My name is Jacob Horowitz, a reporter from the New York Gazette. While in New York I had received an unknown letter that was sent, by a certain individual with the name of Joshua Levitz, who was an august and wealthy member of the New York high society.
Apparently, his young daughter Bethany of consanguinity had disappeared from the asylum she had been previously committed. She was confined, due to the long incidents of her unbearable depression—but she was found to be totally incompetent or mad in the end.
Even though, this was the absolute prognosis of the lead physician of the facility, Miss Levitz's condition of insanity demonstrated was never fully explained or understood, by her family. What started as a mere temporary sojourn would extend to a year in duration, and yet what was more baffling was the supposed comportment of Miss Levitz. She gradually had changed from being mild and subdued to being altered in such sudden erratic episodes of unbridled hysteria, with unremitting consistency. At least this was the ultimate report given by Dr. Weller to the authorities and the family, before her indubitable and strange disappearance.
September 18, 1899,
I set off to a small and unfamiliar hamlet, from New York City to investigate the bizarre disappearance of Miss Levitz.
Since I did not want to go alone, I took with me, Officer Longfellow from the New York Police Department, who had diligently accompanied me on the trip.
We arrived in a steamboat very early in the afternoon at the edge of the wharf protected, by a constructed jetty.
The eerie Weller Asylum was located upon a unique hillside that was nearby a picturesque placid lake. The imposing estate of 440 acres was once a dreadful prison during the American Civil War, for the immured Confederate soldiers, who were retained within the closed chambers of the facility, while others were sent to the prison of Moline, Illinois, also. The unusual asylum was nestled in a labyrinthine grove of towering endless trees that sheltered the tawny fallen leaves and the quaint cottages adjoined to the estate. There were two wings attached to the main structure that had separated the female and male genders.
As I had peragrated through the tall coniferous larches, I could descry then what appeared to be patients playing a lively game of croquet. I was impressed, by the Gothic and lithic façade and the steep tower overlooking the roof of the main building. The protruding curves of masonry, beneath the outermost pavilions. The intrinsic arches guarding and overlapping the front door amidmost of the brick building, and the fenestration of the windows was oval but opaque, with stained glass casements. There was not much that I knew of this place, except that it was an asylum.
Once at the front door I met the steward, who was in charge of the estate, by the name of Andrew Miller. I was soon told that Dr. Randolph Weller, who was the lead physician at the facility, was not present. His absence was unknown to me, as he was tending to a matter outside of the estate.
Once inside I was given a tour to the three story building, by the steward. I was told that the patients were either outside or within the inside rooms. There was a vaulted attic, an east wing, an underground room with tunnels with grounded steam pipes, and a spiral ornate stairwell with wooden banisters. In the detached building there was a morgue, where the dead were embalmed or incinerated, as well, the rooms of the patients. There was in the main building, two full kitchens and twelve bedrooms, for the staff.
As for the patients, they were either suffering from chronic and acute illnesses. When I inquired about their type of sickness, the steward's reply was, “Oh, they suffer from things such as congestion of the brain, hysteria, intemperance, brain fever, sexual derangement, mental illness, torturous conditions. We have all type of patients from the feeble-minded, the aged and crippled, drunks, epileptics and beggars sir.”
“Good God, such depraved persons in this world that we know so little of. Gone shall be the familiar charitable country-based almshouses I imagine,” Officer Longfellow responded.
"The madness here is an ordinary occurrence sir. You see, we are quite accustomed to seeing the most afflicted individual, with all sort of episodes of heightened drama in this asylum daily," the steward had acknowledged.
"I admire your diligent perseverance and gumption Mr. Miller. It must be very difficult to endure the many mad and hopeless persons that you have at this facility," I then answered.
He looked at me, with an odd stare, "You mean patients sir, for we treat all who are here as patients that need our benevolent and obliging assistance. We have a universal motto here we apply at the asylum. There is no one who is left behind. Every patient is tended to and soon reformed."
It was then that a sound of a motor could be heard from inside the building. Immediately, we stepped outside to investigate the particular noise. Outside was a man getting off a Winton Phaeton vehicle, and heading toward us. I had descried the vehicle approaching the vicinity toward where we were standing approximatively. The Winton Phaeton was a novelty that had caught the attention of curious New Yorkers. He was fully dressed in the attire of a physician, and I had assumed it was the good Dr. Weller in person. He was of medium stature and bore a thick waxed mustache, above a trimmed beard and wielding eyes of stern imposition as he greeted me afterward, with a slight tone of condescension and suspicion.
