Friday, December 9, 2016

Abandoned at Mortality's End

Immediately after the parade I drove down to DC to meet up with Emily and Richard for some urbexing. We were exploring a long time abandoned hospital, and for some reason I assumed I was seeing an area for the first time, but when we arrived I realized that I'd been here 4 years previously.
Thankfully it wasn't too cold inside and without any ado we made straight for the morgue. Despite a lengthy time since I'd last visited the place wasn't in too bad of a shape. Opened in 1852, the hospital served as an asylum, a hospital for the armed forces and even at one point housed exotic animals which would later start the National Zoo. At its peak the campus housed 8000 patients with 4000 employees. Reduced to 850 by 1996, neglect began to take its toil on the buildings, and today, in a small area less than half that number of patients are housed here. The part we were in has been empty for years and today stood deathly still.
We moved quietly taking our photos, noticing how someone on a recent excursion had immaturely spilled red paint to resemble blood over the slab and the floor. The drawers were still labeled with black tape reading, 'disposition of body standard form 523-A', 'gloves 6 1/1', 'tubing' or 'autopsy saws'.
A filing cabinet in a corner, which had once held neat rows of blood samples in its drawers, now had them pulled out and scattered by some disrespectful explorer. Some were down on the counter, also splashed by red paint for an 'effective' photo. I sat on the cold concrete steps looking down and tried to imagine the room when it was in use. I'm sure it would have been as cold then as it was now.
Even though there was some damage, the fridge area was relatively intact, The gurneys and racks sat empty and silent inside, the bright metal still gleaming. The lights above the table were also pristine, I loved the blue glass inside one of them and wondered why a blue light was needed. After some research I discovered that it helps to reduce infection in the skin.
I left the others still taking photos, and roamed the rest of the building, coming across the incinerator, also on the lower level.
I used my phone to light up the interior while I snapped a shot and was amazed to see that, attached to the door, the original electrical circuit drawings were still intact.
Upstairs were lecture rooms and labs, with kitchen areas and cabinets, all empty but with instructional pieces of paper still taped to the doors. Sterilizing equipment was still standing in corners. Black mold clung to some of the rooms, an infestation of black pimples crawling up walls that were desperately hanging onto shavings of pale blue paint that curled away and dropped to the floor.
Heavy wooden doors hung open in the hallways although some were firmly closed and locked. The winds flung shut those windows and doors that hung loosely, often causing me to jump. These premises have been used by homeless folks at some point, clothing was left in corners and worse, the remnants of a Popeye's meal discarded in the center of a soggy carpeted room. The sign on a door, 'DO NOT OPEN. NOT HABITABLE' made me shudder but of course I entered the room. A fellow explorer later told me that he had held his breath when passing through the room and I wished I'd followed suit. Too late now...
 I was relieved when we finally left the dismal gloom behind us and tripped down the steps into bright sunshine. I filled my lungs with the cold crisp air and wiped my feet on the grass, trying to dispel any remnants of the place, The red brick exteriors of the buildings have weathered the passage of time better than the interior. Most of the glass was still intact in the windows while large stretches of the clay roof tiles have been moved to protect other areas. The black shingles looked new on the roofing that lacked tiles, it seemed some preservation work had been done here. But I was done with the morgue. I'm not sure if it was the overcast day or the decay inside, but it had been a long couple of hours for me inside that place, and I'd only taken 62 photos. I don't think I'll return again, that's one morgue I can refuse to enter.

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