by Anita Marie Moscoso
This was the first big project that I worked on at the Soul Food Cafe back in early 2005.
The ” Chamber of Horrors ” was a virtual school that Soul Food Cafe ‘students’ went to in order to learn to tell ‘spooky tales’.
This series of stories are a little rough and I’d probably write it different now but it makes for some fun Halloween reading as is… with that said I hope you can enjoy the ‘spirit’ in which it was written
Here we are in the vestibule; do you like the marble effigies? Stolen of course from religious places and cemeteries. When you’re as rich as the owners of this school were, they didn’t call it stealing, they didn’t call it grave-robbing.
They called it ‘ the procurement of antiquities’
The School itself was once run and owned by a husband and wife team; Dr Johnathan and Delphine Heller. I’m not kidding about the last name. Can you imagine trusting your body and life to a Dr Jack Heller?
And as for his wife!
Delphine Heller, was a pioneer in the study of Psychiatry and she believed there wasn’t a malady of the human brain that COULDN’T be cured by surgery. Delphine’s belief in scalpels and other sharp medical instruments bordered on religious mania.
Her patients in the insane asylum behind the school use to say she was crazier then all 200 of them put together. They also use to call her ” De fiend “.
They were right on both counts.
They may have been insane, but they weren’t stupid.
If you follow me, I’ll take you to the surgery theatre. Awful place, the floors in here are wood and if you drop anything on the floor…write it off. Even after all this time you couldn’t credit what sort of nastiness has made it’s way into the woodwork.
That’s in general I suppose.
This school is not a good place.
Upstairs are the labs. To your right are Dr Johnathan’s offices. His books, instruments, specimen jars, charts and journals are exactly as he left them.
Here, let me get the lights. Yes, those are real body parts. Pretty standard fare. Only…well, there seems to be an awful lot of them. More then you’d need for study. Don’t you think?
I call this Dr Heller’s trophy room.
It seems like that man couldn’t perform the most simple of surgery without taking something more then was required. Eyes, hands, feet…and other things as you can see.
Follow me here to his wife’s offices…which should be full of books, notes, maybe even pictures of the unfortunates she treated. But her rooms. Well, look for yourself.
These offices are twice the size of Johnathan’s and they are full of these…curiosities. These things would be more at home in a circus sideshow or a medical museum then in offices for a psychiatrist.
On this wall, let me get those doors..they slide, there. Physical deformities of embryos..human, animal…some, well, we’re not to this day what they are. You will also find if you care to look…are more, medical oddities.
Some of those heads and hands have been altered. Parts sewn on, sewn together, body parts created, in other words, by a surgeon.
She has shelves and shelves of medical instruments that appear to be one of a kind. Tools designed to reshape bones of all sizes, scalpels with specially designed blades and oddly shaped needles.
What the Morgue?
Oh my friend, I was hoping someone would ask me about that.
This elevator is old, but don’t worry it works just fine.
The Morgue, was someone’s pride and joy and I’m pretty sure it was Delphine’s pride and joy. It screams her name…as you’ll see.
The morgue is twice the size then the entire school above it. As you can see this is the place where those things in the jars were created. This is the heart of this place.
Now, my astute authors look at the autopsy tables…notice anything strange? Look closer…go ahead you won’t see it from way back there.
What, you don’t see anything?
You wouldn’t see what I’m looking at right now anywhere in any morgue in the world.
They’re not necessary for the work down here.
You didn’t notice the straps on the autopsy tables?
Hey, don’t you all run up the stairs like that, someone is going to get hurt!
THE CHAMBER OF HORRORS AND THE LEGEND OF THE 6TH FLOOR
What, now you all want a tour of the Sixth Floor? After that baloney down in the Morgue when you all tried to trample each other to death? I had visions of it on the evening news: Students perish in freak accident in a Morgue.
Well, forget it.
Oh, stop begging. But I mean it, the first one of you to turn tail and run winds up in a jar. Got it? Okay, then lets go.
As you can see the Sixth Floor was where the chapel was…well, actually where it is because as you see, everything is still here.
The altar and all of this artwork and effigies are from a church in the Carpathian Mountains once known as the Plague Church. Yes, that’s what it was called and if you think that’s strange takes a closer look at the effigies and the carvings on the altar.
Very good, I’m glad you noticed…none of the human figures have eyes.
Do you wonder what Delphine said, when she took her place at the altar and preached the Sunday sermon? I mean, what on earth there was to say to over 100 deeply psychotic and criminally insane individuals?
Perhaps Delphine answered that question all those years ago in her own special way.
