Elder Things - Episode Six

Venturing into the hornet's nest.

Elder Things - Episode Six

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The groundskeeper's office was located just about as far from the main building as possible.

When the Carlin Manor rest home was first designed, the small shed was only meant to contain a single desk and a few tools for maintaining the campus.

As technology developed over the years, the push mower was replaced with a gas-guzzling ride-on. With the nearby communities endlessly developing, naturally, the home itself would eventually expand to accomodate the increasing numbers of aging locals.

With the expansion came a team of workers to keep the grounds presentable. No one wanted their loved ones living in a nursing home. Much less a poorly maintained nursing home. The walls needed to be painted, the hedges needed to be trimmed, and the lawn needed to be mowed.

It took a lot of team work to get the job done. A whole staff under a lead groundskeeper, who oversaw the entire operation.

Which is why Mickey was so surprised when he knocked on the door to the groundskeeper's office, and it swung open, revealing a room that didn't resemble an office as much as it did a jail cell.

A small candle burned beside a cot haphazardly placed in the middle of the room.

Stepping inside, Mickey reflexively heaved, nearly vomiting, as a smell of rot and waste hit his nostrils.

He nearly fled, until he remembered that he had promised himself he could shoulder whatever came next, in order to spare his friends from suffering the same fate.

He thought of all those summers when he fished squirrels and bunnies out of the pool so his wife didn't have to see them.

He forced himself deeper into the room.

"Hello?" Mickey called, squinting in the dark to see a few tools piled next to the door. A hedge trimmer, some coils of rope, a shovel.

The oddity of the room had done more to convince Mickey that the groundskeeper was worth investigating than anything that had happened yet. Was he a literal demon responsible for numerous deaths? Mickey couldn't go that far. But the groundskeeper had been living in a shed, doing god-knows-what in his free time.

Right on cue, Mickey spotted a bucket in the corner, and covered his nose.

He had come here to ask a few questions, and instead, Mickey had stumbled into something stranger than he could have expected.

Forget being afraid of whoever lived in the shed. Maybe the fella needed help.

A sound somewhere behind Mickey made him jump. He felt a pop somewhere in his left knee, and hoped to god he could get out of the building before collapsing. He couldn't bare spending the next few hours trapped in the groundskeeper's stinking outhouse.


The voice seemed to come from inside Mickey's head.


Mickey clenched his single eye as the monotonous, droning voice pelted him with the question.




With a shear force of will, Mickey pushed himself to take a step toward the exit, and his left knee completely gave. He clattered to the floor and dimly felt something break.

Far away from any help, Mickey screamed in pain, and gritted his teeth.

He had come to kick the hornet's nest alone.

He had expected to maybe do a little damage before he got stung.

On the disgusting stained floor of the groundskeeper's office, Mickey felt weaker than he had had ever felt. Even weaker than his first day at the nursing home, which itself had felt like some sort of admission of defeat.

Clutching his knee and his side, grimacing in agony, Mickey felt the voice prying deeper.

It looked deeper than at his bravado and vanity, which superficially brought him here. It riffled through his need to prove himself, and finally, in the messy darkness of Mickey's mind, it found a practical reason why he had come to the groundskeeper's office.

The voice was booming and steady.

It was also surprised.

No one had come in years. The board was satisfied that the grounds were consistently immaculate, why should they? The groundskeeper had always kept to himself, never pestered anyone for a raise, or even a day off.

Each new boss had inherited him one after another, after another. No one realized how long he'd been truly been there.

It had been a time of peace. For him, anyway. He kept the grounds. He kept everyone really. Kept them all right where he needed them.

The inside of his home was off-limits, though.


Mickey wasn't giving up, but the groundskeeper had found his answer.

The old man on the floor was nearly unconscious. He'd provide for a while yet.

Outside in the dark, the groundskeeper finally tore his eyes away from Mickey's writhing body. He had searched the old man long enough to know who needed to be dealt with.

The little one. Howard? Herman? Something like that.

He had served his purpose.

The groundskeeper turned from his cabin, and walked silently toward the lights of the nursing home in the distance.

For the first time in decades, he found himself full of anger.

He couldn't wait to let it loose.

Elder Things - Episode Seven
Everyone has pride. It’s never tested more than when someone sees you at your worst.