ASYLUM by Matt Drabble

Published May 28, 2014 by Shadow Girl

cover

Blackwater Heights is a building with a long dark history, some of it is well known but more is shrouded in myth and legend. None more so than that of its founding father Horace Whisker.

Martin Parcell is an ex-journalist with shattered dreams of an author’s career. Sidelined through a car crash’s injuries, he finds himself forced through governmental austerity measures having to take a custodians position at a private mental health hospital. A writer with undoubted talent, but an author without a story.

He begins his new job deep in depression and drowning under waves of his lost dreams. On his first night he meets Jimmy, his elderly supervisor who has spent most of his life within the hospital walls. Jimmy is nearing retirement age and desperate to rest his weary bones. Jimmy offers Martin a way out for both of them, access to the background histories and stories of the hospital’s patients.

A collection of 13 tales from the darkly disturbed minds of the residents of Blackwater Heights.

As the long night unwinds, Martin finds himself deeply troubled as the tales unfold before him and threaten to drag him down into their insanity.

I’ve had this book for a long time. I loved the sound of the synopsis, and am always on the lookout for an asylum story to scare the crap outta me.
It somehow got lost in my Kindle, I think it was from the blow up & the replacement, it screwed up my filing system. When I picked it back up and started over – I remembered how great it started, and I’m pissed that I haven’t read it until now. ALTHOUGH… I am getting to enjoy it right now – so it’s all good. I can’t stay mad at me forever.

The first chapter laid everything down beautifully, and gave me a huge ‘ah-ha’ moment when I figured out how I believe things are going to go.
Martin is a writer. Unfortunately, we all know that writing just doesn’t pay the bills. Looking to make ends meet, he picks up a gig at the ‘bin’… custodial arts at the local mental asylum. While working the first half of his shift, the regular janitor, Jimmy, tells him the background story of this hospital, and of the man who built it.
Martin knows that this is a story that is begging to be told. Jimmy knows it, too.
Jimmy also knows that Martin wants to write this story, so he lays his offer down. “I’ll tell you the story, for 50% of the profit.” He sees that Martin is a little reluctant, so – he ups the ante. All the residents of this hospital – they each have a story, and Martin can be the one to write them. The only thing that stands between him & their memories? The keys on Jimmy ‘s key-ring.
According to the title of this book, there are thirteen different tales of terror in our visit to Blackwater Heights Mental Hospital. Let’s dive right in, shall we?

Chapter two tells the us Julian’s tale.
PICKING UP STRANGERS
Jillian is a man obsessed with numbers. Everything is precisely scheduled, accounts perfectly balanced, and timed. He came to the UK when the U.S. company he worked for, as an accountant, planned to expand and purchased an area to develop. He was to fly to London and tour the new facility. Sadly, nothing has gone as planned. His plane didn’t land in London, it landed 430 miles away from his planned destination. That’s why Julian rented a car, one without on-board SatNav, and tried to drive the distance. What happened on that drive led to a car accident, a burned down cabin in the woods, and four dead bodies.
Eight days later, he ended up in Blackwater Heights.

Chapter four is Duncan Murray’s story.
THE VOICE
Thirty eight years old, the overweight & scruffy graphic designer lives a boring, and practically anonymous life. When the voice in his head started talking to him, he blamed everything from being overly tired to a possible brain tumor. He realized that it was neither of those things when he refused to do the things The Voice was goading him into – The Voice retaliated by causing harm to the people that would have only been mildly inconvenienced or annoyed by the initial suggestion. Refuse to kick that little dog? Ok. It’s owner can enjoy this heart-attack. Refuse to pinch that girls ass? See what I can do that’s worse! Duncan learned to live with The Voice by creating some boundaries & ground rules – until The Voice went silent.
When The Voice finally did return – it was only a matter of hours until Duncan arrived at Blackwater Heights.

Chapter five is Martin and Jimmy discussing things in between rooms, and in between residents. I got a little tickle in my gut here. I got an idea of something to watch for in later scenes with these two. (I just wanted to make a note of it).

In chapter six we learn Dr. Samuel Dietz story.
TWO BLIND MICE
Dr. Samuel is a man who harbors dark fantasies and even darker secrets. Running an institute for the blind should keep him safe from prying eyes, but his debauchery can’t be hidden from the new resident – Sarah Conner.

