3. Freaky Friday
The four of us stood hiding within the shrubbery of the agreed-upon meeting spot. Jonathan was nowhere to be found—yet.
“We should’ve gone eat before coming here,” Becca whispered annoyed. “That’s all I’ll be thinking about for the next couple of hours.”
“I didn’t want to need to use a restroom while doing the ghost tour, Becca. We’ll do it after,” Leon voiced. “Hush. You’ll be fine.”
“I’m pretty sure once in there, food is the last thing you’ll think about,” I added.
“I—I think that’s him guys. He’s coming.” Paul’s voice shook while he pointed out in the distance at a figure strolling towards us with uttermost caution.
It was not yet dark and I was able to observe a silhouette across the street traveling apace, dressed in sky-blue. Like me, he was clothed in light colors. I had chosen all white. Something about dressing with a reflective color gave me a sense of peace and the crazy idea I could repel all evil, particularly if it tried to cling to me.
As he drew closer, I saw the massive backpack on his back. His thin face held pressed lips and serious deadset eyes that could swallow you whole. A couple of worry lines formed at his forehead, his full lips were pursed and the dirty-blond curls stuck close to his head.
“Ooh, hotty alert,” chimed Rebecca close to my ear.
I chuckled but my expression changed back to solemn when he stood before us. That’s when I noticed he was lean and towered above us all. The slim fingers stood out when he offered a firm shake hello.
“Paul?” his eyes turned to Leon.
Shaking his head he extended his hand. “No. I’m, Leon.”
“Ah! The birthday adventurer. Nice to meet you.” His face broke into a friendly grin.
I had imagined he’d be less—normal looking. A mix of gothic with bewildered eyes and a khaki jumpsuit similar to the one they wear in the movie Ghostbusters.
“This is, Paul.” Leon pointed at his boyfriend, then us. “Liz and Becca.”
“Hi.” One by one, his eyes scanned us over.
“Hi.” We gave our timid hellos and with a pressed simper I blinked a few times and briefly shifted my eyes to the ground before bringing them back to his face.
Looking satisfied, he smiled. “Glad to see you guys followed instructions.” He motioned for us to scamper deeper into the shrubbery until night fell.
“While we wait for nightfall, I’ll give a short account of this place. Do you guys know any Bin stories? Its history?” He lifted a brow.
Silence fell upon us. Half of us shook our heads afraid to speak. Except that it was creepy, a mental hospital and among locals known to be called The Bin, I knew nothing more.
His eyes brightened. “Good, I love talking about this place.”
He looked in the distance toward the deserted building. The overgrown ivy plants clung to the tattered walls. As night descended, its face resembled one of a building in a scene of a black and white horror movie.
I gulped loudly. Jonathan’s blue eyes softened when they shifted to mine. “You doing okay?”
I hastily nodded. His energy made me smile and warmed my cheeks.
“So, let’s get to business.” Rubbing his palms together he shifted his sight from one to the other.
“In 1896, 325 acres of land were designated for the construction of this psychiatric hospital. The hope was it would provide a healthy setting for patient rehabilitation in a remote area and most importantly, that it was self-sufficient. They grew their own food, produced electricity, and had a fire department so they could provide a normal life for their patients. But—with all that in mind, still, medical practices were brutal. To name a few, electric shock, ice baths, and lobotomies were performed here. Many people died unnecessarily.”
He placed his bag on the ground and unzipped it. Jonathan proceeded to hand us each a flashlight. “Don’t turn it on until the door is closed and we are inside.”
We nodded as a unit.
“In 1917, over the wintertime, the hospital’s boilers collapsed, and for weeks patients didn’t have heat. Within twenty days, twenty-four people died. Many froze to death in their beds and thirty cases of frostbite were reported. The staff couldn’t care for everyone. Mismanagement ... attempts to escape, violence among the patients, and frequent abuse by the staff, contributed to the facility’s demise.”
A shiver coursed through my body and I ran the palms of my hands up and down my shoulders in an attempt to warm up from the sudden chill that overwhelmed me.
“That’s appalling,” Rebecca murmured.
Jonathan nodded. “Many who died here suffered needlessly and it is believed the unrestful, angry souls of many, linger within the asylum walls.”
“Ugh!” I heard myself say. A freezing shiver rushed through my limbs. “I don’t like this at all.”
