At the end of September, Sirens Call Publications released Mental Ward: Echoes of the Past. Twelve authors wrote stories that will take seat in your mind and chill you to the bone. As with all of our anthologies, we like to learn why the authors wrote their particular stories and invite them all to write something that speaks to their inspiration. The Blue Girl is Lindsey Beth Goddard’s contribution to the collection and she’s agreed to step into the past with us and tell us what made the story speak to her; but let’s get to know her a bit first…
Lindsey Beth Goddard lives in the suburbs of St. Louis, MO. Most recently, her work has appeared in the anthologies: Night Terrors (Kayelle Press), Welcome To Hell (E-volve Books), and Mistresses Of The Macabre (Dark Moon Books) and the e-zines/ magazines: Sirens Call, Flashes In The Dark, Hogglepot, Dark Fire Fiction, Infernal Ink, Twisted Dreams, and Yellow Mama. More of her stories are scheduled to appear in: Fresh Fear: Contemporary Horror, Quixotic: Not Everyday Love Stories, and Dark Moon Digest. When not writing, she enjoys interviewing fellow authors, playing with her three children, and watching horror movies. You can find her on Twitter at @LindseyBethGodd and on Facebook.
The Inspiration Behind The Blue Girl
Throughout human history man has inflicted pain upon his fellow man in hopes of “curing” or “cleansing” him of an affliction. The motivations behind these acts of violence are clear: A fear of the unknown. In retrospect, electroshock, blood-letting, ice-cold baths, and lobotomies seem a cruel way to treat mental illness. Not to mention our even more primitive ancestors, who perceived it as possession by the devil, and who chipped through the skull with crude tools into order to “let the demons out”. One has only to possess a modicum of common sense to realize the innumerable amount of innocent people who must have died as a result of this treatment.
In the middle ages, it was standard procedure to throw sufferers of mental illness into the dungeon, sometimes for life. It was commonplace to beat them, as a punishment for dishonoring their families. Almost everything in these superstitious times was attributed to a higher force. It was believed that a person stricken with such an affliction must have sinned, or otherwise angered God.
Even after the introduction of asylums things did not improve. Insane asylums were not focused on helping mental patients overcome their illness, but merely a place where family members, in good conscience, could abandon their troubles and never return. There are documented cases of people being shackled to walls with only enough slack to feed themselves, not enough to lay down and sleep. The rooms were never cleaned; the humans chained there were never allowed exercise, and they were given the bare minimum of what was needed to survive. I imagine death seemed preferable to most, if not all, of these maltreated and misunderstood patients.
What motivated me to write The Blue Girl is simple: Although the methods I’ve described seem like a thing of the past, in many areas of the world this inhumane treatment continues today. You and I live in a society where mental illness is understood, where people seek and receive the help they need. And yet, even in these modern times, superstition is prominent in certain areas, taking precedence over medical science and causing humans to suffer needlessly.
This is not to say there haven’t been sympathizers over the years, those who disapproved of the savage treatment of the “insane”. The young apprentice in my story, Frederick, is reluctant to harm the beautiful Anna. He feels conflicted about going through with the brutal treatment once he gazes upon her innocent face. But, he goes through with it anyway. Why? He is taking cues from the doctor, someone more powerful than himself. I imagine this happens a lot. I imagine that in most cases of human suffering throughout the world, cases where human rights are of little to no value, there are always those people who want to speak out against it. People who want to change things, but who instead remain voiceless, because it is safer to do so.
The Blue Girl was written with all these people in mind: those who have endured tortures, those who have been powerless to stop it, and those who have been haunted by their actions. I was watching the second season of American Horror Story when I noticed the call for submissions, and from there, the idea sprouting in my mind grew into an anguishing tale. It’s the story of Anna, a helpless victim of asylum abuse. And undoubtedly, it’s the story of countless others…
In places where unspeakable atrocities occurred sometimes ‘something’ lingers, stuck between the worlds of the living and the dead. Those who believe in the grey area behind the veil will tell you that those places can become eternal cages that hold the souls of the deceased captive.
Mental Ward: Echoes of the Past is a collection of twelve such stories; tales of hauntings taking place in asylums. The places where the crazed, the insane, and sometimes the different were hidden away from society’s view.
Follow the winding path crafted by the talented, and in some cases, twisted imaginations of the storytellers who would taint your peaceful world with their echoes of the past.
Brent Abell, Chad P. Brown, Sarah Cass, Alex Chase, Denzell Cooper, Jason Cordova, Lindsey Beth Goddard, Sharon L. Higa, Lockett Hollis, K. Trap Jones, Joseph A. Lapin, and Kimberly Lay