Back to the Asylum

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Spring is here. Sort of. In some places. More importantly, Story-A-Day isn’t far away!

A year ago I got my cancer diagnosis, had several surgeries, lots of doctor visits, and six months of chemo. I’m officially showing No Evidence of Disease (NED!). So, I’m looking forward to a saner year.

I’m waiting for someone to read and give me feedback on novel number two. (Always a nerve-challenging time.) So, meanwhile, I’m going to back over the stories I wrote last year, and I’m going to see what I can do with and where the characters ought to go next.

I think the story may get more intense. I’ve spent a bit more time this last year contemplating mortality, and it is coming out in my work.

We’ll see what happens.

May 31st!!!!! The end of the month but not the story.

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Wow. Chemo and exhaustion and the start of a story written. Thank you everyone who has kept reading. I wasn’t sure what to do for the last day. This isn’t the ending of the story, of course. More story is left to tell. Chemo goes through til October. Also in October my novel is published by Plum Tree Books!

In the meantime, I’ll post a few things here. I’ve enjoyed this month, but I’m glad it’s over.

Thank you again and again for being here.

Hannah peered under the door to make the hall was clear. She saw nothing but the tight weave of red carpet.

“Careful,” the old woman said, “They know how to lie in wait.”

But Hannah had gotten this far. She felt sure of herself. “We’ll be fine. They can’t know I’m in here.”

She opened the door.

The guard had her by the throat before she realized he was there. She grabbed his wrist. She kicked. He pinned her to the wall. He said nothing, and she couldn’t speak.

His stare frightened her more than his grip, and she slapped him to get him to speak if not to break his stare. She tried to kick him again, but a heavy feeling weighed down her legs. Moving was becoming more difficult while he stared. Her throat hurt. She looked away.

A strange gagging sound escaped from him. The noise pushed her fear further, but she risked a sideways glance. His face contorted. Suddenly, he let her go.

Hannah fell forward, and he fell alongside her. She screamed and pushed and kicked. He offered no resistance. It took a few more kicks for her to realize he wasn’t moving at all.

“What…” Hannah gulped for a breath.

The old woman stood there next to the body of the guard. “What happened?” Hannah asked her. Her eyes refocused.

The old woman held her knife. Specks of blood dotted her hand. She looked down at Hannah and her voice was calm “You mustn’t let them touch you because you can never fight back.”

Hannah slowly looked back at the guard. A stain grew in the carpet underneath his body. “You killed him?” she asked.

“I saved you,” she replied. The old woman reached out a hand to help Hannah back to her feet. “You’re in deep now, child. I hope you can run.”

May 30th. Resistant.

at my aunt's

I wasn’t sure I could write anything, but I’m too close to the end of the month to give up now.

They said the Asylum was built long before the town. They said the town built the Asylum. They said a lot of things.

But no living soul in town remembered a time without the Asylum. Its shadows and lights shimmered at the edge of town for as long as anyone could remember, and few townspeople wanted to acknowledge it. They didn’t speak of the people who lived there. They pretended the people who worked there didn’t exist.

As far as anyone knew, no one from the town ever got a job in the building itself. A few intrepid souls got jobs as gardeners or deliverymen, but they were never allowed inside, and they said little about what, if anything, they saw.

But the town looked the other way when the night ambulance drove through the town to the Asylum gates. No one knew where the night ambulance came from or who it carried. No one wanted to know.

The night ambulance was seen only enroute to the Asylum and only after sunset. People who witnessed its passage had bad dreams and even fell silent for the following days.

On the night Hannah crept over the Asylum wall, many people found it difficult to sleep. Dogs paced in their homes. But even if the people got out of bed, frustrated and restless, almost no one looked in the Asylum’s direction.