Caution: Quills may be sharp Circulation: 188,914,574 Issue: 538 | 30th day of Running, Y14
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A Withering Note


by kaddiez

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"Do you think it's really a good idea to open up a practice here?"

     Edward Danton, a stout orange Wocky, had made his way through the thickets of Haunted Woods to accompany his old friend. He was assured that there would be a perfect business prospect waiting at the end of the journey, but looking upon a dingy, old building, Edward thought that it would be in their worst interests to try to start a hospital inside its walls.

     "Nonsense, Edward!" Leo waved him off. "This place will be perfect."

     Maybe they weren't seeing the same things, Edward thought. That could be the only way Leo would think that this would be a good idea. Someone that was a brilliant doctor couldn't be so short on common sense and basic eyesight.

     "It's about time someone put this place to good use and us being the professionals we are, who better to do it than ourselves?" Leo continued.

     He walked closer to the rundown building, examining the wearing bricks and rotting door.

     "I'm not even a doctor, Leo!" Edward complained.

     The Gelert shook his head, as if it was the most obvious thing. "Do you think I'm a moron, Edward? Of course you're not a doctor, but running a hospital isn't all about treating the patients and medicine. There are business matters that need to be attended to. Paying the bills, dealing with taxes, naturally you'll be taking care of those things."

     Edward sighed. "Right, as your business partner, I highly advise against starting anything in this building, especially a hospital! For Fyora's sake, this is a haunted asylum!"

     "Don't tell me you actually believe in that stuff, Edward?" Leo chuckled. "I thought you outgrew those childish worries of yours."

     "Childish worries?" Edward was exasperated; he was failing to convince his friend that this was a horrible idea. "There are probably still bodies lying around in there. Why would anyone in their right minds come to be treated here?"

     Leo grinned. "Well, it is a place for crazy people, isn't it? There will be nothing that a little work cannot fix. Let's look around."

     He tugged on the rusty, brass handle but instead of opening the door, it broke off with a distinct snap.

     "It must be a bit older than I thought," Leo said.

     With the side of his body, he pushed onto the rickety door, jamming it unloose. It slowly creaked open revealing a dark corridor. He peered in, but it was impossible to see.

     "You can't go in there, Leo," Edward hissed. "It's way too dark."

     Edward refused to get too close and was still watching Leo from the foot of the stairs.

     "Ah, but a great man always comes prepared," Leo replied, triumphantly.

     From his backpack, he produced a single lit-wick lamp. He turned it on and his surroundings quickly lit up. He turned to face Edward with a bright smile plastered on his face. "See, everything's fine. Nothing to get all worried about, now come on!"

     Leo proceeded through the door, leaving Edward alone outside. He began shivering. The brisk wind was picking up as the day was dwindling. It was either stay by himself in the cold or he could follow his friend inside. With a sigh, Edward reluctantly went after the green Gelert.

     He slowly made his way up the rickety steps and squeezed through the crack in the door, cautious not to disturb a thing. He was so caught up with being careful he didn't even notice the door creaking to a close behind him. With a cling it was shut, along with Edward and Leo's exit.

     ***

     The two were silent as they wandered down the hall. Leo was enthralled with the untouched rooms and dainty furniture while Edward, on the other hand, was shaking far too much to start up any real conversation. Each door that Leo opened, the Wocky closed his eyes in fear, until suddenly, Leo let out a loud, terrifying scream.

     Edward nearly jumped out of his skin. "Leo? Leo!" He shouted. "What's wrong?"

     "Oh, nothing," Leo recollected himself, bemused. "I just thought it would be funny."

      The orange Wocky huffed. "Look, are you done here because I've already made up my mind. I'm not taking part of anything going on here and if you had half a brain cell, you wouldn't either!"

     Leo frowned. "That's not fair, Edward. If you're mad about that joke it was only-"

     "I don't care about that!" Edward blew. "Don't you remember the stories going on about this place? You saw what happened to Neovia... just imagine what went on around here. Find a different partner, Leo."

     "Fine," Leo sighed. "You can leave, but I'm not finished yet."

     Edward froze. "Wh-what? By myself?" He gulped.

     "Yes, you can walk back in the dark – unless you brought a lamp," Leo paused for a moment, "but I suppose you hadn't thought of that."

     Edward was silent, his shoulders slumped, but Leo turned to him with a grin. "Don't be so down, Edward, nothing's going to happen. Let's just continue on for now!"

     The two passed through the halls, through empty offices and a kitchen where scum was collecting onto the sink. Dust was collecting on every piece of furniture and cobwebs draped corner walls, even Edward found himself entangled in a few, much to his chagrin and Leo's amusement.

     Finally the two seemed to find their way to the prison cells, nested in the very back of the asylum.

