“Is there anyone here who would like to speak to us?”
The rest was silence. For about half an hour, we sat in the dark quiet, awaiting a response. None came. No whispers or bangs. No spikes or lights. Just dark, cold, quiet.
The silence was broken by Robin. “I don’t think we’re gonna get anything anytime soon.” He picked the meter up off the concrete floor.
The next string of words came from Brielle. “Did you hear that?”
“Hear what?” I said.
Emma came in on the radio. She was alone in the room upstairs, where one of the inmates hung themselves with their shirt. “Did any of you just yell?”
Finally. “No,” Brielle told her. “I heard the same thing.”
I heard what came next. It was 3 noises in a span of about 3 seconds. First, there were the footsteps, quick like someone was running on the floor above us. Put, put, put, put, put. Then, there was the slam of the cell door. CLANG! Finally, the scream. It came in through the corridors, and through the radio, slightly delayed. Ahh!!
Robin jumped up, running out of the large common area and into the hall. We followed up the stairs and toward the cell where Emma was just locked into. She was pressed against the door, holding on to the bars.
“Holy fuck!” I stood behind Robin, who was desperately trying to open the door. It was heavy, and no gust of wind could have shut it like that. It finally opened, and the metal grinded along the floor to allow just enough room for Em to squeeze out.
I looked behind me. She wasn’t there. I looked down the corridor. She was standing still, pressed against the wall opposite a cell door.
Bri and I had a special connection. We were both practiced psychics, and working together enough, we could communicate without using any speech. We always joked with the team that we had ‘The Shining’. I think we just knew each other. Right now, the look in her eyes and the feeling I got told me, “He’s in here.”
“Who?” I asked out loud.
She didn’t reply. Instead, we all heard the growl from the cell.
It was deep, throaty. I went into a trance. I spoke what I saw.
“The man was being chased, the demons tried to hurt him. They killed his brother. They followed him here. He was tormented. He killed himself. They wouldn’t let him leave. They won’t let us leave. One must stay.”
I woke up on the floor. Robin was above me, shaking me. “Braylen? Braylen?” His voice was echoing, his face blurry. I snapped back. It sharpened. “Braylen, you okay? Wake up!”
I jerked, propping myself up on my arms. Em was bent over Bri, who was also just waking. I got up, despite the pain from the fall.
“Bri! Bri, are you okay?” Em backed up. I knelt beside her, holding her in my arms. She winced when I placed my hand on the small of her back. I removed it quickly. “Are you hurt?” She sat up, and I pulled up her shirt.
In the skin were 3 red lines, going straight down her back. I noticed a burning sensation in my back. I put my hand on the skin. My finger ran across 3 lines, identical to those on Brielle.
“There’s something dark here,” I said.
We all sat, Bri in my arms, still dazed from what had just happened. Em and Robin stood above us, looking down. They both in conjunction shifted their gaze to the cell.
“Is the equipment still downstairs?” Em asked, keeping her eyes locked inside.
“Yeah,” Robin replied.
“Go get it.”
He hesitated a bit, then began to walk back.
“Em, go with him,” I said. “I think we should all be paired up. I want no one alone from now on.”
She nodded, not looking at me, and followed.
I kept my eyes in Brielle’s. She was fully awake, but I could tell something wasn’t right. She looked back at me. What usually was a bright glowing face, deep brown eyes, and an angelic smile was now pale, sunken, and afraid.
“Bri, you’re okay. We’re okay. We both blacked out. Did you see anything?”
Her lips began to move, trying to shape words to speak. I couldn’t hear anything. Her eyes were focused behind me. The air became cold on my back, yet the skin around the marks began to become hot. It burned. Goosebumps rose up my arms and the back of my neck. I felt something breathe.
I didn’t want to look back, but I did. I knew there was something there, and I knew it was evil. I knew it would have those red eyes, that black face. I knew it would say things. I knew it would slowly eat away at my emotions, piercing my soul with a dark ice. I knew it would take her, and I looked back.
The creature jumped on top of me, smiling as it did.
“Bri!” It took her by the arms, and she screamed. I screamed too. I screamed for her life. It drug her away, pulling her violently into another cell. The door slammed and locked. I felt my face dampen with warm tears of fear.
