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The Slugger

The rain pattered softly on the roof, loud enough to keep him awake but not loud enough to disguise the soft click of the front door opening. Had he been a less paranoid man, Wesley may have disregarded the noise as a mere creak of the old house’s buckling frame. If nothing else, however, Wesley was a cautious and suspicious man, living alone atop a great hill that overlooked a small countryside village.

At a ripe age of 67 years, Wesley couldn’t spring out from his bed with quite the same gusto he had in his youth, but he still managed to pull himself out from the rickety, squeaking springboard he laid in. Lanky and seemingly frail, Wesley stood at an intimidating six-and-a-half feet tall and wore an equally imposing scowl on his face. Dressed only in his thermals, he grabbed the trusty baseball bat he kept by his bedsid and crept towards the bedroom door.

The house was not built for stealth. A cacaphony of moaning floorboards echoed throughout the entire residence with each step Wesley took, and as he opened the door to the hallway, the hinges cried out with a shrill screech.

The hall outside of Wesley’s bedroom ran down the length of the upstairs balcony, giving full view of the large, empty foyer that hadn’t greeted a guest in over a decade. Wesley peered below- no signs of entry as far as he could tell, but simple reassurances were never enough to satisfy him. He walked slowly towards the staircase, tightening his grip on his bat, and focused his senses. As he descended into the foyer, the sound of his bedroom door wailing on its hinges froze Wesley mid-way on the stairs.

Startled and frozen, Wesley’s heightened senses made the sound of the raindrops on the roof sound like bombs from an air raid and his rapid heartbeat beat like a war drum. Turning face, Wesley retuned upstairs, fixating on his bedroom door. Hands trembling, he shuffled cautiously towards the room.

“Those fanatic bastards,” he thought. “I’ve been out of the game for thirty years, and they still cant leave me be.” Wesley reached out for the doorknob, which felt uncomfortably cold to the touch. Turning it, he pushed open the door and gingerly stepped foot into the room.

As both a relief and an added worry, Wesley found no one inside. His bed seemed to be untouched from when he left it, and what little else he had in the room was undisturbed. Wesley closed his eyes and drew in a deep breath, holding it for a long second before exhaling through his mouth. Perhaps in his old age he was becoming too paranoid for his own good, he mused to himself.

A rare smirk curled on the corner or Wesley’s lips, and he let out a bemused snort as he shook his head at himself. He place his bat down in its usual spot leaning up by his metal-frame headboard and laid back in bed. The sound of the rain seemed more like a lullaby now, singing Wesley to sleep.

As he began dozing off, Wesley shot awake again, this time not from the sound of a clicking door, but by the ice-cold burn of steel piercing directly into his heart. A blade was thrust from underneath his mattress, tearing through it and into Wesley’s body. Gasping and sputtering blood from his mouth, Wesley clutched at the cotton comforters that covered his body as they began to soak and stain in the deep crimson pool pouring forth from his chest.

Wide-eyed and mouth agape, Wesley’s vision narrowed and blackened as the silhouette of a man he’d never seen before loomed over him. His vision faded, a sigh escaped his mouth, and he was gone.

Hisslord

Drip, pt. 1

Screams of anguish haunted the infirmary wing of Hassock County Hospital, sending a wave of chills down Dr. Ingrid Lorin’s neck. Even after practicing for seven years, the shrill cries of her patients were simply not the sorts of things she could become numb to. Staffed only by herself, a triage nurse and a custodian who was more likely to be found sleeping in his supply closet than mopping floors, Dr. Lorin’s discomfort was only exacerbated by how utterly deserted her workplace seemed.

Despite being the only major medical center servicing the entire county, the facility barely housed more than a dozen patients at any given time thanks to the area’s population peaking at a mere 600 individuals. Hassock County, Nebraska was not well known by much of the outside world, with its only claim to fame being its annual corn-on-the-cob eating contest which drew a paltry crowd of about 100 or so people on a good year, many of whom were simply locals. Nonetheless, those who lived in the county housed immense pride in their community and what little there was to offer was cherished by the few who called it home.

Dr. Lorin was not a Hassock County local, however, and she regularly cursed taking the “opportunity” to work as the hospital’s director and lead physician. The allure of such a prestigious title offered to a recent graduate was far too enticing for Ingrid to pass up, and so she accepted the offer without hesitation. She had packed he entire life into a single briefcase, leaving all the furnishings of her Capital Hill apartment in downtown Seattle behind for some fortunate future tenant to inherit. Furniture, after all, could be replaced- opportunity however, rarely knocks twice, and so with these cliches clinging to her sleeve for comfort, the newly-titled Ingrid Lorin, PhD found herself surrounded by cornfields and dusty roads in exchange for the promise of an illustrious career.

At present day, Ingrid would call her life and job anything but. Her goosebumps still receding from the scream coming from room 8B, she sat at her workstation in the center of the wing and began looking over her most recently admitted patient’s file.

Hisslord
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