EDIT: A couple people thought there should be a second chapter, so I'm in the process of writing one! Should provide some...closure.
Also, when I wrote this, the SH wiki told me California-I've since learned they're in Maine, so that's been changed as well.
Don't own Silent Hill or the Boys, but I reserve the right to say that Zak has the nicest arms, Nick the best voice, and Aaron the greatest facial expressions ever in my life.
"We're here in Silent Hill, Maine, said to be one of the most haunted places in the world."
Zak clapped his hands together, gestured to the town behind him. "This place has a dark past. Two epidemics cut the population nearly in half during the 1600s and 1800s. Silent Hill also operated as a Civil War prisoner camp and even a resort town. We're going to be locked down inside Brookhaven Hospital. The hospital was built to treat the first epidemic and was reopened for the second, after the town had been abandoned for years. It's said that people see demonic figures inside and sometimes the walls look like they're covered with blood. We're excited to check it out."
Aaron shook his head behind the camera. "I'm not," he muttered, switching the camera to standby at Zak's behest. "This place gives me the creeps and we're not even in the town yet."
"That's a good thing," Zak said, picking up his camera bag. "Means there's definitely something here."
"That might not be a good thing," Aaron countered as he and Nick followed Zak into town. "Remember Bobby Mackey's?"
Bobby Mackey's, a nightclub in Kentucky, said to house the portal of hell—among other haunting—was the source of a long scar on Zak's back. What do you expect for taunting demons? Aaron thought as they entered the town. "Hospitals give me the creeps anyway."
"I think everything gives you the creeps, Aaron," Nick mused.
"Ha ha." Aaron pulled his camera bag further onto his shoulder. "With good reason. I read up on this place. People have been worse than just scratched. Hell, some people have even gone missing here, a couple in Brookhaven Hospital."
"All the more reason to check it out," Zak said.
"All the more reason to not check it out," Aaron grumbled. He often wondered why he let himself be talked into going into potentially dangerous situations. First the portal to hell, now an entire hospital from hell. What would be next, hell itself?
Wouldn't surprise him. Zak was up to doing damned near anything. If he heard of someplace that every time someone went to investigate, they ended up dying, he'd want to go. Then he'd want to provoke the ghosts—the bad ones, anyway—at every turn until they got an EVP or caught a figure on film.
Maybe that was why so many ghosts wanted to kill Zak.
Aaron allowed himself a small smile as the trio approached Brookhaven Hospital.
It was an old three story building, with peeling paint and several boarded up windows. A large chain-link fence surrounded the entire structure. 'No Trespassing' and 'Permit Parking Only' signs adorned the fence at various intervals, all of the signs covered with some slick-looking grime. Aaron wrinkled his nose as they mounted the steps. The front doors opened to reveal a tall woman, dressed in jeans and a tee-shirt. "Howdy," she greeted, a southern drawl slightly apparent in her tone. "I'm Grace Williams, part of the Silent Hill Historical Society. You guys must be the Ghost Adventurers."
"That's us," Nick said.
"We'll come on inside. I'll tell you a bit about Brookhaven and all the weird stuff that goes on here." Grace held the door open for them.
Aaron liked the place even less after he stepped inside. It was at least ten degrees cooler inside and the temperature change hit him like a wave. "Whoa," he breathed, goose-pimples rising up on his forearms.
"Is it always this cold in here?" Zak asked as Grace closed the door.
"Pretty much," Grace replied. "You'd think without any AC and most the windows broke that it'd be as warm as it is outside. But it ain't." Nick swung his camera around in a wide arch, trying to take in the lobby.
They were in a wide hallway with a checkered floor. The hall split off in opposite directions a few yards down, and what looked like a door to the reception office at the end.
"This is the first floor," Grace said. "When Brookhaven was still operating, this is where the visitor's signed in and a lot of the doctor's spent their free time. Down to the left is the Doctor's Lounge and to the right is the staircase and a visiting room." She began walking down the hallway. "Past this is the day room, where many patients spent their time. It has a wide view of the grounds and was where the patients got most of their fresh air." She motioned to the door as they rounded the corner, a large sign proclaiming 'DAY ROOM' mounted on the wall. "There are dayrooms on each floor of the hospital," Grace explained. "Down that way are some of the patient rooms, and at the end of the hall another staircase." She was pointing to a set of dark double doors, the paint peeling off of them and rust on the handles.