Robin came running up the stairs. The meter was on in his hand, sitting at a solid green. Em followed close behind him, holding the radio. Their eyes went to me, my arm stretched out toward the cell Bri was inside. I breathed heavily, my mouth wide open. They look toward where I pointed. The meter went to red.
“Bri?” Em said. She walked toward the door. Her eyes widened, and the radio fell out of her hands, which went straight to her mouth. I stumbled up, running toward where she stood. My heart sank back when I saw what she was looking at.
Bri was alive, I think. Her eyes were dark, probably dilated. They looked icy, cold. Her face was bruised and scarred. It was contorted in the most horrible fashion. Her mouth was skewed up, smiling devilishly. The skin on her face looked pulled back, emphasizing every bump and bone, every detail in its structure. She stood there, a few feet in front of the cell door, just staring at us. And smiling.
Robin came up behind me, the meter flashing and beeping like it was about to blow. I looked into Bri’s eyes. Those deep, dark, ink-black eyes. They spoke to me, though it was not her.
“Good to see you again, Braylen,” they told me.
“Who are you?” I spoke out loud.
My ears were filled with a high pitched whine. It shattered my ear drums, and my hands went to cup them. It was painful, and I stumbled back on the floor. Looking at the others, I could see that they were confused. They didn’t hear it. One thought popped into my head, and I lead it out my mouth.
“The radio! Turn it on!”
Em did as I said, and the whining stopped. I slowly took my hands off my ears, expecting an encore. None came. I recovered myself, a residual whine still playing in my head.
“Scan it,” I said.
It is thought that, by scanning through the frequencies, it provided spirit’s with enough noise to manipulate and communicate through the radio. We had tried it before, and so far it had been successful. If the demon wanted to be heard, I provided it with a method to speak. And it spoke.
I asked again, “Who are you?”
For the purposes of this, I cannot write nor speak the name that came through the radio. Thank me, because if I did, the evil may find its way to you. I will say, however, how it said it. The voice that came through the static was clear. The white noise stopped, and a deep, hypnotic voice sounded its way through the small speaker. It was calming, but you could hear within it a dark, sinister layer underneath. The only word I can use to describe it is chilling.
We all winced as it spoke its name. We knew from previous experience it would say this more than once. It always tried to engrave it in your mind. It was more likely you would speak it that way. It craved a portal, a way out.
I began to question it. “Why are you here? What do you want?”
The static stopped again. Its voice echoed off the concrete corridors. “I was invited. One of the previous resident’s provided me a way in. Unfortunately I have yet to find a way out. It seems though that you kind people have helped me along that way. Thank you again for coming here, and letting me use your lovely friend here. She’s a fine girl, Braylen. You should see her from the inside.”
I snapped. “You fucking bastard!” I slammed myself against the bars, grasping the metal and shaking them hard. My eyes were in predator mode, not being able to focus through the layer of anger that clouded them. I saw Bri raise her arm.
I was slammed against the wall behind me, thrown like a ragdoll and hitting the cold hard ground with a thud. My scratches lit up again, like someone was pressing a cigarette lighter into the skin.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” it spoke again. “You know this well enough by now, don’t you? Never try to get through to the puppet. That’s the number one rule, is it not?”
I got up. I pushed through the pain. I would withstand anything if it meant seeing that Bri was safe. I stood up tall, trying to make myself appear invulnerable.
“I need to ask you. You said that it was nice to see me again. Tell me, have we met before?”
“You don’t remember me?” it said, as if I should. “Think of my name, Braylen. Have you not heard it before?” It shouted it. Everyone winced again, I stood my ground.
I tried to think. Tried to remember. I would close my eyes, but I dared not to. I would not provide it the darkness of my mind. These things had a funny way of finding doors into you. Blindness was one way. They could play with your head if you could only see your mind. I kept looking straight ahead.
It was the voice that told me. I remembered the voice. My mother spoke to a man outside the door. It was the day before she was murdered. I was young, maybe 14. I remember she stood outside, the door was cracked open. I couldn’t see his face. He asked her if she knew somebody. I can’t remember who he asked for. She said she didn’t know who he was talking about.
