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**L'Hospital** (1 Viewer)

Pluralized

Black Dracula
WF Veterans
Going to run this through the stretcher. Thanks guys! I appreciate everyone's comments very much. Let's see if I can doctor this mess up a bit, no pun intended.
 
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Plasticweld

Senior Member
This reads a little differently than some of your other work. The pace seem off for you in the beginning of the story, I do not want to say it dragged, but can think of no other word. As you get into the story you seem to be a lot more comfortable, and the story flows well. I re-read the ending three times and I am still not sure what happened. You are one of the writers I always read here but feel funny saying this, it is not as crisp and as tense as it could be, it is a great story line...Bob
 

ShadowEyes

WF Veterans
Since Al’s family bought the property, nothing had been done to fix the roof and that bothered him. Every time it rained, A little confusing because we're not sure if it's raiing now or not. he’d stare out the window and think of the streams of water pouring in and ruining the plaster, molding up the place. His father intended to refurbish and sell the asylum and maybe save back some of the acreage for investment. Al had made the fifty mile drive just a handful of times, mostly with his dad to check the place out before they went to Uncle Rick for the money.

Personally, this beginning paragraph was full of dense detail. This was further exacerbated by the lack of description involving the property itself. So I wasn't sure what to imagine.

“Dad, I’m headed out to Paradise,” Al said. “Be back tomorrow.”

Al decided he’d fix the roof, whether his dad liked it or not. Couldn’t bear to watch the place decompose any further, so he quietly loaded up his tools one Saturday and headed that way. His dad was preoccupied with his latest attempt at collecting old mannequins. Curious, how does one "attempt" to collect mannequins?

Along the front of the imposing building’s three-story stone facade, dozens of windows glittered in the afternoon sun. The heavy iron door was halfway open and squealed in rusty protest as Al pulled it the rest of the way. Feel like you can make this sentence active and cut it into two sentences. Inside the dusty lobby, the walls cracked and peeled It's weird to read it like they're cracking and peeling as he looks at them. and everything had faded to one drab color of beige. He sneezed a few times and stepped quietly through the space, looking both ways down the long corridor. His heart beat steadily and he could hear his stomach gurgling now and then. A particular brand of silence It's a cute idea, but it's rather transparent. Instead, I think you can find a better analogy than a "brand." hung over the inside of the place and, despite the single-pane windows, several of which were broken and missing, he couldn’t hear the birds outside which bothered him for some reason. Nice contrast between hearing his stomach versus not hearing the birds outside. Why had his father thought buying this giant old institution and its hundreds of acres of useless swamp was a good idea?

Al made for the stairway and climbed to the third floor. From the hallway, a plain-looking door led to the custodial closet with a ladder to the roof hatch. Stairway, third floor, hallway, door, ladder, hatch. I feel as if this could all be simplified somehow. Perhaps you can skip all of the details and simply say, "He climbed to the third floor..." He pushed it open and emerged into the crisp November air like a hatchling, setting his tool bucket down I almost thought he left it there before crossed the roofs. and blinking his eyes at the bright sky. Around the hatch, bird droppings coated the crumbling tar and he had to focus not to slip and fall. I like the idea of saying "hatchling" but it runs the risk of semantic satiation, meaning the word seems to lose meaning. For as far as he could see, the building meandered from one roof to another, jumbled constructions attached precariously where the facility had expanded through the years. He folded his arms and stood there for a moment, What did he see?

then remembered his purpose. The biggest leaks he’d found were in the south ward, so he climbed to the adjacent roof and clambered along slowly, carrying his bucket of tools. Aligned with the center dormer’s gothic pitch, near the center of the main ridge, the dark spots he’d seen from the ground were in fact holes through the roof. He examined them and set about peeling the shingles and tar paper back from the damaged spots. Working quickly, he patched them up with waterproof planking and caulked around his patch-job for a tight seal. Good enough for a rickety old building, he thought. Might help keep the mold out for a while.
This reads very interestingly like a roofer's job description. I don't mind seeing how the work is done.

