I couldn’t stop the sobs that raked through my chest. Why did it have to happen with me? The worst feeling was how Aaron had looked at me with so much disgust. He was my superior, but more than that, he’d been my friend. The only man I’d looked up to and it killed me how he’d literally dismissed me out of his office. The accusatory look he’d passed me. He trusted me, but there was a definitely a shadow of a doubt where he wondered if I could possibly betray his trust.
I pulled out the paper tissues and blew my nose into it furiously, still crying.
If I saw Jackson in front of me right now, I’d kill him with my bare hands.
I heard a sound a few cubicles down from mine. When I’d entered the bathroom, I hadn’t paid attention enough to notice if anyone was using the other toilets because I thought it was obvious no one would. I’d purposely walked into the ladies restroom that belonged to the old wing which was situated close to the new wing but separated from the rest by a passageway and a stairway going down. There was a whole wing that was currently abandoned from hospital use and mostly only used by staff sometimes. No one came here.
So when I heard another sound, I thought my mind was just messing with me. If there really was someone in there apart from me, then they’d heard me crying.
And if they’d heard me crying, I would have to make up an excuse as to why I was crying.
Cautiously, I opened the door and noticed there was no one in the bathroom. I went and stood by the sink. I opened the faucet and splashed some water over my face. When I was done, I walked out of the restrooms.
The long passageway was spread out before me. Dark, and deserted. When I’d walked through it before isolating myself in the cubical, I hadn’t thought much of it because I was hurt and my mind preoccupied. Now that my head was in a clear state, the walk through the passage creeped me out. The lights above dimmed, and I knew that didn’t mean anything but I started to imagine all the slasher movie scenes. I walked two steps and made a run for it.
When I turned a corner, I stumbled and fell on the ground. It was Nurse Roxanne. Her body sprawled on the floor in a twisted angle, her eyes were vacant, staring upward.
She wasn’t alive. She was dead. I pulled myself up and ran down the hallway and out of the abandoned wing. I was scared and shaking by the time I reached Aaron’s office.
I didn’t even knock the door as I barged into the room.
Aaron glanced up from his papers. “You’ve been losing your wits, guess you’re losing some manners as well.”
I ignored the comment. “Aaron, the...the abandoned wing.” I stuttered. My entire body was shaking.
“What’s wrong? Why are you acting like you saw a ghost?”
“Nurse Roxanne. Roxy, I saw her sprawled on the floor. She was dead.” I said.
Aaron jumped out of his chair. “What?!”
“I saw her!” I said.
Aaron followed me outside and into the old wing. I led him to the place where I’d seen the body and gasped, my hand flying to my mouth.
The hallway was empty. There was no body there. No trace of anything, not even a drop of blood.
“Aaron, I wasn’t lying. I saw the body there. She was dead.”
Aaron sighed. “That’s enough Riley.” He placed his hand on my shoulders. “You’re just stressed with everything going on and you’re seeing things.”
“So you don’t believe me?”
“You said there was a body here, I don’t see anything. How am I supposed to believe you?”
But I’d seen the body. How did it manage to vanish so fast? Had I really started to hallucinate?
I didn’t argue with Aaron any further and drove back home. Ken wasn’t in view so I assumed he was out with his friends. That night I called Maddy and told her how I’d been handed the suspension letter. She was shocked and said Aaron was being too harsh and that it wasn’t my fault. I felt nice talking to her by the end of the call. She said some of the nurses were going out for drinks this weekend to a club with a theme party. The theme being ”The Dark Side”. Everyone was supposed to dress as monsters, villains or ghouls. Maddy asked me to join but I declined the offer, a few days later, I said fuck it and decided to go.
I threw open my closet and pulled out a purple dress. It was satin and sexy; totally club worthy. Plus it was my Halloween dress from last year. I applied some makeup and I knew I’d done a good job looking like a witch.
A sexy witch.
I pulled on a pair of heels that I hadn’t worn in a long time and doused myself in perfume, I was ready to party.
I needed time to clear my head with all the crazy things happening, especially with Jackson. This seemed like a good excuse.
The club wasn’t as crowded as I thought it would be. Granted, we had turned up a bit earlier than necessary. People mostly didn’t turn up until mid-night. I met up with the girls near the bar, Maddy was dressed as Harley Quinn and another one of the nurse Jenna was dressed as a vampire. The others had bailed on us. I was kind of glad they had because I wasn’t really familiar with the other nurses.
“Men are watching you like you’re a golden trophy at the end of the marathon.” Maddy commented, taking a bite of her fries. “It’s been a long time since you got laid.”
I rolled my eyes. “I’m good, thanks.”
“Oh c’mon, Riley. Think of your Vajajay. It needs some action.” Maddy said.“I’m your best friend, I just want to help you.”
“Why don’t you take your own advice and get laid then?”
Maddy laughed. “I just did last night. Remember Conner?”
Conner was my brother Ken’s best friend. “Yeah. What about him? Did you hit it off with him?”
Maddy made a face. “Will you judge me?”
“Depends on what you’re gonna tell me.”
“Well, Conner called me last night and told me he needed someone to babysit for his little sister so I agreed because he wanted to be there at a party. You already know, Conner is not my type and it was pretty apparent from our first date so we decided to be friends.” She explained.
There had to be a catch.
I threw her a questioning look. She continued. “I put Cammy to sleep and then Richard came home from work.
