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Monday, January 27, 2014

Shameful Things in the Dark
I made the decision to put this blog onto my paranormal blog as opposed to my Wordpress blog because of how dark the content is. This is in reality an autism/special needs awareness blog and those are typically only found on my Wordpress blog site. Many of you are already aware that I have a son on the autism spectrum  disorder and take pride in my activism of all things autism/special needs. Please be advised this blog IS NOT for the faint of heart. There will be things within this blog that will both disturb and upset you to learn, but awareness is how we can prevent the reoccurrence of horrific things. Below is a list of the two asylums I will be featuring inside this blog and the horrors that went on behind their elegant massive stone walls. Be advised once learning certain things they can never be unlearned.
1.      Pennhurst
2.      Philadelphia State Hospital (Byberry)
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Let’s begin with an introduction to Pennhusrt State School and Hospital. This was a place for the “feeble-minded”. A supposed haven for the special needs people. They were otherwise, prior to this place being built, housed in almshouses, county-care hospitals, and even in some situations were kept in prisons. Wow, you mean to say we imprisoned mentally retarded people whom were unwanted by family or friends, why yes, yes we did. Sounds like a good idea to build such a haven…Right? If only this place had truly been a genuine “Haven”. I assure you it was not. Pennhurst was ready to begin its nightmare reign in 1908.
The chief physician of Pennhurst openly quoted Henry H. Goddard, a leading eugenicist at the time as follows,
“Every feeble-minded person is a potential criminal. The general public, although more convinced today than ever before that it is a good thing to segregate the idiot or the distinct imbecile, they have not as yet been convinced as to the proper treatment of the defective delinquent, which is the brighter and more dangerous individual.”
Wow, really? I fear what proper treatment he was implying to. A mass murder maybe? Kill them all off at birth perhaps and sterilize the mother for birthing such a “thing”? I underlined the words that really sum up the meat of this quote and show the real callousness of these men. To me anyone who would say such things is themselves the defective, the imbecile, and the potential criminal. These untrue and with out a doubt biased opinions led to the ostracizing of people who needed and deserved compassion and community/family support.  
This also led to the general  thinking that people whom are declared “feeble-minded” should not be allowed to reproduce as well as live among any communities. There were even kids without any impairments placed here because their parents couldn't care for them and were also sterilized. Many people were forced to become sterile in and out of institutions. This chief physician was in charge of many individuals declared as such, and yet he had no compassion to speak of. This included people born with severe disabilities making them absolutely defenseless to the attacks of others. I will now illustrate what forms of punishments were inflicted on these “feeble-minded” people inside Pennhurst besides the wide use of forced sterilization and segregation.
If you misbehaved and lived in a high functioning cottage you were placed in a low functioning cottage. This was meant to degrade you. This stripping of your dignity was in hopes of teaching you a lesson. Basically if you wanted to act like an “imbecile” you can go live with them!!!! This left people with an IQ of 20 or less at the mercy of someone with an IQ of 69 or higher. The result was unspeakable. It ranged from rape to outright murder. One case that makes my skin crawl as well as enrages me the most did not occur at Pennhurst. A poor man with mental retardation annoyed his roommate by behaving retarded, said the annoyed roommate. The roommate decided to place the mentally retarded man’s head beneath the head of his bed and jumped on the bed until his head was flattened. This subsequently killed the poor man and ended the murderers said annoyance. People were maimed and emotionally scarred for life and couldn’t help themselves. There simply were no rights acknowledged for anyone deemed “feeble-minded” leaving such acts as before mentioned allowed with proper repercussion.
If you bit someone you got only one warning. A warning such as medication that would sedate you or placement in seclusion. If you bit a second time all your teeth were removed without further form of treatment for that behavior. Some of you may say “well what can do if they won’t stop biting people?”. Some of you might try to reason or justify that this isn’t such a bad punishment, but allow me to explain it in a better way. Lets say this person is confined to a wheelchair and isn’t able to go around just biting anyone they have a mind to bite. That means someone has to be in their personal space and this was that persons ONLY line of defense. Well guess what? That person had their teeth removed! People bit other people up to and including staff to defend themselves from harm. It was not just a “behavior problem”. I hope that offers enough clarity.
In many cases children called “hyper” or “uncontrollable” were given intravenous phenobarbital sodium to control them. This would include children the state didn't supply money to help with any/all skill learning. Treatments through things like OT and PT therapies were not available to them. A flat out lack of funding and staff allowed this to happen. Administering sedatives was far cheaper than hiring a person to teach these children how to behave.
A few extra things to pass on are how they would simply tie them down with restraints and leave them in a small closet sized room for hours if not days for any number of minor infractions! If all the strait jackets were currently in use they would use a gown to form a makeshift restraining vest. Some of these folks were kept for years in cages and never learned how to walk. At a different asylum, named Willow brook, they didn't have enough clothing for their residents forcing many to roam about naked!
There is much more to Pennhurst but I will end here. There were things I'm sure that happened in the bowels of this place that you, nor I will ever know a thing about. There were also staff that cared. Believe it or not many nurses, doctors, and administrators spoke open and honest about the hell that was Pennhurst. There are the same people that helped to see it closed down. This was a gross negligence at both state and federal levels. They spent dollars more on zoo animals than the people residing in this hospital. They had a problem with overcrowding and under staffing. I will end Pennhurst by quoting a sentence I feel was important that I heard in a documentary about this establishment. I have also listed the title to the actual documentary so you can watch it for yourself and see for yourself why I wrote this blog.
The quote
“Pennhurst is a monument to apathy until change can be brought about by concerned action”
The documentary
“Suffer the Little Children”
I will now introduce you to the second asylum on my list; Byberry. This is another place built for the people society didn't want. I will be touching base on what types of methods were used to “cure” these insane people. There were of course mentally retarded individuals housed within this place alongside the true definition of insane as this was a commonplace happenstance. These places were a sort of “catch-all” for the undesirables or a human garbage disposal if you will. That would ultimately include the poor, drunkards, mentally ill/delayed, but also other more shocking reasons for placement. One such forced placement that lifted my brow was men and woman alike being placed by loved ones because they’d been caught masturbating! Woman were sometimes placed because they were menopausal! I will begin with a history of the horrors of the above mentioned insane asylum.
