Mary Hazel Upton
BLOG POST FOR EARON'S PAGE
OCTOBER 30, 2017 MONDAY
HALLOWEEN SHORT STORY
CHARLES' HALLOWEEN JACK-O-LANTERN
PHOTOGRAPH BY MARY HAZEL UPTON
OCTOBER 26, 2013
I took this photograph of my brother, Charles' jack-o-lantern at his Halloween party back in 2013. This is just one of the many decorations that he always has for Halloween. Each year he has a special Halloween party for members of the family. I always take lots of photographs to remember our special times. Each holiday he plans and cooks dinner for a special family party. I took this photograph with the digital camera he gave me.
OLD ODD FELLOWS HOME
FEBRUARY 24, 1978
PHOTOGRAPH BY HAZEL FERN HENSON
A HALLOWEEN SHORT STORY
MARY HAZEL UPTON
The January blizzard was piling up snow in soft silent drifts. It had started snowing in the small hours of the morning, before I got off work. By the time I got to my room at the Employees Housing Building, I knew that the storm was going to be a bad one. I stood looking down at the road and the grounds of Arcadia for a few minutes before I drew the curtains and got ready for bed. The wind made a lonesome sound, like the wail of one of the mad people I’ve heard so often here at Arcadia. For some reason I thought of Mrs. Overholser. I hadn’t thought of her in months.
The trouble here at Arcadia didn’t really start with Mrs. Overholser. I’m tempted to say that it started when they began tearing down the century old Victorian buildings that make up Arcadia, or Libertyville State Mental Hospital, as it’s more properly called. Or did it begin with Graham’s fanatical religion? I know in my heart, though, that it began that day in class with my innocent question, “If you can get enough people to believe in your delusion, is it still a delusion?”
I’m getting ahead of my story, though. Let me begin at the beginning. My name is Christine Williams. I’m twenty-one years old, medium height and weight, blond hair and blue eyes, and single. I’ve never had any problem getting all the boyfriends I want, but I’m not ready to get married yet. I didn’t want to keep living at home anymore, though, so I took this job as psychiatric attendant at Arcadia. I have a room on the fifth floor of the Employees Housing Building.
The class room building, like all the buildings at Arcadia, is very old. It is made of faded red brick with several class rooms, an open area with Coke and snack machines, and a glass enclosed back porch. Change is the one unchanging thing at Arcadia. Because of this, they hire two full time teachers to teach the six week classes to the new attendants who are replacing the old ones who keep quitting. Of course, I didn’t know all this when I first started class. Like all the new attendants, I thought this was going to be a good place to work.
I started class on a hot August day. There were six of us in my class. We joined the class of eight that had already been studying for three weeks. In three more weeks a new class would join us while the “old” class graduated. At Arcadia nothing is what it seems to be, and you have to think backwards to understand their reasoning. I guess I was already learning that the day we had the class on delusions and hallucinations.
Dr. Jones was the guest speaker that day, taking Mrs. Lamb’s place for this class. The resident psychiatrists and other heads of departments taught classes on some of the special subjects that it was deemed important us student attendants learn about.
“Delusions and hallucinations are two words you are going to become very familiar with here at Arcadia,” the distinguished white haired doctor told us.
“Delusions are fixed false beliefs. Hallucinations are auditory or visual. The patient actually thinks he is hearing voices or seeing things.”
The monotonous sound of the cicadas and the monotone green of the trees outside faded away for me as Dr. Jones explained the intricate workings of the diseased mind.
“A delusion is a personal belief. It is not the same as the beliefs held by a cult. Although these beliefs may be false, and every bit as bizarre, they aren’t delusions because they are shared by a number of people.” He paused. “Are there any questions?”
I raised my hand. “If you had a delusion and you could get enough other people to believe in it, then would it no longer be a delusion?”
Dr. Jones laughed. “A most unusual question, young lady. Kind of like which came first, the chicken or the egg? No, I suppose if you could get enough people to believe in your delusion, it wouldn't be a delusion. Then it would become a cult, perhaps.”
