This story takes place in the countryside where I live.
I live in a countryside village surrounded by mountains, where at 9, 12, and 6 o’clock every day the fire station blares a siren that’s supposed to signify the time. Those who live in the city probably won’t understand it, but for people like me who were born and grew up there, it was a normal, everyday occurrence.
When I became a high school student, there were no arcades or karaoke places to go and have fun. All we had was were mountains, rivers, and a dam located on the outskirts of the village.
Yet even in our embarrassing little village, we had a place that everyone thought of as a terrifying ghost spot. It was the old Imperial Army Hospital, and according to the rumours, it was a terrifying place to be.
To reach it, you had to pass through a blocked mountain trail that only the locals knew of, and then ride through the mountains on a bike for about two hours to find it. This rough gravel road was only wide enough to fit a single car, so most people would see it and think, “Ah, a dead end.”
I heard from my parents that it was an abandoned hospital, but nobody really thought they would build a hospital all the way out there. No, us kids called it the “Secret Experiment Facility” instead.
If you build a place like that in the countryside, then people are going to wonder about it. And for us, we used it as a test of courage. If you hadn’t been there before, then you weren’t really a man!
When I was in the first grade of high school, I was baptised by one of the senior students. Apparently it was a rule to keep the location of that place secret until people reached high school age.
“You listening? Go there tonight, and then come back tomorrow,” he said. And apparently, not just anyone was able to take part in this test of courage. Only myself, A, and B, kids who had been delinquents in junior high, had been chosen.
“There’s no way the quiet kids could ever go through with it,” was their response.
That night we set out with a black pen we’d received from the older guys, a crudely drawn map, and a torch from home, sneaking out and taking our bikes to find the Secret Experiment Facility. The following instructions were written on the note:
Leave at 9 p.m. Arrive at 11:30. Write your name on the sign with the pen. Run away as fast as you can.
The entire trip would take five hours by bike, at night, so we were somewhat annoyed, but also excited as well. We chatted as we pedalled up the dark mountain road.
“Do you really think it’s there?” B asked.
“It’s the first I’ve heard of it,” I said. “If so, that’s pretty scary, huh?”
“If it’s not, I’m gonna beat the crap out of them tomorrow,” A said.
At the time, we were more scared of the mountain road than we were of that place. We’d heard from the older guys that this facility was surrounded by barbed wire, a fence that stretched out far and wide around the place. Because it was impossible to get inside, once we’d written our names on the sign out the front, that was it, it was over.
Because we didn’t have to go inside, we honestly thought it would be an easy task and weren’t so worried about it. However, the fear of riding for two and a half hours alone on a dark, gravelly road in the mountains was a bit much, so to hide that fear the three of us chatted.
After we’d been riding for about two hours, the lights on our bikes suddenly shone on a large tree blocking the road.
“Shit, look out!” A screamed.
“Hey, I didn’t hear anything about this!” B cried.
“It must have fallen over in the typhoon last year,” I suggested. We got off our bikes and decided to carry them over it. First A, B, and then myself grabbed our bikes to climb over the huge tree.
“Ah!” I screamed. The moment I straddled the tree, something like white cloth moved on the ground beneath us. Surprised, I fell with my bike.
“Hey hey, what are you doing?” A said.
“What happened?” B chimed in.
“Quit screwing around!” I cried. Both A and B looked confused. “You guys just tried to scare me with that white sheet, didn’t you?”
“Huh?” they both said. They looked at me blankly as I raged. “Maybe you just imagined it?” they said, and without too much more thought we all got back on our bikes and started riding again.
After two and a half hours of riding, we finally arrived, right on time. There was a three-metre high door covered in barbed wire to keep people from opening it. The barbed wire continued out left and right from it. We shone our lights into the distance, but it seemed to go on forever.
“Shit, that’s scary!” B said.
“Can we see the building inside?” I asked.
“This is boring, let’s just finish this up and get outta here,” A said. B and I both agreed it would be pointless to hang around, so we went to write our names on the sign with the marker. “No Entry” appeared in large letters beneath our lights.
