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. Sharon L. Higa, author of Where The Dead Have Gone has agreed to step into the past with us and tell us what made the story speak to her. But let’s take a moment to get to know her a little better…
At six years old, Sharon L. Higa became obsessed with the supernatural, compliments of an older cousin who fascinated her with stories of hauntings and horror. Travelling the world with her family, the fascination grew, resulting in creating and telling her own stories. She wrote intermittently for a number of years, but it was after she and her husband moved to East Tennessee that her family and friends convinced her to write and publish her works. She now writes full time. She resides with eleven cats, one dog and Mark, her patient and loving husband of twenty two years. You can find her on Facebook or LinkedIn.
The Inspiration Behind Where The Dead Have Gone
I would have to say that the inspiration for my story, Where The Dead Have Gone actually came from my childhood friend, whom I have known for 46 years, and who had been committed to an insane asylum at the age of 10.
We were in our early twenties when one night, while we were having coffee she finally spilled the truth.
“Did you ever wonder why,” she began, “I stopped writing to you while you were in Europe?” I had lived overseas from the age of nine to eleven and after two years, I didn’t receive any more letters from her.
I simply nodded my head, encouraging her to go on. “Well,” she cleared her throat, stared me straight in the eyes. “It’s because I had been committed to an insane asylum for a year by my family.”
I sat looking at her, absolutely stunned. What could I say? My shock at her statement was suddenly overridden by the absolute sorrow that overwhelmed me on her behalf.
I leaned over and gave her a huge hug. She hugged me back then went on.
“The good news is the place where I was at, which is just one city over, is being torn down. I want you to go with me over there, so I can show you where I was.”
I agreed, so the next evening we went. We arrived about ten o’clock at night and slid through a hole cut into the chain-link fencing, totally ignoring the ‘No Trespassing’ and ‘Condemned’ signs hooked up all over the place.
We clicked on our flashlights and moved around to the back entrance where we found the door askew and we were able to slip in. She gave me the grand tour, showing me where the hospital cafeteria was, the electroshock therapy room, the common room where they had their ‘sessions’ with the shrinks – every place she had described to me the previous night was real. The whole scene was made surreal to me because there were still items left there; gurneys, office desks, chairs, the metal frames of beds. It gave me the creeps, the willies and the jim-jams all rolled into one.
We reached a set of stairs going down. Here, she grasped my arm and said, “This is where, forty years before I was here, they kept the patients they considered ‘unruly’ chained to the walls.” That was the first time I’d ever heard of this, so I really thought, ‘Now she’s just BS’ing me to get me more jumpy.”
When we got to the bottom, she made a right turn. The corridor here was dank, musty and actually damp to the touch. It dead-ended in a large room made of brick. She started shining her light all around, saying “There, there, look there” and there they were: metal bolts and shards of chain still embedded in the walls.
I thought I could actually hear wailing, cursing, crying; thought I could feel hands reaching for me, not only in anger but also beseeching me to help them, free them, do something to stop the eternal pain. I grabbed my friend by the hand and got out of there as fast as humanly possible.
I did verify what she told me as true with her parents later on in our lives. That experience is just as vivid for me today, at fifty four years of age, as it was when I walked through my friend’s brief tour of Hell when we were both twenty two.
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