The best place to start is by a simple introduction to Byberry. It opened in 1907 and by the time it closed its doors it housed over 7000 people. What started as a small work farm intended for housing no more than 200 souls eventually bloomed into a blood red flower of pain and suffering. The tyranny of this place is legendary. The deaths in the place will undoubtedly boggle you like they did me. How anyone could do such a thing to another human being is beyond my own comprehension. Patients suffered monstrous acts both by the hands of their trusted staff and fellow suffering roommate. Acts of extreme rage and extreme violence.
Allow me to tell you of the very first methods in our history for treatment of the impaired. Before asylums were built people who were different in anyway were sometimes sent onto ships called “ships of fools” and sailed from port to port. They died quick from various diseases or acts of violence in the hulls of the ships. At times they might be sold to the public to be tortured and killed on display. In early years doctors would lower their patients into snake pits hoping the shock might cure them. In mid-evil times it was believed these people were demon processed thus dehumanizing them was done with great ease. Although Byberry is in a more modern setting it wasn’t much better to its patients. These people could look forward to treatment such as being strapped to their beds and left for days. They were forced to urinate and defecate themselves and that might be the first few days of your stay. Unfortunately that might be the best case scenario as apposed to being placed into a long term unit.
One worker chocked a patient until their eyes popped out of their head and was fired. Believe it or not he was later reinstated with a pay raise. Without any explanation all was forgiven and this was done by a politician no less. That may be hard to fathom except there might be a fairly easy explanation for it. The workers for such a place were hard to come by so a solution was found. They hired people as a part of their sentencing; it was either go to jail or work at Byberry.
It was so bad inside Byberry the state took over by force in the fall of 1938, but it wouldn't improve the buildings or lives of the consumers living there. In fact the first state representative to do a walk through described the conditions of both occupants and buildings as worse than a mid-evil pest house! And yet this man did nothing about what he’d seen. He went back to his office and onto more time worthy causes.
After world war 11 there was a new understanding of mental illness. The USA found their returning soldiers needed care for shock. The military canceled its contract to have its servicemen treated at Byberry. They claimed it was because of how appalling the condition the state hospital was in. Sadly the military also would leave the current residents to continue to decay and die unnoticed. Life inside this place was actually compared by newspapers and magazines tot he world at the time as being like the Nazi concentration camps! Again this was all well known facts that no one debated but the people were left behind. The world went onto more interesting articles to read. Byberry and its ill treatment to its patients was left to remain as is yet again.
The curse of all the asylums of no money, too few staff, and far too many patients ran rampant here. Even with well-intended people trying their best to make changes nothing seemed to help. Their simply was no outcry for these people to be treated as real people! You can look up the pictures and film and see just how heinous this place was. Tiny rooms crammed full of naked people and no staff to be seen. Often showers were done by the masses in a courtyard by high pressure hoses due to lack of proper number of staff. This asylum and all the others were nothing but warehouses for the damned. A stockpile of unwanted men, woman, and children alike.
It would be in the late 1980s when reports of severe sexual and physical abuse reached the right ears. The woman who blew the whistle was a patient herself. After she reported the rape she suffered to her mother, her mother acted. With the aide of staff they got the proof smuggled out of Byberry, but she went on to lose her treatment through these actions. The treatment was very innovative and only found at Byberry. Unfortunately the treatment she received at Byberry was the only treatment to have helped her at all.
She would never again receive this treatment, and ended her life a few short years later. This woman may have taken her life but she saved the lives of many. Her testimony helped to close the doors of Byberry and freed those imprisoned there. May god rest your soul Anna. The stonewalling of the documents detailing these accusations became the downfall of this asylum. Abuse against patients by staff and fellow patients had sky rocked out of control, and as the saying goes “evil had permission”. This woman’s bravery stopped evil in its tracks and took that permission of silence away. I personally thank her and think it shouldn't have cost her life.
In the process of closing such a humongous place many things great and some things terrible began to happen. People at first were thrown to the streets and a brand new form homelessness surfaced. Crimes by and against these severely mentally ill/retarded individuals released from the asylum took place. Suicides began to happen one after another. The state was finally forced to allocate proper funds and begin some great and long term community based care.
We live in a new time. Most of our minds have been reformed to a more humane way of thinking. No longer do we segregate those different from us. It is key essential that we continue to hold not only ourselves ,but our state and federal systems accountable. We as a whole are responsible for the direct care of those unable to care for themselves! We are our brothers keep.
It’s up to us to ensure funding isn’t hampered just to save money. If we turn our backs again the reinvention of such places will happen. I can set the blame on the states, the federal, but are we not also to blame for any regression that occurs? If we allow people to become dehumanized once more terrible and unspeakable things will happen again. “Evil will have permission” to pick its victims from the defenseless. Check your own state.
I found in my own state that a growing number of deaths are happening here and all across the United States. The people dying are our children at the hands of orderlies and teachers/aides. Improper restraint is the direct cause of these deaths. At present there are very few states who have any rules or regulations for the proper restraining of a child. This allows people untrained to make a slight mistake and strangle or break the neck of a little kid. The abuse is still out there guys. Improper restraint in our history caused loss of eyeballs and limbs! Will we turn our backs and allow this to continue to take place?
We can organize and force our states and our federal government to place restrictions on this. We can demand reform and the proper training on these “holds” being used far too often and with far too much force. We can place cameras in classrooms where children with special needs are being taught preventing any form of abuse from happening. We’ve seen what doing nothing can do. Let’s see what shouting out loud and doing something can do!
Let’s not sit idle and wait for another news story about the death or mistreatment of a handicapped child. A child who cannot defend themselves. There is still a fight to be fought. There is still a cause to be made public. Sadly the battle for equality and safety for people unable to protect themselves isn't won just! Spread awareness, make demands of equality, and that’s what brings about change.
Eugenics: A history of true horror
I am not, nor will I ever be a racist or a bigot! Every man/woman is equal but very uniquely themselves. There is not one stupid person because of what color their skin happens to be. No one has a right to mistreat a fellow human being because they think they are better than they are! Eugenics was a terrible thing that some people tried to use in order to make themselves feel like kings. I will highlight below the worst of the worst eugenics the world has ever known. Maybe by understanding how this ever came to be we will ensure it NEVER happens again!!