“Why did you ask me?” my Mother said.
“I must be honest,” he told her. “I’ve been following you very closely, Missus. There’s something about you. I must see you from the inside.”
I remember hearing this. It scared me. I had tried to suppress the memory. The demon was clever. It used its tricks, trying to make me vulnerable to its takeover. I remembered hearing him grab my Mother. I remember hearing her push him away into the wall.
“Get out of here! And if I ever see you again, I’ll call the cops in a heartbeat!”
She stormed back inside, slammed the door and locked it. The last thing I remember of that night was him pounding on the door.
“You’re going to regret this, Missus. I’ll see you again. You better say your goodbyes.” Then I remember him running. Put, put, put, put, put.
“You’re not him,” I said. I tried to stay strong, but it was slowly chipping at the wall I had built. It was breaking through the shield.
“But I am. How should you know that I’m not? I know all about you, Braylen. I’ve been following you for a very long time.” It laughed. The shield cracked even more.
“You’re…not…him!” I slammed myself against the bars again. I expected to be shot back again. It had decided on a mental attack
“I killed her, Braylen. I fucked her, and I killed her.” It spoke matter-of-factly. It hurt even more. “She screamed my name, you know. She liked it. So will your little girlfriend here.”
I shook the bars. My heart hurt. I felt sick. “Leave her alone! In the name of Jesus Christ, let her go!”
It laughed at me. A long, hysterical laugh. It took his name as a joke. I began to doubt my faith. “You’re going to regret this.”
I watched Bri’s real face return. Only for a second. Her eyes widened, a look a fear spread across it.
“Braylen!” she screamed. It drug her away, and through the wall.
“Brielle! Brielle!” I screamed for her. I began to cry. I wanted to die. If she was gone, I wanted to die.
I felt a hand on my shoulder, and without a second thought, I swung my fist around. Emma hit the ground, her nose bleeding and twisted. I looked at my fist in shock, and my eyes trailed up my arm. There was a new scratch on my wrist. I had not noticed it. It did not hurt. It was his name. It had succeeded. I was marked.
“Jesus, man!” Robin yelled. I still stared at the mark.
“I am so sorry,” I spoke.
“I’ve never seen you like this before,” Robin said. I think he understood. I let down my arm and moved my gaze to them. Robin was holding Em, who was half conscious and bleeding. “I’m scared too.”
“We need to find her,” I told him.
“No,” he replied quickly. “You need to find her. I’m not getting myself into this. It’s targeting you, not us. Only you can save her now.”
I agreed, though I did not say anything.
“Then give me the map,” I said.
He reached into his back pocket and pulled out a piece of paper folded into fourths. I took it from his hand. Before every investigation, we always penciled out a floor plan of the location. This way we knew where we were, and where we were headed. I unfolded it. I saw the corridor in which we now stood. The cell a few down was circled. Emma had written her name there.
I looked at the cell that stood in front of us. Behind the wall that she was taken through was a square. In pencil, it said ‘loft’.
The rest in that space I had not written. In red ink, in an unfamiliar handwriting, it said, ‘She jumps.’
I ran, following the corridor through twists and turns. I held the map, but relied on my sense of direction to guide me. I needed to get to her. If I didn’t, who knows what it could have done.
I found my way behind the wall of the cell. There was another corridor. Across was a door.
‘Personnel Only!’ it said in yellow stenciled letters. I went through.
Bri stood on the edge of the loft, her arms sprawled out like a cross. It posed her like a puppet, mocking the holy. She was herself. She looked at me, her deep, brown eyes back, though full of fear. She was crying. I continued to, more now at the sight.
I ran forward, my arms out ready to hold her. She fell back, and I stopped. I was sure now that she was dead. She came back up. It was playing with me. Now its voice came through my head.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you, either. Accept the fact that she cannot be saved now. There’s only one thing I want you to do now, Braylen. It may just save your soul.”
