Shattered Nightmare

Submitted into Contest #109 in response to: Set your story during the night shift.... view prompt


Crime Suspense Thriller

Trigger warning: Attempted rape, violence, blood


           Someone was shouting my name: it started from afar, and gradually came closer. It woke me up from a nightmare, the worst one I had in a while. In my dream, I dashed through a dark tunnel attempted to escape someone chasing me. As I came close to an exist, something thumped my shoulder. I tripped and fell into endless darkness. Waking up from the weightlessness of falling, I immediately felt pain: soreness combined with aching, like I just ran a marathon and fell solid on my face at the goal. My bed was bumpy like it was made of sharped edged cobble stone. My limbs were going to be sore tomorrow, now they just shivered in the cold, moist air. A strange taste filled my nostril and covered my tongue: a mix of fishy, sweet, and a metallic. The shouting became more frequent. Why couldn’t I sleep in for a once?

           Annoyed, I cracked open my heavy eyelids, only to discover a bright light shining right into my irises. I immediately shut my eyes, head throbbing even more. The voice came back, soothing this time as I made out what she had been shouting: “I know the light is bright, but please try to keep your eye open. I need to check you over and see if you sustained any internal injuries.”

           Injuries? What was she talking about first thing in the morning? I tried to open my eyes again. This time, I succeed with more ease. The voice owner shined that light again. I tried my best to keep them open. “You did a good job. Now, can you tell me your name?” What a funny thing to ask someone first thing in the morning? Wait, it was not morning. I noticed the city lights beaming a warm shade of orange outside the French window in the corner of my vision. Wait, my apartment didn’t have carved French windows? Where was I? The headache came back harder this time, forcing me to shut my eyes again. “Don’t close your eyes! Talk to me!” That voice called me again, but this time I couldn’t respond as the familiar darkness enveloped me.


           The next time I woke up, it was the complete opposite of my first awakening: everything was white, reflecting the lights and hurting my eyes. I tried to turn my head to each side to get a better look at this room, but my whole body felt like it was made from unoiled steel, every movement came with the joint part making a click sound like a piece of outdated machinery. After about five minutes of trying, I surrendered and my limbs gave out under me. The smell of chlorine filled my lungs as I took in a long breath to calm down. I lied in bed embracing the unnatural feeling of the nerves throbbing without pain.

           A soft knock on the door drew my attention. A man wearing a doctor’s white coat stepped into the room along with two police officers wearing uniform. My breathing quickened: “Did I do something? Why are the police here?” I stuttered, clenched a fistful of blanket. The doctor gently smiled: “Easy there, it is okay. These officers are just here to ask you some questions. Now, I am going to examine you first. Then, if you are up for it, you can answer their questions and they can catch the person did this to you, okay?” I blinked a few times. I didn’t quite grasp what the doctor said, but as far as I could tell, I wasn’t in trouble. I stayed quiet and let the doctor checked me over.

           The doctor explained to me that I was in a work accident while taking my blood pressure. A drunk customer attacked me when I was closing the bar. The security called an ambulance when they found me lying on the floor unconsciously: head and face all bloody. I slowly recalled the memory as he spoke. As the doctor finished, the two police officers stepped closer to my bed. I clenched my blanket tighter. They smiled: “Don’t be nervous, we just want to ask you a few questions. Now,” One officer flipped open a notebook, “Can you state your full name and occupation please?”


           I had been a bartender at the Flaming Grill Bar in the R hotel downtown for the past three summers. I applied for this position when I got accepted into the hotel management major at our finest local college. I hoped to land a job as a supervisor upon graduation with the experiences I gained while working there.

           I was proud to work at one of the most prestige hotels in town. The building was thirty-five stories high, consisting 200 guestrooms and 10 executive suites. There were five restaurants, three gyms, two pools and three multi-purpose ballrooms locating in various areas of the hotel. The Flaming Grill Bar was located on the top floor inside the executive lounge. I worked the night shift from 8pm till 3am from Tuesday to Sunday along with two other employees and a supervisor.

           I was paid in minimum wage but the work was never minimal. Bartending was never simply mixing drinks and serving customers. I learned on the job to initiate conversation, promote food sales and prevent drunk customers from fighting. On top of that, cleaning the counter, counting inventory and even scrubbing toilets were part of the job. The work was demanding and soul-draining: I barely have anytime to do anything but sleep on my days off. Every time I wanted to give up, I told myself: experience meant more than monetary values in the beginning. It would be worth it at the end.


