Published: September 11, 2015
It must have been somewhere past midnight. I was trying to fall asleep on a lumpy mattress in a second-rate nursing home where I'd landed after busting a calf muscle. The place was most likely the best option my garbage insurance covered.
I was 36 years old at the time, and clearly one of the youngest, most aware, and sanest people in the joint. It took moving rooms three times to find one where I could actually sleep, thanks to the ridiculous noise level of aged elevator hydraulics, door alarms going off any time of day or night, and high-pitched tones of nurse call-buttons they took their sweet time answering.
I had talked to my friend on the phone later into the night than intended, and the joke had come up again that I was stuck in Silent Hill. It really did feel like that some days, what with the haunted elevator that went to any floor it wanted, and the random patients flipping out. Now I was just waiting to drift off to dreamland. My sleep schedule was messed up thanks to a man who had yelled, "Help me!" for ten days straight in the room next to my previous location. Now all was finally quiet enough and my door was shut tight.
There came a sudden, garbled scream from roughly the room across from mine. I'd heard it before, some female patient who cried out here and there, but seemed to calm down quickly. Strangely enough, a few moments later, there was a similar cry, but muffled.
Had a nurse already been in there and shut the patient's door? No, the muffled scream was also quieter from distance. Strange. Then I heard another scream, higher pitched and more desperate. It was so far away I could barely hear it. The effect was very much like something had moved away at unearthly speed, each scream indicating just how far it had traveled.
Then an acrid smell filled the air in my room. It had both chemical and organic elements to it, and was unlike anything I'd ever smelled before. My nose couldn't seem to get used to it either. It kept coming back in waves.
As I lay there refusing to open my eyes, I knew. The logical part of my brain scoffed, but I knew. She was in my room. And she was staring at me.