tightly. My face felt red from the thought that someone could have read my mother’s final words to me. I picked up the phone ready to call Dr. Clifton and see if someone came into my office when there was a knock at the door.

            Quickly I shoved the letter back in my drawer and wiped whatever tears emerged on my face.

“Come in” I shouted.

            A young red headed girl walks in. She is upset and had obviously been crying. It was Gabriella, a fourteen-year-old recently admitted to the institute. Gabriella was known to have suicidal thoughts and was abusing Xanax prior to being admitted here by her parents. The young girl closed the door being her and sat down.

“Ms. Diaz are you busy” She asked.

“No you can have a seat, and please call me Tina” It felt weird being called Ms. Diaz when your barely 21. Gabriella sat down and took a couple of moments to recollect herself.

“What’s the matter Gabriella” The girl looked like she was going to have a nervous breakdown.

“It’s Stone” She replied.

Unfortunately, Stone was discharged from this facility shortly after his blowout with one of the other patients but was readmitted.

“What happened” I asked.

“He’s been well hitting on me” Gabriella whispered.

“Hitting on you? Like trying to ask you out” The way she looked it appeared he was hitting her not hitting on her.

“He’s not taking no for an answer.” Madison rolled up her sleeve to reveal fresh bruises.

“This happened two days ago when I tried walking away from him.” She rolled her sleeves down. My fists clenched. Madison was a very petite girl, especially when compared to the giant that Stone was.

“I feel like every time I turn a corner he’s there. He constantly knocks on my room door, I told him no three times already and he doesn’t care. You’ve seen how he acts toward other, he scares people and he scares me” Madison starts to choke up. Immediately I hand her a box of tissues. As she was crying, I began to hear a faint sizzle.

“Do you hear that” I calmly ask her.

“Hear what” She sniffles through her reply

“That sizzle, like something burning” The sounds start to get louder and louder.

“You really don’t hear that” My voice raised a little. Madison looked at me puzzled as I got up from my seat. Frantically I circled my desk as the sound evolved into loud crackles. The sound seemed to be coming from the floor. I knelt and pressed my ear onto the floor. There it was, the sound of sizzle and crackle vibrating between the floor boards. I could even feel it in my hands.

“What’s going on” Madison asked, stunned. Her voice was shaking but I was too focused. Suddenly, I saw it. It was inches away from me. First the tip of a nose, then a face followed by hair. It appeared to be burning as it rose from the floor. My heart pounded with such urgency. I… could not move. There was silence for a second, not even Madison said anything.

Then the face spun in my direction

“Help me” it screamed.

That got me moving.

I quickly jumped up from the floor and crawled backwards. At the same time Madison got up from her seat.

“Is everyone here going crazy” Madison yells and heads for the door. She got halfway out my office before I stood up to grab her.

Madison pushed me away. I didn’t blame her, she was freaked out and so was I.

“Don’t touch me” She cries out.

“I am so sorry, I don’t know what just happened, I thought I heard a sound, it was loud. Did you not hear it too”

“No!” Madison stood in doorway.

“I came to you because I thought you were normal, but it seems like everyone here is fucking insane.” She begins to sob.

I hugged her apologetically.

“Honey just take a seat, I am so sorry I don’t know what happened maybe it was me imagining things. It’s not important, you need help and I am going to try my best to help you”

            Madison nodded and walked slowly back to the chair. She took a couple of seconds to recollect herself.

“Now why haven’t you gone to your case manager or a security guard” I asked

“Are you kidding me, I went to that fat fuck Don when Stone grabbed my arm and he laughed in my face and told me that I was probably leading him on” Madison frustratingly said.

Are you fucking kidding me. My heart sank for her. The saddest part is that I believed Don would do that.

“I will talk to Dr. Clifton” I was planning on calling him as soon as Madison left.

But Madison did not look satisfied with my solution. She furiously shook her head no.

“You don’t understand, I see how Stone talks other people. The way he treats people and then gets away with it. He almost never gets in trouble. I just want out of this place” Madison buried her face in her hands.

“Well you know I can’t do anything about that, it’s not in my authorization. I can try and advocate for your early discharge. I know it’s hard-

“Do you, because if you did you would be helping me” Madison interrupted.

Madison abruptly gets up again.

“I appreciate the talk. I’m sorry I bothered you” She sniffled

“It’s not a bother at all and I am going to talk to Dr. Clifton, you should not feel like you’re being harassed here”

“Thanks” Madison wipes the remaining tear on her face.

“And just to let you know you’re not the only person that hears stuff around here. This building is mega old and I heard that other people have seen stuff here”

“Stuff?” I asked, curiously.

“Yea, you know ghosts. Then again, the people here are also going through withdrawal, depressive disorder, or some other shit. So, I don’t really know if we can trust their judgement. They could be hallucinating” Madison smirked.

“There is a reason why we are here, you know.” And with that statement, Madison left my office.

 

 

 

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Beyond the Open Door: Chapter 9

