“After the year which killed hundreds, survivors left the hospital and moved as far as possible from the city with fear that the disease would come back for revenge.”
There are Always two Sides to a Story
The hospital rooms had a strong scent of something similar to rotten eggs and the white beds were now stained red. Instead of separate rooms, blue-white curtains hung in an attempt for people not to see or hear each other, however everything could be heard. The tiled floor, not cleaned in around months, now had moss growing in the cracks. The hospital was some sort of a hell hole.
On the last floor of the hospital, floor six, all the yellow light bulbs had burned out years ago. The darkness made it an ideal living space for many bats. When it was late at night you could hear bats flying and making noises. In the hospital warehouse rats lay dead after eating different medicine not made for them. If the hospital weren’t a hospital, it could have been a zoo instead.
It all began 20 years ago, when an outbreak began. The sickness Julgaray 323, otherwise known as Jul, had spread over the entire city of Lodsonville and had affected almost every citizen imaginable. The small hospital just wasn’t enough to take care of the more than a thousand patients. In a matter of days everyone began opening houses and schools for aid, until the present day the school remained a hospital, the only one left.
After the year which killed hundreds, survivors left the hospital and moved as far as possible from the city with fear that the disease would come back for revenge. From old Mrs. Mcclusky to young John, everyone fled to different cities around the world looking for peace, except for one special woman. Her name? Josephine. Josephine Moriarty. Age 75.
As new people started coming into the town, Christmas changed, sports tournaments changed, everything changed except for Mrs. Moriarty. Since the day she got ill she stopped talking or moving, she seemed like some sort of creepy old statue. Sitting by the hospital window all day was her hobby, and it creeped most nurses out, therefore no one ever entered her room. She was the only reason the hospital hadn’t closed years ago like it was meant to. The rules stated: As long as there is a patient in the hospital, it may not be shut down.
If you looked at the hospital from the outside, it seemed abandoned, a big piece of concrete, just there, for no use whatsoever. It might have sounded rude, but the citizens of the town could not wait for Mrs. Moriarty’s death so that the building could be demolished and remain as part of the city’s past. Everyone was too scared to enter or even touch her; no one knew anything about her or about her past. There was something so mysterious about her, but no one was ever able to discover it.
All that the citizens wanted was to know what had kept a woman locked up for so many years how could she be living a life that was so empty? How did she spend night and day sitting by the window? No love, no laughs, no nothing, but she was still there every single day. It was like some mystery no detective could ever solve, or a disease no doctor could ever cure.
The cabinet that once held all the patients’ documents now was rusty and falling apart, barely holding itself together. As it was being opened you could hear loud creaks and cracks, as if it were haunted or something. There were no papers in the drawers except one, Mrs. Moriarty’s, but her folder was basically empty, unusual for hospital files. As if she never even got sick. It was as if she had bribed her way into the hospital with no actual reason to be there. Everything about her was so strange. What could have kept her here after all these years?
When your dad was the mayor of Lodsonville it was predictable that your house was more like a mansion. 12 bedrooms, 10 bathrooms, 3 kitchens, 4 living areas, 2 pools, 3 jacuzzis, that sort of thing. Anyone that rich was obviously living a fantastic life that everyone envied.
As Karlie made her way up the Starbucks line she kept thinking of what drink to get: Cool Lime Starbucks Refresher, Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuccino, Cinnamon Dolce Latte, Iced Caffè Mocha. The pick of the drink seemed like the hardest decision that no servant or butler took for her. It was the only time she really got to think for herself.
“I want a Golden Ginger Ale Fizzio,” said Karlie.
“A Fizzio?” replied the barista.
“Yes, a Fizzio.”
There were so many options in Starbucks, so many different types that would look so good in her Instagram feed, however Karlie chose otherwise.
“Why a different pick today?” asked Julia, her main maid.
At first, Karlie wanted to answer honestly. I hate that everything I do has to build a better image of myself. Yes, I may have long golden curls and my eyes may be water blue; yes, I may be tall and my body may be slim; yet I am just another girl in this world who likes guys and wants a normal life. I picked a different drink because maybe that will tell you that I don’t want to be the same as always, I want to be different!
“I just wanted to change it up,” she said instead.
Every night it was the same routine, she took off her Dior mascara, her Coco Chanel lipstick, and her Naked palette eyeshadow. Behind the flawless smile, eyes, and skin, lay a sad and lonely face. Karlie represented the quote: “Stressed, depressed, but well dressed.” She was able to hide herself in her Barbie-like figure, making everyone dream of having her life, while the truth was, that she was one of those that most suffered. Her life was hardly close to perfect. Her dad basically didn’t even know her name, and her mom was young and didn’t care about raising a child. The closest thing Karlie had to family was Julia, her maid.
