Faces In The Dark
With your heart pounding in your ears, you push yourself over the wooden fence, landing with a thud on the other side. Standing up, you gather your bearings, reaching for the flashlight in your pocket. As it illuminates your surroundings, you see the large buildings towering in the distance, with only a dark and grassy expanse between you and your destination.
Not wanting to waste any time, you head off towards the large brown buildings at a jog, your breath visible in the light as you dodge the large oak trees scattered through the darkness surrounding you. Even though you’d only been here two hours earlier, the place looks entirely different.
As you get closer to the buildings, the voice of your tour guide rings out through the silence: “This lunatic asylum was home to over 30,000 patients in its 125 year history…13,000 people died here… several hundred were also buried on the grounds…there have been hundreds of ghost sightings of these residents… some are quiet volatile… tonight, we may be lucky enough to see some of these apparitions…”
Snapping back to the present, you realised you’ve reached the towering brown building, which looked much smaller earlier in the evening. The full moon above illuminates the aging façade, the brickwork beginning to wear, window panes threating to fall off, and glass missing on the majority of the windows.
Looking around, you check that you are alone, ensuring that the tour guides have gone home. You walk over to a large, glassless window next to the door and push back the board filling the gap. It lands on the dusty floor inside with a loud thump, echoing throughout the empty room. You quickly climb in and place the board back, hoping that everyone has truly gone home.
You turn back to the dark room, seeing the dust settling in the moonlight streaming through one of the unbroken windows. Trying to remember the way you’d gone during the tour, you cross the room to the closed door, grateful that you’d climbed into a room that had a latch on the inside. Unlocking the door, you quickly grab your torch, shining it up and down the hall.
Realising your heavy breathing, sweaty palms and beating heart, you take a moment to catch your breath and calm your nerves. You realise how easy it was to get into the building, and that the hard work has been done – no need to worry now. Now it’s time for the fun part – exploring the entire building, looking for its hidden secrets you were not allowed to find on the tour. And if you’re in luck, you really will come across one of those elusive apparitions.
Carefully and quietly, you make your way down the long, dark hall, shining the torch in every direction, and checking each of the windows – “Make sure you look at and take photos of the windows as that’s where a lot of people see the faces of the residents…” Reaching the door at the end of the corridor, you pause for a moment, listening for any peculiar sounds. In the distance you hear creaking floorboards, but take them as the regular sounds the building makes – it is over a century old after all, there’s bound to be creaks here and there.
Shining the torch around you, you try to work out where you are, thinking back to the tour. Sadly, everything looks the same in the dark, and you begin to wonder if you made a mistake coming back. The thought is only fleeting as you tell yourself that it doesn’t matter where you went on the tour, because you’re going over the entire building, not just a room here or there.
Just as you’re about to head off down the next hallway, you hear a door close in the corridor you’d just walked down. Funny, all the doors had been closed when you walked past. You shine to torch down, wondering if there is someone still here, checking that the doors are secure, and that nothing has been left behind from the tour. But there’s no one there. Your heart is beating in your ears, but you decide that the door mustn’t have been fully closed, and the wind outside had simply pushed is shut.
Heading down the hall, you start to think – there wasn’t any wind, it was a still night – but you push it out of your mind, there’s no need to get yourself worked up over nothing. You need to keep calm or you’ll scare yourself out of the building, and all this would have been for nothing. Getting back to the task at hand, you continue to walk down the dark corridor.
However, not even a few metres down the corridor, you hear another door, but this time, it’s a door creaking open. Nerves start rising in your stomach, but you push them away, believing it again to be someone just checking the premises – this is not the time to let your imagination run wild. You wait a few more moments, listening hard for other sounds and signs of movement, but you are met with silence.
You must be imagining everything. You are alone. There is no one else with you, maybe just a few possums in the ceiling, and some mice scurrying around. No one else. You shake yourself back to reality, telling yourself to get a grip – you came here to explore, you can’t let the smallest noise distract you.
Finally getting it together, you reach the end of another corridor, but before opening the door, you realise you’ve been walking down the corridor of the women’s wing of the asylum, and that this was where the ghost of the matron is usually spotted. You decide to go into the room at the end of the hallway, and take a look around. Despite your tour guide telling you earlier in the evening that all the rooms in the women’s wing were locked, this door seems to be an exception. Thinking nothing of the unlocked door, you walk into the room, leaving the door open in case it slams shut and locks you in. The room is a lot larger than you expected, especially since there’s another two doors coming in, which made it look like three individual rooms from the corridor. In the corner you see an old fireplace, which, despite the building being no longer occupied, looks like it’s only been used recently, like within the last few days.
Strange, you think. This isn’t even one of the usable rooms of the asylum, and yet the fire place has obviously been used recently. Looking around, you notice the missing floorboards, the large hole in the ceiling and the broken rocking chair near the fireplace. You can certainly see that the asylum is falling apart faster than the owners can repair it.
As you gaze around the room, trying to imagine it in action during the asylum’s time, you suddenly hear something out in the corridor, something that sounds very much like someone walking down the hall. Your heartbeat quickens, but you try not to let it scare you too much. The adrenaline pumping through you, you quickly and quietly move to the door, peering around the corner, trying to see into the darkness.