"The New York Gazette you say you represent sir? I am afraid I don’t have much time lately to know the affairs of the New York Gazette. As you see, we are constantly busy, with the solicitude of our patients. However judging from your accent, you are from New York City and not from here detective. Since I am a New Yorker, I can easily distinguish the accent."
"You are correct in your assumption doctor I am originally from New York city. You are a very percipient man. Nevertheless, I am glad that you have finally arrived, and it is a pleasure to meet you at last,” I replied as we shook hands.
His shake was firm and quite steady, and not once did I sense fear or much anxiety in this man, as we spoke plainly. He was candid in his speech, and his decorum was considered indifferent and phlegmatic at first. Yet, I had perceived in him, a mystery that few unfolded of his influential persona in earnest. I was always wont of every expression emoted, by those individuals I had interviewed or even investigated during the process of my inquiries. However, he was a difficult fellow to decipher.
"Mr. Horowitz then, what exactly do you wish to speak of? I was informed of the visit of the New York Police, but I was led to believe it was for tomorrow and not today. I was not informed that a reporter would be joining the trip,” he asked.
“I must apologize, if there has been some misunderstanding and you were not informed of our visit today Dr. Weller. You see doctor, I was sent along with Officer Longfellow today to investigate the very mysterious disappearance of a young lady, by the name of Bethany Levitz,” I said.
He seemed to be oblivious to my reference of this actual patient, and he paused as if he attempted to recall her, “Miss Bethany Levitz from New York City.”
“Surely with so many patients we have and have had at the asylum, you will forgive me, if presently, I do not recall the name of this Bethany Levitz,” he answered hastily.
“Doctor, most likely in your records, you will have her listed no?”
“Ah, why of course Mr. Horowitz!”
“If I may indulge doctor, may I speak to you in privacy? It is a very important matter.”
“Although I am an occupied man, I believe I can permit you an hour for an interview or conversation, since you have come all the way from New York City.”
We entered the main building together along with the steward, where we proceeded to converse discreetly about the young Miss Levitz in his office. I had advised Officer Longfellow to question thoroughly the servants and attendants of the asylum. Dr. Weller closed the door and told me to sit, and I sat attentively. His words were concise, but his behavior was rather unusual and too reserved to a point, as if he was truly concealing information from me I had sensed. What pertinent information could that be? Perhaps he would disclose the whereabouts of Bethany Levitz.
“Now Mr. Horowitz, what do you wish to know of Miss Levitz?”
I smiled with a cordial response, “Her disappearance doctor!” I then asked, “What happened to Miss Levitz? How did she disappear? I imagine you have in your records, the last time she was seen and reported on the estate?”
He was somewhat then surprised by my questioning, “You detectives do have such inquisitive minds, more perhaps than us doctors, Mr. Horowitz. Nonetheless, yes, we do have records of her stay here, and the last time she was reportedly seen in the asylum or estate for that matter.”
He took from inside the lower cabinet of his desk, a folder with the file of Miss Levitz, and had shown me. “As you can see Mr. Horowitz, the last time Miss Levitz had been seen, was upon the early morning of September 11th, just a week ago. We here at the asylum have done everything to locate the young lady, but so far, we have not been fortunate enough to find her, and the authorities were informed. They found nothing.”
“A week ago doctor you say. Pardon my intrusion, but why did you wait a week to inform the police, when definitely they would have had ample time to have searched for her or even a vestige of her whereabouts?” I queried.
He was not truly amused by my question, and riposted almost dissentiously, “It is easy to criticize something from the outside than the inside, Mr. Horowitz.”
There was a sound of thunder that roared as he rose to his feet and said, “Perhaps it would be better that we finish this conversation, since the intermittent rains are not so kind to the visitors of the estate and you must rest, for the steamboat will be leaving early in the morning. I have answered your questions, and given you a folder of the patient to see. If you want to read the file in your room, then by all means, take the folder with you as long, as you return it before you leave the estate. The steward will escort you to your lodging, and if you wish to partake in any activities in the ground, with the patients, feel free. You and Officer Longfellow can take dinner in the hall, with the staff. You see Mr. Horowitz, we here at the asylum have a wondrous rapport, with our patients. You need not to fear they will not do any harm to you. They are as docile as a cat, as long as you do not provoke them, they will be dormant in their hostility toward you. Here we take conceptual thoughts and convert them into self-effacing actions.”
