The Evil That Men Do
Vodeo today enjoys one of the best healthcare systems in the world. It is modern, efficient, and effective - if you go in to have your tonsils removed, they'll take everything else out as well just as a precaution. But the nation's healthcare wasn't always so top-notch (as explained in this entry from February), and we only have to look to the hills west of Saviso for proof.
The Waitacs Range, also historically known as the White Axe Mountains, are a range of hills that separate Saviso from Lake Razorback to the west and the Gulf of Havilland to the north, and continue eastward as the Lassiter Peninsula. Nestled in the foothills and gentle valleys of the ranges lie a number of quaint towns and villages, such as Kingseat, about 48 kilometres (30 miles) west of Saviso. It was in this former gold-mining town that in 1882 the Kingseat Hospital was opened, a state-of-the-art facility that specialised in treating the tropical diseases that ravaged the country at the time. It also contained St Austell's largest mental hospital (called a lunatic asylum in those days), as it was believed that the fresh country air and pleasant surroundings might help to cure the sick of body and mind. In the 1910s it expanded to accept tuberculosis and polio patients, and by the 1920s was the country's largest and most notable institution of its kind. But as medical science evolved and understanding of mental illness improved, the facility began to look more and more out-of-date. Parts of the hospital were simply closed and abandoned as the years went by, but it wasn't until 1994 that the hospital was finally closed down and left to decay.
While Kingseat had for years been known as "the place where the crazies live", beneath its benign veneer lay a sinister and ghastly truth. The Kingseat facility hadn't just been a place of treatment for the sick, it was also a place of experimentation and cruelty. Electroshock therapy had been the order of the day to ensure compliance among the patients, and even some of the staff were subjected to it when they stepped out of line. Some of the most unwell patients had been operated on while still alive and without anaesthetic - they'd simply been lashed to the table with leather straps and had their mouths stuffed with rags before being experimented on. Other patients were subjected to having drugs tested on them - drugs so risky that even pharmaceutical companies refused to test them on humans. Perhaps most disturbing is that children were not immune from these twisted experiments; indeed, some doctors preferred them for whatever ghastly reasons they may have had. When the poor people succumbed to the horrors of their "treatment", they were taken away via secret tunnels to a crematorium far from where the other patients might see something. Torture was rife within the institution, with sadistic nurses and doctors being given carte blanche to do what they liked with the most severe cases. There were even rumours - still unverified - that some of the staff used the patients as sexual playthings, indulging their every whim and fantasy upon these helpless souls, with the violence and depravity sometimes escalating until the patient's death. Some of the patients who had suffered at the staff's hands were so damaged by the ordeal that they turned to suicide, or even murder. Most shocking of all was the official indifference - as far as the government was concerned, the patients were the hospital's concern, and what went on behind the gates was the hospital's business, not the government's. They didn't know what was going on and they didn't want to know, to the extent where only hand-picked inspectors were allowed into the facility, and even then their rounds were tightly controlled and reports heavily edited.
To what extent some of the more outlandish stories are true is still unknown, but what is certain is that the hospital did also genuinely function as a place of treatment and therapy, with many of its patients walking out healthy and cured, and with no knowledge of what else went on in the deeper recesses of the facility. Kingseat was hailed for years as a place where the sick were made well again, and the majority of them were. Indeed, the crueller aspects of the facility, such as the experimentation and electrotherapy, had been phased out by the early 1980s. But when the stories of what happened at Kingseat came out in 1992, its reputation was obliterated almost overnight; what was once the shining jewel of the nation's mental health system was exposed as a corrupt and vicious place where more than 3,000 people died (most - but not all - from natural causes) and countless more exposed to horrors many still cannot talk about to this day. A royal commission was opened as the scandal exploded, leading to the decimation of the provincial government at the 1994 election (even though said government had been elected long after the cruelty had ended). The new Liberal government closed the facility later that year and issued an official apology and compensation to those who had suffered at the hands of evil people. A total of 22 former staff went before the judge, 13 of whom were imprisoned for their actions. Kingseat's own name has since become shorthand for negligence, cruelty, and torture, and is today considered one of the nation's greatest shames.
