It was a hot summer afternoon, my friend and I decided to go to the river for a cool dip, a refreshing swim was a welcome break from the stifling heat. We packed a lunch, some drinks and I brought my camera in case I saw something interesting to shoot for the art college project I was working on. We rode to the jetty on our bikes, swam about for a few hours then made our way back home by taking the cycle track route which rang alongside the river itself. Cycling along the pathway I pointed out a red brick building to my friend, saying how many times I’d passed this place and often wondered what was inside. Curiosity getting the best of us we clambered over the metal fence and forced open the door.
It was a small, long forgotten structure which had seen better days, the roof had partially caved in and the weeds and shrubbery had almost buried it entirely. The interior was gloomy, the evening light filtering through murky, broken glass windows. The floor was littered with empty beer bottles, cigarette butts and the odd dead rat. Against the far wall was a filthy looking mattress and the whole place stank of stale urine. My friend was pretty nervous and was eager to leave but I wanted to see what was in the other rooms. Exploring further I found a tiny room that was the toilet, the inside of the broken bowl was stuffed with mouldy leaves and dirt and nestled in the centre of this were three little mummified bird skeletons. My friend said he was feeling unwell and went outside to wait for me.
Next to the room with the mattress was another smaller space with a wooden table in the centre. The light in here was a lot dimmer as the window had been blocked out with sheets of cardboard. On the table a ragged, tassled, red cloth was draped and on this was a number of jars and bottles. Holding one the containers up to the light of the other window I see inside something fleshy floating in cloudy liquid. All the other jars contained bone fragments, teeth, one was filled with ash. I don’t know what was in the bottles but they all had an unpleasant odour. This place both fascinated and unsettled me, but I couldn’t stop myself from looking. I took several photographs of the bottles and jars and a few of the dead birds in the toilet bowl.
As I was about to leave this place my gaze was drawn to a little tin box by the mattress. Inside this were old photographs; a boy on a swing, a bride and groom, a scruffy looking dog, an old woman on a bed that was either sleeping or dead. There was also a toy horse with the legs broken off, a watch that no longer worked, the dials had stopped at a minute past twelve, and wrapped in a pink handkerchief was a set of yellowed dentures. I made sure to put the box back exactly how I’d found it when I notice the mattress. I hadn’t seen it before but there was the definite outline of a body imprinted on it, a brown human shaped stain. I took one last photo of the filthy mattress before leaving the grim hovel. My friend was anxiously waiting for me outside, riding back home all we talked about was the spooky abandoned place.
The following day, at college, I was in the photography department developing the pictures I’d taken the previous day. I hung them all up to dry and looked them over for any improvements that might need applying to the contrast, when I saw something that made my heart stop. In one picture I’d taken of the bottles and jars, a dark figure could clearly be seen standing in the shadowy corner of the room. The long arms of the sinister character were pressed firmly by its sides, the hair a black, tangled mess and its toothless mouth hung wide open like a silent scream.
I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I got such a chill looking into those dead, white eyes.
Credit To: M. Green.