Read Asylum Lake Online

Authors: R. A. Evans

Tags: #Mystery, #Horror, #Suspense

Asylum Lake

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Asylum Lake
R. A. Evans
R.A. Evans (2010)
Rating:
***
Tags:
Mystery, Horror, Suspense

In 1917, the state's second largest psychiatric hospital opened on six hundred wooded acres overlooking a small lake near Bedlam Falls, Michigan. Through its doors came the weak and the weary, the disabled and the discarded, the frail and the forgotten. But an open door is an invitation, and some visitors, once invited, are loath to leave. The hospital abruptly closed in 1958 under a cloud of mystery. It has remained empty and silent, save for the memories trapped both within its walls and far below the surface of the nearby lake that bears its name. At the bottom of Asylum Lake, the unremembered are growing restless. Brady Tanner is trying to outrun memories of his own. After the sudden death of his wife, Brady retreats to the small town where he spent the summers of his youth. But he soon learns small towns can be stained by memories... and secrets, too. As Brady is drawn into unearthing these secrets, as he discovers a new love in an old friend, he is also drawn into the mystery of Asylum Lake and the evil that lies submerged beneath its sparkling surface. What is the source of this evil - and what does it want with Brady Tanner?

ASYLUM LAKE

By:

R. A. Evans

*

PUBLISHED BY:

R. A. Evans

Asylum Lake

Copyright © 2010 by R. A. Evans

Authors Note

The stigma associated with mental illness is real. It creates an enormous hurdle for many who truly need help. Regardless of what most people believe, statistics confirm that individuals with a mental illness are much more likely to be the victims of violence than to actually be violent offenders themselves. I encourage you to learn more about mental illness and join the fight against its stigma by visiting the National Alliance on Mental Illness website at
www.nami.org
.

Asylum Lake has been a team effort. Without the vision of Wendy Mersman of Moon Designs, Inc. the eerie images associated with both the website and cover design would never have been possible. For better or worse, she saw into my dark mind and captured what haunted me. Doree Colon was also an integral part of team Asylum Lake. A sharp yet delicate red pen is always a writer’s best friend, and Doree wielded hers with both strength and compassion.

 

To the fans, friends, and family members who believed in me long before I believed in myself – I thank you. It is for you and because of you that I continue to ask the dark and terrible questions that have spawned this story and others not yet written.

 

April 10, 1972

Bedlam Falls, Michigan

Six days squirreled away inside the small room behind the clerk’s office had angered, divided, and eventually broken the juror’s spirits to the point of surrender. The exhausted procession of wrinkled suits and downcast eyes shuffled to the jury box as hushed whispers swept across the anxious gallery.

Three sharp raps of the gavel brought the courtroom to near silence; the Honorable Orrin J. Huntley’s steely glower finished the job. He was a sour old man with pruned lips and deep lines that crisscrossed his face. With his thin neck jutting out from the top of his black robe and talon-like fingers grasping the gavel, he surveyed the courtroom like a vulture perched menacingly over dying prey. Leaning forward from his roost, he placed his elbows upon the bench and pierced the jury box with his unblinking stare.

“Mr. Foreman, has the jury reached its verdict?”

Sonny Diedrich, Jury Foreman and Bedlam’s only insurance salesman, slowly rose to his feet. “Yes, your Honor, we have.”

Huntley shifted his attention from Diedrich to fix his eyes on the stoic boy seated at the defense table. His words scraped like sandpaper from his dry mouth."Will the defendant please rise?"

Dressed in a crisp white shirt that buttoned tightly at the neck and shark-grey trousers, the youth rose alongside his attorney. Awaiting the verdict with the unfailing faith of a supportive father, the Reverend James Collins, stood directly behind his wisp of a son. Delicate features defined the lad’s fair-skinned face, while hair the color of autumn leaves spilled down over his forehead. But beneath the maze of curls, brown lifeless eyes stared, as cold as two pennies rusting in a late November rain; the boy’s eyes could chill blood.

Shaken, Huntley tore his eyes from the defendant, recasting his focus toward the jury box. “Mr. Foreman, as of count one of the indictment, the murder of Joanna Reed, how does the jury find?”

“Your honor,” he hesitated, “We find the defendant g-g-guilty.” The words passed through Diedrich’s trembling lips with cowardly hesitation.

Both joyful tears and heart-wrenching sobs erupted from the gallery. Huntley lurched to his feet and banged the gavel on his bench. “Order, I will have order,” he cried, “or I will clear this court!”