The corridor is nothing but all-consuming darkness, and so quiet you could hear a pin drop – there’s no footsteps, and no one there but you. As you look down to get your torch on again, a cold breeze sweeps past, and as you look up, you see a face starring back at you. Before you are able to take in what you’re seeing, the face is gone and you wonder whether anything was there to begin with – all these strange sounds must be playing with your mind.
Composing yourself, you decide to head up to the second floor, and if you remember correctly from the tour, the stairs should be just in the next corridor. You reach for the door handle and are surprised by how warm it is, as if someone had been standing there holding onto it for a few minutes. You wonder if someone has been checking the building, and they had heard you, which made them stop while opening the door. That’s it, that’s exactly what’s happened.
You look back down the corridor you’ve already walked up, checking it for one final time. Finally, convinced you’ve seen it all, and sure that there’s nothing lurking in the darkness, you walk through the doorway, into the next hallway, which connects to the stairs heading up to the second storey of the building. You quickly shine the torch up and down the hallway before heading upstairs.
Reaching the first landing of the stairs, you pause to catch your breath. In that moment, somewhere above you, voices echo through the empty building. Nerves begin to take over, and you contemplate heading back downstairs, but you tell yourself to toughen up and continue. With the adrenaline kicking in again, you climb up to the second floor, shining the torch in every direction, trying to find the source of the voices.
The long hallway stretches off in both directions, vanishing into the darkness. You’re sure it goes along the whole length of the building, with several more corridors leading off it, as well as hundreds of rooms. If there are actually people up here, it would take forever to find where they are. But of course, you could be imagining the voices, and searching for them would be insane.
You decide to head to one end of the corridor, and explore all the way from one end to the other. You head left, and a few moments later you reach the end of the building. Looking out the large window, one of the few that has all the glass still intact, you look down onto the grounds below. The moon light illuminates everything and you can tell that the view would be really beautiful during the day. Just as you’re about the turn away, you notice a rope hanging from a tree branch. Wait, not a rope, a noose. A swinging noose. A noose swinging when there’s not even the slightest breeze outside.
You frantically search the ground below, looking for the person who tied it – has someone come up here to commit suicide? Unable to find anyone, you look back at the tree, but the noose is gone. Was there even a noose there to begin with? You believe the light is playing tricks on you and return your focus to inside the building. Entering the first room along the corridor, you realise that you haven’t heard the voices for a few minutes. See, you were making it up.
Looking around the small room, you figure out that this must have been one of the rooms where a resident would have lived. Against one wall is an old bedframe that looks like it would have been dreadfully uncomfortable, even with a mattress. As you try to imagine what it would have been like living here, the door behind you begins creaking shut. It’s only when you hear the lock click do you realise what’s happened – the doors locked and there’s no latch on the inside. If you weren’t feeling scared before, you are now. Fearing that you’ll be locked in this room forever, or at least until the morning, you start to panic.
You begin banging on the door, hoping that the person who was checking the building is still wandering the halls. Between the banging, you keep trying the door, hoping that it isn’t really locked. After five minutes, your hand is too sore to continue banging, and you’re sure you’ll have a bruise in a few hours. Thinking you’ll have to wait until morning, you sit down on the bedframe, trying to get a hold on the situation. With your elbows on your knees and face in your palms, you catch your breath and calm down. After a few moments, the door creaks open.
Surprised, you quickly stand up, and step towards the door, expecting to see someone on the other side. But there’s no one there. Nerves begin to grow in your stomach as you peer out into the hall, shining the torch down the corridor, looking for the person who unlocked the door. Was the door even locked in the first place?
You start to wonder if it’s worth continuing the exploration – should you just get out now before you start imagining even worse things? You decide to keep going, trying to stop your imagination running wild. Walking out into the hall, your eyes glance back to the window, and back to the tree outside. She’s hanging. Where you had thought you saw the noose earlier, you see a woman swinging, her body limp. Fear starts to take over as you realise how odd the woman looks – she’s pale, translucent, and ghostly.
This can’t be true. You try to shake yourself back to reality, but the body is still there, still swinging. You aren’t imagining this, it’s actually happening. You have to get out. Turning to run back down the hall you’re met with another sight – a woman standing in the middle of the corridor, at the top of the stairs, looking back at you. For a moment, you’re glad to see her – maybe she can help – but you soon realise she’s also pale, like a ghost. She gives you a questioning look, as if she is wondering who you are, and why you are here. Raising her arm, she begins to take a step towards you.
Freaking out, you put your head down, close your eyes and sprint up the corridor until you know you’ve passed the stairs. Stopping, you catch your breath, open your eyes and turn back. She’s gone. You realise you need to get out. Whether you’re imagining it or not, this place is insane, which makes sense since it used to be an insane asylum. Not wanting to risk coming across that woman again, you remember that there was a second set of stairs on the other side of the building.
