He had left the stoop and I went inside. The door slammed behind me with a loud, echoing boom.
“Corey.” I started running to where I met him earlier.
He materialized in front of me. “What are you doing back here?”
I was out of breath. “Of everything you have told me today, why did you tell me any of this? You believe in a predetermined destiny that I cannot agree with. We met here by pure coincidence, however, I cannot dismiss the fact that we were supposed to meet here, at this exact place, at this exact moment. I don't know if that is what fate is, but...I just can't explain it.”
He tried to talk but I cut him off. “I don't believe you are here just to tell me a story about a haunted hospital. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the story, it's interesting, but I don't get the point.”
“Maybe I just wanted you to write about this place. Make people aware of the truth, the abuse that was here, like you said earlier.”
“No, there's more than that. If it was that simple, I wouldn't have to beg you for the truth.”
“I am telling you the truth.”
It took all of my power to calm myself down and not punch him in the face. I walked off.
“Hey, where are you going?” he called out. When I didn't respond, he yelled out again.
Why was this place, this massacre such a big secret? How could it have been missed by the media? Whatever or whomever it was, didn't even spare the children's innocent lives. Why not? Could this have been another conspiracy theory that our government was hiding from us?
Did schizophrenia cause people to starve themselves to death? I never heard of it. Then again, I've never known anyone with the disorder. Regardless, something in that little concrete room was interesting enough for Corey to die there. The boy was too happy and nothing in his story indicated a cause for him to have committed the act.
“Ian, please tell me where you are going.”
“Back to the basement, Corey. What are you hiding from me?”
“There's nothing new for you to see down there.”
“What is it? A stash of pornos, some drugs?”
“What're you, crazy? I have no desire for those things. I'm -”
“You're not a ghost. You can't fool me anymore. I think you're a magician or an illusionist, probably a child of Gypsy parents.” I descended the steps, this time unafraid of the dark. “Maybe you're hiding money, gold, or some jewels. You're a modern day pirate.” I didn't really believe this, but wanted him to think I did. Truthfully, I wanted him to leave.
He laughed. “You are the crazy one.”
“Am I? I think I'm about to prove my suspicions. Obviously something down here is big enough for you to follow me down here and try to talk me out of it.” We were too loud for me to hear the whispers again. This time I wouldn't let my mind play tricks on me either.
“Believe me, Ian, I would tell you if I could.”
“You're lying again, Corey. Kids make horrible liars.”
“You're going to regret this.”
I scoffed. “I don't think so.” The room was ahead, twenty feet ahead.
Suddenly, he was in front of me. I jerked back, stopped. Anger flashed in his eyes. He said, “Okay, you win. I will give you the stories for the book you want to write. I will tell you everything, but you have to promise me you won't go in there.”
I paused and smiled. “I thought so, but I don't believe you will tell me the truth. I'm going in and will fight you if you try to stop me.”
His eyes flicked back and forth, searching my face. He disappeared.
I crept to the rusted gate that separated this corridor from the small room, and yanked on it. It budged an inch, leaving shallow grooves in the cement wall. With a few more yanks, I was able to pry the grate loose and leaned it against the wall. I walked past his skeleton, or what he claimed it to be, and ran my hands along the wall, searching for a clue, a secret mark or a panel that led to a secret room.
Within a few minutes I found a small recess in the wall near the floor behind the skeleton. It was guarded by a spiderweb that I easily swept aside with my hand and rubbed it off. I grabbed an old black box, about a foot wide by two feet in length, and six inches thick. It was heavy in my hands. I blew off a thick layer of dust, which revealed a word in foreign lettering inlaid in gold, and inside was a book with the same word on the cover.
“So this is what you were hiding,” I said to myself. An ancient book on witchcraft? Did this book hold the curse that killed everyone?
The pulsing hum in the walls returned. I ignored it and opened the book.
The first page was covered with text of the same foreign language that I couldn't decipher.
The ground shook lightly.
I closed the book and decided to read it later. Corey wasn't here to fight me for it.
The rumbling grew louder as I walked back down the corridor to the stairwell, but I still pressed on, unafraid. What laid beyond in the other rooms didn't faze me. It was all long gone, stories, memories, and benign dead people.
My flashlight flickered and died out. I cursed and felt my way around in the darkness. My hand brushed against a thick, sticky liquid that gripped my fingers as I pulled away. The yellow liquid, what was it?
The door at the top of the stairs was closed so there wasn't any light from above to help me find my way around. I bumped my foot against the bottom step and fell forward, caught myself from planting my face on the steps. The book had fallen, but I was able to find it and crawl upward.
The door was locked. I was trapped. I banged on it, yelling for Corey. Would he come back to help me?