Chapter 9

     If you believe in God, then you believe in the existence of ghosts. You could try to argue that statement, but I hold this to be true. I believed, and still do believe, in God. I went to church with my grandparents every Sunday. I had communion, I had confirmation and I listened when the priest would speak. As old and raspy his voice sounded. But, up until the night I saw my already dead mother wearing that familiar summer dress in the chilly air, I never encountered a spirit. Nobody but my grandparents believed that what I saw was real. Which didn’t prevent me from getting admitted, as neither of them would admit to the police that it was a great possibility that I wasn’t crazy. I wasn’t bitter. It was understandable. My grandmother knew what I was going through and she knew that if they were to side with me it would have made things worse. So, they played the role of the concerned grandparents who were gravely concerned about their quote on quote suicidal granddaughter.
The support they provided me behind closed doors was due to a well-known sort of family trait on my maternal side. One that I knew nothing of until after I was released from the hospital. It’s a trait that my grandmother has tried so hard to repress within herself and has succeeded. My mother apparently was not gifted with this curse. When it came to me, my grandmother was not worried, she figured that the trait died with her. As a child I never had any visions or felt any presence of something that was not there. I suppose I was a late bloomer.
When I was released from the psychiatric center, my grandmother told me about when she saw her first apparition. She must have apologized to me a thousand times for not telling me sooner. Over a couple of bowls of her delicious sanchoco, a meal I favored when I was feeling sick, she told me her story. Remarkedly my grandmother’s special power also eventually led to her meeting my grandfather.
My grandmother came from a family of five brothers, all whom worked to support their widow mother in rural Cuba. From birth my grandmother seemed to spark an energy which filled the house with curiosity and fear. They named her Luz, but after one month my great grandmother thought it would be best to change her name to Maria, after her father. He was murdered a month before her birth. All the early stories of my grandmother experiences with the paranormal were told to her by her mother and five brothers.
The first incident happened when she was only a week old, this was a famous family story my everyone on my grandmother’s family loved to tell around the holidays.
My grandmother was placed down to sleep in her basinet by her mother. Seconds after her mother walked from the basinet, my grandmother began to cry. Frustrated my great grandmother rushed to leave the room, but the door had locked itself. She pounded and twisted the doorknob but to no avail. With the increasing cries of my grandmother, my great grandmother caved in and headed back to the basinet to pick up her infant. Then a click was heard. My great grandmother walked to the door of room and found it was unlocked. It was speculated that this was the doing of Mario my grandmother’s father’s ghost interacting with her as an infant.
The second incident happened when my grandmother was 2 years old. One of her oldest brothers were watching her while her mother was out. My grandmother was playing with wooden letters. She began to spell out the last name Sanchez. Stunned, her brother quickly wrote down the name before my grandmother could move the letters around. Then, as told to my grandmother by her brother, my grandmother went into a trance. Her small eyes were closed as she spelled another name. “Carolina” was the next name she spelled. Her brother wrote that name down too. When my Great Grandmother came home from work her son greeted her with the names my grandmother wrote down.
Why was this so shocking to my grandmother’s family? Well apparently, Carolina Sanchez was the name of a woman who’s husband owned a market in their local town. My great-grandfather delivered fruits from the family farm to this market frequently. This is something my grandmother especially at the tender age of two years old, would not have known. Just like she would not have known that her father died as a result of being gunned down late at night while he was drinking around the town. The police at the time had a reputation of being corrupt. For a while after it was suspected that a rich American tourist murdered Mario and then bribed the police to keep the crime quiet. But, now the market owner’s wife was thrown under suspicion from the family. Now everyone was convinced that somehow Carolina Sanchez was involved. Even with no real proof. The playful actions of a two-year-old was enough for them to go straight to the local police.
My great-grandmother begged that they talk to Carolina Sanchez. However, by the time the police complied with her pleas, the market owner’s wife already gone. The market owner Mr. Sanchez stated that his wife fled the country with another man. The police did not investigate further and that was the end of that. Until, one day Carolina Sanchez badly decomposed body was found by a couple of drunken teenagers skinny dipping in a lake, Mr. Sanchez was nowhere to be found. No one has heard from him again. His business was abandoned. Many neighborhood people came forward to my grandmother’s family to inform them that there was an affair going on between Mario and this woman Carolina. Though this was something already suspected.
By the time my grandmother was twenty-four she had several other paranormal experiences. When she met my grandfather Guillermo she would see her final ghost.
It was a rainy day, my grandmother was walking down to take the bus into the city. She noticed a man standing in the rain. The man as she recalls was barefooted with no umbrella. He wore a plain white sleeveless shirt and dressy pants. My grandmother naturally was curious. It was pouring so heavily yet the man’s hair and clothes seemed dry. She already realized what she was looking at. As she strolled towards the man, she recited a prayer to Saint Mary and made sure nobody was around to see her trying to communicate with the apparition.
The man seemed did not notice her standing next to him and he continued to stare across the street. My grandmother whispered, “Who are you looking for”.
She knew the ghost was there for a reason. The man did not respond. My grandmother whispered again.
“Who are you looking for, why are you here” the man again stood silent but raised a finger. My grandmother turned into the direction he was pointing too.There was a young man walking slowly, almost slumping. It was my grandfather Guillermo. My  grandmother thought the young man was drunk, but as she turned to the ghost again, the ghost’s face had changed into a skull with snake crawling through the eye sockets and mouth.
“Oh my god” my grandmother screamed. She realized what that meant and ran across the street passing by speeding cars. My grandfather collapsed as she caught up with him. She carried him to a local hospital nearby and told the staff that my grandfather was poisoned by a snake bite. An antidote was given, saving my grandfather’s life.
The police arrived at the hospital, they were called by the nurses who were suspicious. My grandmother was interrogated by them, one of them was an officer who had recognized my grandmother because she shared a strong resemblance to her father, who’s murder this officer investigated years ago along with the murder of Carolina Sanchez. This officer knew the backstory of my grandmother and how her mother pleaded with police to speak to Carolina after my grandmother spelled her name out with her toy letters.                                                                                                                                     “The nurses tell me that you told them exactly what type of snake this man was bitten by, where you with him when it happened, was he talking when you found him” The officer asked.
“No I wasn’t, and no he wasn’t, I just guessed” My grandmother replied. The officer chuckled and released my grandmother from further questioning. She would then describe the man who’s ghost she saw to my grandfather in his hospital bed. It was his older brother who had died a month earlier. My grandfather admitted to ingesting the snake poison. He was raised by his brother, he had no other family. After his brother’s passing my grandfather captured a venomous snake and thought it be best if he would join him in death. Since then, my grandmother and grandfather were inseparable.
A ghost brought my grandparents together just as a ghost brought Andrew and I together. In this generation however, people are more skeptical and hesitant to believe in the supernatural. Any stories of the paranormal kind are often immediately dismissed with a logical explanation. I wish I have that same mentality.
Since working at my new job, I’ve seen more and more, as if I struck upon a goldmine for spirits. I never thought to talk to my coworkers about the possibility of the Clifton Institute being haunted. There would be times where I would want to ask Joseph if he’d notice anything strange whenever he cleaned desolate areas of the building. Or ask Evelyn about recent deaths in the facility. Andrew would be pissed at me if he thought I was talking to people about it. He’s over protective as it is.

“Can 5 o’clock get here already” I was compulsively looking at time on my computer. All my work was done about a half hour ago. There were no events scheduled for tonight and I was finally available to accept Joseph’s invitation to go out for some drinks with a couple of coworkers.
Lately things at the facility have been quiet. However, I thought it was best to document each event as they come. My grandmother used to tell me that it was important to remember what happens, it could be a sign, or an omen. Someone could be trying to tell me something. Not that I wanted to play detective, but I had a couple minutes to the end of the day. I figured it couldn’t hurt to call my grandmother and let her know what was going on. It’s been while since I have spoken to her.
I use my office phone to dial. After several rings someone answered the phone.
“Hello” My grandmother said sternly.
“Grandma it’s me Tina”
“Oh” She begins to laugh.
“I did not recognize the number, I thought you were a telemarketer, I was ready to scream and hang up” My grandmother chuckles, she was not one for calls of solicitations”
“How are you doing Mija”
“I am doing okay”
“How’s the new job, Andrew told me the other day you were going out tonight with some Coworkers” She asked, I was hoping Andrew had not told her the other things that were going on.
“Yea we are just going out to a bar for a couple of drinks”
“Well do not drink too much” My grandmother paused for a second.
“Andrew also told me something else. He told me that woman Alma called you” My grandmother’s tone changed.
Oh shit I forgot about my father.
“Yes she did, my father is dying and I guess they were hoping that I give my last respects”      It has been a stressful time, I never got back to my father’s sister, I didn’t know when I would.
“Well, you know grandpa and I support you in whatever you choose to do. I just do not want you to feel stressed about it” My grandmother said, she did not hate my father, she just strongly disliked him. She wasn’t one for holding grudges, but I know she isn’t going to patronize me with any bull shit forgiveness speech either.
“I have not decided yet, to be honest it’s been pretty hectic here lately.” I said
“I can tell you haven’t called us” My grandmother now sounded concerned.
“I know, I’m sorry. There was a something I wanted to talk to you about” I prepared to share my experience with her, hoping for some feedback.
“Grandma, I have been having visions again, I mean since the time I worked here.” There was instant relief as I poured out what was happening.
“The day of my interview, the elevator got stuck on the basement floor. Smoke surrounded me, and I fainted. Then I received a strange call late at night from someone in the building, and I mean it was late, nobody from here would have called me at that time. Then the other day I got locked in the storage room, and a shadow of a girl appeared out of nowhere before I ended up having an asthma attack.” I was now whispering, my voice quickened as I recalled the events.
“What, you had an asthma attack, have you been using your inhaler” My grandmother gasped.
“That’s all you got from what I just said” This was typical of my grandma.
She didn’t say anything at first. It was like I could hear her thoughts through the phone. She was panicked.
“Tina, I know that you were sure the first time you saw your mother, but you were also taking those pills”
“Grandma please” This was unbelievable, she was so afraid of me having a mental breakdown that she was going to dismiss what I know happened.
“Mija, I’m sorry I just don’t you going down a certain path, I was able to rid of it at an early age, I know you can too” She calmed down.
“I think someone is trying to tell me something, I don’t know what but there are some very wired people here and I am not talking about the patients.”- Before I could finish there was knock on my door.
“I got to grandma, I promise I’ll call you guys later. I love you” I abruptly hung up the phone.
“Come in” A couple of seconds later Evelyn comes through the door.
“Hey, sorry are you almost ready” She asked. Evelyn was my ride to the bar.”
“Yes, I am just waiting on that clock to turn” I laughed.
“Okay we’ll I’m done for the day I’ll be out smoking” Evelyn closed the door behind her, and I proceeded to pack my things into my purse and log out my computer.