“Wow, they’re old letters!” B said.
“They’re a little odd, huh?”
“Hey, look over here!” A said, pointing to something. There were countless names written on the board. All of the kids who had come before us. But amongst them was a strange scribble.
“Get outta here before midnight.”
“Pfft, how stupid,” A said.
“What the hell is that? Let’s get outta here!” I said.
“The paper they gave us says to get outta here as soon as possible as well,” B agreed. A quickly glanced at his watch.
“Hey, it’s only 10 more minutes till midnight, let’s wait!”
“No way man, let’s go home.”
“Well, if it’s only 10 minutes, then sure,” I agreed. We outvoted B, so in the end we agreed to wait.
It was just about to hit midnight. A started the countdown.
…Nothing happened. Or so we thought.
A loud siren rang from the Secret Experiment Facility beyond the barbed wire fence. B and I panicked and jumped on our bikes to flee.
“Hey! Aren’t you embarrassed with yourselves?” A called out after us.
“Huh? What are you on about? Let’s get outta here!”
“Don’t run away. This is the punchline!”
“The guys knew the siren would ring right as we were leaving, they did it to scare us.”
B and I said nothing.
“We’re better then that, let’s get our revenge on them”!
A smiled like it was a piece of cake.
“Let’s go inside.”
A was bigger than us and acted like the leader. Of course, we were scared, but we couldn’t go against him. I was hesitant, but I knew that A saw himself as a hero and would look down on us as cowards if we didn’t agree, so we went along with it. B opposed until the bitter end, but because I went along with A’s idea, B didn’t want to remain outside alone and agreed to come as well.
We started climbing over a section of the door that didn’t have any barbed wire. Once we were all inside, we held a torch in hand and started walking.
We continued walking along the path we’d just come from.
“Hey, we’re not really going to go inside, are we?” I asked.
“Huh? What are you saying? We’re gonna go in and write our names on the scariest part inside!”
“I can’t. I’m gonna stay outside,” B said.
“They stay out here alone.”
We chatted as we walked, trying to kill our fear. Finally, we reached the building. The Secret Experiment Facility.
“Hey, that’s it, right?” A said.
“What do you mean?”
All of a sudden a building appeared in the dark forest surrounded by mountains. The electricity appeared to still be on, as lights were on around it. The lightbulbs inside the building were on as well.
“It really does look like a hospital,” I said.
“Now this is what I’m talking about.” A smiled.
“…Don’t you think it’s a bit strange?” B said. A and I looked at him. “Did you see any electricity lines on the way here?”
For a moment, A and I both froze.
“Maybe they have their own power?” we suggested, trying to find some sort of explanation that made sense, and then we approached the building. It was a plain, two-story building with no letters or signs on the outside. As we stood before the entrance, I realised something strange.
“…The front door’s open.”
It was like it was inviting us in. The front glass door was open.
“Hang on!” B screamed before we stepped inside.
“What? Stop chickening out!”
“Are you really gonna wait here?”
“Hang on…” B shone his light on the outside of the building again.
The building was clean. Too clean. Like it had just been built a few years earlier. It was unbelievable for a building so deep in the mountains.
B shone his torch up on the second floor. A nurse in white clothing with a pale face looked down at us. The moment our eyes met, she disappeared into the back.
“Aaaahhhh!” I screamed.
Seemed I was the only one who saw her. “You guys didn’t see that?” I trembled and tried to explain, but they didn’t believe me.
“You’re just saying that to keep us from going inside, quit it.”
“I can’t do this anymore. Quit screwing around!”
Seemed the two of them had grown scared as well. At that very moment…
The siren on top of the building rang again. It was so loud I feared my eardrums would burst.
We ran into the building and slammed the door behind us, trying to escape the sound. The moment we went in, the siren outside stopped.
“What the hell was that…?” A said and tried to open the door. He jiggled the handle. “Huh?” He jiggled again. “What the hell?” He violently shook the handle, and then started kicking it.