I felt a cold chill go over me at the good doctor’s reply. It was quickly gone, like the chill caused by “someone walking over your grave”. So I won’t say I had a premonition of disaster then. I did feel that same cold chill after class was dismissed for lunch, though. A group of us were walking to the dining room. All week the wreckers had been busy tearing down one of the old buildings across from the dining room building. As we came to the dining room the wrecking ball gave the building its death blow. I watched in horror as the bricks scattered and the red dust rose in the hot air. I have always loved old buildings, and it seemed wicked to me to destroy them in the name of “progress”. Later I was to learn that more of them were slated for destruction, but that is another story.
I was assigned to R Ward on the
The next night I was assigned to work upstairs in the female patients’ dormitory. I worked with Graham Summers for the first time that night. The upstairs world at R Ward is every bit as weird as the downstairs world on the graveyard shift. There are only two of us up there, one man for the male patients and one woman in charge of the female patients. We sit in the office, that separates the dormitories, all night and read, or play cards, or crochet, or sometimes just talk. Strange confidences are sometimes shared with people we don’t know very well. I guess the darkness outside the office and the void of the early morning hours brings us closer, like survivors in a lifeboat. Those confidences that Graham shared with me in those empty hours were to be the start of the horror that was to come. If I’d known what lay ahead, would I still have listened? I think I would have, with the same avid, yet horrified curiosity as I’d listened to Dr. Jones’s lecture on the workings of the insane mind.
Most nights are quiet. The patients sleep. But some nights, especially when there is a full moon, they are restless. It is amazing how long a person can go without sleep. I discovered that when I met Mrs. Overholser.
“She’s been up all evening,” the three to eleven shift attendant told me when I made rounds with her, preparatory to taking charge of the ward. “We called the nurse, but she doesn’t want to do anything unless she gets worse.”
It was three days after I’d started working R Ward. I’d seen Mrs. Overholser, but hadn’t paid much attention to her. She looks like anybody’s mother, slightly frumpy, with black hair teased on top of her head and too red lipstick, like older women often wear. I guessed her age to be around fifty or so.
“They’re out there. They’re going to take over the hospital on All Hallows Eve." Mrs.Overholser approached us as we made rounds, her black eyes wide and blinking too rapidly.
“It’s all right, Mrs. Overholser. Go back to bed,” Sharon, the other attendant, tried to soothe her. “We’re watching for them. We won’t let them get in.”
“Do you have crosses on all the doors and windows?” Mrs. Overholser demanded.
“Yes. We put them up this morning.”
“If you’ve forgotten even one place, they’ll come in.”
“We haven’t forgotten any places.”
When we got back to the office, Sharon shivered . “I don’t know why, but that woman really gives me the creeps. I’m glad you're here tonight instead of me.”
Mrs. Overholser was up all that night, and the next, and the next, and the next, until the full moon began to wane. Every time I went back to the dormitory to make rounds, she was wandering around like a ghost. Sometimes she came up to the glass enclosed office and peered in at Graham and me.
“Do you know about the vampires that live in the tunnels?” she asked me whenever she saw me. “They’re plotting to take over the hospital. After that, they’re going to take over the whole world.”
In spite of myself, I listened to her paranoid delusions. Most insane people have boring delusions, kind of all-purpose delusions, like aliens are listening to their thoughts, or the television can see them. Perhaps it is a result of our homogenized, mass produced TV fantasies acting on unimaginative minds that can’t even manufacture their own delusions. Mrs. Overholser was different, though .She had built up a whole delusional system on the premise that vampires were hiding in the old, now unused tunnels beneath the hospital, plotting to take over the world. They would do this, of course, in the classic vampire way, by biting more and more people and making them into vampires too.
I read Mrs. Overholser’s chart. She had been a patient at Arcadia for many years. It was unclear what had caused her paranoid schizophrenia .Except that she had never gotten along with children her own age, she had seemed to lead a fairly normal life, eventually marrying. After the birth of her second child, though, she quit caring for her home and children. She spent her days sitting in her filthy house, doing nothing. This behavior alternated with spells of agitated behavior when she didn’t sleep at all and insisted that “they” were plotting to take over the world. She claimed that the vampires already secretly controlled the world and were just waiting for the right time to gain complete control. Her husband, eventually tiring of this bizarre behavior, had her committed to Arcadia. Over the years, his visits became less frequent. Eventually he divorced her and remarried. Apparently he had no contact at all with her now.
