Disclaimer: I do not own the Twilight Saga or any of the characters from the series. All characters belong exclusively to their rightful owner. No copyright infringement is intended.
I officially didn't win, not that I expected to, but this is my entry for the All Hallows Eve Anonymous Contest. Hope you like it. Thanks to AgoodWITCH for betaing this for me.
"Are you sure you want to do this, Bella? It's not too late to back out if you really don't want to. I know you weren't really gung ho about it," Edward whispered, eyeing me closely for a reaction that didn't align with my words as he held my upper arms in his comforting grip.
We were standing at the base of the hill leading to the old limestone edifice of the closed mental hospital, which we were supposed to spend the night exploring with our friends this Halloween night. Alice and Jasper were already halfway up the hill, their supplies attached to their backs, flashlights in hand illuminating the narrow, crumbling limestone stairs that led to the patio in front of the windowless three storey building. I watched their forms ascend toward the structure where Rose and Emmett were already waiting, Emmett's large frame bouncing up and down with excitement next to our tour guide for the evening, Garrett England.
I swallowed thickly as I nodded slowly, glancing back toward the ominous building on the hill. "Yeah. I'm sure it will be fun to do this with our friends. It's just an old building, right? There's no such thing as haunted. I don't believe in any of this stuff anyway. Just…are you sure it's safe?"
I turned to gaze up at Edward again as he smiled, rubbing his hands up and down my arms. "Garrett said that he asked the firemen to walk the entire structure to make sure it was safe. They say it's solid. There were a few things that were possibly at risk of falling that Garrett either removed or secured. He assured me, in writing, that it was perfectly safe when I paid for our tour two months ago. I promise you, Bella, you'll be perfectly safe. I'll be by your side the whole time."
He winked down at me as I giggled. He laughed a little too before leaning down to brush his lips over mine, the warmth soothing away my ill ease. I sighed; parting my lips a little, which Edward immediately took advantage of by sliding his tongue into the space to tease my tongue gently. We moved closer, our kiss deepening, until we were interrupted by the unmistakable bellow of Emmett above us.
"Come on, lovebirds. You save the scared shitless fucking for AFTER you spend a night in the haunted sanitarium, not before!"
We both chuckled, picking up our packs and sliding them on before walking hand in hand up the narrow steps, shining our flashlights before us as we rose. As we reached the group, Garrett quickly reminded us of our rules and made sure we all brought spare batteries, as well as an additional set in the car. We all nodded before sliding the small walkie talkies with homing locators Garrett had for each of us in case we ended up separated into the cuffs on our biceps and heading up the ten small limestone steps that rose to the old warped porch and the decrepit metal double doors beyond.
Garrett opened the pad lock with a key, removing the thick chain linked through the handles with a loud clank before resting both on the porch and pulling the doors open. The metal screamed with age and disuse as he slowly opened it to reveal the dark cavernous entryway.
Emmett led the way, Rose holding his hand as she followed. Edward went next, tugging me behind him excitedly. Our lights illuminated the old cracked walls, still painted with a dim hint of yellow, aged nearly beyond recognition. A rounded desk along the left wall waited, eerily unmanned where once upon a time a receptionist would greet visitors. I shined my light slowly around me, feeling my skin pebble on my arms at the eerie feel of the dark room, the black corridors stretching both left and right just beyond us.
A light flashed quickly to my right down the corridor making me jump and look as Edward laughed, pulling me close, and nuzzling my ear. "Remember, love, we're right next to a major road. We'll probably see a lot of headlights flash by tonight."
I sighed, relaxing slightly as I nodded in understanding. I looked down the hallway again, my eyes struggling to get used to the darkness. I was just about to turn back to talk to Edward when another light flashed and I jumped and screamed as I saw a dark form illuminated against the backdrop of the light.
Everyone huddled around me, asking what was wrong as I stared unseeingly down the hallway. After the fourth or maybe fifth time Edward begged me to answer him, I blinked into the dark as I whispered.
"Garrett? Is there anyone else here tonight?"
Garrett shook his head. "No, my business partner is out of town, so we're alone."
