Turn left off Delaney lane and take a right on Moreno. Keep going until you hit the oak tree, then take a left, up the hill.

Behind wrought iron gates and up the winding gravel road, there is a building. The shrubbery around it has grown wild. The lawn on either side of the drive is a toss up between patches of dead domestic grass and wild grasses several feet high. Oak trees surrounds the structure, neatly cutting off most natural light and casting it into perpetual shade. Windows are all either missing, cracked, or covered over with yellowing newspaper. In places without windows, someone has nailed up wooden boards in a halfhearted attempt to keep the weather out. Most of the shingles are missing from the roof, having been lost in some storm or other. Even some of the gutters are starting to fall off.

The doors to the main entrance have nearly rotted off their hinges.

The building has been abandoned for years. It had been a retirement home, once. Its halls had been filled with the shuffling premortem and those dulled souls sent to herd them. No longer. Lack of funding and lack of interest have seen to it that no elderly are permitted to stay, and lack of upkeep have ensured none will want to.

The entrance room is little more than a cobweb infested box. What little light that makes it through the trees is soon choked out by either the windows' coverings or the thick, dust laden air. Two ancient staircases on either side of the room lead up into the second story. Behind each is an archway, one leads into the maze of halls and bedrooms, the other to the much more orderly recrooms, kitchens, and the like.

The halls are empty and ring with the half remembered echoes of living death. There are cracks in the floor from otherwise undocumented earthquakes, unnoticed by the world at large but still strong enough to damage the aged tile. The wallpaper is peeling. In some places it has worn almost gracefully, simply falling from the wall like old parchment. In other, larger patches, it has flaked away, leaving large splotches of stained plaster flecked with shades of green.

A quick glances shows the bedrooms have fared no better. Here the already thin carpets have been eaten away by time and by pests. Most are devoid of furniture, save for the occasional empty bed frame or drawerless dresser.

At the end of the hall, there is a stairwell. Unlike the other ones, this doesn’t lead to the second story. Instead, it goes down.

The steps do not creak. It is far too damp for them to be able to. The air of the stairwell stinks of mildew and mold and the musk of uncomfortable dampness, all of which gets only progressively worse the deeper down. At the end of the stairs, there is a door. It is the only one in the building with a lock.

It is dark inside the room. There are no windows, no other doors save the one leading to the stairs. Both walls and floors are wooden. Papers are scattered across the floor. They are yellowed with age and mostly illegible. In one corner is a bucket reeking of waste. In the other is a blanket now serving as a home to a family of mice. In the center of the room is a desk.

It is a small desk. The lift-top sort commonly found in gradeschool classrooms. The little chair is built in, with metal bars on one side firmly attached to the desk proper. On the desk are two piles of standard notebook paper. One pile is several inches thick, the other consists of only a few sheets.

In a child's scrawl, the note reads:

i donnt know were i am. i wish the would let me out. i miss my mom and dad it smells bad here and i want to go home they wont let me stop writing whi wont they let me out i wanna to go home i wanna to go home

And so forth.

The other pages in the tall pile say much the same thing.

The top page of the next pile is only half-full. It cuts off midsentence. There is a streak of ink across the bottom, then a few splotches of something brown.

The pages behind it are blank, save for where the brown substance has seeped through and stained them.

None of that matters, though. The place has been abandoned for years. Nobody comes up this way anymore.

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