I closed the chart .The sketchy information I had learned had merely whetted my appetite for more, but her story, like hundreds of other stories, was swallowed up in the dark march of time at Arcadia. The people of Arcadia are a passing show, but Arcadia itself is everlasting.
“Reading the Vampire Lady’s chart?” Graham’s voice brought me back to the present.
I nodded. “I wish there was more information. So much is missing.”
“I know. It’s like that with most of the charts.”
“She’s not as crazy as they think, you know," he continued, changing the subject. “It’s not vampires we have to fear, though. It’s the Trilateral Commission. Have you heard of them?”
I shook my head. Graham was a good looking young man about my age, but he had the fanatic’s gleam in his blue eyes. He had told me some things every bit as strange as what Mrs. Overholser had, and given me books to read. According to his religion, Armageddon was just around the corner. After the last great battle between good and evil, God was going to create a new Heaven and a new earth. The saints would live in Heaven. The rest of the chosen ones would live in a restored Eden, a garden paradise earth, forever. Graham, an ex-drug addict, now saved by his new wife’s testimony, could hardly wait for that glorious day.
“The Trilateral Commission is made up of a few of the richest families. Most people don’t know about them, but they control everything. It really doesn’t make any difference which way you vote, because they run their own candidates for both parties. Of course, they’re tools of Satan. We had a sermon on it last week. I have some tapes I can bring in for you to listen to if you like.”
Graham’s matter-of-fact voice went on and on, explaining the whole complex plot. Outside our little office the darkness lurked. Once Mrs. Overholser came up and peered through the glass at me. After a few minutes she went back to bed.
Graham went on vacation, and Mrs. Overholser stopped talking to me. About a month later, though, when the moon was waxing full again and the Halloween decorations were up in the ward, events took an even more bizarre turn.
“Halloween is Satan’s holiday, Christine,” Graham told me, disapprovingly eyeing the viciously cute paper bats the three to eleven shift had taped to the office walls.
“It’s a kid’s holiday. It was always my favorite,” I objected. “Nobody takes it seriously.”
“So much easier for Satan to gain control of the hearts and minds of the unsaved.” Graham went on to tell me all about the historical origins of this dark holiday.
It would have been easy to dismiss Graham by saying that he was as crazy as Mrs. Overholser. Not that I believed a word he said, but aren’t we all a little paranoid? I’ve always seen a little too clearly for my own good, not believing all the propaganda “they” would like us to. The fact is, most of the work is done by the majority, while the minority profits from it. Call it my working class background, or call it paranoia, but I believe that that is how the system works.
Add to this the fact that I have always been a people watcher, and you will understand why I allowed myself to be drawn deeper and deeper into Graham’s and Mrs. Overholser’s dark worlds.I began talking to other people. I discovered, to my dismay, that more and more patients and even a few attendants were beginning to believe Mrs. Overholser. The closer it got to Halloween, the more of a following she seemed to be building up.
It was two days before Halloween. I was making my
“If you could get enough other people to believe in your delusion, would it stop being a delusion?” And how many more people did Mrs. Overholser need to believe in her?
It was the next night when Graham broached the subject of us exploring the tunnels under the old buildings. The tunnels were originally used to transport patients from building to building. I’ve heard that there are still iron rings embedded in the walls to chain unruly patients. The tunnels are locked up now, but they are still there.
“It wouldn’t hurt to take a look,” Graham was saying.
“Don’t tell me you're starting to believe her too.” I felt colder than I’d ever felt before.
“I didn’t say that. I just said it wouldn’t hurt to take a look. Besides,” he added, “we all know Satan is real, so why not his minions?”
“Meaning the vampires?”
Graham nodded his dark head.
“It’s crazy!” I burst out. “The tunnels are locked. There’s no way to get into them.”
“There are doors in the basements of some of the wards. I’ve seen them. When I first started working here, Herb Pearson showed me the tunnels in the basement of the MC building. I can get a key from him if you’re interested.”
