Releasing the Spirits of The Webster

Submitted into Contest #148 in response to: Write about an apartment building being demolished.... view prompt


Fiction Funny Horror

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

WARNING: this one was inspired by a true crime/serial killer story you may recognize. Although the events of the story are fictional, they are graphic and might be disturbing.

   Before this happened, if someone had asked me to quit my job as a wrecking ball operator, I would have told them to jump in a lake. I loved my job, who wouldn’t? Watching that giant ball smash into the sturdiest walls like they were made of straw was a rush like none other, let me tell you. The sound of crumpling destructiveness, the debris explosions, and the smell of diesel and concrete turned to dust…ahhh…that was my bag, baby. 

   Something awful happened, though, and everything changed. I started questioning my very existence and for the first time, seriously contemplating a change of career. 

   Why was I considering giving up the job I loved and devoted thirty years of my life to? Spooks. That’s why. That’s the only word I know that describes what happened to me that day. The day I slammed my giant ball into The Webster was the scariest, most terrifying day of my life. 

   The demolition was scheduled to take place bright and early that morning, so I arrived before the sun came up and performed my usual safety checks to make sure the building was clear and ready. Inside, the apartment complex was empty except for some sort of foreign language spray painted on a wall. 

   Although I had no idea what it meant, I read it anyway and was overcome with vertigo. Must have been lingering fumes from the spray paint. I mean, someone could have opened a window, am I right? Weird thing was…there were no windows. Anyway, I leaned on that wall for a second to make my head stop spinning and then my phone timer went off to let me know it was time to get to smashing. 

   After climbing my rig, I reviewed the building plans one last time. 

I looked again at my map and up at the tower, scratching my head in confusion. I’d never seen a building like it. There were no windows and only one exit. Several halls and stairways led nowhere. It was a cylindrical tower of concrete that looked nothing like an apartment building. Furthermore, there was no way any of it would have passed building codes. No wonder it was being demolished—the place was a death trap. 

I shrugged and put the map away because it was time to smash.

   After launching the ball at the tower, things got weird. I watched as the world seemed to press the “slow motion” button on the remote. The ball smashed into the tower, creating a giant hole. That’s when I entered a dreamlike state and I saw what happened in those apartments. Wait…I didn’t merely see what happened—I experienced it as if I was there.


   Apartment 113

     Everyone called her, “Little Nelda”. She lived there surrounded by doilies and knick-knacks, everything pristinely clean and in its place. Before she moved into The Webster, Little Nelda, spent her younger days volunteering in homeless shelters, helping orphans, and giving everything she had to those in need. At the age of 80, arthritis and failing eyesight made it necessary for her to move to a full time care facility. Unfortunately, she had given away all of her money, so the only place she could afford was The Webster. 

   For a while, Dr. Homie checked on Little Nelda every day, pretending to care for her as a doting, geriatric physician would. He brought her food and medication and helped her find the right television station so she could watch her stories. 

   But then, one day, he stopped visiting. Of course, Little Nelda, being such a sweet old lady, wasn’t concerned for her own well-being, even though she had been without food or medication for days. She worried that something terrible had happened to the doctor. So, she ventured into the hall and called his name.

   Little Nelda’s hearing at her age was not great, to say the least, but the shrill scream she heard would’ve woken the dead. Hobbling as fast as her old legs would carry her, she went back inside her apartment to call for help only to discover that the phone was dead. 

   “Help help! Little Nelda, help me!” The doctor’s agonized voice called to her. Nelda, who had not been out of her apartment since the day she moved in, slid into her bedroom slippers, grabbed her walker and started toward the sound of the voice. It was slow going and every step sent electric pain through her body, but she finally made it to a door at the end of the hallway. 

   “Help! Little Nelda! Help!” The voice had changed directions, coming from the opposite end of the hall and confusing the sweet old lady. She opened the door in front of her anyway, hoping it would somehow lead to the doctor. Pitch blackness greeted her, so she squinted and lifted her walker, poking the darkness in attempt to connect with something solid. 

