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Blackwood Sanotorium

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Chapter 1- The Lost Ward

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1

 

Some believe that the most terrifying place in a hospital is the morgue. I beg to differ. There’s a location far more sinister, shrouded in darkness and despair, where the living are more ghostly than the dead.

 

My name is Alex Grayson, a 22-year-old nursing student. Unlike the bustling halls of my university, where students thrive on caffeine and late-night study sessions, Blackwood Sanatorium is a world apart—a realm where time stands still.

 

My journey into this abyss began unexpectedly, and it has left me haunted, both in body and soul. Now, confined to a wheelchair with my mind entangled in the grip of unseen horrors, I feel compelled to recount my story before it's too late...

 

---

 

It started with an ordinary day at home. My father was in the kitchen, preparing breakfast, when he suddenly collapsed, his body wracked with pain.

 

The urgency of the situation propelled us to the nearest hospital, but the diagnosis was grim: acute renal failure. The doctors warned us that recovery was uncertain and the treatments would be extensive and costly.

 

I found myself desperate for a way to support him. Jobs were scarce, and my status as a student often led to rejection or insultingly low offers. I was nearing the edge of despair when an unexpected call came.

 

The voice on the other end was that of a young woman, clear and calm. Clara, she mentioned having seen my resume online and asked if I was still searching for employment.

 

I confirmed I was. I shouldn’t have been that desperate.

 

She then asked if I’d consider working as a security guard at Blackwood Sanatorium.

The name jolted me—I hadn’t expected to hear about Blackwood again, especially not now when my father was in dire need of care.

 

Coincidentally, it was the very hospital where he had been admitted. Without hesitation, I agreed to meet her at the hospital entrance at 2 PM.

 

After a hurried lunch and a quick shower, I made my way to Blackwood. I arrived a bit early, and as the minutes ticked by, I grew more anxious. At precisely two o’clock, a woman approached.

 

She was striking—around her late thirties. Her skin was porcelain pale, and her long black hair cascaded in waves over her shoulders.

 

Dressed in a dark, elegant dress, she seemed almost out of place in the dreary surroundings of Blackwood.

 

“Are you Alex?” Clara asked.

 

“Yes,” I replied. “You mentioned a job...”

 

She smiled. “Let’s take a look at the environment first. Then we can discuss the details.”

 

I followed her through the entrance of Blackwood Sanatorium.

 

We walked through dimly lit corridors, past silent wards where the occasional moan of a patient echoed.

 

My guide moved with an eerie grace, her footsteps barely making a sound on the cold, tiled floor. She led me to a small, cluttered office, where she gestured for me to sit.

 

“The job is simple,” she began, her eyes fixed on mine. “You’ll be monitoring the night shift. Keeping an eye on things, ensuring nothing... unusual happens.”

 

The way she said “unusual” was strange. I could feel an unspoken weight behind her words, but I was too desperate to question it.

 

“How much does it pay?” I asked.

 

She leaned back, folding her hands in her lap.

 

“Enough to cover your father’s medical expenses and more.”

 

“Isn’t this just a security job?” I asked, pointing at the main hospital gate. My voice echoed slightly in the eerie silence that surrounded Blackwood Sanatorium.

 

“No, not exactly here,” Clara replied “Follow me. You’ll understand soon enough.”

 

Questions swirled in my mind, but something in her tone told me to keep them to myself.

 

I fell in step behind her, and we moved away from the main building, heading towards the west side of the sanatorium.

 

After a short walk, we stopped in front of an old, weather-beaten structure.

 

The building had five floors, each one more decrepit than the last. Ivy snaked across the yellowed walls, and through the grime-covered windows, shadows flickered in the dim interior light.

 

Clara led me inside.

 

The scent of disinfectant was overpowering, mixing with a musty odor that clung to the air. I pinched my nose against the stench, glancing around.

 

The walls, a drab gray, were streaked with dirt and adorned with cobwebs. The floor, not the usual sterile tile but rough cement, was pockmarked with patches of mold and scale from the persistent dampness.

 

“This is The Annex, some people call it the Lost Block. Your future duties will be here. You’ll be keeping watch.”

 

“Keeping watch?”

 

It sounded straightforward, manageable.

 

“Yes, but don’t decide so quickly. Let’s take a look around first. You might change your mind.”

 

We began to ascend the stairs, our footsteps echoing on the cement steps. Clara introduced herself as Clara Wainwright, but insisted I call her Ms. Wainwright. As we climbed, she explained the unique nature of The Annex.

 

“The Annex is different from the rest of Blackwood. It’s reserved for patients with no means to pay for their treatment. Those who have no family, no friends. They’re the forgotten ones. Thus, The Lost Block”

 

The halls were dimly lit, filled with the scent of neglect. The atmosphere felt heavy, as if the very walls were soaked with despair.

