“Bedlam” a Mystery Story by Ken Bruen

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Bedlam Hospital. Photographer unknown. (Pinterest)

Bedlam

Ken Bruen

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I’ve been out of the hospital, near three weeks.

I know because I precisely counted and oh, so…………………delicately counted the days.

I wish I knew how long I was incarcerated.

The heavy medication, the padded room, you lose all sense of nigh everything.

A room designed to drive you…………madder.

It did.

I alas, remember, months gone by, weeks, years?

Curled up in the foetal position, and cackling to me own self.

They’d just hosed me down, those fucking lethal sprays of water that bounce you off the freaking walls.

A day came when I managed to feign taking the pills and slowly, oh, so fucking slowly, I began to get back to me own self. Now play the game.

I became the model patient.

It mostly worked.

I was released into the general population.

One slight hiccup.

One of the orderlies didn’t buy my new act.

Kept on my case, pushing me to reveal my real self.

I did.

When she was least expecting it.

I got her on the early morning of the night shift, drowned her in the toilet. Took a time but then I didn’t have anywhere else to be yet, so I drew it out a bit.

Heard the bitch plead.

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The Legend of Lizzie Borden, Starring Bewitched’s Elizabeth Montgomery, Full TV Movie (1975)

“Melmoth the Wanderer”, a Gothic Horror Novel by Charles Robert Maturin, 1820 (an Excerpt & Links)

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In his almost 200-year-old gothic novel, Melmoth the Wanderer, Irish author Charles Robert B7B9EA25-6E81-41BF-BE52-D01121CBFCF3Maturin tells the story of John Melmoth, a scholar who sells his soul to the devil in exchange for 150 extra years of life, and then spends the extra time searching for someone who will take over the pact for him. The story takes place in the “present” (1820); but the backstory is revealed through several “nested” story-within-a-story tales. These plot/narrative devices work back and forth through time (usually by means of information found in old books and manuscripts), until we gradually see the story of Melmoth’s life come together. The book also  includes interesting religious and socio-political commentary on early-19th-century England.

John Melmoth, student at Trinity College, Dublin, having journeyed to County Wicklow for attendance at the deathbed of his miserly uncle, finds the old man, even in his last moments, tortured by avarice, and by suspicion of all around him. He whispers to John:

“I want a glass of wine, it would keep me alive for some hours, but there is not one I can trust to get it for me,—they’d steal a bottle, and ruin me.” John was greatly shocked. “Sir, for God’s sake, let ME get a glass of wine for you.” “Do you know where?” said the old man, with an expression in his face John could not understand. “No, Sir; you know I have been rather a stranger here, Sir.” “Take this key,” said old Melmoth, after a violent spasm; “take this key, there is wine in that closet,—Madeira. I always told them there was nothing there, but they did not believe me, or I should not have been robbed as I have been. At one time I said it was whisky, and then I fared worse than ever, for they drank twice as much of it.”

John took the key from his uncle’s hand; the dying man pressed it as he did so, and John, interpreting this as a mark of kindness, returned the pressure. He was undeceived by the whisper that followed,—“John, my lad, don’t drink any of that wine while you are there.” “Good God!” said John, indignantly throwing the key on the bed; then, recollecting that the miserable being before him was no object of resentment, he gave the promise required, and entered the closet, which no foot but that of old Melmoth had entered for nearly sixty years. He had some difficulty in finding out the wine, and indeed stayed long enough to justify his uncle’s suspicions,—but his mind was agitated, and his hand unsteady. He could not but remark his uncle’s extraordinary look, that had the ghastliness of fear superadded to that of death, as he gave him permission to enter his closet. He could not but see the looks of horror which the women exchanged as he approached it. And, finally, when he was in it, his memory was malicious enough to suggest some faint traces of a story, too horrible for imagination, connected with it. He remembered in one moment most distinctly, that no one but his uncle had ever been known to enter it for many years.

Before he quitted it, he held up the dim light, and looked around him with a mixture of terror and curiosity. There was a great deal of decayed and useless lumber, such as might be supposed to be heaped up to rot in a miser’s closet; but John’s eyes were in a moment, and as if by magic, riveted on a portrait that hung on the wall, and appeared, even to his untaught eye, far superior to the tribe of family pictures that are left to molder on the walls of a family mansion. It represented a man of middle age. There was nothing remarkable in the costume, or in the countenance, but THE EYES, John felt, were such as one feels they wish they had never seen, and feels they can never forget. Had he been acquainted with the poetry of Southey, he might have often exclaimed in his after-life,

“Only the eyes had life,
They gleamed with demon light.”
—THALABA.