Captain of the football team, 34 girlfriends, and an apartment of his own, what else could a teen boy ask for? Inside all the great things there was a feeling of emptiness as if there were a hole through his heart. It was the feeling of having so much that now it just felt like so little. Having your own chant might have been great, but when you knew that you didn’t have any real friends what you least wanted was cheerleaders screaming your name. The only thing that gave meaning to his life was to continue football, to continue kicking the ball, to continue running. Maybe later on his life would get better. Sports was the reason to continue trying.
“Party at my place tonight, bruh. You up for it?” Brad asked.
“Yeh, dude, I’d love that!” Derek responded. You could tell by his tone that the last thing he wanted was another party. He was tired, all he wanted was to be a nobody. He wanted to be the last person that people would ask advice from. He wanted to be the last person to be invited to a party. He wanted people to understand that he needed privacy. Maybe if he were a loser he would not have the stalkers or the lovers. He would have himself, and that was the best anyone could get.
The first thing you think about when you hear the name Hunter is a kid who loves riding ATVs and is some kind of a wild child. Hunter Rodgers was exactly that type of kid, coming back at 11 at night after riding around in the mud and basically risking his life everyday. Everytime he arrived he was happier than ever, as if rolling around in the mud and driving full speed was the only thing that actually made him happy.
“Well, you’re home late,” Mr. Rodgers remarked.
“I was out with Jerry. You know, that kid from school.” Hunter tried to hide the truth. He had been out the entire day alone. The company of others did not make him feel warm on the inside instead it made him feel pressured. Riding at night by the light of the moon and the company of the stars was the best he could get. The #1 best would have been to move to Mars, but that wasn’t a possibility, at least not for now. People were not his type; friends were what he less wished for; sometimes he didn’t even want to have a mom and dad who talked to him. Hunter knew that some things he could not get rid of and they would stand by him for most of his life. For that reason he accepted his dad’s love for him and tried to please him as much as possible.
He appreciated the hours that he was out alone because when he got home the last thing he expected to do was to be alone. Dad would always ask about the day and Mom would go to Hunter’s room to cover him up and give him a goodnight kiss, as if he were still a baby. All Hunter thought about was the next day, when he would go back out to the woods and ride, ride with no directions, freely. “Vroom” the ATV would go, showing that it was a new day and a new adventure for Hunter.
Simon’s room was full of all sorts of things. On the right side there were two desks. On it there was a laptop and by its side an HP desktop. If you were to log into the computers, a lot of video games would be open and, of course, a lot of hacking. On the other side of his room there were stacks of board games. On his bedside table lay his glasses.
Simon had always loved staying on the computer all day, however sometimes he needed friends. It was great, his geeky friends loved playing board games and hanging out with Simon. Yes, Simon loved who he was, but sometimes he wanted other people to like him. Why would girls not be his friend? He didn’t want to be a loser. He wanted people in his grade to at least know his name. He didn’t want to be a nobody.
The group was very exclusive and secretive. Their location changed every week. No one could know that four teens with totally different backgrounds and lifestyles were meeting up to discuss their “terrible” lives.
It had all began with Karlie. She noticed that she could not face her life alone and that maybe she needed others’ help if she wanted to beat her feelings. One by one they began “joining,” without even knowing what this group was going to do or even if it was going to help them personally, yet it was worth a try.
The first meetings began as a way to “meet” each other, since after all they had no clue who each person was. As the group continued there was this sort of connection, like an out of this world connection, that just brought them all together and actually allowed them to have fun. Since everyone was so unique in their own way, they never got tired of each other. As the meeting progressed their bond got stronger they knew when one person was feeling down or when the other was very excited. It was as if God had put them in this world so that one day they could meet.
Now, the meetings were more for having fun and playing around, but the day Karlie brought out the newspaper that she had found in her dad’s office, everything changed. How was it possible that the town was planning on closing down the hospital? The hospital that held the town’s past. Obviously, the kids did not know what hid in the hospital walls. For the group, the closing of the hospital meant more than just the destruction of an old building, it meant that their squad’s past would be disappearing, since their first and most important meeting was held in the hospital’s garden/jungle.