Chapter eight is Janet Marlowe’s story.
IS THERE ANYBODY OUT THERE?
Janet is working as a psychic, Gypsy Rose to her clients. She knows all the cons to lure in the rich, and prey on their losses. The grieving are willing to accept her words as comfort, until she gets a client that takes her words a little too seriously.

Chapter ten is about Detective Inspector Daniel Bowden.
LONELY HEARTS
Dan learns an important lesson while investigating a string of mysterious deaths. And in the end, when he doesn’t get the thing he wants the most – he finally understands.

Chapter twelve is the story of Billy Hayes
NO STRINGS ATTACHED
Billy gets his first summer job, working in a toy store that is getting ready for it’s grand opening in his little town. It’s not like any toy store he’s ever seen – no X-Box here. These are hand made toys, dolls to be specific. Those creepy dolls, whose eyes seem to follow your every move. His boss, the store’s owner & doll maker, puts his heart & soul into these dolls – like they were his… children.

Chapter fourteen is the tale of twenty-three year old Brittany Nichols – STORMY SEAS
Brittany is a writer, suffering writers block after her first novel topped the critic’s lists but didn’t do well with the public. She goes on holiday looking for her muse, renting a secluded cottage for three months. She finds more than her muse when Mother Nature throws an epic hissy fit.
Brittany isn’t the one who ended up at Blackwater Heights, though.

Chapter sixteen Gerald Dayton
METHOD ACTING
This is an awesome story. One of my favorites so far.
Gerald is an actor – one of those dick-head actors who treats everyone like shit & acts all superior. He has an epiphany one night, and realizes that he’s been… well, he’s been a douche bag. He’s going to turn things around – act for the art, for the feelings it used to invoke in him.
He receives a mysterious script shortly after this. No name attached, only signed ‘The Director’. This script is amazing, and Gerald wants this roll.
He throws himself into it, becomes the character – like Heath Ledger did as The Joker, with almost the same result.
Let me know how you feel about this one – I’m dying to talk about it with someone!

Remember that idea I had – well, I’m even more convinced that I’m headed in the right direction about Jimmy. Martin is tottering back & forth with things, too. He’s not so sure that he wants to do this anymore.

Chapter eighteen Donnie Biggs
THE DEVIL’S MUSIC
A group of teens want to be the next great band. The white faces and black make-up, leather clothes fit for The Village People. They can hardly play, but that doesn’t matter. When you’re hungry enough for success, you’re willing to do whatever it takes to become a star – and these boys are hungry.

Chapter twenty Morton Banks
PRIMETIME SPECIAL
There was a talk show host ages ago, before talk shows are what they are today. Hell, before they were what they were in their height of success. A host who was cool At first, until the novelty wore off & we saw him for the sham he was. Sleazy. More sleazy than the guests on Springer today. He smoked on the set, and told off the guests. I am thinking this has to be loosely based on this guy, or else it’s one hell of a coincidence! Morton Downey Jr. is the guy I’m referring to, and if you know who he is (was), then you’ll see the resemblance when you read this chapter.
Morton Banks is the host of a failing paranormal investigation television show. He needs to be back on top, so he’s willing to do whatever it takes to get there, even if it includes faking a live broadcast from a notorious killers home & killing ground.

Chapter twenty-two
Major Donald Carragher has a YELLOW STREAK a mile long! He went to extreme measures to hide his shame while serving his country. Now, he thinks he’s made it, that no one will ever find out, but a blast from the past begs to differ! In the end – will he finally stand UP and do what’s right, or will this be the time that his secret is exposed for the whole world to see?

Chapter twenty-four
Zachary Carmine is the harshest, and most snarky food critic to ever work for the paper. His readers love to hate him, and the restaurants he reviews for his column, DISH OF THE DAY, are made or broken by the few lines he shoots out – usually before he even tries the food.
He gets a mysterious call that leads him to try the best food he’s ever tasted, and that one taste changes him – forever.

Chapter twenty-six
Sara Wilton is taking a NIGHT CLASS in Criminology. She’s faced with a question I’ll ask you guysow, too…
Do you think you could pick out a serial killer on looks alone? I’m drawn to this phrase again – Never Judge A Book By It’s Cover!!

Website: mattdrabble.com
Twitter: MattDrabble01
Facebook: matt.drabble.3

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