Case, Armitage

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Chapter Nine

Ava woke up early the next morning. She lifted her head from the pillow and saw where patches of blood had soaked into the cover. Her head was throbbing, and she felt severely nauseous and dizzy. Her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth, and she knew she was very dehydrated. Ava’s clothes were damp with sweat from last night’s ordeal, her lips were chapped and her eyes droopy. She lurched out of bed and began to walk over to the doorway before collapsing to the floor; she was too dizzy. She tried to ignore it; she knew that she simply had to get out of the building. The sun shone through the window but looking into the light made Ava feel even worse. She managed to reach her bag that lay on the floor, before forcing herself to stand up and walk across to the door which she unlocked. Nervously, she slowly opened the door, alert to any sounds coming from outside the room, but the only noise was the door creaking open. Ava peered out into the hallway looking left then right. To her relief there was nothing there. She walked slowly down the hallway, hanging onto the walls to ensure she didn’t fall over. She glanced into the room where she saw the boy being operated on the night before, or what she thought she’d seen. Of course, the room was empty – except for the surgical tools that Ava noticed on the broken trolley in the corner. The injured woman managed to make it to the ground floor. She started to feel increasingly ill; there was no way she would be able to drive herself home. Ava pulled her phone out of her bag. It had low battery but enough to make at least one phone call. She tried to phone Kate, but the screen read no signal. That was strange. Ava had had no trouble getting signals here in the past. Although it occurred to her that she’d never tried to make a phone call in this building before. She put her phone back in her bag and headed for the front door before she remembered; the key wasn’t in her bag. She’d left it in the basement. She shook the door handle in frustration, but of course it didn’t budge. She turned around to walk in the direction of the basement and her left foot kicked something that caused Ava to look down. She took a deep breath of relief as she saw the key to open the door was at her feet. She unlocked the door, but before she hobbled out to her car she turned around and on impulse called out to the open emptiness of the immense interior. “Lillian?” Her voice echoed through the rooms, through the corridors, and bounced from wall to wall. There was no reply. Ava called out the girl’s name again. “Lillian?” The same echoes, the same silence in reply. Ava looked around and strained her ears for the slightest sound, but nothing. Lillian wasn’t there.

Ava turned and ran as fast as she could out to her car, desperate to leave the building. Without looking back, she sped off down the country roads, driving at least fifteen miles over the speed limit before reaching the freeway. The long stretch of tarmac was nearly empty of cars. That was strange for a Tuesday morning. It was only eight o’clock and usually the commuters were up and about at that time of day. Though the lack of traffic was the last of Ava’s concerns. As she relived her experience of last night, she could feel her chest tightening. She tried to convince herself it was just an intense dream, an extremely well-depicted dream, but it was the only explanation. What happened was impossible; the nurse behind the counter, the lights turning on, the doors opening, the people, the doctors … the singing voice. Ava realised she had become too deeply invested in this project; she was scaring herself too much. It was now a health hazard. Her head was bleeding and throbbing, she had a probable concussion, and was experiencing hallucinations. None of this made any sense. A wave of fear ran across Ava’s body like a hot flush as she re-witnessed in her mind patients being so poorly treated and how incredibly realistic it was. The Chesters had shut off the electricity, and yet the lights were on, illuminating everything including the dirt on the floors and walls. It was as though the building was screaming, as though it was stretching its limbs. Ava thought of the phrase she had been frequently reminded of lately, that the walls had seen such trauma. Well, perhaps the walls were just telling their stories while Ava was unconscious, or in a poor cerebral state.

