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Chopin in the Asylum: Horror Flash Fiction by cam

Updated on November 21, 2016
cam8510 profile image

Chris has written more than 100 flash fiction/short stories.Working Vacation took 21st out of 6,700 in the 2016 Writer's Digest competition.

Asylum for the Insane

Source

She caught me in the underground tunnels that connect the buildings of the shuttered, asylum complex. I'm an amateur photographer and have wanted to explore that labyrinth, so I grabbed my Nikon, donned a head lamp and delved into the underbelly of the former State Hospital. I meandered through crisscrossing passages, and occasionally stopped to photograph a door hanging from one rusty hinge, a row of hospital gurneys for black and white.

At each intersection I scraped an arrow on the dusty floor pointing in the direction from which I’d come. A dead end turned me back, and I came to where my arrow had been brushed out. I peered into the darkness and the darkness struck back. I awoke in this room with one end of a chain wrapped around my ankle and the other around cast iron plumbing. The knot on the back of my head and the ache inside explained the bare bones of what had happened.

Source

Building 50 stands in a state of decay on the grounds of the closed Asylum for the insane, a monument to declining state budgets. I worked here as a music therapist during the 1970s in my mid twenties. I had a box of music cassettes and a portable player with my name written on a strip of bright blue tape on the side. I’d go into patients’ rooms and have them lie on their beds to listen to classical music. I was partial to Chopin. Before the place was closed by the State, several female patients complained that I had been sexually assaulting them. I hired my own lawyer.

Frederic Chopin-Marcha Funebre

In the basement of building 50, I hear classical music, Marcha Funebre by Chopin. The music makes me uncomfortable. The rusty door scrapes the floor, and she crosses to where I’m chained. A cassette player comes to rest on a dusty table, and I see my name on a piece of faded blue tape. Day after day new things, or rather old things from my past, are added to the table. The items disturb the fragile inner peace I've managed to build over the years.

Today I snapped when an enraged panic hijacked my consciousness. I tried to break the chain or pull the cast iron plumbing out of the wall. When my arms wore out, I pulled with my leg, Jerking, twisting, screaming, crying, a crazy man trapped in the basement of an abandoned asylum for crazy people, passing out from pain and exhaustion. When I awoke, I examined the leg that lay on the damp, dirty floor. It had to be someone else's, not my own. The chain had ripped into the flesh and muscle so far I could see tendons and bone.

Her name was Margaret, one of the women who accused me of sexual assault. Maggy, as everyone called her, had a diagnosis of schizophrenia, but I just thought of her as a crazy bitch. Pretty, but crazy. She’d scream and curse whenever I walked into her room, so I’d have orderlies strap her to the bed. After they left, I’d put on Chopin and get down to business.

Frederic Chopin

Source

Always that same damned Chopin piece. This time she’s got two men with her who look like vagrants. I try to scoot away, but the chain causes me blinding pain. She pulls something from inside her tattered, floor length coat, and I slide to the wall in spite of the chain grinding against bone. The vagrants grab my arms, and she steps forward giving me the best view I’ve had of her face. My god. It’s not possible. And she has a knife.

It’s Maggy. Decrepit, ugly where beauty used to be, but it’s Maggy. The two men hold me, and with the knife, she traces around my ears, eyes, throat, down to my chest, belly and lower. I whimper as they leave, though she hadn’t so much as scratched me. A cafeteria tray is on the floor with a fried chicken breast, some chips, a biscuit and a glass of water. I had to chase the rats away or there would have been nothing left for me.

Each time she comes, my heart sinks into a black pool of hopeless fear. Will this madness end the next time that rust eaten door grinds its slow arc across gritty concrete? And how will it end? Oh, that I could lie here with chains biting bone, infection creeping, and die before that bent and twisted form returns.

My mind is slipping as a result of not sleeping. The pain won’t allow it. Besides, if I fall asleep, how will I keep the rats away from my leg?

Source

Soothing, classical music draws me out of lethargy. Chopin? Someone’s here, but with vision darkened by pain, fatigue and loss of blood, I can’t tell who. They seem familiar. The chain falls away, and I attempt to say thank you, using a throat so parched, only a scratchy croak leaks out. Yes, leave the chain on the floor. The rats can have a treat of dried chunks of meat and blood.

