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The Nowhere Man. (Short Story).

October 27, 2018

cropped-12301412301.jpg“Why are we here, Natalie?” Emma asked the question knowing that the answer was not what she wanted to hear, “I don’t like this place…”

Natalie laughed at her sisters reluctance to enter the abandoned hospital, “It’s just an old abandoned building, we’ll be fine.”

“Ya, so said the first person to get killed in every horror movie ever made, Natalie.” Emma replied with her usual belief that one day her older sister was going to get her killed, “Why was it abandoned in the first place? It even feels creepy sitting looking at it.”

Natalie was pleased with the question, “Well, from what research I have done…” Observing the old three story building with the broken windows and badly of need of a paint job; probably looks worse inside she thought with a smile. “….It was founded a little before World War One as a normal hospital….” Looking out the window again at the building, “Actually it was reported to have odd things happening from the very beginning I read in one book….” Thinking about the title of the book, “…If I remember correctly it was called ‘Ghosts, Ghouls, And Shadow Beings.’ It’s a great book, Emma, you’d like it is you’d get your head out of that drawing pad of yours….”

“I like drawing thank you very much, Natalie.”

“You’re obsessed with it.” Smiling at the building, “It’s beautiful isn’t it.”

“The building? It’s just a building, Natalie. An old abandoned building with a history I suppose like any other building….”

“It was supposedly haunted from the first day it was opened actually; well, so the book says.”

Somewhat puzzled,”What’s that suppose to mean? From the beginning it was haunted? How can a newly made building be haunted?”

Shrugging her bare shoulders, “Emma, there’s an old picture of the grand opening and in the foreground stands a man who shouldn’t be there…”

“What? A ghost?” Emma studied her sister carefully before responding, Natalie amused Emma at times with her odd interests, looking at the building again with a thought, “So, it’s haunted by some ghost?”

“Several ghosts if you believe the stories, but the first ghost was spotted in that picture I told you about. It’s a shadowy figure but some people claim they can see a face that shouldn’t be there…”

“You read too much, Natalie.”

“Someone claims the picture is of a shadow creature or man in the hat…”

Emma laughed, “Oh, please, not that non-sense. Ghosts I can almost believe in but some shadowy man in a hat…”

“It’s one of the names of the shadow people. There are pictures of such sightings, Emma…”

“Sounds ridiculous. A shadowy figure in a top hat with no features…” Again she looked at the building feeling despite what she was saying she had no liking of this idea of exploring the place even in the afternoon; it was damn creepy even in the full sun light of the afternoon. Like it was waiting for someone to visit? Looking up at the third floor. She frowned at something but pushed the thought away, “What’s the Nowhere Man?”

“What?”

“Right there over the door way, it says the ‘Beware of the Nowhere Man.’ What or who is that?”

Natalie looked where her sister was pointing, “Another name for the shadow man probably. I have never heard the name before but it’s probably a warning against entering the building…”

“I like the idea of listening to the sign, Natalie.” Emma’s voiced her unpleasantness without looking at her sister, “I simply agreed to come and look at the place….”

“It looks marvelous, Emma.”

“It looks like a place where you go in and in like all horror movies only one person gets out barely alive and I am not going in the test the odds against me surviving your little need to bother the ghosts,  un-dead or whatever is in there that should be left alone…”

Amused of course by her younger sister’s lack of curiosity, “Oh, come on, Emma, show a little interest in the unknown.”

“Yes, let’s make the mistake of all horror films and let’s be curious about the abandoned place with a huge warning written in red over the entrance and march right in!”

“Sounds fun, Emma.”

“I watch horror films, I don’t want to be part of one, Natalie…”

“It’s the middle of the day, Emma, nothing too much is going to happen to us if anything. You bring your camera?”

Reluctantly, “Yes, I brought the camera, it’s in my backpack.” She nudged her backpack at her feet, “I generally have my camera with me.” Looking up at the cloudless day, “Yes, the sun is out but I am pretty sure if I thought about it long enough I could name a movie where someone gets killed even during the day….”

“We’ll be fine, Emma, the ghost of the little girl has only been seen at night….”

