“Seaside” by Sam Stauffenger
Mondays Are Murder features brand-new noir fiction modeled after our award-winning Noir Series. Each story is an original one, and each takes place in a distinct location. Our web model for the series has one more restraint: a 750-word limit. Sound like murder? It is. But so are Mondays.
This week, Sam Stauffenger takes us to Waterford, Connecticut, where an abandoned sanatorium hides a large body count.
The stink from the dead man against the far wall began to engulf the room. Brain and flesh and skull had burst from the exit wound in the back of Rodriguez’s head like silly string exploding from a child’s toy at a birthday party, which was a dark irony at the moment. Seaside Sanatorium had been a hopeful place for children long ago, a place to nurture and cure so they might one day live. But the asylum had become the opposite, turning hope into a wasteland of death. Now, among the ruins of the condemned tuberculosis ward, another body added to the death toll. With another to follow, Simon thought bleakly, or two perhaps.
After all, past the dripping sweat of his brow and the raised matted black 9mm in his hand, Simon stared into the barrel of a Smith & Wesson .44 Magnum, its massive steel chamber gleaming in the moonlight like the scythe of the Grim Reaper. The two had been standing like this for nearly five minutes, neither able to drop the stones big enough to pull the trigger and add to the pool of blood forming between them. Though Simon was mentally able to blow a man’s head into a hundred little pieces, such an act was easier when that man carried only a four-pound bag of pure Colombian cocaine rather than a hand cannon packing enough force to make Simon completely unrecognizable at his funeral. But this standoff would have to end soon, and he would either be leaving with the money in his jacket pocket and the cocaine, or he would be gracing these halls with yet another corpse.
There was no fear in Simon, and as far as he could tell, Victor—across from him—was as calm as the rolling waves of the Long Island Sound just outside. The thunder from Simon’s first shot would unequivocally draw attention to the sanatorium, so this needed to end. Simon pulled the trigger.
His adversary immediately matched the flash and report of his pistol, and in a heap Victor slumped to the floor, blood pulsing from the open wound in his chest. His heart finally ceased by the time Simon grabbed the .44 Magnum and stuffed it into his jeans. A souvenir of a night he wouldn’t soon forget, perhaps. He retrieved the cocaine and turned toward the bay window overlooking the Atlantic.
Simon could not hear the waves inside this boarded-up death room, so he drove his elbow through the nearest windowpane and stepped out onto the empty balcony. The salty ocean air and the sound of the sea were comforting. Much better than the smell of Rodriquez’s insides, he thought emotionlessly. Below him, in the hallowed playground, a rusted swing creaked in the wind.
Against the backdrop of black ocean blending into black sky so that no horizon could be observed, Simon could see the flashing of blue and red. The Waterford Police responded quickly to the three gunshots taken only moments before. I’ll use the Smith & Wesson—Simon tossed his 9mm onto the yard. Seaside had given comfort to those in need of it, just as this peaceful summer beach put Simon at ease. But in the end, it became a killing ground for its patients, just as Simon was for Victor and Rodriguez.
Shock finally gave way to pain, and Simon dropped the coke to the iron grate floor of the balcony, reaching for his stomach. Blood covered the entirety of his hand, glistening in the faint light just as the Magnum’s chamber had earlier. So the children’s stories were true. Simon could hear footsteps inside somewhere, making their way in a rush toward him and his lifeless companions. Lifting himself with effort, Simon drew the .44 Magnum and pointed it toward the open window. His gut, open and bleeding, prevented him from standing for long, and he slouched back against the railing. It took all the strength he could muster just to hold his weapon upright. So the stories were true, his mind told him. No one entered Seaside Sanatorium and lived to tell the tale.
SAM STAUFFENGER has written two fantasy novels and several short stories, two of which have been published through online publications and in an anthology. He gains inspiration from the many places he has traveled, the people he has met and, of course, the tiny voices in his head. He writes in fantasy, dark fiction, horror fiction, and crime fiction. He can be found at his website here and on Twitter @Staufffs.
Would you like to submit a story to the Mondays Are Murder series? Here are the guidelines:
—Your story should be set in a distinct location of any neighborhood in any city, anywhere in the world, but it should be a story that could only be set in the neighborhood you chose.
—Include the neighborhood, city, state, and country next to your byline.
—Your story should be Noir. What is Noir? We’ll know it when we see it.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission [email protected] paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
Posted: Jun 15, 2015
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