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For those who know Vancouver, Washington, they will almost all tell you it's a boring mess of a town that doesn't even pale in comparison to its cousin to the north Vancouver B.C. The only remotely original business in the entire city I know of is a soda shop on Main St. called Pop Culture. For its residents, the town really is completely forgettable and most make an effort to leave the place as soon as humanly possible. However, we actually get quite a lot of tourists for the historical district of town which is home to several Colonial buildings that have been restored and serve as an open-air museum of sorts.
It’s mostly recognized as a former trading post for early American Expansion. You know Oregon Trail and stuff, it’s not really the important part. What a lot people don’t know is that the grounds were actually an integral point of battle in The War of 1812, some war the states got into with Canada because their egos were a little too big. You can look it up later if you want. The point of this is that a hospital was erected for the injured in the skirmishes.
However, if you go to the historical district and grab their colorful little guide map to show you around, there is no hospital listed. If you ask a staff member, they’ll direct you to the veteran’s hospital that’s a couple blocks up the road. If you insist that isn’t the hospital you’re looking for, they will tell you it’s the only remotely historical hospital around. There is however another hospital right there on the grounds. It is off extremely far to the east of the district, close to where the interstate is. From the outside, it appears as just an abandoned historical building with shattered windows, some all boarded up, some just left broken and being slowly invaded by the local fauna. This building that is not on any of the maps is the real hospital.
It’s really amazing what they’ve done to pretend this building doesn’t exist and more expressly hide the fact that it’s a hospital. I actually had no idea it existed until the week before I would step foot inside the place. I had heard ghost stories before about the Captain’s Quarters in the district, how supposedly if you went in late at night, you would see the portraits in there bleed all over the floor, but I'm pretty sure it was bullshit teenagers liked making up. I had never heard anything about this hospital before though. Not before I heard it from Keziah.
I don’t really know what to call Keziah. She wasn’t exactly my girlfriend at the time this all happened, but we spent quite a bit of time together and many people often assumed we were dating, but it was high school, everything was bullshit and drama back then. My sister and I were really the only ones who would talk to Keziah. She was a transfer from another school after some incident with her last school, and was visibly a rather strange individual. Her hair was several different colors, she talked to herself a lot, and was very affectionate to those she called friends; nothing that would raise any red flags, but enough to make her an outcast in a school of rich clique-y teenagers. I honestly thought she was actually kind of cute, but I digress, this all started with her.
She had an odd fascination for dark and dreary subjects despite her happy affectionate exterior. She kept a garden of dead plants at her house and asked me to hang out with her at the cemetery and imagine what kind of lives the people buried there lived. So it came as no surprise to me when she approached me wanting to visit some abandoned hospital.
I was a little hesitant at first since it was the first illegal thing she had suggested, but I kind of wanted to impress her and as far I could tell, there was absolutely no security on this place, so I agreed to go ahead and go with her, but if we got caught, she was taking the rap. She assured me with that familiar smile of hers ‘We won’t get caught’.
So a week later, I’m standing out in the freezing cold of March around dusk dressed in black clothing behind waiting for my partner in crime and she comes along at least 30 minutes late dressed in a completely period dress. I asked what the hell was up and she answered and I quote ‘I wanted to dress for the occasion.’ I take back what I said. Red flags abound about this girl, but we were here, and in my mind, it was too late to turn back. We were gonna do this, regardless of how ridiculous my partner looks.
I pried off the boards leading to one of the cellars in the back of the building as Keziah sat back and watched, only to find the door behind them was locked tight, which was really only to be expected, so I climbed out and was heading to the other door to try it before making a scene getting the door open forcefully when I noticed Keziah had disappeared from the rock she’d been sitting on. Going back, I looked down the staircase leading to the pried open cellar door just in time to see Keziah open it with complete ease. She made a wise crack about me not being able to get myself out of a cardboard box, but I couldn’t help but remember that door was locked tight. I set it aside as just me being mistaken though and went in with her.
The room we came into wasn’t really all that spectacular. As cellars tend to go, it was simply a boiler room. Nothing special about it really, but I noticed there were no cobwebs to speak of. Plenty of dust to have gathered over 150 years, but it seemed rather odd not a single spider would make this cellar their home. Keziah had already run up the stairs to the next room, so I didn’t exactly have time to think about the little phenomenon too much.