"We've heard that some of the patients committed suicide here," Zak said. Grace nodded sadly.
"Unfortunately, it was more than a few," she said. "Legends say that after Brookhaven was built for the first epidemic, all the people that died during that time—stayed. After Silent Hill was abandoned and rediscovered, the hospital reopened to take in the swarm of the sufferers of the new epidemic, rumor has it that some of the patients couldn't take it. There are patient interview records of them seeing ghosts and blood running down the walls and hearing eerie screams in the middle of the night. Some of it got so bad that they just...well, y'know." She let her sentence hang in the air for a moment.
"Have you had any experience with ghosts here?" Zak asked. Grace shuddered visibly.
"I hate being here at night," she confessed. "I'm usually gone by four, and the night guy comes and locks up for me. One night he couldn't make it, and told me to lock up for him." She leaned against the wall next to the day room sign. "I was making my final rounds through the place with my flashlight, making sure everything was in order before I left, musta been around nine at night. I was up on the second floor, walking down the patient corridor, when I hear this creaking behind me. Well I turned around and the door to the second bath was swinging open. Now, I had just passed it and it was closed, so I thought maybe the wind blew it open or something. And let me tell you, I didn't think this place was too haunted at the time. I mean, I was raised not to believe in the supernatural.
"Well, this door opens, so I go back to close it. I get about from me to you from it—" She motioned at Zak, who was a couple feet from her. "—and suddenly it slams shut, just like that. Bam!" Aaron jumped slightly. He'd been recording the old photos on the walls and was only half-listening. "So now I'm thinking to myself it couldn't have been the wind, 'cause there wasn't any source. I was pretty spooked by this point, so I high-tailed it out of the corridor and into the main hall. Well then I start hearing weird noises from the nurse's station." Grace held her arms to her chest and took a deep breath. "So I go look, because I'm supposed to be making sure nothing's wrong before I leave. I go to open the nurse's station door and it's locked. Now, some of these doors are locked, but the nurse's station is always open, 'cause it's a key part of the tour.
"I get my keys out and try to unlock it, but when I go to turn the knob, it's like someone's holding it in place on the other side. I was getting pretty angry by this point, so I just threw myself against the door and it gives, just like that. Had to pick myself up off the floor. Well, I get up and look around the station and I don't see anyone, nothing that coulda made any noise."
"What kind of noise was it?" Zak asked. "That you heard the first time?"
"It was like a screeching moan," Grace said. "Like a dying rabbit, y'know? Well, after I looked around the station I turned to leave, and suddenly there's this big ole' pain in my arm. I thought maybe I hurt myself when I fell, so I ignored it and closed up the nurse's station and went back downstairs. I was heading to the front door when I felt something wet on my arm. Well I grab it and my hand comes back covered with blood." She lifted up the sleeve of her shirt and an ugly crooked scar greeted the three investigators.
"Did you fall on glass or something?" Aaron asked. "That is one gnarly scar."Grace shook her head, pulling her sleeve back down.
"Wasn't any glass to fall on," she said.
"Do you think a ghost did that to you?" Zak asked. Grace shrugged.
"All I know is that nurse's station isn't someplace I'd like to go," she said. "You guys can check it out on your own."
"And we're going to," Zak said. "Make a note, guys. We gotta set up an X-cam in the nurse's station."
"Can we see the rest of the hospital?" Nick asked.
"Sure," Grace said. "I'll give you guys the grand tour."
Brookhaven hospital was fairly small, and as the boys toured with Grace, she told them stories. About the hospital's history, previous patients, tidbits about Silent Hill in general. Aaron tried to record everything he could, sticking his camera into different rooms as they passed, most of which were grimy and covered with who knew what. Some of the rooms even looked like they had blood on the walls or the bed or the window pane. "How many patients died here?" he asked, hurrying to catch up to the others (he'd been filming inside a padded cell and they had kept walking).
