Heritage Woods

Submitted into Contest #205 in response to: Start your story during a full moon night.... view prompt

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Fiction Thriller Suspense

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

“I can’t believe I have to work another one….” Jon groaned as he grabbed the laptop to work on the charting he had to do for the night.

“You’re so superstitious.” Katie laughed and shook her head. “The moon doesn’t make people crazy. That is a myth. It’s comical to me that people still believe in that.”

Jon looked over at her with a sideway grin. “Yeah, well you believe what you want to believe, and I’ll stick to the truth. I’ve worked plenty of overnight shifts here to know that it is not a myth and after your, what is it, your very first overnight shift during a full moon? It’s also May’s flower moon. You’ll see.”

He chuckled to himself and shook his head as he started charting on the first resident before his rounds. She smiled at his naivety, “Yeah, I guess we’ll see.”

Overnight shifts didn’t require a lot of employees, for the most part. Most of the residents were fed, bathed, and settled by the time the night crew showed up to clock in. Besides, Jon and Katie, tonight’s overnight shift consisted of only two other nurses down on the East Wing side of the facility.

Jon and Katie were assigned to take care of the West Wing tonight. The facility only held between 80-100 residents at any given time, two to four to a room.

The halls were quiet and dark, with the glow of just red emergency exits lights illuminating at the end of each one. The exit doors were equipped with alarms in case one of the residents tried to slip out.

The occasional “roamer” at night was not out of the ordinary, and Mrs. Barrett made it a sport. The nurses knew the residents and their behaviors well, and some needed extra attention to ensure their safety. Most, though, were solemn and quiet and fairly easy to take care of. Come about 10:00 pm, most all was well at Heritage Woods Care Center.

Tonight, though, that wouldn’t be the case.

Every hour, unless a bed alarm went off, the nurses on shift would take turns going room to room to check on their assigned residents. When Jon got back to his desk, Katie chuckled to herself and looked over at him. “See any spooky stuff while you were gone?”

He smiled back at her, “The moon isn’t quite high enough yet.” She rolled her eyes again and laughed, trying to stay quiet for the resident’s sake.

“Oh, is that what it is? How convenient. Okay, so I am going to go and get my rounds started before everyone goes crazy. I’ll be back. I’m going to grab a pop too on my way back from the vending machine, you want one?”

Jon turned away from his charting, “Yeah, that would be great. Thanks.”

Katie headed down the West Wing Hall going to one room at a time. She entered the first room and noticed how incredibly bright the room was with the curtains open wide. It was actually quite beautiful, she thought.

She sat her laptop down on one of the tables in the room and went over to close the curtains. Surely, the light was bothering the sleeping residents.

As she stretched up to grab the top part of the curtain, she felt something pull at her scrub top from behind. She turned around and looked down to see Mr. Turner standing uncomfortably close to her with no clothes on.

He was a portly little man who only stood about 5’4”. His eyes were focused on her and completely glazed over as if he were sleepwalking. “Leave the curtains open.” His voice was monotone and almost mechanical.

She stood there a little flabbergasted as he just turned and walked back to his bed and laid back down. She giggled a little to herself, knowing this kind of stuff can sometimes be pretty normal in a care home.

She did, however, make sure the curtains remained open. She continued to check on the other three residents in the room. All seemed to be well, and she continued on.

Before even getting to the next room, she saw a flickering light on the wall. She looked down and there were four candles burning in the middle of the cold tile floor. A circle had been drawn around them and their seemed to be dried flowers sprinkled all inside the circle.

She kept her cool but had a very uneasy feeling the moment she stepped through the doorway. The curtains were also open. She just let them be. She squatted down on the floor and blew all of the candles out.

When she stood back up, she noticed all three of the ladies sitting on the edge of their beds, as if staring at her. They were unclothed and almost glowing in the moonlight just like Mr. Turner, but all of their eyes were closed.

Katie felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end, and she felt a cold breath blow past her ear. Startled, she turned and ran out the door to find Jon. All three ladies opened their eyes and turned to watch Katie run out of the room.

