The moon shone brightly in the night sky, casting a soft light on the woodlands below. The air was getting cold as the native animals began creeping out of their dens. Frogs and night owls could be heard, and somewhere in the distance wolves were howling.
Deep in the forest, a campsite had been set up by a troop of Titan Scouts. The dozen or so scouts and their Scoutmasters were sitting around a campfire cooking marshmallows. Coming out of a nearby tent was Head Scoutmaster Connolly, who approached the fire with a large book in hand. The book was the latest edition of “Titan City and Its Notable Landmarks”.
“Aw come on, Head Scoutmaster,” said Jesse, one of the scouts, “ I thought you said you were going to tell us a spooky story tonight, not give us a geography lesson!”
“I can do both at the same time, Jesse!” Connolly said confidently. “Have any of you heard stories of the Mountainview Center?”
The scouts looked at each other for a moment, waiting to see if anyone knew the answer. After a short pause, one of the Scoutmasters, an older boy named Curtis, raised his hand. “I think I remember hearing stories of it,” said Curtis. “Something about a haunted sanitarium here in Goodman’s Woods.”
“Very good, Scoutmaster,” said Connolly. “You are correct! As Head Scoutmaster, it is my duty to not only teach you of the historical past of Titan City, but of the many perils that come with living in a metropolis such as ours. So tonight I will do both!”
The Head Scoutmaster took a seat by the fire and opened his book theatrically.
“Our story begins in the late forties, after World War II. The Center was built in the creepy wooded areas south-east of Titan City. The Center began accepting residents within a few days of its inauguration and was housing hundreds of patients from the City and the surrounding regions by the end of the first month. Needless to say, many of these were violent and dangerous people. The Titan City Board of Health appointed a director who would be in charge of all the Centers operations, a man by the name of Edmond Crowley.
“This is worse than a geography lesson,” whispered Jesse to the scout sitting next to him, “this is a history lesson!”
“My dear boy,” said Connolly, while peering over the rim of his glasses, “choose your words carefully. This close to the sanitarium, you never know when they might be your last.” After a moment, the Head Scoutmaster cracked a smile into the resulting silence and said, “It gets better.”
There was a collective hiss of intaken breath and low murmuring. Connolly hid a smirk.
“Now where was I? Ah yes! Edmond. The newly appointed director made no effort to hide the fact he was unhappy with his this transfer, and vowed his superiors would regret sentencing him to this dead end position. Edmond spent the following months funnelling most of the sanitarium’s income directly into his bank account. He discredited and fired employees for the slightest infractions and forced the remainder to work harder to cover his duplicity. Before long, there were only a few tired, unmotivated, frightened employees left, and the patients suffered for it. Men and women whose mental stability was not the strongest to begin with were neglected or even abandoned completely by the overworked staff. Perhaps they too began to dream of revenge…”
“Whether that makes the story less scary,” countered Connolly, “may depend on your interpretation of what happened next. Without a proper staff, the building’s sanitary conditions began to quickly deteriorate. Soon, the handful of remaining employees reported patients becoming seriously ill. Not wanting his deeds to be revealed, Edmond ordered the staff to distribute whatever medicine was still available in the infirmary and to lock all patients in their rooms to avoid further contamination.
“But what about the people still inside?” squeaked Anna, one of the first year cadets.
“Only a few days after the initial cases had been recorded, panicked employees contacted the authorities, against the director’s express orders, warning of possible infection but imploring someone, anyone for help. Police were dispatched to the scene. Sadly,” said Connolly, “until the nature of the infection could be identified, the authorities were powerless to help those trapped inside and could only insure that the infection remained contained. By the time the police had arrived, let alone trained disease containment personnel and gear, the building was ominously silent. They had heard the patients became violent once infected, but they were not ready for what they discovered once they entered the Center.”
“Z-zombies?” Jesse asked breathlessly.
Anna was chiding. “Zombis are not bad guys,” she piped. “The Barons are good guys, aren’t they, Head Scoutmaster?”
