Staring up at the dilapidated building, you wonder exactly how big the old asylum supposedly is. When you looked it up at the library, they had five floors mapped out, including a basement. The U-shaped building was set far back behind a chain link fence, several warning signs hanging from the mesh warding away intruders. Standing with wire cutters, you smirked as you began clipping a way into the facility.
Hanging off your frame is an empty duffel bag, one you intend to fill with copper piping that should be in the buildings walls. Between your tool belt and bolt cutters, nothing should stand between you and a few hundred dollars’ worth of forgotten metal. Harmony was getting on in her pregnancy and it was touch and go due to her anemia. She needed special medicine to keep the baby healthy, and lots of red meat to keep herself up. In her eighth month, she’d been ordered to remain in bed due to how frail she’d become.
You’ve been sleeping on the fold-out couch for the last two weeks, allowing her to have the bed to herself.
Your job as a security guard isn’t paying enough sadly, but it does give you a bit of insight into local buildings and businesses that weren’t under security contracts.
Like the old Winthrop Asylum at the edge of town.
You stop for a moment to adjust your ski mask and sweater, your gloves already snug enough to provide both cover in case someone does show up, and heat to ward away the chill of a Connecticut October. While there hadn’t been any snow, there had been a few bouts of freezing rain, and a good deal of fog rolling around the hills surrounding Alice Grove, making the woods an extra spooky place for the teenagers who dared to go out into them for endorphin-fueled escapades.
You remember fondly how those very escapades led to your girlfriend’s current condition, thinking back on the passion filled summer night as you finish clipping a hole through the fence.
Tossing the bolt cutters into your bag, you step through the hole in the fence and begin hiking down the gentle slope to the abandoned asylum. The grounds are overrun with thick weeds and shrubs, with two rows of trees lining the cracked road leading up to the entrance of the facility. A parking lot looks more like a moor with the fog licking at the edges of the night, rolling softly across the grounds to swallow everything within sight.
Stopping when you stumble over a stone, you pull your smart phone and flick on the flash light to look down.
“What in the world…?” You say, staring at a pair of slate gray eyes peering up from the fog, a cherubic face smiling up with an almost sinister grin.
It takes you a moment to realize that you’re looking at a broken piece of statue that’s somehow ended up on the grounds. Heaving a sigh, you shine the light ahead of you to try and watch your step. You’re surprised when you notice dozens of broken statues rising from the mists, all of them old and worn. Walking over to one, you kneel down and wipe the dirt away from the half-face of an older man, the one eye wide as if surprised.
“Who would make statues like this?” You mutter, turning it over in your hand to try and examine it better.
A jostling noise, muted by the fog, causes you to flip the flashlight up so you can look for whatever made the noise. It had sounded like a dog running by, large and heavy with dragging paws.
“Shit,” you mutter. “Didn’t think about dogs…”
You pull your hammer from your belt, readying it in case a dog comes charging from the fog. The only response to your drawing a weapon is a low growl coming from somewhere further ahead of you. When you point your flashlight in the direction, all you see is a swirl of mist, as if something had just been standing there and somehow moved without rippling the murky ocean of fog you are wading in.
You whistle, low and long, trying to coax the animal out of hiding so you can save yourself the trouble of worrying about the inevitable encounter with the canine. You slap at your neck to ward away an errant mosquito, thinking about what you can do about this predicament. When you leave the asylum, you’re going to be bogged down with enough metal that you’ll be way too easy to pick off.
Something brushes against your leg, pushing you slightly. Spinning to look down at the spot, you only find a trail of open air quickly being filled in, leading off further into the unknown.
“Fucking hell,” you say. “God, I hate dogs…”
“I do too,” a voice whispers into your ear.
You whirl around, gasping when you see a flash of pale, veiny skin slink behind a tree.
“Whose there?” You call out, dreading the answer. A dog had you worried, but a person here made you terrified! Nobody was supposed to be here! “I don’t want to fight; I just came to… check on the building.”
The muffled silence of the night smothers you as you continue to fan your light over the area, hoping to catch sight of whoever is lurking in the shadows. Staring in the distance, you catch sight of a tall figure, a man, standing between two trees. He’s staring at you, arms down at his side, and isn’t moving. You must have waved your light over him half a dozen times before you noticed him.
“Hey buddy, I’m not looking for any kind of trouble… all I want to do is make sure the plumbing in the building still works.” You say, taking a cautious step forward. You swat at your face, scaring away an errant bug that buzzed past you. “You homeless or something? I can give you some money to just walk away…”
The man continues to stare at you, his unwavering gaze slowly becoming unsettling to you. You take another step closer with legs that are beginning to feel leaden, your dread creeping through your body as the chill of the night sinks into your skin. The fog clings to you, slithering over you like a sluggish mass of worms. Shivering, you slowly raise your hammer to be ready in case the man does something.