Leading doctors at the time applied the theory that if an animal could degenerate so than could a human. The age of making human pedigrees was born. When they began to openly apply animal study to humans, bad things ensued. The world began to desire a world free of violence/crime, mental illness/retardation, and eventually the creation of a “PERFECT” race was ushered in. The first thing to come of this idiocy was the thoughts to end reproduction of the inferiors. This would be anyone who was mentally ill/retarded, poor, and not white and educated. Forced sterilization began to be a common practice.
In Cold Spring New harbor, New York two men named Charles B. Davenport and Harry H. Laughlin in 1910 (biologists by trade) began an archive office called ERO. This would become the headquarters for America’s eugenics research for the next thirty four years. They collected census data and interviewed particular groups of interest. They toiled away and spent lots of money collecting biased documentation to further their theories.
They targeted circus acts and other groups they deemed undesirable. They went after the minorities and poor educated communities. They held great power over the general public. They governed immigration and  all marriages, at the time. Just about every American at the time was all ears to anything that came of their research.
They forced sterilization among criminals and other’s they found to be undesirable in way. They had a hand in keeping black and white people segregated. They kept the asylums such as I documented in this blog alive and well. They did a lot of cold and calculated studies but kept vital information suppressed. They labeled poor and others they didn’t want in their neighborhoods likely to commit crimes without omitting certain facts. Facts such as the lack of opportunities afforded to these people. If you do not offer education then how are these people to become thus educated? If you trap them in unlivable housing and offer no alternative how can living conditions therefor improve? I guess they found those facts made their great study results not so great.
They laced their mockery and scorn of their fellow man with sugar coating tactics. They trumpeted this was all to make the entire world a better and safer place for all to live. They wanted to eliminate the reproduction of races and poor classes so they would no longer be forced to deal with such undesirable people. It's sad but many people fell for this. At one point there was backing by several presidents and even the Catholic Church. This all happened right here in our backyard.
Hitler himself even sang America’s praises on our stance of supporting eugenics and our resent talk of euthanasia. He agreed vehemently with these studies. There was an alarming and growing number of devoted eugenicist. They all encouraged mass elimination of anyone who wasn't the exact match to a perfect race. How can we forget our own dirty American hands in that time frame? Much of Hitler's systematic murder of first the asylums patients, and then the prisoners in his infamous concentration camps can be accredited to our own eugenics program.
The works of these men popped up all over the world. Terms such as racial hygiene was suddenly a household word. There were even fairs where the fittest family won prizes. The spread of ignorance was far and rather wide. Terrifying solutions were handed out by various doctors at the time such as euthanasia better known as genocide! Believe it or not this was happening right here in America and not just Germany. Imagine if you will a popular magazine on science and fitness began today circulating a theory on racial superiority. Those articles might also include the necessity of killing anyone beneath your class.  It might even clap historical events on the back for the deaths of so many unwanted individuals. How many people do you know personally that would be included in that mass murder scheme?
Indiana, my own home state, became the first to legalize forced sterilization of any that was found to be unfit to reproduce and unfit to exist. California would go on to become the leading state in forced sterilization and to date refuses to compensate its victims. By the end of the eugenics era 60,000 men, woman, and children had been sterilized without their consent. Anyone found to be colored, uneducated, living in any type of institution, and the poor were all branded to be unfit.
The perfect world these men so badly tried to build for themselves could never come to be. The perfect world would be one where poverty and un-education were nonexistent but the steps to bringing that to life, they would not do. This perfect world would have to be a one for all and all for one. We would step up without complaint and feed our hungry, clothe the clothe less, and house the homeless. Maybe we could have that world if you, even me, and everyone else took all that to heart and did it. There are some that do all that, and they are all saints. Thank you for the time you spare, money you give, and the effort you put in.
This world I speak of will never happen. Not when rich worship their gold over their responsibility to help their fellow man. All of us are here only a short time. What we do or do not do will impact this world for a long time after we check out. I would rather love than hate. I would rather sacrifice myself than toss another under a bus. You can look up asylums and eugenics but what can you do about what've you learned?
For starters you can snoop through everything and see that those things are behind us. You can ensure yourself and your children are not behaving with racism or bigotry in your hearts. We can as a whole bodied planet demand together a demand for equality for all. The horrifying actions of this nation’s past will happen again if we allow ourselves to forget.  Become aware and hold yourself accountable, and your state, and your federal governments. Evil is a machine and it doesn't sleep. Be watchful and be aware that's the best any of us can do.

 
   



  

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

My book The Chadwick Bride is available for pre-order at www.kristyspeer.com head on over and check it out, I will also still be donating a part of each sale to the autism society!! thanks everyone :)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

My websites new look!

My website is wearing a brand new look! check it out at www.kristyspeer.com I would love to know what you think! Also I have an exciting update about my book The Chadwick Bride, its release is set officially for October 1st 2013!! Look for posting here and at my website for book events and dates. Feel free to send me a friends request on my Facebook profile and remember to stop by my Facebook page to leave a like!

Friday, June 28, 2013

My new author photo

 
Now I am off to pick the cover for my historical romance The Chadwick Bride!!
See all the latest information on release for purchase date at www.kristyspeer.com !!
Also check out the latest blogs on spreading awareness and acceptance for autism on my wordpress blog!!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

MY SHORT GHOST STORY

 
To my wonderful god daughter Angela Bacon, you gave me the idea for this short spooky story so I have decided to dedicate this in honor of you my dearest!
Always I love you
                    Aunt Kristy
                                      THE STAIN AT BENTFORD MANOR
           It was only midnight. That wasn't too late for a girl of Cassidy Bentfords age of seventeen summers to still be awake. She couldn't sleep and even if she tried it wouldn't have done her much good. The house was awful. Except she was the only one who thought so. Her dad was a lover of anything historical, and was infatuated with their isolated and weather beaten old manor. It was his families estate and he wasn't about to let his daughters childish and overactive imagination scare them back to the city. He’d waited all his life for his Grandfather to die and have his turn in the old house. Now they were here at last. They were dwelling in history as her dad had said over and over since arriving six months ago.