The halls were lit up with the brilliant moonlight, as all of the curtains had been opened in all of the rooms. The doors to all the rooms were also wide open, which was unusual. The red emergency exit lights were out, and the closer she got to the nurse’s station, she noticed those lights were out too.

Why weren’t the backup generators working? Jon was nowhere to be seen. The stillness had her almost paralyzed with fear.

With the power out, the humming of all of the medical machines and equipment were gone.

She heard noises of what sounded like shuffling feet all around her. Her whole body started to get damp with sweat, and she could taste the fear when it made its way down her upper lip.

“Jon? Jon, where are you?” There was no sound, only the shuffling.

She scrambled with the desk phone to see if the other nurses would answer. The phone on the other end was picked up, but the only sound she heard was a low guttural breathing. It sounded like a crowd talking all in unison in the background, as well.

Katie stood there dumbfounded and quickly hung up the phone. Her breathing intensified as the shuffling grew louder.

She remembered that they had a little toolbox under the desk and hoped that the flashlight that was in it still worked. She searched in the cluttered cabinet and found the flashlight and quickly switched it on. Nothing.

She grabbed at her cell phone in her scrub pocket, and it was gone. She felt around on the desk thinking she may have set it down, and it wasn’t there. Reluctantly, she picked up the desk phone again to call for help. There was only static.

Looking up, she dropped the phone on the desk and stood there in awe. At the entrance of every door, there was a resident completely unclothed and just standing there looking forward. There was even some standing at the exit doors.

She had nowhere to go. All at once they raised their hands above their heads and started chanting out loud. She couldn’t make out what they were saying, but it terrified her, nonetheless.

The moon lit up the hallways and caused unnatural shadows to fall all around. She noticed that even though no one was moving, the shadows started to dance across the walls and the floor as if coming together into one large mass. She was unsure about making a run for the door.

She heard a muffled noise coming from down the hall. She crept around the nurse’s station desk to try to see where it was coming from. Light was flickering on the walls and slowly moving in her direction. The large mass of shadow just hovered there in the hall.

She couldn’t quite make out what she was seeing, and she was too afraid of what was going on around her at the same time to be able to focus.

Something was coming down the hall. All around her, the chanting continued in unison. The flickering she had noticed were little battery-operated lanterns. There were six of them gliding their way down the hall in the hands of six residents.

Also, in the unsettling parade, the same six residents had their other hand on a gurney. They were on either side of it wheeling it along with them, and someone was stretched out on top of it.

The mass of shadow was swirling up over the top of them. Katie was terrified, and she just knew that it was Jon strapped and stretched out on top of it.

She stood there in a trance just watching the absolutely unbelievable spectacle that was happening right in front of her. She watched as they slowly made their way pass the nurse’s station and moved toward the sitting room.

One by one, the residents that were standing in front of the doors fell in line behind the six pulling the gurney. All but the ones in front of the exit doors, they never moved.

There was a large bay window inside, and the curtains were already pulled open. As they made it past her, she felt compelled to follow behind.

The chanting grew louder in her ears, and most all the residents were in the sitting room now filling the air with words she still could not make out.

The brightest blueish white light spilled all around them and filled the room, and they still had their hands upraised towards the sky. Katie stood there at the entry doors to the sitting room. None of them seemed to mind she was there.

The large mass of shadow was also in the room and was hovering over the window, as if attracted to the moon. Then, as if a switch being flipped, they dropped their arms down to their sides and stopped chanting. They all turned around and looked at her, and all of them had thin grin across their faces.

They all took a couple steps back clear a path to the gurney. It was pushed up against the bay window, and she saw that it was Jon stretched out on it. The belts on the gurney were strapped tight over his body.

His eyes were closed and there was duct tape over his mouth. He was still, though, as if sleeping. She scanned over his body and saw that there was an IV in his right hand.

For reasons she cannot explain, she walked towards Jon focusing on the black mass above him. The moonlight made him almost glow. The residents around her were still quiet, still grinning.