I was very interested. I hated to admit it, but I was. I’d heard a lot about the tunnels, and I’d longed to see them for myself.
“I suppose you’re planning to go waltzing over there one night with only a cross to protect yourself.”
Graham shook his head. “Of course not. The vampires will be awake then. We’ll have to see if we can get a chance to work overtime so we can go in the daytime.”
“I suppose you’ll go alone if I don’t go with you.”
“I have to.”
I sighed. “I’ll see if I can work over tomorrow.”
They didn’t need any extra help on any of the wards on day shift the next day. Graham and I were able to work over on the three to eleven shift, though, he on MC1 and me on R Ward. I wasn’t too happy about it, but Graham insisted that we had to check the tunnels out today.
“Mrs.. Overholser says the vampires are going to overthrow Arcadia on Halloween. This is Halloween," he reminded me.
“And it gets dark early this time of year,” I reminded him.
“They’ll let us go to first supper since we’ll be working over. Meet me at
It was cloudy, one of those autumn days that never seem to make it to full daylight. By
It was a quarter after four before Graham came running up to meet me, mumbling an excuse about a fight on MC1 that he had had to stay to help break up.
“Maybe we ought to wait, Graham. It’s going to be dark soon.”
He shook his head stubbornly. “I won’t blame you if you go back, Christine, but I can’t. Not now. It’s too late.”
I looked at him standing there with a wooden cross, pointed on one end, in his hand. I wondered if it wasn’t later for Graham than he knew. After I’d worked at Arcadia for just a little while, I learned there was something wrong with all the employees. They were all peculiar in one way or another. Perhaps that’s why they were drawn to work at Arcadia.
I shook my head. “I won’t leave you to go in alone. We’d better hurry, though, before it gets dark.”
It wasn’t only my friendship for Graham that made me do this. My fatal flaw is my almost pathological curiosity.
The tunnels weren’t at all like what I thought they’d be. They were very bright and very empty. Our footsteps echoed on the concrete floor, giving me the uncomfortable impression that we were being followed. I kept looking back, but there was nothing but a long empty tunnel. I pressed closer to Graham.
He took my hand .“Don’t be afraid, Christine. The cross will protect us.”
I wasn’t so sure. Maybe the cross could protect us from Mrs. Overholser’s vampires, but what would protect us from our own delusions?
Down and down we went. I shuddered to think how many feet beneath the earth we were. What if the tunnel lights and Graham’s flashlight both burned out? Nobody knew where we were.
“Graham! Look!” I drew back in horror. It looked for all the world like coffins, row on row of them stacked in this enormous sub-basement.
“Stay behind me, Christine.” Graham held the cross, raised like a sword.
“Don’t open them, Graham! Oh, please, don’t open them!”
It was too late.Graham was already raising the lid of the nearest coffin. It didn’t creak like in horror movies. It was like it had been raised many times before. He was lying in the black satin lined coffin, his hands folded on his chest. His skin was a sickly shade of green .His hair was as black and glossy as Graham’s. With one swift movement, Graham drove the stake into the vampire’s heart. The vampire’s dying scream was like nothing I’d ever heard before. Even the wails of the hopeless patients, who will never be cured, aren’t so terrible. As I watched in fascinated horror, the archetype of Dracula crumbled to dust, leaving only bones. At the same time, the other coffin lids rose and more vampires came out, dozens of them.
“Run, Graham! Run!” I pulled on his hand and finally got him to follow me. “I’m wearing a cross. Hold my hand. It’s our only chance to get out of here.”
I’ll never forget being pursued through those claustrophobic tunnels by the vampires. It was like a nightmare or a hallucination. Sometime before we got to the door leading out of the tunnels and back inside the abandoned building, we lost them. When we got back outside, it wasn’t quite dark and my watch said we still had ten minutes of our half hour lunch break left. I knew that it wasn’t possible that so little time had passed. And the vampires had just vanished, like a hallucination.