In her logbooks she blocked this time off not as ” Sunday Services ” or ” Church “. Nope, she wrote in ” Alternative Therapy Session ”
To answer your question, I’m not sure it worked…no one is because this wasn’t the sort of place you were released from…ever. Delphine’ s Asylum wasn’t a place you came to in order to be cured. No, you came here because you couldn’t be cured.
Anyway, this is the legend of the 6th Floor.
Years after the Asylum was closed people insisted that the “Alternative Therapy Sessions” were still happening every Sunday evening, and if you were unlucky enough to be here when they started you would go mad.
You would become just as crazy as the ghosts that still haunt the Chapel.
They’re supposed to be here still, sitting in the pews, waiting for their treatment.
Some are in straight jackets, or other types of restraints that were popular in those days. A few of the patients wear cages that fit over their heads and rest on their shoulders, some are brought in coffin like contraptions called ‘ Lunatic Boxes ‘ and others, the truly insane walked in and eagerly waited for ” Church ” to begin.
It’s widely believed that Delphine’ s Congregation has actually grown over the years because sure as the Sun comes up each day one fool after another feels the need to bust into the school and come to the Plague Church and attend services with Delphine’ s Congregation of the Mad.
Once a group of girls dared their friend to come up here at sunset and sit in that front pew and wait for the Session to begin.
She was sitting right there when she heard the opening and closing of doors and feet shuffling along the corridor. At first she was positive it was her friends playing a joke on her. So she sat facing the altar and refused to turn around, she didn’t want her friends to see how much they had frightened her.
Suddenly those heavy doors swung open with a hiss and a horrible stifling hot breeze rushed up the aisle. With it, as if it were woven into the heat, she could hear whispering and every once and awhile she caught a phrase or two and heard laughter and giggling.
Within minutes the entire Chapel was full.
So she wasn’t surprised when someone sat next to her…because she was sure that the empty space to her right was the last empty space left in the entire chapel. To her credit she wasn’t terribly startled when felt something encased in canvas and metal scrape then rest against her upper arm and shoulder.
She did however bite her lips so hard to keep from screaming they bled.
Suddenly the Chapel was quiet and the girl caught the heavy scent of lavender and heard the rustle of a skirt and heard the sound of light footsteps come up the aisle from behind her. From the corner of her eye she saw light gray fabric and a woman’s hand adorned with small thin gold bands on all the fingers of her right hand.
The girl closed her eyes and then she closed her mind.
Alternative Therapy began.
So what happens when the doors suddenly swing open and the new convert emerges?
Go on, have a seat…I’d be glad to share what I learned that evening all those years ago with each and every one of you.
Okay, I meant what I said…you in the sweater, come back here. I told you what I’d do to the first person that made a run for it.
I warned you all, didn’t?
THE CHAMBER OF HORRORS AND THE MIDNIGHT SHIFT
What on Earth are you people doing in here?
We most certainly do not give tours of the Asylum…let alone the Chapel. Now all of you come out of there at once! Here now, what’s this? Let go of me and quit that babbling and for heaven’s sake quit that crying. You are all far to old for that.
You, young man, what’s going on here?
A woman? With a scalpel?
Ah, I see you’ve had the misfortune of running into our Mrs Everett. Well, don’t expect me to feel sorry for any of you. We were very clear when we opened this school which part of the properties were for your use and which areas were off limits.
If you got chased around by a psychotic ghost that’s your problem.
Now follow me, we have to get out of here before the Midnight Shift comes on.
Okay, here we are, safe and sound and back in the school and safely tucked away in the library. I’m going to have Miss Bayloche the Librarian explain somethings to you.
May I suggest that this time you listen.
Good evening ladies and gentlemen, I’m Miss Bayloche and I’m the school’s librarian. Which is probably why I’ve never laid eyes on any of you. Hmmm, not in the mood for chit chat are we?
That’s just as well. Let me get straight to the point.
This school is not a safe place, but you’ll do just fine if you understand a few things.
One is the original staff is still here.
Mrs Everett, the Hellers, the teachers and lab workers. They are all still here and they are all still very busy doing the same things they did over 100 years ago, I’m very sorry to say.
One of the worst members of this staff is a very unstable woman who is the head nurse…her name is Elizabeth Telrico and she is perhaps the most worrying to the present day staff because she’s in charge of the Midnight Shift.
Simply put, the Midnight Shift is the heart of this school.
At exactly the stroke of Midnight all of the lights in the Asylum blazed on and you could see the Midnight Shift come up the path from the north side of the Asylum.
They walked across a footbridge and came in through the back entrance.
