Vacant New Jersey

Photostream » March 2018 » Westborough State Hospital

Skinned Knee

A rectangular chunk of plaster ceiling dangles limp like a slice of thick bloodied skin ripped from ones knee upon being ejected off a bicycle after violently sliding to an asphalt covered stop. Asbestos tiles obscuring random rotted out holes within the wooden floor below crack like thin ice beneath the weight of my body as I traverse my way deeper into the ancient asylum. The entire hallway wreaks from a combination of mildew, rotting wood, and dirt. It's a thick musky stench which permeates the air, originating from the moist bowels of the basement below, fumigating up through the numerous holes in the floor like a foul burp from the depths of ones esophagus. It's an ancient smell, the type of scent that reminds me I'm into something old; yet a scent not so much terrible as it is terrifying. Like an open casket funeral, it smells like death yet seems so alive.

Ahead, I can clearly see that the floor sags significantly toward the center and like stepping on a wet mattress, with each step forward I can feel my feet sinking deeper into the warped wood, so saturated with water and rot, it nearly takes on an elastic characteristic, springing back up into place as I take another step forward. I try to tip-toe toward the side of the hallway, where the floor meets the wall, however holes in the floor boards are plentiful here. Long, wide open fissures between the floor beams reveal a daunting peek into the dark basement fifteen feet below, a darkened void that I'd certainly fall directly into if the wooden beams beneath my feet were to suddenly give way. The basement like a black hole seems to be sucking everything left to rot within the old asylum, down toward it. Desks, chairs, wheelchairs, gurneys, they all slide toward the center of the sagging floor where massive rusty steam pipes bandaged with asbestos insulation, sagging like sweaty tits on an obese old man expose themselves between the holes in the floor. The jagged and bent steam pipes grin like metal teeth waiting for that one wrong step and trip to send me falling into their clasp to devour, like the fallen furniture before me.

A flimsy iron morgue tray lay around the bend just ahead of me, strategically placed and serving as a rickety bridge connecting the gap between a large collapse too wide to traverse otherwise. As I place the weight of my right foot on the edge of the tray, the thin sheet metal immediately bows inward followed by a loud yet hollow sounding "BOOM" which reverberates down the vacant hallway. Muddied asbestos and wet plaster laden footprints from explorers past tarnish the tray and clearly prove that this is the way. Placing my left foot forward I am now completely balancing my entire body on a morgue tray covering a black hole collapse large enough to swallow me whole. As I shine my flashlight into the darkness beneath I am greeted by the sight of a million cave crickets lining the century old stone walls within the basement. The beam from my light sends them scattering and jumping every-which-way, making it seem as if the walls are moving in. I can hear their mouse size abdomens rain down about the debris littering the basement below, like hail they crash into the cement basement floor while continuing to jump arbitrarily.

A few of the largest mother fuckers even managed to jump high enough up to smash against the bottom of the morgue tray I am balancing about. And in that same moment the mother of all cave crickets somehow preformed a move straight out of American Ninja Warrior and was now perched with its hind legs wound up, directly on the morgue tray with me. Goosebumps shot through my body and I was nearly paralyzed by fear. We both looked at each other. I watched as the fucker's antennas tested the air. My eyes fixed on its alien like hind legs taunt like rubber bands, just waiting to pounce at my face. Slowly I inched forward and in doing so the morgue tray creaks and bends slightly as I painstakingly begin to walk across to the other size. It is in this moment that death seems of necessity, for the alternative is a cave cricket bath, an outcome far, far worse.