His eyes focused on mine, then he looked me over. “This is serious shit. Many have witnessed shadows, movements, sounds—and physical pain. Some have seen and recorded a sort of large cryptid on four legs.”
“Wha-what’s a cryptid?” Leon hesitated.
“It’s sasquatch or the Lock Ness Monster, for example.”
“Exactly!” Jonathan pointed at me and winked after I answered.
“Oh, creepy.” Leon made a face and shivered.
“Have you?” My voice sounded smaller than I intended it to.
“Have I experienced anything?”
“Yes. Many times.” He shrugged. “I’ve captured voices with the EVP, I’ve heard banging and screams, shutting doors ... I’ve seen a dark shadow. That one even gets me on edge. It is evil. At least that’s the feeling I get from it.”
I felt my heart bang against my chest and my tongue moistened my dry lips. If he kept talking I wasn’t going to be able to go inside.
“Yess.” We almost hissed the word in harmony.
“Come then.” He hoisted the bag on one shoulder and motioned with his fingers for us to follow. “Grab each other’s hands. It gets darker.”
We felt our way through the blackness holding on to each other’s hands.
“Damn, Liz,” Becca whispered behind me. “Not so hard. You’re going to break my fingers off.”
Jonathan wasn’t complaining but I was probably breaking the bones in his hands too so I softened the grip on his fingers. He began to speak again.
“If you feel a chill or your phone batteries die, that is normal. Entities use the energy around them to manifest. When it gets cold, they’re pretty near.”
“Fuck, fuck, fuck!” I heard Leon say. “What was I thinking?! I’m shitting my pants.”
We all laughed including Jonathan.
Facing the doors, I seemed insignificant. We all did. From afar, it’d been the other way around. I was about to enter a place wherein its infancy and numerous years to follow, many suffered. Where countless perished, where people who weren’t in need of psychotherapy were brought in to be experimented on and tortured. In particular, misunderstood women with a non-diagnosticated illness of the time such as postpartum depression or someone coming from a home where there was abuse.
The eeriness of those facts was as scary as the ghost that might lurk inside. Shakily I exhaled. That was it. There was no turning back. With both hands and a firm push, Jonathan opened the creaky, wooden door, grabbed my free hand again and gave it a short tug.
“We’re going in, people. Remember not to take anything and touch as little as possible.”
Letting him guide us, I held my breath and shut my eyes. It made no difference as I could not see with them open.
The dense smell of mold and mildew filled my nostrils and the air wouldn’t reach my lungs. I coughed and hacked unable to breathe.
“Liz?!” Leon panicked and came to my side. He circled his arm around my shoulders.
“It’s my asthma. Sorry guys. Didn’t think about it.”
“Do you have your inhaler?” Paul sounded exasperated and a bit hysterical.
I dug around my backpack and felt for it. Once my fingers clasped around it, I knew I’d be well. “Yeah, I got it. Sorry,” I grumbled. “It smells disgusting in here.”
"I brought some masks," Jonathan said pressing them into my hand so I would pass them down the line to the others.
We gave several more steps and with a bang, the door slammed shut.
“Aah!” Becca couldn’t help but scream. Paul and Leon followed with commentaries.
I could hear a chorus of heavy breathing behind me and Jonathan chuckled softly beside me.
“Okay, guys. Turn on your flashlights. We should be fine from here on out.”
My hands trembled and my fingers fumbled with the button. One by one the subtle lights diffused throughout the empty open space and the air out of our mouths became less erratic.
“There are a few areas with more activity than others. I will set up my equipment and camera in one of the therapy rooms. Those are the worse. Also the morgue.”
“Ugh!” My saliva became thick and unswallowable.
Taking a few more steps I flashed the light from the dingy, graffiti infested walls to the ceiling in awe.
“What the fuck was that?!” Leon blurted out.
“I didn’t hear any—” Paul started to say but then we all heard it. A faint yowl in the distance.
“Is someone crying?!” I whispered pulling at the hem of Jonathan’s shirt with one hand while flashing the light at his face with the other.
“It appears someone is and they want us to listen. They want to communicate." his pupils gleamed. "Let’s go!”
With the strength of his body, I was pulled farther into the parlor. It would've been insane if I'd let go of his shirt. I sensed the three blind mice behind me, like zombies, they followed.
I felt the color drained from my face. What had we gotten ourselves into?