by Gary Scroggins
Adler Pipet started his morning with the
usual routine. After slipping on his favorite Hawaiian shirt, the one with orange flowers and double chest pockets, he would
have two slices of toast. The toast had to be set on number three for just the right “doneness”. He then poured
a cup of black coffee and read the newspaper. He had been told years ago that “routine” was the way for him to
cope with the everyday stresses of life. He had actually come to enjoy his routine. He was thumbing through the paper while
he ate his toast. Turning to the last page, he folded the paper in half. He then spoke out loud, although he was alone except
for voices that had been quiet in his head for years.
“Time for Jesus!”
He then opened the kitchen cabinet up and
looked at the array of medications including one powerful psychotropic drug. That pill was to keep the voices down in his
head. The voices was more like a choir, and he was amazed that the little blue tablet could keep them all so relaxed and quiet.
However, one of the side effects was migraine headaches. That led him to the next amber colored bottle on the shelf. This
would cause him to retain water so he had to take a diuretic. Each perscription played a role to fight off each others side
effects, just for this psychotropic pill to work its magic.
He had gotten quite good at taking all of
them in one hand, throwing them in his mouth and washing them down with a now cooled off cup of coffee. With all the pills
in hand, and just about to pop them all in his mouth like a handful of peanuts, he looked at the newspaper which read: Athens
State Hospital to Be Demolished.
Alder jumped when he saw that part of the
paper and dropped all of the pills onto the counter. He stopped reading to pick the pills up and throw them down with coffee.
Then he continued to read. The Athens State Mental Hospital which had been abandoned for twenty years was going to be demolished
and make way for a purposed Super Mart. The article went on to say there was some opposition to the demolition because the
facilities cemetery that was located on the grounds. Proponents of the demolition made promises to relocate all of the dead
to a local cemetery, also adding that there were no names on the markers, merely, # 145, 157, 211, making location of living
relatives almost impossible.
Adler’s mind raced back to a different
time. Nurse Angel was handing him his handful of pills that he still takes to this day.
“Addie, these are going to be your
savior, they will get you out of here someday,” the nurse quietly assured.
“My Savior? Then these pills are my
Jesus and you must be my Nurse Angel.”
“Well then Addie, it’s time
for Jesus, now swallow them all!”
Nurse Angel was really Nurse Standiford,
but it was always customary for the patients to name the employees, names that they could easily remember. Dr. Drummond was
called Dr. Druggem since that was all the care he really performed. Dr. Taulker was known as Dr. Shocker, because he was in
charge of the electrotherapy area. And Nurse Peele was named Nurse Feel, because every male patient wanted to do just that.
But it was Nurse Angel that had taught him
about Jesus and also told him he would get out someday.
Twenty years had passed since Adler was
released. He had lived on his own for most of those years. After the hospital closed, the State made sure he was taken care
Suddenly and without warning he heard a
whisper, it was a whisper that he hadn’t heard in years and yet it seemed like an old friend.
“You ought to go back and visit, Addie.”
And then it was silent. One lone voice in
his head that he hadn’t heard in what seemed like a lifetime ago, telling him to go back. And then he heard another
“You really should, there wouldn’t
be any harm in it. Just exorcising any demons that might be left.”
Then two more voices spoke louder in his
“It wouldn’t hurt a thing! Might
do us all good.”
“Yeah Addie, fun to see the old haunt.”
Alder quickly dismissed the voices in his
head. Silent again. He didn’t see any harm in just stopping to look at the place, pay his last respects to the dead
in the cemetery. Being committed for most of his early adulthood did have it’s horrific times but it also provided some
humorous ones as well. Like the time of the food fight in the cafeteria. Took the staff two days to clean up after that brawl.
How about the time with Dr. Shocker, one of the patients wired up Shockers chair so when he zapped the patient, he got zapped
in the ass!
The taxi pulled up in front of Athens State
Hospital. Adler was never permitted to drive and had never gotten a drivers license. He paid the driver, and the driver asked
if he should wait for him. Adler assured him that he could walk the mile or so to his apartment and that he would be fine.
Adler found himself standing at the main
entrance. He read the inscription, “ATHENS STATE HOSPITAL 1887” and as he read it, chills went down his spine.
He looked at all of the windows. None of the windows were boarded up. The wire mesh over them preventing anyone from getting
in; or in the day of the hospital, prevented them from getting out. The windows had all been broken out by rowdy teenagers
or drug addicts but the mesh held strong.
Adler couldn’t help but look curiously
at the front door. It was ajar. He was prepared for the doors to be chained shut or at least locked, but not ajar. He walked
up and looked inside. A darkened hallway, paint peeling off the walls as if they had been terribly sunburned and were starting
to peel. He noticed the smell of putrid stale water that had leaked in over the years, probably mold as well.
He stepped inside. The view wasn’t
remotely familiar with all of the paint peeling. The decorations, what little were there, gone, and that smell. Nothing looked
the same. Part of the ceiling had collapsed and was lying at an angle on the floor.