           That evening started off normal. I changed into my freshly ironed employee uniform: consisting a white button-down dress shirt, a grey striped vest and a pair of same colored dress pants. I liked the smell of laundry detergent mixed with the room spray spread across hotel.

           Other than it was my night to close the bar, nothing was out of ordinary. A few customers showed up around 11pm for a nightcap and left before 1am. An hour later, I said bye to my two colleagues and began my closing chores. I stared out the window into the night view of the city while wiping the champagne glasses. The night view at the bar was a bonus for this job: I liked to gaze at the lights in other buildings and imagine the story went behind those never dimming lights.

           As I shut the glass door at the gate, I heard the elevator bell ringed and immediately an intoxicating smell of alcohol rushed into my nose. I winced as a customer stumbled out of the elevator: the bar was closed for the night, and we couldn’t serve customers who were dangerously drunk. “I need to take care of this situation as quickly as I could.” With my mind made up, I approached the customer. The man looked like around 50 years old. His cheek was burning red like a clown. That expensive looking suit on him wrinkled and stained in various places. I reached out my hands to steady him and spoke loudly to get his attention: “Sir! We are closed for the night! Could you tell me your room number?”

           The man’s consciousness was long gone. He mumbled something incoherent and giggled occasionally. A mixed smell of beer, wine and other alcohol filled the air as he burped. Not able to get any information, I dragged him to a bar stool near the entrance and sat him down. Then, I dialed for security on the landline. After a few minutes of explaining the situation, the guards said they would come and take him to reception. They instructed me to wait in front of the elevator.

           After hanging up, I reached for the man again. He seemed to fall asleep while I was on the phone. I gently patted his arm: “Sir, please wake up. We will get you to your room.” He groaned loudly as he brushed my hands away roughly. Having no choice, I dragged him out the same way I brought him inside the bar. I sat him down on the lounge chair near the elevator then went back to lock up the front door for the second time. As I stood on my tiptoes to insert the first key into the keyhole on the top left corner of the glass door, I peeked behind my shoulder to find the customer still sprawled on the couch. With more ease, I bended down to shove the second key inside the bottom keyhole.

           Suddenly, I felt a strong weight of grabbed me around my waist. Hot, smelly breath burned my ears. Chin Stubbles scraped my neck as he press himself against me. With one hand locking my arms behind me, his other hand yanked open my vest and reached inside my shirt. “Sir! Please stop!” Panicking, I struggled against the weight leaning heavily on me. He mumbled some swearwords and laughed frighteningly at my screams. My eyes widened when his hand reached for my belt. “SOMEONE! PLEASE! HELP!” I fought even harder and screamed at the top of my lungs. Anger casted a shadow on his face. He swung his arm across my face and slapped my cheek. I lost balance at the blow and crushed forward into the glass door. Everything looked like slow motion: my forehead hit first on the glass, then my whole body landed on the concrete floor, and the shattered glass rained on me making small cuts all over my body. Before the overwhelming pain took away my consciousness, I turned my head slightly, only to find the man gaped back at me while pressing the elevator button fanatically.

           He didn’t look drunk at all.


           I shivered as I recall the memory. The police jotted down the last line and closed his notebook: “Thank you for cooperating. Please take care.” After they left, I leaned back against the pillows and let out a breath I was unconsciously holding. The doctor patted my shoulder in a comforting manner: “You did a good job. That man won’t get away.” I smiled faintly. He continued: “You have a concussion and a sprain in your right arm from the fall. We stitched the bigger cuts on your forehead and cleaned the smaller cuts on your body. You should be discharged within the next two days, but you need avoid any physical activities until the stitches are removed.” “How long would that take?” I asked, concerned about work. “About two weeks, don’t worry, I will give you a doctor’s note for the days you are going to miss.” He smiled reassuringly.

           “Now, do you feel like having more visitors? Or do you want to rest?” I blinked twice at that question: “More people wanted to see me?” “Well, your friends at work have been calling at least once a day to see if you were awake. I think you are well liked.” The doctor winked at me. The door opened and my two colleagues came in bringing a bouquet of yellow roses and an assorted fruit basket. For a while, they just stood there and watched me with curious eyes. The smell of fresh flowers and fruits diffused inside the room. I broke the silence: “Hey, the doctor said I will be fine in a few weeks. I will be back to work soon!” They shared a knowing look between each other, and then look at me with more pity: “Glad to hear it. You should take care of yourself.” We shared a dainty laugh and didn’t have much else to say. After they left, I found a card inside the flower bouquet. It printed: “Sorry about what happen to you. We wish you a speedy recovery.” A formal signature from the management board signed on the bottom. My brows knotted: This was not how I pictured when the doctor told me that people from work were worried about me. I covered my head with the blanket but couldn’t shake the uncertain feeling settling deep into my heart.