         Cassidy had tried everything to get comfortable in the manor. She rode the pretty horse her dad bought her around the lush property. She painted by the pond in back, and even tried planting a new bed of roses in the enormous garden. She reminded herself that her dad was right where he wanted to be. He had his dream job at the university teaching history and her mother was rising fast at the clinic she’d landed a nursing job at. What did it matter that Cassidy was seeing things. That she continued to hear things no one else could hear, or that every night she had the same insane dream. A dream that she was running from someone in the house and tripping on a satin gown she didn't own. She was losing her mind and no one seemed to notice.
         She was hungry now. Her stomach growled into the darkness of her gilded bedroom bouncing off the soft silk drapes and delicate dark cherry wood furnishings.She rolled onto her side trying to ignore her discomfort. She willed herself to relax and fall asleep. She couldn't very well get a snack from the kitchen at this hour, not with the house so dark. She mustered just enough exhaustion to emit a tiny yawn. She then counted in her head. When she was almost at one hundred she drifted off. She eased into that exotic place in her mind where sleep engulfed her. She began to dream but this time it was very different.
            Cassidy could see her legs at first but she couldn't move them. She was rooted in place by a thick swirling grey mist that began to take on a solid black color. Her hands were free, and she used them in earnest trying to push the mist away. She screeched as her hands were sucked inside its thickness rendering them as useless as her legs were. Panic seized her chest, she looked all around her, but there was nothing. There was nothing but the grey and black shapeless shadow that offered her no aide. She opened her mouth to scream for help but wasn't able to. The black mist rose up fast and began forcing its way into her mouth. It pushed hard and straight down her throat. Tears sprang to her eyes. She gagged and sputtered but it kept fighting its way into her body.
            She awoke in her room as the pale light filtered in through her windows and banished the darkness from the far corners of her bedroom. It did little to calm her racing heart. She was soaked through. Her pajamas were soaked  with perspiration. She sat prone in her bed massaging her throat with both her quivering hands. She felt strange and vague like she should do something. Her door opened wide and the short older Italian woman her mother had hired to watch after her strolled in.
           “Good morning my dear I see you’re up already.” Gina Romaine didn't look at the young girl as she opened the curtains wide and let the full sunlight flood the large room, “What a marvelous day out there! A perfect day for a horse ride hmm?”
            Cassidy fought to find her voice. Her mouth was thick and dry, after several long seconds she answered, “I guess so.”            
            Gina spun about and eyed the girl searching her up and down, “Are you feeling bad hon?” her voice was strained and deeper than it should be making Gina wonder if the girl was catching a cold.
          “I'm Just tired. "Cassidy didn't like the invasive look the older woman gave her and left the bed. She went to her bathroom and locked the door behind her. She looked in the mirror and checked her face. She noticed her eyes were somehow a darker green and her skin looked more olive than it had before.
           She took a quick shower but couldn't wash away the disconnected feeling inside her mind. She thought about her dream when she put on fresh clothes and stood again before her mirror. Her eyes were even darker than before and her black hair had a light red undertone. She gasped and tucked her hair into a cap she found under her vanity and put drops in her eyes. Her head hurt right at the base of her skull. A dull constant ache that wouldn't be ignored. After taking some pain reliever she emerged from her bathroom. She gave the older woman a small smile trying to assure both the older woman and herself that things were fine.
          Gina had a bad feeling but she shoved it aside. The girl looked odd, like she wasn't quite herself. She wasn't vomiting or acting like she was sick so she shrugged it off and suggested, “How about some breakfast and then maybe a short ride on that horse of yours?”
          Cassidy shook her head and followed behind the woman. The house was quiet as they made their way to the large dining hall. There was already a side board full of various breakfast dishes when they entered the dining hall. Cassidy wasn't hungry she grabbed a roll. and scarfed it down wanting to keep the woman from growing anymore concerned by her odd appearance and distant behavior. She left the house and went to the stable to tend to her speckled mare Rosemary.
          The mare was sweet tempered and she’d rode her almost every day since her dad brought her here a month ago. The horse was her one real haven and her only friend. She grabbed a handful of the fresh oats and entered the mares stall. Feeling lighthearted she reached out her hand to feed her pet. She was surprised when the horse snorted and dodged her out stretched hand. She didn't back down at first, instead she moved closer to the animal still offering the treat. But it did little good because the closer she got the further away the horse went. Confused she dusted the oats from her hand and tried soothing her.
         “What’s the matter girl?”
         The horse began to huff and continued to shuffle on its feet. Its large rump pressed against the wall behind it leaving no more room to back away. Cassidy was nervous now and she could feel her hands start to tremble. She out one last time attempting to stroke the horse’s long snout. The horse bulked and reared up enough that Cassidy shrieked.  Frightened she ran from the stall. Once she had the latch secure she looked at the mare and glared. She could feel the white hot wrath bubbling up from her stomach to her chest she narrowed her eyes at the mare and hissed between her teeth.
         “You filthy beast!”
         The anger dissipated as she made her way on foot to the small pond. Once there she stood beside the green water staring at nothing. Her mind was rather blank now. She’d almost lost her temper with her horse. She'd wanted to smack it soundly for its refusal to allow her near it. As she calmed down she was struck by her anger. It wasn't like her to show such lack of restraint on her emotions. She’d always been a kind and gentle person, and she was always gentle with animals. She’d never been one to become angry at feeling slighted or unwanted. She rubbed her hands across her face then pulled her hat down further onto her head. She blew out a long breath.
       She saw something in the distance across the pond in the thick woods that lay beyond when she looked back up. Again unlike herself, she walked around the water and slipped into the woods compelled to follow the wispy shadow she’d glimpsed. To her left she saw the same movement she veered in that direction unafraid.
          After over half an hour of walking she came to a small ruin. All that was left was a single stone wall with a deep hearth still intact. She was drawn to the hearth. She could hear it calling and took the remaining steps to stand before it. She hunched down and peered into the dark hole where once a warm fire was continuously stoked. She could almost feel the heat that used to be. The stone felt cold and lifeless beneath her touch as she traced the lines where some mortar still clung to the grey stone. Cassidy felt at home here.                    
           She felt at peace almost like this place held something nice and loving for her. She had a bizarre feeling like she had been here. She recognized the hearth and she remembered what the missing mantel had once looked like. She stood back up onto her feet and surveyed the small clearing. She could see the house that used to stand here in her mind. She knew it had been burnt even before seeing the charred evidence at the base of the wall. She knew there were graves nearby as well.