“Little girl ghosts are the worse. Dead sunken black orbs where their eyes should be with a general look of unpleasantness of a smile or a damn mouth full of teeth…”

“This one just stands there holding her doll asking where her mommy is, Emma.” Adding with a slight smile, “Her name is supposedly Elizabeth…”

It bothered Emma just how calm her sister said that, “Just stands there asking about her mommy?” Softly, “You and Stephen King would get along very well.”

Ignoring the comment with a smile, “On the third floor, the children’s ward is up there.” Looking up at the floor of the building through the front windshield, “Yes, holds out her doll as if you are suppose to be her mommy and take the doll….” Mimicking one of her favorite Doctor Who episodes, “You my mommy?”

Emma gave her a dirty look. “Not funny.”

“It’s a good episode…”

Looking at the weather-stained and broken windowed building that had seen better days, “I’m not taking the doll, Natalie, if some ghost kid hands it too me!”

Natalie laughed, “Oh, no, don’t take the doll.”

“Why not? She’s handing it to me?” Emma for a moment played along as she didn’t want to be too hard on her older sister.

“I read in that book about a group of ghost hunters and their encounter with the little girl and her doll. They said it’s the last thing you should do as the little girl…well….” Looking at her sister who stared back concerned, “She seems to then realize you are not her mommy…Well, let’s just say the investigators had to leave the building and in a hurry…” Looking still at the building as if seeing something her sister couldn’t, “Not sure I believe their story of their investigation. Sometimes I read these books and it’s just too much to believe that ghosts would go through that much trouble to be seen. But supposedly they saw the girl…and terrified them.”

“I would like to go home, Natalie.”

“You promised you’d explore with me and it’s a nice sunny day. No shadow has a chance on this day…”

“Another mistake that many in horror movies always make….” Mimicking someone from a bad horror movie, “Oh, yes, let’s go explore this abandoned hospital on a nice sunny day because nothing ever bad happens to people just because the sun is out….” Looking at the building, “Even the building looks wrong even in the sunshine…” Looking at the broken windows, not liking what she was looking at, “It’s the kinda of building where someone gets thrown out a window and dies, Natalie, despite the pleasant sunshine.”

“Then nothing will happen, Emma. Look at the building and other than being empty what could go wrong with at least exploring the first floor…” Almost begging, “Please, just explore the first floor with me.”

“Another cliche of all horror movies. Oh, yes, lets just step inside the tomb and see what happens….” Looking behind her at the fence they had to pass to get on the property, “There’s a reason this whole place was fenced in, Natalie and it says keep out…” She knew Natalie had stopped listening a while ago. If she didn’t love the brat so much she would have just moved over into the drivers seat and sped off leaving her sister to explore alone.

Opening the door, “Come on, Emma. Bring your backpack…”

Natalie was way too happy for Emma’s thinking on the subject she thought as she opened her own door. She just knew she was going to regret this as she caught up with her sister who stood at the steps leading up to the entrance.

Natalie stood simply still as if listening to something, “I hope we see something….”

“I just want to see us leaving in the same piece we entered, Natalie.”

Natalie laughed, “We’ll be fine.” She headed toward the door that was oddly enough already open, “What could go wrong…”

Emma rolled her eyes.

Four days later.

He stared at the young girl in the hospital bed somewhat grateful they had found one of the sisters who had gone missing some days ago. All he really knew at the moment was that they had gone into the old abandoned hospital to look for ghosts and had been missing for four days despite their car sitting in the front of the building. That was the easy part finding the parked car. Good grief thought Inspector Allen the damn thing was sitting still in front of the building. Car found, girls four days later? Well, one of them anyway.

The girl in the bed stirred painfully in her sleep.

When they found her in the closet she was a shattered mess. Something happened to her and her sister in that building and he certainly wanted to her to explain it at some point. But at the moment the girl in the bed was in no condition to say much except stare at the far wall when awake and start sobbing about something she couldn’t describe except as a shadow that followed them? Well, it was one of the few things she was able to say before descending into hysterics. A broken arm, cuts and bruises, and someone or something left claw marks on her back. Someone attacked them that was for sure and whoever it was certainly went through a lot of trouble to pretend to be some shadow creature as she called it.