I continued to listen. I had no choice. Though my mind thought of Brielle. This was my worst fear. That she would be taken from me. I remembered when we met. That chilly day in late October, 3 years ago. I remembered when I saw her passing by in the park. I didn’t know who she was, I didn’t know her name. I had never seen her before, but I felt the connection right there. I looked into her eyes, and they told me, “We will meet again.” We did, 6 months later.
The memories of these past years came flooding back, and the love and emotion I felt then was even stronger now looking back.
“Let her go,” I said.
“No,” it replied. “You weren’t listening.”
“Let her go!” I ran toward her again. She fell back. I didn’t stop. I jumped after her. Then, I did the biggest no in the book. I screamed its name. I screamed it as loud as I could, so the whole world could hear. I have never regretted it. It was the only way I was sure it would let her go. The demon came from behind her, leaping toward me in the fall. The 300 feet down felt like an eternity. I looked into her eyes, and reached out my arm. I knew she was gone. I knew this was my last chance to say goodbye. I used the 300 feet.
“I love you,” I said. Our fingers touched, and that magical feeling surged through me. It warmed my core, filled my heart. Her eyes said it back. In that 300 feet, I saw the girl I remembered. The one with the bright glowing face, deep brown eyes, and angelic smile. I cherished this moment. I always do. I sacrificed my soul for those 300 feet.
It ended with a splat. A loud crunch, and splat. I fell on top of her lifeless body, and I stayed there for the rest of the night.
I stayed there as the demon fell on top of me, latching itself to my back. I stayed there as Robin came out with Em over his shoulder, looking down from the loft at what appeared to be two dead. I remember hearing the sirens come from the distance, screeching to a stop at the front of the abandoned Cliffview asylum. They carried me away from her, taking me into an ambulance and bussing me fast to the nearest hospital. I carried that image with me, that final image of her. That 300 feet.
I didn’t stay at the hospital for long. I killed my nurse, and my doctor. It drug me out the window, guiding me toward another. I was the puppet. It’s been 3 months. Emma is dead, Robin is dead. I gutted them both. I don’t know if they’ve found the bodies. It did a pretty good job of hiding them. They haven’t found me, but they’re looking.
Despite this, the havoc I’ve caused, I’ve carried her with me. Brielle is always in my mind. When it expertly guides my hands to kill the souls of the innocent, I think of her. My love for her has carried me through it, and I’ve found a way out.
Now I’m at her grave. It is standing behind me, just outside my shield. She is protecting me. I will leave now from this physical place. The blade in my hand is the key.
‘Loving daughter taken too soon,’ says the grave.
Before I join her again, I must ask you to listen. Do not go there. Stay away from Cliffview. There is something sinister there, and you cannot escape it. No matter how hard you try, evil will prevail.
Now I say goodbye. I don’t know where I’m headed. Heaven or hell, I only pray she will be there with me.
Do not forget. The Puppeteer is waiting.
© Copyright Brendan Swogger 2013
This, ladies and gentlemen, is Cliffview Asylum. Cliffview is the brainchild of independent authors David K. Hulegaard, Tony Healey, and myself. We came up with this place of nightmares a while back, with magnificent plans of a trilogy. Unfortunatley, these plans were never finished. However, as it turns out, Cliffview has never left our hearts. As I sat by the campfire with my laptop on and a blank word document lighting up the night, I began to weave a tail of loves fight against evil in the setting of an abandoned building. I found myself, unintentional, back in the bowels of Cliffview. This storyline is roughly based off my original idea for the my portion of the Cliffview trilogy. The similarities being the lovers, the jump, the snap afterwards, and, of course, the asylum. The rest (investigation team, and my new favorite villain to emerge from my imagination, The Puppeteer) are fresh. You can say the transition from my original rough idea to this finely polished tale is like the transition from the Adam West Batman series to the new Christopher Nolan trilogy. It is much, much darker. So, there is your introduction to our little dreamland. Cliffview Asylum is sure to return. And you never know what evil may be lurking in its walls. Stay tuned by following me on Twitter @Brendan Swogger and liking my Facebook page! Have an idea for a short story plot creepy enough for me to handle? Submit it to Reader’s Requests! You may just see your idea come to life! Happy Reading, my friends. And remember… The Puppeteer is waiting. 😉