Warning: Gore, abuse on patients, body horror, and self-harm.
Joan ducked into a bathroom stall, slamming the door behind her. The lock was your general, flimsy, slide-into-place latch, but Joan engaged it anyways. On the floor, seeping in from the other stall, was a puddle of blood. Bits of meat was mixed in, as well as a severed finger. Joan stepped around it as she backed away from the door, and sat down on the closed toilet seat lid.
She didn't realize she was still recording. She turned off her camera, and placed it down on her lap. Spots of blood were on her jeans. Her white sneakers were nearly stained red. Even her hands, though Joan had been extremely careful where she placed her hands, she saw she had blood underneath her fingernails. She'd barely been in here for an hour.
Joan wasn't prone to hysterical crying, but at the moment she could make an exception.
What the fuck was going on here? A week ago someone had sent her an anonymous tip telling her that the Mount Massive Asylum had been abusing their patients. God, Joan spent time volunteering here in her early twenties. She knew the doctors here were kind and gentle and the asylum had a strict policy against those who would do the patients harm. Joan had no plans of exposing the asylum to the public, but instead would gather evidence to show the board. That way, the asylum would avoid bad press and the people who needed help would get it.
She didn't expect this.
There was blood everywhere. On the walls, on the ceiling, giant pools of it smeared across the floor like someone had dumped an entire bucket in one spot. Victims looked like they've been torn apart by a wild animal. How many times had Joan stepped on a severed limb, nearly slipped on a pile of intestine? It was like a goddamn war zone in here. What the FUCK was happening?
Even worse... the few patients she had come across were something out of a nightmare. There was no question they've been abused. There's no question they've been tortured. Joan had only seen such injuries on those who've been burn victims. Prisoners of war. The patients here had their eyes gouged out. The second layer of their skin ripped off. Entire mouthfuls of teeth were gone- fingers, limbs, lips, hair, all of them gone. And it wasn't just the patients, the employees, doctors, the security all fell victim to this place. Not a person had been left untouched.
She tired talking to some of them. Most of them stared at her like she wasn't even there. Others ran away, a few tried to attack her. Nobody was coherent enough to talk.
Joan scrunched up her face and a few tears silently slipped out. She kept control, but just barely. How could something like this happen? There were over five hundred people here. How could five hundred fall victim to this and nobody else noticed?
Perhaps someone did notice. And like Joan, when they came to investigate, they were trapped. Perhaps the blood on the floor belonged to some poor family member who had come to visit.
Joan cradled her camera to her chest. She needed to get this information to the public. She needed to let the authorities know what was going on here. This was bigger than her, bigger than anything Joan has ever done.
God, she was so scared.
Despite the obvious signs of violence, the asylum was also unusually quiet. Occasionally she heard a patient screaming off in the distance, but it never lasted for long. The person always trailed off, out of breath, or were cut off in mid-scream.
So when footsteps came down the hallway, going towards the bathroom, Joan heard them perfectly. She thought they would pass, but the door opened with a soft squeak.
Joan held in her breath, clutch at her mouth with both hands to keep herself quiet. Only a few patients dared followed her and she had to hide to escape them. Go away, go away, go away...
There was a knock on her stall. "Miss, I know you're in there."
The voice was British. Very calm, very sober.
"I've seen you," said the man. "Wondering the halls of the asylum. I know you've seen what we've all been seeing. I also know you've been recording. It's quite a noble thing you're doing, but it's for naught."
Joan slowly lowered her hands. She took small, quiet breaths as she listened.
"Because you've barely scratched the surface. If you really want to represent us, if you really want to tell our story, you have to go deeper. You have to understand what it is going on here."
"I don't..." Joan had to pause to work saliva into her mouth. "I don't need the full story. I have enough to get the police here-"
The man suddenly struck the stall door, making Joan jump. The flimsy lock rattled but stayed in its place. "Don't be an idiot," he hissed. "All the bodies? All this blood? Comes from the police. I've seen men in full SWAT gear get torn apart. You bring more men here, they too will die horrific, bloody deaths."
