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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: February 13, 2018

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Submitted: February 13, 2018



Villains of the Hart-Tealtail Asylum

Based on “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe


By L. W. Geddies


“Villains!” I shrieked, “dissemble no more! I admit the deed! -- tear up the planks! Here, here! -- It is the beating of his hideous heart!”....




“Who the hell is it?” grumbled Dr. Lorenzo Smith as he rolled out of bed. He never got much sleep. Not that he ever needed it. The doctor remembered the old phrase “You can sleep when you’re dead.” Even so, he wanted the few hours he ever did get to be as quiet as possible. Aside from his study, it was the only peace he ever experienced living in the asylum most of the year.

“Uh… Sorry, boss. It's me Joseph Williams, sir. There’s a problem with the madman from Leeds Point. He’s crying ‘Villains’ again.”

“So? What else has changed? It's been four years. I thought we’ve been through this you idiot,” Dr. Smith said from behind his thick oaken door, “Jacob has been here for all this time and never have you noticed? You work the late shift daily! How could you not ever notice?”

“Well, I have noticed but-”

“Then go!”

“Doctor this time it's worse. He was just caught-”

“Caught doing what?” said the doctor opening the door startling Joseph.

“As he was yelling per usual, he had somehow managed to smuggle in a knife and as a watchman found him he was preparing to cut into his chest.”

“You can’t let him die. I’ve been studying him.”

“Yes sir, I know. Something about his psychiatric state?”

“Never you mind. Go back and get the men who found Jacob and tell him and some others to escort him to the lab. I’m over him,” he was about to go back into his room to collect some of his journals when he turned back and said “Oh and fetch me my dragoon from the safe. Now get!”

The doctor was studying the mind. He had been interested in the subject as long as he could remember. Lorenzo was curious to solve the nature of the brain and how it could permit such violent action against itself. Jacob was found four years ago lying naked in the street. He was wailing and screaming and flailing his arms all about. He looked like a wild man from the woods, what with his overgrown brown beard and long matted hair. Some men tried to stop him and turn him into to the constables but he bit them and nearly killed another with a pipe in the nearby alleyway. As the story went, he escaped and newspapers from Leeds Point, New Jersey spread all the way to New York City dubbing Jacob as the “Demon of Leeds Point”. For the next few months people claimed to see him running about and they blamed him for the bite marks found in both men and women. Indeed they were from Jacob. He did, in fact, kill one man, two women, one small boy, and a dog. He was captured when he was seen running and the police rounded him up with their horses. An officer leaped upon him, risking his life, and soon other officers got him held down and he was, with great struggle, shackled and chained. Jacob was moved to a prison cell in Trenton where doctors from New York tried their best to study him.

As Lorenzo briskly walked down the cold, stone halls of the asylum, he heard the distant screeching of the other patients. He recalled that day back in 1853 where he read about the alleged “Demon of Leeds Point” and where the man was being held. He was old then as he was only older now. The doctor remembered thinking to himself how he was ready to answer the question that had never been answered before: why does the mind act as it does? He felt this “demon” could give him the answers he seeked. Lorenzo had gathered all of his books and notes from over the years and took a stagecoach from New York to Trenton. When he arrived he was shocked to learn that Jacob had gouged out his own eyes sometime before his arrival. Lorenzo, however, found this potentially helpful only because it showed that the subject in question had the ability and intention in hurting himself.

He lived near the prison for a week doing what he could to study the man he called Jacob after his estranged brother he had not seen in over thirty years. He learned a lot but felt it was not enough. About nine months prior to his encounter with Jacob at the prison, Dr. Jonathan C. Drownton offered Lorenzo the position of Head Psychiatric Doctor at the Hart-Tealtail Asylum near Poughkeepsie. Without a doubt, he had accepted. When he became even more intrigued with Jacob, he had him transported to the asylum to be close to his lab. Upon arrival, the doctor moved all his possessions to live in a private room in the building to be closer to his work. For four long years Lorenzo had studied Jacob. Overtime, he learned slowly a story that Jacob kept repeating quietly, to himself over the years. He claimed he was not a madman, only nervous. Mumblings about an evil eye and a man whom he both loved and hated. Lorenzo heard parts of the story where he said he had watched the man in his sleep until one night, he killed him and hid him under the floorboards of his house. Lorenzo heard Jacob say that constables had heard a yell but Jacob had convinced them it was nothing. Jacob went on to eventually say that they expected him of nothing but that he heard a heartbeat get louder and louder until he burst with anger and admitted he had killed the man and that he was buried below them in the floor. Lorenzo, of course, looked for a murder case of the sort from different states along the east coast and found none. He understood that the area was vast but still he found it odd that nothing even similar to the murder described had ever happened. The one man that Jacob did kill was young, only out of his twenties by a year or so, and Jacob had killed him in broad daylight so it could not be that man Jacob referred to.

