Read Fear the Barfitron Online
Authors: M. D. Payne
We walked up to the main entrance. The stairs had creaked terribly when I had gone up alone, but with four of us, the stairs groaned and shimmied. Dust started falling from where the handrails met the porch.
When we heard the creaking turn to cracking, we all rushed up to the porch just before the stairs crumbled into a heap.
“That’s a good sign,” joked Shane.
I brushed some dust off of his uniform and said, “If that’s the worst thing that happens to us today—”
Before I could say any more, the door opened wide, revealing a rather upset–looking Nurse. Well, more upset than normal, anyway. He eyed the pile of wood beneath the porch that used to be the stairs, and grunted.
“I must fix. Ugh!” he cried.
“WOW,” said Gordon. “That guy is HUGE. He should be a linebacker.”
The Nurse didn’t seem to get the compliment.
“INSIDE,” he barked.
We didn’t wait for him to ask twice.
After closing the door, he lumbered off to get the Director (and probably a hammer and a thousand nails).
“Let me do the talking,” I said, looking at Shane. “Once we get into the Great Room, you’re in charge. But not until then.”
“Got it,” said Shane.
Ben and Gordon were inspecting a vase of dead flowers.
“This reminds me of the haunted house they have on the other side of town during Halloween,” said Gordon. “Cooooool.”
“I dunno, Gordon; this seems pretty real,” said Ben.
Ben shuddered as he looked up at the painting of a withered old woman above the vase.
“I think she’s looking at me,” said Shane.
“Me too,” said Ben and Gordon at the same time.
“You’ll get used to that,” I said.
“Oh, I don’t think so, Mr. Taylor,” said the Director, as he entered the front of the house. “I’ve been working here for many decades, and I can assure you that this portrait and I do not get along. I do not like people who stare.”
The Director looked up at the painting and we followed his gaze to see that the woman had turned her face away in disgust.
“Wait!” yelled Ben. “Wasn’t she looking right at us? Man, this is really creeping me out.”
“What is it, Director dude?” asked Gordon. “A huge video screen made to look like a painting? A projector?”
The Director looked at Shane, Ben, and Gordon with an upturned nose.
“Who exactly are you?” he asked.
“These are my friends,” I said to the Director. “Shane is a black belt in karate, and I thought it would be good for the old folks to learn some basic moves. You know—to keep them…fit.”
“I’m not sure that is such a good idea,” said the Director.
Shane was dying to say something, but he kept to his word that he’d let me do the talking.
“Why not?” I asked, as innocently as possible. “The residents seemed much happier at the dance than at bingo. I really think they need more exercise. Just because they’re old doesn’t mean they have to rot.”
The Director stared at me. I stared back. The painting stared at Ben again. Ben stared at the carpet.
“All right, then,” announced the Director. “I do think the residents would benefit from a little physical activity. I will have them all brought into the Great Room.”
“Thank you, Mr. Director,” I said. “Shane’s a great master.”
“I’m sure he is,” said the Director, eyeing Shane suspiciously. Shane bowed deeply to the Director.
The Director turned back to me and smiled widely. It took me by surprise, and I stumbled backward.
He said through his clenched, smiling teeth, “Do know, Mr. Taylor, that the ravens aren’t the only ones who have their eyes on you around here. We
have our eyes on you, and you would be extremely wise to make sure that you don’t do
to compromise the security of this facility or its residents.”
“But of course,” I said, as calmly as I could, and then I bowed deeply to the Director, just like Shane had.
Before I stood up straight, the Director was gone and we were alone in the lobby.
“That guy gives me the creeps,” said Ben.
“I dunno,” said Gordon. “He’s just like any other stupid adult.”
“He’s not stupid,” I said. “He knows we’re up to something. Our plan might not even work.” I turned to Shane and asked, “What do you think?”
“Let’s shake things up and see what happens,” he replied and busted a smooth karate move, a big smile on his face.
Shane was always happy to teach people about karate.
