#3 – St. Michaels Memorial Garden and Danvers Asylum

Of Wrath and Blood and Genius Loci

18th of February 2022

The investigators arrive in ahand-dug chamber, approximately 10’ round, with a steep ramp that leads up to Evelyn’s tomb in the La Croix family mausoleum above. The ramp has hand/foot holds dug into it, making it a very easy to climb. The chamber is dank and smells of rotting earth. The floor of the chamber is moist, with a small puddle of muddy water pooled in the center of the chamber.

Under lantern light they explore the tunnels and finds several small chambers that
measures containing a coffin. Each coffin is empty. At the end of the network they see some light and a huge chamber opening up.

The smell of rot is horrible as they crawl closer to this chamber. As the investigators enter this chamber, they can see that the den is well lit by six lanterns hung throughout the room. The floor is covered in crushed and broken bones, scores and scores of human bones. There are also piles of bones in a couple of corners.

One wall of the chamber has a huge copy of the Chapel of Contemplation symbol, and a small altar below it. The investigators have also found Faustino and Francesco, they are covered in dried filth and mud, but otherwise they look no worse for wear.

Faustino points at his brother and yells out to the investigators, “Help! My brother is possessed by the Devil!” Corbitt/ Francesco then immediately reacts and says, “Not me! Please help my brother; he’s been possessed by the Devil”, while pointing at Faustino. Anthony, skilled in the human psychology deducts that Francesco is the one lying, and it is proven right when he shoots at him and his eyes turn red.

While Francesco gets filled with lead, Aaron and Abraham are attacked by a ghoul, emerging from the tunnels they just came from. Skillful shooting by Aaron downs the ghoul.

Searching the chambers reveals a Mythos tome, The Cult of Ghouls, and evidence that the ghoul killed was Jean Paul la Croix, who was trying to start a ghoul cult, and had hoped to bring the Macario boys into his ranks.

Faustino is returned safely to the Giordanos, and the investigators are paid the $550 reward. The investigators tell them that they had to kill Francesco as an act
of mercy, and Faustino supports the story the investigators
tell the Giordanos and the authorities.

They return to Boston, and to their normal lives, but this will not last long, when Aaron recieves a letter from his old friend Larry Croswell.

This is followed up the day after with a typewritten letter on official Danvers State Hospital letterhead. Aaron realizes that Croswell almost never uses his formal name “Lawerence” and instead goes by “Larry.” Also, Larry never uses a typewriter, instead dictating his manuscripts from longhand notes to a
hired typist. The decide to go to Danvers.

“With the first glimpse of the building, a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit.”

Edgar Allen Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher

A winding drive up a rural hillside through a set of tall iron gates leads to the sprawling hospital at Danvers. Featuring a central building with a front tower, flanked by angular adjoining wards, the asylum’s layout suggests a bat with
outstretched wings. Numerous outbuildings surround the main complex, as do copses of broadleaf and evergreen trees. Grassy fields and woodland ring the hill. Normally a beautiful vista, there is a leaden, dulled quality to the scene.

A large oval reservoir is set into the western slope of Hathorne Hill, surrounded on three sides by trees; its eastern shore faces the asylum. The surface of the reservoir has an odd, almost metallic blue-grey sheen. A semi-circular amphitheater occupies the eastern slope of the hill, its backdrop the shore
of the reservoir. The amphitheater appears to be a fairly new construction.

Within the cheerless interior of the central administration building, investigators notice a strong antiseptic odor and freshly mopped floors. Grillwork covers all windows. Listless, gown-clad patients slump in wooden chairs or shuffle about
aimlessly. A severe-looking desk nurse brusquely shows visitors to the office of asylum superintendent Dr. James Berger. The investigators notice that half of the nurse’s left ear appears to have been chewed or torn away.

Dr. Berger is a stern, unfriendly man in his late thirties, dressed in a white lab coat, with an officious-looking clipboard. His office features numerous framed diplomas and certifications, a large desk, several overburdened file cabinets,
and a curious painting of St. George and the Dragon. In this version of the painting the dragon is mauling St. George; his eviscerated horse lies nearby. The painting is particularly detailed and quite gruesome.

There is also a framed Salem News photograph of a younger, happier-looking Dr. Berger shaking hands in front of the hospital’s central administration building with a smiling, bespectacled older man. The caption under the photograph reads: Dr. James Berger takes over Danvers State Asylum from Dr. William Shine. Trying to persuade Dr. Berger to let them meet Larry Crosswell fails, and they have no other choice than to leave.

Researching the Danvers State Lunatic Asylum itself discloses basic facts of its existence: erected in 1876 at a staggering cost of 1.5 million dollars; grounds encompass nearly 200 acres; patient counts (approximately 2,775 in 1925), staff listings, financial reports, other normal bureaucratic details.

The land occupied by the asylum complex was once the homestead of Judge John Hathorne, lead magistrate of the Salem Witch Trials, and the man personally responsible for sending approximately two dozen “witches” to their trial,
imprisonment, and death. Hathorne was the only executor never to repent for his actions.

Newspaper articles report that the asylum is overcrowded and is a residence of last resort for many unstable, indigent citizens of Massachusetts.

A dark reputation cloaked the asylum soon after its construction, with a high number of accidents and patient fatalities. No official, conclusive investigation is on record related to these troubled early years.

Warren A. Herrick, M.D., original superintendent at Danvers, died on the job after falling down a flight of asylum stairs in 1890. Dr. William Shine was appointed
new superintendent that same year. Soon after Shine’s appointment, asylum mishaps and fatalities drop dramatically.

It is obvious that someone don’t want the investigators snooping around. Aaron gets pushed to the ground by an unseen force in an underpass, a heavy, bound bundle of newspapers fall from an overhead window, Aarons automobile’s stearing wheel jerks from the control of him and later they find the car vandalized.

When fraternizing with the locals they find that; a native son of Salem, Dr. Shine ran the Danvers Asylum from 1890 to 1915. A lifelong bachelor who seemed to really care for the people in his care and in his life. He died soon after his retirement in 1916 of natural causes.

Prior to his tenure at Danvers, Dr. Shine was a medical doctor and world traveler. His excursions took him to exotic destinations across the globe, like Africa and Asia. Rare for his time, Dr. Shine credited the native peoples he encountered as having valuable knowledge that could benefit the modern world.

The asylum had a dark reputation before Dr. Shine’s appointment: rife with accidents, lax discipline, and a low patient recovery rate. Dr. Shine turned things around. During his twenty-five year tenure, the asylum rebounded to become a model treatment center.

When he retired, Dr. Shine donated his personal and professional papers to the archive at Salem Hospital.

Salem news article from three years ago.

Since Aarons car is at the auto shop, they take the train to nearby Salem to find more information on Dr. Shine. Dr. Shine’s papers have languished unread since their donation in a dusty corner of the hospital’s archives.

Excerpt 1 from Dr. Shine’s papers at Salem Hospital
Excerpt 2 from Dr. Shine’s papers at Salem Hospital

Most of the writings are inconsequential accounts of Dr. Shine’s personal and professional life, including his travels around the globe. Diligent perusal of the papers does prove fruitful.