           Two weeks later, I called my supervisor letting him know I was cleared to work after my last doctor visit. He said his congratulations and told me a meeting with the Food and Beverage department manager had been scheduled for me. My work schedule would be discussed after the meeting. I hanged up my phone. Unwillingly let the unsettled feelings made knots in my stomach.

           The next day, I waited twenty minutes beyond the scheduled time outside the manager’s office. Her office was in the basement of the hotel, close to the guest parking garage. A smell of hot uncirculated exhaust filled the tiny space. She sat me down across from her desk, and started asking about my injures and treatment. When I told her about the police visit, she leaned forward onto the desk. Her fake leather armchair made a sudden squeak: “I have a question for you, Miss. Woods. About that night of the accident, do you think there is anything you could have done better?” I blinked at that question: “Excuse me?” She switched legs under the table, putting the right leg on top of the left this time: “We had some discussion about your accident, and we believe you shouldn’t have turned your back on a potentially dangerous customer.” “How was I supposed to know he was dangerous?” I couldn’t believe my ears. “Didn’t you say in your statement that you recognized the customer as heavily drunk and intoxicated?” She stared into my eyes: her golden edged glasses reflected my fidgeting form. “Well… yeah.” I didn’t know how to respond.

           She smiled for the first time since this meeting started: “We believe for your own safety, it is the best for you to switch to a different department, perhaps a morning shift at our western style breakfast bar.” My eyes widened: “You are demoting me?” “Of course not, Miss. Woods.” She pushed her glasses upward with her middle finger: “This isn’t a demotion. Please consider this as a job transfer for your benefits.” She leaned back on her chair, crossing her arms together: “The management board had serval meetings regarding your incident, and we all believe that hiring a girl to do night shifts is simply too risky.” I sneered: “Risky for you or risky for me?” “Both, we need to consider our own risky when hiring staff.” Her lips twitched upward. “Can I decline this transfer?” I protested one last time. The manager looked surprised: “I thought you will be thrilled to get out of the night shift after what happened.” “I chose this job because I wanted to be a bartender. I don’t like doing night shifts particularly but it is part of the job.” I gazed into her eyes, glaze strong like thunder piercing the sky: “And a little accident isn’t going to scare me away.”

           “I’m sorry about what happened to you, Miss. Woods. But we already changed the bartender job requirement to males only.” She shrugged her shoulders and looked at me with pity. “Now, my offer for the breakfast bar is still valid. If you need a few days to think about it, here is my number.” After a few minutes of silence, I realized that nothing could be changed at this point. I grabbed her business card with one hand, shoved it into my pocket and strode out of her smelly office. Tears rimmed on the corners of my eyes for the first time since the accident.

           I leaned on the wall near the elevator and took a few deep breaths. Suddenly, I heard footsteps and talking approaching this way. I quickly hid behind the staircase door. Women’s chatter echoed in the basement: “Did you hear about the girl who worked at the bar? A drunk customer bashed her head into the glass door! I cleaned that floor. There was blood everywhere!” I shivered hearing that. “I heard about it too! She could have died that night. I heard that customer almost raped her.” Another girl agreed with her in a quieter voice. “You won’t believe what our manager said! She said it was her fault because she shouldn’t have turned her back on a customer.” The others shouted: “You are kidding!” “No, the managers complained about how much it will take to fix the damn door!” The voice owner couldn’t contain the ironic laughter in her voice. “They also said we should manage our own safety, perhaps taking some self-defense lessons on our own time?” She mimicked their manager’s tone, earning laughter from her peers. “Like we have the energy after eight hours of shift every day.” The others agreed with her. “Poor girl. You got groped by a stranger and almost died on the job, but all the management worried about was the cost of renovation.” The others hummed in union. “Oh, I think there are ribs on the menu today, maybe I can take home some for my kids…” Their voices disappeared as the elevator door opened and closed.

September 04, 2021 03:10

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


18:13 Sep 05, 2021

Really good. I liked that story but seems like it needs a bit more. Like information on a backstory or maybe on her managers and her job? Cool story though!😀


Floria Yang
15:09 Sep 11, 2021

Thank you for your comment! They are really helpful! I'll keep them in mind when I rewrite the story! Sorry this is not my best work...Thanks again for reading my story!


17:52 Sep 11, 2021

If this wasnt your best work I am amazed! Your a really good writer!


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

Yes, you! Write. Format. Export for ebook and print. 100% free, always.