     We arrived at the bar. It was large and loud. The music was sort of alternative rock and can be heard from the outside. When Evelyn and I walked in Evelyn spotted a familiar face.
“Hey” She waved at a very well-dressed man with slick back hair. I almost didn’t recognize him at first but it was Joseph, and right beside him was Larry, who, not surprisingly looks the same as he does in his janitor uniform. Joseph goes to the bar and orders two shots, we walk over to him through the crowd.
“Look who finally decided to show up” Joseph hands me what appears to be whiskey.
“These shots are on me” Joseph takes another one from the bartender
“Is this place always crowded” I take my shot while observing the crowd.
“Yea it’s happy hour now, so pretty much” Joseph turns around and grabs the hand of another man and pulls him towards us.
“Ladies I would like you to meet Leon, he’s my agent and my baby” Joseph plants a big kiss on Leon’s cheek to my surprise.
“Oh he’s your boyfriend” I ask, I felt stupid for stating the obvious.
“Did he forget to mention that he was gay” Leon responds. His demeanor is stoic, he didn’t seem as relaxed as Joseph was.
“No I guess I never thought to ask” My face turned red, I tried to laugh off my embarrassment.
“Honey it’s okay” Leon shakes my hand and then Evelyn.
“So you’re also his agent” I asked, curious as to what Leon needed an agent for.
“I never told you I’m a part time model and my baby work hard at getting me gigs” As Joseph gloats about his boyfriend, Leon cracks a small smile.
Seeing Joseph in a setting outside the job, it made sense now that he would have some interest in the fashion world. In the work place, he is always in his janitor’s uniform. But inside the bar Joseph was dressed very well, his hair was perfectly in place and I noticed more of his strong facial features. Leon was not unattractive either, but he definitely looked like the agent type.
A couple of drinks later we were all sitting at a table, each of us was discussing our stresses. Joseph was describing his struggles in the modeling business and hiding his sexuality from his parents. Evelyn talked about going back to school and quitting smoking for good. Even Larry, who barely says two words to me, decided to tell a couple of stories about the building the Clifton institute is located in.
“I have been with the building a long time, I’m old” Larry chuckles as he takes off his glasses, his eyes were a little red and you could tell he was already feeling the beers he had.
“Didn’t think when Dr. Clifton rented out the place that he would keep me on board, but he did but boy I’ve seen a lot of stuff,” Larry shook his head as he spoke, there was something he wanted to say but I could feel he was holding back.
“Like what” I asked.
“Well like the fire that occurred in the basement a couple of years ago” Larry chugs down the rest of his beer.
“Fire in the basement” I almost choked on my drink.
“I heard about that fire, weren’t the security guards there as well, Donald and Dennis” Evelyn stated.
“Ugh can we not mention those two” Joseph quickly says.
“It’s bad enough that I have to deal with Dennis trying to fuck me” Joseph continues to rant.
“Wait he what” Evelyn now directed her attention to Joseph.
“That’s the reason he hates me, he’s gay, he found I was and then tries to ask me out, I shoot him down, next thing you know him and his little pig Don corner me and threatened to have me fired for sexual harassment” Joseph and Evelyn have a good laugh, Leon does not seem amused. I still wanted to know more about the fire.
“Those two have always been trouble” Larry interjects.
“Since the day they got here”
“What exactly happened in the fire” I tried to divert the conversation back to Larry just received another beer.
“Well I can’t say much, but before there was a rehabilitation center for adolescents, the building was used as a psych ward. It was called Sister Catherine Psychiatric Center. We had a patient, I don’t remember her name, maybe it was Rachel. Last year she was admitted to Sister Catherine’s. She had a habit of lighting fires when she was scared”
While Evelyn and Joseph were still talking about Dennis being in the closet, I listened intently as Larry told his story. There was no way this was a coincidence. Fire and basements were the key term for me. I slide my seat toward Larry as he continued.
“Anyways she was also pistol, she often picked on others and purposely pissed people off. One of those people was Donald. She used to tell fat jokes and made fun of him good. One day he was working, and Rachel noticed an engagement ring on him, she dragged him through the mud. Asking how much he paid for his mail order bride. Donald was livid, didn’t think he was so sensitive. Anyways two days later a fire broke out, the fire department was called but by the time they came, Rachel was already dead from smoke inhalation. They suspected that she ran down to the basement, locked herself on the storage unit accidently. The room was dark, so the police suspected that she lit a fire to lighten up the room. The electricity was always shoddy down there. The family of Rachel was outraged, Donald quit, and Sister Catherine shut down. When Dr. Clifton came in and created the Clinton Institute somehow Donald got in touch with him and got his old job back. I will never forget when I first saw him. I couldn’t believe it.” Larry exhaled a sigh of relief, like a weight was lifted off his shoulders.
All of us at the table were silent. It sounded like Larry suspected Donald had something to do with the fire. We were speechless.
“Well, that was a buzz killer” Evelyn finally said, breaking the silence.
There was so much more I wanted to ask of Larry, but it was clear that the story he just told was one he kept to himself for a long time. Maybe, there was a reason.

Beyond the Open Door: Chapter 8

“Tina, please I am not trying to piss you off” Andrew said while holding my hand. I stay silent. We were about to have dinner, Andrew was making pasta and marinara sauce. It was about a week since I had my asthma attack in the hot basement of the Clinton Institute. Thing were quiet for the most part. Joseph recently reminded me about a couple of people going out for drinks after work today. I was telling Andrew about it when he decided to bring up a part of my past I normally do not like to discuss.

Andrew went to check on the sauce for the pasta. My fingers tapped compulsively against the table.

“I just thought it would be nice to go out with some of my coworkers” I said. Andrew had his back toward me, but I knew he heard me.

“I know but you’ve been having bad experiences at your job. Since the day you interviewed there. I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to hang around any of these people. There has to be something there triggering you into having these hallucinations”

“I am not having hallucinations” I shouted. Andrew covered the sauce pot and walked over to me. He sat down in the chair next to me and gave me that same look of pity he gave me when we first met. Which is why I cannot blame him for being concerned. We did not have an ideal romantic start. Andrew truly met me when I was at my worst and because of that I know he will always worry. It’s a painful memory to relive, but it was our reality.

 

When you turn eighteen, you get a new sense of freedom and possibilities. You began to think about your college, your career, and the direction your life was headed. It was both exciting and bittersweet. Most of my friends chose out of state colleges as did my boyfriend at the time. This contributed to our breakup, but I handled it well. He had promised to keep in touch as did my other friends. I held on to that promise and looked forward to going to a new school with new people and new experiences. It was going to be a new beginning for me.

Then, it just turned into the lowest part of my life within a matter of minutes. My mother just passed away around, and my grandparents were now heavily grieving the loss of their child. Part of their grief was due to guilt that they couldn’t be there for their child and protect her from my father. I, on the other hand did not immediately break down in a river of tears when my mother died.

There were no feelings of anguish, no reminiscing of our past moments together. A large void of emotion was present in my soul. Sympathy was maybe the only thing I felt toward my mother. Sympathy for the fact that she had to kill herself to get away from my father, while I had a way to escape his brutal control.

But, for some reason or another, on the night before my mother’s funeral I would experience a staggering dose of reality.

