's 2013 Horror Write-off:


Submitted by Derekkato

Vivian stepped over an overgrown hedge, hoping the rusted metal bars were truly gone from this section and she wouldn’t scrape her leg on something that would give her a nasty tetanus infection. She let out a sigh of relief when she landed safely on the other side. The overgrown garden was full of weeds and garbage, but she could still make out a path to the main entrance. Treading carefully to avoid the broken glass, she made her way until she came to a great set of rotting wooden doors. Above them there was a Roman-style arch and a granite sign with the words “Gardiner Psychiatric Center” etched into it. Good, she was on the right track.

Carefully pointing her camera, she took a picture of the doors and then the sign. The shutter went off with a satisfying click. She knew most people would just use a digital camera instead of messing around with rolls of film and flash cubes, but there was something about the quality of a film photo she felt could not be replaced. Besides, if things got truly desperate, she could use the digital camera of her phone.

She inspected the heavy wooden doors. The doorknob and the mechanism had long since been broken and the one on the right was slightly ajar. She pushed it experimentally and felt a bit disgusted to find the wood damp and grimy under her touch. Steeling herself, Vivian pushed the door until it made a sickly creaking sound and swung inward.

She was greeted by a depressing looking hallway in which plaster and faded white paint were peeling off the walls and the ceiling. At some points, entire chunks of drywall had fallen, leaving a mess on the floor.
She stepped inside carefully, her ears trained and her footing cautious. Right now her two biggest worries were floors collapsing and squatters. Condemned buildings could always have both. The floor seemed solid enough, it was tiled but in places where the tiles were broken or not there anymore she could see a concrete floor.

Vivian looked at the receptionist area, half hoping to see a receptionist bell still on the counter. She did not see one, but she did see that the area beyond still had some filing cabinets and some furniture. She pushed the little swinging door out of the way, not knowing if she destroyed a rusted hinge along the way.

The little office space was illuminated by the the sunlight streaming from the window and Vivian hoped that the rest of the building would be as well illuminated as this, but she doubted it. With some effort, she opened the filing cabinets and looked through the papers inside. They smelled of damp and mold and all the ones she found were illegible. It wasn’t until she was at the bottom of the pile that she found something she could make out. Holding the paper to the light, she could read the first line.

Elinore Bemiller [born 1927] suffers from feeble-mindness, lack of bladder control, moral deficiency

She could not read anything else, the paper was too water-damaged.
She considered taking the paper with her, but it didn’t have any useful information so she put it back. As soon as she closed the cabinet drawer, she noticed there was a phone one the desk. How could she have missed that? It was one of those heavy rotary phones, with a strong metal frame and painted black. For some reason, it did not look as tarnished as the other objects in the room. She took a picture of it.

Curious, she picked it up and held the receiver next to her ear, being careful of not telling it touch her skin. To her surprise, she heard strong static. Impossible! How was this phone still connected after all these years? She wondered if it still worked.
She tapped the cradle, trying to see if the signal would change. Nothing. If anything the noise was getting worse.

On a whim, she decided to dial something, doubting it would connect. She moved her finger to the disk and made the numbers rotate. 4-6-7-3…

Suddenly the noise was so intense she had to hold the receiver away from her ear. She was about to put it back in its cradle when she thought she heard a voice. Perhaps, not a voice, but there was a guttural sound emanating from the phone that was different from the static noises.

She lifted the receiver again, not daring to hold it close to her ear.

Was that croaking, growling noise human?

The noise stopped suddenly and the line fell silent. It was really unnerving to stand in the silence after all that terrible noise. Vivian dropped the receiver in its cradle and backed away from the phone, half expecting it to ring.

She returned to the hallway and suddenly it seemed much darker than when she arrived. Bemused, she took out a flashlight from her bag and continued down the hallway, which got darker and darker.

There were doors on either side of the hallway, but she decided not to try them. There was a reason she came here. She wanted to take a picture of room 404, where famously one of the center’s doctors had either leapt to his death or had been pushed, the uncertainty of the event had caused a scandal that eventually led to the asylum being closed.

She came upon a the end of the hall, where she saw a cage elevator next to a set of stairs. She eyed the steel bars of the elevator with distrust, her mind recalling the word gibbet. She opted for the stairs, though they did not seem much safer with so many tiles broken or gone.