It was then he heard the dull roar of the
voices that had been inside his head. He couldn’t make them out, but he was sure they were glad he was there. He walked
on past the ceiling and saw the empty nurse’s station. The stench there was unbelievable as if something had died there
and was rotting.
He looked down the long hallway. There it
led to his ward.
“Let’s check out the old room,
Addie!” A voice cheered playfully.
“For old times sake!” Cried
“Yeeehoooo let’s go!”
Adler started walking down the hallway,
when he heard a familiar SLAM. He had heard that for many years. It was the sound of the front doors slamming. Every time
someone would come in those doors, SLAM. Every time someone would leave, SLAM. He went back down the hall and turned only
to see the door now was completely shut.
He started walking towards the door, when
he saw a ghostly figure, dressed in black pants and a long white overcoat come out of one of the rooms and turn and look directly
“Welcome back, Mr. Pipet.” The
voice said in a low growl.
Alder saw the face and knew oh to well it
was Dr. Drugg-em.
“We’ll have a group session
in the morning; can we count on you being there?”
“DON’T agree to it! Don’t
do it!” The voices commanded.
“Uh, Sure I’ll be there.”
“OH GOD you shouldn’t have done
that, now we’re in trouble!”
“Fantastic, Mr. Pipet” Dr. Drummond
With that the ghostly figure walked across
the hall, still looking at Adler and walked right through the wall.
“I’ve got to get out of here,”
Adler whispered outloud, hoping the voices in his head could hear him.
He started walking briskly through the trash
and paint chips towards the door. Every step that he took the hallway was getting longer. He could see the doors getting smaller
away from him instead of larger. He hadn’t even made it to the point that Drugg-em walked through the wall.
Alder turned around, looking back down the
hallway at the nurse’s station; the paint hanging off the walls like burnt flesh hangs on a charred body. He was having
trouble breathing. Instantly he felt claustrophobic. He wanted to go back to his old room.
He ran down past the nurse’s station,
down the hall towards his room. Halfway down the hallway, he felt a cold chill grip his body. The temperature felt like it
dropped forty degrees. The hair on the back of his neck stood up and then he heard a voice he had never heard before.
“Hello Addie.” The voice behind
Alder stopped in mid stride and turned slowly
to see what ghost he would be facing. There he saw another doctor. Long white coat. Stethoscope around his neck. Something
was wrong with this doctor, something with his eyes, this doctor had no eyes. There were just sockets and nothing else.
“I don’t believe we’ve
met, Sir” Adler said respectfully almost as if politeness would get him out of there.
“I’m Dr. Lector; the voice hissed
again, Dr. C. O. Lector.”
“You must have been here before I
was Sir.” Adler asked hesitantly.
“I’ve ALWAYS been here!”
“Ask him what the hell he wants with
“Yeah ask him! It ain’t good
that’s for sure.”
The ghost looked at Adler as if studying
him and then spoke again.
“Your friends call me The Collector,”
and with good reason, I’m here to collect souls.”
“Everyone that has ever been here
will come back and I will collect their souls and take them to Hell where they belong!”
Adler shook his head from side to side not
wanting to believe, wanting the apparition to go away. He turned and kept running towards his room.
“That’s the first place he’ll
look!” One voice shouted in his head.
“You’ve got to be more clever,
you know where to hide!” Another voice screamed.
Adler knew where he could go. He turned
back around to see Dr. Lector standing there, just watching him, but the walls all around him seemed alive. The paint was
falling off the walls. The walls were changing, perhaps the building was changing.
He quickly turned down a side hallway that
led to the electroshock therapy room. He knew where to go. Once when he had broken some of the “house rules”,
he went into the electroshock room and hid in a storage locker there. No one found him for hours.
Alder threw open the door and went inside.
There in front of him was the table, the chair that Dr. Shocker sat in, right there by the table. He looked around the room
quickly; some of the electrodes were still there. Then still in the corner, Adler saw the storage locker, just as it was all
those years ago.
“YOU CAN’T HIDE MR. PIPET!”
screamed a voice inside the building. It had to have been Dr. Lector.
Adler opened the storage locker up to find
it was empty. He looked inside remembering the time they were going outside to plant flowers. It was a lovely spring day but
he didn’t want to go. They couldn’t make him. So he slid into the storage closet, worked the door shut and stayed
there. A half smile came over Adler’s face, that was one of the times that was terrifying and so rewarding when he actually
won. Or at least he won for a bit until they found him and put him in isolation for a week. At least he didn’t have
to plant flowers.
Suddenly the room started to shake. It was
the entire hospital. Paint was falling from the walls; the ceiling was coming down in flat slabs now.
“ADLER!!!” the sinister voice
screamed. It roared through Adler’s head, drowning out the terrified voices that were trying to keep him from harm.
Quickly he got into the storage closet,
turning around, he worked the slide bar that kept the closet doors shut.
“Just like old times,” one of
the voices chimed.
