Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Excerpt: THE DOCTOR'S ESTATE by Heather Quinto

I decided to use an Uber to get home rather than drive after I had been drinking. I waited a few minutes outside the bar for my ride. A young man pulled up and gave me a wave for me to step inside the vehicle.
“Fun night out?” Asked the driver.
I peered out the window as I rubbed my hands on my knees to warm them up. My nerves were numbed a bit from the alcohol. “Yeah, It’s been a tough few weeks.” I furrowed my brow and shook my head. I was never this open with others. It must’ve been the alcohol.
The man looked straight ahead at the road. “I get you. Life can weigh you down.” He looked over at his GPS and said, “You live off of Batson avenue?”
“So, you live nearby that old mansion, right?”
“I live in the old mansion.”
The driver widened his eyes in surprise. “I didn’t think they’d ever sell that house to anyone after what happened.”
I jerked my head towards the direction of the driver. “What happened?”
“The realtor didn’t tell you?” He said dumbfounded. He whistled. “Pretty sure by law she has to, right? Anyway, the house was where a murder took place about eight years ago.”
My heart sank low, and I blinked in disbelief. “A murder?”
“It was some girl who got murdered by her boyfriend there. He just went crazy one day, I guess, and started shooting at her.”
I bit down and lowered my gaze to my knees.
“They never caught the guy.”
I snapped my head back up. “They never caught him?” My voice cracked.
The driver shook his head. “The authorities went searching like crazy, but they never found him. He must’ve left the country or something. I also heard the house was once a mental hospital.”
My heart lurched at what the driver said. A mental facility? I wanted to turn it into a makeshift one for my mother.
“Not sure about that fact, though,” said the driver. “But teens always liked to break into it to find ghosts.” The driver pulled up to my home, and I stared at it with reluctance. The beautiful paneling was now covered in menacing shadows that spread out like hungry arms out towards the street. The windows that were once welcoming took on a far darker and eerie energy.
“Well, have a good night,” said the driver.
I swallowed. “Y-yeah… Thanks.” I slowly stepped out of the car and retreated up the steps to my house. The sound of my front door closing echoed throughout the bare walls of my home. It was a stark reminder of how expansive and empty it was. I looked around at all the half-empty boxes that still needed to be attended to.
I sighed as I ran my fingers through my hair. Placing my keys into the basket by the garage door, I went upstairs to my room. Despite the history of the house, I wouldn’t and couldn’t believe it was haunted. The home just had a bad history, and the dreams were just a coincidence. That was it.
Later on that night, I rolled over to my side, clenching tightly to the blankets. I tossed to the other side and pulled them up closer, but my teeth still chattered, and my body shook. I opened my eyes and sat up. The piercing feel of the cold air hitting my skin caused a shiver to roll down my spine. I threw off the blankets and walked out of my room to check the AC. I knew I didn’t turn it on since it was the middle of spring, and it was still pretty chilly in Saratoga Springs during that time. The snow had barely melted a few weeks ago.
I rubbed my arms as I walked out of my bedroom, but once I stepped out, I noticed a dramatic change in the temperature. The hallway was much warmer than my room. I stepped back into my room, and the chill hit my face like ice.
I checked every window and vent. I double-checked the thermostat, but it said my AC was turned off. I decided to turn on my heater to see if that’d help. Afterward, I walked over to one of my boxes to take out two extra blankets. I closed my bedroom door before I laid back down in bed and closed my eyes.
Right then, a raking sound like metal gliding against metal made me open my eyes in alert. The sound was small, but since my room was drenched in absolute silence, this made the squeaking all the louder.
I sat up in bed, and plain as day I saw my doorknob turning. The moonlight from my window hit the gold doorknob just right. I could see my reflection on the knob as it turned slowly to the right and then to the left. The aged metal screeched with every movement.
My heart stopped as I froze in place. I clenched tightly to my sheets before taking a deep breath. “This is ridiculous,” I said to myself. I blinked wishing the hallucination away, but still, the knob turned. I refused to let fear overcome me, so I yanked off the blankets. I grabbed one of the lamps I hadn’t plugged in yet to use as a weapon if needed. Then I charged towards the door, bracing himself for whatever I may see on the other side.
I threw open the door. I had my lamp held up ready to attack, but there was nothing there. While lowering my arm, my brow pinched together in confusion. I looked down the hallway, but there was nobody there. I placed down my lamp onto the floor and shook my head.
“It must be the alcohol,” I said to myself. I went downstairs towards the kitchen to get some water. I gulped down one cup and then the second. “Perhaps the water will stop these drunken delusions,” I thought. I splashed some water onto my face before heading back upstairs.
I decided that if there were any more noises during the night, I’d ignore them at all costs. I wasn’t about to give in to fear and delusions. It was all due to stress, a mixture of alcohol, and that driver telling me about the history of my house. My mind was playing tricks on me. However, it wouldn’t let up, not even as I dreamt.
As I slept, I had the same dream of watching that woman in a purple dress running down the stairs of my home in a panic. She screamed as she heard a gunshot set off. I wanted to face the attacker to try to help her this time, but I was forced to follow her. My adrenaline rushed throughout my body as I watched the woman struggle against a tall man with a buzzed haircut. He towered over her, and his muscles in his arms flexed as he pulled at her hair and knocked her down to the ground.
“Get up!” I yelled. “Run!” My hands shook with apprehension.
“Where’s the journal?” The man demanded.
I tried to help the woman up, but nothing I did, worked. It was as if I had no strength. It was too late, and the woman got a shot right in the middle of her abdomen. I curled my hands into a fist, ready to fight the man, but as I swung, my arms went right through him.
“You bastard!” I yelled.
The man stepped over the woman’s body and shot at her head, killing her. He said, “I’ll just find the damn thing myself.”
I snapped awake with a fury that pulsed through me, which made my sheets become soaked in my sweat. Despite the dream being over, I could still hear the sound of the gunshot ringing in my ears.

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