Thank you to EVERYONE who has checked out all the amazing stories contributed by authors this week. This story was an experiment that I feel was a success. I asked 6 authors to help me spin a tale of horror. Jaci Wheeler started us off with an amazing introduction and then each author continued the story in their own way. If you missed out on Hallow’s Eve Asylum this week, the full story is below for your enjoyment. Please scroll ALL the way to bottom as well for the giveaways that were posted on each story’s day. All giveaways end 11/7/2016 so hurry and enter!
Thanks again and have an amazing Halloween! -Katy
Insane Asylum: Juvenile Ward 1951 “Director Walter Drake” by Jaci Wheeler
Walking down the dreary hallway, I pause and take in the cacophony of sounds. With every flicker of the overhead lights, a pounding sounds to my right. I smile and look into the window slot of the first room.
“Good Morning, Archie.”
Of course Archie doesn’t respond back; he just keeps banging his head against the padded wall. I continue my walk, making sure that everything is as it should be. Of course, it always is. I run a tight ship around here. This may not be the most glamorous gig, but I take pride in my work.
I close my eyes and breathe in the agony and despair of my workplace. There is something so beautiful and tragic in the broken. I’ve just started humming Nat King Cole’s “Unforgettable” as I make my way over to the nurse’s station to look over my charts for the day when Harold, my favorite orderly, walks up.
“You are one strange cat, Mr. Drake.”
“And how is that, Harold?”
“The fact that you can be so chipper… Have you looked around, sir?” He raises his hand, motioning to our rather dreary surroundings.
“If things weren’t broken, Harold, they couldn’t be fixed. And I’m a fixer. Take Mary for instance. She had her first round of electroshock therapy last night. When she screamed, all I heard was breakthrough. Silent since birth, and those screams? Those screams are like music to my ears. Sound. I gave her that. I helped her find her voice. That’s all you’ve got to do, son. Find the beauty in the madness.”
“If you say so, Mr. Drake. Are you ready for the craziness that tonight is going to bring?” At my look of bewilderment Harold laughs.
“It’s October 31, man. Every year like clockwork, we get one or two stragglers who think it’s fun to bust into the insane asylum.”
“Ah, that’s right how could I forget? Well, let’s be on extra guard then, shall we? We wouldn’t want to disappoint those looking for a scary time, now would we?”
“No sir.” Harold chuckles.
“Let’s go check on little Joan, shall we? She has her lobotomy scheduled for this evening.” I can’t help the thrill that shoots through me at the idea of little Joan’s lobotomy. It’s like a clock. All those delicate inner workings, sometimes they just need to be reset to start working properly.
We look through the window in her door, and my pulse accelerates and my palms tingle. Tonight, we will end her madness.
“She’s had almost ten electroshock therapy sessions, and she still hears the voices,” Harold says, shaking his head in dismay.
Joan screams at someone only she can see. She’s pulls her hair and tries to shred the skin on her arms.
“Tonight, Harold. Tonight we will exercise her demons once and for all. Tonight we will put the ghosts to rest. Tonight… we will be gods.”
Room #1 Archibald Lennon Smythe Patient: Found wandering in empty house, covered in blood. Refuses to make eye contact. By Caroline A. Gill
Wall. Wall. Sweet and Lovely Wall that stands between me and …. them.
“Another,” Archie, me, I whisper into the white. Another, please. Smashing my forehead into the padding, the silence is all I wish for. But real quiet slipped away with the falling sun, taking my last hope with it.
If I can hit it just right. Just there. There’s a promise of blissful oblivion… warm blood and darkness. I can feel the silence that comes right before the slaughter.
If I can strike my head hard enough, I can escape.
Blackout–I crave it, I need it to the bottom of my crippled soul.
Even from the barred and frosted window, I see the full moon rising. Time’s up. The thick padded walls prevent me from hiding. And no there’s no escape. Not any more.
With the moon comes the voices. And they’re never wrong.
Right there, just behind the wall… Scratching.
“My name is Archie. Archie.” My hands clench, shaking. I feel the dread building up, focusing just beyond the concrete, where the droopy flowers wilted and died, outside in the rundown garden. The wall is thin, too thin to hold them back.