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“Melmoth” or “Interior of a Dominican Convent in Madrid”—illustrating Alonzo Monçada’s story from Charles Robert Maturin’s multi-volume novel Melmoth the Wanderer (1820). Painting by Eugène Delacroix, oil on canvas, 1831. (Wiki)

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“Before the Play”—The Lost Prologue to Stephen King’s novel, The Shining

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Alternative film poster for The Shining, a Stanley Kubrick film, 1980. Artist unknown. (Popbuzz.com)

“Before the Play” was originally part of the novel, The Shining, written by Stephen King and published in 1977; but, the Prologue never made it into the novel. It was published a few years later, separately, in August of 1982, in Whispers, Volume 5, Number 1-2.

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Scene 1: The Third Floor of a Resort Hotel Fallen Upon Hard Times

It was October 7, 1922, and the Overlook Hotel had closed its doors on the end of another season. When it re-opened in mid-May of 1923, it would be under new management. Two brothers named Clyde and Cecil Brandywine had bought it, good old boys from Texas with more old cattle money and new oil money than they knew what to do with.

Bob T. Watson stood at the huge picture window of the Presidential Suite and stared out at the climbing heights of the Rockies, where the aspens had now shaken most of their leaves, and hoped the Brandywine brothers would fail. Since 1915 the hotel had been owned by a man named James Parris. Parris had begun his professional life as a common shyster in 1880. One of his close friends rose to the presidency of a great western railroad, a robber baron among robber barons. Parris grew rich on his friend’s spoils, but had none of his friend’s colorful flamboyancy. Parris was a gray little man with an eye always turned to an inward set of accounting books. He would have sold the Overlook anyway, Bob T. Watson thought as he continued to stare out the window. The little shyster bastard just happened to drop dead before he got a chance.

The man who had sold the Overlook to James Parris had been Bob T. Watson himself. One of the last of the Western giants that arose in the years 1870-1905, Bob T. came from a family that had made a staggering fortune in silver around Placer, Colorado. They lost the fortune, rebuilt it in land speculation to the railroads, and lost most of it again in the depression of ’93-’94, when Bob T.’s father was gunned down in Denver by a man suspected of organizing.

Bob T. had rebuilt the fortune himself, single-handedly, in the years 1895 to 1905, and had begun searching then for something, some perfect thing, to cap his achievement. After two years of careful thought (during the interim he had bought himself a governor and a representative to the U.S. Congress), he had decided, in modest Watson fashion, to build the grandest resort hotel in America. It would stand at the roof of America, with nothing in the country at a higher altitude except the sky. It would be a playground of the national and international rich – the people that would be known three generations later as the super-rich.

Construction began in 1907, forty miles west of Sidewinder, Colorado, and supervised by Bob T. himself.

“And do you know what?” Bob T. said aloud in the third-floor suite, which was the grandest set of apartments in the grandest resort hotel in America. “Nothing ever went right after that. Nothing.”

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The Timberline Lodge in Mt. Hood, Oregon picture here, was the model for The Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s film, The Shining, 1982.

The Overlook had made him old. He had been forty-three when ground was broken in 1907, and when construction was completed two years later (but too late for them to be able to open the hotel’s doors until 1910), he was bald. He had developed an ulcer. One of his two sons, the one he had loved best, the one that had been destined to carry the Watson banner forward into the future, had died in a stupid riding accident. Boyd had tried to jump his pony over a pile of lumber where the topiary now was, and the pony had caught its back feet and broken its leg. Boyd had broken his neck.

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The Twilight Pariah, a Horror Novel by Jeffrey Ford, An Excerpt…

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From TOR…

Three friends go looking for treasure and find horror in Jeffrey Ford’s The Twilight Pariah—available September 12th from Tor.com Publishing.

