Each time that Sirens Call Publications releases an anthology, we like to reach into the recesses of the author’s minds and learn about the inspiration behind their stories. Mental Ward: Stories from the Asylum was recently released, and today we’re going to feature the inspiration behind Megan Dorei’s contribution Visiting Hours.
Megan Dorei is a recent high school graduate who has just started delving into the publishing world. In October, one of her short stories – “Wings” – was published in Elektrik Milk Bath Press’ Zombies for a Cure anthology. She is also currently scheduled to have four other stories published in various anthologies: “Haunt Me” in Less Than Three Press’ Kiss Me at Midnight anthology, “Chasing Rabbits” in Sirens Call Publication’s Bellows of the Bone Box anthology, “Half Jack” in Song Story Press’ Come to My Window anthology, and “Love in a Laundromat” in Angelic Knight Press’ 50 Shades of Decay anthology. She lives in McLouth, Kansas with her family and the crazy friends who come to invade her house and steal her food. You can connect with Megan on Facebook or Goodreads.
The Inspiration Behind Visiting Hours
I’ve always been infatuated by the idea of sacrifice. I know it sounds like a pretty somber thing to be infatuated with, but it does something to my heart. Sacrifice is a beautiful thing to me but it’s also harsh, and for some reason that just enhances its beauty. Like the way an amazing personality will enhance a pretty face.
This story has a lot to do with sacrifice, as well as with inner strength, although to me the two coincide more often than not. But neither of those concepts would have found a home in this story if I hadn’t started in the most basic of places: a daydream of a girl losing her mind (yes, I do seem to have those quite frequently!)
Most of the time when I listen to music, I automatically picture a scene in my head, like a music video. I’ve done this for as long as I can remember listening to music, and sometimes these give birth to stories and sometimes they don’t. This happened to be one that spawned something.
I owe this particular spawn to White Rabbits’ “Percussion Gun”. The title is as it suggests – the drumming in this song is like machine gun fire, thus making it infinitely more intense, and as such, drums played a heavy roll in my music video.
In my head, a drumline dressed in black and silver marching uniforms (yes, I AM a band geek!) started playing a loud, frantic beat around this girl, this prisoner. She tried to block it out by shoving her hands against her ears, she tried asking them to stop, she tried pounding at the door of her prison cell but all to no avail. The drummers kept drumming away. But eventually she realized that the drummers and she herself were all just a product of her own imagination, and she wasn’t really a prisoner but a mental patient.
I kept that idea in my mind for a long time until I finally stumbled across the “Mental Ward” call for submissions. I was so excited that I’d found a possible home for my story that I set to work writing it immediately. At first it was a bit hollow, as I had no idea where I wanted it to go, but then I came up with another main character to compliment my mental patient. He was to be her willpower’s physical trainer, so to speak, that inner voice that pushed her to do things she never thought she could and rewarded her successes. Ultimately I wanted it to be about overcoming your own demons, and the sacrifices we sometimes have to make to do that, because I think we all struggle with that on a daily basis. Just maybe not in a mental institution.
This is a collection of stories of bedlam taking place within the padded walls of an institution. Stories of experiments gone wrong, patients revolting against the staff, or even the deranged doings of those charged with giving care. They are sick, depraved, and atrocious – the type of stories that rarely reach the light of day.
Are you brave enough to crawl inside the minds of the thirteen authors who wrote these tales… Or are you afraid you’ll be locked up for peeking?
Featuring the talents of:
Delphine Boswell, Alex Chase, Sean Conway, Megan Dorei, A.A. Garrison, Tom Howard, Russell Linton, Suzie Lockhart and Bruce Lockhart 2nd, Jennifer Loring, Sergio Palumbo, Joseph A. Pinto, and D.M. Smith
Now let’s take a moment to read a little excerpt of Visiting Hours by Megan Dorei…
Drumbeat like gunfire raps through my mind. I dig my nails into my scalp as the percussive explosions rack my brain. The frantic beating will not stop. It’s been playing in my mind for hours.
Tears flow, fast and hot, down my cheeks. I whimper, wanting to cry out but knowing I can’t. If I make any noise, Kurt will come for me again, and this time he won’t hesitate to use his fists.
He came at dinner time with my food and a syringe filled with bright yellow liquid. It reminded me of police tape at a crime scene. I haven’t been eating for the past three days; refusing to after I realized that they were mixing some kind of medicine in with it to get us to sleep. He threatened me with the mysterious liquid, telling me that if I didn’t start eating he’d fill me full of it.
I punched the tray of gray-looking food out of his hand, leaving a few bright red welts on my knuckles. I tried to scramble away before he could grab me, but his fingers gnarled in my hair and yanked me back. My neck cracked, and for one terrifying moment I thought he’d broken it. A scream ripped from my chest but it was cut off quickly as he tossed me into the wall.
The breath left my lungs in one quick rush. My stomach flattened against my spine and I dry-heaved convulsively. Through the tears, I barely had time to register the boot flying toward my face before it struck my left temple.
Blinding pain flared across my eyes. I skidded across the linoleum floor, skin ripping as it tried unsuccessfully to stick to the scuffed tile. For a moment, I couldn’t see anything. I blinked my eyes several times to clear them of tears and sudden blindness.
Kurt pulled me up just as my hazy eyes cleared, popping my shoulder out of place. I cried out in pain and he grabbed my throat, choking me. He said something but I couldn’t hear it through the ringing in my ears. Then he stuck the needle into my arm and pushed the plunger.
Now I’m sitting against the wall under the only window in the room besides the tiny square of glass on the door. I rock desperately back and forth as the drumming pummels me.
After- what? Hours? Days?- of this violent noise, I lift my head and open my eyes. As soon as I do, my gaping mouth closes over my tongue, and I feel a bright burst of blood against my teeth.
Stretching from my wall to the opposite wall, on either side of my curled body, is a line of young boys in black-and-steel marching uniforms. All of them are carrying marching snares and the same mindless, unblinking expressions.
They force the beat, this tribe of drumline boys. It’s not just in my head.
Unfolding arthritically from my curled position, I stumble in front of the nearest drummer, waving my hands in front of his face.
“Please,” I croak, hissing as a jolt of pain bursts through my dislocated shoulder. “Stop making that racket.”
The drummer doesn’t seem to notice me, doesn’t seem to blink or move anything except his arms…
Don’t forget the come back tomorrow for the inspiration behind Delphine Boswell’s Interview with a Patient – #0494772!