I’m on an old hospital gurney, and Maggy is standing beside me. My mind conjures the memory of a judge, a jury, attorneys. Maggy is there, looking pretty in a dress rather than the asylum uniform. We’re sitting across the aisle from each other when somebody in the Jury box stands and proclaims, “Not guilty.” Maggy is screaming guilty, guilty as they wrestle her out of the courtroom.

They’re taking my pants off to treat my leg. The two men strap my arms to the table. Yes, that’s good, I might fight while their operating. Maggy is looking at me, a rotten toothed smile spreading across her wrinkled face. I try to thank her for helping me, but the knife reappears, and she laughs the only laugh I’ve ever heard from her. I’d heard screaming, and not just in the courtroom. I remember muffled screams in building 50….

Still smiling, she reaches between my legs, grabs and pulls. I let out a weak cry. Still pulling, she leans toward my face looking down into my cloudy eyes. In her guttural voice she draws the word out slowly, even as the blade slices through.

“Guilty.”

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    • wingedcentaur profile image

      William Thomas 19 months ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things!

      Nice, dark twist to this one, Chris. It seems that the narrator, whom we're tempted to identify with, at first, was a fiend, back in the day, when he was the music therapist in the 1970s, at Building 50, as he would visit Maggy's room, and after orderlies tied her down and left the two of them alone, he would "put on Chopin and get down to business."

      Well done!

      W.T.

    • cat on a soapbox profile image

      Catherine Tally 2 years ago from Los Angeles

      Creepy, indeed, and I superbly written:)

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Maple City, Michigan

      Deb. thanks for reading and challenge accepted. :)

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Chillingly real. You could not have conjured up anything better, or could you? Yes, I DARE you...

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      Whatever you do will no doubt be outstanding, Chris! Nevertheless, good luck!

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Maple City, Michigan

      I'll do something for NaNoWriMo. I've been thinking about expanding the story I wrote for the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge. Mine was SciFi and has potential. But SciFi is really tough because it needs to be based on good, current science, and I'm just not sure I want to tackle that. Horror does interest me though. I could expand this one, but I'm beginning to have some thoughts about a different plot.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      Go for it!

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Maple City, Michigan

      Ann, as far as the asylum is concerned, the period between 1989 and 2002 would be great for a horror story. That's when the place sat dormant after it closed and before the big renovation project began. Hmmm, NaNoWriMo is coming up in November.....

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      Probably not; he was pretty creative himself!

      It would be interesting to read a hub on the tunnels etc. I love the ins and outs of buildings like that.

      I find that writing comes just like that sometimes and then I build on it; strange how the muse works.

      Ann

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Maple City, Michigan

      Hi Ann, This one began as a free write, believe it or not. The first paragraph, in a longer form just popped onto the screen very quickly. I just stared at it for a while wondering where it came from. The asylum in the one in my home town and the photos are the real place. The whole complex is being restored as shops, restaurants and high end housing. It's pretty impressive. I need to do a hub on it. The tunnels are real as well. The story itself may become a short story because of all the unanswered questions and loose ends.

      Thanks for reading, Ann. I hope Chopin wouldn't mind what I've done with him.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      My flesh was creeping, Chris!

      This was a slant on Chopin that I didn't expect. I love Chopin as my mother used to play it often, her fingers gracing the octaves over the piano keys. The last time I saw Chopin was a brand new statue in the Botanical Gardens of Singapore, a couple of days after my mother died. Strange!

      The dark, the confusion, the putrid air, the anger and the accusations were all palpable. This is a stupendous horror story. Well done!

      Shared.

      Ann

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Maple City, Michigan

      One thing about this particular story is that it has too many loose ends as a result of the word count limit of 1,000 words for flash fiction. I might turn it into a short story so I can tie it all up into a neat little disgusting package.

    • Randy Godwin profile image

      Randy Godwin 2 years ago from Southern Georgia

      No problem, Alan. The online link is just to some of the old Eerie and Creepy comic book covers. :) I have read many Mad Magazines in my life though.

