The group had made their way up to the thirteenth floor with relative ease, even with the Groundskeeper dragging them most of the way. After darting down another dark hallway, the group finally came to a stop in front of a moonlit window. The Groundskeeper finally let go of the teens, and the teens pulled away from the old man as they gave him a collective scowl.
“Alright Pops”, Darrel was the first to say, “You best start explaining yourself. Just what the Hell is going on here?!”
“You’re welcome”, the Groundskeeper said flatly, “Another minute, and you would’ve been bunking with those corpses”.
“Well thanks alot”, Maya said, “But you’re not gonna do us any favors by keeping us in the dark with what’s going on around here”.
“She’s right, and you know it”, Jenny added, “So how about filling us in with the real story, instead of trying to lead us out of here by the hand”.
The Groundskeeper huffed, clearly backed into a corner by the teens. After a moment, he finally replied, “Alright, I’ll tell you. But you might wanna sit down, this is gonna take a while to explain…”
Reluctantly, the teens agreed, sitting down on the floor by the window as they waited for the old man to explain himself. The old man grabbed a stool out of a nearby office and sat down in front of the teens. He propped his cane against the window as he turned towards the teens. And after clearing his throat, he began his story…
“Alright you kids, in order for me to explain what all is really going on around here, I have to start in the past. Way back in the past, from long before this hospital ever existed. Back before there was even a town here…
“You see, back before white settlers came here, this whole area was Cherokee territory. Where the town sits now, is where there village use to be. But more importantly, where this hospital was built, was right on top of their old burial mound…
"You see, they buried their dead out here between these hills for centuries, ‘cuz they believed that the light from the breaking dawn would lead their souls to the afterlife. But then the Spanish came and conquered the area, and drove the Cherokee out. They tried to build a settlement out here, but it didn’t last. The same thing happened with the French who tried to come through. It wasn’t until the English settled the place that a permanent town was established here. But there was a still a curse that hung over these lands. And it especially affected anyone who tried to build over the burial mound. Most folks around here stopped trying to build anything on the burial mound, didn't want anything to do with it. But that all changed during the civil war…
“I’m sure you kids know this, but a big battle was fought just outside of town. What you might not know, is that the area around the burial mounds became a field hospital. God help the soldiers that wound up in it though. There were a number of mysterious deaths in the hospital, whole battalions seemed to be dropping like flies on both sides. When they couldn’t find someone to blame for all the death, they placed the blame on supposedly contaminated drinking water from the lake. But the townsfolk knew it was because so much blood had been spilled so close to the burial mounds… And yet, in spite of all of it, thirty years later some fool decided to build a tuberculosis hospital right here on top of the burial mound.
“Now, that’s not to say one wasn’t needed at the time, but the man who built the original hospital was determined to have it built right here. So they did, and the TB hospital kept their doors open until the start of the '20s, despite the exceptionally low survival rate for the patients admitted. After that, it was reopened again as a sanitarium. Instead of helping the mentally ill though, it became a spot for people to drop off their unwanted and burdensome relatives that they couldn’t afford to care for anymore. So no one noticed when perfectly healthy patients would just drop dead for no apparent reason, not for a long time… And yet, despite all that, someone was determined to buy up the property, and turn it into a real hospital. The one you’re standing in right now…
“Near the end of the '50s, the hospital was remodeled into much of what you see here today. But overtime, the same old curse started to plague the hospital, with patients dropping like flies over routine treatments. It wasn’t long before someone accused the director of the hospital at the time of devil worship and human sacrifice… And as you can see, they weren’t too far off. All their illicit work was finally starting to come to light, and the people from the town were calling for the hospital to closed down for good. But that’s when the fire struck… Most of the patients and staff were lost in the blaze, including the hospital director. And after that, the hospital was abandoned.
“But don’t fool yourselves for a minute… the staff might be gone, but their spirits live on here, trapped in these walls just like the patients you’ve come across. And they still try to carry on their dark deeds with every unfortunate soul who wanders in here. Someone tried to use the curse to their own advantage, and now we’re suffering the consequences of it. And that’s why we have to get out of here now, before that curse falls on all of us, and we remain trapped here forever too…”
The teens sat and listened to the old man’s story as he went over the history of the hospital. They were finally starting to understand just how deep the curse went, and they gained a better insight into what might be waiting for them should they continue on with their journey. But there was one fact that remained that even the Groundskeeper couldn’t ignore…
“If everything you’ve told us is true”, Jenny said, “Then you’re right, we should try to escape. But this hospital’s still not going to let us go easily. So maybe, just maybe… we should find a way to lift the curse…”
“Have you not been listening to a word I’ve said, girl?”, the Groundskeeper asked, “This curse is ancient, and it’s been plaguing this land since long before the hospital was built. What makes you think we could possibly lift this curse?”
“You said it yourself, someone’s been trying to use the curse to their own advantage”, Jenny replied, “If we can take away that advantage, then we should be able to walk away from this place Scot-free”.
“She’s got a point, Pops”, Darrel remarked, “If that’s got anything to do with the freaky stuff going on in this place, then we could end it all here, tonight.”
“It’s impossible…”, the Groundskeeper said, “I’ve been trying to find a way to do it for almost sixty years. If you think you can solve all of this in one night…”
“Then we must be out of our minds?”, Maya asked, finishing his statement, “Well, we have been chased by undead creatures all night. It tends to have an affect on you after a while… But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a try.”
“It’s all we’ve got, so why not?”, Chris asked rhetorically.
The Groundskeeper just sat there shaking his head, “This whole thing is damn foolish… but you have a point too. If the hospital’s willing to turn on me, then it won’t stop until it has us all…”, he then looked to Jenny, “Alright kid, we’ll do this your way for now. But if this doesn’t work, just remember that those four empty slabs in the morgue are still waiting to be filled.”
“Yeah, don’t remind me…”, Darrel remarked, “I still can’t get past the smell…”
“What my friend here means”, Jenny said, “Is that this will work, if we can all stick together”.
“Well, little miss, for all our sakes, you better hope you’re right”, the Groundskeeper replied.
“I know I am”, Jenny replied confidently, “Now let’s get moving before this place makes it’s move on us again…”
They all agreed, and rose up from their seats. As they started to walk out, Jenny turned to the old man and asked, “If we’re going to do this, then I suppose we should know your name, shouldn’t we?”
The old man nodded, “Aye, that’s fair I suppose… just call me Sam for now”.
“Nice to meet you Sam. I’m Jenny, and this is Darrel, Chris, and Maya. Welcome to the Legends!”
The old man gave her a befuddled expression as they headed for the next floor…