The night warden – short horror fiction (400 words)

It was that dead-quiet time of night when all you can hear is the humming of desk lamps and the unison of people’s breathing in their sleep. The man on duty decided to give his feet a rest from the new shoes. He watched his compacted toes wiggling themselves free inside his socks and placed his feet atop the desk, overlooking the psychiatric ward.

Nothing to report.

The man took a deep breath, bored at the quiet, bleach-white floored corridor spreading out in front of him. The deep dark circles under his glossy, tired-green eyes invited some rest. Boring ass-job, the man thought to himself, as his slender, long-nailed fingers scratched the forlorn patch of amber hair on his scalp. The dry scratch echoed through the ward. A quick glance at the wall-clock and the man knew every patient would be up in less than an hour. His worn-white socks glided across the desk top as if to celebrate the accomplishment. A relaxed yawn ensued, and his long, bony fingers perused the edge of the desk drawer made of smoothly compressed crème wood. He picked up Ken Kesey’s trademark bestseller and skimmed through the bookmarked sections.

A discrepancy in the ward’s sleep hum caught his attention. He gazed over the book and down the corridor, listening to the dormant breathings. The clock seemed to tick faster through the silence, but there was no movement in the dark. One of the loudest snorers resumed his nightly symphony and the man got back to his book.

‘You’re no crazier than the average assho…’

Tommy?’

The man stumbled in his chair, almost losing balance. He looked up to see a couple of unblinking eyes staring at him, like cameras glistening in the dark.

‘The fuck d’you want?’ Tommy asked, resettling himself and trying to resume his reading.

The patient’s eyes looked up from the pair of shoes next to the desk and resettled on Tommy without blinking.

‘I wanna go.’ The patient said.

‘The fuck d’you mean? We’ve talked about this.’

‘Put your shoes on. And then we go.’

Tommy kept reading and replied under his breath, unamused.

‘What the hell are you on about? Go back to sleep.’

‘The keys, Tommy.’

The man in charge finally put his book down and glanced over at the patient, whose eyes demanded him to look back. Tommy spun around in his office chair to see a man in a white uniform lying face-down on the floor, the pool of blood surrounding him gone thick. Tommy scratched his scalp once more, got up and grabbed the keys from the dead, shoeless warden.  

(400 word scene in generic fiction prompt)

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