The Ghosts of Northgate

Sweat dripped down my back despite the freezing temperature outside. I glanced at the frost covered window. Only inside felt like Hell’s furnace. And maybe it was. I stared in terrified fascination as flames danced across the cafeteria of the Northgate Sanitarium. Each human-shaped bonfire acted out a well-rehearsed script in a macabre ballet. One figure beat another with a rubber pipe. Another arched in spasm as electricity coursed through its body. A parody of a doctor drilled into a patient’s scull, clearly without anesthesia. Figures grappled and screamed a chorus that had probably started long before the place was shut down in the early 1950s.

The doctors here called it experimental treatment of the criminally insane. Most people called what it was: Power hungry sadists loose in a playground, all with the approval of the state prison system. God only knows how many people suffered in this place.

But that was old news. There had been rumors about disappearances in the past few weeks. When I decided to spent the night in this crumbling old building, I expected to find kids playing tricks or a new street gang pumping its muscles. Either of them would have made great stories, maybe even gotten me an early promotion at the Northgate Observer. If I wrote about this, my career as a journalist would end before it began.

Notebook forgotten, all I could do was watch the horror unfold and pray I survived the night – with my sanity.

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About A. L. Kaplan

I am a writer, artist, and parent.
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