         She walked directly to them. She wiped away the dead vegetation then tried to make out the names and dates. It was useless. Time had eroded the letters from the fire damaged granite headstones. There were twelve total and one had enough of the  first name for her to read. She said the name out loud.
          “Beth.”
          Searing pain slashed across her heart ripping away every conceivable layer, exposing all her rawest nerves. She didn't know a single Beth. Not in France back at boarding school nor in her life in Chicago. Somehow, some way, she knew this child. She knew her enough to mourn her death, find it unjustifiable, and desire retribution for it.
          Cassidy remained in the clearing still sitting beside the broken headstones for a long time. She tried to place why she had memories that she shouldn't have. She contemplated why she felt pain for these long dead strangers. The sun had already began to dip below the line on the horizon blanketing the well-manicured grounds in hues of brilliant red and orange. Cassidy made her way back to the old manor.
         Gina flapped her arms at the girl when she entered the garden, gaining her attention. She’d kept her absence from her parents and she intended to give the child an ear full for scaring her so badly with her disappearing act, “Where in heavens name have you been child?”
         “I took a walk in the woods and I lost track of time. I’m sorry Gina.”
         Cassidy ducked into the French doors that let into the parlor filled with the original antique furniture. She hated the room. It was oppressing and dark which was an odd contrast with the bright cream colored fabric of the setae and two matching chairs. Even the wooden tables were a light oak and the wallpaper a soft hazy green and silver stripe. It should have been alluring instead of so repulsive. She couldn't look at the fireplace either. Not since she’d seen the black shadow standing near it. She had the distinct feeling something guarded that spot and that something didn't like her very much.
          “Your parents have dinner guest tonight and I have only twenty minutes to have you dressed and in the dining hall for dinner. Sorry dear for being so catty at you but I must stress for you not to go off like that!” Gina had the girl dressed and her long thick black hair brushed into a nice shine in just under her allotted time.
          She stood back admiring her handy work when she saw something that made her hair stand up; the girl wasn't the girl. Her eyes were no longer green but were turning into a dull brownish color. Her hair wasn't its normal raven black, but a reddish black, and she looked older as well. There was something not quite right. Gina felt it all the way to her bones.
            “What?” Cassidy saw how the woman looked at her and it frightened her, “Is there something wrong with me?!”
             Gina was tongue tied for a few seconds. She knew there was something wrong but she couldn't explain it even to herself much less to the girl she was staring at, “I think you have caught yourself a fine cold dear, maybe tonight you should take something to help you feel better.”
            “Okay.” She followed the woman to the dining hall and watched her walk away. She entered the long room and sat beside her mother. Her mother, Ruby, was as beautiful as she was smart. Her hair long and flaxen blonde, her eyes crystal blue, and framed by long thick lashes. Even her voice was smooth like fine china.
              “How interesting Dr. Mathews and what drove you to study that particular field?” Ruby asked the middle aged, balding man across the long table.
              Cassidy didn't bother to listen to his answer. This wasn't her first dinner party and she knew her place was to be seen and not heard. It went on for close to an hour before desert was presented by fancy clad staff. Cassidy stared down at her delicious coconut pie and was about to take a bite when she saw a shadow to her left. She looked in that direction and saw a man standing there. He was very tall and thin. His skin was ashen and almost translucent, he wore an out dated suit. He smiled at her with his black beady eyes.
             She looked around the table but no one seemed to see him but her. She squeezed her eyes shut and opened them but he remained there still staring at her. She was trembling and put her fork down so she could hide her hands in her lap. He began to float to her where she sat pushing her back against the thick padded chair. He pointed a finger at her and opened his mouth. He had neither teeth nor tongue. His mouth was a solid black mass of nothing that threatened to consume her. He was just across the table now. He stood behind the doctor her mother was speaking with. She didn't know what they were discussing. She couldn't hear them over the hammer of her own heart as it sped up in her chest threatening to explode. She couldn't breathe either. Her face grew red and her eyes bulged. He spoke than in a low grating pitch just like she imagined a monster would sound.
             “I know who you are.”
             Even if she could speak she doubted anything useful would come out of her mouth. The man refused to disappear he continued to point his long bony finger at her. His mouth wouldn't close and the black within it seemed to move and beacon her. She couldn't seem to turn her eyes away. She looked again at the dinner guests and her parents. They were each engaged to each other talking about various things while she sat there froze in horror at what surely must be a dead man.
            He leaned over the table his hands not touching the tabletop. His spine made crunching sounds as he continued to bend his back in such an unnatural way until his face was but a few feet from her. She continued to sit trying in desperation not to bring any attention to herself. She knew the rules. She knew better then to upset their important dinner party, but the dead man didn't care about any of that. The black from inside his mouth began to spill out and make its way to where she sat paralyzed. She couldn't sit any longer fear winning over her need to please her parents she finally reacted. She leaned over and touched her mother’s arm and whispered in a trembling voice.
       “May I be excused mother I feel a bit ill.”
        Ruby scanned her daughters face and frowned, “You look very pale love are you okay?”
        “Yes I’m fine I just need to lay down for a bit.”
        “Alright then go and lay down for a bit I will check on you before I retire.”
         Cassidy stood up and pushed her chair in. She watched the dead man unbend his spine again making the same sick crunching sound. She heard her mother explain her departure and as fled the  dining hall. Once she cleared their sight she ran the rest of the way to her bedroom. With clumsy fingers she locked her door behind her and dived under her covers tucking them in all around her.
       Gina had spent the hour the girl was in the dining hall fretting. She had a bad feeling something was going to happen and she couldn't continue to ignore it. She waited until she heard the girl return and sought her out. The door was locked she used her thin skeleton key to gain entry and found the girl sobbing beneath her blankets. She liked her new job of looking after the girl. She was much older then Gina had assumed she would be. She’d imagined the girl would be a small child to need someone to watch after her rather than the capable teenager she was. The parents were odd and far too stuffy. They did very little with the girl. She existed but not much more than that to them. Gina cleared her throat and saw the girl go stiff. She said in a gentle tone.
