Estimated reading time — 10 minutes
I stepped up to the dilapidated red building, grinning from ear to ear. This is what brought me thrills in life; abandoned structures across America. This particular one was in Stoneychurch State Park, located in a rural town just south of the state border. I had been dreaming of going there my whole life. So, as soon as I had acquired a vehicle I felt was suitable for the two hour trip there, I made the necessary accommodations and took off.
Accompanying me on the expedition was a friend of mine from social media, Cory. He was also an avid urban explorer, and we had chatted for weeks about doing a project in Stoneychurch. He peered up at the building in front of us alongside me, smirking with his chubby red cheeks and laughing to himself.
“Here it is, buddy.” He patted my shoulder, while gripping his camera in the other hand.
He was going to film and snap some pictures for us, with the upmost precision. This was his expertise. That’s ultimately why I wanted him to tag along.
Stoneychurch State Park was in a beautiful, yet sad state of existence now. In its glory days, it housed a highly recognized State Hospital as well as over three thousand people, including mental patients, staff members, prison inmates, and churchgoers. On top of a large prison, this place included a church, a schoolhouse, staff member housing, a bowling alley, and many other facilities that I hadn’t quite identified in my studies. There was, however, one building in particular that I wanted to explore the most.
The Doctor’s Office.
Now, keep in mind, we aren’t too sure what this building was actually called. The Doctor’s Office was a nickname given to the structure by locals who ventured out to the site for some cheap thrills. Outside was a large Number “11” printed on a plaque to the left of the front entrance. Beyond that, not much is known about the place. All we do know is that patients were brought there for, well, “testing”. We also know it was shut down for undisclosed reasons in 2003. I always shivered at the endless, horrifying possibilities involved.
The massive, four story building creaked and moaned in the breeze, surely inviting us into its dark, dusty corridors. My heart was running a marathon as we pushed open the doors to the building’s main entrance. After a few moments, we were finally inside building number eleven.
I let out a gasp almost immediately.
The place was incredible. The peeling paint on the walls, tearing holes in history’s fabric. The broken staircase, a mere dying moniker of what used to bring ill patients up to the wards on the second floor. I had always dreamed of seeing these sights in real life, scrolling thoughtfully through image search engines late at night.
Here it was, at my disposal. We were ready to start the eerie photoshoot.
Cory took a few steps into a chair-less waiting room to our left. There, an office window sat dormant with shattered glass spewed across a countertop. Little things like that made my heart race in anticipation of what the location had to offer.
I had Cory take a few photos before I started filming with the second camera. I was about to press record when his third flash made me stop. My jaw shut tight and my eyes went wide.
“Did you see that?” I asked, befuddled.
“See what?” Cory asked.
I snagged his camera from him and began sifting through the photos in the gallery.
Images one and two were filled with dust particles, light reflection, and the eerie backdrop of the ward.
The third picture was different, though. I knew what I had seen, clear as day, but the still frame capture was a bit hard to discern. Upon zooming in, however, I could definitely see it. The outline of a person standing behind the broken glass frame at the check-in booth. I blinked a couple times extra, but it was still there. A pale, clean-shaven man in a white coat, just barely opaque, glaring at us from beyond the camera lens.
I had seen him through the flash.
“Cory, you caught something here, man.” I was shaking as I handed him the camera.
“Hey, not bad! I definitely see that!” Cory held his hand up for a high five, which I returned. The otherworldly portrait we had just caught by accident, was etched into my mind as we moved onto the next room.
Wandering back into the hallway outside the lobby, we noticed a stack of frayed and torn paperwork on the floor. Cory couldn’t help but pick some up and snap a couple more photos. I pulled a less damaged sheet of paper from out of his hand and scoured through the old text. It listed the name of the hospital, along with the Stoneychurch seal at the top of the page. There was some faded text underneath the title, presumably who or where the paper was addressed to.