Ava glanced around her vehicle in search of a bottle of water, but without success. She faced back to the front windshield, watching the asphalt as it disappeared under her car. She drove continuously for several more minutes before her car started to slow down and splutter. She pulled over to the side of the road as she realised her car had completely run out of fuel. She sighed in complete and utter frustration before reaching into her handbag and pulling out her phone, hoping she now had service away from the hospital; luckily, she had three bars. The young woman decided not to phone a towing company, but to call for an ambulance, her car’s lack of fuel was now a blessing in disguise; Ava was certainly not in a state to drive the rest of the way home. She dialed the three numbers. It rang twice before the service picked up. “Nine-one-one, what is your emergency?” said the dispatcher. “Hello, I’m on the freeway outside of Detroit. I need an ambulance,” Ava answered some simple questions about her location and physical condition while the ambulance was dispatched. She hung up the phone and settled down to wait for the ambulance. After several minutes, Ava felt herself becoming more and more dizzy, so she lay her head back against her car seat and closed her eyes, trying to ease the pain. She struggled to get into a comfortable position, as the pressure of the headrest was too hard on the cut on Ava’s head. After about twenty minutes of waiting, Ava saw lights through her closed eyelids and she sat up to see the ambulance van driving down the road towards her car, no more than three hundred meters away. No siren rang out as it approached, just the blue and red lights spun around and around and around again. Ava reached to her steering wheel and flashed her lights on and off to signal to the ambulance. The large white van pulled over several meters in front of Ava’s car and a man and a woman jumped out of the vehicle and hurried over to the driver’s seat of Ava’s car. She opened the door. “Ma’am, if you could please remain seated until we help you,” the woman said as she touched Ava’s hand. Ava complied and stayed in her seat. The woman was middle-aged, with blonde hair tied up into a ponytail. She had a soft face, a trustworthy face. The man stood to the side of his female companion. He was a large man with a very muscular build which was made even more obvious as he stood with his arms crossed over his chest. Ava stared at him while the woman felt around her face, checking for any obvious injuries. When the woman’s hand reached the back of Ava’s head she winced in pain. “Ma’am are you able to walk?” the woman asked. “I-I don’t know. I think so,” Ava stood up. She was only just able to walk; she was severely dehydrated and weak. As she began to walk towards the open backdoor of the ambulance, the large man rushed over to help her, the two medics now on either side of Ava, holding her arms, aiding her in walking. Ava sat on the edge of the ambulance’s backseat. “Ma’am, were you in a car accident?” Ava shook her head, her eyelids fluttering, about to pass out, her body gently rocking from left to right. “Get some water,” the medic ordered her partner. “Could you tell me what happened to you?” the woman asked. The man came back with a bottle of water which Ava took and downed in the space of two seconds. “I was in the building, then I felt sick and passed out. Then people came out and the lights got turned on and I had to hide,” Ava babbled. The female medic stared at her for a moment. “Hmm, we’re going to take you to a hospital in the city, okay?” The woman stood up while Ava remained seated. “More water,” she ordered again. Ava lay down on the stretcher in the back of the van while the female medic sat with her and tried asking her further questions. The male attendant drove quickly down the highway towards the city hospital. Ava drank another bottle of water before falling asleep. Her head had been bandaged up to protect the cut from any further irritation. She swam in and out of consciousness. In her mind she could still see the people from last night, and how the hallways looked when they were lit with dull globes. She was disturbed by the sight of her boss, a younger Mr Nikita, who stared at her, and the haunting voice that sung to her. Ava drifted back to consciousness and tried to sit up. “Ms Hayes, please, lie down,” the medic said. “No. Bag!” Ava said urgently. “What?” the medic said, “Sick bag!” Ava cried. She proceeded to vomit into the sick bag provided by the female medic. The substance she brought up consisted of pure liquid, of the one and a half liters of water she’d just consumed, and her stomach acid. “It’s alright, it’s alright,” the medic consoled Ava. In less than twenty minutes the ambulance arrived at the emergency ward at the city hospital in Detroit. Ava was wheeled in on the stretcher, a sick bag by her side. She was taken to an empty bed and several nurses entered the room and changed the bandages on her head. The woman who was in the ambulance with Ava explained to the doctor what had happened. Ava could barely hear the conversation, but she heard the word confused quite a lot. “Hello, Ms Hayes, I’m doctor Andrew. Can you tell me how you’re feeling?” A kind, middle-aged man had entered the room, his white hair and gentle voice was a comfort to Ava. “I don’t feel well. I hit my head hard; it’s cut at the back,” she explained. “Yes, I see.” The doctor briefly inspected the young woman’s scalp. Ava lay back and closed her eyes before suddenly remembering about her car. “My car, what happened to my car?” She began to panic as she sat up in the bed. “No, no, no, your car will be fine. We have your emergency contact on file, and we will have them collect it,” the doctor reassured Ava, and gently laid her back down. “Who is my emergency contact?” Ava asked. “A woman named Kate, Kate Bates?” the doctor said. “Oh. Right.” Ava responded with relief. She’d forgotten who she had nominated as an emergency contact, but she was glad when she heard the name. Ava winced and the doctor took notice. “Nurse, I need pain killers please,” the doctor requested of the nurse. Just a few moments later the nurse returned with three tablets and a small plastic cup half filled with water. Without saying anything the nurse put the medication into Ava’s mouth before placing the water up to her lips. “Ma’am, when was the last time you ate?” the doctor asked Ava. “Um, I don’t know. Two days ago, maybe,” Ava murmured, fighting the urge to fall asleep. The doctor turned to the nurse once more. “We’re going to need an IV pole.” He turned back to his patient. “We’re just going to get some nutrition and fluids into you, okay?” Before she could answer, Ava closed her eyes and fell into a deep sleep.

