This town has its secrets. These alleyways have their hidden distinctions. The fear that lurks behind every citizen’s mask is real. Darkness creeps in even when the sun is shining bright. The reason? Killmen’s Asylum. What was once a thriving mental institution during World War I lays in waste; pieces of its history left to rot underneath the stench of death. Ivan Droskov returned to America from World War I a changed man. Driven to near insanity from PTSD, he was admitted to Killmen’s shortly after his arrival home. Despite efforts from the doctors and nurses, Droskov couldn’t help but live out his dreams. Nurses would leave for but a moment and quickly return to the scene of a bloodbath. Their only option was isolation. Droskov was placed in intensive care alone and it was there that he stared death in the face and succumbed. Caregivers stumbled upon his naked body hanging from the light fixture; his noose fashioned out of his clothing. It is said that his presence still haunts the god forsaken property feasting on people’s fear of isolation. Those who go in never come back the same…If they even come back at all.
“Get off of me!”
“Oh come on! You know you want me!”
“Nick, I said let me go! Now!”
“Fine.” He said with a huff.
“Where are we going anyways? We’ve been walking forever.”
“Well, it’s Halloween and we live in the town that hosts the most famous ‘haunted’ asylum in America. Where do you think we’re going?” Nick replied with a mischievous grin.
“What?! I am NOT going in there with you! You know what people say!” Lauren was had now stopped in her tracks, too fearful to move forward.
“Seriously, Lauren? You know well enough that those are just fairytales! People tell those stories just to scare you off! It’s a cop tactic designed to keep people off of the property. Plus, there’s no such thing as ghosts!”
“I still don’t want to go in there. What if something else happens? What if there are people living in there who want to hurt us?”
“Then I’ll protect you! You know I’ve always had your back.” Nick was starting to get a little irritated.
“Oh, like the kids you ‘protect’ at school when you’re shoving them around?”
“Will you stop? You sound like my mother! I’m not dating you so you can tell me what to do. Those kids are weak. They need a little shove every once in a while. Makes ’em tough.”
“You’re ridiculous. You’re head is stuck where the sun doesn’t shine. I’m not going in there with you.”
“Then walk back on your own.”
The sun was setting at this point and they were in the middle of nowhere. Lawrenceville wasn’t an awful town but it certainly wasn’t without its faults. Those who went in to Killmen’s and managed to come out were never the same. This prompted some eerie events to take place in and around town. Most individuals were said to have been mumbling about a man with a broken neck. Others would be walking through town, immediately stop what they were doing, and act as if they were hanging themselves. One man in particular was found by a family member curled up in the corner of his closet whispering the same word over and over again. Alone.
Lauren didn’t want to risk either one but at least one option had some semblance of protection.
“Fine. I’ll go with you.”
“That’s what I thought! Now come on! It’s right around the corner.” Nick said picking up his pace.
The brilliant sunset painted a colorful picture to backdrop the ruin that is Killmen’s. Life and death contrasted in the beauty of life’s cycle. The red, yellow, and purple set the fading day sky on fire while Killmen’s sat crumbling. The old archway entrance, once covered in vibrant color, stood clothed with suffocating vines reaching up from the ground to claim their next victim. The main wing of the hospital emanated a bleak oblivion oddly welcoming anyone who dare adventure past the woods. Window panes shattered, trash as numerous as the grass, and ghastly white blurs blink past each vacant opening in the building.
“I just saw something move!” Lauren cried.
“No you didn’t. It’s just your imagination. Calm down!”
“Nick, I don’t want to go in! Please, can we go back?”
“Stop being such a sissy and let’s go!” Nick demanded
The two had been in a relationship for well over a year and Lauren was just beginning to see who Nick really was. They first met with your typical high school love story with the jock and the beauty queen falling in love. She thought he was perfect. He was athletic, good looking, had charm. He was crude from time to time but she didn’t mind that so much. As time went on though, she realized that Nick wasn’t just a typical immature boy; he was a bully. She started noticing his behavior worsen as time went on. Now he was violent with boys smaller than him. He would shove them and demand money. If they didn’t comply, well, they should know to just comply. Lauren hated this side of him. She felt betrayed, lied to, and taken advantage of. She was looking for a way out but to this point couldn’t find one.