We found ourselves in the main hall after that. It was garish to say the least. The paint on the walls had all but rotted off entirely and in some places there weren’t even walls. The floor was covered in dust and broken wood planks from the decaying building. Some plants had even started growing through the floorboards. Keziah went off on some little tirade about how fascinating it was to be ‘inside the carcass of society’, but I barely listened to it in favor of looking at a series of handprints on the walls. They were pure black and I assumed it was ink so it kind of made me wonder if maybe someone’s inkbottle had spilled and they had tripped around smearing it everywhere. I followed Keziah as she went into a room down the hall, but as I did, a thought occurred to me. Why were the handprints under the paint?
My first seed of doubt to this establishment was only augmented when I stepped into the room Keziah led me to. I took a step back when I first glanced into it. There were more of the black handprints all over the room, even the ceiling, now not only singular prints but long dragged smears like someone had intentionally rubbed it. It was at this point, I finally noticed the background sound I had assumed was just the wind blowing through the grass outside was actually a quiet whisper. It was a woman just whispering the phrase ‘My baby.’
This is where everything had gone too far. As Keziah ooh’ed and ah’ed at the handprints, I waved for her attention and quite sternly told her it was time to go. She just smiled at me with that same smile from before. ‘We won’t get caught.’ She says like she did a week ago and just skips away ignoring the panic in my eyes.
As I turn to grab her, I got a look at one of the handprints now basked in moonlight and a lot more visible, and I noticed a slight red tint to it. It wasn’t ink. It was blood. Decades old blood. The realization only made me grab for Keziah faster. With a strong grip on her shoulders and looking right into her eyes, I repeated my concerns and made it obvious it was not a choice.
She just said it again. ‘We won’t get caught.’ Right at that moment, something creaked on the floor up above us. Me and Keziah sat there silently, unable to move or speak at all. Then another creak. We were not alone. It was right then Keziah broke out of my grip and made a run for the next staircase. I sat there for a second and gave a slight thought to just leaving her here, but I thought of the blood handprints and decided I had to leave with her in tow.
I made a break after her up the stairs and was slightly relieved to spot her go up another set of stairs to the floor above whatever had started moving on the 2nd floor. I ran up the stairs as fast as possible as the whispers and the creaking got louder.
"My baby. My baby. What are you doing to my baby?"
I managed to get past the other intruder and up to the third and top floor to find myself in a large room with Keziah on the other side next to a rotting wooden bed containing a skeleton wearing tatters of something that used to be a dress. Overwhelmed by the need to escape the stranger downstairs, I shoved the fear of a skeleton aside and ran to grab Keziah. As I crossed the room, the whispers grew to screams.
"MY BABY! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO MY BABY?! YOU ARE ALL MONSTERS!"
I couldn’t come any closer to Keziah and the skeleton, the screams were overwhelming and made me fall to the ground clenching my ears. Until it stopped. I looked up and at the other side of the room; I could barely make out the figure of something that was obviously not human. All I could make out was its heavy gruff breathing and its piercing yellow eyes. The rest was enshrouded in shadows. All I could do was look in fear at it was looking in at us. Then I heard Keziah speak.
"My son. What have they done to you my son?" she said in a voice I almost didn’t recognize coming out of her mouth.
I looked at her and saw her slowly step across the room towards the shadow that looked at us. I wanted to scream out for her not to go, but all I could do was just sit there dumbfounded watching her cross with the elegance of a ballet dancer.
"Do not speak my son. Mother is here for you. Mother loves you," Keziah said holding out her hands towards the beast.
It reached for her and my heart dropped into my stomach for a second as I prepared to watch her be mangled, but instead it simply cradled her hand in his. Its hands now in the moonlight were mangled and swollen with stitches holding it all together like a human ragdoll. It was clear the wounds had been infected multiple times since some of the skin was black, mutated, and dead. Stitched to its fingers were dog claws that had the ancient blood stained all over them.
As I observed, Keziah took the creature's hand and massaged it and kissed the infected cuts like a mother kisses a child’s cut. She then started to sing a lullaby of some kind.
"Hush-a-by, don’t you cry. Go to sleep, little baby and when you wake; you shall have cake and all the pretty little ponies." She sings which causes the creature to release a tiresome groan and sink back into the darkness from whence it came.
All I can do is just stare and fail to comprehend all that just happened before me. I finally manage to move when I see Keziah stumble to the ground and I make a motion to help support her. As I do, she gives me that same smile.
"I told you we wouldn’t get caught."