I had a day off after that. When I came back to work, they told me Mrs. Overholser had blown, psychiatric jargon for “gone berserk” on Halloween. They’d shipped her back to CT, one of the wards for the worst patients. They also told me that Graham had quit without notice.
The blizzard is smothering Arcadia in silence now. When the blizzard is over, everything will look deceptively pretty, like a Christmas card. Nothing is what it seems to be here at Arcadia.
That’s why I know I haven’t seen Graham several times since Halloween, walking around like some self-styled vampire hunter. That’s why I know Mrs. Overholser is crazy. I was curiously relieved when I heard that the patients who believed in her vampires have gone on to some new delusion. Still, haven’t people been predicting Armageddon for years, and when it doesn’t come to pass, they just set a new date for it?Halloween is coming again. Maybe Mrs. Overholser was just mistaken about which Halloween the vampires have chosen for their overthrow of the world.
I snuggled into bed, shutting those dark thoughts out of my mind. I hadn’t thought of Mrs. Overholser in months, and I certainly don’t believe in vampires. Still, how many people would she need to believe in her delusion before it wouldn’t be a delusion anymore?
OLD ODD FELLOWS HOME
FEBRUARY 24, 1978
PHOTOGRAPH BY HAZEL FERN HENSON
Note by typist, Mary Hazel Upton: This story was originally published by The Henson Press, owned by my brother. It was published in his anthology, Hoosier Tales, that he published in 1995. I later also posted it on Writers-Network. That website is gone now. I haven’t been able to find out what happened to it. The photographs are from one of Mama’s old books of photos of the Odd Fellows Home, which is now torn down. It was later converted to a nursing home and my grandmother, Bertha Henson, was a patient there for several years. Since I had no actual photographs of Long Cliff, which Arcadia is based on, I used the photos of the Odd Fellows Home, as I thought they looked sufficiently spooky to illustrate this story. There are many other photos of the Odd Fellows Home in Mama’s old photo books, which I will scan and post later.
This story is the companion story to This Side Of Madness posted for the June 2016 blog, also for Earon’s Page. I will write more stories using the fictional Arcadia State Hospital later and post them on my website. Arcadia State Hospital is a fictionalized version of Logansport State Hospital, also called Long Cliff, where I worked as an attendant from August 1986 until March 1988. I have 3 notebooks of diary notes that I made during that time that I will use for background material for the new stories and novels I plan to write. The stories are based on real people, places, and events. Only the vampires are fictional. Or are they?
There was a real state hospital, Arcadia State Hospital, at one time in Arcadia, Florida, but it, like many of the other State Hospitals, is now closed. I have not been able to find out yet whether or not Long Cliff is now closed also, but will keep looking for this information as I get time, and post what I find out.
The Arcadia stories will all be posted for Earon’s Page because he had a website of vampire stories at one time. I wrote to him for several years and shared my stories with him before he died.
I hope you enjoyed this scary Halloween story. If you haven’t read the original classic vampire story, Dracula by Bram Stoker, or would just like to read it again, it is now public domain. Here is the link to read it free
ANOTHER ONE OF CHARLES' HALLOWEEN JACK-O-LANTERNS
OCTOBER 26, 2013
PHOTOGRAPH BY MARY HAZEL UPTON
MARY HAZEL'S DIARY
It is going on two o'clock now. I have been working on the blog post, taking occasional breaks to catch up some of the housework, since 10:30 this morning. At this point I need a longer break! I got the dishes washed and part of the laundry done, so most of the regular housework is done for today. I still need a break from writing, though, so will go down to basement and put the books away in the Halloween Library. I bought a lot of them at yard sales, the flea market, and the New Albany Library book sale this month and still have to shelve them. So I will get back later today and finish this post. Just have to finish writing the diary part, post a few more photographs, and do the final proof reading. I will look up the link for Dracula then too. I am sure Project Gutenberg has it, and won't take long to look up. Should be plenty of time to do all this later and have this post done for Halloween. So if you look at this page before I get back, that is why the link isn't there yet.