B and I thought he was trying to scare us again, but it seemed the door really wouldn’t open. We struggled to open the door to this “hospital” beneath the dim light. The moment I realised the situation we were in, it was like thousands of bugs were crawling all over my skin.
Before long, we heard another noise. Like something creaking… We turned towards it, and a wheelchair came rolling down the hall towards us out of the darkness.
B and I screamed, but A instead screamed towards it.
“Quit screwing around! Who is it? Is it you?” He was talking about the senior who had given us the orders to come here earlier that day. “You’re not gonna scare us with this!”
A went towards the old wheelchair and tried to kick it, but at that same moment, something forcefully lifted him into the air and then sat him down on it.
“Hey, what the hell?!” He turned to look at us. “H-Help m—”
Before he could finish his sentence, the wheelchair flew back into the darkness with terrifying speed. We were so scared that for a few seconds, we couldn’t move, nor could we scream.
The moment we realised that this was reality, that had really happened, the paralysis that gripped us broke.
“Let us out! Let us out!”
B and I screamed and banged on the entrance door.
Something creaked again…
This time two old wheelchairs appeared out of the darkness. We turned around. We saw them. We screamed. Our faces pale, we started pounding on the door again.
The pale faced nurse stood on the other side of the door, glaring at us.
“Ahhhh!” we screamed and then passed out.
When I came back too, B and I were being wheeled by nurses in the chairs. I turned to look at him, and he was staring at me, his face stiff.
I couldn’t move.
I couldn’t speak.
B seemed to be suffering from the same fate. A pale faced nurse was pushing his chair. Another was probably doing the same to mine.
B’s chair was wheeled into the room first. Even looking at him from behind, I could see that his body jerked in fear for just a moment. Then my chair was pushed in behind him. Just like B, for a moment my body jerked. I was so scared I wet myself.
It was the operating room. A was bound to the operating table, and they were dissecting him alive. When he saw us, he screamed, tears rolling down his cheeks.
“Help me! Help me! I’m sorry! I’m sorry! Forgive me! Forgive me! Aaaahhhhhhh!”
Some men that looked like doctors stood around him, his stomach open like a frog as they removed organs one by one. B and I sat in our chairs watching him, crying.
The doctors gave some order to the nurses pushing our chairs. Then we were taken away to a different location.
The chairs creaked. It was a room like a prison cell. We were tied to a bed, and the nurses gave us a shot. Fear overwhelmed me as my consciousness started to fade, and then I passed out.
…Hey! Wake up!
When I woke up, my seniors from high school were calling out to me, worried. I suddenly jumped up. I was in our only hospital out in the countryside. I looked over and B was lying in a bed next to me. Two days had passed since our test of courage. I asked the doctor what had happened and why I was there.
He told me that the next day, our seniors grew worried when we didn’t show up to school, so they told the teachers about the test of courage. That evening they set out to look for us and several teachers drove to the abandoned hospital by car. Apparently they didn’t come across that fallen tree we’d found in our way.
They found our footprints past the barbed wire, so they followed them inside and when they looked around, they found us all sleeping in different rooms.
I cried and told the doctor everything that had happened to us, but as he listened, he tilted his head. We refused to believe his story, so he drove us out to the abandoned hospital.
When we saw it in the daylight, we were shocked.
The entire building had been burnt down. It barely resembled a building and looked nothing like the clean building we’d seen that night.
Nervously we went inside and found the rooms where we’d been tied up and the operating room A had been in. A’s name was written on top of the table…
Apparently when they found him, A had been screaming in pain, but no painkillers or sedatives worked, so they transferred him to the big hospital for proper testing. They couldn’t find anything wrong with him, inside or out, so they thought it had to be mental and transferred him to a psychiatric hospital. We went to visit him numerous times after that, but he never returned to normal.
Several months later, A lost his mind. He stopped saying things hurt and completely broke down, like a living doll. And as for B and myself, our sleepless nights continued. Whenever the clock struck midnight, we could hear that siren blaring from the abandoned hospital…
Like it was calling out to us. Asking us to return.
What was that place, and what happened there? The only records we could find was that it had once been an army hopsital, and it had burnt down after the war…