The Head Scoutmaster paused before replying, and when he spoke again it was in a whisper. The scouts leaned closer to him, and it seemed that even the crickets had stilled themselves to listen. The only sound was quick young breaths, and what may have been the wind moving through the surrounding forest. “As they made their way down the sanitarium’s silent corridors, the rescue party discovered a gruesome sight: dead bodies littering the floors, blood covering the walls and debris scattered everywhere. The healthy patients, locked in their rooms, had been unable to escape more violent patients when those had battered down their doors. Infected violent patients, whose illness had enhanced their strength, intensified their insanity, and granted them... hunger."
“I told you it was zombies!” Jesse said, his voice equal measures of fear and triumph.
“But -but zombis don’t eat people…” Anna sounded stubborn but uncertain.
“As the search continued, a large group of dead bodies were discovered piled up in front of a door near the administration offices. The infected had obviously tried to break down the door before succumbing to the virus. The room in question was the office of the Center’s director, inside of which was a large suitcase filled with money, sitting on a luxurious desk. In the middle of the room was the body of Edmond Crowley, hanging from the ceiling fan. In the end, his money had done him little good. He had shattered the windows of his own office, but the bars on the other side had held. The patients had been unable to reach him, but he himself had been unable to escape."
Connolly paused, as for a moment of silent respect. "Autopsies showed that Edmond Crowley himself was not infected."
"A few days later, testimonies from the investigators aired on the local news radio, retelling the events that transpired at the Mountainview Psychiatric Center. Reporters blamed this calamity on greed and lack of proper authority. The virus was later named ‘Ardens avaritia,’ which translates to "Burning Greed.”
Jesse nodded confidently. “So they ARE all dead.”
“The patients are dead. Crowley himself is dead. But what, my boy, about the virus itself?”
Jesse’s mouth worked in reply, but no sounds came out.
Shadows and firelight played across the Head Scoutmaster’s face as he leaned forward with a frightful leer. “Standing to this day, the Abandoned Mountainview Psychiatric Center remains closed down out of fear of lingering contamination, serving as a tragic reminder of man’s moral and physical frailty. Warning signs such as those you saw earlier today have been erected throughout the area in the hopes to discourage trespassers. Moreover, the occasional foolhardy explorer who has visited these woodlands have reported far more sinister reasons to willingly avoid the old sanitarium. Those who have returned tell stories of strange phenomenon, such as seeing the ghosts of the deceased residents, or being pursued by large, mutated creatures. The TCPD are confident that their continuous efforts to deter thrill seekers from going to this location, by placing warnings signs or increasing trespassing fines, will be successful. If not, they hope that the ever growing number of missing persons reports will.”
Curtis, the Scoutmaster in training, furrowed his brow rather deeply for a man of his young age. “I think you have taken this too far, Head Scoutmaster. The children are frightened enough. I am an Eagle Eye scout,” Curtis announced proudly and with some indignation, rising slowly to his feet. “I saw the fake signs you planted along our path when I checked the campsite out. I also saw the fake bodies you had planted in the area to frighten the children. And I can hear your actor accomplices shuffling toward us even now to add the final scare. But it’s too much. Call them off.“
“What makes you think that, Curtis?” Connolly regarded the Scoutmaster with a keenly interested gaze.
“What makes me think that? Jesse may have been blustering, but look at him. His face is like ash. Anna is quietly sobbing. These children have earned their bravery badges, Head Scoutmaster.”
“That’s not what I mean, Curtis.” Connolly shook his head gently. “What makes you think the signs and the corpses are fake?” With that, he deepened his voice, beginning a rolling barrage of evil laughter he had practiced for just such a moment.
At that, the scout troops’ voices were raised in a chorus of frightened screams, which echoed among the harsh and jagged trees in the dead of night beneath the swollen moon.
Written By - Ozmosis
Discuss the update here: http://cityoftitans.com/forum/discuss-abandoned-mountainview-sanitarium