All Maggie, Russell, and Henry wanted out of their last college vacation was to get drunk and play archaeologist in an old house in the woods outside of town. When they excavate the mansion’s outhouse they find way more than they bargained for: a sealed bottle filled with a red liquid, along with the bizarre skeleton of a horned child

Disturbing the skeleton throws each of their lives into a living hell. They feel followed wherever they go, their homes are ransacked by unknown intruders, and people they care about are brutally, horribly dismembered. The three friends awakened something, a creature that will stop at nothing to retrieve its child

From Publishers Weekly…

College students on summer vacation become amateur archeologists and unearth a legendary ghost in Ford’s humorous suspense yarn set in present-day upstate New York. Slacker English major Henry narrates the adventures of his hometown friends, amiable football hulk Russell and single-minded archeology major Maggie. By day they work mind-numbing jobs, but by night they’re joined by Russell’s boyfriend Luther to provide muscle for Maggie as she excavates around the derelict mansion on the edge of town. She’s convinced there must be something unique in the ancient outhouse. Their discoveries lead them to the town’s historical library, legends of a Devil Baby, a smoke monster, and a 127-year-old woman. After loved ones are attacked, the crew enlists the help of crusty Professor Medley to vanquish the ghost. Ford (A Natural History of Hell) meticulously builds the unnerving mystery in this brief, succinct story, bringing it to a cleanly executed but rushed ending. Endearing characters, elegant descriptions, and imaginative monsters make this a breezy beach read for horror fans. (Sept. 2017)

 

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Chapter 1

She picked me up at sunset in that ancient lime green Ford Galaxie she’d rebuilt and painted two summers earlier when she was into cars. It came around the corner like it’d busted out of an old movie. She sat there behind the wheel, leaning her elbow on the door frame. There was a lit cigarette between her lips. She wore a white men’s T-shirt and her hair was pinned up but not with any accuracy. Every time I’d seen her since we’d left high school her glasses were a different color. This pair had pink lenses and red circular frames.

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“Long Lamkin” —- a Folk Murder Ballad Collected by Francis J. Child (Child Murder Ballad)

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Art by Aranda Dill for Folk Song, “Long Lamkin”. (Arandadill/Tumblr)

Long Lamkin

IT’S Lamkin was a mason good
As ever built wi stane;
He built Lord Wearie’s castle,
But payment got he nane.

‘O pay me, Lord Wearie,
come, pay me my fee:’
‘I canna pay you, Lamkin,
For I maun gang oer the sea.’

‘O pay me now, Lord Wearie,
Come, pay me out o hand:’
‘I canna pay you, Lamkin,
Unless I sell my land.’

‘O gin ye winna pay me,
I here sall mak a vow,
Before that ye come hame again,
ye sall hae cause to rue.’

Lord Wearie got a bonny ship,
to sail the saut sea faem;
Bade his lady weel the castle keep,
ay till he should come hame.

But the nourice was a fause limmer
as eer hung on a tree;
She laid a plot wi Lamkin,
whan her lord was oer the sea.

She laid a plot wi Lamkin,
when the servants were awa,
Loot him in at a little shot-window,
and brought him to the ha.

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Shadows Over Baker Street, New Tales of Terror! as Sherlock Holmes Enters the Nightmare World of H. P. Lovecraft, ed. by Michael Reaves and John Pelan, 2003

C7BE17F3-B3D8-44C5-86C8-423E3C06160FTable of Contents

xi • Introduction (Shadows Over Baker Street) • essay by John Pelan and Michael Reaves
1 • A Study in Emerald • novelette by Neil Gaiman
25 • Tiger! Tiger! • short story by Elizabeth Bear
48 • The Case of the Wavy Black Dagger • short story by Steve Perry
60 • A Case of Royal Blood • novelette by Steven-Elliot Altman
94 • The Weeping Masks • novelette by James Lowder
116 • Art in the Blood • novelette by Brian Stableford
138 • The Curious Case of Miss Violet Stone • short story by Poppy Z. Brite and David Ferguson
158 • The Adventure of the Antiquarian’s Niece • novelette by Barbara Hambly
189 • The Mystery of the Worm • short story by John Pelan
205 • The Mystery of the Hanged Man’s Puzzle • novelette by Paul Finch
243 • The Horror of the Many Faces • novelette by Tim Lebbon
268 • The Adventure of the Arab’s Manuscript • novelette by Michael Reaves
295 • The Drowned Geologist • short story by Caitlín R. Kiernan
313 • A Case of Insomnia • novelette by John P. Vourlis
342 • The Adventure of the Voorish Sign • novelette by Richard A. Lupoff
372 • The Adventure of Exham Priory • short story by F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre
392 • Death Did Not Become Him • novelette by David Niall Wilson and Patricia Lee Macomber
420 • Nightmare in Wax • short story by Simon Clark
439 • Contributors (Shadows Over Baker Street) • essay by Michael Reaves and John Pelan