It was a muddled story she had babbled between sobs and asking about her sister.

He listened to her shallow breathing, wondered what she was dreaming by the facial expression of something unpleasant. What was she dreaming about he would ask her but doubted he would understand her answer. Something happened four days ago and the girl simply made no sense in the little bit she did manage to say.

Shadow creatures? Inspector Jacob Allen had the heard what the officer’s had reported upon finding the terrified girl. She kept repeating it enough times.

“The Nowhere Man!” Then she would simply begin to sob as if she could see this creature or whatever it was she was claiming had attacked them in the room with them.

The officer seemed visibly unset as he made his report, “She reported some guy all in black attacking them, well, something shaped like a man with very unpleasant eyes and …well, teeth, lots of teeth…” He laughed oddly, “Sounds like a vampire…”

The girl shifted in the hospital bed. The soft features seemed again seem to be reliving those four days she and her sister had vanished. Inspector Allen looked about the room and noted that the room and even the hospital looked like it had been around a while. He returned to the girl in the bed, “Wake up, kid, I need to know what happened…”

She didn’t of course which annoyed him.

“We found her in a closet on the second floor…” So Officer Mason replied as Allen listened to the younger man with his usual patience, “She was huddled holding her knees against her ripped shirt in a closet. Someone or something if you ask her attacked her and her sister on the third floor…”

“By the Nowhere Man?”  Allen had to ask the obvious to get all the details he could get from a strange case of their disappearance. He knew of the old abandoned Noslen hospital and some of it’s history. This wasn’t the first case that involved the old building with the fence around it that kids of course ignored to go exploring and other illegal activities. Some years ago another kid, a teen age boy named Mike Jensen, had vanished into the building; his body was never found. He really hadn’t paid much attention to the stories people told of the place with the warning painted on the front entrance. The younger officer was still giving his report as such as it was worth reporting.

The officer seemed to want to say something sarcastic but of course didn’t, “No, no, she claims that it was something in one of the mental war rooms they were exploring…something with teeth and no eyes…she claimed when she could talk so I could understand her that it scurried about with a high pitched growl…”

“Seems a very busy building for an abandoned one.” Though it was known that sometimes the homeless used it as shelter. Well, they did until the body was found gutted on the front lawn. In fact it was one of the first cases he had investigated that involved the old hospital. It also appeared that not only was the poor guy gutted but had been thrown out the building so the coroner reported. It was the way the body was sprawled on the ground that made the coroner state that in his report. The pictures of the body looked as if someone had thrown him out and he landed like a rag doll on the ground; blood and what was left of his insides lying about. Actually, though he would never admit it, Inspector Allen wanted to throw up when he saw the body; that was fifteen years ago.

“Well, she managed to say they got to the third floor without anything like being attacked occurred….It all seemed to really go wrong once they got to the third floor. ” Allen remembered the officer had stopped briefly, “Though they did get the impression that they were never alone. One of the sisters commented on that she kept having to look behind her because she swore that despite the nice sunny day sunshine coming through the broken and shattered windows she never felt she wasn’t seeing something she could explain…something was following them in the shadows that shouldn’t have been there…makes no sense…”

“Like what?”

Officer Mason shrugged as if he really was puzzled himself on the subject, “All I know for sure is that something happened to them in that old building….”

“Yes, but what?”

“She claimed something was always in the corner of her eye. Movement she couldn’t fully see or get a look at but she told her sister she was seeing something…”

The hospital room door opened and the night nurse came in and went about her duties on checking up on the girl in the bed. She smiled softly at him with a sadness in her eyes as she looked at the young girl about her age.

“Has she been saying anything since being here, um…”

“Christine.” The smile came and went from the petite girl with the long straight black hair,  “And not really. She mutters a few things in her sleep but they make no sense and it seems disjointed.” She checked the iv. “It’s a miracle she’s alive actually with all her injuries….” She pulled up the sheet a bit for the girl, “Whoever did this seemed to be playing games with her before she was able to escape. She fought back by some of the injuries seem to be in self-defense…”

“What does she say in her sleep?”