It appeared to be a typed letter that was never mailed, for whatever reason. From what I could make out, it was pretty discontent:
Dear Stoneychurch Board of Health and Mayor William Hanson,
I am reaching out one final time as I do not know what to do about this situation. I wrote to you twice in July of 1998 and again in June of 2002. The authorities did a great job with their search and audit and [indiscernible content] However, I can’t [indiscernible content] gives me nothing but distaste for my workplace environment. Every time things go quiet and get better around here, he seems to find new ways to sink lower. The operations he handles are not within any policy I’ve ever heard of, and he constantly takes it into his own hands. He may think his intentions are good, but I’m not so sure. He’s the head surgeon. Naturally I want to respect his decisions, but the death toll is too high to continue on this way. He keeps talking about his research, but he’s testing it on the patients! How does this town not see the damage he his causing? Conditions here are declining and the faculty is getting just as sick as the patients in ward A. That may be an exaggeration, but we’re losing our minds. I find myself talking to my own face in the mirror, asking why are you still here? I used to love my job, and our leader, but Doctor Lakeville is a twisted man now. I beg of you to pardon him from his position and help us get this place cleaned up, or worse. We could all end up [indiscernible content].
-Nurse Melanie Red
My hands grew cold and shaky as I read the paper. This was an incredible piece of evidence in getting to the bottom of the building’s history. But I wondered… why was it never mailed? Why was it thrown into a folder with the patient files, to be forgotten amidst the dust and rubble of such a beautiful piece of history?
“What is that?” Cory asked, peeking at the tattered sheet of paper in my quaking fingers.
I simply shrugged, folded it up, and put it in my pocket, wanting to keep a little piece of the place for myself; a secret artifact from a world long since forgotten.
We continued up the stairs to the second floor, hoping to get to one of the surgery rooms we had heard so much about. A lot of people have been there, and they’ve taken some nice, photogenic shots of the old equipment still present within the rooms. However, Doctor Lakeville’s surgery room, something odd happens.
Most of the time, when explorers try to take pictures in this room, the equipment either breaks, or the pictures come out too blurry to be shared with the public. One of my goals was to break this trend, and finally get a clear view of this particular spot, on record.
We stopped just before the final step at the top of the staircase. I felt a little bit of the railing crumbling beneath my fingertips, falling down to the scattered debris below.
“Was that… electricity?” I stammered, puzzled to the highest degree.
“I think so.” Cory responded plainly.
“But, I thought this place was without power.”
The sound was coming from down the hallway on our right, up on the second floor.
“Let’s check it out.” I ushered Cory to follow.
This is when I finally pressed record on the video camera, hoping to catch the footage of a lifetime. Maybe we would finally get some answers to the strange events that occurred in Stoneychurch State Hospital.
We wandered down the decrepit, yet astonishingly gorgeous hallway to our right, following the sounds of electrical surges the whole way. Before we could approach the spot we thought they were coming from, we were interrupted by the worst, most breathtaking scream I have ever heard. Cory dropped his camera as he covered his ears. I threw my hoodie up over my head, not wanting to let go of the camcorder.
“Jesus… is that a woman?” Cory was gripping his ears tightly.
“NO! NO! Get off me!” A female voice was coming from the room to my left, the door slightly ajar, allowing the sound to slip through.
Cory took his hands away from his head. We looked at each other, eyes wide with horror.
“Sit still, I’m trying to help you!” An older male voice was now emanating from the same room.
“You’re hurting me!” The woman screamed again, as the electrical buzzing recommenced.
I don’t know what came over me, or what possessed me to enter the room; the sound of this struggle surely would have deturred any other eavesdropper. I guess I just felt a need to help the woman in distress.
I barged in clumsily, stumbling a bit as I let out a gasp of breath.
“Stop!” I shouted.
It was a horrifying scene. Laying on the table before me was a woman so grotesquely burnt, that I could only discern her from the voice she was letting off, begging for her life and help. Flesh dripped from the table top, off of the poor woman’s bones. How she was even still alive, I’m not sure. The man standing over her looked to be of a cleaner bill of health. He may have looked a little worn and tired, but he was not injured in the slightest. He wore a long white coat and blue slacks. He also wore an expression so plain, I’m not even sure you could call it an expression at all. He was practically stoic.
“Who are you?!” I shouted at the man.
His face twisted up into a grimace I can only describe as being sinister in nature. He laughed a little over the woman’s anguished whimpers.
“My name is not of your concern, young man,” he scoffed.
“Besides, we already met downstairs. Your friend took my portrait in the lobby.”
Cory was standing beside me, just as expressionless as the doctor had been. I shot him an odd look just before he spoke.
