In the 1940’s, a small but prodigious mental health facility in New York received a man that had seemingly come from nowhere. The staff allegedly reported a ragged, severely malnourished man in his late 50’s stumbling through the main entrance. He had no identification, and was unable to speak coherently. When asked his name, the man merely mumbled and collapsed against a chair, like an infant unable to withstand the weight of its own body. A staff member attempted to guide him to a chair, but when she touched him, he lashed out like a wild beast, clawing her face and throwing her to the ground. Orderlies promptly responded, and soon, the troubled man was restrained to a gurney so that a mild sedative could be administered. Most of the doctors had already departed for the night, but one was available to assess the raving man’s condition. The doctor was a widely respected psychologist and counselor, and his years of experience were the envy of his peers, so it would seem that he was the perfect choice for such a sudden anomaly so late at night. In the reports, the doctor entered the man’s temporary holding room after the sedative had been administered, and by that time, the man’s disposition had calmed considerably. The doctor noted that the man’s skin was unusually pale; indicative of a lack of healthy sunlight exposure. One of the orderlies reported that as they restrained him, one of the man’s arms broke with almost no effort. The doctor stated that the man may have osteomalacia, a weakening of the bones through a lack of vitamin D. The man’s eyes were also extremely unusual: they were mildly glassy, almost milk-like in color, but the quality was not necessarily synonymous with blindness. The man could see, but it was almost as if his eyes were slowly becoming obsolete, as if he hadn’t seen the light of day in many years. The doctor reportedly grew unnerved when he approached the mysterious patient, as he noted the man’s strange reaction to light. The man had done nothing since his confinement but stare up into the light fixture directly above him, yet he smiled pleasurably, as if the mere presence of light upon his face was the most soothing experience of his life. Satisfied with his observations, the doctor finally asked the man,
“What is your name?”
The man did not answer. A slow smile tugged at the corners of his mouth as he closed his eyes and basked in the light.
“What is your name?” the doctor repeated.
Finally, the man awoke from his stupor, his appetite of light apparently slaked. His glassy eyes rolled in his sockets until he found the doctor. Reportedly, the doctor took an involuntary step back; the man’s uncomfortable stare almost overwhelming.
“I had no need of names.” The man croaked dryly.
“Why is that?” the doctor asked.
“Why should I?” the man queried. His voice cracked like a child’s.
“Everyone has a name. A name adds to our identity. Surely, you have an identity?” the doctor asked. Soft laughter dribbled from the man’s throat like pus.
“In the dark, we are nameless. In the dark, we are faceless. In the dark…” the man said, his eyes shifting up to the light once again.
“We are but whispers.”
“Where did you come from?” the doctor asked, unfazed.
“From the mouth of darkness.”
“And where is that?”
The man laughed again, his eyes bulging as they stared into the light.
“The darkness has no body that we can comprehend. Its mouth, its eyes, its mind, they are one, and they are all. The light in which we stand is like a wrapper encompassing a sweet,” the man looked back to the doctor, his head cocked at an awkward angle.
“Once the light goes out, it has but to extend its hand, and consume us all.”
The doctor apparently had had enough. Impatiently, the doctor wrote down the last of his notes and turned back to the orderlies that were waiting patiently by the door. As it became abundantly clear to the mysterious old man that the doctor was finished with him for the night, he became suddenly more distraught, and began to twist and writhe in his straps. The orderlies entered the room and began to brace the man for a second dose of sedative as the doctor turned back to him, his eyes brimming with palpable intrigue. It was then that the doctor reportedly withdrew from the room, his discomfort radiating from him like raw energy. The man was twisting vigorously like a feral animal in his straps, and despite his broken arm, the orderlies were finding it difficult to hold him. The entire time, the man’s milk-white eyes did not turn from the doctor’s. As the old man stared at him, he called out so that the doctor would surely hear him over the exertion of the orderlies,
“It lurks closer than you think, child. Do not think that what you see at night is merely the absence of light; it is the absence of all things human. It is the absence of understanding. All that we have! If I fade, so too shall the light. Arrogance is all you have known!”
