Crouching, she tried to look out the grime-encrusted window. “You think he saw us?”
“Doubtful. Besides, people come here all the time.”
“So you keep saying.”
“Let’s walk around.”
Their feet crunched the rubble that littered the floor, motes of dust hanging in the still air as they moved through the vast room. Long tables and chairs stood at odd angles as though hurriedly shoved aside, their surfaces coated with shattered plaster and debris.
She looked around, eyes wide. “You think anyone died here?”
“I know they did.” He traced his finger along the table. “My gran told me about how in 1917 a boiler exploded and a bunch of patients froze to death in their beds. She said they were lucky.”
She walked over to see what he had drawn. A grinning skull. “Why were they lucky?” she asked, her voice shaking.
“I could never get her to tell me.”
The Overbrook Asylum was opened in 1896 to ease overcrowding at the Newark mental hospital. Overbrook had a history of mysterious patient deaths over the years, including the incident described here.
The complex of abandoned buildings was reputed to be one of the most haunted places in the US and saw a surge of ghost-hunting trespassers, many of whom were arrested by Essex County sheriffs.
My daughter and I visited the place in 2015, three years before it was demolished. I can attest to its creepiness.