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 2 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      To the criminal mind, we are what society makes us, therefore being evil/klepto/loose/light-fingered is excusable. It's what Hitler based his policy on.

      Not much chance me checking it out, Randy. Don't have the time unless they're online.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Maple City, Michigan

      Thanks Alan, I find it difficult to give horror stories a happily ever after ending. What I had in mind here was to lure readers into adopting the narrator as the sympathetic character of the story. As the story played out, and hints were dropped questioning the innocence of the narrator regarding the sexual assault charge, I wanted there to be a slow transition to Maggy being the SC. I'm not sure how that worked out though, because even if she was the sexual assault victim, she isn't a very likable character.

    • Randy Godwin profile image

      Randy Godwin 2 years ago from Southern Georgia

      Sorry Alan, but you're mistaken. :) Check it out!

      http://www.coverbrowser.com/covers/eerie

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 2 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Proper madhouse treatment this is - serves you right for playing Chopin to a Meatloaf fan. (No wonder she went round the twist).

      You don't get many endings like this, leaving your readers up a gumtree. About time I saw my shrink anyway... Sort of puts me into thinking about 'The Pit and the Pendulum' with some deranged freak after revenge.

      Keep it up, Chris (I think Randy means 'Mad' magazine).

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Maple City, Michigan

      Thanks Larry. I've been experimenting for a while with the different genres and horror tends to be graphic. I wasn't sure where this one was going until I got near the end. It certainly qualifies as horror. Thanks for reading.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      Very graphic imagery. Wonderful writing.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Maple City, Michigan

      Thanks Eldon, Yeah, I liked the Chopin piece with this. Thanks for reading. Glad you enjoyed it.

    • Eldon Arsenaux profile image

      Eldon Arsenaux 2 years ago from Cooley, Texas

      Powerful piece of music to make the story so sinister. Recommend reading with the Chopin's song in the background. Well done Cam, Dug the Hub. Keep Hubbin!

      -E.G.A.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Maple City, Michigan

      Shauna, I saw Misery side of it and hoped I didn't come off as a copycat, bit I hadn't thought of the Bobbit similarity. Interesting. Thanks for reading and being willing to leave a comment. This one has had 42 view with only 4 commenters, so I'm aware this one crosses some sort of line, at least for HP folks. But that's okay. The story definitely is not for everyone.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 2 years ago from Central Florida

      Wow, this is a cross between Misery and the John and Lorena Babbitt true life story! Well done, Chris!

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Maple City, Michigan

      Hi John, I appreciate that very much. Horror is easy when done wrong and difficult when done right. At least I feel that way I see it. The sense of "Other" in the scary character is tough to achieve without going overboard. I'll just keep practicing. Thanks again.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Now this is true horror Chris. You can't say you are not good at writing it any more. True revenge and retribution. Well done.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Maple City, Michigan

      Thanks Becky, I needed that. :)

    • Becky Katz profile image

      Becky Katz 2 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      That is quite a compliment when I say it was horrible. Horror stories are supposed to be horrible. Thhhwt.(big raspberry)

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Maple City, Michigan

      Randy, thanks for that. I noticed YOU didn't use the word horrible in your comment (looking over shoulder at Becky). :) Just kidding. I appreciate you reading and passing on that tip about Eerie comics. I've got that pulled up on google right now. I recognize them, but never read them that I remember.

    • Randy Godwin profile image

      Randy Godwin 2 years ago from Southern Georgia

      You set the mood perfectly in this creepy tale, Chris. It reminds me of the old Eerie comic books I used to read when I was younger. Yes, that was quite awhile ago.......when I was younger, I mean. :P

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Maple City, Michigan

      Becky, Okay, the only feedback I've gotten so far has been from you and a friend not on Hub Pages. You both said the same thing, "Horrible Story." I'm taking that as a compliment because it's a horror story. haha, thanks for reading Becky. I expect nothing but honesty from you and that's just what I get.

    • Becky Katz profile image

      Becky Katz 2 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      Horrible story, but well written.