The man reportedly struggled against the orderlies as they muscled him into submission. The doctor retreated to his office and finished gathering the last of his things as he prepared to leave for the night. As he did so, a grim-faced orderly lifted a syringe containing a strong sedative above the old man’s flushed and sweat-soaked face. Even as the needle was guided to the old man’s thigh, the old man did not cease his struggle. The orderly squeezed every drop into the old man’s flesh, and as his body fell still, it is said that he looked to the orderly that had injected him, and spoke, smiling as he did so.
“Savor the light. It is the last that you will ever know of it.”
The man then lost consciousness.
It is unclear what happened next. Authorities estimate that a large scale power outage occurred sometime around 11:47 p.m. Perhaps that estimation is due in part to every clock within the facility being frozen upon that exact time. Of every staff member, every patient, every human being within the former psychiatric hospital, only one man was ever found who was present at the time of the phenomenon. Police reported to the hospital shortly after 7 a.m. when the security failed to report for turnover. What they found has thus far perplexed every forensic expert in the nation. Not a single soul was discovered within the facility, save one, and with the exception of one disturbing remnant that so far has remained unsolved by police, no evidence of the staff or patient body has ever been discovered. The one surviving person, a patient that has suffered blindness since birth, has not been able to provide any useful information as to the events that transpired after the alleged power outage. The man had been found barricaded within his room, the bed used to bar the door. When authorities breached the room, the patient huddled down in the corner as he whispered to himself, sobbing intermittently between spurts of incoherent nonsense. The palms of his hands had been chewed nearly to the bone, and all across the room, bloody handprints had been pressed against the surface of the wall. A majority of the handprints formed nothing, however, on the far wall, a series of handprints formed a simple plea:
The nation’s top psychologists interviewed the man, but little more than vague statements and puzzling riddles have ever been extracted from him. One of the most intriguing interviews is as follows:
(Beginning of Recording)
Dr. Rickhart: This is Dr. Rickhart, interviewing Patient (Redacted) about the incident at (Redacted) Hospital. Tell me, Mr. (Redacted), what do you remember from the night when you were found by the police?
Patient One: (Soft sobbing) I don’t….I need my family. They don’t visit anymore. I just want to be with them. Do they love me anymore?
Dr. Rickhart: Please, Mr. (Redacted). Focus. Your family is just outside, waiting for you, but first, I need you to tell me what happened within the hospital. Your home. What happened to all the nice people you knew there? What did you hear?
Patient One: It…it was like the place was alive. Like any building, like this one. You can hear it. People, sounds, the noise a building makes. But then, the noises stopped. I couldn’t hear anything. No people, No sound, No anything. I could hear my heart sounds though. It was very loud. And my breathing. (Patient grows noticeably agitated)
Dr. Rickhart: Go on.
Patient One: Then it spoke to me.
Dr. Rickhart: What spoke to you?
Patient One: (Soft sobbing) It didn’t tell me its name. It spoke into my head. Past my ears. It had more than one voice, like a boy and a girl, but then it sounded like…
(Patient begins rocking back and forth nervously) It sounded like my mama and my daddy. Both together. All voices together. I’ve never been so scared. It told me that…that I had never seen the light. That I was safe from it. It tried to take my hands…(Patient holds out his bandaged hands) but I pulled them away when it touched my skin. I’ve…(Patient falls completely still.) I’ve never felt anything so cold. So dead. I didn’t want the part of me that touched it to be on me anymore.
(End of Recording)
The patient passed away several years later of a heart attack. The investigation of the incident at the facility has since been closed, and in the long years following its mystique, it has since become little more than a location of mythos for the small, neighboring town a few miles away. Every now and again, brave individuals attempt to probe deeper into the legend surrounding the site, but the local police have retained a strict quarantine around the premises, arresting any that trespass onto the property. Only the agile, and perhaps foolish, ever make it past the fence and the razor wire. Even then, most turn back when night falls upon the facility. To disregard scientific theory and professional opinion, all who have ever stepped near the abandoned hospital agree:
It is a place of evil.
“What are you really scared of? Like, besides simple b******t phobias and whatnot, what really scares the absolute s**t out of you?” I asked.