All her pain disappeared as Ava drifted off. It was as though Ava was looking into a black abyss, but she couldn’t move, couldn’t speak, couldn’t change direction. This didn’t scare her though; rather she felt at peace, at rest. The view of pure blackness slowly changed. Light began to emerge from Ava’s peripheral vision, and as the light grew, colors, shapes, figures came into focus. To her despair, she found herself standing directly outside the front door of the Armitage Mental Asylum. Ava scanned her surroundings. Everything seemed completely normal and ordinary. The trees were still, apart from the odd leaf wafting in a slow breeze. The sky was covered with grey clouds. The entire area was, as usual, swallowed by complete silence. Ava turned back to face the door. She leaned in to try and hear any movement from inside the building. Nothing. Fully aware that it was a dream, or a vision none-the-less, the young woman pushed the door inward. The door opened, but it didn’t creak and crack like it did on every other occasion. She stepped inside and peered around. Everything was perfectly in place. Ava noticed the cornices were decorated to perfection despite the decaying paint. Something was different, felt different. To the naked eye everything was the same as any other day. But it was quieter that it had ever been, almost … too quiet. An eerie atmosphere overwhelmed the area, as though thousands of people had been singing a split second ago, then inexplicably disappeared. Ava turned her head to the right, down the hallway to what was once the cafeteria. She walked down the corridor, the surface underneath her feet made no noise as she advanced. Ava reached the open doorway that led into the vast empty space where hundreds of people once sat to eat. Ava examined the room; her eyes traced each crevice in the walls and every crack in the windows. She scanned the room from left to right before stopping when she saw someone on the far side of the room near the windows. Lillian. Lillian leant against the window, and was staring outside, in the position where Ava had first seen her. “Lillian.” Ava quietly said. The young girl looked up and softly smiled at Ava’s presence. “Are you okay?” Lillian asked. “I’m fine, I just hit my head,” Lillian reacted with a sympathetic expression. Ava moved towards the all-too familiar table, the one she had set up for herself as a temporary workspace. She sat down and soon after was joined by Lillian. They sat, facing each other. “I’m in a dream,” Ava said. Lillian slowly nodded. “Why am I here?” she asked. “I don’t know if I’ll ever see you again,” Lillian explained. “Why? Why won’t I ever see you again?” Ava replied, becoming slightly agitated. “Will you come back after what happened?” Lillian asked sadly. “What? Yes of course I will,” Ava said with certainty, “You’re not scared?” Lillian asked. “No, I just hit my head,” Ava repeated. “Yeah but, after-” “Yes, I wanted to say thank you for helping me get up and taking me to the guest room,” Ava interrupted. “Oh, of course, no problem but, after I found you-” Ava cut the young girl off, “I know, I just had a really strange dream, that’s all,” Ava said. Lillian was puzzled and looked at Ava, strangely. “Dream?” Lillian asked. “Yeah, I had this really strange dream,” Ava replied. “Oh, right, of course,” Lillian said thoughtfully, with a tone of relief. “And why were you still here so late in the night?” Ava asked. Lillian’s body language changed at Ava’s question. She shifted around in her seat and fiddled with her hands on the table. “I-I, um. I went home, then I took my, um… my dog out for a late-night walk, and I saw that your car was still here, so I came in to see if you were okay and … you weren’t,” Lillian explained. Ava nodded, sensing that the young girl in front of her was hiding something. “Do you promise me that you’re going to come back?” Lillian pleaded. “Yes, yes, of course I’ll come back, I just don’t know when,” Ava replied. Lillian reacted sadly to this, slightly bowing her head. “Don’t worry, this is just a dream,” Ava said. She reached her arm out and placed her hand over Lillian’s. As she was about to touch the girl’s hand, blackness started creeping in from Ava’s peripheral vision once again, the colour of the walls began to deteriorate and fade. Ava looked at Lillian, suddenly worried for her. “Lillian,” Ava said. “I have to leave now, but I will be back,” she said. Lillian blankly stared back with no emotion, no reaction. The darkness completely covered everything, until Ava was once again staring into a black abyss.