“They are coming. They are coming…” Moaning, I shiver against the cold. I pound my head again into the cushioned wall. Stunning my mind with each impact, it isn’t enough to free me from the terrors. Never enough to let me slide into the waiting arms of oblivion.
A trickle of blood runs from my nose, down my mouth, dropping in bright red roses on my chest and the bleached white linoleum floor.
Underneath my feet, the ground heaves violently and shakes my balance. The moon rises.
I don’t want to know, don’t want to be here, trapped in these four walls.
Hunger. A need so big my mind can’t understand the emotion. So primitive, so focused–that hunger pours through the shaking concrete and the steel and plaster walls. Cushioned drywall shifts, pressing inward, flexing from the weight of the beast that cannot be stopped.
The moon. It calls them. I cover my ears as the moonlight falls across the cursed cell. Inescapable. Undeniable.
The voices purr. Demanding. Distorting. Howling.
Something inside me shifts, feeding on the darkness. From under the building, voices call to me. Whispers shake me to my core, melting me into a puddle of instinct and defiance.
Scratch. But now the scratches come from inside the walls. Moonlight on my skin sends goosebumps up and down my tiny body.
Hair stands on end. Growing darker, longer, just like my ears.
A wrenching pain tears through my jaw. Sharp teeth fill my slobbering mouth. I try to talk. Can’t speak. Reason shreds away. Thick hair covers my neck, red brown just like the spilt blood on the straightjacket.
Joints pop as my arms lengthen.
With a shake and a wiggle, I tear off the bindings. Sharp razors cover my fingertips making short work of the padding in the room, the plaster, the wall itself. A tunnel. The way out.
Looking back only once, I shimmy through the hole, past the structure that held me prisoner. Fresh dirt under my paws feels like silk.
Breaking through the dead plants in the garden, I am free.
I bring my legs up as high as they will go and wrap my arms around myself. Huddling in the corner I make myself as small and insignificant as possible.
“He won’t get you. He can’t break in… he can’t break in… can’t… can’t…” I chant to myself over and over. The banging on the other side of the wall never ceases. All day, all night. Sometimes he taunts me through the walls. I know he’s going to dig his way through and tear me to pieces.
“He can’t get in. He can’t… he can’t.”
I’m surrounded by the insane and out of control. I’m terrified of their voices and delusions. Their nightmares ultimately manifest into my own. To one side of me a boy is constantly trying to break through his wall. When he succeeds, he will kill me. I no longer want to die. On the other is a girl who screams out her insanity, robbing me of my own.
“I’m not crazy. I’m just sad. Not crazy.”
They don’t believe me. I tell them this is all a mistake. I was just sad. I missed my sister. I just wanted to be with my sister… to end all the sadness.
I’m not crazy; I’m just sad.
How do I know I’m not insane? Because I’m scared of the voices, the banging, the madness. All of the others? They love it, thrive on it. They need to scream, to bang, to hurt and destroy. The insane are many things, but they aren’t scared.
I’m always scared. Scared of the little pills they force down my throat. Scared of those horrible electroshock treatments, and worse, the treatments they do if those don’t work. I’m scared of the director because in his eyes, I’ll never be fixed enough.
I used to be scared of living without the one person who knew and loved me best. I look down at the scars on my wrists that will always remind me of my greatest failure and mock me from inside this padded cell.
I can hear him now just right outside my door. I’m surprised I can hear anything over the banging, although now the banging has turned to scratching.
“Please, Mr. Drake, please let me go home. I’m not sad anymore. I’m not. I’m sorry for what I’ve done, I just want out. Please let me out.” My pleas as usual fall on deaf ears. I just want out.
The scratching stops, and there is a loud bang on the other side of the wall. I hear a howl and I brace myself, but nothing happens.
“Lord, Katherine, you’ve been in here long enough you are losing your mind,” I whisper to the darkness. With the silence comes fear again. Why is it silent? It’s never silent in this place. I look out the high window that faces the street. I can just make out trick or treaters happily ignorant of my horrors.
“Someone please save me.” I plead as I let the blessed darkness save me. Even in my dreams I’m trapped, but at least my sister is there with me.
Room #3 “Joan” by Casey Hays
The four walls stare at me. They always stare, and I hear their thoughts. They don’t think I know what they’re planning. I do. Every day when I wake, they’re closer… crushing in on me. I don’t have much time left.