We were afterward taken to the rooms, where we were going to stay the night. Inside the room I had read the entire file of Miss Levitz that Dr. Weller had let me borrow, while Officer Longfellow did his investigation outside of the facility discreetly. The file contained primarily convoluted words of medical terminology that I was ill-prepared to decipher. It was a file describing the nature of the horrific illness Miss Levitz was suffering, and the afflicting condition she bore. There was mention of the abrupt changes in her mood and persona, and the difficult episodes of delirium she was instantly experiencing daily, with a certain apanthropinisation.
What arrested my curiosity was the diagnosis and the last time she was reported to have been seen on the estate. The diagnosis had referred to the insufferable depression that Miss Levitz had that grew into a very gradual phrenesis that depraved her from any autexousious participation. The illusory hallucinations and rapid impulses of violence and instability were manifest and not salutiferous. In the end, the majority of the report was vague, and what was written about her last day was unclear and indeterminate.
She was last seen outside in the grounds of the estate, in the early morning. Despite the abstruse terminology that was utilized, my urgent intrigue had stirred the need to investigate, but at my discretion. I felt indeed, an abstract mystery that was unsolved and waiting to be unraveled and excogigating. This I computed, with such elevated constancy and stimulation. There was something peculiar with the information and details I had read, and the inexplicable disappearance of the young Miss Levitz.
I was not completely satisfied with the subtlety written, in the details that compelled me to make a less than accurate assumption of her puzzling disappearance. However, there was little I could do, without intruding in the matters and doings of the Weller Estate.
Thence, I remained in my room that was part of the main building, within the private lodgings of the visitors who attended the asylum, as I waited for Officer Longfellow to return. I began to ponder the significance of the file, and as I sat in my bed, I noticed that there was an anonymous breathing under the bed and giggling as well. When I looked under the bed slowly, I discovered a young lady, who was hiding under the bed. I was surprised by the occurrence.
“My God, who are you? And what are you doing under the bed young lady? Are you a patient?” I asked.
She was extremely disheveled, and from her guise one would logically assume her to be a wretched and unsightly young lady afflicted. Her subtle behavior and the cold and blank stare in her blue round glassy eyes projected, a startling and desperate individual standing before me. She was very pusillanimous and constantly was looking at the chamber door, as if dreading that she would be caught or discovered by someone else that was not me. She also gazed at the mirror on top of the chiffonier and saw her ghostly reflection. She mumbled an utterance that I did not understand. She was mute and said nothing. I knew that there was something she wanted to communicate to me and was extremely fearful of uttering.
“You wish to speak, to say something to me?”
She began to shiver, as she felt threatened, by my questions and attitude toward her. “You don’t have to be frightened young lady—all I want to know is who you are.”
I paused then said and asked, "Don’t be afraid, I will not harm you. Are you Bethany Levitz, daughter of Joshua Levitz?”
There was no actual response to my question, and I had attempted to allay her anxiety and was almost able for a momentary period of time to achieve that. Yet, her apprehensive expression was evident and shown to me then. Was she verily the young Miss Bethany Levitz, who was missing and I was sent to investigate? I wondered. I had a photograph of her, but she did not resemble at all the young Miss Levitz. She gave me a strange object that she was carrying in her hand that I had not seen, as her hands were put behind her. What could this object be I had wondered?
“Take this!” She muttered in her stammer.
It was a book, a plain diary she had given me. I took the book, and was grateful, “Thank you!”
She then left the room and scurried to the corridor where no one was observing, except my curious eyes. I would never see alive the mysterious young lady, with the name of Bethany Levitz. I closed the door and started to read the diary that she handed to me. Apparently, from what I could read, the diary belonged to a female, by the name of Bethany Levitz. Yes—the same Bethany Levitz that I had come to investigate. I will not reveal the whole contents of the pages of the diary, and instead, share the significant gist. The more that I had read, the more I was convinced that the diary belonged to Miss Levitz.