A tiny hint of light came into Ava’s vision. “Ava,” a voice whispered. “Ava,” it repeated. Ava slowly opened her eyes. She turned to the side and saw a familiar face. “Kate?” she said. “Yes, yes, it’s me, I’m here,” Kate softly exclaimed. Kate leant in and grabbed her hand. Ava smiled at the sight of her friend. “How are you feeling?” Kate asked. “I don’t know, I think I’m better,” Ava whispered, her voice weak. “I drove your car to your house,” Kate told her. “Thank you. How long have you been here?” Ava asked. “Well, I came in yesterday to check in on you, then I went home and came back, maybe half an hour ago,” Kate explained. Just as they were talking, the doctor came into the room. “Hello Ms Hayes,” he said. “Right off the bat, do you remember my name?” he asked. Ava thought about this for a short moment, trying to find any recollection. “No,” she answered. “Do you remember what happened to you?” the doctor asked. Ava stopped to think. She remembered the visions she saw in the hospital after she’d been admitted, but the memories came in random order, and were not entirely complete. “I remember last night when I hit my head and-” “Well, that was actually two nights ago, Ms Hayes,” Doctor Andrew said. Ava froze. Kate looked at her, worried. “I’ve been here for two nights?” she asked. “You were exhausted, and we had to get some calories into you. There’s nothing to worry about,” the doctor assured her. Ava looked towards Kate. “What about Mr Nikita? Does he think I’ve been slacking off work?” Ava asked, leaning forward. “No, no of course he doesn’t. I spoke to him and he’s totally unbothered about you not being at work. I mean, he wanted me to tell you he hopes you’re feeling better when you wake up,” Kate consoled her friend. “When can I go home?” Ava asked. “Well, we haven’t given you stitches yet because you’ve been asleep, but we can do that right away. Then I need to ask you some questions and I can give you the all-clear,” Doctor Andrew said. “Stitches?” Ava asked. “Yes, you have a wound at the back of your head from when you fell. The hole itself isn’t too big, but we obviously want to have it healed as quickly as possible,” the doctor explained. A few moments later, a nurse entered the room bringing a trolley with suturing equipment. Ava’s mind was instantly brought back to the room where the boy was being operated on in her vision. Ava looked at Kate. “You can go home if you’d like. I’ll catch a taxi or someth-” “No, I’m staying right here, and I’ll take you home,” Kate interrupted her friend’s suggestion. Ava smiled at Kate; she was so grateful she was there with her. “Alright, I’m just going to give you a local anesthetic,” the nurse said. Ava gently nodded her head. She couldn’t see the nurse as she was behind her. The woman touched the wound and Ava winced. “Sorry honey, it’ll all be over in a minute.” Ava looked up at Kate, who was sitting on a chair parallel to the bed. Ava could slightly feel the needle pierce her skin, but it didn’t bother her. After no more than ten minutes, the procedure was over. Ava softly touched the back of her head to feel the stitches. “Thank you,” she said gratefully to the nurse. “Okay, so I would recommend for you to not let anything touch the wound. Even in the shower try to avoid letting water get to it for the next few day and try not to use shampoo so the chemicals don’t affect it. Dr Andrew has prescribed antibiotics and an antibiotic ointment to hurry up the healing process,” the nurse explained. Dr Andrew entered the room. “Did it all go okay, Nurse?” he asked. “Yes, very well. I was just explaining the aftercare process,” the nurse said. “Can I go home now?” Ava politely asked. “Yes, I just need to ask a few standard questions to give you the all-clear,” Doctor Andrew said. “Do you remember the last time you ate or drank something?” Ava paused. “Well, I guess, three or four days ago or thereabouts,” Ava responded. “Okay. Why such a long time?” Ava paused to think once more. “I-um … I don’t know. I suppose I just kind of … forgot,” she responded quietly, embarrassed as she answered. “Well, you and I both know that that’s not good enough. You can’t just not eat,” Doctor Andrew replied sternly. “I know, I know,” Ava agreed sheepishly. “I’m going to prescribe you with some medication to increase your iron-” “Oh, no, please it’s not necessary,” Ava jumped in. “No, I insist. You need to take something, at least for the next few months. And additionally, you must eat three meals every