I love Halloween! I love watching the kids get excited about costumes and candy. I love watching scary movies with Pete after the kids have gone to bed. I love the one day out of the year that everyone shares my love of the creepy, morbid and bizarre (of course, come November 1st, I’ll still be wearing my skull earrings).
In honor of the holiday, here is my short short story “ER”! It was published on the website microhorror.com in 2011. Check out the site for more great flash fiction that will creep you out and make your skin crawl! And remember, my book Haunted is on sale! A mere 99 cents will get you a perfect ghostly read for your Halloween!
“Nurse?” The old woman in the gauzy blue dress sitting in the hall held up her hand.
“I’ll be right with you, ma’am,” Anne said as she strode past, a syringe of morphine in her right hand. She entered the trauma room where the doctors were swarming around a young man who had been brought in by an ambulance with its sirens screaming. Paramedics had pulled him out of his car after it flipped over an embankment and landed roof-down in a ditch. Now he writhed on the gurney, his voice nearly gone, but still emitting hoarse barks of pain. As she approached, Anne could see fragments of glass in his face, and a line that started below his mutilated eye, arched over his purple cheek, and ended where the blood spilling over his lips suggested his teeth had been knocked out. Steering wheel, she thought, as she punched the needle into his IV and injected the opiate. The man stopped yelping, and his body settled back against the bloodstained sheets. His eyes, opened wide, stared at the ceiling and began to glaze over. The doctors descended on him, hands full of needles and blades.
“I’m sorry ma’am, we’re very busy, it will be a few moments.” We’re out of exam rooms again, Anne thought, pressing her lips together. Old women sitting in the halls with the drunks on gurneys. She saw one of the drunks lying on his back, chest convulsing. She ran to him and rolled him on his side, and he vomited on the floor. The greenish liquid smelled strongly of peppermint.
“Ah,” she said, looking at his face for the first time. “Mouthwash Charlie. I didn’t even realize it was Friday.”
Charlie mumbled something, then passed out again.
Anne shook her head and called housekeeping. Then one of the interns came to the desk with an expectant look on his face. It made Anne wonder why she wasn’t getting paid the big bucks like the med school teachers, when she was the one actually training the medical profession’s next generation.
The old woman in the hall: “Excuse me, nurse?”
“Just a moment, ma’am.”
She followed the intern to find that the problem was a broken wrist that the student didn’t know how to set. Anne sighed and set the wrist, going slowly in the vain hope that the intern would follow along and not need help next time.
When she was done, she grabbed a diet soda from the machine and drank it as she walked slowly down the hall, trying to relax. What a day.
Anne lowered her soda and saw the old woman. Damn. Ah, well, better late than never.
“Yes, ma’am, what can I do for you?”
“I don’t feel at all well.”
Anne frowned and squatted down in front of the old woman. She’s so pale, Anne thought, and her eyes are so wide. There was something about that blank look the lady was giving her that made Anne feel uneasy. She took the woman’s wrist, the cool dry skin rasping beneath her fingertips, then furrowed her eyebrows.
Nothing. No movement.
She moved up to the woman’s neck, adjusting to find the jugular.
But that’s the jugular. I can feel the vein.
“What…” Anne stammered. “What’s going on?”
“I told you, dear.” The old woman’s eyes crinkled as the corners of her mouth curled up in an impish smile. “I don’t feel at all well.”
Then her wrinkled hand shot up and her fingernails dug into Anne’s throat.
Anne’s eyes went wide and rolled back as her skin wrinkled, then shriveled. Her arms curled up to her chest and she fell backward. Her head hit the floor with a dry CRACK and shattered, and tendrils of dust began to swirl out from where her body lay.
“Thanks, dear,” said the young woman in the gauzy blue dress as she stood and began to leave. “I feel much better now.”