But that's not the end of Kingseat's story. The hospital languished for several years as the government tried to figure out what to do with it, before opting in 2006 to sell the entire facility to a group planning to turn it into a scare park. This led to some controversy, but the sale was made, and on Halloween night 2008, Kingseat Hospital was reopened as a horror attraction. It quickly gained a reputation as one of the scariest and most intense horror parks in the world, with participants being subjected to anything from being chained up and physically assaulted to being showered in blood by a mother giving birth in the "maternity ward"... and that's to say nothing of the terrors that lurk in the shadows waiting for an unsuspecting victim to walk by.
And yet once the last patrons have gone home and the staff are removing their makeup, they might hear ghostly footsteps pacing the corridors checking on patients that are no longer there. Maybe they will see the lights will flicker and begin to swing as they hear a blood-curdling scream and the slamming of heavy doors echoing from the basement. They may feel the room suddenly turn ice-cold despite the equatorial heat. They might catch the figure of a ghostly matron in the corner of their vision, but when they turn their heads, there's nobody there. Or perhaps they will see a little girl tightly clutching a teddy bear as she runs through the hallways from something unknown. These might all seem like the special effects the staff use to scare paying customers, but there's just one thing - children aren't allowed to visit the Kingseat Hospital Horror Park.
I told you last week that Kingseat was perhaps Vodeo's most evil place, but I bet you didn't expect what you just read. Kingseat Hospital actually exists in the real world, in the village of Kingseat, just outside Auckland. The real hospital became infamous for its methods of trying to cure the mentally sick, and although electrotherapy was on the menu, it was a far tamer place than the more extreme Kingseat I've created. To make my version even more horrific, I've thrown in elements of other psychiatric hospitals from around the world, and drawn a little inspiration from horror movies and games. And yes, the scare park at Kingseat Hospital also exists in real life! Spookers is very popular destination and is even listed on motorway signage; I'm too much of a craven coward to go out there, though - I got enough jitters writing some of these stories. One of my best friends worked there for a while a few years ago, and was able to completely transform herself through her makeup. I shan't forget the day she turned up at my flat after work having removed her makeup but not her black-and-white contact lenses and damn near scared ten years out of me.
And so we come to the end of Curious Vodeo; I do hope you have enjoyed the last five weeks of blood-chilling stores from across the Dominion. I came up with the idea for this series some months ago, partly to add a layer of folklore to Vodeo, and partly to liven up the bliki. Already I'm thinking of more strange and unsettling stories to tell next October. What horrors will I uncover for you then? You'll have to wait and see.
One last thing, though - who's that standing behind you?
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There is no escape.
A few things:
- I've seen the signage referring to said real-life place in Auckland.
Well, maybe, visiting New Zealand is the real horror for me...OK, not really. I like this place being reincarnated on the map.
- I'll leave the coffee jokes out of my comment today.
- 15/- to get inside the hospital?! Can I get my internal organs removed? And under the excellent Vodean healthcare system, IT WON'T COST ME A PENNY!
- Jokes aside, what exactly is in the inland provinces? FictiveJ (talk) 22:56, 30 October 2018 (CET)
- If we go by the real-world Spookers prices, it's more like £2 2/6, but £2 is a nice round figure. Daytime tours start at 27/- (22/- for the kiddies). Money well spent if you're brave enough, I hear. And what's in the inland provinces? No idea, nobody has ever got past Sadertown, Tracendar, or Endorie and lived to find out. Or maybe I haven't figured it out myself yet. We'll go with the former, though, because I swear Queensborough's up to something. — ParAvion (talk) 23:14, 30 October 2018 (CET)
- Oh well, there's always next year's set to look forward to now. I'm pleased to know that it was enjoyed, given that it was so different from what you usually read in the blikis. At least now we can get back to the Coffee War, and while not wanting to give the game away, it might have something to do with a pending entry... — ParAvion (talk) 20:32, 31 October 2018 (CET)