day, preferably fruit and yogurt for breakfast, and have one snack between each meal,” Doctor Andrew explained as he wrote the script. Ava glanced around the room and raised her eyes at Kate, who was staring at Ava in a strange way, her brow lifted and her lips slightly pursed. Ava scrunched her brows together as if to ask “what?” non-verbally. The two women looked back at the doctor as he finished writing. “So, I have your prescriptions here.” The doctor handed Ava three pieces of paper. “And, I would say to just take the next two or three days off work just to avoid any sort of stress. And if you feel any more nausea in the next few days, come back and we’ll re-assess you.” Ava thanked the doctor and the nurse, then she and Kate left the building. “Are you feeling weak or anything?” Kate asked as they walked down the hallway. “No, I feel fine actually. I just want to get out of this building,” Ava said. As the pair were finding their way out of the hospital, Ava looked around, so many rooms, lines of windows, long, never-ending hallways. It reminded her of the Armitage hospital. The nurses walking around, the doctors and their checklists, the patients; the atmosphere had the same feeling. Ava and Kate eventually made it to the front door and the welcome fresh air hit Ava with relief, as though she’d never been outside before. She inhaled and exhaled, imagining that each breath of oxygen cleansed her lungs. After wandering around the carpark for a few minutes, the pair found Kate’s car. Kate lowered herself into the driver’s seat while Ava got into the passenger seat of the small grey car. “We’ll go to the pharmacy on the way home.” Ava nodded at Kate’s suggestion.

The clouds began to darken as Kate wove in and out of the traffic. The pair arrived at the local pharmacy and entered the building. There was a short queue to the counter, where people were waiting for their prescriptions. “Thank you,” Ava said to her friend. “For everything; going all the way out of town to get my car and taking me home. It really means a lot.” Kate smiled back. “Of course! It’s my pleasure, honestly, and your car is so much cooler than mine. Wanna trade?” the two women laughed. Ava and Kate made small talk about work and the weekend, and as they chatted Ava looked around the shop, glancing at the selection of toothbrushes and mouthwash. The pharmacy was surrounded primarily with glass panels that faced outside, looking onto the outside world: cars going by on the two-lane highway, the line of trees on the other side of the road. “Oh my god, look at the clouds,” Kate said, gesturing towards the windows to the right. “It was meant to be nice and sunny for the whole day.” Ava stared at the outside world. She looked at the main road that the building’s car park overlooks. She saw something on the other side of the road, so far away was almost barely recognizable. Ava slowly narrowed her eyes, trying to get a better look. The dozens of cars flashing past didn’t make it any easier, but Ava saw it. Black shadow. Tall, broad shoulders, long neck. There were no visible features to it other than the silhouette. It stood still, right on the edge of the road, eerily still. It stared, but not exactly at Ava, more so through her. Kate was talking, but her voice faded into the background as all of Ava’s attention was directed at whatever, or whoever was on the other side of the road. Ava began to hear sounds, muttering, whispering. They grew louder and louder, as though whatever was across the road was trying to communicate. “Ava…” a voice said quietly, “Ava… Ava!” Ava looked up, breaking the spell. Kate was gesturing forwards, indicating that they were next in line. “Kate, do you see that?” Ava tapped her friend’s shoulder and pointed to the window, completely disregarding the fact that they were next in line. “What am I supposed to be looking at?” Kate asked impatiently. “It was there, it was right there!” Ava exclaimed, no longer seeing the figure. “Do you know what else is right there? The man who is trying to serve us,” Kate said as she stepped forward. Ava snapped out of her brief obsession, she looked around to see the pharmacist waiting and the people behind her in line staring at her. “Sorry,” she said to the queue, “I’m so sorry, I just need these things, please.” Ava handed the three pieces of paper to the man behind the counter. She could feel her friend’s eyes on her, concerned, so she pretended to be intensely interested in twiddling the rings on her fingers.

