Writing Sprint Wednesdays & link up

The Writing Sprint prompt appears at the end of this post and offers an opportunity for you to freewrite for 15 to 45 minutes without the so-called help of your inner critic. No overthinking. No stopping. No editing. No worries.

{a quick p.s. If you’re joining the link up, please grab the Writing Sprint logo below and include it on your blog post, along with a link back to this page. Thanks!}

laptopWriting Sprint Prompt: Ghostly Tale

A man who sees ghosts checks himself into a mental institute, not realizing that the facility has been closed for almost thirty years.

{Before I get started, I will say that in order to keep my writing within the 15 to 45 minute time, I have created a playlist on Spotify that allows me to put together songs that come close to 45 minutes. When the final note plays on the last song…I stop writing}


A Brief Stay

Rowan stood on the sidewalk with his eyes closed and cataloged the ghosts he’d seen in the last 24 hours. Only nine. It was a lower-than-normal number and for that he was thankful, but he knew that it was that low mainly because he’d taken two hour-long showers with his eyes closed and sat in his favorite blue chair in the living room with his noise deafening headphones on and his music blaring in his ears. He couldn’t keep living like this, interrupted wherever he went by dead people who begged him to carry messages to loved ones or just wanted to chat.

And so, he stood in front of the Wheeling Institute prepared to check himself in and determine if he was somehow connected to the spirit world or if he was losing his mind as he feared. He pushed open the rusted iron gate and stepped onto the overgrown path, noting that for such a world-renown institute, they desperately needed some immediate groundskeepers to give the place some curb appeal.

Letting go of the gate, he felt a strange shudder and electric sensation fill the air around him but saw nothing, no waiting spirits, no ghost with a heart-breaking tale to share. And, yet, he froze, rooted to the path and stared at his feet. The path looked neat, tidy, almost new. Rowan shook his head once again feeling like he must be losing his mind. He glanced back at the gate and confirmed that indeed it was no longer rusted iron but gleaming steel.

This can’t be a good sign, he thought as he bounded up the steps to the converted mansion that housed the Wheeling Institute and rang the buzzer.

Within a few moments a woman dressed in a long maroon dress with a crisply starched white apron and nurse’s cap opened the door.

“May I help you?” She bobbed her head slightly and then looked him in the eyes.

He stared for several moments too long but he couldn’t seem to form words let alone sentences as he took in her attire and hair carefully wrapped in a bun at the nape of her neck.

“Is this the Wheeling Institute?” he asked, trying to see around the woman who looked to be in her late 20s.

She smiled in reply. “This is Wheeling Psychiatry and Asylum, if that’s what you’re seeking.”

“Sure. Absolutely,” Rowan said. “May I?” He took a step toward her and saw that she hesitated for a short moment, something clouding her eyes for just that moment, before she stepped back and allowed him passage into the foyer.

“Shall I take your coat and your…” She paused and looked at his headphones.

“I’ll keep them for now, thank you,” he replied. “Is there someone here I can speak with about checking myself in for a few days, maybe a week?”

She continued to stare at him for several more moments before excusing herself with a mumbled, “Let me find someone to help you.” That cloudy look crossed her face again before she turned and headed down the hall and disappeared behind a frosted pane door with the words Wheeling Psychiatry printed in black letters. Rowan took in the foyer and rubbed his temples as he noted the antique furniture that shined as if it were new and the old-style telephone with separate ear piece. Strange choices, he thought. Everything had a strangely historic landmark feel to it for such a noteworthy Mental Health Institute.

Down the hall he heard the click of a door and looked up to see the woman coming toward him with a clip board and blank look on her face. As she approached he noted the swishing of her skirts as if she were wearing several layers of petticoats beneath the full skirt of the dress, another period piece accent. He narrowed his eyes at her as she stopped in front of him.

“If you could fill out these papers,” she began.

“Could I trouble you with a question or two, and, maybe a place to sit?” he asked.

She cleared her throat and looked about with her eyes.

“Alice Caraway, right?”

She started at the sound of her name and he smiled warmly, pointing to the rectangle pin with her name in black block letters printed on it. She nodded slightly.

“Alice, could you show me to the bathroom?”

“If you could just fill out these papers, we can get you settled,” Alice told him.

Rowan cocked his head and took a few steps closer to her, causing her to back up and into the coat rack. “I’ll just be a minute,” he told her and moved past her into the asylum, looking for answers to questions that he couldn’t quite articulate. Down the hall from which Alice had just returned, he heard the click of another door handle and quickly calculated his options. Without waiting to find out who was coming down the darkened hallway, lit only with candled sconces, he retreated to the foyer and nodded at Alice.

“Maybe we’ll catch up again, Alice.”

As he backed through the door he thought he saw her smile, but he didn’t stop to think about it. He kept his eyes on the gate and alternately looked back up at the converted mansion, the Wheeling Asylum. He laid a hand on the gate and felt that shudder and electric pulse flood the air around him as he stepped out onto the sidewalk. He kept his eyes on the asylum and as he let go of the gate watched as the pristine grounds and the well-maintained institute fell into disrepair before his eyes.

Alice Caraway, he thought, she’s the key or at least a key. He headed down the street to the corner coffee shop and got out his iPad, logged onto the shop’s wifi and typed in the name, Alice Caraway. Within a few seconds he had several news stories and an address.


This Week’s Writing Sprint: Ghostly Tale

A man who sees ghosts checks himself into a mental institute, not realizing that the facility has been closed for almost thirty years.

Give us what you’ve got with as much detail and dialog as you can muster in 15 to 45 minutes. Most of all, have fun. Free your writer from your inner critic. When you’re done, come back and link up what you’ve got! And remember to give some encouragement to at least one other person in the link up community. You can post to the link up party until next Tuesday night. Hope to read you there!


5 thoughts on “Writing Sprint: Ghostly Tale

  1. Good stuff, as always. This one is super specific. Was this already in your mind? I’m not sure I can do something to differentiate myself here, but definitely looking to do something again soon.

    1. Got the prompt from a writing website and thought is was interesting. Honestly if this were to become a bigger piece it’s not what it first appears. Rowan is a time traveler who does’n realize it yet. I think.

      1. Nope. You’re fine. I hear you on if the prompt speaks to you. Hopefully the next time. Next week!

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