Abe reached the top of the staircase, his old legs feeling shaky after the climb. He stopped and caught his breath. The light from his torch spotlighted on the wall before him and the edge of a large picture frame.
Rising the light up, Abe saw the huge portrait of a middle-aged man wearing an early 1800’s black jacket, white shirt and red cravat. The man had long black hair which was tied back with a black ribbon. The man’s head was slightly turned to the right, so the dark brown eyes were staring off into the distance and not looking down at you as many other portraits did. Underneath the painting, a worn out bronze sign read Jacob Oscars.
Abe had looked the man up after his first exploration of the asylum and found that Oscars had been the original owner and designer. Though only a few years later, he had sold the place to Doctor Charles Denty who many people had believed was the founding father. Abe had researched Denty too and uncovered some chilling stories about the scientist and his brain experiments.
Turning to look behind him, Abe saw the window above the front door which looked down upon the stairs at this level. It was where he had first seen the light. Now though he could see the dark stormy night pressing against the glass.
Clearing his throat as quietly as he could, Abe turned left and went up a few steps that led onto the first floor and the east wing. The light he had seen from the security cabin had come from this side and past by the window he was now approaching. Not stopping he pressed on to the end where a large, but less grand staircase led to the second floor.
His feet slowed but instead of going up he turned right and followed the corridor around and into a long hallway. The wall on the left was lined with doorways and the wall on the right was broken up by a few windows which Abe knew looked down onto the asylum’s center courtyard.
Silence and dust hung heavy in the air as Abe shone his torch along the doors. Nothing looked undisturbed and still there were no fresh footprints. All of a sudden the weight of the search got to him. Abe’s thoughts tumbled and the thrill of the chase began to fade.
Where do I start? he asked.
Casting his mind back he thought about the few times over the last five years when he had caught trespassers. There had been three different gangs of teenagers who had made a lot of noise destroying things and one gang had started a fire in one of the ground floor rooms. They had been easy to track because of the noise and they had brought a lot of lights with them too.
Other trespassers had been small groups of work men who had come to rob the place of any valuable; lead, copper, expensive wooden fits and anything else they could remove. Abe had easily heard them at work too. It was no quiet job ripping through walls and flooring.
The last lot of trespasser were the ones Abe didn’t mind and actually allowed in. They were the abandoned places lovers. They came with cameras and recorders to take photos and film the asylum. Sometimes there was only one of them but most of the time they came in pairs or threes. Their whispering voices and flashing cameras drawing Abe after them.
It had been awhile through, close to a year now since the last known trespassers had been in. Security had been tightened at that point, but Abe was sure people had found ways to escape his notice. Plus, old age had caught up with him and Abe’s hearing, eyes and fast movements had slowed.
Abe moved carefully down the hallway, listening hard for any sounds. At the first door which was half open, he shone his torch into the large room. The empty floor and walls met his eyes. It had been the night nurses’ room once, Abe had read on an 1852 blueprint of the asylum that were framed on a wall in the security cabin.
A creaking of a loose floorboard or door vibrated downwards. Abe rose his torch and looked up at the ceiling. He held his breath and waited for more. A whispering voice tickled his ear. He couldn’t make at the words. Another creak came, longer then before. Someone was opening a door on the second floor.
To Be Continued…