The two exited the pharmacy just as rain began to pour. The sky was black, and thunder roared from the sky above, cracking the sky open and letting the water fall down, flooding gutters and running down the road. Ava and Kate jumped into the car as quickly as possible. “You’d better take some medicine quickly. What was that all about in there?” Kate asked, concerned for her friend. “I just… I thought I saw something. It’s just the head injury,” Ava tried to defend herself. The ten-minute drive to Ava’s flat was quiet, the only thing breaking the silence was the thunder in the sky and the rain thrashing against the windshield. The smell of the wet asphalt seeped through the car’s ventilation. The smell comforted Ava, the welcoming fragrance bringing back memories of when she and her younger sister used to play in the mud when they were very young. Kate pulled into Ava’s driveway, her car sitting on the right side of the path. “I’ll make us some tea,” Ava suggested as she got out of the car. Her house was dark and felt abandoned as it had been empty for several nights. Ava immediately turned on the heater and put the kettle on while Kate selected two mugs from the cabinet above the sink. “Go find a movie or something, I’ll be there in a minute,” Ava suggested. While the young woman waited for the kettle to boil, she went to the bathroom. She turned on the tap and splashed her face with water to freshen up. She picked up the glass from the side of the sink and took one of her prescribed antibiotic pills.

Ava made the tea before sitting down with her friend on the couch in the living room. “I’ve missed you at the office. Everyone has,” Kate said as she took a sip of her tea. “I’ve missed you guys too,” Ava replied, grateful for her friend’s company. “But, of course, Mr Nikita was right; you do have a gift and you’re great at what you do, so you’re perfect for this project,” Kate smiled. “You have many gifts and talents, Ava, but lying isn’t one of them,” Kate’s tone changed. “You may be able to fool medical experts, but you will never be able to fool your best friend,” Kate said sternly. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Ava shook her head. “Come on Ava, you forgot to eat? Who on this earth forgets to eat? I’m so incredibly happy and proud that you got this project, but you have changed in the last short while, and you know it too,” Kate said, trying to make eye-contact with Ava. “No. I can’t tell you,” Ava bluntly said. “Why?” Kate asked, frustrated with her friend. “Because you won’t believe a word I say, you’re going to think I’m crazy,” Ava said. Kate stared at her for a brief moment. “I would never think you’re crazy. For one of two reasons. One, you’re already crazy but nowhere near as crazy as I am.” Ava laughed. “And two, because you’re my best friend. And I will never think of you poorly unless you did something terrible, like, killed my dog.” Ava looked up at her friend, seeing the trust in her. “Ava, even if I don’t believe some of the things you tell me, take advantage of the fact that someone is here and willing to listen.” Ava thought about this for a moment. She had never truly opened up to anyone, even all of the counsellors she’d seen in her life, not even her own mother. Embarrassment and shame were always at the forefront of her feelings.