My mother was dead. There was no coming back from that. My grandparents were awakened my intense sobbing. The dread I felt from the last letter she sent me was overwhelming. All I kept thinking over and over again is how could I tell her now that I truly did forgive her. That I wish I was strong enough to have stayed and protected her against my father’s blows. Maybe after enough time passed she would have thought about me and made the decision to escape to her parents before I did. We could have fixed it… I could have fixed it. What was I supposed to do now?

            It was these thoughts that led to me running out of my grandparent’s house in the middle of the cold night and into the busy intersection nearby.

I remember crying hysterically in my bed.  I didn’t notice my grandmother running into my room, trying to calm me down. She cradled me in her arms, whispering in Spanish that it was going to be okay, but I did not want to hear that.

Then, I heard a voice say my name. It was my mother’s.

Like I said, most of the memories were foggy but I remember turning my head to the direction of my mother’s voice. On the other side of my bedroom window, I saw her. My mother looked just as I remembered her. She has beautiful curls that seemed to brighten in the moonlight. She was wearing a long flowing flower print dress. It was her favorite summer dress. My grandmother did not notice her own daughter outside the house. That didn’t matter to me, I saw her, and I knew she was there.  

“Mom” I whispered. My mother’s dark eyes gleamed at me, her smile widened. I knew she was looking for me, looking for forgiveness.

“Mijita, what are you staring at?” my grandmother asked, staring at my bedroom window. That it when she would let go of me and walk over to the bedroom window. My mother’s eyes did not change focus even with my grandmother leaning into the window.

“Tina do you see something” My grandmother fingers pressed against the glass as she leaned into the window closer. The sound of my grandfather yelling, and the slam of the front door probably took her attention away from the window.

“Tina stop” I heard my grandfather running after me, but he was too slow. My mother needed me and I ran as fast as I could toward her image which seemed to float further and further back.

“Mommy wait please let me talk to you”

“I always loved you” My mother reached out her hands to me. I kept running, not realizing where I was going. The traffic lights, the sounds of cars passing by, the horns blowing as I ran right into the street, I did not notice any of it…

            The sounds of tires screeching and then a loud boom broke me from my mother’s views.

I turn around and I see a red jeep crashed into a hydrant. Stunned I just freeze in the middle of the street, soaked from the rain. The police came soon after.

            It was taken as a suicide attempt and I was taken to the nearby hospital. My grandparents were a mess. The day before they had to bury their estranged daughter, their granddaughter gets taken in to a psych ward.

Anyways, Andrew was a security guard at the hospital. He was the first friendly face I saw when they took me into the psych ward. He overheard me talking to myself.

“Are you okay, Ma’am” The first thing Andrew said to me. He probably guessed that I just needed a friend.

“My name’s Tina and I’m not an old lady so don’t call me Ma’am” I snapped back.

            Andrew did not get annoyed with me, instead he continued to strike a conversation. I remember reading a book that one of the nurses gave me. It was an old Steven King novel, Firestarter.

“That’s a classic, have you seen the movie” He asked.

“No” I said, very dryly. I knew he was being nice, but I didn’t care. I was going to be released from this place anyways and I thought I would never see him again.

“Well you should, it’s pretty good” He said. I stood quiet. Andrew had walked away for a moment. While I continued to read the book, I saw a shadow loom over me. When I looked up Andrew handed me another book by Steven King.

“This one is cooler, it’s about a girl who goes ham on everyone who’s wronged her. You might like it” His smile was warm, and it almost made me smile back if I wasn’t so focused on giving him an attitude.

“Why are you talking to me, isn’t this violating some sort of rule”

“I didn’t know recommending a book to you is violating the rules” He smirked.

“Why don’t you recommend this book to girl hiding in the corner. I pointed to an older woman that was sitting in a corner and burying her face into the wall.

“Something tells me she’s not very talkative” Andrew looks at his watch and nods.

“My shift is going to end soon anyways, I won’t be bothering you until tomorrow” He continued to smile at me, but I deflected it.

“I won’t be here tomorrow. My grandparents are picking me up today.”

“Oh okay well, best of luck to you, and you can keep that book it’s my personal book it doesn’t belong to the hospital” He waved goodbye and walked out.

I did not reply. It was strange to me that he would be so friendly. Security guards should not be able to fraternize with the patients, but Andrew felt comfortable enough to talk to me. When I was in my room getting ready to leave I noticed something in the book that he gave me. It was a note folded in between the pages.

 I don’t know if you remembered me but you came to this hospital a month ago. I think your grandma was sick and you were visiting her. I was in the front entrance and I saw you coming in upset because you couldn’t visit her in her room. I was the security guard that snuck you in there. We spoke a couple of times after that whenever you used to visit but our conversations were brief. I don’t know why you’re in this place, but you seemed like a nice girl and I hope you get better. I don’t know if I gave you my number before but its 555-727-8297. I know you are leaving today so if you just feel like talking don’t hesitate to hit me up.

I was shocked. Not that I encountered him before, because to be honest, I did remember him. My grandmother had a bad case of bronchitis that turned into the doctors wanting to test her for lung cancer. When I came to visit her the security guards at the front told me that I was not able to because it was past visiting hours. It was only 5 minutes past. Andrew saw how mad I was and came up to me with the same smile he approached me with in the psychiatric ward and he snuck me in.

            When I saw him again I felt embarrassed and I just tried to deflect him from continuing to speak to me. Obviously, that failed. After my grandparents picked me up and as soon as I got my phone back I did text Andrew. We spoke almost every day. I told him exactly what happened the night I was admitted to the hospital. Of course, he didn’t believe me, when you tell someone that you almost died following your mother’s ghost and that reaction is to be expected. I am not saying that I believe in paranormal activity, but I do know now well enough that there are things that we can’t explain. This event was one of them.

Fast forward to our current argument.

            After Andrew served dinner there was an awkward silence. I ate without saying anything to him. He sat across the table and played loudly with his pasta, tapping his fork several times into the plate.

“Look I can’t stop you from going out with your coworkers, I just happen to work Friday night and I can’t go. I’m worried about you enough, I don’t want you to go out and drink with these people then talk about seeing ghosts and stuff at your job”

“Why then people would think that I’m crazy right, we can’t have that happening” I said sarcastically.

            The thing that was so frustrating about our conversation was not that Andrew never seemed to believe any word I said about me having a paranormal experience. It was that he tried so hard to be a father figure then a boyfriend. He would say patronizing things like, don’t stay out late or don’t drink too much you may accidently say that you fucking see dead people. It was like he was ashamed of me and what I went through. Maybe I read too much into it. He just made me feel so juvenile sometimes.

            This Friday, after many Fridays of me just going straight home, I was finally going to hang out with Joseph, Evelyn and a couple of other coworkers at the local bar. My goal was to release the tension that’s been building up since working at the Clinton Institute and just let loose. Despite what Andrew thinks I have intention of being careful and not letting remnants of my past slip past due to my drunken state. Besides in the back of my mind I know that what I was going through at my job has a logical explanation that has nothing to do with my six sense. Hopefully.

Beyond the Open Door: Chapter 7

Chapter 7

My father’s name was Luis James Diaz. He was born in the late sixties. He came to the United States to live off his rich parents’ money and find a wife. My grandparents owned many vineyards in their country of Spain and left a hefty trust fund to my father for when he became of age. When he came to America he got married. Not to my mother, but to a young American girl, which helped him obtain his citizenship. I forget exactly what her name was. My grandparents immediately disapproved of her saying that she was uneducated and poor and lacked proper etiquette. Though he feared that he would lose out on future inheritance, he remained married to her to keep his American Citizenship. With the help of my grandparents he opened up a couple of wine stores in Manhattan featuring Spanish wine from my grandparents Vineyards, now his stores are just liquor stores that college students go to buy their little two-dollar shots before a big frat party. My father would go through multiple mistresses and for most of the twenty years that he was married. He never had any children with his first wife and told her that if they had children my grandparents would not leave him in their will.