The twenty-three year old CNA looked at the girl feeling for her, “Well, I know that I have only heard the phrase the ‘Nowhere Man,’ from a Beetle’s song…” Amused at his look, “I like the Beetle’s. Big Paul MacCarthy fan.” She stopped briefly, “She’s said that a few times. She seems very afraid of whatever that is…”

He had done some research, “It’s another name for shadow people.”

“Oh, them.”

He noted the look of disbelief in her pale if somewhat attractive features, “Don’t believe in such things?”

Looking at him with a thoughtful expression, “There are many things out there in the universe that can’t be explained but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist…”

“But do you believe her story?”

“I believe that it’s a strange universe out there.” The dark eyes stared at him as if trying to be kind, “I believe something attacked her and her sister in that old place. Even I have heard the stories of that hospital and why it was abandoned. I wont go near it let alone actually go into that place. It’s damn haunted….mostly the third floor.”

“You believe she was attacked by what she claims?”

“Look at her, something attacked her and where is her sister?” The girl studied him as if understanding him very well, “The few times she is awake and talking it’s a mess of words, like she’s trying to tell everything at one time…then she starts crying as if remembering more than she wants to remember….”

“That’s what I am trying to find out, Christine, but I seem to be getting nowhere.” He rested his hands in his pockets, “But I am not exactly buying the idea that some creature of  shadow with teeth and without eyes attacked these two girls.”

“That sounds like something else.” She walked to the little table next to the bed, straightened one of the get well cards, smelled the sunflowers someone had sent, “I love sunflowers.”

“Something else?”

“Yes, the shadow people are just that, human shadow shaped people. What you are saying that sounds like is something far more nastier…”

He returned to his first question but with less patience, “What has she said other than the nowhere guy. Anything?”

Looking at him carefully, “Don’t go to the third floor.”

“Those exact words?”

“Between looking terrified at something she claimed was still in the room and screaming for her sister, yes, she said it a few times about the third floor….said it lives up there, that it tricked them up there and then tricked the two of them until it had  separated them from each other at some point.” Softly with an edge, “It was playing with them.”

“How did you get all that information?”

“Been working three straight night shifts, Officer, she talks or even screams in her sleep and I listen.” Softly, “I am here a lot during night shift.”

“Okay, makes sense.”

“She keeps saying though that she should have known it wasn’t her and shouldn’t have been so easily tricked. Her sister wouldn’t have attacked her…” Softly, “That is where some of her unjuries came from. So apparently she was attacked by her sister as well…”

He looked at the girl, “Wish she would wake up. I need answers and I need them to find her sister…”

“She’s in a lot of pain, Officer, under heavy medication so until she’s capable of telling us anything it is going to be a while.” The look her eyes was giving him was bothering him for some reason. They looked at him with complete softness but something about them still bothered him. Maybe she wasn’t telling him everything the girl in the bed was saying?  “She says they never should have separated. That was their mistake she’s muttered a few times…”

He looked at her, “I spoke to one of the officers who found her and he said some of the same things.” He folded his arms across his chest in frustration, “He also claims the same report. Something or someone got them to go upstairs. The other sister has got to be up there somewhere and hopefully alive…”

“You’re hoping.” She said with a slight thin smile.

“Her sister survived, so it’s better to hope the other one did as well.”

The dark eyes smiled, “It’s possible.”

“The officer did his own brief looking around on the first floor but said he saw nothing and felt even less. In fact he laughed at himself thinking something was going to happen. The building is long abandoned and not much to see anymore except it’s stories of being haunted….”

“All hospital’s are haunted, Officer Allen.” She said it looking at the young girl, “It just depends on how haunted and by whom.”