“I’m sorry, but I may have lied about being here before.” Cory now adorned an evil smirk, not unlike that of the demented, white-coated man in front of us.
“What do you mean, Cory, what’s going on?” I stepped back a little.
“Thank you Cory, now would you please shut the door behind you. This could get a little noisy.”
“Cory… what’s going on? Who is this guy?” I was shaken and confused over what was turning out to be a betrayal of sorts. I didn’t know Cory that well, but I never expected this.
The doctor answered my plea.
“My name is Doctor Lakeville, if you must know. I’ve been the head of surgery and operations development here since 1997.”
Doctor Lakeville. That was the name from the letter I had found downstairs.
“But you’re no longer employed here. This place was shut down years ago!” My hands twisted into fists.
“Yes, you may be right. Miss Red here is quite the rat. I finally intercepted one of her letters, but she somehow got through to someone.”
The doctor spit on the table beside the woman who I now knew to be the person who wrote the cry for help folded in my pocket.
“I took care of her then, as I will forever.” He continued on.
What? I thought. What is that supposed to mean?
“We all died here.” Cory added.
“Wait…” I backed up a little more.
“There was one mishap here back in ‘03. A patient here set the building ablaze.” Doctor Lakeville shook his head and walked toward me from around the table. His words hit me like cold daggers. Still, his statement placed no gravity on me; I knew I was alive. I was never a patient there.
“We’re in purgatory,” Melanie said in a strained, hushed voice, “All of us are.”
No. She meant the three of them.
“Cory… we… Doctor… I…” I didn’t know who to address; I didn’t trust the room I was in. I didn’t even trust myself. What was going on?
“You killed all of us.”
Doctor Lakeville stated this so calmly, still approaching my position; so close he could reach out and grab me. Yet, I didn’t run. My mind was awash with this strange sensation of familiarity. That’s when a flash of light flooded the room. Just a quick flash, followed by voices in the doorway behind me.
I turned around to see some faces; a couple of young men about my age stood in the doorway with camera equipment, peering in at us contently. I hadn’t even heard the door open up behind me.
“Check the picture, do you see anything?” One of them asked the other.
“No, just a blur. Like usual. This room is always a bust. Let’s move on, Tim.”
Just as fast as the strangers appeared, they vanished down the hallway, floors creaking and their voices slowly dissipating as they made their distance from our whereabouts.
“They couldn’t even see us.” My face dropped, and my voice filled with sadness.
That’s when I realized I wasn’t even holding a video camera anymore. I looked down at my body, and what I saw made me sick. My flesh was almost as bad as Melanie’s. My clothes were charred and torn apart.
This was from when I started the fire in the very spot in which I was standing. The electrotherapy room is where Doctor Lakeville ruined my life. Melanie used to take me up there to get my treatment. They were trying to rid me of my pyromania. I lived at Stoneychurch since the moment I graduated junior high, and in all the time I spent there, none of my rehabilitations did the trick.
“I tried to save you, you know.” Doctor Lakeville put his hand on my shoulder and I looked up at him with sadness in my eyes.
“I made a mistake, Dad, but your treatments weren’t working.”
“I tried everything I could, my research was supposed to cleanse you of your problems but I… I failed. You were too far gone.” A tear began forming in his eye as he spoke. His voice was quivering with regret.
“You don’t have to hurt Melanie anymore, Dad. It wasn’t her fault. She set me free because your experiments were hurting people. You almost killed me. I’m sorry for what I did. Maybe the world would know what good that could have come from this place had I not burned everything down at its lowest point.”
He took me in his arms as I witnessed Melanie vanish behind him. Cory was next, and so on. Eventually, I was all alone in the room, left to wallow in my own regret. I watched helplessly as my worst experiences played out before me, a residual echo in visual form; everything from electrotherapy to the unbearable flames started by my own hand. In the fire’s blaze, I somehow came to terms with everything, and in that moment, I dissipated, along with my memories.
Doctor Lakeville is the perfect example of a man gone mad for love. The love of his child. He became obsessed with trying to fix his boy’s sick obsession with fire. Their obsessions would eventually become their undoing. His cost him his reputation; his son’s cost them their lives.
WRITTEN BY: Mike Maxim
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