The four of us stood at the front of the Great Room. All the tables had been moved to the side, just like at the dance. Word must have spread about what was happening, because all the residents were wearing loose-fitting clothes like sweatpants and T-shirts. The werewolf guy looked even hairier now with his tank top.
All of the old folks shuffled nervously in place, moaning and grunting as usual.
Shane cleared his throat. “Thank you so much for joining us today.”
A few weak “You’re welcome”s floated up into the room, but for the most part, the moaning continued.
“Today we will learn the ancient art of karate,” Shane began.
Gordon walked over to Shane holding a small wooden board with both hands. He held it up to Shane, who came at it with a karate chop.
“Yuhhh!” Shane grunted and broke the board.
A bit of weak applause floated up from the crowd. Shane bowed.
“With months of training and focused discipline, you too could do the same thing,” Shane said. “But let’s start with the basics.”
Shane reached his arms up to either side, and pointed to the left and right.
“Let’s work out bad posture by stretching out our shoulders.”
Ben, Gordon, and I demonstrated the stretch. The monsters lifted up their arms. Some of them had quite a hard time. Cracking, creaking, and popping filled the room. So did small yelps of pleasure.
“Awoooo, that feels GOOD,” howled the werewolf.
Instead of stretching them out to the side, all the zombies held their arms in front of them, as if reaching for brains. Big surprise. A Nurse pulled each of their arms out in the right direction.
“Now, don’t be afraid to stretch a little harder,” said Shane. “Point your fingers as if you’re pointing to something far off in the distance. Look from side to side. Work that tension out.”
The monsters all seemed to be enjoying themselves. But suddenly, one of the zombie’s moans turned to a screech. He was stretching as hard as he could when his arm flew off his shoulder and toward a witch. The outstretched palm slapped her large witch-butt with a sharp SMACK.
Her screams made the other monsters turn. She stomped at the rude arm as it flapped around on the ground. The zombie shuffled forward to try to save it.
Ben, Gordon, and Shane stared, disgusted, at the scene before them.
“His arm…” Ben hiccupped.
“What the…,” Shane started to say, but he just swallowed hard and turned white.
Gordon scratched his head.
The old monsters were agitated. Growls rose from the crowd. The Nurses realized that something was going on and looked at one another. They headed into the crowd of agitated monsters to break things up before they got out of hand.
But things had already gotten out of hand.
Just as we hoped they would.
Just as we had planned.
“Now’s our chance!” I yelled.
I ran for the door with Ben and Gordon. As planned, Shane stayed behind to keep the lesson going when things quieted.
“All right,” yelled Shane. He eyed the crowd nervously, trying to act normal. “When everyone settles down, I will teach you a basic low kick.”
But nobody wanted to settle down.
We flew through the door and were about to turn down the hall when another scream made us stop.
This time, Shane was screaming.
We turned to see all of the zombies surrounding Shane!
His eyes bugged out with fear! He held his arms high above the circle of zombies, waving to get our attention, and then fell to the floor.
“Shane!” Gordon yelled, and rushed back through the door.
He was quickly pushed back into the hallway by a Nurse.
“Not safe here!” the Nurse yelled, and then slammed the door in our faces. With a loud CLICK, he locked the door.
Gordon pounded on the door. Ben and I joined him, screaming for the Nurse to let us in.
We pounded until our knuckles were sore.
“There’s nothing we can do here,” I said, frustrated. “Let’s get upstairs and find my lebensplasm!”
“But Chris—” Gordon said.
“But WHAT?” I snapped. “The door’s locked and we’re losing time. Of all of us, he’s the best prepared for what’s going on in there. He’s given us an amazing distraction. Let’s use it.”
I looked at Ben and Gordon with pleading eyes.
“Okay,” Ben said.
“Fine,” said Gordon.
We sped down the hallway and my heartbeat quickened.
“I hope we don’t see the Director,” I said as we made our way into the lobby.
