Jenn Baker’s Picture Choice: Both
Title: Destined for the Dark
The old asylum stood silent and watching in the moonlight. The bright full moon was occasionally hidden by the thick dark clouds, adding foreboding shadows to the grounds. Shadows big enough to hide the creatures that was said to live in the asylum. Melanie had heard the stories and finally gotten permission from the land owner to visit the asylum. Stepping from her car, she stood staring up at the dark stone building.
As the clouds passed, the courtyard became visible. Out of the darkness, an old water fountain covered in gnarled white roots made its presence known. Melanie’s eyes followed the roots and discovered the entire courtyard was covered in them. They spread across the ground toward the building, but never climbing. They claimed everything but the asylum. As if it they knew the dangers of touching the something so dark and evil.
The massive structure had originally been the home of a wealthy inventor. The stories told that he had built it for his new bride. She had wanted a home that looked like the estate homes in her native England. It took almost ten years to build, but she only lived in it for two short years. His precious wife died during childbirth, and the child passed a few days later. Grief stricken, the inventor never left his home again. Eventually his staff moved on to other employment, telling tales of his insanity and of his Frankenstein style experiments. Many people ignored the stories of his experiments, until a villager mutated and killed his family after being bit by a wild dog while hunting. Soon after, more stories of shape shifting and murder came out of the small village.
Tired of the violence, the village attacked the inventor’s home with the intention of bringing him to justice. They never found him. The entire property was empty. Not one living soul was found, not even a bird in the trees. After being abandoned for over fifty years, the new local government decided they needed an asylum. Choosing to ignore the stories of the old manor, they modified it in to the needed institution. The asylum ran normally for the first few years, and then suddenly it changed. Residents started attacking each other and the staff. People would be found dead with no explanation as to why. Eventually the asylum was closed. Almost fifty years later, the building still sat empty. No one was brave enough to ignore its past and attempt to make it in to something.
Melanie didn’t ignore the building’s past history. She wanted to discover how true the old stories were and if there was any information as to what happened to the original owner. She reached back into her car to grab her bag and flashlight. As she walked away from the car, the clouds danced in front of the moon plunging the area in to shadow. She turned on her flashlight and looked back toward the building. To her surprise, she noticed that there were lights on in a few of the windows. They looked like candles in the window, as if people watched from inside of the house. The largest concentration was in the window near the front door. The lights disappeared when the clouds moved again. Convinced she imagined the lights; Melanie shook her head and started toward the building.
As she passed the fountain, she saw a shadow lying on the ground near some benches. She quickened to her pace toward the shadow. As she drew near, she realized it was a person. Melanie kneeled next to the body and as she reached to check for a pulse, the person rolled over. Melanie was staring at herself. But she knew it couldn’t be. The woman grabbed Melanie’s hand hard.
“You must save him.” The doppelganger whispered. “You are the only one who can.”
“Who must I save?” Melanie whispered back.
“You know who. It is your destiny, Melanie.” As the moonlight disappeared behind the clouds, the doppelganger faded from view and existence. “Do not be afraid, Melanie. He won’t hurt you.”
Shaken to her core, Melanie sat back on her ankles and started at the spot where the woman had been. Melanie quickly pulled out her notebook and wrote down everything the woman said and what she had looked like. After putting away the notebook, Melanie looked around the courtyard again. Convinced she was alone, she stood and walked to the front door. She was there for answers and she wasn’t going to leave until she had them.
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Jenn lives in central Florida with her best friend and husband, Andy. When not reviewing books on her book blog, PonyTails Book Reviews, she writes her own Contemporary Western Romance and Scottish Historicals. Jenn is hoping to have her first novel, The Prodigal Cowboy, published in the fall of 2013.