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Specters of the Night

2

Chapter 002: The Silent Truth

6

I hurried out of the ward. The hospital corridors were eerily silent, devoid of the usual bustling staff. After wandering through the dimly lit halls for what felt like an eternity, I finally found a small office at the corner with three nurses inside.


Knocking gently, I entered and was met by a slightly plump woman who turned to face me.


"What do you need?" she asked.


"My friend’s ward and medical record seem to have a mix-up," I explained. "Someone's claiming his bed."


She barely glanced at me, her attention fixed on a chart. "Name?"


"Marcus."


She flicked through the records. "Bed 1 in Room 603, next to the door."


"Yes, but the name on the medical record card isn’t his," I insisted. "It says William Hennesy."


At this, the woman’s demeanor shifted. Her eyes narrowed, and she exchanged uneasy glances with her colleagues.


"What did you say?" she asked, her voice suddenly tense.


"William Hennesy," I repeated, feeling a cold knot forming in my stomach. "The old man is waiting by the bed right now. Could you come and explain it to him?"


Her face turned a shade paler, "Don’t mess with us! We’re busy."


Frustration boiled within me, but I kept my voice steady. "He’s an elderly man. Even if there’s been a mistake, someone should check on him."


The woman abruptly stood up. "Listen here, Mr. Hennesy died a month ago. Are you making fun of the dead?"


Her words hit me like a truck. A cold sweat broke out across my back. The seriousness in her eyes suggested she wasn’t joking. Speechless, I turned and made my way back to Marcus’s ward, my mind reeling.


As I approached the door, the old man’s gaunt face lingered in my thoughts. But Marcus was still inside, and I couldn’t leave him alone. I peeked into the ward, moving cautiously like a thief.


Suddenly, a hand landed on my shoulder, and I nearly jumped out of my skin.


I turned around and saw it was the plump nurse from before. She looked at me blankly, seemingly as startled by my reaction as I was by her sudden appearance.


"It's broad daylight. Why are you so jumpy?" she said.


I followed her quickly, feeling somewhat reassured by her presence. However, when we entered the room, there was no sign of the old man. Marcus sat up in his bed, looking confused.


"Where is he?" the nurse demanded.


I hesitated, then asked Marcus, "Where's the old man?"


Marcus looked at me "Didn't he follow you out?"


My legs went weak. Could the old man really have been a ghost? How else could I not have noticed him leaving with me? Before I could ponder further, the nurse pointed to the medical record card at the end of the bed and said,

"Look, it clearly says 'Marcus.' What William Hennesy? Young people shouldn’t joke about these things."


I hurried over to the card. Sure enough, it now read "Marcus." My mind whirled in confusion.


Had I imagined the whole thing? But Marcus had seen the old man too.


My head spun, and when I looked up, I saw Marcus’s face was pale. He understood what the nurse had said.


After a long silence, he asked, worriedly, "Did I see a ghost again?"


I was about to respond when Marcus's eyes widened in fear. He was staring behind me. My heart pounded, and I felt a chill run down my spine.


Before I could turn around, I heard an old, weary voice behind me, "Young man, this is my bed, right?"


I swallowed hard, my mouth dry. I felt rooted to the spot, sweat trickling down my back. Glancing at the medical record, I saw it had changed back to "William Hennesy."


Marcus was curled up on the bed, eyes wide, barely breathing.


Then I felt a heavy pressure on my shoulder. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw an old, withered hand resting on me. I screamed, my last shred of rationality snapping.


I bolted from the ward, with Marcus right behind me.


We sprinted to the elevator, frantically pressing the down button. The more desperate we became, the slower the elevator seemed to move.


People stared at us as we ran, especially since Marcus was still in his hospital gown.


The nurse from before saw us and chased after us.


"What are you two running around for? This is a hospital! Be quiet, or you might hurt someone!"


She grabbed Marcus.


"And you, why are you causing a scene? Get back to bed!"

"I don’t want to stay here anymore!" Marcus shouted. "I don’t want to live in this hospital!"


At that moment, the elevator doors finally opened. The occupants inside looked on in shock as the nurse struggled with us. Marcus and I shoved our way inside, slamming the button for the ground floor.


Before the doors closed, I glanced back at the ward. The old man stood at the doorway, watching us thoughtfully.


Inside the elevator, Marcus and I trembled, clutching each other for support.


We didn't say anything as the elevator descended, our minds too frazzled to form coherent thoughts.


The other passengers in the elevator eyed us warily, likely frightened by our panic-stricken appearance. The moment the doors opened on the next floor, everyone bolted, leaving us alone.


Marcus and I huddled in the elevator, anxiously waiting for it to reach the ground floor.


The doors opened and closed a few times, but no one entered. Maybe someone had pressed the button and then left, but each stop felt like another brush with danger.


We kept pressing the close button, willing the elevator to hurry.


When we finally reached the ground floor, a wave of relief washed over us. But as the doors slid open, our relief turned to shock. Standing outside were Marcus’ parents.


"Marcus, where are you going?" She turned to me, "And why are you here?"


Before I could respond, Marcus bolted out of the elevator. His parents shouted after him, bewildered by his sudden flight. "Marcus, stop! Why are you running?"


To others, it might have seemed like a simple case of a patient trying to escape the hospital. But to us, it felt like escaping a nightmare. No matter how much his mother called out, Marcus didn’t look back.


He ran until he was out of the hospital, and I followed closely behind.


Outside, the fresh air hit us like a lifeline. Marcus stood with his hands on his knees, gasping for breath. I wiped the sweat from my forehead, my hair sticking to my skin.


I glanced back at the hospital and spotted the window of room 603. The curtains fluttered wildly in the wind, but nothing else seemed amiss.


Marcus’ parents caught up to us. His mother rushed to him, bombarding him with questions. Marcus remained silent.


Frustrated, his mother turned to me. "Tell me, what happened to my son?"


I hesitate. Finally, I said, "We encountered a ghost."


Marcus' mother, known for her superstitious beliefs, immediately took my words to heart.


Her face twisted with anger.


"I knew you were trouble! First, you get my son hospitalized, and now this? Get out of here!"


"Mom," Marcus interjected weakly, but his mother was relentless.


Feeling a mix of shame and frustration, I tried to explain. 


"Auntie, please, just listen—"


"Get out!" she screamed. It looked like she might physically attack me.


I glanced at Marcus, hoping for support, but his eyes were filled with exhaustion and confusion.


"Uncle, Aunt, I'm leaving now," I said, stepping back.


His mother calmed slightly as I backed away, turning her attention back to Lin Tian. I took the opportunity to leave, my heart heavy.


As I boarded a bus to head home, I finally had a moment to process everything that had happened. The events of the past two days replayed in my mind. Despite everything, I couldn’t understand why we were being haunted. Had we done something to attract these spirits? Or were we just unlucky?

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