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I hate this place. I hate everyone in here, from the lazy nurses to the suicidal residents. A dark part of me wishes that they would just hurry up and die like they want to but just like insects missing limbs, they cling to their pointless lives. I only work here part time, a couple days a week in order to supply myself a little bit of income so I can continue my studies. I am thrifty like that. Every hour that I spend in this hellhole of a nursing home is an agonizing avalanche of misery.
I guess I could cheer up, I mean, today is a holiday, so the amount of the residents that are here are close to zero. Their ungrateful children always take this time of year to spend time with them and pretend that they actually care. I hate the kids too. A loud noise penetrated my thoughts, and my eyes moved to the clock. The numbers hit seven, and I punched in. Today was an easy day, and I was grateful for that. This hangover stung something fierce. My phone shook in my slacks, and I couldn't help but to grin. The little that I remembered from the night before was Sarah draped in the covers and only the covers.
She texted me, and the text read that she was already missing me. I quickly texted back to her that last night was amazing and I could not wait to do it again.
I slid the phone into my pocket quickly and made my way to the elevator. My place of work, the activity room, was on the top floor. When I got inside, I shivered. It was cold outside, but the Superior Nurse and Care facility was usually well warmed. Strange.
I looked at the five different options, and clicked on the topmost choice. Slowly, the elevator churned upwards. The employee elevator always seemed to enjoy taking its time.
My teeth started to chatter, and felt the tips of my fingers begin to pain. Almost as quickly as the bitter cold had arrived, it had left.
The fifth floor is different from the other floors. Ever since the incident a few years before I had begun to work there, there has not been a single person living on the floor. Instead, staff typically have their offices and storage in the rooms. I walked through the fifth floor quickly, I didn't like to waste time. I opened the activity room door, as it was usually locked to prevent thievery.
The room was a total mess, with a strange plethora of board games, cards, chips, food, oversize fly swatters, balls and anything else a five year old but not an individual nearing the end of his life could want.
I looked past the maze of fun and spoiled food to find the small cart that had a large stack of paper posters, with the month's date posted on it and each activity scheduled upon it. It was my sole responsibility of the day to post a single calendar on each of the room's door.
My phone went off, and I went to answer it, I noticed that the contacts were lost. The messages were still there, but it was displaying individual numbers rather than names. I went to what I recognized was Sarah's number and she asked me, "R U Happy?" What a strange question to ask.
"I am always happy with you," I replied back.
Although the fifth floor was unoccupied, for some reason, it has always had updated calendars, so I was required to go through this floor as well.
Room by room I went, opening the door, ripping off the month old calendars and adding the new updated one. When I got the eighth room on the left, I noticed that it was locked. Funny, the doors don't lock from that side. I started to knock.
"Resident care!" a voice pierced through the unearthly silence. A single shiver ran through my spine. Guess they changed the rules. Resident care meant that the person in the room was being changed, showered, or otherwise taken care of. It meant that I, as an uneducated employee, could not enter the room. If I came back later, I would assume that the tasks would be done.
I finished the fifth floor, and tried to keep my mind off the cold that seemed to come in and out at irregular intervals. Sometimes it would last for a few seconds, while other times it would seem to last for hours. Either way, I was happy to have been done with the floor.
The fourth floor, it seemed, was more what I would consider normal. There was no strange changes of temperature, and it was actually completely empty. By the time I was halfway done, my phone vibrated again.
To no surprise, it was Sarah, who asked me the same question again but with added urgency. "R U HAPPY?"
It was slightly annoying, so I didn't reply. I already told her I was happy with her.
Along the hallways of the building, there were paintings with the occasional mirror. Since the first day I had worked there, I gave them little attention. The only reason they were there, I figured was to serve as a filler for the blank walls. The paintings consisted of fruit, and other completely ordinary subjects, except for one along the last hallway of the fourth floor.
It was disturbing, as the paint was metallic and shiny. The subject was a human child who was eating an apple. It wouldn't have been too bad if it didn't have a face. The appearance of the apple was two dark eyes, and a small mouth and no nose. It looked scared.