A low chuckle echoed down the hall I had just been looking making everyone jump and yell as a tall man with wide shoulders and dark hair stepped into the light. Garrett cursed at the man before turned back with apologetic eyes.
"I am so sorry, Bella. My business partner, Felix, thinks it's funny to give our tour groups a scare by showing up and hiding out to jump out at them. I honestly believed him when he said he was out of town today." He shot a glare at his partner as he said the last part, causing the large man to laugh harder and shake his head.
"I am, my friend. I just couldn't resist the fun of Halloween night. If I didn't have to take off so soon, I'd have waited longer, and probably upstairs in the old ECT rooms."
"ECT?" Alice asked, looking warily at the large man.
He looked down at her with a dark look in his eyes. "Electro Convulsive Therapy…or what most of us know as Electro SHOCK."
Alice gasped, tightening her already tight grip on Jasper's arm as he winced. "They did that here?"
Felix leaned in, his eyebrows raising and lowering conspiratorially. "They did a whole hell of a lot more than THAT here! This place wasn't known as Hell on Earth for no reason. Dr. Volturi was one sick motherfucker. He ran all sorts of experiments on his poor 'patients.' There was even one rumor that he created a Vampire here."
Rose, Alice, and I all stared wide eyed and freaking out before all the guys started cracking up at once. "Women! Do you really not pay any attention to our Sci-Fi movies? A doctor can't just MAKE a Vampire! Please!" Emmett crowed making the men laugh louder.
All the men besides Felix that is, who stared at me with the most serious expression I had ever seen. I shivered in response as he eyed me closely, his brows pulling together to pucker in concentration. After he had thoroughly studied me, he looked to Edward, then Alice, then Jasper. His eyes widened as he looked back and forth again between me, Alice, and Edward, before reaching out and putting his hand on Garrett's shoulder.
"Dude, you need to cancel this tour."
Garrett turned on the man, shaking his head. "What? Why?"
Felix looked from Alice to me, to Alice again before glancing up at Edward. "Trust me."
Garrett sighed, shaking his head. "Come on. Talk to me outside." He led the tall man outside, leaving us all in the entryway.
My friends and I huddled in the middle room, the guys laughing while Alice, Rose, and I looked anxiously at one another. None of us were feeling right about this anymore. Something was off.
"This is so fucking cool, man!" Emmett cheered, reaching out to fist bump a widely smiling Edward. I bit my lip, trying to hang in for him, but I was already freaking out.
The guys talked excitedly as I worried my light in my hands and tried to calm my pounding heart. Just when I had almost calmed myself down, a loud bang sounded down the hallway, followed by the bright lights of another car passing by flashing through the glassless rectangular window.
"What the fuck was that?" Emmett grumbled as he walked toward the hallway, shining his light down the hall. Edward and Jasper walked behind him to peek too as I backed toward the desk, my grip on my light was so tight my fingers were beginning to go numb. Rose and Alice moved closer to the boys just as Emmett started to walk down the hall. Rose grabbed his arm, begging him to wait for Garrett, but Emmett was not backing down.
I was just about to run to grab Edward's hand and beg him not to follow when all of the lights went out at once. There were five distinct screams, both male and female in the dark. I shook my light desperately trying to get it to turn back on. I could hear shuffling in the dark, but then it all stopped.
A second later, my light came back on to reveal the room…the room in which I was all alone. I yelled for Edward and the rest of my friends, but nobody was there. I ran to the door, pushing hard to open and exit the terrifying darkness, but it wouldn't budge. I pushed again hearing the distinctive clank of the chains. The doors were chained closed.
I pushed again, crying and screaming before pounding on the door, begging for them to stop playing and let me out. I cried and screamed until my voice grew hoarse, and still no reply. I turned back to the room and shined the light around, looking for my pack. When I found it, I ran for it, looking for the map of the floor plan Garrett had given us before we entered. I yanked it out, looking for alternative exits, or even low windows I could use to escape.
As I was looking, there was a loud crackle from the walkie talkie on my arm before Edward's quiet voice came across the airwaves.
"Bella, can you hear me? Are you okay? Bella, talk to me. Tell me you're okay, baby."