"Then makes you think I won't be killed?"
"Because the Walrider seems to have a soft spot for the non-aggresive. ...Technically. He tends to go after those who wish him harm. There's no guarantee he won't kill you, but for now, you may be in his blind spot. I suggest to use that advantage to get as much information as you can. If you know what it is, then perhaps... you can stop it."
Joan undid the latch. Shaking, she opened the door to reveal the man standing on the other side.
Like the others, this man's second layer of skin had been ripped off his face, leaving him with massive scar tissue. Not even his own mother would be able to recognize him. One of his eyes were gone, leaving Joan to stare at his single, brown eye. His lips had been left alone, but they were severely chapped and peeling. No hair, and he wore the clothing of a patient. He stepped back from the stall as Joan emerged. "Sherlock Holmes," he said, sticking out a hand for her to shake.
He was missing his ring finger. It looked like something bit it off.
She shook his hand anyways. "Joan Watson," she said.
"Follow me," he said.
Joan hesitated. She didn't want to follow him. She didn't want to find out the deep, gory details of this Walrider. But she had promised herself and the poor people here she would find out the truth. She had to go all the way.
She raised up her camera and started recording. She was going to get everything.
"Who is the Walrider?"
"Not who, what," Sherlock said. "The Walrider is not a person. It may be controlled by a person, but it is mostly definitely not human."
"Why do you say that?"
"Because I've seen it go through walls."
Sherlock passed by the gore without so much a flinch. Joan did her best to avoid it, though it was a futile effort. "Who are you, what's your name?" She asked as she stepped over a pile of intestines.
"I'm a patient," he said as if it was obvious. "My father sent me here for my drug addiction. I never left, as you can see."
"Your father sent you to an asylum for your drug addiction?"
"He had a odd sense of humor, I'll give you that. But the doctors here were kind and my father knew many of them. Now there are no doctors."
He gave no indication where he was going. He took random turns into random hallways, going through open offices and patient rooms. Judging from the way some of the furniture was piled up, Joan theorized some of the people here had tried to pull a last stand.
"Why do you... why do all the patients here look like-"
"Like they've personally seen hell?" Sherlock glanced back at her, giving the camera a good look at his scars. "We did this to ourselves."
Joan stopped. "What?"
Sherlock didn't turn away, and held up his hand, showing off his missing digit. "We all have our problems here. Ex-soldiers with PTSD. Suicides watches. People with depression, alzhemier's, hallucinations, the list goes on and on. But the Walrider... he did something to us. To all of us. Right now you find me most competent. Yesterday I spent an hour wallowing in my own filth because at the moment, I thought it was a good idea. Combine our losing minds with constant fear, hunger, and the smell of blood wafting through the air, you would lose your mind too. I've never been prone to self-harm but... I don't know. I don't remember doing this to myself. That's why it's best we keep moving. Who knows how useful I'll be to you in another twenty minutes."
"The deaths," Joan said. "Were all of them caused by this... Walrider?"
"A lot of them were," said Sherlock. "Not all. Remember, some of the patients here were also criminals. I suggest you watch your back, Watson."
Joan never once paused in her recording except to change out the batteries. She didn't want to miss one thing. Sherlock not only uncovered much of the truth of the asylum, but he also showed her security footage of the massacre that took place.
Joan kept the camera up even as she looked away. She couldn't watch these men be tossed around like rag dolls, their bodies getting folded in half, then split down the middle.
"After everything you've seen today," Sherlock said, turning off the video. "You are still squeamish?"
"There's a difference between seeing a dead body and watching someone be murdered."
It was simply amazing Joan had not vomited yet. Sherlock was right. She had only been here for a few hours and already she wanted to lose her mind. The smell was driving her mad. "I'm still amazed this place has electricity."
"The asylum has its own generator, but not every section has electricity. Whole areas are without it- oh god."