Jacob dropped his smile, and considered my question a moment. It was nearly dark, and the local sheriff had just finished his round of the road leading up to the abandoned hospital.
“S**t, I guess things that are beyond human comprehension. The enigmatic forces that deny understood science and natural law,” he replied. I shrugged with satisfaction. A more reasonable and serious answer than I truly expected.
“All that H.P. Lovecraft you read I guess.”
Jacob smiled broadly. “If you could read above a 5th grade level, I’d let you borrow one of his books. They’re life changing.”
“Yeah, I’ll f*****g bet.” I said sardonically. Jacob smiled again before turning his head back towards the darkening horizon of trees. All that remained was a blood-stained silhouette of pines against the sky, jutting upwards like the fecund teeth of the earth.
“Time to move out,” he said earnestly.
I bit back bitter laughter. “Aye, Aye, Corporal Cockscucker. Man, you’ll all set and ready to go off to boot camp next year, aren’t ya?”
“Maybe if you could ever find a d**k in that bush between your legs, you’d sign up too,” he snapped back. I raised my hands in surrender as we stood and began our ascent up the hill towards the hospital. We both fell silent as we continued our climb. Admittedly, it was awkward. I felt I had gone too far, especially after Jacob’s father had died several years earlier in Afghanistan. I decided to make amends.
“I respect what you’re doing, man. Just don’t come back calling me sir or some s**t.”
The darkness split with his laughter.
“Agreed. Better to go with ‘Ma’am’”
We both laughed.
The darkness began to envelop everything around us as we neared the exterior fence. Jacob summarily reached into his backpack and fetched the flashlight that had belonged to his father. He clicked it on, and instantly, the light reflected off of the numerous signs that peppered the fence which encircled the entire perimeter of the hospital.
“Alright,” Jacob said, breaking the deafening silence around us. “James said he cut a hole in the fence about 50 feet to the left of the main entrance. ‘Said it’s near a large stump. Should be easy to find.”
I spun around as I followed Jacob. Nothing was visible outside of the bobbing beam of light as he carved his way through the darkness, but despite that, I could already feel a sense of something otherworldly in the devastating blackness. It fueled my adrenaline like nothing I had ever experienced.
“This is so badass,” I murmured. Jacob did not respond. He was in full commando-mode. To speak unnecessarily now would be akin to treason.
“Here,” he finally said. As James had stated, a vertical cut had been made up the wire-link fence, allowing easy access to the hospital grounds. Within moments, we had penetrated the feeble security of the site, and were now on our way to becoming school legends.
“You know what I think is the most pants-shittingly scary part of this place?” I asked stupidly. Jacob did not follow up with the curiosity I expected. I continued nevertheless. “The bloodstains throughout the facility. They say it’s the only remains of the staff and patients. They say the stains never washed clean. Like the blood just fused with the material that it landed on.”
Jacob again said nothing, but I could sense that his apprehension was growing. Mine was as well. As the hospital loomed over us in the dancing beam of Jacob’s flashlight, even the bravest man would admit to sensing watchers in the muddy windows of the hospital. It was everywhere; the sense of dread, the awe of such a mysterious and malevolent place. It felt as if the very night itself were waiting to swallow us whole. Finally, we reached the main doors of the facility. The windows were cracked and filthy, years of neglect mirrored in the smudged remains of the glass. Tentatively, Jacob reached out and pressed against the door. Slowly, the door creaked open, and we stepped inside. We had done it. Jacob swirled like a pirouette, casting the flashlight’s beam anywhere and everywhere. My eyes followed the beam like a moth drawn to a fluorescent bulb, and immediately, we saw the first stains of blood. Our bodies froze in perfect unison, and like clockwork, we stepped ever closer to our first real proof that the legends were true. Jacob crouched down and wiped his hand across the surface of the floor. He looked up to me, his eyes wide. “It doesn’t feel like anything’s there besides dirt. No residue, no texture indicative of blood. I think…I think you were right.”
I swallowed heavily. “Come on, I want to see where the guy was held.”