         “I’m sorry dear I didn't mean to startle you I just thought maybe we could….talk? I thought maybe you might tell me what’s been going on with you. Something doesn't seem to feel quite right to me.”
         “You wouldn't believe me.” Cassidy wanted to tell somebody. Her chest was full and ready to burst like a busted dam but she was afraid to tell the truth.
         “I promise not to say a thing to your parents if you tell me the truth.”
         Cassidy pulled her covers off her head and began to tell her story, “Ever since we arrived I have seen things that can’t be real. Like shadows that move on their own, I have heard muffled voice, I can only make out some words like murderer and liar, but worse still is the dead man that appeared with a black mouth and eyes. He says he knows who I am.”
          An icy finger ran up Gina’s spine but she hid her reaction, “What did the man look like?”
          “He looks dead his skin is grey and hangs on his bones loosely he has white hair and he’s really thin and tall.” Cassidy shivered but went on, “his face looks a bit like my dad maybe an older version of him why does it matter?”
          “How well did you know you great-grandfather?”
          “I spent most my time at a boarding school overseas I’m only home now because of how close this manor is to the school my dad claims is the best in all the world. Every time they came here to visit I never came with so I guess I didn't know him at all.” Cassidy sat up and asked, “You think that dead man is my great-grandfather?”
          “What all do you know about ghosts Cassidy?”
           “Nothing really just what I have seen on television.”
          “I know a few things about ghosts and I know a bit about the history of this place as well….” Gina paused and thought about what she should or shouldn't tell the girl, “You must promise not to tell your parents what I am about to tell you.”
            “I promise.” Cassidy tossed the covers off her body and scooted to the edge of her bed. She was prepared to listen.
            “It’s an old story really and I don’t know all the facts. I know it’s a tale of murder. There used to be an old stone house just past the pond it burnt long ago, and the path has grown over, but the graves are still there. It was the groundskeepers house or at least it was once, before the scandal.” Again Gina paused unsure just how much she should say, “It was told that your great-grandfathers eldest brother fell in love with a woman his father thought beneath him. The woman was found face down in the pond and the young man accused his father of killing her.”
           Cassidy couldn't hide her fear. She knew the stone house and she knew those graves, “There are twelve headstones only one has a name you can read and it bears the name Beth.”
          “It was rumored the child was a Bentford but she too was found dead. It was thought she fell from the attic window where she was playing. The child belonged to the woman and used to come with her to help her mother clean the bedrooms. Things went very badly after the child died and the woman made accusations. That's probably why she ended up dead.” Gina cleared her throat, “after the man accused his father of murdering both his lady love and daughter he shot himself in the burnt ruins of the stone house. It was also believed the old man burnt the old house wanting everything to be destroyed.”
         “What do you think the woman wants from me?” she could feel something inside her shifting and moving wrestling for control and she knew now who it was.
           “I don’t know sweetheart maybe some kind of redemption. The woman wasn't buried properly she was burned in a pile of rags by the your great-grandfathers father he had hoped to hide the fact from his son but staff had witnessed the old man retrieve her form the pond and take her off to burn her.” Gina sighed, it was a sad story, “I suppose he wanted his son to forget about her and maybe believe she’d just run off.”
           “Do you think he drown her?”
           “It was rumored he threw the child from the window and then drown the woman. But in those times such things were seldom looked into. Especially if the perpetrator was of wealth and the victim a simple woman of no quality.”
          “I think I would like to sleep now Gina thank you for telling me all this.” Cassidy didn't change into her pajamas instead she rolled over in her pink and pale green dress. She was tired and as soon as her eyes closed she was fast asleep. Gina left her there slumbering in her bed.
             Cassidy was dreaming but it was unlike any dream she’d had before. She was in the large old manor and it was dark and foreboding. She walked through the long and wide hall to the grand staircase without pausing. Although she could feel her legs she wasn’t in control of them. She was taken down the stairs to the first floor then she was taken to the kitchen. She there stood unsure of what would happen next.
          She tried to open her mouth to speak but she wasn't able to. Fear spread like butter over warm bread and so did the panic. She wasn’t dreaming, she was standing in the kitchen. She heard a noise but wasn’t able to search for the source. She was forced to stand in place facing the window. The light changed and suddenly the dark was replaced by the warm sunlight outside. An object dropped and landed with a sick thud. Unable to stop her own body she ran out the back service door and stood staring in disbelief.
           It was a small child no more than four she laid twisted her small frame lifeless blood ran from under her in every direction pooling and thickening quickly. Cassidy’s head tilted of its own accord and she could see from the open window above a figure the sun made it impossible to make out any features but she could plainly see it was a thin male. Without any warning she collapsed onto her knees her hands came to her face making her heart speed up and her lungs become tight. She tried with everything she had to take back control she tried to scream but nothing worked. Without warning again her body moved once more this time she came to her feet and began to walk away from the small child and the manor.
            The sun faded back into the darkness of night and she still couldn't control her body. She was being taken to the stone house. After what felt like an eternity she was there at what should have been the ruins. Instead the old cottage stood before her. She entered the thick door and stood in the common room. There was a fire in the hearth as she stood in the center of the room. A man lay quiet on the battered sofa and she went to him. With her hand she touched his fevered brow. Her lips began to move and words came out, “Tis I father, your only daughter and I came to say my goodbyes.”
           The man was too weak to answer. He moaned and rolled over giving her his back, “I do not think you will survive your fever father. God speed and I shall see you in the shadows soon enough.”
          It was madness she tried again to force her legs to stop but they continued onward leaving the old stone house behind. She stiffened every muscle she could and screamed as loud as her lungs would allow. Then just as sudden and explainable as her loss of control had been, she was once again in control of herself. She stood there in the woods horrified. She could feel the dark seeping close against her skin and as fast as her legs would go she ran back to the manor. Once she was in her room she went to her bathroom and stared hard at her own reflection.
          With a shaking hand she reached out at what she saw in the mirror. Her eyes were no longer green but a dark brown. Her hair was no longer black but reddish brown. She was completely gone now and she had become someone else. She removed the dress. It was dirty and torn in two places and she knew her mother would be unhappy with her. She put on a sturdy pair of jeans and a plain dark blue t-shirt and again she stuffed her hair beneath the cap. She waited until the sun began to kiss the horizon and left the manor. She didn't wait on Gina but went straight to the ruins on her own. The woman wanted something from her but she still didn't know what it was. She had to find out she needed to know what she had to do to end this.