I yanked the device off my arm, pushing the button to talk quickly. "I'm here. I'm here. The door is locked. Get me out. Please, please get me out! I'm scared, Edward."
"Bella, baby, please answer me. Come on, baby. Come back to me. You have to come back to me. I love you so much."
"EDWARD! Can you hear me? EDDDWAARRRDD!" I screamed as best I could into the device as I held down the button. When I released it, I hoped for a reply, but I got nothing but static. I screamed and curled my knees to my chest, wrapping my arms around my legs and resting my pounding forehead to my knees. I hated the fact that when I was crying and upset I always got migraines. They always made an already intense situation that much worse when the pain would sometimes get so bad that my vision would blur, as it was doing now.
I sat and cried for a good five minutes before I realized it wasn't getting me anywhere. After a few big gulps of breath, I finally stood up, slid my backpack back on, and gripped my flash light and map in my hand as I stumbled down the dark hall to my left, heading toward what was supposed to be another exit.
My footsteps echoed loudly as I walked in isolation down the dark, dank corridor. I was about three quarters of the way down to where I needed to go, when I heard a noise behind me. I turned quickly, flashing my light behind me to see nothing there. I turned back to look ahead again in time to see a light flash in a room two doors down, but instead of going away, the light got brighter as I grew closer.
When I got to the door, the light flooded into the corridor and suddenly everything changed around me. The old cracked walls grew smooth, the faded yellow paint restored to a vibrant color that reminded me of a Daffodil, as suddenly the hall around me grew crowded by people. Nurses walked by, crisp white uniforms paired with boat shaped hats and thick orthopedic shoes. They ignored me as they passed, pausing to assist a patient shuffling down the hall before rushing off to their next duty.
I stood and turned slowly, feeling panicked and wondering if I had actually gone crazy as the people passed by me as if I didn't exist. That was until I felt a chill behind me seconds before my clothes changed. Suddenly, I was in a matching nurse's uniform, a clipboard in my arms, and my hair pulled into a bun with uncomfortable pins holding it and the funky hat in place.
A cold bony hand landed on my shoulder, making me jump and scream as I was turned toward an old, bony man wearing a lab coat. He looked like the Crypt Keeper, except worse.
"Nurse Swan, could you please do your job and stop standing around on my dime?"
My eyes dropped down to his nametag, which read DR. A VOLTURI. I held the clipboard to my chest and shuddered as I nodded and turned to walk away.
"Where are you going, Nurse Swan? I need you to help with patient 3224's procedure. Do I need to call in Dr. Masen?"
I held the clipboard tighter, shaking my head as my whole body trembled with shock. I didn't understand what was going on, but I had no choice but to follow the Crypt Keeper down the hallway to a door on the left. I followed him down a flight of steps to a floor not noted on the floor plan I had been staring at just a few moments before, and through two large metal double doors to the doorway of an office. The old man walked in, leaving me in the corridor to examine the pictures hanging along the walls, years posted on tiny plaques under each glassed in image.
Right next to the door was a photo that said VMH Staff 1927. There in the center of the picture, standing side by side were Edward and I, posing with the nurses I had seen in the hallway above, as well a ton more that I had never seen. I stood frozen, my hand shaking as I reached up toward the picture in shock, shaking my head, and trying to understand.
I jumped as the voice snapped behind me. "Don't touch that. I don't like fingerprints all over everything. Seriously, Nurse Swan, you should know better."
I dropped my hand and tried to school my panicked breath as he gestured me down a long, narrow corridor lined with pipes and tubes. At the end of the hall, we passed through another set of double doors, which opened into a room that resembled an operating room. A small girl with a wild mop of raven hair was strapped to the table, machines all around her. As the doctor approached, she began to buck wildly trying to get free.
I crossed to stand by the girl and try to calm her. When I looked down, I screamed. "Alice! Oh my God! What are you doing here?"
The doctor turned on me, shoving me toward the door. "Swan! Out! If you don't even recognize your most important patient today, then you have no business being here. I don't know what is wrong with you, but you have to go. Send in my niece to assist."
