The walk through the dark woods takes so long that it almost comes as a surprise when the ghost town emerges into view. A series of black buildings, starkly contrasted against white snow. So black that, perversely, it would have been consoling to have found the doors and windows barred, a solid boundary between inside and out. But all the orifices of this mental hospital's residential units are wide open. And really it makes no difference - because there's no one here.
Approaching the buildings in the dead of night, it is possible to hear a sequence of mechanical blips. The constellation of five buildings in the immediate vicinity is beeping ominously back and forth. A mating call for a visitor? More likely, one assumes, it is a warning to stay out.
But a closer inspection reveals nothing menacing. The intermittent beeps, bouncing from one desolate hallway into the buildings next door, come from the exit signs. The signs are illumined only faintly. It is when the back-up batteries are dying that the distress calls begin.
This hospital has been dead for a long time. Most of the buildings are gutted, the last furniture crumbling, having missed their final pickup. The exit signs have long outlived the use of the wards. Now, in their final stirrings, they signal the entire hospital's departure from the world.