"Hm?" Grace stopped. "I'm not sure," she said. "I would guess into the hundreds. There's actually this one story of a little girl. It's a pretty famous tale around town."
"Alessa Gillespie," Nick said. "Her name was on a bunch of the sites we looked up about this place."
"That's her," Grace said. "Way back when, little Alessa was born without a father. Her mother wasn't married, which was a real big no-no back in the day. So when the townsfolk found out, they took Alessa and burned her at the stake, like a witch." Aaron paled.
"They did that to a little kid?" Zak asked, disgust evident in his voice. "That's…terrible."
"Thing is, the burning didn't kill her," Grace said. "They brought Alessa back here, to Brookhaven. This is where she died."
"Can you imagine…," Zak muttered. "Child ghosts can have the strongest emotional ties to where they died, and I'm betting we'll capture Alessa somehow."
"I'm betting you will, too," Grace said. "We've had other paranormal folk like you come, and all of them catch something—on their little recorders and what-not—that sounds like a little girl. It's always the same voice, too, and us townsfolk know that it must be Alessa." She leaned closer to the boys. "In fact, some people say she's the reason this entire place is haunted. That all her hatred toward the town for burning her alive generated all this dark energy that keeps all the other spirits here."
"Makes sense," Nick said. "Something like that…and after all these years. Alessa must have a lot of pent up anger at those people, and that makes one powerful entity."
"Agreed," Zak said. "What room did she die in? We should set up an X-cam there."
"She was kept in the basement," Grace said.
"The basement?" Aaron asked incredulously.
"Yeah. I'll show you."
Following Grace, the boys boarded an old elevator. "You…are you sure this is safe?" Aaron asked, eyeing the rust.
"Positively," Grace said. "This thing's been operating for centuries in peak condition." Aaron gulped, feeling his heart start to beat ten times faster.
They reached the basement without incident and Grace reached for the light. When she flicked the switch, nothing happened. "Man," she groaned. "Must be another breaker issue. Great."
"We've got flashlights," Nick said, pulling his out to prove it. Aaron and Zak followed suit and aimed their beams down the hallway in front of them.
"Building's so old," Grace said as she began to walk down the hall. "Power only works half the time down—"
A sudden—and very, very loud—screeching filled the air, like metal was being dragged across concrete. Aaron jumped and whipped around, his flashlight beam playing wildly on the walls and ceiling. "Wh-what was that?"
"Dude! Shh! Shh!" Zak held out his hand but the sound had vanished.
"What the hell was that?" Nick asked after a quiet second of nothing but their heavy breathing.
"Welcome to Brookhaven, fellas," Grace said. "You've been here less than an hour and you're already getting things." She was pale and visibly shaken. "Come on. I'll show you guys Alessa's room."
They continued down the hall and she stopped next to a room marked 'STORAGE'. "This is it," she said. "They turned it into a storage room, but people stopped storing things inside a long time ago."
"Why's that?" Zak asked.
"Everything always got broken," Grace said. "Or ripped or damaged somehow. One time the entire room caught on fire, destroyed everything inside. But the fire didn't spread to the rest of the hospital. A doctor came down to get an extra labcoat, opens the door and all that falls out is ash." She reached for the knob, but recoiled the second she touched it. "Ow!"
"What's wrong?" Zak was at her side in an instant and she held her hand tightly.
"That was fucking hot!" she exclaimed. "Touch that! Yeowch!"
Nick hovered his hand above the knob. "Dude, you can feel the heat from it. Come here." Aaron and Zak both reached their hands out as well.
"Whoa, dude," Aaron said.
"All right," Zak said. "We're definitely putting an X-cam here tonight." He turned back to Grace. "How's your hand?"
"Fine," she said, looking at it under the flashlight. Her entire palm was red and throbbing. "Owww. Let's head back upstairs. If you need to get back down to the basement, I recommend the stairs. They're safer than the elevator during a fire." Her last sentence was cynical and she weaved between Aaron and Nick, heading back down the dark corridor.