Their first thought was that they would all help stop the demolishment of the building, but quickly they noticed that four kids would get nothing out of it. The only thing left to do was to enjoy the days that were still left with the building. The plan was simple, each kid would pretend they were staying for a weekend at a school friend’s home, because their parents couldn’t know about the secret friends, and they would all together spend a weekend sleeping inside hospital grounds.
The four of them had their backpacks ready, they knew it was not going to be the normal sleepover. There would be no food, no beds, no showers–the kids would not have their basic needs fulfilled if they did not take action. Each individual took their own sleeping bag and a few snacks that could keep their stomachs somewhat full.
That night they all met up, Karlie, Derek, Hunter, and Simon ran toward the town dumpster where they would then all head to the hospital together.
The fence that surrounded the hospital garden was old and had various holes throughout it. The rust had made the chain link fence weak and easy to move and shape, therefore the kids went ahead and sneaked in through it. Hunter got stuck and ripped a hole in his shirt, but the kids were so happy to be all together that they just laughed. It had only been two months since the last time that they had been there, yet everything seemed so much older. It made sense why the town wanted to throw it down.
The glass doors were open, so they ran through the entrance and made their way up the stairs. They knew that the elevator was not safe to use. Past the first floor, boring, second floor, dirty, third floor, useless, fourth floor, jackpot. Unlike the other floors, the fourth floor was different, it looked like someone had actually taken the time to clean or try to keep it “alive.” The kids knew that no one had been there for years. No one came to do the cleaning. It was empty wasn’t it?
Simon proposed the idea of checking all the rooms to make sure that there was nothing spooky or scary that they did not know about. Room 401, first room on the right, nothing, just a sort of bed and a pillow, no stains. The room across from it was almost a replica except that on the table there was a knife–maybe for surgeries, maybe for cooking. The kids got it and decided that it would be a good idea to have some sort of protection; any wild animal could just walk through the door and attack them.
After a long school day they were all too tired to investigate and play around the halls. They decided it would be better to have a good night’s sleep and begin the adventures the following morning.
As the sun began to shine, around 7 a.m., the kids changed into their clothes for the day and put their sneakers on. They were ready for whatever was to come. One behind the other, they went down the stairs, as if they were spies, until they arrived to the boring floor: floor one. The first thing they saw was that all the curtains were open except one; it had been closed. They walked through the east corridor until they arrived to the closed curtain.
They stood there, around 30 minutes, just staring in awe. The fact that something could be hiding behind the curtains scared them. Not even one of them was able to build the courage to open up the cloth. The four of them agreed that if they all held the dirty blue hanging piece they could push it open. 1, 2, 3, it was open.
The first thing they saw was that it was the only area that had a private window. The view might not have been the best in the city, however there was some sort of beauty outside the window, some plants and a few buildings, nothing too much. On the far left of the room there was a vase with some flowers. They were new, watered. Someone had been taking care of them. Next to it was a small 4-by-4 picture frame holding an image of a woman with a small girl. The woman must have been around 34 and the daughter 13. They were dressed in old-fashioned clothing. This was a picture from the past, obviously not Instagram worthy. The room was small. In the middle lay a hospital bed with sheets, covers, and a pillow. Near the window was a rocking chair and on top of the chair cushion there was a pair of red reading glasses. Everything in the room was pretty basic. They stepped in to take a better look. The walls had been recently painted white, and the tiled floor sparkled. Hidden in the drawer of the table nearby was a knife.
The blade had been whetted just a while ago. The hilt was washed; perhaps there had been blood on it. The knife matched the one the kids had taken from the fourth floor hours earlier.
“That’s the knife we stole. What is it doing down here?” asked Karlie.
“Don’t be silly. It probably just looks like the one we have. I bet you if we go upstairs our knife will be in the exact same spot where we left it!” exclaimed Hunter.
“Why don’t we go up there and check?” questioned Simon.
“I think that’s the best idea,” concluded Derek nervously.
The four of them made their way up the stairs, scared that the knife would not be where they had left it. Their feet moved so that they could get all the way up, however they were stiff, stuck in one place. The last thing they wanted to see was the knife missing. After a few minutes going up the stairs, a time that felt like forever, the kids went to check.
It wasn’t inside Hunter’s backpack. It wasn’t under Karlie’s dress. It wasn’t on top of Derek’s football. Nor was it beside Simon’s board game. The weapon had “disappeared” and the only possible answer was that it was downstairs. They made their way back down to take their knife back.
