This happened when I was in university, so about two or three years ago now. I left the countryside and started going to a university in another prefecture, when one day I got a call from back home saying that my grandmother had taken a spill. She’d looked after me ever since I was a kid, so I rushed back home and to the hospital as soon as I could.
Thankfully, she wasn’t in a serious condition, but I took the week off from uni and work to stay with her just in case. My brother was using my old room and I was bored in the lounge, so I decided to call some of my old friends in the area. Everyone was busy with work or study, but I did find a few who had some time, so I decided to meet with three of them from the local university the next day.
Still, not just my hometown, but the entire prefecture was rural as all hell, so there wasn’t much to do other than karaoke or bowling, or if we went for a half hour drive, we could visit a net cafe and play pool. We talked about going out for drinks, but my money for the week had mostly run out, and I had to think about the next month as well, so I refused. In the end we gave up and went to a family restaurant to hang out for a while.
It was Tuesday night. I had two days left before I returned, and three of us chatted at the restaurant.
“I’m so bored,” I said. “As usual, there’s nothing to do here.”
“If you compare it to Tokyo, sure,” A said. “Must be nice living somewhere else.”
“Hmm, well, why don’t we go over there,” B said. “Over there” was the local abandoned hospital, an infamous place when we were kids. According to the rumours, there were still surgical tools left over in the operating room, and dried up bodies in the basement, and they said the ghosts of the nurses still lurked in the building. It was the type of place that always had rumours like that.
To be honest, I was kind of scared and didn’t really want to go, but A and B were real excited, so they called C and he agreed to meet us there.
The hospital had been abandoned for quite some time, and sat in a village even more countryside than our own, surrounded by nothing but rice fields and farms. I don’t know if the land was cheap because it was in the middle of nowhere, but when it opened, it was a pretty fancy looking three-story building.
“One of my senior classmate’s friends came here once and threw away his cigarette butt inside,” A said when we got there. “But then he suddenly started acting strange, saying he had to go back home to some town, even though he lived somewhere else.”
‘You could have said that before we got here,’ I thought, growing annoying, but I didn’t want anyone to know I was scared so I just replied, “Oh yeah?”
A short distance from the hospital were various rice fields and a few street lights, but that was it. The glass front door was chained and padlocked to keep people out. Other bored kids probably had the same idea as us, because there was all sorts of rubbish and graffiti around, and most of the windows on the first floor had been broken.
“So, what are we gonna do? Wait for C?” I said.
“Nah, let’s go in now. He’s got a car so we’ll know when he gets here,” A replied.
“Alright, well I’m gonna head in first. Let’s go through this window,” B said.
Each of us held a cheap torch we’d picked up from the convenience store and went inside. Thinking back on it now, we really shouldn’t have.
Glass crackled beneath our feet as we landed inside. My entire body went cold and broke out in goosebumps for some reason. I honestly wanted to jump right back out the window and run away, but A and B continued on ahead, and A had the car keys anyway, so I chased after them.
Being behind everyone else truly is terrifying. I couldn’t see anything, and I was terrified that Sadako or something would come running out of the darkness behind me. We arrived at the open reception area and B shone his light around. There were files scattered all over the floor, and dirt on the chairs, and inside the nurse’s centre the shelves were all tipped over and the windows broken. It was a mess.
“Well that’s terrifying,” A said, looking pleased. His voiced echoed like we were in the mountains. “Where are we gonna next?”
“We gotta go downstairs,” B said. “Let’s go see the dead bodies. The dead bodies!”
The feeling I had must have been foreboding. For some reason, I really didn’t want to be there any longer. I reluctantly tried to convince them otherwise, and said we should go upstairs instead. What I actually wanted was to leave the place entirely, but I didn’t want them to make fun of me for suggesting we actually go home. We peeked inside the sickrooms and examining rooms on our way, and halfway up the stairs to the second floor I saw something strange.
Scared, I kept looking behind us on our way up, and right in the space near the wall and the end of the stairs, I saw feet. That area was where the stairs led down into the basement.
I was terrified. I froze on the spot and could barely breathe.
“What’s wrong?” B said from above. The paralysis that seemed to have gripped my body snapped, and I told myself that it was just my imagination and ran up after them.