   The walker was too heavy for Little Nelda. It lurched downward, and since there was no floor to stop it, the walker pulled Little Nelda down with it. 

   “Help! Little Nelda!” The voice beckoned from below as she careened down a long dark chute and landed with a splash, walker-first, in a giant vat of body-decomposing acid. 

  Of course, the acid immediately burned off what was left of her eyesight, but it didn’t kill her right away. She couldn’t see him, but Dr. Homie watched her die. With the right side of his lips twisted upwards and the cold blackness of his eyes, he savored the vision of Little Nelda’s flesh disintegrating; turning the acid a thick, gelatinous red. The walker dissolved, too. All that was left of Little Nelda were the plastic cups off the end of the walker, for even acid won’t dissolve plastic.



   After Ken lost his job, the Peters family turned to, The Webster, as the only shelter they could afford. Soon-to-be Mother, Pearla, bedridden because of a condition, was due to give birth any day. The family felt overwhelming gratitude to Dr. Homie for taking them in and providing round the clock medical attention to the expectant mother. 

   “I’m off to find another job, Dear.” Ken, determined to regain financial stability, kissed his wife goodbye and left the building. Pearla rested most of the morning, but woke around noon to a wet bed and fierce contractions. She felt a great uneasiness at the sight of the doctor’s chair—vacant for the first time since she moved in. 

   Pearla waited for the contraction to subside and swung her feet to the side of the bed; preparing to stand. The last thing she wanted was to have the baby by herself. If the doctor wasn’t there, she’d just have to go find him. 

   She stood and felt the floor give away beneath her bare feet as a trapdoor released; plummeting the laboring mother down a spiral chute. 

   Her head bounced on concrete when she landed in the basement, knocking her unconscious and causing irreparable brain damage. Later, Dr. Homie donated her postpartum body to science. 

   The fate of the newborn remained a mystery.

   Ken returned to The Webster, that evening, but things had changed. The hallway that previously led to apartment 63, led only to a dead end. Thinking he’d made a wrong turn, he retraced his steps and stopped short, heart racing, blood draining from his face when he heard his wife’s voice.

   “Help! Ken! Help! The baby’s coming! Help!” He ran toward the voice. He came to a door he hadn’t noticed before and jerked it open to discover a winding staircase. 

   “Help! Ken!” Her voice drifted down from somewhere above him, sending shivers down his spine. Something was wrong, Ken felt it in his bones. He raced upwards and opened the door at the top of the staircase only to find a brick wall. Frantic with frustration and panic, he retraced his steps down the stairs. Turning the other way, he ran around a winding curve and came to a door. Chest heaving, sweat dripping; he thrust it open, only to discover the same winding staircase. Thoroughly disoriented by the insane logistics of the apartment building, he slammed the door. As he turned on his ball foot, he triggered a trapdoor and felt the floor disappear. He landed with a jarring thud on a nearly vertical drop, sliding downward in pitch blackness. Ken screamed for his wife as he fell from the end of the chute into a dark chamber. Hands grasping at his neck, choking and gasping on toxic fumes; Ken died in Dr. Homie’s gas chamber.


   Apartment 1: Dr. Homie

     Dr. Homie, a pseudo-scientist obsessed with the game, “Chutes and Ladders”, hated windows and failed every design and architectural class he took. Nonetheless, he was an expert conman who had loads of other people’s money to spend. He designed and built, The Webster, according to his own sadistic interests. 

   “I like to murder people. It’s my hobby. Besides, I’m doing the world a favor by donating the remains to science.” The mustachioed murderer disclosed to a journalist.

   “Oh I see, so you are contributing to scientific advances for the good of others. What about your own remains? Will you be donating your own body to science?” 

   “Hell, no! That’s ridiculous! I’m gonna be buried in liquid steel so no one can study my body.” 

   Surprisingly, Dr. Homie was never arrested for homicide, even though he had committed over 200 murders.

   One day, while minding his own business dismembering the body of an unlucky tenant, the police knocked on his door.