At least the stairs were next to a window, so she could turn off her flashlight as she climbed. After one flight of stairs, she came upon a floor that seemed to be the administrator wing, since none of the doors had that reinforced lock they had to keep the patients in. She noticed the window on this flight had been broken and there were shards of glass on the floor. Had someone thrown a stone in? She didn’t see any.

She continued climbing, a growing feeling of apprehension in her stomach. Maybe it had not been such a great idea coming alone. Maybe she should have convinced Chris to come. At least she’d sent a text message about where she was, so if she ended up dying they would know where to find the body. She didn’t smile at her own dark humour joke. She pulled the straps of her bag closer to herself.

As Vivian arrived on the third floor, she noticed that the entire wing was blocked off by large bars that could not be climbed over. This definitely was a patient’s wing. She was about to keep climbing when she thought she saw movement from the corner of her eye. She whipped her head around, but the hallway was empty. The doorways were empty. The reflection of her face in the little window of the closest door was alone. She still felt deeply uneasy. She could have sworn she saw a face. Maybe she should turn back. She took a picture of the bars and another one of the complicated lock designed to deter the inmates from escaping.

Vivian decided to keep going, thinking that if anything could hurt her it would have done so by now.
She finally arrived to the fourth floor and to her relief there were no heavy bars blocking her way. What was unusual about this floor was the amount of dirt everywhere. On the floor, on the walls and on the ceiling. How come there was so much in this floor and almost none in the others.
She briefly examined the brown stains and took a picture before moving towards her goal.

Aside from the dirt, this floor also seemed the most cluttered with stuff. Metal stretchers, wheelchairs and what seemed to be turn of the century incubators were piled from floor to ceiling. There were also various electric machines Vivian had no clue about. Were they negative pressure ventilators? Electroconvulsive voltmeters? She didn’t know. She took a picture of the one that looked the most complete and functional.

She was reading the numbers of the rooms, at least the ones that were still there. 420...412…
As she approached room 404, she heard something behind her. She whipped around to see a metal tray slide off a stretcher and land noisily on the floor. It was enough to make her heart race. It took her a minute to rationalize that it had been on the verge of falling for a long time and that her presence during its fall was mere coincidence.

Still breathing hard, she finally arrived to room 404. She took a picture of the doorframe with the numbers even though one of them had fallen off.
Trying not to shake, she turned the knob and entered the room. The first thing she noticed was the glass, so big and so broken, in the window that took up most of the far wall.

There was a hole in it, a hole big enough for a man to fit through and cracks radiated from the hole like spiderwebs.
Vivian could not believe it. It was still here after all this time? It had not been removed from this room by vandals or forensic investigators? Not wasting any time, she took a picture of it, taking her time for a good focus.

Then she turned her attention to the rest of the room. It was mostly bare except for a table in the corner and a bed in the middle. The table was full of jagged marks and scratches that for some reason made her skin prick. The bed looked rather normal, except it had two posts on either at the foot. Stirrups? For what?

She noticed the sheets were still on the bed. All the other beds she’d seen were bare or had just the mattress. Why did this one still have sheets? She looked more closely, noticing they were also stained with brown. That seemed normal, though she would have expected them to be more moldy and green, considering the water damage she’d seen elsewhere in the building.

As she continued looking, the brown stains became more and more intense and vibrant in color, until they were crimson red.

Vivian did not understand. She looked over at the table from before and noticed it was full of polished silver instruments with blades and jagged edges.

Feeling her nerves leave her, she decided to leave and turned around. And then she gave a strangled gasp.

Standing before her, impossibly, was Dr. W. Tyler Smith, the one whose very death she’d come to investigate. His glasses were broken on the right side and there was what seemed to a be a dark bruise on that side of his face, but he didn’t seem to care. He smiled in a really unfriendly manner at Vivian. She noticed the bloodstains on his lab coat.

“Well, well, well, how is our little feeble-minded girl today, huh? Is she well enough to heed my advice, or am I going to have to be persuasive?”

At first, Vivian did not answer. Then, her scream was muffled by his hand. The lock of room 404 clicked.

Far away, but not far away enough for her liking, the ghost of Elinore gave a sad sigh.
“I tried to warn her…” she murmured to herself.