Despite their obvious disapproval at my father’s marriage, my grandparents were happy at how well he was taking care of his businesses. In 1990 however, I was born. Not to him and his wife, but to him and his mistress. My mother. Her name was Lorena Guzman, she was Puerto Rican and twenty years his senior. Two years, a DNA test and a hefty divorce settlement later my father divorced his first wife and married my mother with great pressure from his parents. His former wife took a couple of his businesses and a lot of his pride.

Needless to say, I was the brunt of many of my father’s tantrums and beatings. I remember seeing my mom cry in a corner while he dragged me into a closet and locked me in there for hours at a time. He’d spit, he’d punch and curse at me. Bitch was a common term of endearment for me. I was only ten years old before someone reported the abuse and Social Services were called. My mother initially tried to deny, which broke my heart. But bruises and scars do not lie. I even lost a back tooth from a time my father took a heavy swing at me for spilling his coffee as I tried to give it to him one morning. I was taken in by my mother’s parents and the rest is history.

I never expected to be a fully functioning adult. I cried a lot. I screamed at my fellow classmates. I remember even throwing a chair at someone in junior high school. My grandparents never gave up on me, they enrolled me into karate and dance. Though I excelled more in karate. It seemed that life was going well. My grandparents forbid me to speak with my mother and father and often times I would listen to messages left on my grandparents’ voicemail. They were from my mother. She called them every name in the book, she cursed them for being horrible parents to her and accused them of coercing me to lie about the abuse. Those statements cut my scars deeper.

One day the calls stopped. I was eighteen years old. I had just graduated high school. I received a card from my mother. It read…

TO MY TINA, I PRAY FOR THE BEST FOR YOU. I ALWAYS LOVED YOU EVEN IF YOU NEVER BELIEVED IT. I WISH I COULD HAVE BEEN AT YOUR GRADUATION BUT I WAS NOT INVITED. I PROMISE THAT AFTER THIS I WILL NEVER BOTHER YOU AGAIN.

I AM SORRY FOR HOW THIS SITUATION TURNED OUT. PLEASE BELIEVE ME WHEN I SAY THAT I DID NOT MEAN FOR ANY OF THIS TO HAPPEN. YOU WILL NOT HEAR FROM ME AGAIN.

One week after I received the letter, my father’s sister Carmen called my grandparents. It was to tell us that my mother had overdosed on sleeping pills. My father was in Spain, presumably with another mistress when the police found her in their condo. I spoke with the police that found her, they stated that she had some bruising all over back and neck but that they appeared a couple of days old. It seemed my father found a new punching bag. Because he was in Spain and nobody could reach him, not even his own sister, my grandparents had to coordinate the funeral.

My father was never charged, even when he came back into the United States because he was in Spain at the estimated time of death. I believed he did not physically kill her, but mentally my mother was annihilated.

After a couple of years in therapy, a couple of mental breakdowns and a diagnosis of bipolar disorder later I recovered from my trauma. I still keep the letter that my mother wrote me. Currently it is sitting in the desk of my office.

“Do you have a minute Tina” Dr. Clifton asked, he was standing at my office door. It was early on a Monday morning and I didn’t even get a chance to get my coffee.

“Yes absolutely” I said.

“Good, I will see you in my office in five minutes” Dr. Clifton walked out and closed my door behind him. I took a deep breath. He did not seem too happy, but he didn’t seem upset either. I got up to smooth the wrinkles in my dress and rushed out my office.

When I walked in, Dr. Clifton motioned for me to close my door behind me.

“You can take a seat” He says, he was staring at a document for a while. My presumption was that he was reading something. His eyes diverted to me after he placed the document down.

“How are you doing today” Dr. Clifton.

“I am doing fine”

“Good. I wanted to know how you are having a handle on things here” Dr. Clifton looked at the document on his desk. I was curious to know what it was, but I can tell it wasn’t anything pleasing as he didn’t look thrilled to read it.

“I wanted to talk about an incident that happened last Friday night. From what I understand there was a scuffle between two boys”

“Yes, there was. Two boys named Gary and Stone, they had an argument and security had to be called.”

Dr. Clifton nodded.

“Well his real name isn’t Stone, its Leo, he prefers Stone however and we try to make our patients comfortable here. That is also part of your job, to make sure they are comfortable and to avoid situations such as what happened on Friday that may make other uncomfortable”

I couldn’t believe I was being blamed for this.

“I understand but I had to prevent the situation, I did not know that Stone- uh Leo had issues with Gary. I didn’t –

“But you were supposed to monitor the event. You should have notices something was off before the situation escalated” Dr. Clifton interrupted.

“I understand sir”

“I received a report from someone that it appeared you were socializing with the janitor and not paying attention. Is that true” Dr. Clifton looked at me accusingly. I know who that someone was. But what could I do.

“Joseph helped me look for a speaker that I could use, then we might have been speaking for a while, but I thought I had a good grip on things. I apologize that things escalated”

“Well just be more careful next time. I already had a talk with Leo and Gary’s parents. We do not tolerate violence here but since both boys did not actually assault each other we allowed them to stay in the program. Next event just please try to keep them separated”

“You got it” I got up to leave Dr. Clifton.

“Wait, can you put back the speaker in the basement before the end of the day, maybe do it now and get it out of the way” Dr. Clifton requested before I opened the door to exit.

“No problem” I headed out the door and into the recreational room, the whole time walking there my eyes were on the lookout for Dennis. The last thing I wanted to see was his smug face.

I grabbed the stereo out of the room and walk out where I see Dennis and Don standing together. Don looked so sloppy in his security guard uniform, his shirt untucked and stained. They both looked at me and I just felt suspicious with the way they were standing there. I briefly smiled and too the elevator down to the basement. I did not want to go alone but Joseph wasn’t around, and I didn’t trust the two security guards to escort me.

When the elevator doors opened I did my best to try and run over to the storage room where the stereo was found. I will admit I was still scared and may have made a few squeals while running down the cold dark hallway. As soon as I reached the door of the storage room I turned on the light and placed the stereo on the first empty spot I could. I did not even notice the door had closed behind me.

            When I turned the knob, the door did not even budge.

“Oh you have got to be fucking kidding me” My heart paced faster and I pounded against the door several times hoping to at least get it a crack open. My cell phone I realized was in my purse upstairs in my office.

Shit

I pounded on the door so many times an eventually started yelling.

“Hello, I’m stuck, Hello” I shouted but somehow I knew nobody would hear me.

            Then, the room started to heat up. Sweat started to drip down my forehead. It was getting difficult to breathe.

“What the hell” I looked around the room to see if there was a thermometer. The air was literally getting thick and I couldn’t understand why. There was no thermometer so how it was getting so hot. There was not even a window that I could try to open and escape. My ears started to burn, my eyes were tearing up.

“Help please” My screams fell on deaf ears. The rising heat mixed in with the musty smell that came from the basement walls created such toxic air. My eyes started to see spots of black. I knew what was coming next. Before I passed out however I saw something in the corner of my eye. The shadowy figure of a girl wearing dark pajamas in the girl. Her hair in a ponytail and ashes streaked across her face, I couldn’t make out much of her features at first but then the girl appeared right in front of my face with her bloodshot eyes and blackened teeth. I had no time to scream as my body fainted.

“Tina wake up”

“Tina are you okay”

“Did you call an ambulance”

“How long has she been down here”

The voice was familiar, my eyes slowly opened to see Larry the old janitor and Joseph standing over him.

The musty smell was gone but I could still sense the lingering smell of smoke for some reason. Slowly I brought myself help, Larry and Joseph each grabbed one of my arms to assist me. I rubbed my irritated eyes and looked around the room. All I wanted to do was leave this basement.