The room had a new visitor. Rocking in the chair was a woman. Her hair was long, like Rapunzel’s. Each strand was black, with a few white ones mixed in, like stars against the night sky. She was wearing a red skirt that went to the floor and a white long-sleeve shirt, even though it was full-on summer. Looking from the back, the woman could be any age: 30, 40, or even 90. The kids were confused as to how a woman had appeared out of nowhere. They backed out of the room so they could talk.
“Who is she and what is she doing?” exclaimed Karlie.
“We know just as much as you do. No need to be scared,” replied Simon.
“I wonder if the citizens know this, if our parents know this,” continued Hunter.
“I have a feeling that they have been keeping it a secret from us,” said Derek.
“I’m frightened, but we need to get to know her if we want to learn something about her,” Karlie uttered.
They walked back into the room, scared but with each other’s company. As they made their way up to the rocking chair. They shivered. No one knew what to say or how to act. It was a new situation.
“Heee-llo-oo,” Simon murmured. He got no response. “Hello-o.” His voice got stronger. Still no response. “Hello.” Solid voice. Nothing.
Simon had gained courage. He was now ready to tap her on the shoulder. As he was lowering his hand all his bravery was gone, he couldn’t do it. That was when the three friends went near him and stood by his side. They knew that they would help him bring his confidence back.
Simon tapped her once, then twice, then thrice. She didn’t move an inch. Was she a rock statue? Impossible, she hadn’t been there when they had gone earlier. They decided it was better to give her some time. Maybe the next day she would be willing to talk to them.
As they made their way upstairs, it was silent. No one said a word. Karlie, Derek, Simon, and Hunter lay in their sleeping bags. One by one, they went falling asleep, except Karlie. Karlie was still stuck in the past. She couldn’t stop thinking about the event that had occurred hours before. Why had this woman simply ignored them? She was not satisfied with the answer, “I don’t know.” Everyone was asleep; perfect chance for Karlie to go downstairs and find out the real truth.
The woman sat in the same spot. Rocking. Not asleep. Karlie was frightened by the mystery but she couldn’t handle not knowing what was behind it.
“Hi,” Karlie mumbled. She assumed that her voice was too soft. “Hi.”
“Linda?!” Mrs. Moriarty turned around.
“I knew that the hospital had faked your death. I am so glad I can finally say I have a daughter.”
What did she mean by daughter? Something was wrong with Mrs. Moriarty. What such thing could have left her that way. Karlie looked confused. “What are you saying? I am not your daughter.”
“Linda, let me tell you a story. Sit down, please. Years ago I was pregnant. No, not in this hospital, in the other town’s hospital. I gave birth the day of the outbreak. The hospital was such a mess that they simply confused my daughter, Linda, you, and took you/her to the school, which we are in at this very moment.”
“I’m very sorry to interrupt, yet I need to tell you that I am not your daughter.”
Mrs. Moriarty simply ignored Karlie and continued. “After my pain had gone away I asked to get a transfer. When I arrived here, I was delighted. The hospital was beautiful. Clean and in order. I waited on my hospital bed, the one you are sitting on, until the first doctor came in. My smile turned into a frown. I was told that she/you had passed to a better place, but I knew that it had not been a better place.”
“What are you trying to get at?”
“In my heart I always knew my daughter had not died, that one day she would come back to me.”
“You have been mistaken. My mom is Jasmine Lush. I’m not Linda. You’re just plain old crazy. I’m leaving.”
Karlie was shocked with the question. Why did this woman care that she was Lush? She left without answering.
Karlie ran up the stairs, trying not to make any noise. Nothing could go perfectly as planned. She tripped and made a loud bang. The boys woke up, terrified.
“What is that?!” Hunter exclaimed
“Karlie!!!! Where are you?” Derek shouted.
“Oww. I just fell, not much,” Karlie explained.
“Are you okay? You better be,” Hunter stated.
Simon finally woke up. “What were you doing at”–he checks his watch–“3 a.m?”
“I was just ummm…”
“Just tell us already!” Derek yelled.
“Please don’t shout. I was just in the bathroom.” Karlie smiled
“Stop lying, I know it’s not true.” Derek rolled his eyes. “I will leave it for now, but tomorrow in the morning I want to know.” He was too tired to think at that moment.
Karlie felt relieved. She would have time to think of a new excuse. Thoughts possessed her, they did not want her to sleep. Karlie thought, I have a mom don’t I? Why is this creepy woman saying that I am her daughter? Should I tell the guys? Do I talk to her again? Her brain was full of questions. After a long while she fell asleep, scared.