The two made their way over to the main entrance arch to find a way in. Killmen’s, believe it or not, was a hotspot for teens and their “shenanigans” so it was no surprise to find an easy form of access into the building. They stepped through the vacant hole carefully navigating around the broken shards of glass spewed out upon the ground. Even though there was a semblance of light still igniting the sky the darkness within the hospital contrasted it with greater magnitude. There was something thick, visceral, and surreal about the place.
Nick pulled out his phone and turned on the flashlight. The light cast its glow upon what used the be the receptionist’s desk. The marble countertop was covered in dirt and dust, computers (what was left of them) sat with blank screens, and the visitor’s seats were left bolted into place. The silence was overwhelming. The darkness penetrating.
“Eerie.” Nick whispered.
Lauren had fully grasped herself onto his arm praying for something to change his mind. She knew they were just myths but she had seen the effect that this place had on other people. She saw the hellish nightmare people lived after making it out of this building. No part of her soul wanted to be here yet here they were. They pressed on past the receptionist area and into the main stretch of hallway.
The echo resounded throughout the dense hallway bouncing from the walls and to their ears.
“Shut up!” Lauren cried in fear.
“Why? There’s no one here! We can do whatever we want!” He retorted sarcastically.
He wrapped her up by the waist and tried to kiss her. It looked as if an animal had pounced on its prey. Lauren, already disgusted with him as a person had none of it.
“Let me go! Get off of me!”
Her pleas did nothing to evade his efforts as her cries only pushed him to continue. She started hitting him. She didn’t want any of this. She hated herself for ever giving him her heart. She felt so alone.
Finally, with all of the strength she could muster she shoved him off of her. For added measure she wound up and laid the inside of her palm across his face. He took the blow and with his hand on his jaw he said,
“What was that for?!”
“Doesn’t feel so good to be the one getting hit, does it? Don’t ever touch me again!”
Nick took a forceful step toward Lauren but before he could do any damage a loud bang rang out from the end of the hallway.
“What was that?” Lauren shouted, fear deep in her voice.
Nick still in shock, didn’t have much to say.
The bang sounded again, this time startling the both of them. Nick was infuriated with the recent unfolding of events and the only way he could regain his pride was to check it out.
“Hello?” Nick called.
“Is anyone there?”
Silence answered him yet again.
“I’m going to find out what it is.”
“Don’t leave me here! I don’t want to be alone!” Lauren said as he started walking away.
“Should have thought of that before you hit me. See ya.”
The light from his flashlight faded into the darkness as he left her to fend for herself.
“I hate him I hate him I hate him.” She mumbled under her breath while fumbling for her phone. She tried turning on her flashlight but as soon as she opened the app her phone died.
“Typical.” She thought to herself.
She couldn’t imagine her heart racing any faster than it was but now she was left to fend for herself with no flashlight and no protection. She wanted to find her way out of the building but the darkness consumed her eyes. The night sky didn’t give her a chance to locate an opening in any of the windows so she fumbled around in the darkness…Alone.
“Piece of trash for a girl is what she is. How dare she hit me?” Nick reasoned in his mind all the while rubbing his jaw.
His macho dignity refused to let him go back even though some part of him kind of wished he wouldn’t have left her there. Was he starting to feel bad?
“Psh, nope. She can find her own way out.”
He hadn’t heard any noise in quite some time except for the occasional shuffle of trash underneath the local rat’s feet. He pushed his way down the hallway noticing some of the interior decorating left by partying teens. Most pictures drawn were your typical obscene, sexual innuendos and others contained your typical obscene language. The walls were painted in it. As he pressed on, one word in particular caught his attention.
Out of all of the graffiti written on the walls this one was the most visceral. All of the other words were painted with green paint but this one was stained red. The other “art” looked as though they had only been in place for a week or two. This word seemed to have been born with this place.
Another sharp bang sounded but this time it was much closer and coming from one of the rooms.
Startled a little more heavily this time he cried out, “Hello?! Who’s there?!”
Silence was once again his only friend.