“I don’t know what the fuck happened I got locked in the room and nobody heard me. Then it got really hot, I don’t remember much after that”

I noticed Joseph was holding something in his hand, it was an asthma inhaler, my asthma inhaler.

“Where did you find that” I grabbed it from him.

“Larry found it in your office on top of your desk, your door was open when we were looking for you and he grabbed it not thinking it was yours, he figured someone lost it and you found it so he was going to give it to the nurses, thankfully he didn’t because it saved your life”

            This confused me. Yes I had asthma but I never carried my inhaler with me because I rarely ever had attacks. So I knew for a fact I did not take my asthma inhaler out of my purse and place it on my desk.

“Thank you, how did you guys realize I was down here”

“We smelled smoke while cleaning the floors” Larry said.

“It was coming from the morgue, someone left a radio plugged into one of the walls, I’m guessing the night crew and the radio started smoking” Larry then turned to Joseph

“Better take her upstairs for the ambulance” Larry and Joseph looked as if they forgot they called 911. We all walked out of the room and into the elevator. As soon as the doors opened floor I already saw EMT there. Everyone was staring at us.

“I feel fine now, I don’t need an ambulance” I shouted to the EMT crew.

Evelyn got up from her desk and walked to me.

“Are you okay” she asks examining my face.

“I am fine, I had a minor asthma attack down in the basement. It just got hot in the room all the sudden and it was too much for me.

Evelyn shook her head.

“I am sorry sometimes the rooms in the basement can get warm, there is a control panel in the basement to set the temperature in the rooms, but the security guards are the only ones who have the keys” Evelyn said.

“Really” I couldn’t say much as a paramedic came up to me.

“You were the one who passed out in the basement” He asked.

“Yes but I’m okay” I replied, I didn’t want to cause further troubles but the paramedic insisted I take a seat and at least let them examine me. I reluctantly agreed and sat down in a wheelchair that was brought in.

While speaking to me I caught the attention of Dennis, he had no look of concern no suspicion on his face. I couldn’t focus on him too much, as my mind wandered to the horrific girl I saw in the basement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beyond the Open Door: Chapter 6

Chapter 6

 

Friday’s are usually a bright spot of the week. It is payday, Andrew and I usually go have dinner and a couple drinks at the bar near our house and we just relax. Since working at the Clifton Institute though, we have had to place out dinner dates on hold. I coordinate the recreational activities at the Clifton Institute I have now been stuck the past 3 Fridays nights at work to oversee various events. Tonight, was dinner and game night. The Rec room was almost set up with the tablecloths already placed and each table having small bowls of chips and salsa. You may think chips and salsa was kind of juvenile, but the budget I was given was not very large for much else.

When the clock strikes 5PM most of the day staff can’t wait to get out, they all scuffle out of the front entrance at the same time. I walk out into the hallway and wave bye to Evelyn who bolts out her seat with her jacket in one hand, and a cigarette in the other. Even though there are overnight nurses and janitors here, because the building is so big, when the day staff leaves it almost feels deserted in the night. There is not much noise, the teenagers either gather in the other room with the large T.V or stay in their room quietly. It almost felt like I was alone. Even Dr. Clifton would be in his Mercedes by 2PM and already on the highway.

I call Andrew to let him know what time I would most likely be home, his voicemail answers.

“Hey baby I just want to let you know that I should be home by 7:30 or 8. Love you, just text me when you can”

I take a quick look around the room to see if anything else was needed. The snacks were in place, the board games were on the shelf.

“Shit a speaker”

One of the main things I needed fill the room with music. It was thirty minutes to Six o’clock.  I scuffle to the hallway to see if I could spot a security guard or another staff member. From afar I could see one of the janitors taking out the garbage from one of the offices. It was Joseph, the younger janitor I met my first week in this job. I could recognize him from his lanky stature.

“Hey” I shout, hoping to get his attention but I could tell he has headphones on. I rush over to him as he is throwing in another garbage bag in the bin and lightly tap on the shoulder.

Without warning, Joseph swung his long right arm up and around in defense.

Thankfully I ducked.

“Whoa I’m sorry I didn’t mean to scare you” The words spring from my mouth.

Joseph takes off his headphones his hand softly comes down.

“My bad I’m sorry I just got caught off guard, did I hit you” He tries to examine my face but shook my head.

“It’s okay, I’m fine”

Joseph was red from embarrassment. His body seemed to tense up as I stood there.

“Are you okay, you look a little spooked” I had to ask.

“No I’m okay sometimes when I work the night shifts, some people tend to try and play pranks on me. This place is very big and very quiet at night. So it’s easy for people to just jump at you.”

“Who does that, is the patients?”

“No, forget I said that, what could I help you with” Joseph picked up his mopping and started cleaning.

“Well I don’t mean to bother you while you were busy, I just need to know where I could get a speaker, to connect an iPod, it’s for the game night we are having”

Joseph tilted his head for a moment.

“The only place I could think of is all the way down in the basement. There is a room down the hall to the left of the morgue”

My heart skipped a beat.

“The morgue” I was sure Joseph heard the fear behind my voice.

“Sorry, it used to be a morgue. This whole place was an hospital back in the 1940’s, there’s a lot of history here” Joseph states.

The basement isn’t exactly my favorite place in this building, now I find out that there is a morgue. There was no way I would be going down there alone.

“Are you sure that there is one in the basement, no other place” I was hoping that there was but Joseph’s quickly shook his head no to my question.

“Well do you mind accompanying me quickly, I am sorry but I can’t go down there by myself” I grinned my fakest grin, hoping he’d comply.

Joseph let out a sigh. “Okay fine I show you, since you probably won’t be able to find it”

I followed Joseph down the hall of towards the elevator. We stepped inside and he pressed the basement floor. I tried not to stare at him but he practically towered over me. His hair was nicely tucked into a ponytail.

It looks like he uses better conditioner then I do. I thought to myself.

There was a sadness to him. I couldn’t tell if it was his expressions or just his natural features, but there was a gloomy aura that surrounded him. My instinct was telling me to ask him if there was something bothering him. Before I could say anything, the elevator doors open to complete darkness. Flashbacks of me collapsing the first time I stepped into this elevator started to flood my mind. The smell of sulfur was still present but faintly. My feet hesitate to move.

“We Just keep going down until you see double door then make a left” Joseph points straight to a set of double doors. They were dimly lit by a florescent light above them. He steps out of the elevator, I closely follow.

“Don’t like it much down here huh” Joseph slowly leads me down the hall.

“The smell never really goes away and the electricity is shot, the big boss only rents our floor in the building so he wouldn’t pay any contractors to fix anything down here”

I could see us getting close to the morgue doors, the light was getting brighter.

“I actually fainted the first time I came down here, the elevator stopped here instead the 1st floor. As soon as I got out the elevator there was like a cloud of smoke that puffed in my face, I could have sworn I saw something too. It was so bad and felt so hot, like I was actually in a fire. I could not even breathe. Then I collapsed” Just talking about this made me tremble.

“Whoa so you were the girl that freaked out in the elevator” Joseph laughed.

“No wonder you got this job, Dr. Clifton must have thought you were going to sue” Joseph shook his head in amusement.

“I guess it was a big event” I sighed.

“Yo Evelyn was so freaked out and telling everybody, don’t worry about it we only laughed for like a day”

Joseph slowed his pace and pointed down the hall. The walk seemed to be going on forever.

“The Morgue is up ahead, it happens to the on the side of the floor that has electricity”

There was a faint light coming from a fluorescent bulb that hung above the double door where Joseph pointed. I check my watch to make sure it isn’t six yet, then I walk ahead.