   “Look, guys, as you can see, I’m right in the middle of a project.” Irritated, Dr. Homie held up a bloody, severed arm as proof of his preoccupation.

   “Maybe we should’ve called first.” The leading officer shrugged and shifted his weight from foot to foot, uncomfortable with his own rude behavior.

   “Look, it’s just insurance fraud. We have no proof that you’ve murdered anyone or anything like that.” The other officer felt the need to explain.

   “Yeah, so why don’t you finish up, wash off that blood, and come on out to the patrol car.” The last thing the cop wanted was bloody guts all over his newly detailed police cruiser.

   Later at the station, the cops questioned Dr. Homie about a tenant with a large insurance claim who had gone missing. 

   “I killed him and I took his money. If that’s a crime, then go ahead and hang me!” He proclaimed in such a convincing manner, that the investigators scratched their heads, perplexed. 

   Finally, after much deliberation, they went ahead and hung him, but he didn’t die immediately. 

   “It’s been a while. He’s still not dead. Are you sure you did that right?”

   “Look, let’s go to dinner. If he’s still alive when we get back, you can shoot him, ok?”


(wrecking ball)

   I guess he died, finally, because that’s when I woke up, or came out of the trance. Also, my boss, Clarence, was shaking me.

   “Kenny, you ok? You look like you seen a ghost!” Clarence noticed my distress. He said my wrecking ball went rogue. It smashed up the whole building then kept swinging like it was gonna smash the whole world to bits. He jumped aboard and pulled the kill switch then splashed cold water on me. 

   “Thanks, man. Look, I don’t know how to explain this. I had a vision of what happened in that place. It was horrifying and I don’t even do drugs anymore.” I climbed down from my post and pleaded with my boss to let me go home. Since I’d never taken a single sick day in thirty years, he let me go. He called me later, though, and we met up for a couple of drinks. I told him everything.

   “Look, I believe you.” Clarence ducked his head and lowered his voice, all secretive-like. “I’ve heard stories. Besides, my family’s from New Orleans. We got VooDoo on our side.”

   “Yeah, but why me? I mean, I’m just a regular guy.”

   “That’s just it, Kenny. I think your spirit is connected to that old building somehow. You said something was written on the wall? What did it say?” Clarence got his phone out and entered the words into Google translate. 

   Ti bebe pedi retounen pou reklame eritaj 

   “It means, ‘lost baby returns to claim his legacy’.” 

   It all sort of hit me, then. I didn’t want to believe it, but after that strange experience with the destruction of, The Webster, it made sense. I never knew my parents, because I was raised in foster care. The events I witnessed from my trancelike state…what happened to Pearla and Ken—it profoundly affected my soul. For the first time in my life, I knew I belonged to someone. It’s hard to explain in words, but I knew they were my parents and they’d been waiting there for me. Maybe the writing on the wall was some sort of voodoo ritual. Or, perhaps my wrecking ball freed Mom and Dad’s spirits.

A lot of folks would have been enraged and filled with anger about what Dr. Homie did. But, you see, I obliterated him with my wrecking ball and freed myself in the process.

   The most terrifying experience of my life turned out to be the most transforming. A sense of peace descended on me that day and I carry my parent’s love and courage in my heart. I learned how hard they fought for me and how much they loved me. 

   I know who I am, now. I am Kenny Peters, and I am a wrecking ball operator.


May 31, 2022 16:43

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Michał Przywara
20:43 Jun 01, 2022

I love the twist connection in this one! I was going to say "The fate of the newborn remained a mystery" seemed like kind of a weak way of dealing with this point, but then I read on and forgot about it, until things came full circle. Now of course it all makes sense, and explains why he saw the visions. I only wonder who left the message for him, but not all mysteries need an answer :) I also like Kenny's attitude at the end. It would have been easy to be furious, or horrified, but he went the closure route. Plus, not enough stories featu...


