Winter Flash-Lunatic

We wandered the hallways, staring into individual rooms and periodically shuddering at the occupants.  The guides voice droned on without inflection describing the different causes for their incarceration; rebelliousness, uncleanliness, voices and worst of all promiscuity.  Now and then, there was a slight rise in his voice when he described the cures, especially for the promiscuous woman kept tied in darkened rooms.

Through the iron door and into the dayroom, the only room with windows the guide led us, the last part of the lunatic tour.  Here sat those who had taken the barbaric cures and were ready to be asked our questions.  The women in the room lifted their heads and stared, some with mild curiosity but most with blankness a dark countenance.

Some of us could not stop our gasps, others giggled at what we had seen.  Our schadenfreude unquenchable in the face of such pain.



It is a new season, time for a Winter of Disturbing Flashes. Flash in the Pan is brought to you by the remarkable Red of M3 fame, to join in the fun read the rules at the link provided and get to flashing!

The word this week is Lunatic with a word limit of 150. Lunatic comes in at 148.

Hashtags: #flashfiction #getpublished with @RedmundPro


  1. Yay for schadenfreude ! 🙂

  2. This is a very visual piece, Valentine. The images are almost haunting.

  3. Gray Dawster says:

    The worst scenario for a lot of those poor souls
    was that there was nothing wrong with them, which
    just adds a gruesome twist to their fate 😦

    Your FTP’s are brilliant Val, I always enjoy your postings 🙂

    Andro xxxx

  4. That’s what “Bedlam” must have been like … still happening today …

  5. Those olden days within the asylum were indeed days of horror, and amazingly they were only relatively recently stopped. and many were experimented on, abused, and forgotten.. Thankfully we have moved forward, but still many hold that taboo about those with mental illness… and even today you hear the word Lunatic, The term lunatic derives from the Latin lunaticus which originally referred mainly to epilepsy and “madness” as diseases caused by the Moon. and its Luna Cycles,, ( I still know one or two today who are ruled by the Moon Cycles as their mood visibly changes) 😉

    • I know a few of those myself Sue, those moon driven people. I love them, they are lovely.

      You are right about the asylums. I wish I could have scanned the picture that spurred this Flash, it was hellish but too dark to scan properly.

      Our cruelty to our fellow men and women over the centuries should cause is great shame, it doesn’t though. We simply shake our heads and say we didn’t know. I wonder about humanity sometimes, don’t you?

  6. Some of the authors of that era were brave enough to refer to this practice in a delicate way. It was very real.

  7. We all want to believe that this is a picture from Dickensian London. But it’s not. And then of course there are the sufferers who don’t “qualify” for a bed. They get a heating grate instead.

    Beautifully, sadly written, Val.

    • Thank you Elyse. I was reminded of this pratice from a picture I saw in a book as I was cleaning library shelves. Isn’t it strange what ques our thoughts, especially for flash fiction. It was actually a picture of a closed asylum in the Chicago.

  8. “promiscuous”

    Now how much more judgemental can one get – and from people who spew – “thou shall not judge” – no wonder the pews are getting increasingly vacant.

    • I couldn’t agree with you more Eric. But up into the early part of the last century women were locked away for this very thing, especially if their families had the means to do so. Terrible thing.

  9. Very sad, but nicely written, Val. I just love reading these! XOXO-Kasey

  10. Such madness. Only man can show such cruelty to man. The tours for raising funds? Ghoulish.
    Creepy story, I agree, but paints a clear and true picture. I know we have come a long way, but is it long enough?

  11. Not fiction you know. Today, our Supreme court ruled that all homosexuals are criminals!!

  12. Well done … but chilling. ….. or should I say … Chilling, but well done.

  13. Wow, where does this take place? Sounds like something that might happen in the Middle East these days.

    Hugs from Ecuador,

    • Oddly, all these ‘terribles’ were causes for incarceration in ‘hospitals’ for the insane up till the early part of the last century in the US and much of Europe. This was especially true for women from ‘good’ families who dared to cause a scandal. Lock them away and forget them. Often the asylums would raise additional funds by providing ‘tours’. Horrifying isn’t it?

      All hugs back

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