The Asylum and the Ghost

Published on 18 September 2023 at 21:00

Prologue (1896) Roselle

“Stop, you are hurting me. Let go! I must see Harrison. He will tell you what happened. I am not insane. Just ask Harrison. He saw her too. She came to him. It was her I tell you.”


The harder I struggled the tighter they held on. I could see the looks in their eyes. They refused to believe anything I said.


“She did this, not me. You must believe me. I cannot be here. My daughter needs me. I must protect her. You have to let me go.”


Why won’t they listen? Why are they so insistent that I am mad? How can they believe I would do such a thing? I loved my sister. We had our differences, but no more than any other sisters. The screaming! So much screaming. Why won’t they make it stop?  I cannot stand the screams echoing through my head. If I were not mad upon entering this place I would surely go mad before long.


“You have to believe me. Ghosts are real. They exist among us.”  The more I begged for them to believe me, the crazier they thought me to be.


“We are not alone!” I shouted as the needle slid into my arm.


I opened my mouth to protest once more but I knew it to be useless. As my eyes began to get heavy, so did my heart. I would surely take my last breath here. No one would ever come for me. No one wanted to believe me. Not even Harrison; for it was Harrison who had put me here. He would rather deem me mad than own up to the truth. He had betrayed me. I knew that now.


Ch 1 (1946) Roselle’s granddaughter Katherine

My hands began to shake and my heart began beating at a pace I had never felt before. I knew it would not be easy but I had to see for myself the place where my grandmother died and changed the course of my family forever. I had to find out the truth. My daughter’s life depended on it and it was up to me to make sure that she had a life.


I looked down at the picture in my hand. Time changed so much and yet time so often stood still. If not for the clothing you would think the girl laughing at the camera was my daughter. My daughter and my grandmother shared the same expression, the same vitality, and I feared they shared much more.


I reached up and wiped my cheek. How could I ever make this right? It was then a flash caught my eye in the window. I blinked and looked again but nothing was there. I could have sworn there was someone there; but how could there be. The gates were locked and the asylum had been shut down and boarded up over ten years ago.


It was then I heard my name. I was sure someone had called out my name. Not only were my eyes playing tricks on me but so were my ears. I listened closely. There it was again. As I turned toward the sound I heard a rustle among the trees. I strained my eyes and used my hand to block the setting sun from my eyes. There was something in the tree line. I could not quite make it out, but it was there. I was being silly and spooking myself. I should not have come alone, yet it had to be that way. I could not risk involving anyone else. It was my burden to bear.


I climbed back into the car.  I was only a few miles from the nearest town. I would come back tomorrow and nothing would keep me away. I had searched for so long; so many times I had thought myself on the right path, only to come up with nothing. But thank God I did not give up. I finally found someone who had worked at the asylum and was willing to answer my questions. He assured me that the paperwork had never been taken away; something to do with ownership and legalities. I was sure it would have been destroyed or hauled away, yet it remained locked away in the basement.


I had to get my hands on those files and find out what had happened with my grandmother. What drove her to do the things they said she did. I could not believe the childhood stories that had been passed on to me. My grandmother was not mad. She had not killed anyone. My daughter’s life depended on it. My life depended on it.


Ch 2

It had been a restless night. Upon rising I phoned and checked on my husband and daughter. I hated to lie to David. Being a doctor, I attended conferences from time to time allowing me to further my knowledge on the latest medical techniques and I led David to believe I was now attending my latest conference. I knew he would never understand why I had to do this; regardless, I would not dare risk him to come along. Too many strange occurrences were happening; too many unanswered questions.


My thoughts drifted back to my daughter Amy, who as an infant turned her head when no one was in the room and cooed as if someone were there; and after beginning school I started receiving notes about her strange behavior. Her father had assured me it was nothing more than a creative imagination, but I did not believe that for an instant.


As I turned to get in the car I noticed someone watching me. She had been watching me the previous morning when I checked into the hotel. Now again she was watching me closely. I decided to confront her and find out the reason.


“Do I know you? Or maybe do you think you know me?” watching her reactions to my questions. She did not bat an eye.


“Maybe,” the girl answered. I was not quite sure which question she was answering. There seemed something familiar about the girl. I could not put my finger on it; it was as if I knew her somehow.  I was sure we had never met. How would that even be possible?