 

“The hospital can’t discharge them and has no way to contact their families,” Clara continued. “So, they are housed here, in The Annex. This place is their last stop.”

 

Her words left me cold. I couldn’t imagine my father ending up in a place like this, a forgotten soul among the shadows.

 

As we walked, we passed by several wards. The sounds from within were haunting—soft cries, incoherent murmurs, the occasional scream.

 

Nurses moved past us, their faces blank, their eyes avoiding mine. It was as if they were ghosts themselves, drifting through the building without acknowledging our presence.

 

We reached the fourth floor, and Clara’s pace slowed as we approached a door marked “Ward 99.”

 

Unlike the other doors, which were a light walnut color, this one was a deep, foreboding red. It looked almost as if it had been painted with blood.

 

From a distance, it resembled the gaping maw of a demon, waiting to devour any who dared to enter.

 

“This is Ward 99,” Clara said. “Your main responsibility will be to keep an eye on this ward. It’s where the most... unusual patients reside.”

 

“Unusual?” I asked.

 

“Yes,” Clara said, turning to face me. Her eyes bore into mine, unblinking. “The patients here are... different. They have no families, no visitors. They’re not just sick—they’re beyond that. Some say they’re caught between worlds, neither fully alive nor fully dead.”

 

Her words hung in the air, and I felt an icy tendril of fear wrap around my heart.

 

“You still have time to reconsider,” Clara said, her voice softening. “Once you agree, there’s no turning back.”

 

But I had no other options. My father needed me, and this job was our only hope.

“I’ll take it,” I said finally.

 

“Very well. Welcome to Ward 99, Ethan. You’ll start tonight.”

 

The ominous red door of Ward 99 loomed behind us as Clara led me back down the stairs. As we descended, I couldn't help but notice a peculiar detail I had missed earlier: a small, round bronze mirror, caked with dust, hung above the door's frame.

 

It was slightly tilted, catching just enough light to glint eerily. It looked like it had been there for years, watching over the entrance.

 

"Hurry up, there's nothing more to see here," Clara urged. Her face had grown noticeably paler, her confident demeanor slipping away.

 

I glanced at her, puzzled by her sudden anxiety. What could be making her so uneasy? My curiosity urged me to ask, but the urgency in her steps kept me silent. We continued our descent in heavy silence.

 

Back on the ground floor, Clara turned to me with a question that seemed more like a final test.

 

“Are you really sure you will take it?”

 

“Yes,”

 

Clara's shoulders seemed to relax slightly, and she offered a faint smile. "Alright then. The first three months are a probation period. You’ll be working from 8 PM to 7 AM, and the pay will be £5000 a month. After the probation period, it doubles. Is that acceptable?"

 

My eyes widened in disbelief. £5000 a month? That was more than many full-time jobs in our town. The offer was almost too good to be true, and it made me wonder what hidden costs there might be.

 

"Yes, it's more than acceptable," I replied.

 

Clara nodded, her smile returning. "Good. I'll need your ID to complete the registration."

 

After the paperwork was done, Clara's demeanor shifted from businesslike to serious. She looked me straight in the eyes, her expression grave. "There are some rules you must follow here, Ethan. These are not negotiable."

 

I nodded, listening intently.

 

“First, do not sleep in the corridors or wards during your shift. You must stay alert at all times.”

 

That seemed reasonable enough. Falling asleep on the job would be unprofessional, and in a place like this, possibly dangerous.

 

"Second," she continued, "after 2 AM, do not, under any circumstances, use the toilets. No matter how urgent it seems."

 

I furrowed my brow at this. It seemed arbitrary and impractical. "What if it's an emergency?" I asked, trying to mask my skepticism.

 

Clara’s face darkened. “I don’t care what you think. You must not use the toilets after 2 AM. Trust me on this.”

 

The firmness in her tone left little room for argument. I nodded, even though I couldn't understand the reasoning.

 

"Third, you must never accept anything from a patient. No gifts, no notes, nothing."

 

This rule struck me as odd, but I could imagine it might be to prevent any personal attachments or complications. Again, I nodded in agreement.

 

"Finally… you must never, under any circumstances, open the door to Ward 99. It doesn’t matter what you hear or see. That door remains closed."

 

"Why not?" I asked, my curiosity overpowering my caution.

 

“If you value your life, Ethan, you won’t ask that question again. Just know that opening that door could cost you everything.”

 

I forced myself to nod, though every instinct screamed for more information. “I understand,” I said, though I wasn’t sure I did.

 

Clara took a deep breath, her posture relaxing slightly. “Good. Then you start tonight. Be here by 7:00 PM, and I’ll introduce you to the night staff.”

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