Then the doors and windows would slam shut just as the last member of the night staff entered the building. You could hear the echoes for miles around, I’ve been told.
Now most of the day staff were locals, they never really met the night staff and tried very hard to keep it that way.
No it’s not a mystery why.
Go ahead and take a look out the window, it faces north.
You can see the trail the Midnight Shift used, the bridge they crossed. That piece of property doesn’t connect to the road. It’s fenced off.
It’s the cemetery.
THE CHAMBER OF HORRORS AND THE GHOST HUNTERS
I will not allow ghost hunters into this building. That’s out of the question. Have you people finally lost your hold on sanity?
Do you think for a minute that the ghosts would be the hunted in this situation? I don’t know who these people are you’ve invited but get rid of them…all of them!
What do you mean, it’s too late. Go down there and tell them…oh this is just wonderful.
Is running around kicking your mortality in the backside what you do to amuse yourselves? What do you do when you really want to have a good time… play a little Russian Roulette?
Fine, bring them up to the Library and do it quickly, things have been a little to noisy in the Isolation Ward lately. Well…you’ll find out the hard way if you don’t do what I say at once!
So you are the … how quaint the Gaslight Society Ghost Hunters. Yes, charmed I’m sure. My name is Miss Bayloche.
To make a very long story short these eight students are all that remains of 25. The others left a week ago after running into the Night Staffers.These remaining eight are suppose to be here to study writing, music and art. They’ve done none of that. But they’ve paid room and board till the end of next month so they’re here for at least that long.
Their instructors leave them to their own now because all they want to do is talk ghosts and demons and about the living dead.
That’s it in a nutshell.
Oh the story…you mean of the School itself.
Well, it was founded by two serial killers one of which was a demon and the other a creation of the demon itself, the Asylum was run by a psychotic and it’s Night Staff were residents of a little place called Leaning Birch…which I’m sure you’ve been informed is the town’s cemetery.
Every evening at Midnight a Shift occurs between the world of the living and the world of the dead and the School, or parts of it return to it’s former self. Our problem is that now after each shift has occurred parts of the old school are finding their way into the new school and staying.
Furnishings, cups of tea on desks, a room here and there…and things in the Morgue.
Yesterday the kitchen was in full use, food was being prepared, the tables were set…the days paper was even propped up against a bowl of steaming oatmeal.
Well, we don’t use that as a kitchen, it was closed off over 100 years ago and the paper for your information was dated 1905.
Things you see from the past are shifting into the present and I don’t know why, it’s never happened before. It’s your standard Chamber of Horrors fare. Boring to individuals of your expertise. So, I guess you’ll be…
Why of course you are.
This place is one of a kind? You don’t say. The racket? It’s the door leading to the Isolation Ward. From the sounds of it, it’s just been torn off of it’s hinges.
Welcome members of the Gaslight Society to the Chamber of Horrors.
THE CHAMBER OF HORRORS AND THE ISOLATION WARD
How many times do I have to tell you I came back as the School’s Librarian because I wanted a nice safe place to settle back in? I’ve been out of practice for a very long time and I had to brush up on my studies.
It was peaceful, quiet and with each day I felt…hmmm, more involved you might say.
The next thing you know I’m hunting around a morgue for lost students, I’m settling in staff and
trying to set up housekeeping under ridiculous circumstances then I find myself pulling out some old medical equipment (oh don’t look like that, I’m referring to the straight jackets) for some Ghost Hunters who decided to try to dive out a window in my library and haven’t been quite the same since.
From the looks of them right now, the kindest thing to do was let them fly.
I had to put them in the Isolation Ward; it’s the safest place really. Nothing in there can hurt them. I just wish you wouldn’t have done that damaged to the door because I’ve had to restrain all eight of them in there.
It was no easy task…look, one even bit me.
So it’s you and me now, until the next shift anyway.
The rest? They’re all tucked away safely, the students, the Ghost Hunters (sorry, no I’m okay I was trying not to laugh and I choked a bit there) the curious and the very, very stupid. Tucked away and waiting for… well, you know, help.
Ignore the yelling, I do. It’s good practice; it’s only going to get worse later.
Yes, it’s a good thing the Midnight Shift kept the place up all these years.
They better have, the lazy brutes.
So now let me see here, the beds are ready, the treatment rooms and the equipment are in perfect working order.
Why even the Plague Church is ready.
Now there’s a happy surprise.
Everything is ready and I think it’s time to begin our rounds. Shall we start with the Isolation Ward? No, you first Jonathan. And do quit calling me by that silly name. How long exactly have you been in that room? It’s me; it’s your wife…
Come Darling, you first…