The second and third floors were scary, as I thought they’d be, but we safely explored them with no strange events. We found an old broken TV in one of the smoking rooms, and A laughed. “Ah, my friend Y probably did that,” he said.
We went back down to the first floor, and A and B started to make their way downstairs. I knew I had to stop them.
“I’m telling you, it’s dangerous. Let’s just leave it be,” I said.
“What are you so scared of?” A replied.
“Haha, he’s just a big chicken,” B said.
Their teasing pissed me off, so I reluctantly followed them down. I remember the basement being really dark.
We looked around, remarking on the difference that the lack of moonlight made on the room. Couches, wheelchairs, and even antiseptic bottles had been left hanging on the walls. Yet something about it felt off. It was more neat and orderly than upstairs. A opened a nearby door, and B turned his light down the hall.
“Hey, isn’t that the operating room?” he said.
The light barely reached the end, but we could see the familiar sign you see in dramas. The red light that turns on during an operation. We couldn’t see any letters on it beneath the torchlight, but B got so excited that he ran off towards it. A followed him. That’s when I started to feel sick. It felt like that time when water got stuck in my ears, like I had a bad cold; it’s somewhat difficult to describe, but it was almost like I was about to have a mental breakdown.
And yet, I was too scared to stay behind by myself, so I followed them down the hall, warning them that they were going the wrong way, when suddenly A burst out laughing. Surprised, I looked closer and saw he was laughing at B, who lay sprawled on the floor.
“What the hell are you doing man? Geez.” he said, shining his light on B. But B showed no signs of getting up. A and I grew worried. “Hey, are you okay?” we called out, leaning next to him and turning him over.
We soon realised something was terribly wrong.
He clenched his eyes tightly shut, grinding his teeth as he moaned, holding onto his shin.
“What’s wrong? Did you hit something?” I asked in a panic. Yet B was in so much pain that he couldn’t answer. He just continued moaning.
“Hey, I’m gonna take a look now,” A said. “Here, hold this for me.” I stood above B and shone both lights on his leg. A grabbed his hand and, after a struggle, removed it from his shin. “Uwa!” A let out a scream.
“Eh? What’s wrong? What happened?” I asked, looking closer. Even thinking about it now makes me want to throw up, but at the time I was honestly dumbfounded.
The skin and flesh was missing from his shin. The white thing we saw beneath the torchlight was his bone, and there was blood everywhere.
“What the hell? What happened?!” A screamed and went into a panic. I had no idea what was going on, but I knew that we had to get out of there.
“Let’s get out of here,” I said, and we both helped B up, carrying him back down the hall when it happened. Even now I can’t unsee what I saw. The torch B had dropped shone on the operating room door. At some point the door had opened, and something inside was looking at us. You’ve probably experienced yourself what it’s like to shine a light on a face in the dark, how it vaguely lights up the features, making them seem even more terrifying. I don’t know if I could say that face was of a human, but it was definitely a face.
The only thing I remember about the body was that it was round. Like those extremely overweight people you sometimes see on TV. They’re so large and round that they can’t even move. It was about the size of a person, but abnormally wide. It wobbled left and right, making its way towards us.
Seeing it right in front of us like that, A let out a piercing screech and ran off, almost dragging B behind him. I probably screamed as well.
I couldn’t think, but I was so terrified of the dark that I gripped the torch in my hand tightly and helped A drag B away. Only the light wasn’t in front of us, so I couldn’t see very well, and that sent me into a terrified panic again.
Somehow we got B to the stairs, but we suddenly heard something rattling down the end of the hall we’d just come from. It got louder and louder, and gripping my torch in both hands, I turned it down the hall. Someone sitting in a wheelchair was rapidly approaching us. A collapsed under B’s weight as I suddenly let him go, and the wheelchair ran into them with incredible speed. B rolled down the hall, making A panic even more.
“Waaaaaaahhhhhhhh!” he screamed and trying to turn back, screeched once more as he took off at full speed back down the hall. Only he ran right past the stairs, and although I yelled at him, he didn’t seem to hear. He continued right passed, screaming at the top of his lungs. His scream disappeared down the hall and I dropped both torches, doing my best to drag B back to the stairs through my tears. I panicked and tried to pick them up again, but when I looked down, I thought I was about to die.
