Belle Vue

Belle Vue

By:  Crystal Lake Publishing  Completed
Language: English
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History student Alex Palmer is thrilled when his girlfriend, Claire Ryan, buys an apartment in Belle Vue Manor, formerly a Victorian lunatic asylum. But as Alex begins to discover the dark truth about the asylum’s past, he, Claire, and their friend Marianne find themselves on a nightmarish journey. Each will face the deadly consequences of the evil that began with the construction of the first Belle Vue Manor by an aristocratic French émigré in 1789, as well as the cruelty and satanic practices that continued when it became an asylum for the insane. As the two strands—past and present—unfold, Alex uncovers a supernatural mystery where revenge is paramount and innocence irrelevant—without being aware of the price he, and those around him, will pay. ©️ Crystal Lake Publishing

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39 Chapters
Prologue
PROLOGUETuesday, 17 August, 1869Belle Vue Lunatic Asylum“Get those frigging troublemakers out of my way. I’ll deal with the Grady girl . . . ”Bill Callahan hung back as the beefy supervisor and one of her assistants pulled the two lunatics covered in vomit to their feet. They propped them up, then dragged them past the remaining knot of inmates huddled on the floor and made slow progress along the corridor toward the infirmary.He scanned the jumble of limbs and spotted his target moaning and clutching her stomach, her dress covered in a yellow glutinous mess. He bellowed at his men, bludgeons at the ready, to clear the rest of the defectives from the area and restore order. Rolling up his sleeves, he strode over and grabbed the prostrate Ellen by the back of her collar. The girl was barely conscious, but Callahan felt himself harden. He heaved her over his shoulder, placing his left hand on her buttocks and, ignoring the chaos behind him, headed toward the back stai
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Chapter One
CHAPTER ONE Monday, 29 September Present DayCatching a sudden movement from the corner of her eye, Claire Ryan slammed her foot on the brake. The screech pierced the chilly night air as her car shuddered to a halt. In the glare of the headlights, a woman stood scowling at her. A rush of heat rose to Claire’s face. Surely, she hadn’t been that distracted. A cluster of white houses behind the woman, with their jettied upper stories and square-leaded windows, leaned forward like inquisitive crones eager to see how this scene would unfold.Before Claire could react, the woman touched the car bonnet with her bony hand. Her lips, deep red against the wrinkled pallor of her skin, moved as though reciting something. Transfixed, Claire held her breath. The words streamed out, but strain as she might, she couldn’t catch their meaning. With a final withering glance, the woman turned and proceeded along the narrow sidewalk. Claire lost sight of her as it curved round.She exhaled. From beh
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Chapter Two
CHAPTER TWO Monday, 10 August, 1868Ellen Grady loosened the frayed neckline of her Mam’s shift and wiped the damp cloth over the hot, mottled skin. Mam twisted in the bed and moaned. In the heat, the stained shift stuck to her gaunt frame. Thin fingers clutched her distended stomach and the twisting grew more agitated. Ellen leaned over as blood began to flow from her Mam’s nose. She struggled to hold her still and wipe away the mess. Mam whimpered, and her movements calmed.“Is Mary here? Mary?”If only. With little hope, Ellen had sent her neighbor, Mrs. Flanagan’s boy out several times to the Green Hog pub by the Docks, but Mary had refused. Her half-sister hadn’t come back to Whitechapel when Da died of the same typhoid six months ago and before that hadn’t stepped foot in the lane for six years. Ellen’s eyelids drooped, her head slumped forward. If she could sleep for just a minute.Mam bucked again. Ellen snapped awake and dropped the cloth. Blood spattered her face. She w
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Chapter Three
CHAPTER THREETuesday, 30 September PRESENT DAY“Hurry up, Claire.”“Coming. Won’t be a sec.”Marianne paced the hall and tried to quell the edgy feeling in her stomach. A few minutes later, Claire emerged from the bathroom dressed in a cropped jacket and jeans, long pale hair framing her lightly tanned face. Her lips and eyes united in a smile. One that Marianne ignored as she propelled Claire through the door and double-locked it behind her.Outside, the gray skies matched the dour surroundings of her rented digs. The red of Claire’s car, a twenty-fourth birthday present to herself in June, was the only splash of color. They climbed in and set off for Belle Vue.Marianne chewed on her lip. Should she tell Claire? The subject had never come up before. She wished her sister Debra was here to back her up, but she had moved to Cardiff to start her university course. Not that Debs would want anything to do with Belle Vue.Marianne gazed out of the window as they went past increas
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Chapter Four
CHAPTER FOUR Monday, 21 December, 1868Mary sat in the taproom at the Green Hog wearing her winter coat in vivid magenta. Her matching velvet bonnet lay across the chair beside her, and Bill occupied the seat opposite. She yawned, still tired from the night before and closed her eyes. The bar had been busy keeping Jack fully on the go and of course, she’d kept him similarly active when he’d finished work. But now, she’d changed her mind about visiting one of her customers. Those “gentlemen friends” were partially the cause of her feelings of dissatisfaction. She needed to make some decisions about her future.Jack was a good find. Not excellent, but he’d do for now. The Green Hog took in reasonable money and she, with her occasional clients, made a useful extra. Not enough, though. She wanted more, and damn it, she deserved it. She’d noted long ago though, the harsh fate time and men dealt to whores. If Jack ever found out, she would be out on her rear.Decision time. Give up the