I stared at her for a full minute, just us staring at each other. Richard was Conner’s father. “You slut! You did not just?”
“I know. I know.” Maddy said, not at all ashamed or apologetic. “I mean, I used to hang out a lot with Conner at his house before when you first introduced me to him and that’s when I met Richard. He was in the navy and has a hot body, and is really experienced in areas I wish boys our age were. And Conner’s mother is dead so does it matter?”
I sighed. Maddy and her shenanigans. “I’m not judging you Maddy, but he is Conner’s father and he’s twenty years older than us. Plus if Conner finds out that you’re sleeping with his father, he’s going to blow a gasket.”
Maddy sipped her drink. “I’ll handle him.” She looked dreamy. If she was a cartoon character, I could see hearts for her eyes. “Richard is seriously so mature and nice. He’s really not the pervy kind of older men that we usually see.” She stared into distance and I realized her eyes had glazed over.
I placed my hand over hers. “Oh, Maddy.”
She shook her head. “I wish my life wasn’t so complicated, Riley.” She ordered for a tequila and downed the drink.
Maddy didn’t have any daddy issues, but I knew that she never enjoyed dating men our age. She was more interested in the more settled, older and handsome ones, just like Conner’s dad.
“If you both like each other, and if he makes you happy, it’s okay.” I smiled at her.
Suddenly, she was back to being playful again. “At least I like settled older men, but what about you? I know your fetish Miss Frazer.”
“My fetish? And whats that if I may ask?”
She gave me her teasing look. “Your fetish for bad guys, like you know serial killers and bad guys in general.”
“Shut up, Maddy.” I said, my cheeks turning warm. I began fiddling with the wad of tissues on the bar.
“Oh, come on. I know you have a thing for them. You’re practically obsessed, girl.”
I ignored her comment, because even though I didn’t want to admit it, deep down I had a thrill for all the bad people. Of course it didn’t justify for the atrocious crimes they committed but my obsessions had gone overboard until I’d started to feel ashamed of myself, the way I was ashamed that I was thinking of Jackson more than I should have, especially since he’d left the asylum. It almost made me sad I wouldn’t see him again.
I was going to come up another retort when Maddy had spaced out until I realized she hadn’t spaced out but staring into a distance. At someone. “That guy’s staring at us. Oh no, he’s looking at you.”
I followed her gaze to find a tall man with green hair looking at me. His face was painted like Joker and I could tell he was pretty good looking under all that scary makeup. He wore a purple suit identical to the character and the joker smile painted. His appearance gave me goosebumps. I wanted to stop staring, but I couldn’t and then the guy began approaching our seats.
Maddy cleared her throat and hopped down from the seat. “I...need to use the bathroom.” she said.
She gave me a thumbs up before rushing into the crowd leaving me alone with this stranger.
“You’ve got a nice friend there.” the Joker commented.
“Yeah, she can be nice when she wants to be.” I said.
“Can I order you a drink?” He’s got to be blind if he couldn’t see the full glass of drink right in front of me. And it was a third refill so there was no way I was putting more alcohol in my system and my head wasn’t feeling woozy yet that meant I wasn’t drunk enough.
“Thanks, but I don’t really accept drinks from strangers. You can order mozzarella sticks though. I heard they have the best mozzarella sticks in town.”
Letting a stranger order mozzarella sticks for me, what the hell was wrong with me today?
He grinned and ordered for one.
And why did I have a feeling like I’d seen him somewhere?
“Do I know you?” I asked.
“I don’t think so. We haven’t met.” He said simply. “You look hot as a witch.”
“Thanks.” I said.
I downed the third glass and smiled. “Sureeee, why not.”
And then the Joker had pulled me onto the dance floor. And I hadn’t even asked him his name. He slid his hand around my waist and pulled me closer and I didn’t protest, it was just a dance after all. I could feel his breath fanning over my ear. And then his hand slid down to my ass.
I pulled back, “Hey! What are you doing?”
I shouldn’t have just gulped down that drink because now I was feeling drunk out of my mind.
He just laughed. “My hand just slipped.” He reached out for me again and I slapped his hand away. “Oh, come on baby.”
“Leave me alone!” I said.
But he grabbed my wrist and I was going to scream over the music when I saw a shadow walk behind him. The man placed his hand on the Joker’s shoulder and squeezed it. “My girlfriend causing you some trouble?”
The joker just stared at the tall, dark haired man in a bomber jacked. The two men were of the same height, the darker haired one was a few inches taller than the Joker. He wore a black leather jacket over a black t-shirt and ripped blue jean. His face was painted in a skull. He grinned at the Joker. “She’s a handful when she’s drunk, sorry if she put her hands on you by mistake.”
The joker swallowed and shook his head. The skull face’s grinning face contorted into a grotesque glare. He caught the Joker’s cheeks in a death grip, the long sculpted fingers were also painted in skeletal bones. “You try to mess with something that’s mine and I’ll mince you into tiny little meat cubes and ship it to the nearest supermarket. Get it?”
He nodded, and then the Skull face twisted his fingers and the joker yelped but of course no one could hear him over the loud blast of music. The man scrambled away, I was pretty sure he would make a run for his car.
That voice and that threat. I knew someone who mastered the art of threatening people.
The skull face closed in on me and cupped my face in his and brought his face close to mine. “Oh, Cotton-Candy, how much I missed you. Did you miss me too?”
“Jackson, what are you doing here?” I asked.
“I have some unfinished business, baby.”