And what I found more chilling were the macabre details of the horror that was transpiring surreptitiously. There was a vivid description and account of the inhumane tortures or treatments used by Dr. Weller. The inscrutable cruelty of the tactics employed consisted of corporeal torture and submission. The supputated methods were even more appalling and abhorrent than psychological convolutions. What were these monstruous methods and acts of such unreasonable barbarity?
Patients would be administered illicit or unproven medicine and bound in a table, with heavy iron shackles or tenacious straps. The implements of the vile machinations of the Utrica crib and the systematic flagitious whips used for the advent of therapeutic measures, and the infamous holding chair and the restraining strait-jackets. They were forced to be experimented as unwanted participants to abundant experiments and other mad concepts of the doctor. The haunting morgue would be the abominable abode that rapidly incinerated the unsalvageable and incurable patients—or the rebellious. They would be thoroughly subjugated to the evil whims and sickening ideas of the doctor.
I will not continue, since the rest of the diary is fraught, with daily despair and fear. I was not quite certain what to surmise, from the pages of the diary. In what frame of mind was the author of this diary, when writing? There were signs of erratic and unstable behavior in the handwriting and pages, yet, there were telling signs of descriptive details that only a sane individual would know. There was strong resolution expressed, but this definite dissolution I perceived.
Not much was known of the Weller Asylum, aside for the simple fact that it was a resourceful place for treatment and assistance. Moreover, Officer Longfellow had said that it was sparingly mentioned in New York City for that matter. However, I could not dismiss the disturbing words written in the diary, and the profound revelations exposed as a monition.
Immediately, I thought of searching within the asylum to eradicate that doubt of the premonition that consumed me from within. But where would I begin my investigation? I had pondered incessantly, if Miss Levitz was still alive, since there was no proof that she had died. But judging from the last entry and suspicious circumstances, behind her disappearance, I felt that the strong probability of her death was a plausible likelihood.
From what I was informed by the steward the hours of the meals would allow me to venture from the room and building. The attendants were tending to the distribution of the meals for dinner. I instructed them that we would take our meals in the rooms. A tray was brought, and it allowed me the necessary cover for my whereabouts for the time being. Oddly enough, Officer Longfellow had not yet return. I was not certain if something unfortunate had happened to him, or worst, he had been sequestered.
No patients were outside, and the employees were all tending to them, even the nurses. As for Dr. Weller, he was occupied with a patient, from what I was explained. I had to calculate my plan and time, and elaborate it to absolute perfection.
Subsequently, I waited for the attendant to pass, before I exited the room and headed to the one place that had bemused and captivated my interest, the morgue. I knew that the rooms of the patients were in the adjoining building. Therefore, knowing that fact, I proceeded to walk attentively, with extreme caution toward the terrible morgue. When I reached the door of the morgue, I found the door unlocked. For some apparent reason, it was left in that manner.
Perhaps one of the attendants had forgotten to lock it—or it was purposely left unlocked to permit Dr. Weller to enter. Was he intentionally disposing the bodies here? Could the body of Miss Levitz be found here? Was this the awful place of her demise and final departure?
There was such great uncertainty surrounding the case, and there was a feasible explanation to a certain extent, since this was a morgue. I needed irrefutable proof to justify any possible murders. Although I had the accusations of the diary, it was not sufficient evidence to prove any foul play in the case of the disappearance of Miss Levitz.
The door creaked open, as I entered with the utmost discretion. I then lightly closed the door. When I finally entered, the sight of a furnace burning and piles of bones and skulls heaved on the side was ghastly and shocking. I had not prepared myself at all, for this unbelievable discovery. I did not have much time I sensed, and I needed to find something relevant to my ongoing investigation. I had searched hurriedly through the room, for a token of proof to unmask the mystery of the asylum.
As I got closer to the piles of bones accumulated, I saw that the bones and skulls had tags attached to them. I noticed that the tags had names that were complete, with surnames written. Sadly enough, among the many bones and skulls was the skull of the young Bethany Levitz. This was the irrefutable proof I needed, and even more disconcerting was the discovery of her dress that was the same dress in the photograph given to me from the beginning, by Mr. Levitz.
The daunting morgue was the existing embodiment of death, as Dr. Weller was the truthful personification of precarious malice. Now, what was I to do next? But I would soon be discovered, by Dr. Weller, who was standing in front of the door, as he had opened it carefully, without my notice. He closed the door as he walked toward me, with an intensive and intriguing stare.