I could clearly see the face. It was the face of a child. Only the face of a child. If there was a body, it must have been lying perpendicular to my arms. It was completely expressionless, although it seemed angry. The light from the torch shone on the side of its face.
This time I ran. I don’t think I could ever apologise enough to A and B for what I did, but I was honestly so scared that I ran. I didn’t want to run past the stairs like A had, so with that in mind, I ran with my hand along the wall. I ran right into the stairs, and then crawled the rest of the way up.
Perhaps my eyes had gotten used to the darkness, but when I got to the first floor, I could easily see my surroundings in the moonlight. I ran for the front door as fast as I could and grabbed the handle, but it was chained and padlocked. I couldn’t get out. There was no way I could go back, and I feared that if I looked anywhere but forward, I’d see that monster or that kid again.
I shook and kicked the door when I heard something coming from in front of me. That didn’t stop me and I kept shaking, but then a bike suddenly appeared on the other side of the door and I stopped like a deer in headlights. It was so bright that I couldn’t even open my eyes.
It was C.
Finally, I thought, we were saved. Turning his lights off, C removed his helmet, placed it on his side mirror, and then looked at me, perplexed. He walked over and said something to me through the thick glass, like, “What the hell are you doing?” I couldn’t hear him very well.
“Hurry up and get me outta here!” I screamed, but he rolled his eyes and walked off to the side, disappearing from view. I desperately tried to follow him when I noticed a window at about hip height was broken; in my haste I hadn’t even noticed it.
“Ah, but it looks kinda dangerous,” C said, but I got down to squeeze through it anyway. C stepped back, perhaps confused at my haste, and my heart pounded at the thought of freedom.
“What on earth is wrong with you?” he said, but it was probably two or three minutes before I could answer him.
“Let’s get away from here first,” I said, and he looked at me bewildered. I just wanted to get away from there as soon as possible.
“Huh? What about the others? Where are they?” C asked. I screamed at him in response, still in a panic from what had happened. C reluctantly got on his bike and turned it. I jumped on the back and urged him to go.
As he rode off, I turned to look behind us several times, worried something might be following us, but C got angry. “What are you doing? That’s dangerous!”
He stopped at a convenience store about two or three kilometres away and this time got pissed at me. “Seriously, what the hell is up with you?”
I told him everything that had happened at the hospital, but my head was such a mess that I probably didn’t get the point across very well.
“We went downstairs and B fell over. There was something down there. A and I tried to escape with him, but then A got hit by a wheelchair and he panicked and ran off. And I was so scared, I saw this child’s face by my feet and I ran, leaving them there,” I said.
“Huh?” C said. I explained myself again, and again, tripping over my own tongue and losing confidence with each retelling. C was getting more and more pissed off by the minute. He could see there was something clearly not right with me, however, so he held it in.
“Are you guys trying to mess with me?” he said.
“Why would we do that? I’m not joking, I’m telling you the truth!” I replied. I screamed so loud that the guy working in the store came outside.
“Is everything okay?” he said. The guys reading magazines inside stared at us.
“We’re fine,” I said, brushing him off, and tried to get my phone out of my jeans. I struggled to get it out of the hard material, but I finally got it and dialled the cops. When C saw me call them, his expression changed and he realised I was serious. The other end soon picked up.
“Yes, this is the emergency services,” and old guy said.
“Two of my friends are in trouble at J Hospital! You gotta help them!” I said.
“J Hospital! J! The one near the mountains and farms!”
“I don’t know it, can you give me the address?”
“Quit screwing around! How the hell am I supposed to know that? It’s the damn hospital in OO Village!”
“Ah, is that so? And what happened? An accident? An argument?”
He replied like he didn’t care about what I was saying, which made me even angrier.
“You don’t believe a word I just said, do you? Look, somebody’s hurt, okay? Hurry up and get out there!”
Then my phone buzzed with crackle.
“Ah, hello? Hello?” the old man said. He couldn’t seem to hear what I was saying, and his voice came through in broken chunks. “Hello? Is this a prank call?” He didn’t believe me at all, and then hung up.