We headed up the crooked staircase.
“I forget—what exactly are we looking for again?” Gordon asked.
We rounded the corner at the top of the stairs and down the long hallway.
“A small jar of gooey stuff,” I said. “My stuff.”
“His lebensplasm,” Ben said.
We stopped in front of the door marked
DO NOT ENTER
“Leg spasm? Wha?” asked Gordon.
“My soul, my life, I dunno. I’ve already explained twenty times, dude,” I said. “But we need to get it and it’s in here.”
“Look,” he said, “I thought you were playing a joke on us this whole time—I wasn’t exactly paying attention.”
“Did you forget our plan, too?” I asked Gordon.
“No, no, no, I got it!” he roared back.
“We have to hurry,” I said. “The Nurses will have things under control soon.”
Ben sprang into action. He hopped down on his hands and knees below the candlestick. I stood on his back and got a good hold on the candlestick, then placed my feet on the wall. Ben jumped up and held my feet into place.
“Ready?” I asked Gordon.
“Ready!” said Gordon, who crouched in front of the screaming demon.
I pulled down as hard as I could, and the candlestick popped right out of the wall. The sound of clicking filled the hallway.
“NOW!” I screamed.
Gordon rushed at the statue.
“Huuuuuuuuhhhhhhh!” he grunted as he pushed. The statue slowly, slowly scraped to the right.
“You’ve almost got it!” I yelled.
“Help…me…Ben,” Gordon gasped. “I’m…pooping out!”
Ben rushed over to Gordon as I hung in place. I could feel the candlestick begin to rise.
“Hurry!” I screeched.
Ben and Gordon grunted and groaned and…
“Yeah!” Gordon yelled, and high-fived a nearly-passed-out Ben.
“Wait!” I yelled. “The candlestick is going back into the wall! Pull my legs, pull my legs!”
Gordon and Ben each grabbed a leg, and tugged as hard as they could. The candlestick was still being pulled back in to the wall.
“Harder!” I screamed.
They tugged so hard it felt like my spine was snapping. I didn’t care.
The clicking turned to grinding.
“Mooooooooore!” I moaned in pain.
The candlestick slowly pulled back out of the wall and the grinding slowed down until…
The door flung open. Cold air blew through the doorway. It smelled a little like a hospital—sterile and bleachy.
I let go of the candlestick.
It was pitch-black and eerily quiet inside.
“You first,” said Ben. I could hear the fear in his voice.
I felt exactly the same way.
We held our cell phones up as flashlights and headed in. Ben followed close behind me and Gordon. We slowly made our way down the hallway. With every step I took, I expected something to spring out at us.
“Don’t they have any lights around here?” Ben asked.
“I dunno,” I said.
We flashed our cell phone lights along the wall. There didn’t seem to be any switches anywhere. The doors in the hall were all closed, and had small windows in them, like in a prison or a psych ward.
Gordon flashed his light into the first one.
“Dudes, you gotta see this,” he said.
“I can’t look,” said Ben.
I came over to look. It was hard to see through the glass, since a lot of light reflected off of it. But inside was a room without any furniture. It looked like a jungle inside—with trees and vines. It was moist, and the light that did get through appeared foggy.
“What’s in there?” I asked, and we looked at one another.
We could see a slight movement in the leaves, but couldn’t tell what it was.
“Do you think that your lebensplasm is in there?” asked Ben.
“I hope not,” I said. “Let’s keep looking.”
We headed down the long dark hallway. Gordon and I peered into the next door. This room seemed normal, with a few pieces of furniture and a bed. There was something large on the bed. Something human? Perhaps not—it was hard to tell. We peered in as close as we could.
“What is it?” asked Ben, and he pushed in between us to have a peek.
I was about to turn away when the something jumped up and practically flew over to the window. In an instant, a huge grinning face with razor-sharp teeth—but skin where eyes should be—was in the window. Hot breath fogged the window up, as the creature let out a high-pitched growl-squeak.