The hospital had stood abandoned atop the hill since the 70's. It had changed ownership multiple times, each successive owner announcing to the papers that they had grand plans for the building. None of the plans ever materialized, and the hospital just continued to rot away.
The building had become a sort of urban legend, a building whispered about around camp fires. They said that it was built at the turn of the century, to take care of some epidemic. They said the hospital could only hold 400 patients. Despite the massiveness of the epidemic, the hospital was never full. The death rate was astronomical, creating empty rooms as fast as they could fill them. When all was said and done, people claimed that there were almost 70,000 deaths in that building.
Not all of those deaths were patients.
The environment was not one of hope. The patients that came to the hospital were basically given a death sentence. The pitiful cries of pain, and horrible hacking coughs filled the air with a symphony of misery. This made it a very difficult place to work, and the suicide rate among the staff was high. It was rare for an entire month to go by without at least one death amongst the staff. In fact they tended to happen in clusters of two or three in a week’s time. Friends would follow friends into the dark embrace of death. By the time the hospital closed its doors, no one was allowed on the roof by themselves, for fear that they too, would take a dive to the pavement below.
Between the lack of hope, and the disease itself, several patients went insane, and had to be locked up and restrained. Stories even told of one patient who lost his mind, and managed to kill 15 patients and 4 nurses before he was finally subdued. The tales never told what happened to the patient.
Fortunately, a cure was found for the disease, and by the early 60's the hospital was closed. It was briefly reopened in '69 as a retirement home, but the residents complained of odd noises, and the death rate was abnormally high. By the summer of '70, the lack of residents forced the building to close again. As the years went on, the building was mostly forgotten, except by thrill-seeking teenagers and the occasional vagrant.
Missing person reports in the area skyrocketed. Most of them ended of as cold cases. Occasionally a body would be found near the old hospital, battered and broken by the foundation, another suicide of a despondent teenager. Stories began circulating that the spirits did not like being disturbed, and that any who violated their domain, would join them for eternity.
Maeve Redmond thought the stories were nothing more than a load of bullshit.
The missing people were likely just runaways, desperate to escape the humdrum of life in this little burg. No foul play, no need for supernatural boogeymen. Sure, there may have been a lot of deaths in that hospital, but there couldn't have been anywhere near as many as the stories claimed. There was no record of that many deaths, Maeve had checked. The most she could find in any single month was about 17, which put the death total death count well under 10,000.
The persistence of the stories started as a sort of joke in Maeve's eyes, but as she grew older, and the stories become more grisly, and more far-fetched they become a source of great irritation. Maeve was a firm believer in the rational world. Ghosts, spirits, poltergeists... These things were not rational ideas, they were the stuff of campfire stories, and Hollywood fantasy.
When another missing persons report got the office whispering about the ghosts at the old hospital, Maeve had finally had enough. That weekend, armed with her trusty Handycam, Maeve set out for the hospital under the cover of night, determined to prove that the hospital was not some malicious pit with ill intent. It was just an old building, with a bad reputation.
Over the years, the hospital had become the target of vandals, so when the current owners had come into possession of the property several years back, the first thing they did was erect a massive fence around the building. Coils of barbed wire glinted in the moonlight, in what was thought to be a fairly effective deterrent to vandals and other miscreants. Determination, and the undying pursuit of a nice adrenaline rush, guaranteed that no fence would ever be sufficient to stop the trespassers
Friday night, she drove to an apartment complex that had grown over the last decade at the foot of the hill. There was no way to get her car all the way up to the building that was one thing she had gleaned from all of the water cooler gossip. She had heard that her best bet was to sneak up through the woods,
and slip through a small gap left in the fence by some previous trespassers.
It was a long trip up the hill. She stuck to the woods, slipping occasionally on wet, fallen leaves. The darkness was a hindrance, but it was a necessity. Twice she had to duck behind large trees to avoid security patrols driving up and down the driveway that lead up to the back of the building, their flashlights piercing the air so close to her face that both times she was sure she was caught.