Sherlock was watching the security screen. On it, two men, two very naked men walked down the hallway towards the security office. They were only a few feet away. "It's the twins," Sherlock hissed. He suddenly grabbed Joan by the arm, and pulled her to the personal lockers by the walls. "Don't speak," he said to her, opening the locker door and pushing her inside. The locker was big enough for her, but not for him too. "Try not to breath. If they find you, they'll kill you."
He closed the locker. Through the gaps, Joan watched as Sherlock curled up on the floor. He began rocking back and forth just as the door to the room was violently shoved open.
The hinges on the poor door broke, and it hanged for a brief second before it fell noisily to the floor. "I smell cunt," said one of the twins. "She's been here."
"You," the other snapped, pointing to Sherlock. "Did you see where the woman go?"
"Can't sleep," Sherlock muttered over and over again. "Can't sleep, can't sleep, can't sleep..."
"Oi! I asked you a damn question!"
The twin kicked out, slamming his foot right into Sherlock's stomach. Joan nearly dropped her camera in response, her own stomach lurching at the sight. Sherlock gave a groan and curled into a ball, his arms clutching his midsection. He was still muttering away in a pained, breathless tone.
"Fuck 'im," said the other twin. "Bitch's probably long gone. Let's go."
Once they left, Joan quietly came out of the locker. "Oh god," she whispered, kneeling down to Sherlock. He stopped muttering, but he was still holding himself gingerly. "Oh god, what do they want with me?"
"They want to eat you," Sherlock wheezed. "Literally. I've seen them... do things to others here. They're monsters, even before the Walrider twisted their minds. If you see them, run. Drop everything and run."
At some point, Joan collapsed.
She couldn't handle it. All this pain, all this horror, it was a miracle she lasted this long. Seeing the room filled to the top with bodies was her breaking point. Once they were out of the basement, Joan stumbled, and sunk to the floor. Her body refused to get up again.
"I can't," she said as Sherlock prompted her to get back up. "I can't, I can't, I can't..."
Good god, she was going insane. No wonder nobody was able to escape from here. She was going to die here and nobody was going to find her.
Sherlock's hands left her, and Joan thought he would abandon her. She wouldn't blame him, why would he put so much effort behind someone who gave up half way through? When was the last time she replaced a battery in her camera? An hour?
Sherlock didn't leave. Off to the side there was an overturned soda vending machine. Though the front portion of it had been severely smashed, the lights were still on. It took Sherlock only a few seconds to jimmy the door open. He took out a Pepsi, and handed it over to Joan. "Here," he said. "The sugar will help."
She took it, grateful to find it cold. "Thank you..." She pressed the can to her temple, relishing the coolness against her skin.
"Drink it," Sherlock said.
Joan opened the Pepsi, carefully taking a few sips. "I'm actually more of a Sprite kind of gal."
"I like Coke," Sherlock grunted, getting down on the floor with her. He pulled Joan's camera over, taking out the old battery and replacing it with a new one. He held the camera out for Joan to take.
She took it back, but didn't turn it on. "Have there been many others like me? I can't be the only one who came here looking for answers."
Sherlock lowered his arm. "There has been others. Those who came with guns were killed almost instantly. The ones who didn't... never made it back out."
"Then what makes me so special? Why are you risking your life to help me?"
Sherlock raised his hand. He ran the edge of his fingers over his scarred, jagged skin. "Not much of a life to really save," he said as one finger ghosted over the empty hole of his eye. "But if I hide to save my life, then what has my life been for? There has got to be something we're all willing to die for, Watson. And this," he leaned over and tapped the camera twice with his finger. "Is worth dying for."
"As for you..." he continued, getting up. He reached out with a hand. Joan took it, allowing him to pull her to her feet. "I don't know why I find you so... inspirational. In the past few hours I have spent with you, I admit I am calmer. My mind clearer. Perhaps in time I'll find out why that is."
He smiled at her.
Joan smiled back. She took a breath, brought the camera back up and started recording again. "Okay, let's go see this Walrider."