This story was contributed by ssmith314
In the dark, the building looked different. The lack of color made it feel like we had stepped back in time to when the place was still running. The bricks were no longer a muddy-red but a washed-out grey. Leafless trees clawed at the glass panes with their bone-white branches as if asking to be let inside.
It was those windows that were the worst part. The lower ones were boarded up to keep out trespassers like me, but the upper ones were empty black holes tracking your every move.
I'd walked past the old asylum countless times on my way to school or running to the store to get something for my mom. As kids, we told each other stories about those who had lived—and died—within its walls. I'd even watched videos of people exploring it on the internet. I knew what waited for me inside, and yet something was making me hesitate.
"Hurry up," Savannah whispered, "security will be here any minute. We have to get inside."
The building didn't use to have security, but now that a new developer had bought it, they wanted to protect their assets. They apparently didn't appreciate the beautiful artwork some randoms had left for them free of charge.
"Coming," I said, adjusting the camera bag strap so it wasn't digging into my shoulder.
I was armed with our camera equipment and a radio device Savannah would pretend allowed us to talk with ghosts.
"It will make great content," she had said when she pressed it into my hands. "Think of the views. We will be famous."
I didn't point out that no one else who had visited the sanatorium mentioned any ghosts in their videos. People of the internet were dumb, but they weren't that dumb. We might end up famous, but not in the way Savannah hoped.
"I'm going to make a run for it," she whispered when I joined her. "After I get over there," she pointed to the far corner of the building, "you follow. Chris told me there's a loose board around the back where we can get in."
I gave her a thumbs-up, and she headed off, crouched low to the ground. Before she made it halfway, headlights from the security truck cut through the trees. If I waited like Savannah wanted me to, I was going to get caught. There was no way I wanted to explain to my mother what I was doing creeping around an abandoned building at night with a camera. She would lock me up and throw away the key herself.
I ducked and ran, holding the radio device under my arm like it was a football. When I caught up with Savannah she was studying a particularly vulgar piece of graffiti. "Maybe get a shot of this," she said.
"We don't have time for that. They're coming."
She huffed but followed me over to the loose board and watched as I peeled it away from the broken window. The opening was barely wide enough for me to fit through with all of the gear. Savannah slipped inside after me.
We waited in the dark a few minutes, listening as the sound of an engine got closer and then gradually faded away.
"Okay, they're gone," I said. "Let's pick a spot and set up. Remember, I can't be out too late, or my mom might notice."
"Don't worry, she won't find out. Mine never does." Savannah disappeared through the doorway. "I already have the perfect room picked out," she said, her voice floating back to me. It's one of the ones where they used to keep the bad patients."
I knew the ones she was talking about. They were tiny rooms with no windows except for one in the door for doctors to look through. Some of them even had chairs where patients could be strapped down.
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