When she finally made it to the fence, it towered over her, a seemingly impenetrable barrier. However, just as she had heard, there was a well hidden gap in some bushes not too far from the road. Apparently some intrepid vandal had seen the way the bushes grew around the fence, and had used it to conceal his entryway. If you didn't know to look, you would never find where the links in the chain link fence had been cut.
From the bushes she watched as another security patrol went past. Growing up in this area she never would have guessed the security would be this heavy at an abandoned hospital. Perhaps, the vandalism had been more extreme than she had thought.
When the patrol was out of sight, she took a moment to gaze up at the massive hospital. Five stories stood before her, red brick, atop a gray foundation. Not a single pane of glass remained in the seemingly endless array of windows. The land from the fence to the wall was completely barren, not a single tree or bush to hide behind. Once she left cover, she would be exposed until she made it inside the building.
As soon as the next security patrol passed, she darted across the land, running straight for the fire escape. The fire escape wasn't part of the original building, and had been added on when the building was reopened as a nursing home. Fortunately this meant that while it might be a little rickety, it was still mostly stable. Climbing up as quickly as she could, she only barely managed to climb in the second story window before the security patrol managed another pass.
This close to the windows, there was no way she could use her flashlight. So, relying on the small amount of moonlight that came through the windows, Maeve began her slow trek through the hospital. From the corner of her eye she caught faint glimpses of years of graffiti. Vulgar phrases and crude depictions of various body parts mixed with quotes from Shakespeare and menacing threats.
Maeve paid the majority of the graffiti no mind, choosing to ignore the superstitious nonsense that some of it focused on. Occasionally a piece would catch her eye. There was some real talent behind some of those images, and she couldn't help but take a moment to capture them on her Handycam.
As she recorded one particularly detailed piece that looked like a man screaming, that cleverly used a hole in the wall as the man's mouth, she heard a scraping noise in the hallway. She lowered the camera, and scrambled through the hole in the wall, afraid of getting caught by a roving security guard.
On the other side of the wall, the room was black as pitch. Apparently, it was far enough away from a window, that not even ambient moonlight could pierce the darkness. She huddled near the hole, watching for the tell-tale shine of a flashlight, but it never came. She watched, waiting for whoever made the noise to show themselves.
She remained there, hunched over, afraid to move for what seemed like hours. Finally, she assumed whatever had made the noise was gone, and tentatively turned on her flashlight. She shone the beam around the room, the light falling on scattered debris, and what looked like a long-abandoned hobo camp. With the fear of being caught no longer ramping her adrenaline up, she started to notice the smells, and hastily made her way out of the room before she could identify the source of those smells.
She stowed the flashlight in her backpack, and once more began roaming the halls. The stories she had heard from her coworkers had all said that the weirdest stuff had happened up on the 5th floor, so she made her way toward the stairwell, this time ignoring the strange scraping noises she heard, assuming now that it was some wild animal trapped in the walls, or possibly just the wind blowing debris. Either way, it was nothing to worry about.
The stairwell was even worse off than the rooms, and she made sure to catch every inch of it on the Handycam. Broken glass littered the stairs, and what looked like discarded needles stuck out from a pile of splintered boards in the corner of a landing. Scorch marks covered one wall, and in places it looked like someone had taken a sledgehammer and just began pounding on the walls.
The graffiti on the walls became cruder, and more disjointed as she climbed. Where once she had seen Shakespearean quotes mixed in with the vulgarities, now even the vulgarities were disjointed, and made almost no sense.
“Watching... Faces. Voices. Fucking my head.” was scrawled in sharpie on the landing between the 4th and 5th floor. Surrounding those words was a series of stylized faces, elongated, black forms with only the barest indication of eyes and a mouth. There must have been hundreds of these faces. Some looked positively menacing, others looked almost forlorn. For the life of her, Maeve could not find two that looked alike.
She followed the faces up the steps, each step making them more twisted, and less human. By the fourth step, the faces had started losing their mouths. By the time she reached the door to the fifth floor, they were no longer faces but just undulating shadowy forms. Some looked like candle flames, others looked like elongated footballs.