"Dude, that place is fucking creepy."
The boys were in their room at Jack's Inn, checking their equipment for their lockdown in an hour. "Like, really creepy," Aaron said, wiping the lens of his camera clean. "Especially the basement. That knob was crazy." Maybe if we're lucky the place will have burned down before we go back, he thought dryly.
"Creepy means a good chance of spirits manifesting themselves," Zak said, sticking batteries into the back of his digital recorder. "I'm excited, dude. This place might be more haunted than Bobby Mackey's."
"At least there's no portal to hell, Aaron," Nick offered, packing their x-cams into the bag.
"No," Aaron said. "This place might just be hell."
Grace greeted them at the front of Brookhaven, a padlock in her hand. "Listen, fellas," she said, turning the lock nervously in her palm. "I'd like you to lock yourself in from the inside. I don't want you trapped inside in case…in case something goes wrong."
"We're not afraid of something going wrong, Grace," Zak said.
"Well I am," Grace said. "Please. Just…humor me. I'll give you the key for the padlock and you can just tell your viewers that the crazy lady from the Historical Society wanted to make sure you guys were safe." She held out the padlock and the key to Zak. "So take it and don't fuss."
"We'll take it," Aaron said, and she deposited the lock and key into his hand.
"There's a fire extinguisher in the stairwell on every floor," Grace said as she followed the boys up the steps to the hospital. "Just in case."
"Thanks," Aaron said.
"Good luck, fellas," Grace said as Zak closed one of the double doors. "Hope I see you in the morning."
Zak closed the second door and padlocked them shut, pocketing the key. "That was…scary," he admitted as Grace's footsteps faded. "'Hope I see you in the morning.' What's all that about?"
"I might just carry a fire extinguisher around with me," Aaron mumbled.
They had set up base in the Reception Office, and that's where they now were, getting their cameras and digital recorders ready. "And we're…filming," Nick said, pointing his camera at Zak.
"All right. We just got locked down in Brookhaven Hospital, a paranormal hotspot in the small town of Silent Hill," Zak said. "After hearing horror stories about everything that's happened here, especially the story of Alessa Gillespie, we're hoping we can catch some activity on our equipment." He tapped the side of his camera with a smile. "All right, guys. Let's go."
The boys moved out into the corridor and toward the stairs. "I'll start rolling on my digital recorder," Aaron said, pulling the small device from his vest. He turned it on and held it out in front of him.
"First stop, the day room," Zak said. "According to Grace, people have heard conversations and what sound like games in all three day rooms in the hospital."
They moved to the day room and Zak barely had his hand on the knob when a loud crash sounded behind them. Aaron fumbled his digital recorder, almost dropping it as he spun around, staring hard at his viewfinder. "Dude, what was that?" he asked quietly.
"We've barely been locked down five minutes," Zak muttered, "and already shit's going on. Let's go see what that was."
The boys made their way back down the hallway and it didn't take them long to find the source of the noise. The supply closet next to the visiting room had opened and a mop and bucket were now on the floor. "Dude," Aaron said, "that door was closed tight when we were here. Hell, I think it was locked. Didn't Grace say all the supply closets were locked for safety reasons? 'Cause of all the chemicals?"
"She did," Nick said, moving the mop handle with his toe. "Weird."
"All right," Zak said. "Let's go back to the day room."
"I'll see if I got anything on my digital recorder," Aaron said as they moved back the way they'd just been. He held the device up to his ear and hit replay.
"First stop, the day room. According to Grace, people have heard conversations and what sound like games in all three day rooms in the hospital. I like to play games."
"Whoa! Whoa, what the hell!" Aaron rewound the recorder. "Dude. Dude, come here. Listen to this. Right before the crash." Zak and Nick crowded around and Aaron hit play.
"…in the hospital. I like to play games."
Zak and Nick both looked at Aaron open-mouthed. "That sounded like a little girl," Nick said.
"Alessa," Zak and Aaron said simultaneously. "Oh man, dude."