Jacob nodded, but I could see it in his eyes. He was losing his mind already. Noiselessly, we moved deeper into the facility. The quiet was unlike anything I had ever experienced. I was used to my heart pumping heavily when I played football, or when I ran, but now, it was like my chest was bursting. My ears rang as blood surged through my brain, but still, I could hear nothing except the soft scrapping of our shoe treads against the dirt-streaked floor. I don’t know how much time passed before we found it: a door that bore a label so worn that it had since become illegible. I twisted the knob, and pushed the door open. As the door gave way to the room within, Jacob shone his light across every surface. Finally, he rested the beam upon the gurney that sat squarely in the middle of the room. The straps were tied, perhaps loose enough to have been used to secure a man, albeit a very small or frail man. Together, Jacob and I sat mesmerized. It was Jacob that finally moved first. Rounding the gurney, Jacob angled the light down and painted the moth eaten fabric of it with bright light.
That was the last thing I remember. Of the room. Of Jacob. Of my world.
I awoke alone, my body aching and the stench of my own blood seeping from the floor and from my clothes. I lifted my face from the cold stone of the dark room, and instantly, I vomited. Whether from the blood I was undoubtedly losing, or the acrid stink of mold and personal bodily fluids, I could not tell. Slowly, I eased myself up, and tenderly lifted my fingers to my legs. Pain lanced through my nerves like a live wire, and I recoiled only to touch my lower back, where I was greeted by the same, unbearable sensation. Gritting my teeth, my eyes widened with the curious realization that something had grabbed me, viciously, and pulled me into the room that I was now in. I couldn’t bring myself to believe it, but nothing else made sense. I mustered every fiber of strength that remained in my body, and rose to my feet. The room was pitch black; there was no amount of acclimatization that my eyes could achieve that would help me. Blindly, I stumbled forward until I reached a wall. Stone, cold as metal left in winter’s grasp. My fingers probed along the wall until I reached a dichotomy in the surface. Wood. The frame of a door. I felt down along the wood until a doorknob materialized in my hand like a God-sent miracle. I twisted the knob and pulled the door open. Ice cold air hit my face. As the door swung open, the soft clink of metal echoed up from the floor. I looked down and felt around where I had heard the noise, and felt my fingers wrap around a narrow, cylindrical object. A flashlight. Jacob’s?
How did he lose it? I asked myself. As if expecting the impossible, I clicked the light on, and was instantly greeted with the sight of stone walls that surrounded me. They were old, ancient. Like nothing I had ever seen. They seemed to pulsate with life, as if some microscopic organism writhed around every surface with visible power. I quickly scanned the room, and then left, entering into a corridor that seemed to span miles and miles without turns or blockades. My heart sank within my chest, an understandable reaction to the sight of such penetrating darkness. The beam of my light seemed to waver after several dozen feet, as if the light itself feared to venture too far from its source. Realizing the hopelessness of my situation, I stomached my fear, and began walking. For nearly half an hour, I walked. I passed nothing, save for the occasional discoloration in the pulsing stone. I began to realize that the stone did not quiver as if something alive crawled across it, it moved as if the stone itself were alive. Breathing. Like a stone esophagus of some dormant being. I prayed that it was dormant. Wearily, I continued walking. I was growing weaker from loss of blood. I knew it would not be long before my strength would fade, and I would inevitably die from lack of medical attention. It was then that I spotted the first digression of the corridor since I had begun walking. A door. I looked back warily, expecting some trick or ambush, but only the damning infinite gazed back at me. I turned, and approached the door. Inhaling sharply, I twisted the doorknob, which was exactly the same as the one that contained me, and entered the room.
It was then that I found Jacob.