The day was getting away from him and he’d told his dad he’d be there for dinner. Al walked through the silent corridor, out through the front door and toward his truck. He loaded his tools and slid behind the wheel. His truck wouldn’t start. It had done this a lot lately — it would always start after a few hours. He tried again, but stopped before he drained the battery.
Regarding being stalled, I'm emotionally detached from the whole situation.

He pulled his phone from his pocket and tried to call home but he had no signal. Same thing as last time. He went back up to the roof, but his phone still wouldn’t pick up. A hawk circled the nearby woods, and he watched for a long time. The sun was going down and it was cooling off quick. He climbed back down the ladder and resigned himself to staying there overnight. A little too convenient.

In one corner of the lobby there was an old desk made from solid hardwood, topped with enameled metal. Must have been the admissions desk. He felt safe lying there on the worktop, shielded by the higher countertop like a fortress. He didn’t mind the building and its gruesome history but didn’t enjoy being alone.
He closed the front door, which seemed like shutting an airlock. The room was dark, but once his eyes adjusted he could see his way back to the desk. He climbed onto his makeshift bed and adjusted the wadded-up jacket beneath his head. Far off in the distance, he thought he heard a voice. In regards to the voice, this is an instance where not saying what it sounded like is probably best. A man’s voice, repeating something over and over, but muffled. He reasoned it must be settling in the building, or bats.

Staring at the ceiling for an hour, he thought of that moldy room he’d encountered with the face-mask and shackles. The one his dad had told him about. It was just a floor up and three rooms over, he thought, why not go up there and check it out in the morning? Make sure nobody was in there. Irrational, he thought. The voice wailed, louder this time.

Dad had told him to stay out of the operatories and testing rooms. “Bad energy in there, son,” he’d said, “and one of the main reasons I bought the place was to make sure nobody ever had to suffer through those experiments again. Happy to tell you, they moved all the inmates over to Shocksbury, a humane asylum just a hundred miles away.”

Al couldn’t help himself. “Dad, what kind of experiments are we talking about?”

“Son, in the interest of mental health research, those doctors did what they thought would advance the cause. Also, truth be told, they served as a testing facility for the pharmaceutical companies, whose interests were in making sure side effects were manageable. They always have side effects, and it’s just a matter of reducing the risk to an acceptable level. So what better place than an asylum to test those drugs out? There were shock tests, lobotomies, isolation experiments, anesthetic testing. All kinds of inhumane treatments, usually done in the vast, silent "...vast, silent..." A little too flowery for real speech. operatories. The rooms’ walls were built for silence, built two feet thick and solid concrete. This was back during the Depression, when cheap labor made it easy to over-build. The agent who sold me the place knew a lot about the old asylum. He said, when the rooms were in use, there was a sign they’d slide across the small window in the metal door that said ‘occupied’ and that’s all anyone needed to know. The shrieks and screams of the men in those rooms supposedly drove a few of the nurses to suicide. One lady, an assistant to the head neurosurgeon, who tried to blow the whistle on the whole thing, disappeared and they found her body just a few years ago out in the swamp. Place has some baggage, is what I’m saying. Those thick walls—“ he trailed off.
Al heard the voice again. This time, it was louder, clearer. Nearer. He sat upright and looked around him. In the murk, there was nothing but dark shapes and the blackness of the corridor leading away in two directions like twin wells, dug out and laid there by some unpleasant and malevolent force. For half an hour, he heard nothing, and drifted off to sleep.

“AL!”

He awoke and instinctively recoiled, huddling there upon the desk. Silence surrounded him. A light flashed across the wall, and a car pulled up behind his truck. The lights disappeared and all was dark again. A click-clack and the front door squealed open. Al hid behind the desk and listened as whoever it was slowly entered the room. He felt a strong hand clamp his shoulder and push him tight against the desk. He still couldn’t see anything, but felt himself picked up, wheeled, quickly through the dark corridor and up the stairs. He was on a gurney.

