O, Death: Part X

by Matt P.

“You should have told her you were from a vague yet menacing government agency,” Siobhan said with a sigh as they walked down the hallway. “It would have been so much cooler. Also, not un-true…Border PD is pretty weird sometimes.” She added this last bit almost as an afterthought, scuffing her canvas shoes on the floor as they carefully rounded a bit of glass that had not been swept up.

Walter snorted. “I’ve met agents of that kind of agency, and I’ve got pretty much no desire to be one. Besides, telling them I’m with the BPD actually got us in. That big nurse wasn’t going to take any crap,” he pointed out in response. “Why lie when the truth will do just as well, or better.”

Siobhan thought about it for a moment as she walked down the hallway, kicking her legs out. Antigone was next to her and staying quiet, while Ryan was next to Walter and smirking. They walked through one of the broad hallways on the main floor, the walls a more standard hospital green then the bright colors of pediatrics—but still far better than the colors in the ghost hallway. Siobhan shivered as she thought about that, before she answered her father. “Because it’s more fun. You could have claimed to be a ghost detective!”

Ryan raised an eyebrow, as they stopped by an electrical closet. Ryan pulled out the keys one of the nurses rounded up for them when Walter had flashed his badge, and opened it up. It was dark inside with no light from the hallway to illuminate it, so Antigone held up her phone and tapped on the camera light. The circuit breaker was in good shape, no sign of major trauma or blow out, and Ryan quickly turned off the circuits for the lights like they had been asked to. “Another one in good shape, boss. I think we can be pretty sure it was something heeby-jeeby instead of something electrical.”

Walter sighed. “One of these times I want it to be the normal answer. I want to walk down a spooky hallway populated by a monster, and instead find it is just a man in a mask,” he offered, almost forlornly.

Ryan, for his part, just laughed as they continued on down the hallway toward a staircase. The blackened pattern of blown ceiling lights led them toward it, curving down the side hallway rather than continuing straight. “You’ve been in Border for not even six full months yet, I’m not sure you get to be that jaded about it yet.”

Siobhan reached out to pen the door in to the stairwell, where emergency lighting cast the stairs in shadows and crimson. “It’s been a pretty exceptional six months, though,’ she pointed out as they began to walk down the stairs. “What’s down in the basement?”

Walter checked his small notepad, where he had taken down some notes on the basic layout of the hospital from Paul and Paolo before they had gone searching. “Mostly some of the older equipment rooms, and functional rooms. Storage, laundry, the overflow morgue.” Walter considered that last entry. “You know, it probably says something we should have noticed earlier about Border that it has an overflow morgue. That speaks to a certain…volume of bodies that’s kind of terrifying.”

The stairs were definitely among the creepier places that Siobhan had been in her life, up to and including actual graveyards. The red light gave enough light that they could see, but still made the shadows deep and threatening. “Wait…” she said after a moment.

“Well, I mean an overflow morgue just makes sense, really. How else can you ave a horrifying zombie uprising if you haven’t stacked them like cord wood,” Ryan said with a smirk, walking toward the stairwell nonchalantly. Siobhan held out an arm to block him, and he raised an eyebrow.

“To invoke a cliche, what’s wrong with this picture?” She asked, gesturing to the crimson-bathed stairwell. Rather than arguing with her, both Ryan and her father stopped and considered it seriously. She saw a similar movement to them as they swiveled their heads slightly to take in the whole scene, and she loved them for not having cast aside her concerns due to youth or arrogance.

It was Walter who saw it first. “Well…shit, that could be bad.” A moment later Ryan came to the same conclusion, agreeing with an elegant grunt and nod of his head.

“What?” Antigone asked, peeking around Walter to try to see what was wrong. “It just looks like more blown lights?”

Walter gestured to the floor in the landing, an then down the stairs. “No broken glass. We’ve beeen dodging it or crunching it since we left pediatrics,” he explained. Antigone blinked, and then paled slightly.

“So why are the lights out if they didn’t get blown out, when the rest of th hospital kept power,” she spoke slowly, more out of a growing sense of tension then that she hadn’t understood when she began speaking. “Could it be normal? I couldn’t quite fit electrician shop in my schedule last semester, so I don’t know how these tings work real well…”

Walter shrugged artlessly, not coincidentally finishing the motion by bringing his pistol up to bear again as he began to edge toward the stairwell. “I don’t know, but I don’t like anything that’s an outlier right now. So we’re going to take it nice and slow, right? And if I say run, what do you do?”

“Not ignore you for once in my life and run,” Siobhan said with a sigh, quoting it rote like the oft-repeated statement that it was. Everyone nodded and they began to very cautiously advance down the hallway, Walter and Ryan first with their guns drawn followed by Siobhan and Antigone. They kept up tha glacially slow and cautious pace as they came to the top of the stairs, when they heard it.

A scream, coming from the basement and echoing off the wall like a bat trapped inside and trying to escape. Walter and Ryan shared a look and a muttered curse. Walter started to give Siobhan and Antigone a look to tell them t o stay, but they were already bolting past them, Siobhan literally jumping up on to the railing and sliding down past them to race to help.

“Shit,” Walter cursed again,s oft but emphatically, as he bolted after his daughters.