Release Date: April 19, 2016
They called it the murder tree.
In 1995, twenty kids went in to the woods. Only three came back.
There are monsters in the woods.
Twenty years later, what happened is still a mystery.
The monsters are back.
Now, the town of Silk faces its greatest threat in over two hundred years. No one is safe.
Not even the monsters.
Most older cities have at least one haunted building that really puts them on the map, at least in a paranormal way. Being in the south, you would think my city’s claim to fame would be an antebellum home or maybe a story involving a co-ed (since we’re in a college town). No—our most haunted and, quite frankly, terrifying space was a former tuberculosis hospital and insane asylum.
Sunland was first opened as a tuberculosis hospital around the turn of the century, although hospital is something of an overstatement. Sunland really acted as more of a hospice, since there was no cure for tuberculosis. Numbers of patients died there, including children. So, despite the name, not really a happy, sunny place. After a cure for the disease was discovered, the hospital shuttered its doors until the late 1960s, when it was reopened as an asylum for the mentally ill and handicapped.
Almost from the beginning, there were reports of abuse and mistreatment of patients. Sunland was actually the first hospital in Florida to use electroshock therapy. There were rumors of a hole—much like an obielette—where disruptive patients would be sent until they became cooperative. More than one person died in the hospital’s walls. When the hospital finally closed in 1983, all the patients were transferred to other instiutions or group homes.
Well—all the living ones.
The building fell in to disrepair and by the time I was a teenager, it was a favorite stomping ground for rebellious or adventurous kids. Since I was neither, I never went inside. I was perfectly content to take pictures from a distance, partially because I didn’t want to be arrested for trespassing or develop health problems from the asbestos but also because I had no desire to come face to face with any of the spirits roaming the halls.
One of the most often reported experiences was of hearing children laughing and playing—usually with toys that visitors brought them. Rubber balls, windup toys, action figures—if you were willing to risk the crumbling stairs and lethal mold, you could watch dark, disembodied shapes play with them. You could hear them laugh, a sound which was probably an oddity in the hospital when it was in use.
But if the children stopped playing, stopped laughing, it was time to leave—because the “bad ones” were coming.
It’s not surprising there would be angry spirits in a place where there was so much death and abuse. Still, I don’t remember a single person thinking it was cool to have a gurney thrown at them—which happened to at least two different people who I knew but who didn’t know each other. And if you made the mistake of venturing outside the children’s ward and in to parts of the hospital where the more violent patients would have been housed… well. Things went from not great to downright horrible.
Sunland/Sunnyland (which is how the locals always referred to it) was finally torn down in 2006. Where it used to stand is a very nice, very expensive apartment complex. I’m not saying those apartments are haunted—but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were.
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L.M. Pruitt has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember. A native of Florida with a love of New Orleans, she has the uncanny ability to find humor in most things and would probably kill a plastic plant. She knows this because she's killed bamboo. Twice. She is the author of the Winged series, the Plaisir Coupable series, Jude Magdalyn series, the Moon Rising series, and Taken: A Frankie Post Novel.
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