Pissed off, I called again and put the phone to my ear. This time there was no ring, but a soft crackling sound mixed in with a buzz. I hung up and tried again, but this time the phone itself died. Looking back on it now, I probably held the button for so long with shaking hands that the phone turned off.
“Gimme your phone!” I said to C, snatching it and dialling the police. The moment it started to ring, the convenience store clerk came back outside.
“Hey hey, what’s going on?” he said, a troubled look on his face. I ignored him and focused on the phone.
“I don’t really know either,” C said. The phone continued to ring endlessly. Nobody picked up. “Our friends went over to that hospital but they haven’t come back out yet,” he continued.
Someone finally picked up and I held my breath, waiting to see if they would say anything. When they didn’t, my anger blew up again. “Two of my friends are hurt, they need help!” I screamed. On the other end I heard a noise, like something far in the distance.
At first I didn’t know what it was, but it gradually got louder, and when I realised what it was, I dropped the phone like it was hot as fire.
“Hey hey hey!” C screamed, picking his phone up from the asphalt. He turned to me, apparently confused about whether he should be angry or if he should ask me what happened. I shook uncontrollably, and no doubt my face had gone white.
“Hey, are you okay?” the clerk asked, worried. The sound seemed to cling to my eardrums, and I scratched at my temples in an attempt to get rid of it. It was A’s voice. That final scream before he disappeared in the hospital. Why did I hear that after calling the police? Was it taking place in real time, and if so, was something happening back at the hospital?
I was so overwhelmed I crouched on the spot and couldn’t move. The clerk looked down at me as though I were a drunk, unsure of how to deal with me.
“Eh? Hang on, what’s that?” he said suddenly, leaning in close to my face. “Ah! L-Look, you’re bleeding from your arm!”
“Huh?” For the first time, I noticed that I’d cut myself on the broken glass when I crawled out of the hospital.
“Shit, are you okay, man?” C looked down at me. The clerk rushed back into the store and returned with another old guy and a first aid box. They cleaned the wound and wrapped it for me, but the bandage was so short that the blood soon soaked through it. The old guy went back into the store and brought some of the store merchandise out, wrapping my arm again for me. For a moment, I felt relieved. The occasional customer glanced over at us while exiting the store.
“Don’t you think you should go to the hospital?” C said. The fear within me welled up once more. It might sound stupid, but I began to imagine the ambulance taking me back to that abandoned hospital instead.
“I’m fine, really,” I said. I went to grab my wallet to pay for the bandages when I realised it wasn’t on me. It should have been in my back pocket, which meant I’d dropped it somewhere. C took 2,000 yen out of his wallet to pay for me instead, and then his phone rang. He looked at it, then me, then hesitantly answered, “Hello?”
The clerk took the bandage packaging and the money inside the store, returning with the change for C who was still on the phone. He nodded his head, still muttering on the phone. “Ah. Yeah… I see.”
“Are you sure you’re okay?” the old guy asked me again, but I answered him indifferently. C’s voices started getting more fed up and angry, and all my attention was on him.
“The convenience store. Yeah. Uh huh. He’s here, but something’s wrong. Ah. And you guys? What, you’re still there?” C said. A bad feeling washed over me and I broke out in goosebumps.
“Nah, he was saying… Huh? Ah, yeah, that’s what I thought. But that can’t be right. Ah. I see. Nah, it’s all good. No, he’s injured so I’m gonna take him to the hospital. Nah, I doubt there’s really one there. There’s not even any electricity. Huh?” C continued his conversation. “Nah, look, I already said don’t worry. I said it’s fine! God, you’re pushy. That’s enough already, geez! Ah? Hello?”
Pissed, C clucked his tongue and slammed his phone shut. Then he glared at me.
“You guys really better knock this shit off,” he said.
“That was B on the phone just now,” he said. My mind went blank. I had no idea what was real and what wasn’t. C continued talking, but I felt dizzy and didn’t remember a thing after that. I heard all about it from C later on.