The commotion subsided, to a degree. Soft murmurs hung in the air. Huntley collapsed back into his chair as the hum of cameras and recording devices reverberated throughout the courtroom. An army of reporters from across the state had invaded the small town weeks before asking questions and digging for answers. But answers had been elusive, and each detail that had emerged throughout the trial had only posed more questions. The reporters, for now, had the answer that mattered most to them and were salivating at the prospect of sharing it.

In a matter of moments, young Lionel Collins, the same boy who had shoveled driveways and mowed lawns, and with whom Sunday sermons and meals with most everyone had been shared, had been found guilty on all five murder charges; he had been convicted of brutal crimes committed not only against his neighbors and community, but against humanity itself.

He was led by deputies from the courtroom; the chains that were clamped tightly about his wrists and ankles jingled with each unbalanced step. He peered over his shoulder into the gallery; a sly smile curved his thin lips.

In the wake of people rushing from the courtroom, a nondescript man rose from a hard wooden seat in the back of the gallery. His presence during the trial had gone unnoticed, as it had been at the funerals months before. Not that anyone should notice. More than a decade had elapsed since he had last walked the streets of Bedlam Falls.

The man was pale with a tuft of dark hair atop his head and rail-thin; his natty black suit hung from his bones eerily similar to the way clothes hang on a scarecrow. His sunken and red-rimmed eyes, appearing to have stared into the bottom of one too many a whiskey bottle, darted around the empty room as he made his way forward to the oak table where Lionel returned each day to sit with his attorney.

Resting on the desk’s polished surface lay a bracelet. The man’s whiskey-soaked eyes widened as a look of recognition, then horror, crept over his face. With a palsied hand, he scraped it from the table.

Much as a painful sliver slowly works its way from one’s flesh, this sinister token had somehow surfaced from the murky depths of Asylum Lake. Alone in his knowledge of how it had come to rest on the rocky lake bed, the man looked down at the words stamped on its battered surface and winced as he traced a trembling finger across the cold plastic. He stood there, trance-like. Suddenly, his gnarled fingers closed around the bracelet, quickly hiding it away inside his breast pocket.

As the stranger walked from the empty courthouse into the damp air, a chilling wave wracked his entire body. He paused on the steps, steadying himself against the handrail. The spring breeze, which usually held the promise of brighter days to come, today carried an ominous scent.

With more than a passing suspicion that Lionel's verdict, and the evidence introduced throughout the trial, had been an omen of a long-forgotten darkness looming on the horizon, the man in black shambled from the courthouse. Breathing slow and deep, he placed a protective hand over his heart and headed south into the afternoon chill, The Lord's Prayer falling from his lips.

August 18, 2010

Bedlam Falls, MI

There was a Bedlam Falls before the trial of Lionel Collins and Bedlam Falls after the trial of Lionel Collins. Del’s Grocery had been replaced with a Kroger and thirteen miles outside of town a McDonald’s now greeted the tourists exiting off US-31. On the surface, little had changed in the quaint, northern Michigan town.

However, buried deep in the marrow of Bedlam Falls, malignant wounds from the town's dark past were beginning to fester.

Four years after Lionel’s conviction, FORD Motors Company had decided the sleepy town would be as good a place as any to build a stamping plant. As new jobs and unfamiliar faces flocked to Bedlam Falls, the close-knit community transformed. Gone were the days of unlocked doors and neighborly chats over hedges. Within just a few short years, the town’s backwoods charm and personality were replaced with the same malaise that people had once come to Bedlam Falls to escape.

Brady nearly missed the exit. His mind had gone numb four hours into the six-hour drive from Chicago. As he pulled out of the McDonald’s, a brimming cup of too-hot coffee cradled between his thighs, anxious knots began their tug-of-war inside his stomach.

Six months ago, he had been the young ace at the Chicago Tribune. His investigation and coverage of the shocking murder of Janie Pearce, a twenty-eight year-old pregnant mother of three who had been beaten to death outside a downtown Chicago eatery, had been picked up by the Associated Press and made headlines across the country. The perpetrator was a homeless schizophrenic who claimed that voices had urged him to commit the crime; he had been a familiar figure within the revolving door of Cook County’s over-burdened mental health system.

 

The case had resulted in swift and sudden changes in how the chronically mentally ill received treatment in the State of Illinois. Janie's Law, as the legislation would later be named, mandated monthly psychological testing be performed and evaluated by a team of state-certified medical specialists before and after a patient's release, as well as bi-weekly reviews of a patient's medical history and medication usage.

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