The doctor found himself at his lab door. He met two men who were some of the night guards of the asylum. “Leave us,” he said and the men went back to their posts.

When they were out of sight, Lorenzo opened the door to look at the dirty man strapped down to the examination table.

“Ah Jacob. Hope you are well,” exclaimed the doctor. This was how he always greeted the grotesque man. “They tell me you almost killed yourself. Yes?”

“Villains,” whispered Jacob.

“That is what they heard you yelling like every other night.”

“Villains all.”

“Well, I’m here to ask some more questions. You should be used to that.”

“Eye of evil.”

“Listen, Jacob, why did you try to kill yourself?” Jacob murmured something Lorenzo could not understand. “Louder,” he shouted. There was a long pause of silence.

“For sleep.”

“What do you mean?”

“In sleep, we die. For death, is the eye.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Demons come from not below, they are inside where true hell does grow,” said Jacob below his breath.

It was rare that Lorenzo witnessed this much speech from Jacob, though it had happened at least every few months. Normally, Jacob replied to Lorenzo with one word answers, either that or uncontrollable screeching. The doctor’s goal in these meetings was find why he felt like he was able to kill. Lorenzo wanted to solve the mystery of death, in a way. He wanted to know why people could kill while still knowing themselves to be alive. This night had offered him an opportunity to see how one could live with being a killer and then how he could take his own life. As Lorenzo took note of what Jacob was saying a thought began to grow in his own mind. Was Jacob simply gone? Was his mind not capable of offering the answers he seeked? He did not want it believe it. He wondered if Jacob’s mind was necessary. Was his life even necessary. This was strange to Lorenzo. This was not what he had been planning the past four years. His thoughts were interrupted by the deep, raspy voice of Jacob.

“Do ye believe in God?”

“Excuse me?” This was new. Jacob had only asked a question once or twice and never was it about God.

“God. Do ye believe in God?”

“No. I’m an academic. God is just-”

“No there be no God. No devil neither. There is no life, there is just what you will do with the time you’re given.”

There is no life, there is just what you will do with the time you’re given. The line rattled in Lorenzo’s head. He had heard that before. And he remembered exactly where he heard it and who he heard it from.

“Where did you hear that?”

“Villains all.”

Lorenzo stumbled over to Jacob and yelled in his face asking where he had heard that. Jacob began screaming “Villains” over and over. The doctor began to feel sick. He knew now. Jacob had not heard that quote from a person. He was the person who had said it just over thirty years ago.

Lorenzo was taken back to that stormy night when he lived in New York City all those years ago. He had just gotten another payment from his first book, Into the Mind. He would be rich soon. This book was famous among psychiatrists in the eastern United States, Great Britain, and even France. The wealth he had already gotten had given him a new house in the city. But Lorenzo wanted more. He blocked himself from all others. He was obsessed with his work. And he sacrificed life. His bride-to-be left him for he never so much as looked at her and he lived alone with no friends. On that night, he heard knocking. Annoyed, he stormed to the door to find his brother, in shambles. He tried to explain to Lorenzo that he lost all his money to a thief and he lost his job because he could not leave his now hungry children alone. They ended up dying and his wife did too because she sacrificed what little food she had to their kids. Lorenzo wanted nothing to do with him. He could not.

He told his brother “I have my life and wealth to look after. Do not come to me begging for me to fix yours!”

“Brother! I need your help! I have nothing! Just give me some food for the night! If not that, let me stay and warm by the fire.”

“No. Leave now before I alert the police. I have work to do. My own life to care for.”

“There is no life, there is just what you will do with the time you’re given.”

“Leave now, Jacob.” Lorenzo closed the door, never to see him again for thirty years.

Lorenzo backed up and tried to recover from the memory. He was lost. His heart began beating faster. The room was spinning. “Jacob. I do not understand. I-” He could not find the words. Even so, Jacob was screaming the words “villain” and “nervous” louder than ever. Faster and louder his heart beat. The doctor stood in a daze. He realized that he was through. It was a waste, he thought, I wasted it all. And now I fear the time is up.

Lorenzo fell to the ground knocking over the table with his useless notes. There also fell his dragoon. He looked at it and reached for it. He missed and his hand hit the ground slightly to the side. He had been blind in one eye since birth. He grabbed the gun said to himself and perhaps even to the screeching Jacob “Time is up. The heart beats no more. I hear it not. I’m buried beneath the floor.”

On that night, a shot was fired, Dr. Lorenzo died, and Jacob never spoke again.

Within the next month, the Hart-Tealtail Asylum was closed with stories of mistreatment of the patients.


© Copyright 2018 L. W. Geddies. All rights reserved.

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