Once we reach the end of the hall Joseph turns right and straight to a room located two doors down from the morgue. He opened the door and flicked a light switch to reveal a large unorganized storage unit. There was stuff everywhere.

The room had an old musty smell. It wasn’t overpowering but it was definitely present enough for me to taste it in the air. There was a pool table in the middle of the room that looked old. The pool sticks were underneath it and it had a bunch of unlabeled boxes on top of it. He grabbed one box that seemed to have some electronic equipment and laid it on the floor.

“What is all this stuff” Many items in the room seemed random and was not what you’d expect a rehabilitation center to carry. There were random things like umbrellas, a couple of porcelain dolls, old photos of vintage ads that were placed on the walls, and a couple of old lifestyle magazines.

“Well some of this stuff was here when they rented out the floor, probably left the old employees of the hospital. Some was left by old patients.” Joseph takes a small speaker out of the box and hands it to me.

“To be honest if I left this place I would never come back either, no matter what shit I have here” He goes to turn off the light and we leave the room. As we pass the morgue Joseph peers in the glass.

“You know there was an actual fire here right” Joseph says, not backing up from the doors.

“Around last year there was smoke coming into the elevator doors when me and Larry, the other Janitor, were coming down here for some cleaning supplies. I was so fucking scared, I thought the elevators were going to open up to flames. Man, I think I even pissed myself. But thank god when those doors open we just noticed the flames in the distance”

Joseph face tensed up as he told me this story. I could tell he was a little traumatized. He took a big inhale before continuing.

“When the fire department came, they found a small garbage can had been set on fire. Whatever was in here was gone. Shit smelled of gasoline”

This place just keeps getting better and better. At this point I was already going through the possibility of this place being haunted. There is no way smoke can linger for over a year and not the amount that I encountered. Joseph opened the doors to the morgue. It was surprising that they weren’t locked. We stood there, I did not know if he was going to go in or not. I certainly wasn’t moving my feet. Joseph turned on the lights and moved his head from side to side, inspecting the room.

“Well are you going to turn on the light” I asked.

“Nah I just wanted to see if anyone was in here, you never no” Joseph turned off the lights as we headed back to the elevator. As the elevator was going up, I was curious as to

“Are you okay, you mentioned earlier people tend to play pranks here, what kind of pranks do they play” Before Joseph could answer the elevator doors opened and Dennis was standing in front.

“What are you too doing” He voice was harsh.

“I was just getting a speaker for her” Joseph points at the speaker I had in my hand.

“So it took of you to get one little thing, I find that funny” Dennis eyes were only fixated on Joseph. If looks could kill, Joseph would be would be blown to pieces by now.

I sensed the fear coming from Joseph. It was obvious how a six foot two hundred fifty-pound man with a permanent scowl on his face could seem intimidating. The way Dennis was behaving was strange and awkward. Perhaps there was some history between these two that I didn’t know about but the workplace certainly wasn’t the time or place for this. From the moment I met Dennis, he has portrayed himself as arrogant and unlikeable.

“I am sorry I have to go to rec room now, we are having an event in about 5 minutes” I politely smile, but not even that softens Dennis’ harsh face.

“I apologize, I did not realize I was inconveniencing you Ms. Tina” Dennis smirked.

Joseph stood quiet, staring at Dennis with his hand folded. Dennis moved to the side allowing both of us to pass. I bowed my head, thanking him as Joseph and I walked together to back to the room.

There were already a couple of teenagers in the room, accompanied by a nurse placing boxes of pizza on the tables next to bottles of soda and cups. I quickly set the speaker on a table towards the back and plug it in and then connect the iPad. Joseph was still behind me as I was setting it up.

“Is that your iPad” He inquires.

“No, it was in my office when I got here. Dr. Clifton says that the old Recreational Coordinator used to use it for events because she never wanted to use her phone to stream music. It’s connected to the Wi-Fi here so I just use an app to play songs.” I quickly look around and see more patients coming in. I walk to the center of the room to address everyone.

“Okay everybody there is pizza and drinks on one table, and a bunch of different board games on the other table. Dinner and game is from 6pm to 8pm, so please as 8pm approaches don’t forget to clean up after yourselves and put the games back where they belong. Everyone have fun, be respectful and if anyone needs help you can ask me or any of the nurses here.”

It was a nice introduction to the event but half the teens were either already chowing down on their pizza or setting up their board games while I spoke. Joseph was eyeing everyone. It seemed he didn’t want to leave and go back in the hallway. Maybe it was to avoid Dennis, maybe not. But I couldn’t just let him stay and not talk to him so I walk back to him to at least have a little conversation.

“So what was Dennis’ problem. I felt the tension in the air.”

Joseph shrugged his shoulders.

“Dennis and I don’t exactly get along for reasons I would like to keep private.” Joseph leans back into a wall with his hands in his pocket.

“Do you guys know each other outside of this place” I didn’t want to pry too hard. I wasn’t sure what Joseph would be willing to talk about and I didn’t want to risk anyone around overhearing. There were two nurses in the room watching over all the patients. Everyone was occupied and there was nobody immediately around Joseph and I, but voices can carry.

“If you don’t want to talk now I understand” I smiled and refocused my attention on the patients playing.

Joseph walked to the open door of the room, peaked his head out and looked from side to side. He then walked back to me.

“Next Friday a couple of people from here will be going out for some drinks for Evelyn’s last day of work. You should come”

My eyes widen in shock. I had no clue Evelyn was leaving.

“Wow she did not mention that she quit to me” I said.

“She really did not want a lot of people knowing, plus she didn’t want a lot of people coming out with her to celebrate either. I see you guys are cool with each other so I don’t think she would mind. I know it’s not a pay day but the bar we’re going to is pretty good, drinks are cheap. Plus, there we could talk more” Joseph looked back at door again and then turned to me to await my answer.

Before I could answer, suddenly the sounds of swearing and yelling erupted. Joseph and I pointed our heads towards a male patient who was standing over another male patient who was sitting with his hand in front of his face. The teenager was trembling in his seat and I could tell he was scared shitless of the giant leering over him. The young man standing had to be about 300 pounds, his fists where clenched and looked like boulders. One punch would definitely turn the other young man’s face into pulp. One of the nurses tried to get close to the larger teenager but he turned and screamed at her.

“Get the fuck away from me” His voice roared from his mouth. The other nurse already fled from the room. All the other patients in the room stopped what they were doing. Some got out of their seats and backed up from the tables. Joseph tried to walk toward them to intervene.

Then Dennis came running in pushing Joseph aside hard. Joseph had no time to react and fell on the ground hard. I rush to pick Joseph up while Dennis goes to approach the large patient.

“Hey man what’s the problem Stone” Dennis slowly approaches him.

“I overheard this shithead calling me a fat prick” Stone

“Because you are a fat prick” the kid sitting down retorts.

Dennis gets in between the two but only faces the patient sitting.

“Gary get on out of here before I have your Case Manager call your parents” Dennis turns back around to face Stone. As Gary slowly gets up to leave Stone reaches his large hand before Dennis could stop him and takes a swing at Gary. I look at the door and see a couple of male nurses and orderly’s run in and jump on Stone, holding him back.

“See I told you he’s a dick, all he ever does is try and scare people. Well it ain’t happening today” Gary shouts at an enraged Stone.

Oh my God, my mind is spinning at this point. The rest of the security staff escort Stone out the recreational room. He stares down Gary who speaking to a nurse. Dennis walks over to Joseph and I. He was not happy.

“What the hell just happened” Dennis asks me.

“I don’t know, the bigger guy just got up to hit the smaller one, I did not see what happened” I said.

“Well if you weren’t busy chit chatting maybe you have paid more attention” Dennis wipes the sweat from his forehead.

