Home > The Haunting of Hilltop Mansion

The Haunting of Hilltop Mansion
Author: Carrie Bates

Prologue

 

 

Hilltop Sanatorium

1925

 

Margaret Fisher lay quietly on a cushioned lounge chair, the full heat of the afternoon sun shining down on her emaciated body. She held both arms close to her chest, a handkerchief in one hand ready to quell any cough that tried to escape her tired lungs.

Her arms were heavily bandaged, and she was weak from the early morning blood-letting, just one of her many treatments for the advanced stage of tuberculosis she was suffering from. The treatments were sheer torture: blood-letting, leeches, plombage and soon, it would be time for her to sit in the vapor room, inhaling all of that awful smoke that she so hated.

It was no use, Margaret knew. She had come to Hilltop Sanatorium just over a year ago as a nurse. She had been eager to help find a cure for tuberculosis that too many people were dying of consumption from. She had wanted to help put a stop to it, help the suffering and gruesome deaths that resulted from it. But now, she was one of the patients and finally understood the fear and misery that these patients lived in – fear of treatments and fear of death.

No one was allowed to speak of their misery there. The patients couldn’t protest or refuse treatment; they just had to sit quietly while leeches sucked out a third of their blood. One woman was found crying about the death of a fellow patient and was immediately sent to the steam bath despite her fierce protests as she tried desperately to avoid it. The scalding water was supposed to kill the bacteria, but all it did was burn and scar the poor woman, who already knew she was dying but was sure the scalding water would end her demise much, much sooner.

A woman dressed in white, a uniform identical to the one Margaret used to wear, came in with her ice-cold face and wheeled Margaret through the French doors and then back inside.

“Where are we going?” Margaret asked feebly, panic rising in her heart and soul.

“I’m taking you to see Dr. Tanenbaum. He said it’s time for your plombage.” The coldness and indifference in her voice made Margaret shiver in fear.

“No! No!” Margaret cried out, desperately trying to sit up. She began coughing violently but tried to speak through the outburst. “Please, no! I don’t need that. I really feel like I’m getting better.” She looked at the nurse with pleading, desperate eyes.

“You cover that mouth, Ms. Fisher. I shouldn’t have to tell you that,” the nurse spat at her disgustingly.

The nurse wheeled Margaret past the nurse’s station, and the room that had become hers. The last door on the left, with the blue lace curtains. The one the nurses could see directly into if they looked, but never did. They did their best to ignore the patients’ never ending pleas.

They turned the corner and started for the incline which would take them to the fourth floor of the west wing. That’s where they did most of their experiments and so-called cures. When not there, they’d take them to the basement, wherever was furthest from visitors or business investors who might be at the hospital that day.

Margaret had assisted in enough of the lung collapsing procedures to know that most of them ended badly. She wasn’t ready to die yet, she felt she truly was getting better but this…place…this place was evil. When she had worked there, it had shocked her to see how many patients had mysteriously died suddenly when they had seemed to be getting better.

Margaret had thought some grim reaper was roaming the hospital and killing patients when no one was looking. The very sick patients she could understand dying, but the ones who had shown improvement? It didn’t make sense to her. No one ever left Hilltop alive.

Margaret began crying and coughing hysterically. “No, please. Please! Anything but that!” Other patients, resting in chairs all along the corridor, stared in wonder as the nurse wheeled Margaret by. She begged and pleaded for someone to help her. But her cries fell on deaf ears. She, like so many others, was destined to die in this posh prison of morphine-numbed victims of the White Plague.

The nurse wheeled her into a sterile room, and Margaret was forced onto a table where a blinding light shone down on her. She tried fighting, but was too weak to fight even the cold-hearted skinny nurse off. She desperately kept trying as rough, hard hands strapped her down to the table. Margaret twisted violently to try and break free, but the cold-hearted nurse administered an injection that would soon still Margaret’s muscles, while another nurse opened Margaret’s shirt, exposing her thin, pale skin.

“It won’t be long now, dear,” she smiled wickedly at Margaret. “Surely you know by now no one makes it out of here alive?”

Margaret’s eyes widened in horror as the doctor stuck a long, sharp object between two of her lower left ribs, not even waiting for the morphine to take effect, piercing one lung in one fluid motion.

She screamed in pain begging for help but no one came to her aid. She was at the mercy of an insane doctor and his crew of nurses, as evil as him.

Margaret wheezed, gasping for breath that would pass right out of the hole the doctor had made. One of the nurses placed a cold metal funnel in the wound, and a mixture of hot paraffin wax and olive oil was poured into Margaret’s lung as she wailed in agony.

The medical staff stood over her, emotionless and methodical, eager to see the results of this new treatment they had been using on the guinea pig patients. A damp rag was shoved into Margaret’s mouth to muffle the sounds of her screaming. When the morphine finally knocked her out, her lung was sewn shut, and she was moved to an isolation room for recovery and observation, but the doctor and nurses knew this wouldn’t be necessary.

Margaret never woke up, and a form letter was sent to her family. There was no funeral, no talk of her death, only silence, and notes in a file indicating the paraffin wax treatment had failed. Yet again.

 

 

Chapter One

 

 

April 14th

 

Linda was ready to burst out of the car before Jeff even had a chance to park, scarcely able to contain herself due to the adrenaline and excitement. He pulled up close to the porch of the old estate and trailed quickly behind her as she sprinted up the stairs with her beloved golden retriever, Sebastian, close beside her. Linda stopped and waited for Jeff, although a bit impatiently, as she wanted to barge through the door. When he caught up to her, she wrapped her arms around him before they finally went through the massive door.

They were greeted by dark wood, dust, and faded paint. It didn’t matter to Linda, though. She could see the beautiful potential of the place.

“I know this is going to be perfect,” she said. “Buying this property was absolutely the best thing we could have done with our prize money.”

Sebastian barked, as if he was agreeing with Linda. She kissed Jeff on the lips, still full of excitement, and turned to explore the historical estate. It was massive, with over four floors of rooms and lobbies, with plenty of storage space in the basement. It was a wonderful change for them.

Jeff and Linda had been struggling for the past year with money and the demons of addiction. They had met in a court-appointed rehab well over a year ago, and had clicked instantly, supporting and helping each other through the difficult detox and rebuilding processes. When they finally got out of rehab, they had barely survived, living paycheck to paycheck. Every week was an uphill battle to stay sober and survive in the outside world.

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