The floor to the 5th floor was closed, and she could see a deep gouge in the wood, almost like someone had taken an ax, and tried to cut their way out. The door opened easily enough, with only a slight creaking of poorly maintained hinges, and she found herself on the fabled 5th floor. There weren't very many rooms up here. Some showers, a bathroom, and what might have been a nurse's station appeared to be it. The majority of the level was given over to the roof. On one side, a decrepit swing set shivered in a gentle breeze. The other side of the roof had a gaping hole, where it had collapsed years ago.
Maeve looked around for a good spot to set up, and chose a spot against one of the windows, where she'd be able to see most of the floor. She opened her backpack, and pulled out her blanket, a few bottles of water, and her mini tripod, and began setting up. She placed the bottles of water inside an old electrical box, which had long ago been stripped of any wiring. She wanted to make sure she wouldn't leave evidence behind should security come this way. Sitting down in front of her mini tripod, Maeve wrapped the blanket around herself, and began what she had come here to do.
“My name is Maeve Redmond. I’m recording today from the fifth floor of the Westerbrook Hospital. The time is currently 11:35 PM, on October 25th, 2013. I have decided to partake in today’s… extra-legal activities, to prove once and for all that there are no spirits, ghosts, or boogeymen roaming the halls of old Westerbrook.”
She cleared her throat, and looked around the room.
“Preceding this statement, you will have seen multiple examples of the graffiti that mark the walls of this once proud building, indicating many others have managed to make it this far in without falling prey to some spooky poltergeist. This video log will help to dispel the rumors once and for all, and might finally help to facilitate the renovation and restoration of this magnificent piece of our cultural heritage.
“At this point, I have been in the building since about 9:30PM. I unfortunately did not obtain an exact time, due to my efforts to avoid detection. As of yet, I have experienced nothing that could even remotely be considered “paranormal”. The spookiest event thus far was when I stepped into an abandoned hobo camp. The smells coming from the camp, while not in the slightest bit paranormal were fairly frightening.”
She stopped talking briefly, to grab one of her concealed bottles of water. The first one was already warm to the touch, apparently the chill October air was not enough to keep this one cold. She sighed, and tossed it into her bag. When she grabbed the other one, she gasped and immediately dropped it. It hit the floor with a sound akin to a rock hitting concrete. The contents of the bottle were frozen solid.
“That was…odd.” She looked down at the bottle, as it rolled to the center of the room. “Apparently, I brought a frozen water bottle with me.”
Shaking her head, she continued. “ The stories about Westerbrook are littered with blatant falsehoods and gross exaggerations. That have been used to terrify people for decades. It's time to set the record straight and dispel the stories spread by the fear-mongers. Westerbrook was never...”
She saw something out of the corner of her eye, a person standing in the doorway to her right. She turned to face them, knowing that her night was over, only to see the shape dissipate into the air with a low “shhhhh”.
Maeve got to her feet, and walked over to where she had seen the shape. Looking in vain for whatever had caused the strange vision. Her search ended, when she heard the water bottle begin rolling again. She wheeled around to see the bottle spinning around on the floor, faster and faster, until it was spinning around on its tip.
Maeve backed toward a window, suddenly beginning to think that her trip up here was a mistake. She gasped in horror as a black shape appeared from behind the nurse's station. The shape glided across the room in a motion that seemed preternaturally fluid. It looked similar to a tall, impossibly thin man. One could easily spot the shape of a head, and arms, and even legs. However, the inky black form lacked a face. Truth be told, it looked like nothing more than a shadow. Maeve watched it gliding toward her, and pressed her back even harder against the wall between the windows.
“Stay Back!” Maeve shouted, waving her arms in front of her wildly. “Stay away from me.”
The shape glided ever closer, it's presence lending a chill to the air, as Maeve cowered, the window frame digging painfully into her back. It reached out one of its shadowy arms, the fingers mere inches from her face. “Join... us...”
It pushed into her, carrying her through the window, and down. She had time for one last scream of terror, until the blackness filled her vision.