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The Worst Day of Her Life


.                                                     The Worst Day of Her Life

 Grace Chandler paused before the Dunsany’s large ornate doors to glance again at the blazing midnight sky. The clouds of smoke acted as a screen upon which the dance of shadows intensified as one looked further to the west. The dynamic orange glow had an entrancing effect on Mrs. Chandler; a visual focus as she fell into reflection of this awful day.

 Her boy Thomas had committed a capital offense before witnesses and she had aided and abetted in his escape. She knew very well if they didn’t catch him they were going to come after her— so-be-it, she’d rather it were her than him anyway. And now the inconceivable— half the city is in flames. The horrific fire in the west end endangering and consuming the homes in an area housing so many friends. No doubt about it, Grace Chandler was quite convinced that this had been the worst day of her life. It is only fitting that a day of such midden should end in flames.

 Mrs. Chandler recited the value of pi to the tenth place past the decimal then made the sign of the hammer before entering the building. The lobby was deserted but on the reception desk she found a note from Gwendolyn Perkins, the evening matron who was supposed to be on duty. She had left early, the note said, on account of the fire.

It was dark in the Dunsany but for the faint line of  light shining beneath the door to the cellar. The lanterns had not been lit. Gwendolyn must have left while it was still light.

Mrs. Chandler opened the door and called down, “Dr. Foehammer, it is Grace Chandler. I have arrived for my shift should you require anything.” She listened but received no reply. He must have left too.

Mrs. Chandler turned from the door, intending to make her way to the kitchen when she heard a sound— a footstep perhaps. She turned back. “Dr. Foehammer?” she called out once more, trying to determine if that was someone she saw at the base of the cellar stairs.

Reaching for the rail as a guide in the darkened stairwell, Mrs. Chandler slowly made her way down the steps. “Dr. Foehammer, I thought you might have left on account of the fire,” she called, but again there was still no reply. Perhaps he is in the ward with the girl the two delivery men had brought by in the morning.

There was enough light from the single lantern at the bottom of the stairs to see that  the ward had been left open. Mrs. Chandler crossed the hall and went in. That’s odd, the bed is empty. The poor little girl must have passed away—such a pity.

Mrs. Chandler turned her back to the ward and regarded Dr. Foehammer’s office door across the hall. No light shone from beneath.  Just because his office is dark doesn’t necessarily mean he is out. He often retreats to the passages below; he may not even know of the fire if he’s been there all evening.

Mrs. Chandler made her way back upstairs. The fire in the west end was going to leave a lot of people without shelter. The Dunsany had an entire upper floor with over thirty beds. It only seemed right to make them up. But first she intended to make a pot of tea.

Despite the darkness, Mrs. Chandler was able use her hand to feel her way along the wall to the kitchen. She had done it a hundred times over the years. She kept candles and  a flint lighter on the shelf above the counter. Mrs. Chandler pressed the igniter on the flint lighter causing a little flame to spring to life—”Oh my!” you scared me,” she said. Half hidden in the shadows stood the little girl from Falun. “Does Doctor Foehammer know you are out of the ward?”

The girl stepped from the shadows into the tiny orb of light cast by the flint held by the Dunsany matron. Mrs. Chandler’s eyes widened but the attack was so fast she didn’t have time to scream out before the creature fell upon her, using its unnatural strength to tear her open thus ending to the worst day of her life.


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