I tried not to look at it when I walked to the elevator, but I couldn't help this strange magnetism I had to it. I have never walked past it without glancing at it.
When my eyes stared at it, I felt this strange buzzing in the center of my chest. It was subtle at first but when I locked eyes with the apple, I could have sworn that I heard a strange noise. It was like static, but it was higher pitched. It was painful. I rushed to the elevator, running faster than I ever had in my entire life. I could feel my heartbeat as if it was trying to escape from the cavity in my chest. I didn’t know what I was running away from, but I needed to get away.
The elevator buttons were different now. Everything else was the same, but the numbers were in a different lettering. The numbers were printed differently, I could tell. I hit the third floor. I couldn’t wait until I was home.
I couldn’t help but to rush as I moved past the third floor. I am too terrified to even think if I was just going crazy. I hope it was just the hangover getting to me. I’m glad that I was working alone, if I had someone else to help me, they would tease me about my concerns. There!
I knew there's something off. I knew it. I knew it. One of the names on the door changed. It was no longer Rosemary Alex. She was one of my regulars for my activity, I knew exactly which room she lived in, and how her name was spelled. The order of the names was switched, it wasn’t the same as the day before.
The door was locked, and I shook it violently. The doors don’t lock this way! I know they don’t! The buzzing came back, and this time, so did the pain. My phone vibrated again, and for once in my life, I could care less what this girl had to say.
Crimson dripped down to the floor, trailing from where I had gripped the door. It was warm and it had this distinct smell. I looked at my hands, but there was nothing to indicate that it was cut. But the veins were wrong. They were thicker and closer to the skin.
More and more blood dripped from my hand so I pushed it into my jacket. Then, the door opened.
Rosemary smiled at me, her old and ancient features indicated happiness but a slight twitch of her mouth indicated surprise.
“What are you doing out of your room, silly?” My gut wrenched. Did I hear her right?
“You shouldn’t be out of your room. Here, let me take you back.” She reached down and took my hand. I looked down at my pants, and I was suddenly wearing overalls. I understood now.
I suddenly became aware of how painful my joints were whenever I moved. My bones ached and I felt that it was hard to breath. I wanted to go to my room, and get one of the nurses to put me in bed.
I smiled at her. She was so kind. She looked back at me with her large, black, almond-shaped eyes. Wait, that wasn’t right. I’m not old. I don’t live here. She isn’t who I think she is. She is something else.
My eyes opened and I saw this bright light. I was blinded but I could feel my limbs again. I reached out and ripped off what felt like a wire from my body. I sat up and looked away from the light to see that I was in a small green room. There was this strange iridescent light that hovered over the floor like a mist. I heard this strange noise fill the room, and I could locate it as originating above me.
I had to leave. I had to go. I have to get away. I ran towards an opening out of the room, and I came across these strange tubs that appeared to be floating along the hallway. I looked up at them and I immediately regretted it. There was a woman who looked like she was dried out. Her very flesh was clung close to her body and her eyes stared at me.
The irises moved and then returned back to me. Her mouth moved, but there was no noise. I could swear I could understand her. She wanted me to kill her. To end her suffering.
I heard a noise coming from behind me, and I left the woman. I sprinted full speed ahead, and shut my eyes to avoid looking at the dried humans. Finally, I reached what appeared to be a window.
When I got to it, I realized it was only a mirror. A mirror that was bright red. Like an apple. I pushed into it, and I could hear this strange whizzing. I blacked out.
I woke up later, I don’t know how long it took me but I woke up. I looked around and realized I was in the forest. It was so cold. I looked down at my legs. I was stark naked. My phone, my pants, and everything else had disappeared.
Was it a dream? How much of it actually happened? I am constantly haunted by these questions, but the one thing I can never forget was the eyes of the woman who wanted to die, and strangely, it reminded me of the eyes of an old lady who was surviving off the machines that pumped her heart.