He stood for but a moment when an answer resonated into his ear drums.
“Lauren? Is that you?! Stop playing games and get out here!”
“My name’s not Lauren.”
The voice belonged to a man. It was deep, guttural, and had force behind it.
“Come on, boy.”
Determination swelled up inside of Nick’s thick chest as he took a step into the room to face this unknown stranger.
“I swear if I find him I’m going to kill him.”
Lauren had been scraping along the wall for what felt like an eternity. She couldn’t tell if she was any closer to the exit but something told her she was only walking farther. Her eyes had somewhat adjusted to the dark but she still couldn’t see very far ahead of her. She decided to take a moment to catch her bearings when she noticed something dart into her view and out of it a little further down the way.
Lauren snapped to attention and directed her eyes in the direction where it came. A few moments passed and nothing happened.
“Eyes must be playing tricks on me.” She chuckled to herself.
“Trickssss? No sssssuch thing asssss tricksssss here dear.”
A bright shiver screamed down Lauren’s back as her legs gave way to unbelievable fear. Standing in front of her was a ghastly looking woman garbed in scrubs with blood dripping from her face. The woman took a hobbled step forward and Lauren fell backwards.
“Timmeee for a check up. Mannnyyyyy will be here ssssooonn. He’ssss coming for youuuu.”
Lauren couldn’t muster any strength to move but all she could do was ask,
The ghost stopped an inch from Lauren’s face; cold air sweeping over her body as the nurse gave her chilling response.
Nick found himself stepping over the threshold of the doorway into what looked like a morgue. Slabs of empty body carts lay strewn about the room. Vacant drawers rest outside of their cubby holes. The air, even though this room was not in use, was freezing.
“Where are you? Who are you? What do you want?”
Nick continued his search but it seemed as if no one was in the room. He began to make his way out when the door in front of him slammed shut. Nick’s phone dropped and shattered on the ground. Darkness enveloped him.
Out of the silence he could hear breathing; shallow, quick, and desperate breathing.
“Think you’ve got it all together, do ya boy?”
“Who are you?!” Nick cried out.
“Think you can go around and always get your way? What happens when everything you attained simply fades to dust? What happens when all you’ve ever known is shredded to pieces? Will you feel good then, boy? Or will you merely crumble to ash?”
The breathing was closer now. Nick could feel it on his neck. Icy.
“Have you ever been alone, boy? Ever known what it’s like to die? Have you ever stared death in the face?”
Nick was shaking uncontrollably. He even let out a pathetic whimper.
“Scared, are we? You weren’t scared when you left that pretty girl to die? Be assured. I’ll take real good care of her.”
“You can have her! Just let me go!”
“Oh, no no no. Can’t be havin’ any of that. Turn around.”
Nick didn’t move a muscle.
“TURN AROUND BOY”
What felt like a hand grabbed Nick by the shoulder and flung him to the ground. The broken light fixtures in the room began to strobe as fast as they could. All of the drawers within the morgue began to open and close. Disorientation set in on Nick’s brain. Images began to flash across his distorted eyesight. At first he saw birds flying around the room and crashing into the walls. Then he saw and felt spiders crawling up his arms and into his flesh. Squirming and screaming he looked up to see his ultimate horror. There, hanging from a noose was Ivan Droskov, naked, and maniacally laughing at his torment. Nick screamed even louder, stood up, and blasted through the door.
He ran as fast as he could down the hallway from where he came. He could still hear the laughter ringing in his ears, the images flashing through his head. He had to get out. He had to run as fast as he could. As he was running he tripped over a large obstacle in the path. As he regained his composure he saw that the obstacle was Lauren, laying prostrate in the middle of the walkway.
“Lauren! Lauren! Get up! Come on! We have to get out of here!”
She wasn’t moving.
He rolled her over and to his horror found her lifeless. There, permanently etched into her face, was a smile. Nick screamed, regained his bearings, and ran out of the building. He felt the night breeze brush his face as he made it even further away from the Asylum. He took a quick glance back at the hospital but was then knocked off of his feet.
He turned his head to see Droskov, Lauren, and the Nurse huddled around him all mumbling the same word over and over again.