The Sanatorium

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
A nightmare I had a few nights ago.

Submitted: June 17, 2012

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Submitted: June 17, 2012



It started normally enough. The dream had the disjointed actions and seemingly unconnected events flashing through my mind, as is usual for me, when I came upon the sanatorium. When I was probably five or six, my family lived in a town with an old, run-down mental hospital. It hadn't been used since the late 60s, and had since become a popular attraction for "paranormal investigators" and anyone looking for a cheap scare.

During my time in the town, I never went inside. My parents were against scaring the crap out of me at such a tender age, so I never got within 100 ft of it. But things trickle down through the ranks of kids. The kids in high school would tell their younger brothers about going inside and it would wend its way through the schools until it reached me. After hearing one too many horror stories of a sleepover on the grounds or actually inside the building, I became convinced it was haunted. Strangely enough, it didn't give me nightmares then. After my family moved away about a year later, it faded completely from my mind. Until a few nights ago.

In my nightmare, I was standing in the middle of the street that led up the hill and to the gates of the sanatorium. Everything around me looked faded. Cars were parked erratically on the streets, and rust crawled over their hoods and doors. Weeds grew dull and brown out of large cracks in the road and sidewalks. Storefronts were boarded up. Something terrible had happened.

I found myself inexplicably drawn to the sanatorium that stood tall and proud overlooking the town. Whatever had happened to the town and not touched the building. It looked regal and new. The paint job appeared fresh and unchipped and none of the windows had the telltale missing panes from wayward teens using them for target practice. I pushed the tall gate open and slowly walked up the path to the building. The grass grew greener and more neatly as I got closer and closer. It almost appeared as it the institution was draining the life from the town below. A cold sweat crawled over my skin and my hair stood on end. Still, I grew nearer and nearer to the building.

As I neared the front doors, a scattering of patients and nurses out on the front lawn drew my attention. Most were sitting complacently in wheelchairs or the stone benches under the fronds of the willow trees around the sanatorium, but one pair drew my attention. A tall and dangerously thin man was gibbering madly to himself and a nurse was trying desperately to calm him down.

"Burn 'em fuck 'em up yeah yeah burn 'em burn 'em-" he rocked nervously back and forth on the balls of his feet. "Yeah yeah Davy we gonna BURN 'EM!" He threw his arms out and knocked the nurse to the ground. Several male attendants rushed over and pinned him to the ground. During the commotion, I slipped in, unnoticed.

The atmosphere changed immediately upon entry. I stepped out of a warm summer afternoon and into a cold winter night in the building. Frost danced over the windowpanes set into the main door, and my breath fogged out in front of me. Wrapping my arms around me, I walked up the steps into the reception area. A nurse had her back turned to me, looking at some charts on the wall. I slipped into the first door I saw, hoping she hadn't noticed me. She stayed perfectly still, reviewing the charts with curious intensity.

The hallway I was in was painfully white. A row of heavy duty metal doors lined the wall to my right. A sign hung slightly askew on the left wall declared this to be Ward C. It warned me to keep care around any and all patients I saw unattended and to immediately contact a nurse. A slight watery gasp from further up the hallway drew my attention.

One of the doors was slightly askew furtherup the hall. There was a wet sound coming from the room, a sound like wet fabric begin cut. My nerves sang out for me to run, but my feet marched senselessly forward. I pulled the door open and my throat filled up with a choking sensation.

The tall man I had seen outside was kneeling over one of the attendants. He looked even sicker than before. He was nothing more than a skeleton now, and his hair, which had been red and thick before, was now coming out in tufts. The knobs of his spine stuck out from his patient uniform.

He had somehow overpowered one of the attendants and gotten him into a straitjacket. A piece of fabric was stuffed into the attendant's mouth. He was gray and still, but a faint flutter around his eyelids led me to believe he was still alive. He wasn't going to be for long.

Davy had a scalpel and was making long slow cuts over the attendant's face. He dragged the implement with a calm focus across one cheek, over the bridge of his nose, and down the other. He was taking great care to make them parallel and evenly space. Blood poured out over his hands and pooled on the floor. Davy was humming mindlessly to himself and still rocking back and forth.

The attendant's eyes floated wearily up. He was going fast. His eyes spun slowly around the room, and finally rested on me. A look of alarm came over his once handsome features. His mouth worked nervously at the fabric, trying to spit it out. His eyes flashed like a spooked horse's, and every part of his body was screaming "Run! Run!"

I simply stood dumbly in the doorway. My actions were now totally under the control of some third party operator. My feet stood rigidly on the floor, even though I was struggling to turn and run. My internal battle was short and hard fought. I could feel the influence of the operator leaking away, but my actions were still jerky and uncoordinated. My fingers twitched and my legs spasmed mildly, but I could not move. Only a moment before I had full control, Davy noticed me.

He had noticed the attendant desperately motioning for me to leave, and he slowly half turned to the doorway. His features became the picture of rage. His thin and ragged lips curled up and his eyes burned into mine like wildfire. In one smooth movement, he slammed his scalpel into the attendant'seye and rose unsteadily to his feet. That's when I ran.

My bare feet slapped noisily on the floor and the hallway seemed to stretch endlessly before me. My breath rattled in my chest and my legs burned with pure adrenaline. I shot away from the room, but I could hear Davy following in a shuffling and uneasy gait. I burst through the doorway into the reception area and ran for the nurse's desk. "Please, please, Davy is out, you've got-" The words died in my throat as I grabbed her shoulder and turned her face up to mine.

Her eyes were gone. Ragged cut marks lined her brow bone and dried blood traced paths down her porcelain skin. I let her limply fall back. She fell out of her chair and laid unmoving on the floor. Another nurse was lying behind the desk with similar cut marks. I could hear Davy, and he was closer now. My last chance was the front door. I ran past the door to Ward C, and in the observation window I could see the gleam of Davy's eyes. He was laughing now.

Vaulting the stairs in a lithe motion, I grasped for the door handle. My fingers glanced painfully off. I looked closer. The door was gone. In its place was a child's drawing of a door, painted on with an unsteady hand. My hands danced over the wall, looking for a crack, looking for a hinge, anything to indicate escape. There was nothing.

A shadow fell on the door. Its gaunt shoulders and the scalpel it held in its hand could be no one else. I took a shallow breath and turned to face my death.

This is where I always wake up. I never complete my turn; I always wake up, drenched in sweat and grasping for the light switch. I couldn't find an explanation for the sudden recurrence of my dreams, so I decided to look up the history of the sanatorium. After a little digging and a few phone calls to former workers, I confirmed that there was a patient named Davy at the sanatorium. He had been committed for nearly ten years when something happened. I couldn't find anything on the Internet and none of the former employees would tell me exactly what happened, but one did mention something about "a major windfall to the deceased nurses, patients, and attendants' families." I managed to extract a few names from a few different sources, and I looked them up. Clarise Rhodes, called Cherry by her friends, was reported dead on Dec. 16th, 1968. Daniel Richards, Dec. 16th, 1968. Andrew Mitchell, Dec. 16th, 1968. Every employee working there that night died. The list goes on and on. A review of the patient list confirms that all of the patients admitted at the time also died. Except for Davy.

Davy was only reported missing.

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