"I have an idea," Zak said. "Let's each take a floor. Aaron, you can stay down here, Nick take the second floor, I'll take the third."
"What?" Aaron asked. "Oh no. No, no, no. I do not want to be left alone in this place."
"It'll just be for half an hour," Zak said. "We'll all come back to the Reception room in thirty minutes."
"Sounds good to me," Nick said.
"Sometimes I really hate you guys," Aaron said. "But…okay. I'm down."
"Let's split up," Aaron grumbled as he wandered slowly through the day room. "Bad things always happen when we split up. Always. Never fails." He sighed, holding his digital recorder out in front of him. "Are there any spirits in here?" He paused, trying to breathe as quietly as possible. "Anyone still playing games?" He set his digital recorder on the floor and pulled a deck of cards out of his back pocket. It had been a suggestion of Zak's to bring. "I've got some cards here, if anyone wants to play," he said, setting the cards down and grabbing his digital recorder again. He left the cards on the floor and kept walking, bringing the digital recorder up to his ear to replay it.
"Anyone still playing games?" he heard himself ask. He jumped when the digital recorder blared, "Yahtzee!" suddenly.
"What the hell…," he muttered, replaying it again, making sure his ears hadn't deceived him. They hadn't and he took in a deep breath. "Wow…"
He wandered from the day room into the hallway, meandering toward the garden. Grace had told them the garden wasn't someplace they'd want to go, and hell if Aaron wasn't going to listen to her. "Are there any patients still here?" Aaron called down the corridor as he walked. "I'm not here to hurt you. Just want to talk. See this little device in my hand?" He waved his digital recorder. "You can use it to talk to me. So if you have anything to say…just…come to this little red light."
Suddenly he heard a scream, but it wasn't from a ghost or a spirit. It was from the second floor, and the only person up there was Nick. "Nick!" Aaron shouted, turning around and running for the staircase.
Zak had gone up to the third floor, his camera and digital recorder in hand. "Are any patients still here?" he called as he entered the hallway of rooms. "I heard a lot of you committed suicide and your souls aren't at peace. Well, no one's here to hurt you now, but we'd like to know what happened." He paused as he made his way down the corridor. "Just come and talk to this little red li—"
A door several feet in front of him creaked open and he stopped dead, heart hammering against his chest. After a brief battle trying to convince his feet to move, he took several cautious steps toward the door, peering in through his viewfinder. "Is someone with me?" he called, stepping into the room. A whisper ghosted past his ear and he whipped around, trying to find the source in his viewfinder. Goose pimples appeared on his arms and the temperature in the room dropped a good ten degrees. "What the hell," he muttered, stepping back out of the room. He held his digital recorder to his ear.
"Is someone with me?" A pause, then, "Stanley…Coleman." Zak was almost giddy with excitement. He moved back toward the room, fully intent on asking this Stanley Coleman some more questions, but his move was interrupted by a scream from the second floor, and it sure as hell wasn't spiritual. "Nick!" Zak yelled, turning back and sprinting for the staircase.
The second floor was pretty quiet. Nick had been rolling on his camera and digital recorder, replaying the latter and getting nothing. No EVPs, no orbs on his camera, nothing. "If someone's here," he called, "make a noise or something."
He moved from the main hall toward the patient rooms. He wandered down the corridor, asking questions and recording. He was about to go into one of the rooms when a sound from the main section snapped his attention back the way he'd just been. He hurried back to the main section of the second floor, the sound still audible. It was like a woman's moan, but lanced through was something like nails on a chalkboard. Nick pushed open the double doors cautiously and stared into his viewfinder. He didn't see anything as he moved past the door to the stairs. "Someone there?" he called, holding his digital recorder out in front of him. The moaning got louder as he rounded the corner and he dropped his digital recorder.
In his viewfinder was the perfect form of a woman, a nurse by the uniform. But her face looked like it was wrapped fully with bandages and her entire outfit was covered with grime and blood. She was dragging one foot, the other pointed inward so she lurched forward, her upper body twitching with every jerky movement. "Holy shit," Nick breathed as he backed up, trying to keep the figure in his viewfinder. The nurse had something in her hand that Nick couldn't decipher in his viewfinder, but she continued toward him with her gait.