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Chapter Five
CHAPTER FIVESaturday, 29 NovemberStiff from spending the last three hours hunched over his desk, Alex tilted his chair back and stretched out his arms and legs. He stared out the window. At first glance, the afternoon sun evoked a summery feel. A deception: most of the trees in Verulamium Park that his apartment overlooked were bare. The people walking round the lake were well wrapped in an array of heavy coats, gloves, and scarves.He rose and went into the kitchen to make a coffee and noticed the shopping list. That reminded him, the housewarming party was tonight. He must get to the supermarket to pick up the stuff Claire wanted, but for now, he had to keep focused, otherwise he wouldn’t get his work done.Alex pulled out his laptop, sat back at his desk and made a space in the center of the pile of books and handwritten notes. The amount of material he found on the history of Victorian asylums had surprised him. He was amazed at the speed at which these institutions had sprun
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Chapter Six
CHAPTER SIXWednesday, 24 March, 1869 The closed cart rattled its way through a set of heavy iron gates. Ellen peered out of the small side window. Her insides quivered as she took in the leafy trees and a sliver of clear blue sky. She whispered its name: Belle Vue. An exotic sound so full of promise. Then came the first view.She gasped at its beauty, like a magical palace. It was so large, she couldn’t see where the two wings of the mansion ended.“What yer grinning at, missy?” asked the thin, grimy man sitting opposite. He wore workhouse garb, coarse and ill-fitting. “It may look good, but it’s still an asylum. A prison fer the likes of us.”Ellen ignored the old fellow shackled hand and foot. For every mile they traveled, she’d felt her spirits rise. London’s dense yellow fog and soot-covered structures were replaced by fresh air, stretches of green and buildings still their original color. How wonderful of Mary to arrange this for her. Ellen wondered if she might find work h
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Chapter Seven
CHAPTER SEVENThursday, 4 December Alex loped down the steps into the Student’s Union coffee bar and immediately spotted his destination: Gary’s bright-orange sweatshirt signaled beacon-like through the wisps of smoke and miserly fluorescent lighting. He snaked his way round the chairs and detritus sprawled in his path, before dropping his pile of books on the large rectangular table.“G’day, mate,” Gary drawled.Alex returned the same and followed up with a jokey “Yiasou” to Paul. Sophie sneered at him and remained silent. She resumed picking at her meal. He thought of anything he’d done to upset her but came up blank. Claire’s eyes met his and glinted with amusement. He stroked her arm.“Oi, Romeo. Are you going to stand there all day or go git some tucker?” Gary asked.He grinned. “The latter. I’m starving. Anyone for a drink?”No takers. He quickly returned with the specialty of the day and a beer. The hard, plastic chair squeaked as he sat down opposite Claire. Sophie was
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Chapter Eight
CHAPTER EIGHTWednesday, 24 March, 1869As Ellen entered the building, she blinked and adjusted her focus to the shadows surrounding her. The woman next to her began to twitch and raised her voice to match the not-so-welcoming din that echoed through the gloom. Bodies jostled her on all sides. She staggered along the hallway to where the corridors intersected. To the right, inmates lined the seemingly endless gallery as though on display. Some were motionless, others swayed to and fro. Manic laughter erupted from scattered figures as though they were sharing a private joke by unnatural means. A man, standing near the corner, scolded an unseen companion.But it was the humiliation still to come that dominated Ellen’s thoughts. She struggled to stay calm. A burly female warder, a few feet ahead, stepped in a puddle then kicked out at the cowering figure at the edge of it. Ellen hesitated, unsure what to do, but a shove from behind propelled her into a room on the left-hand side. The m
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Chapter Nine
CHAPTER NINEMonday, 8 DecemberMarianne jabbed the doorbell for the fifth time.“Come on, Claire,” she muttered, “It’s freezing out here.”She pressed the button again and held it down. When her finger threatened to lose all feeling, she removed it and blew on her hands. It had been warm on the bus, but after her walk up the long drive to Belle Vue’s front entrance, she didn’t fancy standing in the cold without good reason. She half-jogged to the edge of the step and looked toward the chapel. She’d noticed a flash of blue and white on her way up, but from this direction she had a better view. A stream of tape circling a couple of trees at the back of the small church fluttered in the wind. When she got in the warm and thawed out, she’d ask Claire about it. Marianne trotted back to the door. Another jab, then another.“Hello?” A groggy voice crackled through the intercom.“Claire, are you okay?”“Just woke up. Christ, what time is it?”“Worry about that later. Let me in before
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