I sit on the edge of the thin-mattressed cot. My bare toes brush the floor before it threatens to fall away. The walls ease in another inch. I fold in on myself and roll to my side, tugging relentlessly at my hair to hide my face.
“Why do you insist on frightening me?” I murmur. “What have I done?”
I close my eyes on that note. I know exactly what I’ve done. It’s why I’m here.
“But he deserved it,” I whisper. I bolt upright, anger piercing me. I scream at the yellow-stained cinderblocks. “He deserved exactly what he got!”
My eyes dart from one wall to the next. They don’t answer me; they only laugh. A grinding screech that molests my ears. I burst into tears.
“Momma!” My pounding heart drowns out my scream. “Momma, why didn’t you believe me!”
She’s there in an instant, her wispy arms reaching out to wrap me in their comfort.
“There, there, Joan. Mother’s here.”
She insisted I call her Mother, but in my stubbornness, I wouldn’t. I cling to her apron-clad waist. It’s baking day, and she promised to make a German chocolate cake with extra coconut.
“I want to come home,” I whisper.
“No, Joan. You were a very bad girl. You must get better.”
“But I am better.” I pull back. She vanishes.
“She’s had almost ten electric shock… and still she hears the voices.”
I perk up with a snap of my head, and I see them looking at me through the tiny, glass window. His gray eyebrows narrow toward a deep wrinkle at the bridge of his nose. My heart surges with fear. He is the devil. I dig my untrimmed nails deep into my arms.
I shrink away and cover my face. “No, no, no…” Not the shock!
“What th—Mr. Drake!”
I chance peeking at the window between my fingers.
“Harold… call for secur—Arghh!”
A gurgle. A thud. My heart leaps, and I’m on my feet.
“Come back, Momma,” I whimper. “Pleeeease…”
In a daze, I force my feet to cross the floor, and I peer out of the tiny square window.
Drake is down; Harold holds up pleading hands.
“Now man, just cool it, see? Let me help—”
A salty growl, and Harold yelps and cuts out… fast.
I’m frozen. Even the walls have stopped moving to listen.
Suddenly, his face presses to the glass. I gasp. A shadow hovers behind him, wavering.
“Scarecrow boy,” I whisper. His lips curl upward with a grin.
I saw him only once before. Visitor’s Sunday… in the REC room. He killed his own mother—with a confiscated fork. Her pretty wool suit turned crimson, and her blood spread across the tiles.
Drake locked him away after this. I never thought to see him again.
His black eyes blink at me, and for the first time in my sixteen years of life, I release a calm, lucid breath.
“Mother,” I whisper. “He’s back.”
Room 6 “Lupo Feroce” By Zachary Paul Chopchinski
I never liked clothes. I try my best not to wear them. I love my own skin too much to ever allow something to cover it. My scars should be seen. They tell my story in a way only my violence can come near. On nights like this, I like to stand with the light from the moon running down my chest and stomach. As I run my fingers over my abdominals, I smile at my own power. Little sister was right in the beginning, they will never stop me.
Since we were young, I always got looks from lesser creatures. I stood seven feet tall, covered with muscle and scars. I really do love them so. The last one before I was sent here called me a “Gollum” as I squished what was left of his skull into the floor. My silence should not be taken for weakness. He felt it appropriate to challenge me in the shadows of an alley with his mates nearby. I bathed in the blood of them all before that night was done. I loved it.
Little sister said that they were only making fun of me because they were scared. She came up with the idea to show them how scared they really should be. I do love her ideas. Shortly after I came here, her next idea was to show a particularly nosey orderly why he should not peak through windows. I remember him crying as I broke his arms and legs. It was interesting how something as strong as bone broke so easily. Like stepping on branches. I was able to remove his lower jaw before the rush of stings and shocks removed me from by purchase over him. The last thing I remember was how his tongue looked flopping out of its hole and onto his neck.
Mr. Drake and his lackeys? They couldn’t comprehend true horror was. Had I only the chance, I would relish the opportunity to educate them. Little sister says that ignorance can never be tolerated. Ignorance is fear. Fear is weakness. The weak are not worthy. I break the weak, and show them the madness that they are not worthy of. Then I send them to darkness and rid myself of their pestilence.