Then he backed up into something, something made of flesh and breathing raggedly in his ear, making the same moaning noise as the thing in front of him. He spun around and the thing—another nurse—threw her arm out at him and a hot flash burned across his cheek and he let out a loud, terrified shout.
He stumbled backward, fumbling with his electronics, and jerked open the door to the stairwell.
He barely had it slammed when Aaron came up from the first floor and Zak down from the third. "What the hell happened, dude?" Aaron asked, huffing. He turned his flashlight on and shined it on Nick. He let out a shocked yelp.
"You're bleeding!" Zak said, turning on his own flashlight.
Across Nick's right cheek was a gash, not deep, but whatever had attacked him had penetrated enough skin for blood to be running down his face.
"These fucking things," Nick gasped, leaning hard against the second floor door. "These fucking things just came out of nowhere. They looked like nurses. One of them must've fucking attacked me, man."
"What?" Aaron didn't bother hiding the fear in his words. "They attacked you?"
"Come here," Nick said, pulling up his camera. "Watch. Just watch." He rewound his tape and pressed play.
Zak and Aaron heard the screeching first, and they stared into Nick's screen as he lifted the lens up to the first nurse, clear as day in the viewfinder. They watched Nick back up, then the camera went wild as he spun around, stumbled backward, fled. No one could get a good look at his attacker, but Nick swore it was another nurse.
"She had a piece of glass or something," he said. "I don't fucking know what it was but it hurt like a son of a bitch."
"Let's get back down to the Reception office," Zak said. "We've got a first aid kit and that is one nasty cut."
They cleaned Nick up and taped a square of gauze across his cheek. "All right," Zak said, speaking to Nick's camera. "Nick was just attacked on the second floor." Nick turned the camera around so he could look into the lens.
"Hurt like a son of a bitch," he said, then turned the camera back to Zak.
"So we're going to go up to the second floor and see if we can catch more of those nurses."
"What?" Nick asked, turning his camera on standby. "Oh hell no. I'm not going back up there, man."
"I don't think we should split up again," Aaron said. He couldn't believe he was about to say this. "Maybe we should all go down to the basement."
"I like that better than the second floor," Nick said, standing. Zak frowned slightly, but nodded.
"The basement it is. Let's take an X-cam with us. We'll see if we can get into Alessa's room."
The boys took the stairs, heeding Grace's warning about the elevator. "I don't hear anything," Aaron said quietly as the trio moved down the hallway. They reached the room marked 'STORAGE', Alessa's room.
"Who wants to touch the knob first?" Zak asked, dry humor in his words. He reached out his hand, letting it hover above the knob, testing for heat, before grabbing it. The knob was as cool as the air around them and he turned it, pushing the door open.
The store room was mostly empty, with only a couple of boxes scattered around. Ash littered the corners and crevices of the broken concrete and the walls looked scorched, save for one square section, that looked like there had been something there that hadn't caught fire. "Looks like a place for a bed," Nick said quietly.
"Alessa," Zak called. "My name is Zak. This is Nick and Aaron. We heard about what happened to you when you were just a girl." He paused, looking at his friends a moment before continuing. "We'd like you to talk to us if you can." He pulled out the little Talker, which converted electromagnetic waves into phonemes. "This device will let you talk to us." He flicked the on switch and they all listened.
"Whoa. Fire?" Aaron looked at the little device.
Zak raised an eyebrow. "You were murdered because you didn't have a father," he said, taking a step toward the unburned section of the room.
"Lisa?" Nick asked. "Wasn't that the name of Alessa's nurse?"
"That's what Grace said," Aaron confirmed.
Zak walked closer toward the unburned section.
He froze, looked over his shoulder at the others. "Stop," he repeated.
"Dude," Aaron said. "I don't think she wants us here."
Zak moved away from the unburned section and back toward Nick and Aaron.
"What the hell?" Nick asked. "Who's Heather?"