“My name is Delaney,” the girl said as she stretched out her hand out to shake mine. “You need me,” she said.


“Excuse me.” I was not sure I had heard her correctly until she repeated herself. “I said, you need me.”


“And might I ask why I need you?” How could a girl who I was sure to be no older than fifteen, maybe sixteen help me? How presumptuous of her.


The girl, Delaney, as she had introduced herself rolled her eyes and continued, “I know ways to get into Briarwood that no one else knows.”


How on earth did she know that I was trying to get into Briarwood? Things seemed to be getting stranger by the minute.


“Small town,” she said as if reading my thoughts. “That is what you want to know isn’t it? How I know you were going to Briarwood? The answer is small town; everybody knows everybody’s business, Miriam.”


Ch 3

We sat in silence as we rode to Briarwood. If she could do what she said she could, it was going to solve one very big problem for me; how to get in a boarded up, fenced in insane asylum.


“I told you I could do it,” Delaney boasted as stood up and wiped the smudges off her light colored pants.


Delaney crawled through the window she had just used a crowbar on to rip the board off. I took a deep breath and pulled the flashlight out of my bag. The room was dark and cold. I could only imagine what my grandmother felt being trapped here.


We made our way to the basement. Delaney walked with no hesitancy or question as to where she was going. This definitely had not been her first venture to the asylum.


“Dare I ask as to the reason you have visited Briarwood?” Delaney did not answer, nor did she look back to acknowledge she had even heard me. Perhaps I should ask again, but at that moment we began to descend a staircase that was most treacherous. I held onto the wall praying that I did not tumble down into the darkness below.


“We are almost there,” Delaney whispered, as if someone might overhear us. Delaney turned her flashlight toward an open door not far from the bottom of the stairs. We entered a room filled with filing cabinets. Delaney immediately opened a drawer. I began to rummage through the papers which were organized alphabetically. I was quite surprised by how neat the files were and in what preserved state they were in. No rips, or stains; no faded pages beyond recognition. It was if they were filed away just yesterday.


I opened several more drawers before coming to the J’s. Roselle Jannsen, there it was as plain as day. I pulled out the file and immediately noticed how thick it was.


“I have it. It is time to go.” I whispered to Delaney. Not quite sure why we were whispering. I have what I came looking for.


“No. Nothing must be removed from the asylum. You must read it here and return it from where you took it.”


“But why? There are so many pages. This will take me hours to read, and the light is so poor.”


“That is the way it must be,” Delaney said without hesitation. You shall read it here or not read it all.”


What could she do to stop me? Was I willing to cross her? If she had not helped I would most certainly have struggled to be where I was. “Is there no way to convince you otherwise?’ I asked.


“This is not my rule, but the rule of the asylum. Nothing must be removed.”


“How could this be the rule of a building? Something was not right. Had I met someone as crazed as those committed to the asylum? Maybe I should look over the file so as not to bring attention to myself and then return tomorrow to take what should be mine. If it is about my grandmother, then it should belong to me.


Delaney pointed her flashlight onto the papers as I quickly turned and skimmed each page. It was on the third page that my attention was drawn. The doctor had called my grandmother delusional and stated that she had blamed her misfortunes on a ghost. On a spirit that was the husband of the sister my grandmother had so unmercifully killed. If my grandmother said that is what happened, I believed that is what happened.


It was then I heard a noise. Delaney had heard it too. She turned her flashlight toward the stairs. “We must leave. This was a mistake. I should not have brought you here.”


“But I have barely begun to read. There is so much more.”  Before I could say more, Delaney snatched the file from my hand and shoved it back into the drawer. “Now!” Delaney yelled as she ran up the staircase. I had nothing left to do but follow.


I hurried up the staircase, and as I reached the top, the screaming began. I held my ears to try and quiet the shrillness. It was an agonizing scream.


I climbed through the window behind Delaney and the screaming stopped as quickly as it began. I proceeded to follow Delaney to my car and as much as I wanted to question her something held me back. She did not say a word until I stopped my car.

As Delaney got out of my car she turned to me. “Do not, and I repeat do not tell of our experience today to anyone. I was wrong to take you there.” She then raced off and was gone.


I did not know what to make of anything. Was the screaming merely in my head? I was sure not. Regardless, I had to go back to Briarwood. I had to read the entirety of my grandmother’s file. There were questions that only the file could answer.


Ch 4

To be continued




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