“Instead I had to come in to help out and I almost get hit” Dennis turns to Joseph

“Don’t your ass got some floors to mop pretty boy”

Joseph just stares at Dennis, his eyes glaring at him with anger while he rubs his shoulder.

“You got something to say” Dennis notices his anger.

“Well you pushed him pretty hard, he fell to the floor” I don’t know if I should have interjected because Dennis did not take his eyes off of Joseph. I was beginning to feel uncomfortable.

“He was in the wrong place at the wrong time, had he been actually doing his job he wouldn’t have been in my way while I was trying to control a situation happening in your presence” Dennis aggressively says. He walks away from us, you could tell he was still riled up. Just before exiting he turns around again.

“And I will tell Dr. Clifton about this” Dennis says before finally exiting.

I look around to see if everyone was alright. The teenagers went back to playing their games. The staff that remained in the room were whispering amongst each other while looking at me.  Joseph lightly tapped me on the shoulder.

This is more excitement than I bargained for.

 

Monday morning came sooner then I wanted. Andrew was still sleeping in the bed and I was dragging my body to make some coffee. The rays of the light hit my eyes when I entered the kitchen,

“Ugh, got to remember to close those blinds.”

To sum up last Friday night at work in one word I would say explosive. As soon as I came one I cracked open a bottle and told Andrew the entire story. He reacted as expected, he was upset that it happened and it more upset when I told him Dennis’ attitude towards me. This was only my first month there but I didn’t want to already start looking for another job. Job searches can be exhausting and depressing once you see how many places are not willing to hire you.

Lost in my thoughts for the morning, I didn’t realize Andrew had gotten up. He slid his arms around my waist for a bear hug.

“Good morning Baby” Andrew says yawning.

“Good morning, you want coffee” I turn on the machine while Andrew takes out the milk from the fridge and lays it on the counter.

“Yea just one cup” He leans in for a kiss.

“You’re so loving today” I could feel my face blush. After four years of being together, it was nice to still have butterflies.

Andrew sits down at the table while I hand him his coffee. His facial expression changed from loving to disappointed.

“What’s the matter” I sit opposite from him.

“I knew you had a rough week from work and I didn’t want to tell you anything. But your Aunt Carmen called”

“Oh” I take a large sip of my coffee.

“What did she say”

My aunt and I were not exactly close, I normally only hear from her once in a blue.

“Well she asked how I was doing, I told her fine then she asked if you were around I said no, then she mentioned him” Andrew started to tap compulsively on the table.

“Did she, what about” I said with no concern in my voice.

“He’s dying Tina, his cancer isn’t getting better” Andrew gives me a compassionate look.

“And what does that mean to me” I was cold in my response. Andrew shook his head, not in disapproval of my reaction but in disapproval of the whole situation.

Andrew got up and walked over to me. He hugged me from behind and kissed me. It was comforting to have him by my side, even if he did not understand.

“I am sorry if I upset you, it’s just that when your aunt calls to talk about your father I don’t know what to say to her.

“You don’t have to say anything, I knew this day would come and it’s up to me to handle it, not you”

It was not easy to have no love for a parent. But for me, it wasn’t so hard either.

Beyond the Open Door. Chapter 5

Chapter 5

 

It was a chilly night, Andrew was playing video games and after getting tired of him paying more attention to his PS4 then me I decided to go take a hot bath.

“Babe, I am going to take a shower do you need anything” I ask.

“Can you grab me another beer”

I go into the kitchen and I grab two beers, one for me and one for Andrew. After giving him his beer, I go to the bathroom and turn on the hot water. I wave my fingers in the and watch as the ripples form while I take a large sip of my beer. Suddenly I start to see the water around my fingers darken. I jerk my hand up and see what appears to be soot on my fingers. Earlier, Andrew said he smelled fire but I didn’t not smell anything. It was possible that I touched cigarette ashes from inside Evelyn’s car or that they got on my clothes somehow. However, I had already been home for an hour. Prior to that I had cooked dinner and Andrew and I ate. I just didn’t see how the ashes would stay on me all day.

Better wash my hands.

I go to the sink and scrub off whatever soot or ash I had left on my hands. My eyes catch my reflection in the mirror. There is a spot of ash below my eye. I slowly rub it down the side of my cheek. I don’t know why, but the streak going down my face looked so familiar.

“Oh Shit” the hot water from the tub hit my feet.

“Oh fuck me” I quickly turn off the tub, not without getting burned from the scalding hot water. Andrew runs in the bathroom to see what I was yelling about.

“Oh man what were you doing Tina” Andrew grabs a couple of towels from the linen closet.

“I am sorry I was not paying attention”

“It’s okay, it’s just water. Are you okay” Andrew touches the streak of ash on my face.

“You seemed a little of out it today, is someone bothering you?” He caresses my face and I shake my head no.

“No I guess I must have felt sick, I was in the car earlier with my coworker, she was smoking so maybe that got me a little nauseas but I am fine other than that” I flash a reassuring smile back at Andrew.

“Okay well ask her not to smoke in the car with you if its going to get you that sick.

“Right, I will next time, I am sorry I don’t why I spaced out like that”

Andrew wraps his arms around my waist and begins to slowly kiss my lips.

“Do you want me to help you with your bath”

Before I could respond I could laughing coming from Andrew’s headset.

“Oh Shit you guys heard” He speaks into his headset.

“Are you serious you couldn’t have muted it” I yelled.

“I’m sorry I heard you yelling and I ran in here, I didn’t realize”

“It’s okay just go back to your game, I just want to relax.” I shake my head which I could annoyed him.

Andrew walks back into the bedroom, I could hear him telling the guys he is playing with how they are a bunch of assholes and how they got him in trouble. I couldn’t help but giggle a little bit. I undress and climb into the bathtub. My body sinks deeper into the very warm water and I could feel my muscles start to relax. It’s funny how when you get a moment of silence, your mind seems to want to talk. Flashes of the day appear and gives way for concern. I know, two weeks isn’t a long time for someone to decide whether they like their company or not, but the story Evelyn told me about Don and Dennis still bothered me. Don, I find to be very eager to be liked, Dennis was harsh when I first met him. If I stay out of their way, I figured I would never have to see that dark side of them. Besides, why should I worry. You can’t do what was accused of them and get away with it. Dr. Clifton does not look like the type to let that sort of harassment happen, not in company that is responsible for helping people. My eyes close and my thoughts wander away and I enjoy the silence.

 

Beyond the Open Door and other stories.

Hello everyone. My name is Rebecca and writing has been a passion of mine since I could remember. Another passion of mine is all things horror. Horror movies, video games and film. There couldn’t be a more perfect way for me to express myself then to have a blog where I creatively develop horror stories.  I started The RX Vignettes for that reason. In doing this project I hope to develop my writing further and entertain the readers that grace my page with their presence. 

If you go back to the beginning of when I started this blog you would see that I was posting short stories. While I am still developing short stories to publish here, I have taken a break from posting them. Instead I have begun a new story called Beyond the Open Door. This story is about a Young woman who eagerly accepts a position at an hospital turned drug and mental rehabilitation center for adolescents. She then discovers the horrors and politics of working there as well as some hidden secrets that could potentially harm her.

It is partially inspired by true events and has very personal events sewed into it’s storyline. Events that did occur in my real life and while all some of the events I included in this story not directly happen to me, they have affected myself and my family in grave ways. Beyond the Open Door will be a long project and I am hoping to inspire and intrique those who choose to read all the chapters.

I will take a break from posting chapters of BTOD after about 10 or 15 chapters and then resume to postings two or three original short horror stories before finalizing BTOD.

So whether you are reading from your phone or your laptop, I hope you can relax and enjoy.

Thank you kindly

-Rebecca, The RX Vignettes.