“You fooled him, by God,” another
Adler felt the building and the closet shake
again, and again hearing the ghostly Dr. Lector scream.
“Mr. ADLER! Join me in HELL, PLEASE!
HA HA HA HAHA.”
He was now in the dark closet whimpering.
Shaking from the cold like a puppy that had been left out in the rain. The voices in his head now were talking so fast he
couldn’t make a single one out.
And then what Adler had feared worst of
all. Light was shining in through the vents in the door and he could see that the slide bar was slowly moving. Lector was
opening the door!
Adler held his breath. Sweat from fear dripping
off the end of his nose. Even the voices inside his head knew to be quiet.
Oh how he wanted to reach out and stop the
slide bar from moving, but he was paralyzed with fear. The same fear that one would have in isolation. Paralyzed with such
fear that after a week, the staff finds you on the floor in the same position you were in when they closed the door. Horrific,
The slide bar slid the last quarter of an
inch.The doors we now unlocked. Adler didn’t have time to close his eyes, as the doors flew open. Adler started to scream
And then he saw it. The most beautiful sight
he had ever seen in his life. There was a vaporous Nurse Standiford in front of him, smiling.
“Nurse Angel.” Adler whispered.
“Addie, listen to me carefully. You
don’t belong here. I can help you get out, but you have to help ,too. Remember when I told you your medication would
be your savior?”
“YES YES, I can’t forget that
day, time for Jesus!” Adler said excitedly.
“Addie, I told you the pills will
get you out of here someday, you remember?”
“OH YES Nurse Angel, I remember.”
“Everyone got out of here when they
closed the hospital; I was telling you that the pills would get you out of here TODAY.”
“I TOOK MY PILLS,” Adler said
like a child being punished.
Adler folded his arms across his chest as
if he were pouting or not wanting to hear what Nurse Standiford was telling him.
“You’ll have to run to the door
“I couldn’t get to the door
Nurse Angel, I tried!” Adler cried in protest.
“Run to the door, Addie, I’ll
make sure no one gets you.”
With that, the ghostly Nurse Standiford
reached out and touched Adler cheek. He could only feel her warmth, he didn’t feel her skin.
It was then he felt something. His arms
folded across his shirt. Something small, hard. He reached in his oversized breast pocket and pulled out a small blue pill.
The pill that keeps all the voices quiet.
His mind flashed back to this morning when
he dropped the pills on the counter. The one must have almost been in his mouth and dropped instead into his shirt pocket.
Alder popped the pill into his mouth and
swallowed hard, and then Nurse Standiford began to glide away from the closet.
“GOOD boy Addie, Nurse Standiford
said, you were always my favorite.”
Adler stood there for what seemed an eternity,
and then he heard the nurse scream, “NOW GO! TO THE DOOR!”
The building began to shake harder, the
ceiling starting to buckle. All of Hell’s fury was in this building.
Adler walked out of the therapy room, and
stared down the hallway. He waited for voices to tell him what to do, but they were quickly being quieted by the drug. He
hated to see them go, as they had protected him all this time.
“THERE YOU ARE MR. ADLER” the
demonic voice boomed.
With that Adler started running down the
hall. The walls shifting, paint chips flying, it was almost impossible to keep standing, let alone running.
Alder saw in front of him a large crack
in the floor forming, spreading wide. Adler jumped across the crack and kept going for the door.
Just as he was about to get to the door
he heard another voice, a female voice, booming angrily.
“YOU can’t have HIM! NEVER!!!!
Adler turned around and saw Nurse Angel
blocking the hallway, arms outstretched as wings. He could see through her and see Lector on the other side. Only now the
dark holes for eyes were burning red.
Adler slammed through the front doors. Stumbling,
he fell to the ground, the sunlight blinding him.
Suddenly there was a huge explosion as the
roof blew off of the hospital.
“NOOOOOOO” A thunderous voice
A voice so loud, the remaining walls of
the hospital started to collapse in on itself.
And then there was deafening silence.
Adler sat upright looking at the collapsed
wreckage. The voices gone, the choir in his head silent. He had escaped.
Adler got up and brushed his pants off and
tried to get the dirt off of his Hawaiian shirt. God, he hated to be dirty. “This may be an exception,” he thought.
He felt pain going thru his leg, as if he
had sprained his ankle from the fall.
He knew it was a short walk home and he
started limping down the road back to his apartment. Occasionally he would look back to see the ruins, dust still pluming
from the center of the building.
“Thank you Nurse Angel.” Adler
whispered under his breath.
His mind went back to an earlier day, when
he was in the hospital chapel, where he would go on Sundays. He always sat up front so he couldn’t be distracted. Sundays
were good times at the hospital, perhaps some of the only good times.
Adler remembers what the minister was talking
about one Sunday when he was talking about angels and how we all have a guardian angel. Nurse Angel certainly was his guardian
angel. Or did Jesus save him? Adler would ponder those questions all the way home and for some time after.
Psalm 91:11-12 says, "For He shall give
His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against
Copyright Gary Scroggins 2005