I shook my head and tried to get to Alice, who looked at me like she hated me as she continued to fight against her restraints. I began to sob as I stared at her. "I'll figure a way to get us out of this," I whispered in promise before running out of the doors and down the corridor the way we had come. I ran up the stairs to the room I had been standing outside, hoping to get back somehow to where I was supposed to be…to Edward.
I walked into the room I had been standing outside when the world changed. Once I got there, I noticed the name on the tab by the door was Mary Brandon. I walked in to see the ugly small room, which was shared with another patient. I walked to the dresser to see a picture sitting on top of the girl who looked like Alice, standing next to a boy that looked like Jasper. I didn't even hear the approach until I felt familiar arms wrap around me.
Tears began to roll down my cheeks, as I melted into his embrace, believing the nightmare was over…that was until the man's scent wafted over me. It was wrong. Instead of sandalwood and the slight musk of Edward, there was a sickeningly sweet scent that was similar to that of the creepy doctor. I turned to see Edward staring down at me with concerned eyes, his hair slicked back with greasy hair stuff, a mustache resting upon his upper lip.
"What on Earth do you think you're doing, Annabell? Are you trying to ruin all of our hard work?"
I shook my head in confusion, my mind unable to process everything that was happening as my vision blurred again between the migraine and the stress. He cocked his head as he looked more closely at me, gently resting his thumb on my lower eyelid and pulling it down.
"Bell? What's wrong? Are you okay?"
I shook my head slowly. "I'm confused, Edward. This is all so confusing." I lifted my hand to my forehead in a vain attempt to lessen the pounding.
Edward cocked his head at me, the worry in his eyes growing dire as he immediately led me from the room and down to an office a few doors down. He closed it quickly, locking it before kneeling before me.
"Bell, do you know who I am?"
I rolled my eyes. "You're my boyfriend, Edward Cullen, duh."
He shook his head slowly before reaching for a stethoscope and holding it to my chest. It was then that I read his nametag. Dr. A Masen
"You…You're not Edward?" I asked, staring closely, looking for something to say this man wasn't my beloved. I could find nothing save for the goop in his hair and the caterpillar on his lip. He was every bit my Edward.
"I don't know what happened to you, but YOU are Annabelle Swan and WE are trying to get this ridiculous excuse for a hospital closed down and get these poor people real treatment. We're really close to having all the evidence we need, Bell. You need to go home before you screw this up. We have to save these people. Your friend Mary and her boyfriend J.R. are depending on you to rescue them. Next week, that lunatic is going to lobotomize both of them. We can't lose it now."
He walked to the desk and lit a cigarette. I watched in morbid fascination, never dreaming I would see my health nut boyfriend sucking on what he not so affectionately referred to as death sticks. Dr. Edward lookalike paced the room, mumbling to himself, before turning back to me, his eyes shrewd and narrowed.
"You aren't sabotaging this on purpose, are you Bell? I mean…"
I shook my head, my tears getting worse as the pain increased. I felt myself leaning in my chair moments before the strong arms grabbed me again and lowered me to the floor by the chair, checking my eyes again.
The lights went out and I was once again in the dark, lying on the floor in the room the light had emanated from, only a small circle of light nearby in the dark, empty room. I could hear Edward's voice coming from the walkie again.
"Help is on the way, Baby. They'll be here any minute. I'm so sorry, honey. I should never have talked you into coming here. This was such a big mistake. We're going to get you out of here."
I grabbed for the device, trying to talk back when a shadow moved next to me. I picked up the light and shined it, only to see it go dim just as a tiny, barely visible face of Alice, but with a halo of black tangled hair, came into focus. A car passed by a second later, illuminating the full room for a spit second. All around me stood the patients I had seen in the hall, as well as Alice and Jasper's faces as they looked at me with a small smile.
The device crackled again. "You asked me if this place was safe, and I promised you. I never dreamed that something would fall and hit you, Baby. I'm so, so sorry. I will make this up to you. I swear."
The pain behind my eyes grew worse as I closed them and lay back, giving in to the pressure and agony. The sounds of voices grew louder through the walkie before a light shone behind my eyelids. I could feel Edward holding my hand as strangers stood above me, touching me. The light behind my eyelid grew brighter as they lifted the lid and shined it in my eye. I shrunk back from the light, whimpering at the extreme pain it had caused.