With your torch in hand, you begin jogging up the corridor, looking out for the hall to turn down. As you near the other end of the building, you begin to wonder where it could be, which nearly causes you to actually miss it. You stop for a moment, shining the torch down, ensuring that nothing is hidden in the shadows. From this point, you can just make out the other side of the building, or at least that’s what you think that wall at the other end is.
You jog towards the end of the corridor, but a cold feeling suddenly passes over you. Stopping abruptly, you turn around to find a man in a green stripy shirt standing before you, his arms outstretched, as if he wanted to strangle you. A silent scream escapes your mouth as you stand frozen, watching the man reaching for your throat. But as soon he’s close enough to touch you, he vanishes. You can’t move, fear keeping you fixed in a petrified state. Trying to get a grip on reality, a door slamming behind you causes fear to surge through your body – you need to get out of this building now!
Still not sure where the stairs are from where you’re standing, you begin running down the corridor, taking a guess and turning left at the end, hoping it will lead you towards the way out of this nightmare. You can’t see the stairs yet, but continuing running, hoping they’ll appear soon. However, just when you think you’re about to find them, you reach the end of the building. Knowing you shouldn’t, you peer out the window, spotting the tree again. The woman is still there, still swinging.
Realising the stairs must be at the other end of the building, you turn to run back, only this time to come across the scariest sight of all – a little girl, holding a teddy bear. In normal circumstances, this would be a cute sight, but not tonight, not when they girl is pale and ghostly. She begins walking towards you, her arms held out asking for a hug. There’s nowhere to run, and she’s getting closer. You have no choice, you just have to run straight past her. You close your eyes and sprint, feeling a chill as you pass her. You keep your eyes closed for a little longer, hoping you won’t find another resident when you open them.
Stopping, catching your breath, you open your eyes, glad that there’s nothing ready to jump out at you. In the torchlight, you see the stairs up ahead, and sprint towards them, not risking to look back. Running down the stairs, you nearly slip and trip several times, but you keep on your feet – you don’t want to kill yourself running from a ghost. Reaching the first floor, you look around frantically, trying to figure out where you are, and how to get out as soon as possible. You have no idea where you are.
You decide the only way out is the way you came in, or at least another boarded up window. Looking up and down the corridor, the moonlight streams into every window, all of them still intact and preventing your escape. Not knowing where the next broken window will be, you head down the hallway, hoping a room at the end of the building will be your way out. Moving at a jog, you try to calm yourself down. But you soon hear footsteps behind you, following you. Speeding up, you realise the corridor continues around the corner at the end of the building. Hoping there you’ll find a window you want, you turn the corner, only to find that these windows too are still intact.
Starting to panic, you continue down the corridor, the footsteps behind you still following, and seeming to get closer. Reaching the end of the building, you discover that this corridor continues along the next wall as well, and that these windows too are all intact. You begin to contemplate whether you should just break a window, but you don’t really want to leave any clues that you were here. You also have no idea what you’d break it with. Taking a moment to catch your breath you look around, and realise that the door to the women’s wing is along this corridor, and you can escape the way you came in.
Glancing back at the corridor behind you, you continue to hear the footsteps, but there’s no one there. Not wanting to wait for someone to appear, you quickly walk up the hallway, looking for the door that will lead you out. Approaching the stairs, you find the door you’re looking for, only to find it locked. This can’t be true. The fear and panic are really starting to set in, and you believe you’ll never get out – this building doesn’t want you to escape. About to give up hope, you reach for the door handle again, finding it to be very cold, despite the fact you’d just been holding onto it.
Not wanting to imagine what could be on the other side of the door, you quickly pull it open and charge through, a chill running down your spine, realising you’ve probably just walked through the ghost of the matron. You don’t want to check, you just keep running, finding the door into the next corridor. Once you reach it, you forcibly pull it open, glad that it too wasn’t locked. You’re nearly there, nearly free from this nightmare. The only thing standing in your way is finding the right room.
Remembering the door you heard lock when you arrived, you hope it’s not the door you’re looking for, and are glad to see its still open as you approach it. Running in, you head towards the window, preparing to finally escape. It’s not as easy as you’d hope. Trying to pull the board out of the frame, the fear of being forever stuck in the building begins to get the upper hand and you have trouble focusing on getting the board out. But things get worse.
“Hello dear, can we help?”
Turning around, you let out a scream, the woman, the man, the child and the matron standing in the doorway, watching you trying to escape. A smile begins to form on their faces, and you realise they know you can’t leave – you’re stuck with them forever. You can’t let them win. With one last pull at the board it comes free and you climb through the frame, falling out into the cool night. You can’t get to your feet fast enough, your legs trying to run before your body is ready.
Running off into the night, you look back at the building, and to the window, hoping the ghosts can’t escape and come after you. Suddenly, you run into a very warm and solid object, and it knocks you to the ground. Looking up, your eyes find focus on an object in the tree. A swinging object. With a silent scream you realise you’ve run into the body of a very real, and very warm woman, the woman hanging from the tree. She looks down at you, smiling a twisted smile before untying the noose and landing on the ground. She grabs you by the arm, dragging you back into the building.
There’s no escaping the faces in the dark.