I have been looking forward to this night for some time now. Little sister loves this time of year more than any other. She says the ghosts from the past come back to see what we have done for them after they had gone. I look forward to sharing my strength with them.
I can now smell the smell. It is one of my favorites, and I can sense it from some distance. The metallic scent fills my nostrils, and I feel blood rush to all of my extremities. My abdominals and pectorals swell. My arms enlarge. Blood is in the air, and there is a lot of it. I smile as I know what this means. Little sister will be here soon, and we will play.
Room #4 “Mr. Scarecrow” By Christina L. Rozelle
His yellow eyes glow beneath Pop’s old hat. My mind’s in the reds as I twirl the key between my fingers, because I know what those punks are about to do to my love. Like darkest soulmates, she’s the heartbeat in my void, and I must have her. I must save her. I must know her name.
If only there were another way.
He shakes his head in disapproval, like he always does.
“What?” I sit up in my cot, wait for an answer. When none comes, I stand to pace my room.
There’s only one way, he finally says, his voice a whispery croak.
“There’s gotta be another way.”
He lurches from the corner to pin me against the wall. The straw from his sleeves pokes into the skin of my neck. He grips tight, cutting off air to my pipes, and blackness sweeps across the room. Before I think he might take me from this hell and toss me into another, he drops me at his feet, clad in Pop’s old boots. Then comes the switch—six good lashes to set me right again.
Know your place, little Timmy, he says. Creepy crawlers spill from the holes in his overstuffed pants and wriggle toward me. I jump up in time to hear the two pairs of shoes pass my doorway.
Now, he says, it’s time. Just the way I taught you, with Mother.
Mother. I stare at my worn sneakers; the last pair she ever bought me.
Poor Timmy, he teases. She couldn’t even bake a decent pie. She had it coming. Just like these two. Now, go.
I click the stolen key in the lock and suck in my breath, then slip through the doorway with him close behind. He wouldn’t miss this. He hasn’t missed a thing since I was a boy; since Pops blew his own head off in front of him in the cornfields with me standing there.
Mr. Scarecrow hasn’t left my side since.
In my right pocket is the stripped metal from beneath my cot. I grip it in a tight fist, sliding along the wall in the shadows. He doesn’t hide though; he never does.
The two men stand at her door and chuckle to themselves, admiring their victim . . . as I admire mine, and Mr. Scarecrow laughs, a chilling cackle. I raise my hand behind Mr. Drake, bring the pointed metal down through his neck. He slumps to the floor like an old doll, while Harold raises his hands, pleads. I don’t want to, I like him. But with that rancid breath on my neck, and those words—do it—I charge after him and plant the spike deep into Harold’s chest, and he joins his friend in forever slumber.
When I press my face against the glass window of her door and see her for the first time in weeks, a grin creeps up on me. I did the right thing by saving her. She stare back at me wide-eyed until I unlock her cell to set her free.
Joan takes my hand and we step over the two, still bodies.
“They’ll put you away for life,” she says.
“They won’t.” I hold her hand tightly in mine. “He won’t let them.”
Outside the Gate “New Beginnings” By Katy Walker and Casey Hays
“Don’t be such a square, Mavey! They won’t even know we were there until the morning.” Patrick rubs his hands together partially because the anticipation of a great prank is building, but also because the frosty night air is creeping along any exposed skin. He stands in front of the Hallow’s Eve Asylum, the only streetlight making his already tall shadow look even more elongated and unnatural.
I sigh and give a nervous glare in his direction which he either ignores or doesn’t notice. I’m almost to the rusty metal gate when a howl tears through the silence of the night.
“Wh-what was that?” I whisper, my muscles tightening.
“Aww, shoot, Mavey. Didn’t I tell you? I’m a werewolf!” He jumps at me, lifting his head with a howl, and I do scream then.
The bag I carry filled with cans of spray paint and toilet paper spills open, sending metallic pings echoing around the streets. He buckles over laughing and leaning on the gate for support.
“That’s not funny, Patrick!” I screech.
“All right, all right,” he concedes as he bends to scoop up the fallen cans. “But you know what this place is don’t you? I mean, what it really is?”