Once she reached the gurney, she could hear buzzing and humming sounds coming from the black mass above. It continued to swirl and morph.

She again, looked down at Jon and noticed a long silver knife lying next to his side. She reached down and picked up the knife examining it. The blade was large, and the handle was wrapped in black leather. There was a lily engraved into the blade and a small charm of the same lily hanging from the leather.

Underneath the lily on the blade, the word May was also engraved. She then remembered what Jon had said earlier that night. “It’s also May’s Flower Moon.”

She held the blade in a shaky hand and looked out the window. Outside on the lawn, there were small little people about two foot tall. They sparkled in the moonlight and seemed to be dancing and jumping all around. The moon lit them up and she saw that they had tiny little wings. She couldn’t believe what she was seeing.

She looked around her and saw all the residents just staring at her. She then raised her head to look at the black mass above her. She could almost hear it speaking to her, telling her to drive the knife into Jon. That it must be done.

She was transfixed by it, and knew she had to do what it told her. She glanced back out the window, once again, and saw all the little creatures on the lawn now standing still and watching her.

She turned to look at Jon. He lay there, eyes closed, unknowing of what was about to happen. She raised the knife above her head. When she did, the chanting started again. This time, she could understand them.

“Abundant Mother, Moon so bright.

Hear my plea upon this night.

Your fertile power lend this spell;

Make it potent, strong and well.”

She did not hesitate. After the third set of the chant, she plunged the knife into the left side of Jon’s chest just once and let go of the knife. He never even flinched. All was black around her, and she collapsed to the floor.

When she awoke, she was in a room like the resident’s rooms. The Sun was shining in the window. She sat up in bed and looked around. She was in one of the resident’s rooms. The other three beds in the room were empty.

A portly little male nurse that stood about 5’4” made his way over to where she was lying. He smiled at her. “Oh, Miss Katie. How are you? You don’t want to sleep the day away, do you? It is such a beautiful sunny day outside.”

She looked at him confused, thinking he looked a little familiar to her. How did she get here? She couldn’t remember. “Here are your morning pills, dear. Let’s take these and get you dressed. What’d ya say?”

He handed her a little paper cup with some pills in it and a little cup of water. She didn’t understand why, but she took them without making a fuss.

The gleam of his name badge caught her attention. Heritage Woods – Cliff Turner, RN. She then noticed her hand, as she was pulling it back from handing him the cup. Her skin was wrinkled and thin. She could see the blue veins throughout her hands working their way up her arms.

She touched her face and felt the skin hanging from the bone. It felt loose and cold. Nurse Turner reached into a drawer next to her and handed her a little hand mirror.

“I just want to thank you so much, Miss Katie for giving me this opportunity. I want you to know that I am going to personally take very good care of you while you are here. I have been waiting for this chance for many years, and hopefully you may get this chance someday too. Until then, or while you wait my dear, I will keep you safe and keep you well. Thank you so very much for taking my place.”

She looked into the mirror while he spoke, with horror in her eyes.

Looking back at her was her own face, but it was about fifty or so years older than it was just yesterday.

July 07, 2023 19:10

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4 comments

Tiffaney Day
01:00 Jul 13, 2023

As someone who has worked in the healthcare field, full moon nights actually are really freaky! I love the premise of this story. I was assigned this in the Critique circle and the only thing I’d say is some of the language seems a bit stiff, but the story itself is really compelling! Keep it up!!!

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Shannon C.
09:45 Jul 13, 2023

Thank you for reading my story Tiffany. I myself worked in healthcare for 16 years and you are not wrong! I appreciate your feedback and will use it moving forward. Thank you for commenting. It helps to zero in on things that fall flat with readers. Best of Luck to you!

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Kevin Logue
07:15 Jul 09, 2023

That nursing home must be built on a hell mouth Shannon, we need Buffy! Body swapping faeries? Fun read. Good luck this week.

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Shannon C.
21:14 Jul 09, 2023

Thank you! So many weird things swim around in this head of mine. Appreciate it.

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