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Image by Rick Rothenberg
Concrete Wall
  • Writer's pictureNatalie Brianne


The souls of those long since forgotten wandered through the halls. Emaciated, isolated, insane. The screams echoed through the stairways as if they were canyons, and yet the rooms themselves were silent as the grave. Musty hallways and muffled bedlam behind closed doors. Padded walls, and unspoken truths. A place most people hear about from horror movies but never want to know about.

Blackfoot mental hospital perched on a hill in the small town it resided in. It was a typical mental institution built back in the 1870s. Underneath every mental hospital, there is a series of tunnels so that the nurses can go from room to room without disturbing patients by creaking down the hallways at night. Blackfoot’s were falling into disrepair, and because of an inspection, they were now off-limits to all staff and patients. Blackfoot had approximately forty patients that were accounted for, and several specters rumored to be haunting it. In all the time I worked there, I never believed the ghost stories. That is until I met Malcolm.

The screams rang in my ears as I wheeled a cart with syringes down towards a patient’s room. They were receiving a new treatment. As I stepped out of the room after helping the doctor prep the needles I noticed Malcolm staring at me from down the hall. It was almost as if I was the only one who could see him. The other nurses walked past me as I stared at him. His gaunt face stared back at me, pale, with messy black hair strewn in every direction. His long bone-like fingers thrummed on his leg. His frame was stocky, and he wore a doctor’s coat stained with blood. He seemed ghostly. How had I never seen him before?

I decided to ignore him and walk the other way. But then I felt the heavy footfalls on the floor behind me. My natural instincts kicked in. I ran. I ran until I came to the end of the hall, and then down the stairs. I went around the corner, and somehow he was there, grabbing ahold of my wrist like a clamp. He grabbed me. Grabbed me and I knew he wasn’t a ghost. I struggled free to run again, reaching the end of another hallway foreign to me. A door lay open at the end of it, and I took an opportunity. I plunged into the darkness and down the stairs, closing the door quickly behind me, holding it shut.

I took a breath of relief and searched for a light switch. I flicked it on and heard the dull hum of a generator as the lights flickered on one by one down the tunnel. Tunnel. I was in the tunnels. I waited for a good amount of time before I released my grip on the door handle and opened it. I opened it…I…no. It was locked. I was locked in the tunnels. The air stifled my lungs and my mind raced. Malcolm couldn’t be a specter. He was real. But there were no records of him. I only knew his name from the rusted badge on his front pocket. I wandered down the tunnels searching for some way out. I heard footsteps behind me but didn’t dare look back. I continued on. They were getting closer. And closer. I turned, and the lights went out. Darkness. And a cloth came over my mouth. Chloroform. Unconsciousness.

I woke in my bed. Tied down. Tied…tied down…no. I was free. It was only a dream. Only a dream. But it wasn’t. Everywhere I went, Malcolm followed. In the corner of my eye, in the shadows of the halls. Every time I turned he stood watching. I kept in groups with the other nurses trying to stay safe. But each day more and more of the nurses disappeared. Gone as if dreams…dreams…they were not dreams, they were not figments. I was talking to someone. They were real. Where were they? The tunnels. The tunnels…he forced them into the tunnels…somehow I got away…

I went that night to find them. I placed a book in the doorway to keep the door from locking behind me. I listened for muffled voices or signs of life in the lifeless darkness. My dressing gown clung to my legs in the humidity. I flicked the lights on and saw nothing but my own shadow in front of me. And then another joined it. I turned and saw Malcolm closing the door. He threw the book and it skidded to a stop in front of me. The lights flickered and I saw his white teeth, grinning down at me, gums bleeding. His hot breath beat heavily down on me. I took several steps back. He came down the stairs holding something I didn’t quite recognize. But this was familiar…how was it familiar… blood….footsteps…his darkened face. My heart was racing. My adrenaline rising. A gun.

The next morning, the police swarmed the hospital. Patients and staff alike whispered about the event, but no one quite knew what occurred. All they knew was that someone was dead. Scene of the crime? The tunnels of a mental hospital. A patient killed a nurse.

Malcolm Gray was dead.

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