Enjoy part one of this year’s Halloween series.

Creepy, that was the only word for it thought Henry. The old hospital looked faded, worn, and dilapidated. Window frames showed only darkness, forgotten hospital equipment, and in some cases painted wood. Henry had no idea why he agreed to tour the old building. It had been a foolish dare, and he should have said no.

“Boo!” came Lewis’ familiar voice as he gave Henry a shove. Instinctively, Henry startled and then stumbled forward. “Relax, man. You’re way too jumpy,” Lewis got out through his laughter.

“You pushed me,” Henry responded in annoyance. “I don’t get it. I thought you dared me to come to his place alone, why did you come along?”

Lewis stuck his hands in his front pockets against the crisp fall air. “Well, let’s just say I’ve wanted to explore this place since we were kids and didn’t want to come alone.”

Henry crossed his arms, “So, we had to do this on Halloween?”

Lewis nodded, “It’s just a day, but this will make a great story to tell our friends one day.”

Henry rolled his eyes, “What’s the story? How we contracted hepatitis or tetanus?”

“Let’s just find a way inside,” responded Lewis.

Henry followed Lewis up to the front door. It was predictably locked. Henry let out a sigh that Lewis ignored and the pair headed back down the entrance steps to the side of the building. The sloping hill to the basement was rutted and pitted with time. Henry and Lewis stumbled along the old, dark, overgrown hillside until they reached the basement door. Lewis jerked, and the door rattled, but would not give way. Lewis continued yanking the door, and Henry noticed two broken window pains boarded up from the inside. Henry took his shoulder and elbow and thrust them into the plywood. The rotted boards that the nails had been hammered into immediately gave way, and the plywood hit the concrete floor inside with an echoing bang. Lewis jumped and then turned to Henry.

“Good job,” said Lewis.

“I hope nobody heard that,” responded Henry.

“Who’s around to hear? Come on, let’s get inside.”

Henry turned on his smart phone’s flashlight and looked inside. To his surprise, the flooring lay six feet below. “Careful,” said Henry, “This first step is a doozy,” Lewis observed Henry lower himself down, and Lewis followed suit. The room was bare except for the old cinderblock walls and some piping ten feet above on the ceiling. Henry and Lewis scanned with their flashlights. Henry was disappointed at how commonly dull and empty the room was. With great anticipation, the two creeped out into the hallway. The light beams from the phones trailed off into the darkness. There were two doors on each side, and all four sat open.

The two men slowly made their way down the hall. They peered inside and scanned the rooms but found mostly dust. One area had pieces of cut plywood leaning up against the wall, and another held an old, empty metallic tray on wheels. Henry was disappointed. “This is it?” he asked Lewis.

Lewis shrugged, “How do I know. We’ve both heard the rumors about this place. Besides, if an old insane asylum isn’t haunted, what is?”

“Exactly” groused Henry.

The two men slowly made their way around the corner of the hallway. An old wheelchair was barely visible down the hall. Henry thought its broken wheel was likely the victim of teenagers who had snuck into the hospital. He felt ridiculous to be skulking around an old building at thirty-years-old like some thirteen-year-old kid. Scattered dust on the floor told Henry that others had been going through the hallway only a day or two before, and he wondered if they were alone in the large building.

Two doors stood open across from one another. Henry took the room to his left, and Lewis to his right. Henry scanned the room. It had been some sort of lab. As his light panned around the room, Henry chided himself for secretly hoping to find body parts preserved in glass jars. Instead, dirty binders full of reams of printed pages, and old empty test tubes were scattered about the room. A couple of metallic bookshelves sat mostly empty save the three-ringed notebooks, and the counter on the back of the room held more dust than anything else.

Henry jumped when Lewis tapped him on the shoulder. “Come and check this out, man,” whispered Lewis.

“Why are you whispering?” asked Henry.

Lewis shrugged and continued to whisper, “Just come here.”

Henry followed Lewis across the hall. The old morgue’s cast iron cooler was flush with the wall. Some of its doors were open, and others weren’t. It was obvious somebody had taken the time to swing the doors open and close not too long ago based on the lack of dust. Henry’s embarrassment for being in the old sanitarium washed over him again. “Let’s go. It’s just an old room,” said Henry.

Lewis responded with an edge of excitement in his voice, “Come on, you don’t know it’s the morgue? Look at that old freezer, it’s creepy to think about the bodies that have passed through that thing, and what about the exam table? Look, you can still see blood stains.”

Henry sighed, “I came inside as you asked. This is silly; we aren’t kids anymore. Yea, it’s a morgue. They have thousands of these in hospitals all over the world. I’m getting cold and bored.”

A loud bang reverberated through the hallway, and the walls seem to shudder at the sound. The two men peaked out into the hallway. At the far end, both thought they saw someone pass through an opened door at the end of the hall. “Vagrants,” whispered Henry.

“Or ghosts” responded Lewis.

“Let’s see if we can find that basement door,” Henry said, his voice barely audible.

Both men scurried down the hallway the way they had come, hopeful they could find an exit. As they went around the corner, Henry almost tripped over Lewis who had suddenly stopped. Without saying a word, he pointed back and forth in front of them. All four doors that had been open were shut.

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