Shift to Insanity

The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

It’s late afternoon, and while the sun has not yet set, the clouds cast shadows that make it feel later in the day than it really is. “Overcast,” the experts call it.

I call it a shift.

My health has shifted also, which leaves me coughing and feeling weak. Along with this alteration in my usual abundance of energy, comes a transition in my thoughts.

Another shift, as it were.

I started writing a horror story a few years ago (actually it was a screenplay that my writing partner, Kevin, my husband, Mark, and I dreamt up), but the ending hasn’t yet worked itself out. Oh, I believe these stories write themselves. I’ve witnessed the characters create their own plots and develop into rich souls beyond my imagination. They are real – locked away in silence until someone is silent enough to listen to them speak. That is how a story is born.

Corridor of the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

The shift that happens for a writer, usually from one genre to another, is likely because one of the silent characters has decided to remain silent no longer. He (or she) screams their thoughts until their words permeat mine. It is then that I go to stillness, listen, and begin typing what I hear them say.

Today, the shift happened. I was drawn to the image of an abandoned building – the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, West Virgina to be exact.

Two separate images with video tours spontaneously popped up on my browser of this place. I’ve never heard of it before so this was an accident…or was it?

Treatment room in the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

My shift in health (away from vitality), and the subsequent shift away from Caribbean pirates, has transported my emotional state to the infirmed. I’m sick – just a cold, but it’s really taken a toll lately. I cannot talk, I struggle to move without coughing, and I’m short of breath with menial tasks (likely bronchitis). But whatever it is, I’m reminded, as I watch the scenes from this abandoned hospital for the insane, that there were many held there who had no voice and no energy for menial tasks because their brains were sick or lobotomized.

I wonder if there is a soul that needs his story told. Perhaps the story that is calling to me, the script that needs to happen in an abandoned wing of an old hospital, requires that I experience the suffering that occurred in places like these.

Civil War corridor of the Tran-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

For certain, I will visit one of these abandoned asylums, should the oportunity present itself. On a dare, I’ve visited an abandoned, supposedly haunted, floor on two of the hospitals where I worked. Strange things happen there – I witnessed them. Those floors still exist and were the motivation behind these scenes in the screenplay that still needs to be completed. Now, I suspect the book is also begging to be written.

My guess is that I need to listen, to feel, to experience the insanity of a haunted floor.


Tonight is going to be an interesting one.

Main entry doors welcome the insane into the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in West Virginia

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  1. I loved reading your writing, great writing. Hope you feel better.
    You inspire me greatly!
    Love you

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