Another step brings you within ten feet of him, allowing you to better look at him. For some reason he’s wearing rumpled jeans and a gray sweatshirt, a white lab coat hanging from his lithe frame. Resting on his nose are a pair of glasses. He’s bald, his head shaved smooth. One of his hands is tucked into the pocket of his coat while the other is lowered to his side, holding something dark and metallic. Aiming your flashlight at the hand, you notice that what he’s holding is something you hadn’t been expecting at all.
He was holding a .9 mm pistol in a loose grip, his finger already o0ver the trigger. You stop in your tracks and shine the light back up into his steely gaze, wondering what seems off about it. Is he on drugs or something?
“Listen man,” you say, lowering your hammer, the tool suddenly feeling much heavier than it rightly should. “I don’t wanna start anything… I’m not here to pick a fight. I can take a hint and leave if you want.”
Something heavy brushed against your leg once more, pushing you enough to make you stumble. Looking down, all you see is a sinuous black tail disappear into the darkness. A faint buzzing fills the air, forcing you to swat around your head to get rid of whatever is flying around you. The man still hasn’t moved, his eyes studying you as if you’re some sort of specimen in his laboratory.
A wave of shivers shudders across your body, causing you to blink slowly. One moment the man is there, staring at you. The next, a pair of luminescent green eyes from a lithe black figure drill a hole into your mind, the person perhaps a foot shorter than the doctor. You can barely make out anything besides the figures eyes, as they’re dressed like you.
In all black.
They even went so far as paint their skin a matte black.
“W-who are you?” You slur out, your tongue brushing about in your suddenly dry mouth.
The figure shakes it’s head, holding up a hand to reveal thin, spindly fingers grasping a long, almost impossibly narrow, syringe. A flick of darkness comes from behind the disturbing figure, a catlike tail curling up and around the figure’s waist.
Blinking to try and moisten your eyes, you finally realize that the person in front of you isn’t actually wearing anything… it’s nude save for gray earrings hanging from elongated ears. You stumble forward, bringing the hammer up.
“B-ack the fuck off man, I mean it!” You say, your feet as heavy as cinderblocks. “I said I don’t want no trouble!”
“Oh, sorry…” the figure says, it’s voice as light as a feather with a slight lyrical tune to it. “But that’s all you’ll find here tonight. Not that it’ll matter to you after a few more minutes: you’ll be stiff as a corpse by then!”
“F-fuck off!” You stagger forward, Raising the hammer high. Just as your arm descends, the creature ducks under your arm and walks past you, allowing you to strike the silent doctor in the face with your hammer in as savage a blow as you can manage.
The crumbling of stone echoes around you, your hearing slowly warping as you stare at the caved in face of the doctor, the front half of his head now missing. Yet no blood came from the wound… in fact, once you shine your light over the wound, he doesn’t have any innards to speak of.
He’s just a statue.
“Bravo,” the creature clapped slowly. “You’ve just readied my meal for the next few weeks. He was just ripe enough for me too, and I broke the last tool I had preparing my last meal.”
“Wha…” You slur, turning slowly.
The creature is inches from your face, freezing breath rolling over your numb face. “You’ll be just as delicious once the transformation is done.”
You wince as another bug bites you, this one in your stomach. Woodenly swatting at the offending insect, you slap the creatures bony hand, sinking the syringe deeper into your belly. You would complain, but it feels as if ice has sunken into the pit of your stomach. “Wha-whats happening?”
“You said you didn’t want a fight…” The creature says, chuckling as it reaches up to slowly caress the side of your face. “Now you’ll never have to worry about it again. Welcome to my garden my little lawn ornament.”
You want to say something, but your face has gone rigid and numb. Slowly, you can feel the air slipping from your lungs as you sink into a slouched stance. Your hair is bristling thick, cracking and falling about you like dried twigs. Looking down at the ahir, you realize that the bits falling are gray.
Gray as stone.
You yank back a sleeve to get a better look and gasp in horror: your skin is hard, chalky white, and clacks as your fingers drum along it.
You try and scream, but all you do is stare down at your exposed forearm as your eyes slowly go dark, your vision clouding over.
Now you’re in utter darkness, devoid of sight, smell, and hearing. Your body is numb to everything, and you’re immobile.
Inside, you scream at your muted senses, trying desperately to feel, taste, see or hear anything.
But all you have is the unwelcoming void.