She placed her mug down on the coffee table before looking back up at her friend. “The thing is… I don’t know what is happening to me,” Ava said. “Ever since I stepped foot into that abandoned hospital, everything has been different, I feel different.” Kate nodded in acknowledgement. “I see things, and I hear things.” Ava started fidgeting, aware that she sounded ridiculous. “Like what?” Kate asked. Ava stopped for a moment, feeling her emotions flare up. “When I was little, my um… my dad used to sing this special song to me when I was sitting on his lap, or when he would put me to bed or when it was just me and him. You know the one I’m talking about,” Ava said. “What, you mean the Tracey Chapman song?” Kate asked. “Yes, The Promise. It was my dad’s favorite song because it came out one year before I was born. And I haven’t dared to listen to the song since he… died.” Ava began to tear up, choking on her words. “But ever since I started working at the Armitage hospital, I have heard the song being sung. I hear my dad singing the song.” Ava looked down as tears start to roll down her face. “It’s okay,” Kate whispered and rubbed her friend’s arm. “And I… I met this girl who lives near the hospital, and there’s something about her,” Ava went on. “What do you mean?” Kate was intently listening to her friend. “I don’t know, it’s like… a connection of some sort, like she’s known me my whole life and… she can’t be as young as she is, but the way she speaks, the way she acts is way beyond her years,” Ava said. “The other day I was talking about the fact that the building could be haunted or something, and she said to me, sometimes in places like this where not many good things have happened, the walls have seen so much, so they tell their story,” Ava explained. “Wow,” Kate responded. “And I’ve been having terrible nightmares of my dad recently again, and I’ve had visions about patients from the hospital and -” “Wait, visions about patients from the hospital?” Kate questioned. “I get these episodes where I can see what has happened, and they’re just my imaginings of what happened there so long ago but they feel so real,” Ava declared. “The night I hit my head, something happened. And to be honest, I can’t explain it.” “What happened?” Kate asked, wide eyed. “I woke up in the middle of the night, to Lillian, telling me to leave the building. My head was throbbing, and I felt horrible, but I was about to leave the building when I saw … people.” Ava struggled for the right words. “What, like vandals? Did someone hurt you?” Kate asked. “No, no, that’s the problem. There was a woman, standing behind what used to be the front reception desk, and she was a nurse, but a nurse from back in the seventies,” she explained. “All the lights in the building were on, but the owners had shut the electricity off weeks ago. People started coming out of what I thought were empty rooms, and I saw people being hurt and tortured and …” Ava stopped herself before suddenly remembering a key factor. “What? What did you see?” demanded Kate. “I saw Mr Nikita,” Ava inhaled deeply; a chill ran up her spine as she said this. “Mr Nikita?” Kate responded in disbelief. “Yes. He - he was younger in my vision, much younger. He was in a nurse’s uniform, the patients were -” “The patients?” Kate interrupted. “Yes, when I was trying to get up to the third floor, I saw patients. They were wearing hospital gowns and everything. When I got up to the second floor, I had to catch my breath. I looked up, and the patients were scared; they were scared of Mr Nikita,” Ava explained as Kate leant in, intrigued. “He hit a man, an old man in a wheelchair. He was weak and defenseless, but he hit him,” Ava recalled with despair. “Oh my God. I don’t really know what to say,” Kate said, contemplated her friend’s story. “When we were at the pharmacy and I pointed out across the road, I thought I saw something; a tall, broad black figure. I couldn’t really tell if it had clothes or even any facial features. It was just a black silhouette of something, or someone,” Ava continued. “Wow, this is really, really strange Ava. Do you think an appointment with a psychologist might help, at least in putting these visions in some context or something?” Kate asked. “I have actually. I’ve organized to see the therapist I went to when I was a teenager. My appointment’s on Monday. But Kate, I know this sounds crazy, and to be honest I can tell that you don’t believe me, but I am telling you … there is something in the Armitage Asylum. It’s like something is hiding and it’s afraid to come out, and it’s affecting me,” Ava said with desperation. “I can tell it is definitely affecting you. But I think that the horrible stories you have been reading from the files of the patients are getting into your head,” Kate said. Ava looked at her friend and knew that what she was saying made perfect sense and was more than likely true. “Um, could I stay the night please?” Kate proposed. “I don’t want you to be alone tonight, okay?” Kate sipped her tea. “Yeah, sure of course,” Ava responded, slightly disappointed that Kate didn’t truly believe what she’d been saying, but grateful for the comforting presence of her friend in the house. That night Ava instantly fell into a deep sleep, with no dreams or visions, just darkness.

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Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.