In 1887, Dr. Edgar Livingston worked relentlessly to find a cure for his beloved’s condition which caused her mind to unravel from the tormenting hallucinations. Through trial and error experimentation on dozens of mentally ill patients at Bethlem Royal Hospital, he pushed against the moral threshold of ethical practices attempting to unlock the secrets of the human mind by realigning their resonance with reality. What Doctor Livingston did not realize were the otherworldly dimensions that took notice of his impetuous work.
“Dementia Praecox” is the second story in the “A Short Journey Into Darkness” horror series by author W.O. Cassity. The short story series offers originally unique fiction written in vivid detail to immerse readers into the fringes of terror.
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Skulking over the ledger’s musty-scented pages, Dr. Livingston dipped the oversized quill into the emerald-green inkwell before penning the latest entry:
11 November 1877
Bethlem Royal HospitalBedlam
Subject 41 expired at approximately 10:22 p.m., possibly due to cardiac arrest once again. I wait for my assistant Hensley to deliver and release the corpse to the hospital morgue. My only concern is that there may perhaps be further inquiry into the claw-like contusions upon the deceased’s forearms and along his facial cheeks. I still cannot fathom how the subject, who was restrained, managed to damage himself in such a way. Both Hensley and I agree that the peculiar wounds appeared to spontaneously appear across the patient’s flesh of their own accord.
Having witnessed this entire incident, I must admit that further precautions are still a necessity as I continue to push on toward a resolution to this condition. The screams of the patient still reverberate within my ears at those haunting terrors, which only existed in his tormented mind. My first assertion is that the patient’s experience became so vivid, he was somehow able to enact the subjective manifestations of his consciousness into literal lacerations upon his extremities. Perhaps Hensley and I are the first to witness the true potential of the human mind to inflict its falsely perceived stimuli upon the body during a controlled experiment. Mind over the material world indeed! This may warrant further exploration in the future after I have completed my current work toward a cure for dementia praecox.
When Hensley returns, he will prepare Subject 42 for her time in the chair. I will administer the new cocktail of ingredients according to the schedule after readjusting the chloroform and nitrous oxide levels for proper sedation during the procedure. Even though she’s much smaller than Subject 41, we still need to gauge the appropriate levels of anesthesia so Subject 42 will remain conscious yet controllable and programmable during the procedure.
As I understand it, Subject 42 has a peculiarly heightened state of hysteria, so perhaps this will allow us to mark any substantial improvements in her mental realignment using the electric resonating device with profound measure. It was difficult to identify the response from Subject 41 due to his condition’s tepid state and mannerisms.
Regardless of tonight’s setbacks, I have the utmost certainty that I can mitigate the issues Subject 41 experienced tonight. It is too soon for me to surrender now and too dangerous for me to stop. Questions are being asked already and if I do not have an answer to Annabelle’s condition soon, I may not be able to cure her ailment before they forcibly return me to New York if they discover what I have been doing. Certainly, they would shower me with accolades upon my substantial progress, but the board will need to see results and I need to save Annabelle if I am to marry her. She would definitively accept my proposal of marriage with a clear mind, for who else could liberate her from Dr. Kraepelin’s diagnosis other than the youngest fellow to be accepted by Bethlem Royal Hospital? At the age of thirty-seven, I will become renowned for such an achievement and therefore, Annabelle would accept me unconditionally.
E. L., PhD
Edgar rested his quill in the inkwell and remained still as he pondered what outcomes awaited him in the final experiment of the evening. A rapping at the heavy oak study door rescued him from his reverie.
“Yes, what is it?” he asked.
“Dr. Livingston, Subject 42 is now prepped for the resonance procedure,” Hensley responded. “Should I start charging the apparatus?”
“Indeed, Hensley. I shall be there momentarily.”
About the Author:
W.O. Cassity grew up in the Mississippi Delta Valley dreaming of new worlds fueled by his passions for writing and playing tabletop games with his friends. As an adult, he relocated to Nashville, Tennessee where he pursued a career in IT and Telecommunications, working for companies such as Dell Computer Corporation, Verizon Wireless and Asurion. Will returned to his childhood passions sharing those experiences with his children. He went on to release his debut novel, “Heir of the Blood King” which was well received. He was accepted as a member of The Ed Greenwood Group (TEGG) Sessorium of Creatives in September 2015, where he will write novels set in Mr. Greenwood’s new campaign worlds. Will and his wife, Barbara, currently reside in Arkansas with their four children, three dogs and one very stinky cat.
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