Simon pushed his temples inward gently, staving off a headache. “No, Carla.”, he said in the calmest voice he could manage, “You were not supposed to bring anybody else along. Just me, you, Sherry, Dave and Howard.” Carla’s golden locks fell to her shoulders as she flipped them in the night breeze. “Oh, like we couldn’t use some muscle. What if there’s some psychopath in there?” Cory flashed a smile and flitted a machete blade through the air. “If anybody’s waiting for us in there, I got ‘em.” Simon shook his head. “The place has been abandoned for years, and all our watches have turned up quiet. I’ve got zero reason to believe anything besides ghosts will be waiting for us.”
“There may not even be ghosts.”, Dave cut in. “All my readings are turning up dry. This is top of the line equipment, so I have no reason to believe it’s lying.” Simon shook his head again. “Some trip this is turning out to be.” Howard’s broad form lumbered into view, with Sherry following close behind. He wore a long trench coat with a few pieces of metal armor here and there. An ornate sword rested along his wide shoulders, and a crucifix hung from his neck. “Oh jeez, Howard the demon hunter is here.” Howard playfully boxed Simon’s head. “I’ll have you know my family’s been in the demon hunter business for generations.”, he bragged, “Why, my great grandpappy forged this blessed sword by hand!” Simon threw his hands up in the air. “Fuck it!”, he yelled, “I’ll give in to it. Let’s go play a real-life tabletop game..” Sherry laughed. “Oh, lighten up, Simon. We’re supposed to be having fun. And it can’t hurt to be safe.” She nudged him, then motioned to her thigh. She lifted up her skirt to reveal a pistol. Dave, not wanting to be left out, flashed his pocket knife to the group. “Honestly, Simon…”, he sighed, “Knowing the kind of people that like these sorts of places, it was kind of stupid of you not to bring a weapon of some sort.” Simon gave a shrug, and the group began making the trek toward Grant Asylum.
The front entrance was crumbling. Simon gave the door a small push. In response, it fell right off its hinges and crashed to the ground. Something large moved about inside, thrashing this way and that. The dark interior of the place hid the anomaly from sight, but everybody could see a massive silhouette, easily ten feet tall. It snapped upright, then froze in place and issued a horrible scream. The grating noise sounded like hundreds of voices, men, women and children alike, screaming bloody murder in perfect unison. It grew louder and louder for a few seconds, then suddenly snapped off. Just like that, the entity was gone. “What the FUCK was that?!”, Simon shouted, “We have no data of any sort indicating that something like… that could be here!” Dave babbled incoherently, staring at the entrance. Howard shook behind his sword, holding it at point and quivering silently. The rest of the group began to tentatively move forward. “Are you guys insane?!”, Dave shouted at them, finally breaking his silence. Simon stood firm. “Dave… this is exactly what we came for. We gotta do this.” Howard rested his sword on his shoulder and nodded. “Alright, I’m in if you guys still are.” Everybody grunted an affirmative, and the group huddled close together as they passed through the entryway and into the asylum’s imposing lobby.
Inside the asylum, everybody who had a weapon kept it at the ready. Simon, meanwhile, kept to the center of the group, hoping that they could protect him if anything happened. The explorers first made their way over to a couch on one side of the lobby. A long countertop with an old-style TV sat adjacent to the couch, covered with graffiti. The TV’s back plate had been removed, and scrappers had long ago taken everything inside that made it function in years past. Dave pointed an instrument at the TV, almost touching an antenna to the screen. It beeped rhythmically. “No electricity here.” he reported, “Not even the slightest trace.” Sherry hummed quietly for a second, then walked to a nearby electric outlet. She removed a hairpin from her bun, letting her hair fall to her lower back, and stuck it in the outlet. Nothing happened, and she shrugged. “No power here. He’s right.” Carla rolled her eyes. “Good thing, too, or you’d have been dead.” Simon cleared his throat. “Cameras on, everybody,” he called to the group, “and let’s move on.”
A dusty path riddled with graffiti led them out of the lobby and into the asylum’s administration corridor. The group kept their weapons out, but their tight formation remained rock-solid. The hallway’s milieu of vulgar graffiti and immature writings was broken by text that seemed to be written in dried blood on the wall above a door. The group turned as one toward the ominous decoration. “Do not enter”, Dave read, “you will die.” He nodded curtly and issued a “yep”. “Seems legit.”, Simon said, and stepped forward. He seized the handle and gave a harsh twist and a yank, but the door held firm. He shook the handle a bit, then finally gave up. “Can anybody pick locks?”, he asked as he returned to his place at the center of the group. Howard stepped forward. “Allow me.”, he said with a wry smile. His gargantuan sword crashed down, and the wooden door split in two. The group looked at one another, gave a collective shrug, and entered the room.
The entire room was bathed in a sickly red glow from a candle overhead. Simon silently scanned the room. A shelf with a few odd-looking books sporting titles related to the occult on one wall. A pentagram drawn in blood on another wall. A bed soaked with blood and an unknown liquid in the far corner. Finally, his eyes came to rest on a corpse sitting against the back wall of the room. The cadaver was dressed in a lavish three-piece suit, and its head was nowhere to be seen. Blood from the neck stump soaked the white shirt that rested under the suit’s jacket. Simon threw up his hands and gave a half-hearted laugh. “Welp, we’re in over our heads.”, he cried. The rest of the group stared at the body in stunned silence. “That looks pretty fresh.”, Dave noted. “Okay, fuck this.”, Sherry declared. “We’re getting out of here, and we’re doing it now.” The rest of the group signaled their silent agreement by following her as she turned toward the door and made her way back down the administration corridor.
“Shit.”, Howard spouted summarily. A chorus of curses erupted from the group, save for Sherry, who opted to scream. A large metal slab stood where the entry door once was, and it had been bolted to the wall. The slab bore more bloody text, reading, “Can’t you fuckers read?