Saturday’s Sample: ‘Moonlight and Ghosts’
Moonlight and Ghosts is a paranormal short story from Vanilla Heart Publishing available for 99 cents on Kindle and Smashwords. A former mental health worker is drawn back to an abandoned institution where he learns that the ghosts there want him to help a young woman whose life is in danger.
The light of the harvest moon was brilliant all over the Florida Panhandle. It released the shadows from Tallahassee’s hills, found the sandy roads and sawtooth palmetto sheltering blackwater rivers flowing through pine forests and swamps toward the gulf and, farther westward along the barrier islands, that far-reaching light favored the foam on the waves following the incoming tide. Neither lack of diligence nor resolve caused that September 1985 moon to remain blind to the grounds of the old hospital between the rust-stained walls and the barbed wire fence, for the trash trees and wild azalea were unrestrained, swings and slides stood dour and suffocated in the thicket-choked playground, humus and the detritus of long-neglect filled the cracked therapy wading pool, and fallen gutters, shingles and broken window panes covered the deeply buried dead that had been left behind.
“Can you see anything?” asked Alice as they slipped through a ragged gap in the fence.
“Your blonde hair,” he said.
She hooked her fingers through the belt loops of his jeans and stayed close.
“If you can see it, the police can see it,” she whispered. “Your intuition brought us here, but I’ll be the one picked up for trespassing. Is the building haunted like they say?”
“Yes, but not like they say.”
“What do they say?”
“The ghost hunters have Hollywooded up their stories about the Sunshine Hospital and Developmental Center,” he said. “Careful—these briars aren’t friendly.”
“Can ghosts and cops smell blood?”
“We’re in the heart of darkness. Once we’re lost for all eternity, the thorns in my arms won’t matter. We’re en route somewhere specific, right?”
“My feet know the way.”
He led her out of the tangle of thorns and, freed of camouflage, the pale walls of the five story building rose up into the moonlight just short of the stars. The driveway leading to the former emergency room entrance must have been hit by bombs. Beer cans, broken glass, and unidentifiable trash were strewn up and down the cracked sidewalks and beneath the portecochère. A ripped sign over the chained doors said ‘EMERG’.
“This might be a good time to run like hell,” said Alice.
Enjoy this north Florida story!