Apparently I hit the ground and passed out. The old guy called an ambulance and I spent the night in the nearby hospital. It was past lunch by the time I came back to, and there was a drip in my arm. My mother and grandmother were sitting in chairs beside my bed.
The cut in my arm had been pretty deep, and there were several stitches in my face as well. I’d also broken a toe (which I noticed when I tried to get out of bed), which I had an x-ray for that afternoon. They wanted me to stay in the hospital for another night, but I really didn’t want to, so I refused.
That night I got a call from the police, and they asked me about A, B, and the abandoned hospital. The next day, I went to the station where they took me to some type of investigation room and a uniformed officer questioned me for several hours. He asked about the details leading up to the hospital and then what happened inside. I told him the truth, but of course, he didn’t believe me. On the contrary, he made me take a drug test, and he said they might do a household search as well, depending on how things went. This went on for several hours, before I finally asked him what had constantly been on my mind; A and B.
C had contacted the police and they found B the following afternoon after I passed out. They found him a little passed the stairs I’d mentioned. He was already dead. The initial cause of death was thought to be shock from blood loss, but they wouldn’t know for sure until they did an autopsy.
They still hadn’t found A. Officially he was missing, but they probably suspected him of killing B, just like they suspected me. The guy interviewing me seemed to be hinting that he thought A killed B, and I was helping him cover it up.
They found my wallet at the bottom of the stairs near B’s dead body. They said it would take some time for me to get it back because it was evidence, so I told them to just throw it away. The entire hospital building was off-limits, so the police never patrolled the area. They found A’s abandoned car out the front as well, and his parents drove it home with a duplicate key.
After the police were done with me, C picked me up in front of the station in his car. We drove to a family restaurant just out of town to chat. C rode to the hospital with me in the ambulance, and then his brother took him back to the convenience store to get his bike. A different person was working inside, but after explaining what had happened, he debated whether he should go to the abandoned hospital himself. He pulled out his phone to call B and noticed he had over 30 missed calls. They were all from B. For the first time C realised just how strange everything was.
Scared, he turned his phone off and went home. He called both A and B’s houses the next day, but he found out that neither had returned home. Realising something was wrong, he called the police and gave them a watered down version of what I’d told him (which was perhaps why the police suspected me to begin with).
This is what C told me, taking his time as he searched carefully for his words.
“When I first answered the phone at the convenience store, I thought something was strange. You were so earnest about what you said, but then he said it was a prank the three of your were playing, and to bring you back to the building. But your arm was injured so I said I had to take you to the hospital, and he was like ‘There’s a doctor here as well.’ I found that odd, but I figured maybe it was another joke. I said there was no way there could be a doctor there, but he was insistent that there was. ‘He’s in surgery right now,’ he said. I told him to quit it, but he was like, ‘I’m for real. There’s a doctor here. He’s here. He’s here.’ He kept repeating it over and over. It pissed me off so I hung up on him…”
I didn’t know what to say.
He listened to me once again as I told him everything that went down at the abandoned hospital.
“Okay,” he said when I was done, and said nothing else on the matter. I had to see the police several times after that, and my parents submitted a temporary absence from school to my university, informing them I’d need another few weeks off to rest.
I’m done with the police now, and I graduated from university as well. I didn’t wanna go back home, so I stayed in my apartment and found work. But, something happened on my fourth of fifth visit to see the police.
The officer was asking me the same questions as usual when he said something about the injury on B’s shin.
“According to your testimony, you saw the injury, but what did it look like? Was it a gash or an abrasion?” he asked.
“I was scared and it was pretty dark, so I don’t know. But I saw something white, like a bone.”
The officer leaned back in his chair. He shuffled through his papers again, looking for something.
“This is a strange injury, isn’t it? It’s not the type of injury you’d get falling over or being dragged.”
“So you really didn’t see anything when he fell over, right?”
That was the end of his questioning. When we were done, I stepped outside and overheard him muttering inside.
“No, it can’t be a bite…”
I didn’t want to remember it, but I tried to see the injury again in my head. The officer’s words made me think, and I might be imagining things, but I think that wound on B’s leg was caused by that kid. The kid bit him.
Even now, I still worry that I might be the next one to get a phone call from A or B. The thought of it keeps me up at night.