This is an old story that someone has just reminded me about. Coming up to Halloween and all I thought – Oh well why not.
That old hospital started life as a workhouse. Over time it had been refurbished until it wasn’t possible to make it work as a modern hospital any more. MRI rooms, CAT scans, radiation therapy suites, they’re all so specialised there comes a time when it’s cheaper to rebuild.
They’d carried on for a bit here and there, the geriatrics had given them one or two problems rehousing the old codgers or waiting for em to pop off. They used the outpatient’s clinics until it became too spooky and people started asking if they could wait until the new hospital opened. That screwed up their waiting times for a bit. In the end all that was left were empty rooms and corridors with bits of old equipment, and the memories, hundreds of years of tragedy, misery, sickness, birth, probably the odd miracle and of course death.
I’ve always believed buildings hold on to the echo of what’s happened in them. I reckon the energy has to go somewhere and so why shouldn’t it just seep into the walls and the foundations like a soup of all there is in humanity, the good, the bad and the downright evil. Some buildings feel good and some don’t. This one, well it felt like what it was, a great gathering place of living and dying.
Once the main buildings were emptied they reduced the crew, cost cutting. That was the reason only me and Eddie were working in the basement in the theatres. Me and Eddie we’d done funeral parlours, old haunted houses and once a disused section of the London Tube with a closed station. That was a bit spooky but this place was just rooms and corridors, old and empty.
Eddie went off to do a bit on his own and we said we’d meet up for our break. Health and Safety would have had a field day with us but you can’t mess about, time is money and you just have to get on. Anyway we did what we did and now I have to live with it don’t I? He was my best mate Eddie, known him since school and we’d worked together every day for years. It was odd when he didn’t come back when it was time for his break. A great one for his break was old Eddie, “Coffee and a Kit Kat best bit of the day,” he used to say.
I got out the flasks and made a place for us to sit on the scaffold and I waited. It was quiet, the wireless wouldn’t work properly down there below ground level and all the aerials and stuff had been taken down long since. All I could hear was the creaking and the odd drip from the drains.
After a bit it started to get to me, I can’t say why, it was no different from the other old places but the air felt thick somehow like there was too much for the room to hold and it was squashing in on me and it felt damp and claggy. The hair on the back of my neck prickled and I got Goosebumps up and down my arms. I felt nervy and on edge and so I decided to go and find Eddie.
Out in the corridor was dim. We had a gennie running but the bulbs had lost about half their power. That big gloomy corridor, well, I couldn’t see to the end just the grimy tiled walls leading off to a black hole. I heard a door then, swish and thud.
“Eddie,” I shouted “Is that you? You daft bugger come and get your break.” Then I heard the wheels, rattling metal and footsteps, running footsteps. More than just one, more than just Eddie. Then the door swished again and I heard the scream.
I was scared I don’t deny it, there wasn’t supposed to be nobody there ‘cept me and Eddie. I grabbed the lump hammer and went off down that bloody corridor. I could hear people, I was sure of it, talking and running and the doors and then I heard the sobbing. I can hear that noise every night when I try to get to sleep, heartbroken it was, great gulping sobs. I’ve never heard such a hopeless noise. I was bricking it by then I can tell you.
Down the corridor I could see lights in one of the theatres, yellow flickering light like candles or gas mantles it were. I was shaking. All I could hear was the sobbing on and on and on. When I got near to the door I could see behind it there were people, nurses in old-fashioned uniforms moving about, the glass was filthy and it was dark but I swear that’s what I could see and there was still that bloody sobbing louder and louder.
I pushed the door. There was a swoosh of air, knocked me flat. There was a big noise, a roar like thunder in the distance. I was dizzy but I crawled back up and went into the room. That’s when I saw the trolley, an old thing made of steel but knackered and bashed and on the top there was a sheet. I could see there was something under the sheet. I wanted to run, I wish I’d run but a course I didn’t.
When I touched it that old sheet was papery and thin like it’d been there for years and years and I pulled it back and there he was. I’ve seen Mummies in the museums you know and I’ve seen films but there was this old thing, not much more than a skeleton with skin, yellow stretched skin and the clothes was all raggedy but I knew, I knew straight away. I pulled it back more and I got to half way down and that’s when I realised, when I saw there wasn’t as much as there should be. I didn’t faint I don’t think but the next thing I remember was running and yelling and trying to get out and more scared than I’ve ever been. They reckon I was pretty well delirious, who wouldn’t be, I ask you that who wouldn’t be?
They did tests and stuff, DNA to make sure but I already knew. His legs though, now why did they go and do that, why did they take Eddie’s legs?