        It was useless. There was nothing here. It was the same thing as it had been the day before. The graves sat undisturbed and the names unreadable. She didn't know which grave belonged to whom except the child. She knew which one that was. She bent down to it now and ran her hand across the name. It was sad and it looked bad from what she'd seen. The child had been murdered. She knew someone had been in that attic that day. She stood up again and looked back in the direction of the manor. She felt the urge to go back. She needed to see the attic for herself.
          She ran the entire length and was startled when she heard her mother’s voice call out from the hall, “I detest caps of any kind why are you wearing that!?”
           Cassidy stopped in the hall and gulped. Her mother would have a fit if she saw the color of her hair, “Sorry mother, may I go and fetch a scarf to wear. The sun has been fading my hair lately.”
         “Run along then, and by run along, I mean walk because one does not run inside one’s home.”
          She walked to her room and tied a scarf about her head and started to go to the attic when Gina stopped her, “Maybe it’s not so wise to poke about something we don’t really know anything about.”
        “She wants something and I have to find out what or else she might…” Cassidy hadn’t any idea how to explain things. She didn’t know what the woman might be able to do to her or the dead man by the hearth, “I have to find out what she wants, please.”
         “When terrible things happen child they can stain a place and leave behind ugly things that can haunt the most unlikely of people.” Gina lowered her voice and said, “You cannot let her be in control, you don't know if she is for the good or for the bad.”
         “I didn’t give her control last night. I awoke unable to do anything to stop her and she showed me her daughter’s death. Gina there was a man looking out the attic window.” Cassidy looked at her hands and her feet, “She had complete control of my body I have to find a way of getting her to rest.”
         “Then I will come along!” Gina looked up the attic steps they were narrow and steep, “Follow me dear.”
         Cassidy followed along. She didn’t say anything in protest. She wanted to stop Gina but she also didn’t want to be alone. Together they climbed the steps to the top of the attic in silence. They found it was full of boxes and trunks. It left little room to move around. Cassidy didn’t know exactly what she was searching for which made looking even more difficult. After riffling through trunk after trunk they found something. It was just another trunk at first glance but once they peered inside and saw the charred remnants of a wedding dress they knew they were onto something. Gina took the dress from the trunk and started to examine the lace and silk. Cassidy retrieved a small dress stained with a rusty red substance.
           “This was Little Beth’s dress.”
           “That poor mite, such a terrible way to die for anyone much less a wee child. I can’t imagine falling from such a height.”
           “I feel her loss in my heart.”
           Cassidy looked inside the trunk she shifted through everything within it. There were old photos and she recognized every face she saw. The woman, the child, the woman’s family were all accounted for. She finally found her great-Uncle George’s personal effects that were all laid with care inside the old trunk. She saw movement from the corner of her eye and before she could say anything she again lost control of her body. She was forced to stand and walk to the boarded up window. Before her eyes the boards faded away and a window with sparkling stained glass sat in its place. Her hands moved on their own and she began to push the window open wide and stick her head out. The wind felt nice as it blew onto her sweaty brow. There was a sound behind her she turned around fast and saw the old man stood at the attic door.
          “A bastard child rummaging about my attic!”
           Cassidy was too high up. She felt like she was standing on something and it was flimsy making her body sway. The man began to come at her and a shrill scream erupted from her throat in a voice neither her own or the woman's. It was the sound of a small child. She felt her body slip and she fell out the window. She saw the solid cement ground rush up to greet her. She watched as her arms and legs flapped useless before she hit the ground. She was again standing in the attic staring at the boarded up window her breath rushing in and out of her lungs.
         “What did you see?”
         “The child wasn’t shoved! She tripped! The old man came in here and said something nasty but I think he may have tried to catch her before she fell.” Cassidy was shaking she could hear her voice quake as she spoke, “I think the little girl showed me the truth.”
         “My grandma used to say that some people had the rare gift of seeing the shadow world.” Gina patted the girl on her shoulder, “she also said the gift was more like a curse some times.”
          “I still need to know what the woman wants and what happened to her.” She shivered still staring at the boards. They were old slabs of wood. She assumed it was hammered up right after the little girl fell to her death. It was sad but she couldn’t do anything to change it.  
          They left the attic and Cassidy went to her room to dress for dinner. She was almost ready when her mother knocked and informed her they would be going to town for a dinner party. But just the two of them would be going and that Cassidy would be on her own for a few hours. She was relieved and watched from her third story window as her parents rode off in their coop. once she was alone she spoke out loud cringing with each word she said.
        “I know who you are and you know who I am. What is you want form me?”
        There was no answer and she was slightly relieved. She thought about the pond and left the manor. She didn’t let Gina know she was going. She didn’t intend to be gone long. She sat patient beside the pond watching the sun start to disappear, nothing happened. She was frustrated and ready to get to the end of this journey. She remembered the stone house and headed in that direction. Whatever the woman wanted it had to be in order. The last thing she’d seen was at the little house.
         It wasn’t there, not at first. She approached the ruin and bent to look into the hearth. She closed her eyes tight and when she opened them next the house was again there. The was man still on the sofa in the throws a high fever. Then she wasn’t in control anymore. All she could do was let this thing play out and see for herself what this dead woman needed from her. Like before she said her goodbyes to her father. It felt cold and she began to think this woman had no real feelings for her ill father. Again she departed the small dark stone house and started along the well-kept path that led to the manor.
         Half way to the manor the woman came to a stop on the path. There was a noise just to her left. Then there was movement and without any warning a man emerged from the tree line. He had a long menacing lead pipe held tight against his side.
          “You might kill me, but you will not stop your brother from telling your father the truth. Your father will know you raped my baby sister!”
       “Oh I think I can stop him just fine as soon as I deal with you.” The man waved the pipe about teasing her with his intentions, “All I have to do is help you with a little accident in the pond then burn down that damn house and no more pesky woman no more ranting groundskeeper. It will again be just the Bentford’s and that’s how it should be.”