“Well, I am not going to put out an arrest warrant on a shadow creature called the Nowhere Man…” He was trying to be funny, it just wasn’t him, “I mean seriously, Christine, some dark mass of a human shape stalking people and making them vanish?” Well, it wasn’t like it hadn’t happened before, Inspector Allen and you know it! That hospital should torn down and left as a giant hole in the ground. The place made him not not only uncomfortable but angry as well. But he said it anyway, “Buildings don’t kill people and they don’t make people vanish…”

“Her sister vanished without a trace. No body has been found has it.” Pointing at the girl in the bed, “Until she wakes up you are kind of stuck with hunting for a shadow.” A smile crossed her young features, “A shadow with an unpleasant attitude let alone appetite walks that quiet place.”

“So you believe that something forced them to the third floor?” He studied the young girl who stood staring at him calmly, “She was found on the second floor so she must have escaped this whatever you want to call it.”

“Or it let her go for the fun of it.”

“It tracked them down and hunted them so reported Officer Mason the girl said when they started placing her in the ambulance. She started screaming again he reported that her sister was still in the building.” He again studied the young girl in the bed, “I really need her to wake up and tell me what actually happened in that building. Where is her sister? What happened to her if she’s still in there…” He walked around to the other side of the bed, looking down at the features he could see, “Someone chased those two girls in that building and tried to kill both of them and that much I am certain. I’m not buying it that some shadow anything man was responsible for whatever happened to them. There is a reasonable, logical, reason why their is a girl lying in this bed looking as if she had a fight with someone with a pension for knives. ..” Looking across the bed at the girl who still remained calmly motionless, “The only real monster’s in the world are the one’s we create because we can’t understand something. Human’s are the real monsters, not some creature of shadow’s and abandoned buildings…”

Christine smiled, “Yes, of course, no real monsters or ghosts. Life is that simple; so is death I suppose.”

“Yes, life is that simple, Christine.” He again looked at the girl, “No monster other than a human being with a hatred of young women did this, not some shadow man! Not some damn Nowhere Man!”

“I hope you’re right in this case.”

“I just need her to be awake and tell me what happened.”

“What if the trauma is so great she doesn’t want to talk about it?”

“What about her sister?”

“Yes, her sister, of course.” Christine smiled as she heard the footsteps behind her before the door opened.

The nursing supervisor entered the room as if she owned it, looking at Inspector Allen, frowning somewhat, “Oh, still hanging about…”

“Yes, I am…”

“The young lady will not be in any condition to talk about anything for a while…” Nurse Carlson replied, “You really do need to come back when she’s awake.”

“Yes, as I was telling…”

“I can’t have you hanging about this room like some damn ghost, Inspector Allen.”

“Yes, as I was telling Christine here I was just hoping…” The look in the woman’s face stopped him, “What?”

“I have no Christine working this shift tonight, so I am not sure who you are talking about or to…” Looking at him puzzled.

Allen looked over at the bed, “She must have left.”

She frowned, “You’ve been the only one in this room since I came unto my shift and there is no Christine on duty tonight…” As if it mattered, “I had a CNA some years ago named Christine, but she was killed in an accident on this floor…Very sweet girl who really was very good at her job and cared about the patience.” Adding as if it mattered, “There was a fire…”

“I just spent time talking to her!”

Taken back a bit but regained her composure, “You’ve been in the room too long, Inspector Allen, there was no one in this room when I entered and I know who’s on shift tonight and her name is Carol.” She went to the girl in the bed and checked how she was doing. “You’ve been in this room alone and talking to yourself, Inspector Allen.” Looking at him as if fathoming something, “I don’t believe in ghosts, Inspector Allen, so don’t even go there. This hospital has no ghosts and I’ve been here twenty years…”

“This is stupid, I was having a conversation with her…” He could see that the older woman was serious, “She was standing right there…”

She looked up at the man with the puzzled look in his tired eyes, “There was no one else in this room but you, Inspector Allen. I am telling you that you have been in the room alone and talking only to yourself…”

He stared at the older woman getting angry with her, “I was just talking to her…”

Looking down at the girl, “Poor kid, I do hope you find out who did this to her.”

Inspector Allen wasn’t sure what to say at the moment as he forced himself to calm down.

Natalie did and she screamed it, “Emma!”

The thing in the shadows of the hospital room smiled.

 

 

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