Elder Things - Episode Eight

Penny almost couldn't believe her eyes. Almost.

Elder Things - Episode Eight

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Penny had called Herman over and over, in her struggle to find Mickey. All this nonsense about the groundskeeper had gotten everyone all worked up.

If only the men would stop chasing trouble, perhaps trouble would stop finding them.

There was always a more plausible explanation.

It wasn't always easy to get ahold of people at Carlin Manor. Old folks were notorious for sleeping through knocks at the door and ringing phones. It certainly wasn't impossible that Mickey and Herman were off together somewhere, probably talking about all this nonsense about the evil groundskeeper.

In the pit of her stomach, she knew something was horribly wrong.

Mickey had a dangerous streak, she knew. She couldn't remember the story, but she thought he'd probably lost his eye in some misguided act of heroics. Was it so unlikely that he'd gotten himself in trouble somehow?

Herman, she hated to say, probably had one foot in the grave since she'd met him two years prior. Hell, at the absolute PEAK of his health, he was undoubtedly the kind of man her father described as a "total dud."

Penny hated the part of her that followed in her father's footsteps. Whenever he called someone a "dud," it almost sounded laughably tame, though it was evident her old man had completely written off anyone who wasn't as strong and aggressive as him.

Herman was one of the world's many duds. Quiet, timid...weak.

The moment Mirabell unlocked Herman's door, though, Penny realized that Herman was more than some worthless dud...he was right.

Penny had only caught a flash of what was happening in Herman's room, but she replayed that quick image in her mind's eye during the frantic rush to the window.

It all happened in slow motion, perhaps literally.

Herman was halfway out the window, a look of shock on his face.

And wrapped around him was the unmistakable form of the nursing home's groundskeeper.

Herman's eyes had landed on Penny, Daisy, and Mirable in the doorway as the groundskeeper slid a hand from Herman's shoulder up to his thinning white hair, gripping hard, just as the two men disappeared from view.

Her father's voice played in her head, "what are you so goddamn scared of?"

She shook it off. Even her aggressively masculine father would have been shaking.

Penny gripped the windowsill, knocking remnants of a line of salt to the floor. Her many rings glimmered in the moonlight. Penny had inherited wedding bands from her mother, sisters, and even some of her closest friends. It was her way of keeping strong women alive, even decades since they'd stopped existing, for all intents and purposes.

Penny thought of her mother now. The rings had always been symbolic, but confronted with the reality of the groundskeeper, Penny subconsciously dug her fingers into the wood as if she could somehow manifest support from the rings. Clearly the world was full of energies she'd never previously believed in.

Squinting, Penny could only barely make out some sort of movement in the bushes below.

She opened her mouth to call out for Herman, but her voice didnt seem to be operational. A hoarse, feeble noise escaped her throat.

The next hour was a blur. When she finally sat in the lobby, fuzzy memories came to her.

Mirabell urging them into the elevator in the hall.

Daisy screaming for one of the orderlies to call an ambulance.

The cold night air gliding over her emotionless face as she stared into Herman's dead eyes.

Herman had aways been small, but lying in the dirt he almost looked like a child. He had died in the fetal position.

if not for the copious amounts of blood on his face, or the left leg twisted and broken the wrong way, maybe he'd be resting.

Maybe somewhere, he actually was.

"I'm sorry to make you go through it again, just tell me what you saw."

A baby-faced officer was typing into some sort of titanium-encased computer. Perhaps it was designed to survive a goddamn nuclear bomb.

Penny was surprised to hear herself respond to the friendly, incredulous cop.


The officer was taken aback. She looked up from the laptop as if Penny had suddenly brandished a weapon.

"I'm too old and too tired to relive it again. I watched you type every word we said. If you need to hear it again, well just go ahead and read your own notes.

Mirabell almost looked proud, though she almost scolded, "Penny!"

"Don't 'Penny' me, Mirabell. Mickey is still missing, and as sorry as I feel for poor Herman, I think this officer should be focused on someone who might still be breathing."

Daisy and Mirabell looked from Penny back to the officer, who shook her head impatiently as Penny rose to her feet.

Mirabell and Daisy weren't far behind.

The night had taken a toll on Penny, but as always, she had watched everyone like a hawk. The police had been wholly useless, and it was plain to Penny that they had chosen to treat the old folks with kid gloves.

They were guaranteed to take the easy way. Herman was old, confused, and fell out the window. Any injuries were the result of the fall, even if it didn't make a lick of goddamn sense.

Penny was humiliated when she revealed their awareness of the groundskeeper's murderous nature. She had carefully watched the faces of the staff during that part.

Everyone's reaction was the same. An infuriatingly empathetic look that silently communicated "oh, you've gone senile."

Well she didn't have to take that.

Penny marched back up the hall to her room, with her many-ringed fingers clutching the journal that had once been owned by the late Robert Dawson, but more recently belonged to Herman Hill.

He had clearly misunderstood something.

Penny would figure out where Mickey was, and stop the groundskeeper.

"But Penny," called Mirabell from behind, as if she could hear Penny's thoughts, "everyone who has followed that journal is dead."

Penny paused in her steps, and turned to face Mirabell, who looked younger than ever. It made Penny feel even more ancient.

An invisible line seemed to separate Penny from Mirabell and Daisy. For them, this was still a place where life continued in a new form.

Penny thought of Herman's body in the dirt, she pictured the strong, confident Mickey, who had been moving slower and slower lately.

They were the ones at the end.

The Journal could tell her something. She'd look at it with fresh eyes and see something Herman hadn't. The men had gone chasing trouble and it had found them, but Penny suddenly wasn't content to look the other way?

"Everyone who has followed the journal is dead?"

"Not yet," growled Penny, marching forward into battle.

Forward to Episode 9