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Memory Remains

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There is a soft cry at the end of the corridor. It is unusual. Most of the others know better than to venture in this wing. It belongs to him, and he’s rarely (never) kind to those who dare come near.

He’s not in a hurry when he approaches the sound. If they’re smart now and make a run for it, he won’t chase after them. He just wants to be alone. It’s been a while since he’s felt the urge to hurt something. It’s been a while since he’s felt anything, really.

The door creaks slowly and painfully as it opens, and the faint light of the moon washes over him. The corridor was dark, this room is not, thanks to the broken windows. He stares at the bleak, mold covered walls, the dirty floor tiles and the discarded equipment. Chirurgical knives, bloody sheets so old that the colored turned dark brown and a broken lamp lay on the floor.

It’s a girl. She seems small in the center of this room, even smaller with the tears running down her cheeks. She made a startle noise when he entered the room, but now she seems defiant. She doesn’t do a very good job at hiding her fear though.

“Who are you?” she asks accusingly.

That’s new. It gives him a pause, before he finally answers:

“Tate.”

There’s no recognition in her eyes, no hint that her fear takes over or that she wants to run away. Quite the contrary, she juts her chin upward, looks at him in the eyes, and throws:

“Did Leah send you to scare me? Because it’s not working. I’m not afraid of anything.”

At this point he would already have hurled at her and make her regret her intrusion, but it’s been so long since anything interesting has happened. And she’s pretty. He likes her style. She wears a black cardigan over a long cream dress. Her leggings have a flower pattern. The flowers look dead.

“Leah didn’t send me.”

“Yeah, right.”

She turns her back to him. He’s not offended, but he wants her to keep talking to him. She’s nervously chewing on one of her fingernails as he circles her so that he can see her face again.

“What’s your name?”

She considers him for two seconds, looking him up and down with a deliberate consideration. Finally, she conceded:

“Violet.”

It’s a beautiful name.

“Listen Violet, I swear Leah didn’t send me. I don’t know who she is, but she doesn’t sound like someone I’d like to hang out with.”

There’s another silence, and it seems like Violet is judging him, choosing whether she wants to trust him or not. He hopes she does, and he doesn’t know why.

“She’s a real bitch,” she finally breaks with a tiny, timid smile. “She and her friend cornered me and locked me up in here. I don’t know where’s the exit.”

She looks nervously around, and Tate tries to remember how he felt the first time he was here. Thing is, then, the hospital was still functioning, bustling with activity and full of people – not people like now. He guesses she has every good reason to feel shifty. There are weird noises coming from the pipes, even when there’s no water going through them, and the wind swoops in from the broken roof, hurling like a banshee. He guesses it’s cold, and humid. There are rats, spider and cockroaches crawling around. All things considered, she’s relatively calm compared to how other girls like her would act.

She feels special. She’s not like other girls.

“Could you show me where you came in from? So I can get out?”

Before he can even think of it, he nods. He doesn’t want her to go away, but he likes the idea of her being grateful.

He waves his hand to tell her to follow him, and the both of them are back in the corridor. He knows this place so well, he doesn’t even have to think about where he’s going.

“What are you doing here anyway?” she asks, probably to fill the silence and the darkness drowning them. He likes her voice. She’s soft-spoken, but there’s a purpose in her words, a direction, like she knows what she wants.

“I like this place.” He likes this wing better than the other parts of the hospital, at any rate. “It’s not a bad place to think alone.”

He can see her quiet smile, and he looks at her knowing she can’t when there is so little light.

He takes her hand when they arrive at the stairs to pull her gently, and it is so warm it might burn him.

“It’s strange. I like it.”

It’s his turn to smile.

“You’re attracted to the darkness.”

He lets go of her hand at the bottom of the stairs, and there’s a tingle. A memory that wants to remain.

“You could say that. Maybe that’s why they thought it would be fun to bring me here. You know they say this place is haunted?”

He lets out a laugh that seems too loud for the place. He can feel the others crawling back in the closets, repulsed by his presence, scared.

“Everyone knows it is!”

“Yeah, I guess it’s kind of a local story, huh? Small town… We just moved here,” she offers, half-explanation, half-apology.

He nods, even though she can’t see him. That explains a lot.

“I wonder if we’ll see a ghost,” she muses, not particularly to him.

He hesitates before he speaks.

“Sometimes I see them.”

He pushes a door, and the sound almost covers her sharp intake of air.

“You’re just saying that to mock me.”

“If you’d stay you’d find out.”

There’s no way she can’t hear the hope in his voice.

“My parents are going to kill me. I wanted to go home, but Leah had to pull this stupid prank on me and now I’m way past my curfew.”

Too bad.

“Are you sure there’s a way out around here? Looks like where I’ve come from, and Leah and her goons blocked the door.”

They have. The plank that they stuck under the door handle doesn’t oppose much resistance though.

“Here’s your way out.”

He pushes the door and gets out of the way.

“You’re not coming?”

He simply shakes his head, lips tightly closed. He can’t.

“Oh. Well. See you around then, Tate. It was nice talking to you.”

She walks out, and he can’t help but watch her, even when the sluts that put her in the abandoned hospital get up from the fence they were sitting on and walk towards them.

“How did you get o-”

The black-haired girl that had started speaking stops, suddenly pale as the moon. Her finger raises, and she points towards him, her mouth round in her astonishment.

“That’s – that’s…! Tate Langdon!”

The two other girls’ head sharply turn towards the ghost.

He closes the door, angry, and the other souls shiver when the wave of loss washes over them.

He’ll take it out on them again.