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Haunted

By William Collins

Horror / Humor

Where Are We?

There was water dripping somewhere. A faint echo emanated from a dark hall and a breeze lofted over Jackie Burkhart. It chilled her to her bone and she shifted out of sleep, the taste of fruit punch, chips and cocktail weenies in her mouth was still in her mouth as well as the inane conversations of people to which she pretended to be nice. It had been a big unsupervised party with her friends and almost two hundred others in the gym at the school. She wasn’t drunk; she was reasonably sure she wasn’t drunk unless Michael had spiked the punch and he had promised he hadn’t, but he had lied before to her. Slowly realizing someone was laying with their head in her chest, Jackie started stirring and in doing so realized she was laying on the dirty tile floor of a place she had never been before. Who has sleeping on her left breast?

“Eric! My god!!” She pushed him off herself and jumped to her feet. “What are you doing?!”

“What? I thought you were Donna!” He rolled to his feet and bumped into his buddy Fez. Fez had one of those impossibly to say Latin American names, and was only known as Fez. Waking him up triggered a domino effect of friends and peers coming to consciousness and yawning from their drunken stupor. Donna Pinciotti heard her name and looked round from where she was laying. Steven Hyde looked straight up into the dirty and cobwebbed light fixture glowing in his face, and gained his bearings as Jackie pushed and swatted at Eric. Eric tried to get closer to Donna to evade Michael Kelso rushing to his girlfriend’s side.

“What happened?”

“He was sleeping with his head on my chest!” Jackie screamed.

“Eric!”

“Ooooo, fist fight…” Fez wanted to see the fisticuffs.

“No, I… Wait, I thought she was Donna!” Eric tried to save himself.

“Oh, come on,” Kelso arched his back into place as he stood. “That’s no mistake. Everyone knows Donna has a bigger rack than Jackie.”

“What?!” Jackie and Donna reacted.

“Not that I don’t love your smaller rack all the same…” Kelso tried to apologize to his girlfriend.

“Oh, yeah…” Jackie formed an attitude. “Well, you won’t be see it for a very long time.”

“Guys, I have to agree.” Fez wanted to make a statement. “Donna has a much bigger rack than Jackie.”

“Stop talking about my chest!” Donna swatted at Fez.

“Guys… guys!!!” Steven looked round and started wondering. “Where the heck are we?!”

The six young adults stopped squabbling and started looking round themselves. This wasn’t the Forman’s basement or the school. In fact, this was no place that they were familiar with at all. There were standing under the large beam of light in the center of a large round chamber at the center of a hallway stretching left and right with double doors facing each other from across opposing walls. The place seemed deserted, dark and shadowy with little to no lights around them. Two hospital stretchers had been stacked atop each other out of the way, the wheels of the one on top were covered in a layer of cobwebs. There was also a desolate wheelchair in an opposing corner. It looked as if this place had once been a hospital, but the dust, the silence and the shadowy abyss around them suggested no one had been here in here for a long time.

“Where’d you bring us, Eric?” Steven looked to his best friend.

“What? Who me?” Eric Forman looked round. “You’re asking me? The last thing I recall I going to the bathroom.”

“Well, if you ask me…” Fez approached the wheelchair. “It looks like a hospital. Me first!” He got into the wheelchair and sat down in it to race it down the hall, but the second his posterior hit the seat, it tore loose and dropped him through the bottom up to his knees and armpits. The wheelchair was obviously too old and worn to be sat in much less rolled around in a series of races.

“Well, this is a new experience.” He lamented his predicament.

“All right, but what hospital? I don’t recall any deserted hospitals in our area.” Steven walked through the center of the chamber, pushed off a broken chair by his foot and stood folding his arms under the light. “Does anyone know how we got here?”

“Hello!” Eric called down the hallway into darkness. “Is anyone there?!”

“Look, let’s just find a phone and call for help.” Donna wandered close to Eric. “There has to be one around here somewhere.”

“It looks haunted.” Michael Kelso looked around the shadows, cobwebs and dark corridors. “Look, I’ve seen a bunch of horror movies and this is right before Vincent Price comes out and announces The Twilight Zone.”

“That’s Rod Serling, you idiot.” Hyde swatted him.

“How did we get here?” Donna wandered in a circle around the rim of the large round light hitting the floor under them. “Or… who left us here?” She proved she had a brain in that pretty head. “Last thing I recall was sitting in the lobby of the gym and dozing off as I waited for Eric.”

“Who here has any memory of being brought here?” Hyde took charge. Fez had worked his way out of his seat and looked around his friends. Kelso looked as if he was about to say something then stopped. Jackie just took a deep breath and hovered by Michael’s side. Eric was peering down a dark corridor weaving into pure darkness.

“Who here remembers dozing off at the school dance?” Hyde changed the question. Donna, Eric and Fez shot their hands up as Jackie looked to Kelso and slowly raised her hand. Kelso himself looked guilty for a second and rolled his eyes.

“We did it in the principal’s empty office.” He confessed. “It was like hot!” Jackie swatted him.

“So, let me get this straight…” Eric turned round after hearing the various details. “We all dozed off separately and someone collected us and dumped us off here in the walls of an old hospital? Who would do that?”

“I don’t care who.” Hyde rolled his eyes and pulled his hand over the back of his curly brown hair. “I just hope they don’t mind me beating the crap out of them.”

“That looks like people down there.” Jackie pointed down toward the end of the long chamber. Everyone turned to where she was pointing. In the flickering and wavering lights were a few shapes and the vague shapes of motionless people suspended off the floor. As they drifted out of the range of the big light in the round main chamber, they realized they were looking at displays of characters encased in glass cases, but not real people. They could have been real once, but not anymore. They were dead, gutted and preserved in hideous displays of life: a skinless man on a skinless horse without eyelids, hair or external anatomy, just anatomical specimens displaying their garish and vivified skeletal forms and exposed musculature. Across from the massive display of the figure on a horse and at the bottom of a set of stairs was a human male perched on a staff in the same hideous condition, preserved right after autopsy with his intestines exposed within a glass case. Right next to him in a smaller case was the small and rather deformed form of an infant, also gutted and exposed in a preserved with the peeled back skin on its head resembling demonic horns. Donna covered her mouth unable to look away. Jackie turned to Michael and buried her face into his chest in disgust. Hyde just stared at the grotesqueries matter-of-factly.

“Now, that is just so cool!” Kelso announced out loud.

“Hey, guys…” Fez started imagining things. “Do you think those are the guys who were here before us?”

“Yeah…” Eric started sarcastically. “He dragged his horse in here and asked to be mounted and stuffed on it.”

“Hey!” Donna took her hand from her mouth and turned away from the hideous displays and looked to Eric. “I don’t like this place and I’m not staying. Eric, if we have to walk, take me home!” She started heading back the way she had come back toward the floor she had been abandoned on and looking for a front entrance beyond it.

“Donna.” Eric sighed and headed after her. Kelso glanced to Hyde and started after them leading Jackie by her hand. Hyde made one last look at the preserved cadavers and followed them as well. Fez took a deep breath, glanced down a dark hall leading to a dusty operating room with a flickering light and then rushed to catch up with his friends. When he vanished from the bottom of the stairs, a distant figure in white stepped into view and realized he had more guests to his asylum.

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