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Shiloh walked over to the nurse’s station after they were done with Mr. Gordon.
“Hey Shiloh” Susan, a fellow nurse, said as they approached the desk.
“Hey” Shiloh replied.
“Mike left these for you” Susan gestured to a stack of multi-colored neon paper. Shiloh let slip a huge sigh. There had to have been about 200 fliers in the stack and they were anxious to hear the rest of Ms. Harris’ story.
“You know you’re just going to get your ass handed to you if you don’t do this” Susan responded with an attitude. With another sigh, Shiloh picked up the fliers and walked away.
On each piece of paper, written in bold blocky letters, were the words “St. Paul’s Church Boys’ Choir” Underneath there was a grainy black and white picture of a boys’ choir. The time and date were listed underneath the photo as well as information about which recreation hall they would be performing in. Shiloh made their way down the halls of the retirement home, stapling fliers to bulletin boards and taping them to walls until their mundane job was completed. As soon as they hung the last poster, they scurried back to Ms. Harris’ room.
“Shiloh, I was wondering when you’d be back.” Ms. Harris said sweetly once Shiloh entered the room.
“Hey Ms. Harris, I had some fliers to hang up before I came back, but I’m excited to hear the rest of your story.” Shiloh sat down in the chair that was still next to Ms. Harris’ bed. “So, what happened after that crazy lady fell from that ledge?”
“Well, I thought she was dead. Once she fell, blood was just pouring from the wound on her head. But when I tried to step over her to get out of the cave, she grabbed my ankle and chomped down on my leg with those long sharp teeth.”
“She bit you!?” Shiloh cried a little too loudly.
“Yes. I kicked her off of my leg so hard she hit her head again and died instantly. I checked that last time and she was definitely gone.”
“Wow, that must have been traumatizing” Shiloh replied, flabbergasted.
“It sure was, but that wasn’t the worst part…’ Ms. Harris trailed off and looked at Shiloh with a serious expression. “I’m not sure I should tell you.”
“Tell me what? I’m sure it’s nothing I haven’t heard before. You got some kind of disease from her biting you, right? I’m a nurse, I’ve seen it all” Shiloh replied with an air of confidence.
“Well, alright. But I don’t want this getting around. I know how chatty you nurses can be.” Shiloh held up three fingers and held their other hand over their heart.
Ms. Harris’ shoulders relaxed a bit and she leaned in closely to Shiloh. The sweet scent of baby powder and cold cream filled their nostrils. “I was cursed” she said.
“Cursed?” Shiloh repeated, sitting back in their chair.
“Yes. The woman I met in the woods had the same curse and when I killed her, it passed on to me.”
“That’s insane, how did you find out?” Shiloh asked.
“One day, soon after my leg had healed, some men broke into our house and took my mother and I. At the time, there were many women in my town accused of witchcraft. Because we were women, they grouped us in with them. When we arrived at the town square, there were women and children lined up, their wrists bound with ropes and their mouths gagged. The men of the town were power hungry and were killing women and children by the hundreds. They beheaded them, burned them at the stake and publicly humiliated them in the town square.”
Shiloh’s face shifted from shocked to confused. “Witch trials? Those haven’t happened since the 1600’s.”
“I’m 402 years old, Shiloh.” Ms. Harris whispered. “It’s part of my curse.”
Shiloh’s mouth dropped open and a sick feeling developed in their stomach. Suddenly they were anxious and sat back in the chair, creating as much space as they could between themselves and Ms. Harris.
After a moment of awkward silence, Ms. Harris continued “While my mother and I were being bound, I noticed some children near me. They seemed to have a smell that I’d never noticed. For some reason it was irresistible. My eyes began to hurt, and I felt my teeth stretch in my mouth. The man standing over me with a gag in his hands looked terrified but I couldn’t understand why until I suddenly ripped the ropes from my wrists and lunged for the children. It was like I couldn’t stop myself. No one was brave enough to stop me and the children were bound and unable to move. I caught them, ripped their hearts from their chests, and bit into them. It was almost an out-of-body experience but I remember that first time like I remember all the others.”
“The…others?” Shiloh asked.
“Yes, there have been many. I use the hearts of children to stay alive and young.”
“But…you’re old and dying” said Shiloh.
“When I ended up here, away from children, I started to age rapidly. I’m done living. I’ve been around for so long, I’m tired of having to do these terrible things to survive. So I just stay here, away from the world and from children.”
“I…I have to go” Shiloh said, rising from their seat. “I think I hear Mike paging me.” Ms. Harris’ face fell and she instantly regretted revealing her secret to Shiloh.
“Oh, alright dear. We’ll catch up later then?” Ms. Harris asked, attempting to gauge Shiloh’s hesitancy.
“Uh, yeah. I’ll see if I have some free time later today.
Shiloh spent the rest of their day walking the halls of the retirement home with nothing to do. Nervously, they paced the hallways and chewed on their nails, taking down whatever fliers they could around Ms. Harris’ room. They wanted to make sure she never found out about the boys’ choir. They knew they would have to return to her room later that evening to give Ms. Harris her nightly meds and they were dreading the moment they had to face her again. Knowing what she was capable of changed Shiloh’s impression of the sarcastic old woman completely.
Shiloh knew they couldn’t tell anyone else. No one would believe them and the other nurses would just have another reason not to like them. They knew they had to do something drastic. They knew they had to keep these kids safe.
Later that night, Shiloh’s anxiety was at an all-time high. They had conjured a plan and were ready to follow through with it. They had made sure to keep all information about the visiting choir a secret and had hovered around Ms. Harris’ room to make sure no one mentioned it as they came in to check on her.
Shiloh entered Ms. Harris’ room with her night time meds and took a deep breath as they passed through the door. They looked right at Ms. Harris and noticed something was off. The lights were dimmed more than normal and a strained growling noise could be heard coming from the direction of Ms. Harris’ bed. Shiloh flipped the switch next to the door. Ms. Harris was facing away from them, but shaking her body in an unsettling way.
Shiloh made their way to the other side of the bed to see if Ms. Harris was alright, but instead of seeing the old woman vomiting like they had expected, they saw a bloody mess. The body of a young boy in choir robes laid next to the bed on the floor, his chest scratched open with sharp claws and teeth. Ms. Harris turned to see Shiloh standing next to the bed. Her eyes were black orbs sunken into her face and her top and bottom row of teeth had elongated into needle-sharp spikes. Blood covered her mouth, her nightgown, and the sheets on that side of the bed. Shiloh stood sentient and was too dumbstruck to say anything.
Suddenly, Ms. Harris said “Shiloh, dear. Did you know there was going to be a choir performance here in a few days? These lovely boys have stopped by for their dress rehearsal.” Shiloh tried to speak, but rather than words, all that escaped their lips was a scream of rage. Without a second thought, they reached to their left, picked up a flower pot from the window sill and threw it as Ms. Harris. It shattered on her head and cut through her temple. Blood ran down her face. She laid back, the boy’s small heart hitting the floor with a wet splat. Her eyes began to normalize and her teeth shrunk back down. Her eyes looked straight at Shiloh, she smiled serenely, and closed her eyes.
As Shiloh left to tell someone about what had happened, they passed one of the recreation rooms. The sound of the rehearsing boys’ choir could be heard through the large doors. Shiloh smiled as they passed by but were stopped short in their tracks when they felt their eyes become sore and their teeth elongate within their mouth. The scent now wafting through the door filled their nostrils and they emitted a satisfied growl. The rec room doors swung shut on their own as Shiloh burst through them and the screams and cries of the young boys rang out through the nursing home.
Last week’s story: Cursed: Part 1
Next week’s story: Lights Out
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