"Indeed, you detectives have the proclivity to have such an inquisitive mind to procure information sir. This is a foolish trait, especially when it is conceived, with the many mistakes of the ignoramus. I will not procrastinate in knowing the truth," he replied.
"Good God Dr. Weller, you killed Miss Bethany Levitz. For heaven's sake doctor, why—why in the name of God? And how many more have you killed?" I asked him.
His response was peremptory, "I only gave her peace, and what her troubling soul had implored, Mr. Horowitz. What you call death, I call humane compassion."
I then felt an object struck my head and left me unconscious as I fell on the floor. When I awoke the next thing, I saw was the blurry guise of an attendant who was putting inside the furnace a dead body. I was dressed now in a white garment, and surrounded by bodies I observed, who were as well dressed in this diaphanous cloth. I was strapped in a table, unable to free myself. A sudden trepidation and concern had consumed me. I was at a grievous susceptibility, and unsure how I could escape. If I made a noise, the attendant would be alerted.
However, if I did nothing, I would perish into the blazing fire of the furnace. What would my timely reaction be? Soon, I would have my answer. As my angst increased, I felt a swift flash of energy passing by me as I saw a strange woman standing before me. She was indicating to me to keep quiet, and I did. The woman was the young lady, who was in my room ere. Somehow, the attendant fell to the floor and died unknowingly of a massive heart attack.
Afterward, she freed me, but she warned me with her expression to not move. Dr. Weller had entered the morgue and saw the attendant lying dead on the floor. In the meantime, I acted dead and listless. He was unaware of the development and had attempted to resuscitate the man, but to no avail. Quickly, I rose to my feet and attacked him. We struggled by the furnace, as he tried to overpower me and push me into the burning flame. I was able to prevent him from pushing me in, and as we fought, a force of energy pushed him into the furnace, absorbing him as he screamed.
The strange entity was the young lady anew, who was my guardian angel it had appeared. I looked aghast, as his body burned in the charcoal of the furnace. The madness of the doctor was finally over, and the charnel stench of the succession of deaths too. It was then that the face of the ghost disappeared, and Officer Longfellow's face was what I saw next.
"Mr. Horowitz, Mr. Horowitz, are you all right sir? What has happened to Dr. Weller? And what are you doing in the morgue?" Officer Longfellow asked.
"My God, I was almost killed, by that madman. Where is she, the young mysterious lady?" I inquired.
"Who, what young lady are you referring to Mr. Horowitz? I did not see any one in the morgue, except you," Officer Longfellow replied.
Officer Longfellow had discovered a clandestine area of the asylum that was abandoned and untold to us. It was the latibule of the attic where the dreaded memories would remain, in the sundry countless letters and photographs of vallidom that were found in the attic that told the truth of the former irredivious patients that vanished one day, in the incinerating furnace. Included was the lovely photograph of a young Miss Martha Deerwood, who was killed and incinerated in the furnace, with Miss Bethany Levitz. The asylum would be closed definitely, and the attendants and nurses that knew and assisted Dr. Weller's despicable crimes were then prosecuted and found guilty.
Gloomy markers were put to indicate the deceased, in the lone cemetery that remained of the horror of the Weller Asylum. It is said that the guises of the old Confederate soldiers are witnessed from afar, on the estate. All the victims were sacrificed, for the progress of humanity or regress of man's fanciful and avid need to play God and Devil. This within the voluble accordance vitiated, with a mad premise and disturbing pattern we call, life and death.
For centuries pervading madness had obsessed mankind, in the search of interminable knowledge of the veritable physiology of the brain and pathology, with a plethora of illimitable thoughts that encompass our minds. The blind devotion embedded to patronage is the delusionary catatonia we breed. Often the genuine evolution of a mere concept is abated, by the surreal manner which we interpret the notion, we aspire to attach to that uncertain connotation.
Where does the inherent boundary of sanity collide, with the adventitious boundary of insanity, as we ponder the world we dwell in, and that egress that leads one, into the drear vault of infinite darkness? Can we elucidate how the brain functions and the complexity of nature that compels the brain to kill, through this compulsion of a sheer propensity or desire? Can evil verily be personified, through the imperious and deliberate action of the impervious madness that knows no surcease? You who know the peril of the dark corridor, where the ghosts of retribution lurk behind the walls of the forlorn abode of hell, are ever mindful of the terror that exists without impunity.