I stare up at the tall shadow of a building with a fearful shake of my head. “No.”
He narrows his eyes. “You haven’t heard the stories? About Mr. Scarecrow?”
I frown. “Who’s that?”
“Not who… what. My pops told me all about him. Him and that crazy boy, Timmy Peterson.” He rests his forearm on his knee and peers up at me. “He killed his whole family, you know? And he claims ol’ Mr. Scarecrow made him do it.”
“What does that have to do with this place?” The night air crawls up under the collar of my coat, and I shiver.
“Everything,” Patrick announces as he climbs to his feet and swings the bag over his shoulder. “You see, Timmy Peterson? He lives here now. And bad things happen when Timmy is around. Really bad things.
“And Mr. Scarecrow?” I gulp.
“Oh he’s here, too. You can bet on it.” He nods toward the building. “Everyone locked inside this place knows him even if they don’t realize it. Pops says he lives inside their heads. Makes them believe things.”
“What kinds of things.”
Patrick wraps his fingers around the bars of the gate, rattles it once. “That they’re not crazy, for one. That the things they see and hear and think are real. And there’s all sorts of different kinds of crazy in this place.” He pauses, looks at me. “I heard some of the crazies even think they really are werewolves. Imagine that!”
I swallow and raise my eyes to the gate again. “Are–are you sure you want to do this?”
He glares at me. “You chickening out?”
“All right then. Come on.”
He pushes on the gate once, and another howl pierces the night. It sounds surprisingly human, but I jump anyway and clutch Patrick’s arm, and all I can think of are fangs and blood and a scarecrow, its arms and legs stuffed with hay that pokes out at the ends in the glow of a moonlit field.
“I’ve changed my mind, Patrick. Let’s just go. Let’s go!”
Just then, a boy and a girl around my age appear at the gate. I freeze; Patrick leaps back from the entrance in surprise.
The boy is covered in blood, and in the light of the moon, I see a metal spike hanging from his grip. His other hand clings to the fingers of the girl. Patrick begins to shake. He points, his eyes wide, and I follow his finger to a spot just beyond the gate.
“M-M-Mr. Scarecrow,” he stammers.
All on its own, the gate flies open. The boy lets go of the girl’s hand and steps forward.
“You can see him?” he asks Patrick. When Patrick nods, he turns to me. “And you?” he asks, thumbing over his shoulder at the space behind him.
Shaking like a scared cat, I stare wide-eyed at the blackness behind him. I see… nothing.
“She can’t see him, Timmy.”
I turn. Another girl has appeared next to the first one. The boy faces her.
“Neither could you at first, Katherine.”
“Of course not,” she answers. “You can’t see him until he saves you.” She comes to stand beside the boy, her eyes boring into Patrick. “I know you. Your cell was next to mine. Last summer.”
Patrick shakes his head. “No. No.” He looks at me. “No, it wasn’t me. It wasn’t me. I’m not crazy!”
I take in a breath. Last summer, Patrick’s mom died. Her body was found in the creek, ripped right up the middle by some wild animal. Patrick didn’t handle it very well. And I didn’t see him all summer.
Suddenly, it all makes sense.
The boy raises the spike, points it right at Patrick.
“You’re one of us.”
“No. NO!” Patrick’s eyes fixate on something behind him. He steps back, frightened, pleading with someone I can’t see. “I don’t want to. Please don’t make me. I’m better. Don’t make me do it again.”
“It’s no use,” Timmy grins. “Mr. Scarecrow called you back. You have to do it. We all have to, isn’t that right, Joan?”
The other girl smiles with a tilt of her head and comes to stand on Timmy’s other side. “That’s right. Mother says it isn’t, but she’s wrong. If you don’t do it, he can’t save you.”
Patrick turns towards me, his eyes a sudden bright yellow.
“Run!” he whispers. I stand frozen, unbelieving, until his lips curl back revealing razor-sharp teeth. “RUN!”
I turn and flee into the fog. But not before I hear a rustle of straw and a cackle come from the shadows.
Run, little girl. The voice penetrates my thoughts. And if you survive, I’ll teach you what you really are. I’ll be what you need me to be. Even in this place, I can set you free.
A howl rises up into the night, followed by a second and a third. And I run.