Sharon Hancock
01:01 Jun 02, 2022

I totally agree about wrecking ball operators🤣 thanks for reading and commenting😻


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Mike Panasitti
00:02 Jun 04, 2022

Sharon, another funny, horror, fiction mash up (or should I say, smash up?). You're imagination always leaves me flabbergasted. Your portrayal of the wrecking ball operator had real depth. I doubted your warning was factual until I read the other comments. Great work!


Sharon Hancock
01:03 Jun 06, 2022

Thank you so much for reading and commenting! I know what you mean about the facts behind this…so bizarre they sound made up! 😻


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Kanika G
12:48 Jun 13, 2022

Wow, it is hard to believe this is based on a true story. It was a very engaging read and the twist at the end came as a surprise. Well done!


Sharon Hancock
16:14 Jun 13, 2022

Thank you so much for reading and commenting😻


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Ace Quinnton
18:38 Jun 09, 2022

Dr. Homie is committing HOMIE-CIDE. This is a great story, mixed of horror and laughs. Those with dark humor are rolling in their graves right now. Also, there should be more stories with wrecking balls in them. Because DESTRUCTION AND CHAOS. From another horror lover to another, would you like to read my current horror fantasy fiction series that I'm writing? It's called Seemingly empty (Parts 1, 2, and 3 are out right now). I'd like to get your opinion on them, along with critique and encouragement if you have any for me.


Sharon Hancock
02:16 Jun 10, 2022

Thanks so much for reading and commenting! I agree wholeheartedly about wrecking balls!😂 I just read the first part of your story and enjoyed it. I’ll read the rest this weekend. Happy writing!😻


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Zack Powell
02:24 Jun 08, 2022

What a creative story! I found this prompt to be the most challenging of the five this week, but you made this look pretty effortless, Sharon. You always take these prompts in such unexpected directions that (I think) only you could conjure up. I had fun with this one. Was laughing at Dr. Homie being the name of the serial killer (partly because he's a legitimate doctor, and partly because he's not a homie). I actually felt awful for his victims, especially Little Nelda.😂 Older women are taking a beating this week in some of these stories. ...


Sharon Hancock
01:54 Jun 09, 2022

Hello my fellow writing friend! Thanks so much for reading and commenting! Yes this was inspired by a truly awful true story. American Horror Story, Hotel was also somewhat inspired by it…I don’t know if inspired is the right word. (Except for the vampires). Also, I read that Leo DiCaprio will be in a new movie about HHHolmes. Such a huge compliment! I enjoy writing and reading horror so much! But next week, my story isn’t horror. I am trying to be like you and write from any genre and stretch my writer brain! 😻


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Desiree Haros
17:32 Jun 04, 2022

Holy smokes, Sharon, you are such an amazing writer. I'm not the type to read crime stories, but you weaved quite the story that kept me enthralled. Excellent delivery. Kudos to you!


Sharon Hancock
01:05 Jun 06, 2022

Wow thank you! And thank you for reading and commenting. 😻


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Ashlynn Altman
20:10 Jun 03, 2022

i love true crime and i love how you used a real case for your inspiration while leaving room for the case to be recognized! great work :) i posted a story for this weeks contest and i'd love for you to check it out!


Sharon Hancock
01:07 Jun 06, 2022

Thank you so much for reading and commenting! I’ll go check out your story😻


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Kai Corvus
19:29 May 31, 2022

I love this story! The premise overall was great - by the way, was this based off of the Henry H. Holmes murders? I don't know a lot about it but The Devil in the White City is on my to-read list for this summer. Nice job giving some background on how Kenny enjoys his job but is considering switching. Definitely gave me a sense of "oh shoot...something serious is about to go down". Every single part of this story was great. I was cackling over Dr. Homie's part. Hilarious, the whole sadistic serial killer thing aside. I've been reading yo...


Sharon Hancock
01:26 Jun 01, 2022

Thank you so much! Your comment about dialogue means a lot to me, thank you! Yes, HH Holmes was who I thought about with the demolition prompt. I read the devil in the white city several years ago. Very interesting to read the descriptions of the worlds fair up next to the descriptions of that murder hotel. Thanks again for reading and commenting😻


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