I heard several sighs of relief and a few 'Thank God's' as Edward's hand tightened on mine, his familiar scent wafting over me in comforting waves. The EMT's continued to work on me, placing gauze on my head, sliding a collar on my neck, and a board under my back, before transferring me to a stretcher. I felt dazed and confused, but I had to know.
"Basement." I rasped out, grabbing Edward's hand and tugging.
"What, sweetheart?" He said, leaning in to hear me.
"Is there a Basement here? Ask."
Edward shook his head. "No, baby. There isn't a basement here."
I heard a male gasp behind me before the voice of Felix rang out across the room. "Actually there is. It's not safe, so guests are not allowed down there, but there is one."
"Pictures?" I rasp trying to look his way.
Felix sighed. "Nineteen twenty seven."
I felt a tear slip down my face before I went back into the darkness.
I awoke again several hours later in a hospital bed with Edward by my side. I watched him sleep for a long time before he finally stirred and smiled at me, a tear slipping down his cheek as he moved closer and kissed my hand.
"I really thought I'd lost you. Are you okay?"
I nodded. "It was weird, though. I have to ask you a question. Did you have a relative who was a doctor with the last name Masen?"
Edward blanched before reaching into a bag next to him and pulling out an old, faded photo in a frame. "Felix brought this up to me after you were moved to a regular room. That," he said pointing to the image of Dr. Masen, "was my great grandfather, Anthony Masen. And this," he said pointing to the image of me, "was nurse Annabell Swan, your great grandmother. They were the reason Volturi was captured."
I held the picture in my shaky hand, looking at the exact picture and frame I had stared at in my dream state. He reached behind him and pulled out another. "This was one he also brought." He pointed to the girl who looked like Alice. "This was Mary Alice Brandon, Alice's great aunt, and J.R. Whitlock, Jasper's distant uncle. They were both subjects of Volturi's experiments and died from their injuries just after Masen and Swan exposed Volturi."
I took the picture and sobbed as I stared at the tangled hair of Alice's ancestor, remembering the hate in her eyes as I ran out of that room. Then I remembered that moment, right before I woke up, they were all around me, smiling. They were free, but they wanted us to remember. It was more than just some urban legend or scary story, their struggle was real and our family saved them.
"I saw them, when I was out. I saw the corridor, the room he did his experiments in, and these pictures. I also saw your grandfather. He smoked...it was so…strange."
Edward sighed, running his hand through his hair and apologizing with his eyes again before kissing me softly on the lips. I sighed as he rested his forehead against mine before brushing his lips softly against mine. I stared at the picture a bit longer before I froze and yanked it closer to my face for a closer look. On the back row, on the far left, another familiar face stared out of the yellowed image. The face of someone who knew we shouldn't have stayed that night…Felix.
Edward gasped as he stared at the picture with me, obviously spotting the familiarity.
"Did he rig this whole thing?" Edward asked more to himself than anything else. I looked up at him in confusion.
Garrett told me that the firemen came in as soon as we got you out of there. They were as shocked as the rest of us, having just done another walkthrough the day before we came to make sure everything was secure. The pipe that fell on you had been reinforced with brand new steel cables. Somehow, all five of those cables snapped in half. They had no explanation as to how.
I frowned at the picture as I thought about it before shaking my head slowly. "No, he wasn't in the room when it happened and he had no way of knowing I'd be standing there. I…I think THEY did it."
"They?" Edward asked warily.
"The patients…I saw them just before I woke up in the dark room. They wanted us to know what was done. I think they wanted people to take it seriously…to…respect what happened to them…to help others remember."
Edward stared at me worriedly as I blinked up at him before rolling my eyes. "Seriously? I told you there was a basement, that there was a picture there, and I was right, but THIS you don't believe?"
Edward's brow furrowed deeper before he sighed, his shoulders slumping beside the bed. "It's just all so…out there."
I scoffed, the action making a lightning bolt of pain flash behind my eyes, before mumbling out, "Tell me about it." Edward chuckled with me, kissing my forehead gently, as I sighed and drifted back into the comfort of sleep.