She’d always heard rumors. But nothing could have prepared her for what she was about to find out.
“Come on, guys. I don’t think this is a good idea.”
Anna turned towards Lauren, who looked to Sam for support. Sam only shrugged and his gaze fixed on the structure ahead of them. He shoved his hands deeper in the pockets of his windbreaker and a slight breeze tousled his blond hair.
“Don’t worry, no one is here.” Anna seized Lauren’s arm and dragged her along with little resistance. Sam followed close on her left.
“Maybe Lauren is right. Maybe this isn’t a good idea.”
Anna paused to look up at the crumbling stone structure. The face of the building was decaying and ivy had taken over nearly every square inch of the surface. But that was to be expected when a building had been abandoned for over sixty years.
“Don’t tell me you’re afraid?” She scoffed. “It’s empty!”
“We don’t know what we’ll find.”
“Please. You agreed to come with me.” Anna released Lauren’s arm and mounted the first step. She drew in a deep breath and tilted her head to read the words carved in stone above the rounded oak door.
Ivy Cole Sanitarium.
Anna wasn’t sure if it was the gust of wind that sent a chill down her spine, or the sound of distant cries in her imagination.
She took the next step slowly, ignoring Lauren’s plea to get out. They weren’t really supposed to be here, but Anna had always had a thing for the odd.
Another gust of wind blew her dark hair across her face and she pushed it behind her ear before taking the next few steps up to the door. She was aware of the fact that Sam and Lauren were behind her now and she could hear Lauren’s heavy breathing.
Her own heart began to race and she glanced in either direction, as if expecting someone to be watching them. But no one was there. Ivy Cole was situated fifty miles from any town and had been vacated for decades. No one ever came close to Ivy Cole. For good reason.
Anna focused her attention ahead and reached for the handle. It was cold to the touch, and much to her surprise, the door swung easily. A hair-raising groan broke the silence and she heard Lauren hiss her name. As if they were trying not to make their presence known.
“Okay, Anna… I don’t like this.” Sam grabbed her wrist but she yanked it free and turned to him with a playful smile.
“Where’s your sense of adventure?” She stepped through the threshold and her boot crunched on broken glass from one of the high stained-glass windows above. At some point, she figured someone had thrown something through it. Either a patient had, or someone here for the same reason they were.
They moved as a group down the long corridor, their footfall echoing off of the brown and ivory checkered floor. Closed doors ran the length of the hall. Not heavy doors like the kind that held patients in, but more like office doors.
“This is even creepier than I’d imagined.” Sam’s voice came in a whisper and Anna smiled to herself, feeling giddy with anticipation. She increased her step as they neared the reception desk at the opposite end of the corridor.
“And I’m ready to go. I’d rather not die before senior prom. Anna, please!” The frantic note in Lauren’s voice only fueled her curiosity. She rounded the desk and examined the contents. Papers were strewn about the top, likely from a gust of wind through the broken window.
“I wouldn’t touch anything.” Sam warned.
Anna picked a piece of paper up off of the floor by her feet to examine it. “And what’s going to happen if I do?” She looked to him for an answer but he only stared at her with concern. “Relax! Look…” She passed him the paper, which was only a page from the guest log. All of the dates on the page were from the fifties.
He took it and his eyes scanned the paper a brief moment before settling back on her. “Okay. Have you seen enough?” He looked from Lauren to the peeling green wallpaper and back to her.
“No.” She walked to her left and passed through an archway into another corridor. This hall was lined with white doors, all of which had a foot square, barred opening near the top. They were numbered, starting at 100.
Knowing Sam and Lauren would join her, she continued on to the next floor. Then the next. It wasn’t until they reached the third floor that she stopped. Anna picked a door at random and peered through the bars. Even on her tiptoes, she was barely tall enough to see though the opening.
“What do you see?” Lauren came from behind and rested a hand on her shoulder.
“Nothing much.” She grabbed the knob and turned it before Lauren could protest, flinging the door wide.
Lauren jumped back, as if expecting something to jump out at her. But nothing did. Instead, they saw a plain white room with a single bed dressed in dingy white sheets. A small writing desk sat below the barred window.
“Wow.” Sam joined them in the doorway and they all stared in wonder. Anna was the first to enter the room. She crossed over to the bed where she reached for a tattered brown teddy bear. The feel of the matted fur felt oddly familiar as she gazed into its glassy eyes.
“What is it?”
Anna looked up. “Nothing.” She was about to replace the bear when Sam called her name.
For the first time since entering the asylum, she felt goosebumps forming on her arms. She looked at Sam, his face now distorted with confusion. He stood at the desk, a file flipped open in front of him. It revealed a patient chart with a photo attached in the corner by a paperclip.
Anna moved closer to see and Sam locked eyes with her. He said nothing, but turned the file towards her.
Her eyes moved to the photograph in the corner. A girl, vaguely familiar with stringy dark hair and expressionless green eyes stared back at her.
Anna studied the photo only a second before her gaze shifted to the name on the left.
Patient 305. Anna Lennox. Age 26.
She felt her stomach plummet to the floor. Her vision blurred and she squinted to focus on the photo once more.
No, this is all wrong. This can’t be. There’s some mistake.
The girl was her.