"This is incredible," Zak mumbled. He pulled at the collar of his shirt. "Does it feel hotter in here to you guys?" Nick pulled out his temperature gauge.
"Dude, it's like 85 degrees down here," he said, sweat beading on his brow. "It's rising. 87. 91. Holy shit, it's rising fast. 98."
"I think it's time to get the hell out of here," Aaron said, turning back to the door. It slammed shut before he could even touch it. "Oh fuck. What the fuck?" He grabbed the knob and turned it, but it was stuck, locked.
"Temperature's still rising," Nick said. "103."
"She really doesn't fucking like us, dude," Aaron said. "Apologize to her or something!"
"We didn't mean to intrude," Zak said loudly, pulling up the sleeves of his shirt. "If you could just unlock that door, we'd be more than happy to get out."
"112. Christ! What the fuck!"
"Come on Alessa," Zak said. "We're sorry we came into your room and we'll leave if you just let us out!"
Suddenly the temperature dropped, Nick's gauge spiraling through numbers in less than a second, settling on 55. The knob turned under Aaron's hand and he jerked the door open.
"Get the fuck out," Zak said quickly. "Now, guys. Let's get back upstairs."
They all filed out and closed the door behind them. Aaron leaned against the wall, pressing his forehead to the concrete. "That was fucking scary, man," he said, shaking his head. "We need to get the hell out of here. Out of this entire fucking hospital."
"Agreed," Nick and Zak said.
Zak stared at the device in his hand. It was still on and it had very clearly stated its desires.
"Dude. Turn that thing off," Aaron said. "This is ten times worse than Bobby Mackey's. Let's get the fuck out of here."
Zak switched the Talker off and they all headed back toward the stairs. Before they could even mount the first step, a thunderous crash sounded and several files cabinets and plastic crates fell into their path from the first floor. "What the fuck?" Zak exclaimed, his flashlight (which they had all turned on coming back up the corridor) zooming to the now blocked stairwell. One of the file cabinets had opened and papers were still fluttering to the floor.
"They really don't want us to leave," Nick said.
"There's still the elevator," Zak said, moving his flashlight to illuminate the controls on the wall. Aaron stared at him like he was insane. "It's our only shot unless you want to try and move all that." He motioned back at the heavy metal file cabinets and crates.
Nick was already at the elevator door and he pressed the UP button mounted on the wall. It lit up and the groaning of the elevator filled the basement. A ding notified its arrival and the boys entered the small cage. Zak pressed the first floor, and up they went. But the read-out at the top went past one and two, all the way to three. "What the hell?" he asked, hitting one again and again. But the elevator came to a stop on floor three and opened its doors into the dark hallway.
"Guess this is our stop," Nick said dryly. "We can go downstairs from here."
"Yeah," Aaron said. "Let's move our asses."
They departed the elevator and the doors squealed shut behind them. The elevator descended again, as though someone else had pressed a button on a lower floor.
"Where's the stairwell?" Aaron asked. "I want to get the hell out of this place."
"I think it's this way," Zak said, motioning to the right with his flashlight. The boys moved that way, and a door marked 'STAIRS' came quickly into view.
"Thank god," Aaron said, picking up his pace.
"DON'T TAKE THE STAIRS!"
He stopped dead, then backed quickly up next to Zak and Nick. "Y-you guys heard that, right?" he asked loudly, nervously.
"We heard it," Nick said.
"'Don't take the stairs'?" Zak repeated. "Well why the hell not?"
"There's another staircase in the patient hall," Aaron said. "I remember Grace talking about it." The boys agreed and began to move toward the patient wing.
"Are you still recording?" Zak asked. Nick and Aaron both nodded.
"At least," Aaron said, "they'll know what happened to us."
"Dude. Listen to this. I just replayed my digital recorder from before we went into Alessa's room." Nick held the small device out and the trio stopped, just outside the stairwell doors. "I don't hear anything." There was a pause, and before Zak could ask about the knob, a girl's voice said, clearly, "He doesn't like you."
"A lot of things here don't like us," Aaron said dryly.
"Yeah, but who's 'he'?" Zak asked.