Since it is so late in the month now, there is no way I am going to be able to get the next chapter of Mariette's book posted. October was very busy and I didn't get much time to write. I had 3 chapters of her book typed up and ready with material ahead back in August, but the whole end of the summer and early autumn was busy, and all the material I had ahead was soon used up! So I will post the next chapter sometime in November. The chapter is typed and proofed, but I need a few more photographs of lilacs and have to look for them. Also I wanted to post some links with information about growing lilacs and where to buy plants with this chapter, and I did not get time to look up that information yet.
Anyway will finish this post later today.
October 31, 2017 Tuesday
It is Tuesday evening 7 o'clock now and I will quickly finish this post up. I didn't get back yesterday as planned. I took some time to sew. I am making a patchwork tote bag now and kept adding "just one more piece" as it got prettier and prettier. Suddenly it was eight o'clock! Too late to finish the blog. The furnace man has just left after fixing the furnace. Sure is nice to have heat again. Has turned chilly the last week or so, especially at night. Had been using one of the electric heaters Hammerhead gave me, but nice to have heat in the whole house again!
My throat started getting sore yesterday evening and is getting worse, so I am sure I am getting a cold. So will get this post finished as I don't know how I'm going to feel tomorrow. Probably take a few days off. Nothing that really has to be done right away. But this is the last day to get the October blog posted in October and I have not missed posting any months for some time now. So I will finish this project out tonight before quitting. Won't post much more, though, and try to get Mariette's next chapter posted sometime next month.
A few trick or treaters were here while the furnace man was here. It wasn't dark yet, but he figured they were probably getting out before it got too late because Halloween is cold this year. Still no frost or below freezing temperatures yet and most of the trees still have plenty of green leaves, although a lot of leaves are down and some have turned color. But it still feels very chilly to me. Probably because the house cooled off so much while the furnace was out, although it is quickly warming up again now.
I will post the Dracula link that I did look up just now and a few more photos I have for this month and call the blog done for this month! Will try to have more news of Mariette's upcoming chapters in next month's blog post.
Here is the link for Dracula on Project Gutenberg. They have several different copies of the book, free to download or read online. It is also listed above on yesterday's diary entry, but here it is again in case you missed it.
Project Gutenberg is devoted completely to making public domain books free for everybody with a computer to read. Here is the link to their main website with many good books available in their huge digital library:
I just finished proofing and checking the links on this post. Everything looks fine, so will call it done for this month. Hope you enjoyed the Halloween story! Still lots of trick or treaters out. Never had this many to come before, not since I was little and used to go out trick or treating with my brother. Most of them have their parents with them. It is 8:11 P.M. now, a bit early to be closing up, but I am tired and going to eat the chicken noodle soup I heated for supper and then have a little Storybook Hour and call it a night. I am about out of candy now anyway. Probably should not have given any candy out this year if I might be getting a cold, but never thought of that. It is all wrapped, though, so hopefully I did not get cold germs on any of it to make any of the kids sick. I don't know why I hadn't thought of that--I am usually fanatical about anybody not coming within ten feet of me if they have a cold! Anyway, nothing I can do about it now.
Will try to have more news of Mariette's book next month. Think this month's post turned out good, though, and hope you enjoyed it. Until next month.
DADDY WITH SPRING MILL JACK-O-LANTERNS
NOVEMBER 1, 1987
PHOTOGRAPH BY HAZEL FERN HENSON
MAMA WITH SPRING MILL JACK-O-LANTERNS
NOVEMBER 1, 1987
PHOTOGRAPH BY CLAUDE B. HENSON
GAIN UPTON WITH OLD HOUSE IN BACKGROUND
HE IS BUILDING SOMETHING OUTSIDE
OCTOBER 24, 1982
PHOTOGRAPH BY HAZEL FERN HENSON
CHERIE'S MUMS AT KROGER'S
SEPTEMBER 2, 2014
PHOTOGRAPH BY MARY HAZEL UPTON
Cherie is in charge of the flower department at Kroger's. She always lets me take photos of her beautiful flowers.
Kroger's website is:
HAMMERHEAD AND CHERIE AT KROGER'S LOOKING AT CHERIE'S AUTUMN FLOWERS
SEPTEMBER 7, 2014
PHOTOGRAPH BY MARY HAZEL UPTON