He was moving, but alive was the word furthest from how I would describe him. His body and face were directed towards me, but his movement was unnatural. Unholy, if ever I had needed to use such a descriptor. His eyes were rolled up into his sockets, casting a milk-white gaze of death upon me. My blood drained from my face, and seemingly my entire body, as if my heart was pulling everything to itself so that it might continue pumping. Jacob’s head twitched and cocked sideways as his jaw dropped. It dropped wider than any normal human could achieve, and blood seeped from his mouth like a defective water faucet. The beam from my flashlight swam across his body, illuminating all the bloodstains that covered him, but what it truly uncovered was what stood behind him. Crouched lowly behind Jacob in a stance similar to a predator attempting to conceal itself, an impossibly pale being glinted in the nervous light. My heart froze, and as if sensing my fear, the being rose. It stood nearly 3 meters tall, and was gangly and inhuman in nearly every respect. That was not what drew my immediate attention, however. As the being stood, I noticed for the first time, a shifting shadow that I thought at first was being cast by Jacob’s twitching head. I realized summarily that it was not his head, but an enormous tentacle that protruded from the beings stomach, and was snaking up Jacob’s body and penetrating the back of his head. I tried to scream, but the noise clawed at my throat, and died. The being cocked its head, and it was then that I clearly saw its face from behind Jacob. Face was a term loosely used, as the being had no facial features, aside from large dark spots barely visible beneath the surface of its pallid skin. It had no hair, no mouth, nose, or ears. Never, even in my darkest nightmares had I ever seen anything so twisted and evil. I wanted to die then, to prevent whatever it would undoubtedly do to me what it had done to Jacob. I stepped back, tears welling in my eyes, and reactively, the creature spasmed. Jacob suddenly croaked out the most bone-chilling laugh I had ever heard in my life. Foul effluence oozed from his mouth, and then, he spoke,
“Do not leave.”
I could not speak. I felt hot tears drip down my dirt-strewn face. Jacob pulled his cheeks back tightly, exposing blood-soaked teeth in a deranged smile.
“It hunts us. This one is prey, like you. No face, no eyes. Friend?” he croaked.
I swallowed thick mucous. Finally, I stammered out a reply to the Jacob-thing.
“He was my friend. You killed him? Why?”
Jacob’s body twitched like the marionette he was, as the puppet master awkwardly stepped out into the light of my flashlight.
“Friend…It is of no consequence. You will feed the darkness, same as us. Do you hear its voice? It calls when it is close. It feeds on body and soul. Fear is its milk; it sweetens the flesh. The flesh is its only craving.”
Jacob’s voice sounded like syrup as blood dripped from his constantly grinning face.
“What are you? Why are you here, killing my friend? Using him like a puppet?” I asked fearfully.
Jacob laughed as the being cocked its head. It seemed like the two were completely different personalities; the being timid and curious and the Jacob-thing patronizing and sinister.
“Duality of worlds. Darkness binds them. You see it when you dream, yes? Rips in the fabric of its passing. Darkness begets only darkness, but its trail can be followed. If one has not seen the light.” The smile disappeared from Jacob’s face, and for a moment, it seemed to gaze at me with a look of deep disappointment. “You are stained with light, same as us. A fine feast we will make.”
Suddenly, the being behind Jacob jerked its head to the side and seemed to watch the wall. The Jacob-thing sagged slightly, his face becoming pained.
“Now. Do you hear it? It comes.”
Jacob suddenly collapsed to the floor, as the being retreated to the back wall. Its tentacle snaked around wildly as it withdrew, flailing like a high pressure hose. I ran to Jacob’s body, but before I could lift his face to look at him, a concatenation of echoes seeped into my head. It sounded like chaos, but I could discern a simple message.
“You have seen light. I consume. We consume. All of you.”
I looked up to the being that had leeched itself to Jacob, pure horror on my face. I knew the voices in my head. It was my mother, my father, everyone I had ever known.
The being sank lower to the ground, its pale, twisted hands shaking in the beam of my discarded flashlight. It was terrified. The voices grew in my head, repeating the same message, over and over. I felt my mind wrapping in on itself as my fear consumed me. Just as my eyes twitched from the inexplicable terror that enveloped me, I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. Everywhere, the darkness surged, like throbbing lungs. The voices reached a deafening roar, a million voices whispering one over the other. Suddenly, the flashlight blinked. I turned in horror as the beam quivered again. It seemed to be saying one last farewell, mocking me as it condemned me to death. It blinked a third a final time, and then it died, plunging the entire room into complete and utter darkness.