Max Theodore pushed past the boisterous throng of laughing kids and settled down at his usual table. Max’s best friend, Isabella, bounded over to him with her typical energy.
“Max!” she greeted, hugging him as if she hadn’t seen him in days. “You won’t believe what I was able to find last night!” Max grinned and shook his head. Isabella had a reputation as a paranormal fanatic. On Saturday night she could be found in her home watching black and white horror films while eating buttered popcorn. Each year, she would drag Max and their other two friends, Henry and Renee, to the Oakfield’s Halloween Festival. Isabella had gone to the festival ever since she could walk and each year the booths were the exact same, but she couldn’t stop going.
Everyone always shared her enthusiasm except for Renee, Max’s adopted sister. Renee was always petrified of ghouls, vampires, or anything supernatural. Despite this, she still went because she never wanted to be the one left behind.
Max took a bite of his peanut butter sandwich as Renee and Henry arrived, holding hands. His thoughts drifted back to Renee. Some of his classmates at his school, Oakfield Junior High, would complain about having to hang out with their siblings. Max didn’t mind because it allowed him to watch over his sister and protect her from the bullies that preyed on her skittishness. His sister wasn’t bad company either; she wasn’t the type of girl to spend her weekly allowance in malls.
“Good,” Isabella said, pushing a printed article across the table to Henry. “You two are finally here. As I was saying, I was on my computer last night when I stumbled upon this article about the Oakfield Insane Asylum that was abandoned sometime after World War II. This place has had thousands of deaths and people who have been inside have gone missing or died.” Without stopping to take a breath, she declared, “We have to go inside!” During Isabella’s proposal, Max noticed his younger sister’s face turn white.
Henry took a quick scan of the paper, peering over his wire rimmed glasses. “Is this what you were so excited about last night? I thought Halloween was over.”
Isabella rolled her startling blue eyes at him and crossed her arms over her chest. “Just because Halloween is over does not mean we have to stop celebrating.” Renee bit the inside of her cheek apprehensively.
“Come on guys,” Isabella whined, “we have to go! I already made plans for Saturday.” “Saturday?” Renee stammered. “That’s tomorrow.”
Ignoring Renee’s voice of reason, she stood up. Without the consent of anyone, she
stated, “Tomorrow we meet on Crystalline Avenue at ten o’ clock. Bring flashlights and jackets.” The next night, Max pedaled to the street where they would all meet. He was exhilarated; it was impossible not to catch Isabella’s enthusiasm. It was also a beautiful evening, with a full moon and winking stars. Max took a deep breath of the fresh air.
Even though he was late leaving his house, Max was still able to beat everyone to the street. Max had a feeling Renee would not be joining them. When he had wheeled his bike out of the garage, she was claiming to have a hard time finding the right outfit. Max had known that Renee was not a meticulous person, but he still kept his mouth shut. He didn’t want to push his easily scared sister into doing something she didn’t want to do. She already did a fantastic job by going with them to the Halloween Festival each year.
Six minutes later according to Max’s silver watch, Isabella rode up on her own ten speed. In seconds, she was on the gravel road and talking at twenty miles per hour how she couldn’t wait to get into the asylum.
Max, however, had a tickling feeling at the back of his mind. “Isabella, don’t you think it’s strange that the town we’ve lived in for our entire life had an asylum we didn’t know about? We’ve ridden down this streets multiple times and never saw anything.”
“All small towns have dirty secrets they don’t want people to know, especially kids like us,” she pointed out, brushing his worries away. Henry arrived extremely late, but Renee never made an appearance. This worried Max more because if Renee didn’t do something, it was usually ended badly.
While riding to the asylum, nobody spoke. The atmosphere has changed dramatically, making the night turn from relaxing to ominous. The only sound was the wind howling and their tires making a crunch as their rode along. Even bubbly Isabella couldn’t find anything to release the heavy tension. If she were truthful with herself, a small part of her wanted to go home and cuddle with her black cat.
When they arrived at the asylum, it was clear that it had been there for at least half of a century. The brick walls were crumbling and the windows were coated in a grime that looked similar to mucus. The building also had a human appearance to it. The wood doors flapped in the wind, beckoning them to draw closer and the building loomed over them with a menace that was unworldly.
“Come on you two!” Isabella said, leaving her bike lying on the street. She walked in as confidently as she could without her knees trembling and the darkness soon enveloped her entirely.
Inside, she was having a hard time seeing where she was stepping. The rubber soles of her neon orange sneakers kept sticking to the dusty tile, making weird suction noises. She saw a dark, crooked figure out of the corner of her eye, but when she turned to get a full look at it, she saw nothing.
“Probably just nerves,” she said to the empty hallway. Then something strong, stronger than anyone Isabella ever knew dragged her into one of the rooms. An invisible force strapped her to the chair and she saw a pair of incisors float into the air, positioned above her stomach.
While this was happening, Max and Henry were reluctantly getting off their bikes. “I don’t like the look of this,” Henry admitted quietly as he leaned his own bike against a gnarled tree. Max nodded at him, too scared to speak. They both jumped a few feet in the air when a scream that sounded like Isabella filled the air. It sounded like she was being tortured and maimed.
Just as the scream was cut off, Isabella walked out lethargically and limping on one ankle. It wasn’t Isabella, not really. Her blue eyes were dimmed and lacked the happiness they always carried. When the malevolent opposite of her pulled a gleaming knife from behind her back with a crazy smile on her face, Max and Henry’s blood ran cold. Then both screamed and leaped onto their bikes. When Max dared to look behind him, he saw something that scared him even more than if the monster were actually chasing them. Isabella was standing there with her sadistic smile and waving the knife back and forth, making the stained blade catch the moonlight. It was almost like the knife was winking at him, promising to find him, not now, but later.
When questioned a week later about the mysterious disappearance of Isabella Williams, nobody confessed to what happened. The case was closed after a month and the town assumed she ran away.
When Max and Henry informed Renee what happened that night, she sobbed, placing the guilt on her shoulders. She knew something was off about the trip and instead of stopping Isabella, she held back. Two weeks later she was diagnosed with depression and a week after that, she killed herself by swallowing the antidepressant pills. After the suicide of his girlfriend, Henry stopped talking. Never did he utter another word except a scream when he dreamt about that terrifying night in November.
Max died two years later under strange circumstances. It was assumed he was murdered, but the evidence was incompatible. The DNA found under Max’s fingernails matched Isabella’s. The police decided it was a mistake since the girl had been missing for two years.
The demonic Isabella Williams still roams the inside of the building, looking for the next victims of the asylum. Those hungry blue eyes watch everyone from the doors of the old mental institution, waiting.