     Edward began to feel queasy, even more so than before. "Leo, please, anywhere but here! This is where all the crazy people were held; who knows what kind of diseases are in those cages."

     Leo turned to Edward. "Insanity is not contagious, my friend." He grinned.

     "You seem to have caught just fine, though," Edward muttered.

     Leo ignored the remark and peered into the closest cell. Even the enthusiastic Gelert cringed at what he saw. Edward slowly peeked behind him, wary of what Leo caught sight of, but quickly wished he hadn't. Laying there was a rotting skeleton, bones scattered upon the cell floor. It was old enough that bugs had begun to fester, but the clothes were still intact.

     Leo steadily kneeled down, examining the tattered clothing. "Look, Edward, she must have been a nurse."

     Edward held his hand over his month. "I really don't want to look."

     "That's unfortunate." Leo frowned. "She must have been left here after the patients all escaped. Huh, what's this?"

     He pointed at a small flower that was nested in the shirt pocket. Where it was held, the clothing carried a faint glitter and managed to stay relatively new. He picked it up and examined it next to the lamp. It was still alive, cut off at the stem, and remained a bright purple hue.

     "Impossible...," Leo breathed.

     "What is it?" Edward asked, as he still refused to come back into the cell.

     "A flower... but it's alive," Leo said. He turned each petal over, furrowing his brow. "How could that be, I wonder."

     Edward sighed. "It's probably a prank by someone. They snuck in here and planted it, hoping to scare whoever found it. Can we go now? I think I'm really starting to get sick."

     "I don't think so." The Gelert shook his head. "The way the doors have been jammed and the cobwebs make it seem like no one has been in here for a long while. Besides, how could that explain the way the clothing around the flower is still perfectly intact?"

     "Who knows?" Edward shrugged. "What does that matter anyways, it's just a fl-"

     "Wait, there's something else!" Leo interrupted.

     He reached back into the pocket and lifted up a small brown piece of paper. The corners were uneven and jagged, as if ripped off. This paper, too, was unworn and remained as if new.

     "A note of some sort?" Leo wondered, skimming it over.

     "What does it say?" Edward asked from outside the cell.

     Leo was silent for a moment. "It's strange... it's about you, at least, someone with your name. 'Edward, this may never reach you, but I wonder where you found this flower that never wilts? My end is fast approaching, but I wait for it peacefully, with this pretty flower in my pocket. I wonder if you are alright and if you'll manage to return to the asylum. Everyone has left or withered away, with the patients set loose. I hope you can fix this place; you had such hope in your eyes. Lucy.'"

     After Leo had read it out loud, the two friends remained relatively quiet, until Leo let out a sigh. "Well, I guess it can't be about you. I mean, you're probably the most pessimistic person I know! But still, what a strange coincidence it is."

     He waited for a reply from Edward, but the Wocky remained sulking. "Anyway," Leo began, "Don't worry about it. I think we'll be leaving now, we've seen a lot for today, but what should we do about this flower? This note proves it; this flower really is magical."

     Finally, Edward stood up. "It should be left here, where it belongs."

     Leo paused. "Hmm, I suppose," he said, "but it would be a waste to just leave it in this cell, wouldn't it? Perhaps it would go to good use in the garden here. Whatever this flower is, it seems to keep life in anything around it."

     Despite how much he wanted to leave this place, Edward agreed. His fear had been replaced with a sense of duty, all through a note that was possibly never meant for him.

     "Lets." Edward nodded.

     The two friends made their way back from the cells, they hurried into the courtyard that looked just it had before on their brief detour. The garden was less like a garden, and more like a graveyard for any sort of vegetation, though that would be expected. No one had tended to it for years, and it didn't rain much in Haunted Woods, did it, Edward thought.

     They decided that below an old oak tree would be a good place to put it, so they poked it into the soil and covered the stem in dirt. Leo grinned in satisfaction at the little task he had done.. The two stood before the flower and silently hoped that this would be enough to save this withering garden, at least until they would return.

     ***

     "So what do you think, business partner?" Leo announced, as they were standing before the asylum outside. "I was mulling it over, and starting to wonder if you were right, maybe it wouldn't be such a good idea?"

     While Leo was loudly voicing his thoughts, Edward questioned what he had said about the abandoned hospital. There were skeletons in there, and cobwebs and dirt piling on to any surface imaginable. Even stained, old, rusted steal doors, and most windows were broken any which way. It would take a lot of work to fix up the place, but there was also hope there, hope that had carried on for years, even when it had no reason to.

     "Maybe, but I think there's something left in there after all," Edward said fully believing it, even while looking upon the old, abandoned Meepit Oaks Sanitorium.

The End

 
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