Overhead, fluorescent lights which hadn’t worked in ten years lit up; the plaster walls were white again. Al looked around and realized he was in the operatory with three men in white lab coats. He was strapped to a table inside the thick-walled room. He felt the piss warming the linens beneath him and his breathing became shallow and fast. A man with a surgical mask approached him. He had no eyes, just hollow black holes where the eyes should have been. In his thin, papery hand, he held a metal implement with glinting sharp teeth and some kind of actuating linkage. The ceiling sagged, and water trickled down around the bed where he lay, vanquishing the surgeon and soaking him in rank, stale water.

The ending's a little weird and a little unsatisfying. Basically, it seems shoehorned in for the sake of a conclusion, but doesn't make sense given the information. We're shown no evidence of him seeing anything. And if it's a dream, he supposedly woke up from th dream already. I'm not sure why "The ceiling sagged..." isn't it's own paragraph.

The story is interesting and genuinely chilling, particularly when we see him work and when you describe the voices respectively. It's a ghost story and yet even the characters feel like ghosts. The sympathetic character seems fearless until we see him "hiding" behind the desk. In regards to the setting, whenever you focused on particular elements (like the hallways being "wells"), it's gold. But I would love to see a little vitalization from Al. It'll add that extra punch when the ending hits.
Perhaps you may want to add in the weather as an element of conflict? Or add a little bit more to foreshadow the car failing to start?
I really liked the long monologue from the father. I think it's this piece's best part, with some descriptions coming in at second. Perhaps you could have even started the story in the house...
Anyway, thanks for writing this and I hope you continue to re-write and tighten.
 

theredbaron

Senior Member
It's slow and a bit jumbled.



Have you done any research into these sorts of hospitals. I worked at one - for schooling really - for 18 months. It's quite daunting particularly if you get into the "back wards"... the places where the general public rarely if ever are allowed to see even nowadays.


I think if you researched them, you'd make a better story.

As it is, it's just all over.
 

escorial

WF Veterans
i always enjoy how descriptive you make places and often every detail is there..

"Staring at the ceiling for an hour, he thought of that moldy room he’d encountered with the face-mask and shackles. The one his dad had told him about. It was just a floor up and three rooms over, he thought, why not go up there and check it out in the morning? Make sure nobody was in there. Irrational, he thought. The voice wailed, louder this time."

so enjoyed man
 

jakegenebarnes

Senior Member
I was unable to be absorbed into this particular work. Your prose (in this story) did not flow, it was choppy and hard to read. I'm not suggesting I could do better. I am only being honest about what I felt.
 

Pluralized

Black Dracula
WF Veterans
Hey, some great and honest feedback here -- that's what I was after. Thank you all.

This is something I wrote about a year ago, kept going back to it trying to expand or modify or make it more coherent, but have been so far unable to do anything with it. Thought I'd see what you guys thought, and was pleased to see some feedback, especially that of ShadowEyes -- many thanks for that. I've got better stuff, which usually goes in the Workshop. :)

Still had fun with this concept and don't want to drop the rope...I mean, who doesn't like the idea of an abandoned asylum all to yourself?

Cheers guys - see you on the next one.
 

talmaflower

Senior Member
I think there could have been just a little more animation from Al. I didn't feel any sense of annoyance or frustration when the car wouldn't start and he couldn't get a mobile signal - if I was in that kind of situation myself, I think that's the point where I'd start to feel either nervous or just plain irritated! There's also no indication of him trying to struggle when he feels the hand on his shoulder and is then picked up. I can understand he might be paralysed with fear but maybe that could be made a bit clearer. It's a pretty damn scary thing to happen and we don't get the full sense of how terrifying it must have been for him!

I also think it's a tad unrealistic in that Al is alone for the night in an abandoned asylum, thinks he hears a voice and just looks around, stays where he is and then falls asleep after half an hour. If he's meant to be a rather unimaginative type of person who doesn't believe in the supernatural, I think what he hears should be just a little less definite than 'a voice', so that he can get all pragmatic and ignore it. If he's a little more nervy, perhaps he could get up and prowl around a little, or at least be a little less calm about it and more jumpy (depending on how brave you want him to be!).

I found the story gripping though, and wanted to know what happened next all the way though. :) Great setting!
 

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