         Cassidy could feel the woman’s panic as well as her own twisting together making it impossible to think. She didn’t doubt for a second this man was the reason for the grisly discovery on the pond. She took ragged breaths as she felt the woman tense up and ready herself to run. She did she run and she ran fast. She didn't look back as she darted into the tree line to her right. She could feel the underbrush snagging at her clothing. She almost made it to the clearing of the pond when she felt the jarring blow to the back of her head laying her flat onto her face. The woman wasn’t dead she was dazed as she watched his feet walk up close to her head. He leaned down his mouth a scant few inches from her face. His mouth was like a black hole. She couldn’t see his teeth or his tongue as he spoke in a dark whisper.
         “I know who you are. You thought you would get yourself with child and become the mistress of the Bentford manor and that sister of yours always teasing me!”
         Cassidy felt her trying to respond. Her lips moved but nothing came forth only tiny broken gasps. He straddled her from behind and lifted her up by her waist. She drooped in his arms like a rag doll as he walked to the pond. Once there he said in hissed into her ear.
         “My father didn’t toss your whelp out the window love. He actually tried to snatch her before she fell. He came close too and nearly caught her by the ankle. His misguided guilt has made him rethink your love match with my brother but it changed nothing for me. I intend to be the master of this manor and you and that love sick fool of a brother of mine will be dead. That fever already claimed the rest of your family leaving only you to deal with.”     
          She knew this was her dead great-grandfather and that this was how he, the younger brother had taken the manor and the money. He snatched something from around her neck and laughed into her ear, “Rest in peace my dear.”
         She was struck by horror as she was thrown into the pond landing face first into the green moss coated water. She couldn’t use her arms and legs she felt herself sinking like a stone to the bottom when a hand snatched her up by the back of her shirt.
         Gina drug her free of the dark water and sat her on the muddy shore and chastised her, “foolish child I warned you about running off like that you almost got yourself drown!”
       “I know who killed her! It wasn’t the old man it was my great grandfather who did it! He was greedy and he was accused of rape!” she coughed and sputtered trying to catch her breath still shaking from what the woman had showed her, “He took a locket from around her neck and I think he may have shot his brother.”
        “You swallowed some of that awful water honey now you’ll be sick for a week. Let’s stop all this ghost business for now and get you to bed okay.” Gina reached her hand out but the girl didn’t take it.    
        “I can’t stop until I find out what she wants. I have to see this through please Gina you can go with me but I must go back to the stone house its almost over now I promise.” She shivered as the cool night air blew against her wet clothing and skin, “please?”
        “Only if you hurry up your parents won’t be gone all night.” Gina said a quick pray and followed after the girl into the woods.
         It didn’t take long to reach the house. It was quiet and pitch black. The house again was not there. She stood beside the hearth and waited for something to happen. It didn’t take long. She turned and there was day light and the house was behind her. She could see the man that killed the woman. Her body was there too and another man as well. The man who’d killed the woman spoke first.
       “You should have allowed father to burn her that would have been best.”
        George didn’t move from where he stood. He had the shovel resting in his hands and his dead fiancĂ© lying at his feet. He’d suspected his father of having first slain his daughter, then maybe having slain his love, but now he realized the truth. It was too late.
        “It was you, my brother, that did this to her. You did all of this to silence what you did to her sister.”
        “I gave her one nice crack to her skull and tossed her into the pond. If only you had been less careless of where your little bastard spent her afternoons playing. I would not have had to do any of this. Father intended me to have everything and I warmed up rather nicely to that idea. Then that damn child hurled herself to the ground and riddled him with guilt! So I do what I must do to have what I deserve.” Tomas smiled wide at his brother’s low growl. He wasn’t intimidated by his stronger and better looking older brother. He had the upper hand by way of the pistol he held in his pocket, “You chose to accuse father and drove him to the brink, making him give you back your inheritance! No one, not even you really gave a damn about that girls sister!”
       “Had I known you wanted all that I would have given it to you freely! If I had known that house would cost me everyone I love I would have been glad to see it gone! One thing I have that you cannot take is my heart I would never dehumanize any woman! I am a man and you are a monster!” George lunged but fell hard when his brother shot the pistol. His aim was true.
        Cassidy knew the woman’s body had been burnt. She saw him tuck the locket into his pocket after he set the house with the ill man still inside ablaze. It was raw and ugly and it made her blood run cold. It was the past and it couldn’t be undone. Before she could escape her vision the dead woman reappeared and stood in front of her. She was ashen and dripping wet from the pond. She reached at her neck then pointed to the little girl’s grave and Cassidy knew what she wanted.
      “You better answer me right now Cassidy!” Gina watched the girl go into some kind of trance not responding to anything she said.
       “A locket, my great grandfather took a locket from her and she wants it brought here to her daughter’s grave!” Cassidy ran toward the manor not checking behind her to see if the older woman followed. She knew where the locket was. She knew what her great grandfather had done.
         Gina was silent and stayed close to the girl when they entered the house. They went to the parlor still dressed up as it had always been. The girl stooped down and reached into the hearth pulling at a loose brick within the left hand side, “what are doing?”
         “It’s here! That locket he put it here and something else too!” she got the loose brick free and pulled out a small metal box.
          “How did you know that would be there child?”
          “I kept seeing something linger by the hearth. It was dark and oppressing, it was him trapped by his own dirty deeds.” Cassidy pried the lid off, “look I found her locket. It is inscribed by Uncle George. It says one day we shall all be together and here is my great grandfathers diary. He wrote down what he did every single detail is right in there.”
           “Now what?”
            “We give the little girl the locket.”
             They went back to the stone house ruins and Cassidy dug down into the earth above Little Beth’s resting place. She placed the old fragile locket into the moist earth, “There you are little one, maybe you can rest now and your mom too.”
            Gina watched the girl grow younger, her hair return to black, and her eyes again were bright green, “It’s over?"
           “For them it is, but for me I don’t know.”
           “My grandma always said it was more curse then gift child maybe you should get some sleep for now.”
          Cassidy knew about the stains left behind by terrible acts. She knew the soul might leave and journey beyond but left a trace of who it was behind to rattle its own cage seeking justice. She’d been terrified but now that it was done she wasn’t scared anymore. She wasn’t just relieved for herself but for her great-grandfathers victims as well. What had happened was sad and she couldn’t undo any of it but she felt like she’d finished something. It was over now but she felt changed. Maybe even she felt aged just a bit past her own seventeen years.