“What’s wrong with her?” questioned Derek.
“She seems nervous.” Hunter touched her. “Wow, she’s sweaty. I wonder why she is so nervous.”
“Ahh!!!” Karlie woke up. Her heart was jumping as she breathed heavily.
“What’s wrong?” Simon asked.
Her head was telling her to keep it a secret, but her heart was insisting on telling her friends the truth. She spilled it all out. “Last night I went to talk to Mrs. Moriarty. She thinks I’m her daughter. That’s the only reason she answered me.”
“Her daughter?” Simon looked confused.
“Yeh! When I told her my last name, she reacted. I have this weird feeling that she knows me.”
“I think we need to figure this out.” Hunter rolled his eyes.
“No. I am not going down there. Never,” Karlie replied.
“We will be there with you this time.” Derek put his hand on her shoulder.
They had no time to lose. It was already Sunday and soon they would have to leave. The guys forced her downstairs, pulling her by the arms until they arrived to the room.
“Mrs. Moriarty, I am back.” Karlie stood still. She wanted nothing from this woman.
“Oh, great. I really needed to end what I started yesterday.” She seemed to be excited that Karlie was back.
“Actually, I just came to tell you that I don’t want to be involved in any of your drama. I am not your daughter, it ends here.”
“Sweetie, don’t leave. Yes, certainly you are not Linda. I am sorry that I had to involve you in all that drama.” Mrs. Moriarty seemed to be sorry that she had mistaken Karlie for Linda.
“Thanks, but I really need to go. I am done here.”
“Last thing, my name’s Josephine Moriarty Lush.”
Karlie started to walk away She turned around. “What did you say?”
“Josephine Moriarty Lush.”
“Stop lying. Just let me leave.” Karlie began running away. Tears fell from her eyes. As she ran, the boys stopped her.
“Don’t leave just yet. I know you’re scared. I know you don’t want this. But I also know that you should clean up and go back there to listen to her. She might have something important to tell you.” Derek always knew what to say.
Karlie agreed. She went to the bathroom and fixed herself up. She tried to stay strong and went back to talk with Mrs. Moriarty. As Karlie entered the room, the woman could feel her presence.
“Will you stay this time?”
“I’ll try.” Karlie could barely talk, she had forgotten most words.
“My dad was John Moriarty. Can you guess who my mom was?”
“I’m not here for fun and games.”
“Well, okay then. My mom was Lucinda. Lucinda Lush. Recognize her?”
Karlie gasped. “Gram?”
“Mom,” replied Mrs. Moriarty.
“Gram Lu is your mom?”
In the meantime, the boys were in the hallway trying to listen to what Mrs. Moriarty and Karlie were talking about. It was really confusing. The ladies continued.
“Stop lying. I am nobody to you.”
“Can you just listen for a second? My mom, Lucinda, had me as a young woman, only 16. She put me in a foster home because she believed she was too young to take care of me. It was years before anyone adopted me. I lived a miserable life. My days in the foster home were boring. I had so much spare time that I even found out my mom’s name. I knew nothing about her. All I knew was that she didn’t want me. I can’t remember exactly how I ended up with the picture, but I got a picture of my mom and a picture of me and made a collage. I still have it till this day.
“My experience was terrible. I dreamed of the day I would have my own daughter and make her live a perfect life. When Linda was born, I loved her unconditionally. No one could take her away from me.”
“Yes, she passed, but I had this feeling that it was all a lie.”
“So you waited for her here. In this exact spot for her to find you.”
“I have waited for so long that I have forgotten the outside world. After seeing you, I understood that I still have family, even if they hate me.”
“I don’t hate you.”
“You don’t need to lie.”
“I’m not lying. But hey, how do you know i’m your niece?”
“The first thing I thought about when you said Lush was that you were my sister, however you were too young. Then, I thought that my mom had had another daughter that I had never known about. It turns out I was right. I am glad to say that now I have a neice.”
Karlie started crying. She looked like a waterfall. She had hated Mrs. Moriarty since the minute she had met her, now she just felt like she could not hate her. Karlie understood her past and thought that Mrs. Moriarty just needed some love. She ran up to the rocking chair and gave her a big hug. Her aunt returned a bigger hug.
“I want you in my life,” Karlie said while she sobbed.
“I want you in mine,” Auntie Moriarty responded. She smiled for the first time since after Linda was born.
As they moved apart from each other, a tear could be seen sliding down Mrs. Moriarty face. After a life of suffering, now, there was a reason to live.