"Who cares?" Aaron countered. He grabbed the door to the stairwell and pulled it open. "Let's get the hell outta here."
They reached the first floor in silence, the only sound from them their footsteps and the hum of the cameras. "Anyone see anything?" Zak asked before they stepped into the patient wing. Nick and Aaron swung their flashlights around the hall and shook their heads. Satisfied, the trio moved into the corridor and quickly began toward the main section of the first floor.
"It's almost three in the morning," Nick reported as they walked.
"Then we're only a few hours early," Zak said humorlessly.
"Dude. Dude! Wait! Shh!" Aaron grabbed Nick's arm. Zak turned. "Do you hear that?" Aaron whispered, swinging his flashlight around behind him.
It was a noise, like what they had heard earlier that afternoon in the basement, a sound like metal being dragged on concrete.
It was coming closer, rising like an angry wave from the end of the hall.
"What is that?" Zak asked, trying to see past the light of the flashlight.
"I don't want to know," Aaron said, backing toward the double doors that would lead them into the main lobby. "I really don't want to fucking know." He put his hand on the handle of the door, ready to bust through it if he had to.
Truth was, they were all curious as to what was coming down the hallway. Seeing death before it hits you kind of deal. But what was coming down the hall wasn't death; it was something much worse.
And when the figure first showed on Nick's viewfinder, none of them wanted to be in the hallway.
The figure was that of a muscled man, wearing what looked like an apron around his waist. The apron was grime-covered and yellow-looking, covered in dark patches of what could be assumed to be blood. Veins popped from this thing's arms like little mounds. It wasn't the blood-covered figure, or even the massive metal blade he dragged behind him, but his head that really froze the investigators to the spot. His head was a large, rusted metal pyramid shape, like a cage, sealing in some wild, rabid animal.
"What...what the fuck is that?" Nick shouted, backing up, finally finding the strength to move his legs. Aaron was halfway into the lobby when Zak and Nick sprinted for the door.
"Move! Move move move move!" Zak urged and the three stumbled into the lobby, Nick slamming the door shut behind them.
"Dude! Find me something to block this with!" he said, the screeching metal louder and louder. Aaron pushed a gurney toward him and Nick jammed it against the door. It shuttered as something slammed against the door from the other side.
The boys moved away from the double doors, Nick bringing his camera back up because, god-dammit if they were going to die, at least people would know what the hell happened here. "You think it can get through?" Aaron asked quietly. Zak shook his head slowly.
"I don't know."
Suddenly the door stopped shuddering and everything was still. "I think it left," Nick said after a few seconds. "Thank—"
A loud, tearing metal sound filled the lobby as the giant blade sliced through the middle of the door. "Holy shit!" Zak shouted. The blade twisted until a large, jagged hole had formed and an arm came through, reaching and grabbing, trying to find what was keeping it from its prey. It grabbed part of the gurney and jerked, moving it slightly.
"Let's fucking go!" Aaron shouted, turning for the front of the hospital. Zak was already digging in his pocket for the key Grace had given them and he was overwhelmingly glad she had convinced them to lock themselves down. He was shaking as he tried to unlock the padlock.
"Dude," Aaron said. "Dude, hurry up." The gurney crashed into the wall and the door's hinges screamed as it was slammed open.
"Got it!" Zak exclaimed, pulling the lock open and throwing it to the ground. He jerked open the door and the three ran out into the lamp-lit street, stumbling down the steps of the hospital. They all stared back through the open door, expecting at any second that thing to lumber out, dragging its blade behind it.
But nothing appeared.
No monster appeared, no bloody figure with a gigantic blade, or bedraggled nurses. Just the blackness of the hospital lay beyond the open door. "What," Aaron said, "was that?"
"I'm not going back in that fucking hospital, man," Nick said. "Not even if you fucking paid me."
"Let's just go back to the hotel," Zak suggested, still staring at the hospital door. "We'll figure out everything from there. Like what to do about getting our equipment back."
They all agreed and started down the street, back toward Jack's Inn.
And the ash in the foggy air floated lazily to the ground around them.