By Jo Carr
Key Themes: Mental Health, Schizophrenia, Mental Illness, Fiction
Stephen’s body, dug up from the grave, is transported on a train ride with his two guardians, Tom and Mac, to an unknown destination: a seemingly bottomless abyss where he finds all his memories and emotions coming back to him. His body is shattered but his mind remains intact.
In the abyss the devil is salvaging souls to place them within living subjects.
Anna, Stephen’s daughter, a journalist with a young family who lives a mundane life in Oxfordshire, becomes distressed following her father’s funeral. She starts hearing her father’s voice within her mind and as the voice grows stronger, she embarks on a journey that has far reaching consequences.
Is Anna possessed, or is this a descent into schizophrenia?
About the Author
Jo is 51 and has suffered from schizophrenia since 1984. She is a survivor. Her life-style is good; she has a lovely family and friends, all of whom are very supportive. Last year, she tried to come off the medication she had been on for nearly 30 years. At first, she felt wonderful but soon started getting hallucinations and hearing voices. Fortunately, she recognised she was developing psychosis and returned to the medication.
During this bleak and frightening time she started writing her book “Possession”, which, although fiction, explores some of the delusions and experiences she has had over the years. She is now well and feels confident enough to want her voice to be heard and to break the stigma and dispel society’s illusions which surround her condition.
Stephen hurtled downwards, helplessly spiralling in the warm, fetid atmosphere that encircled him, the eddies and currents of air catching as his billowing shroud encapsulated his bony frame, giving him some solid earth-like reassurance as he gradually found himself drawn into this seemingly-bottomless abyss.
The guards had discharged him into this cavern, him, their day-long burden, tossing him dispassionately, their manner brusque, his needs not worth further consideration. He had made no sense of their conversation in the train and their innuendos, not aware what had caused their hatred towards him and not wanting to find out, had he been able.
As he fell, at first floating in freefall, unable as he had been in the train, to feel, to sense, but soon emotions and feelings started to return, a coagulation as rich as his life-blood, of senses, hitherto forgotten but now drumming discordantly in his ears with dimly-perceived meaning.
As he struggled to see around him he could dimly make out dark walls lined with rivers of water running sinisterly downwards. Faster now, falling relentlessly, he heard snatches of voices, songs and laughter, echoing tauntingly through his mind. Long-forgotten images of his home-life fell thick and fast as he was catapulted through space, his mother, afternoon tea, sunlight dappling on the grass and trees of his youth, the barking of the farm-dogs. Then, boarding school in England, the taunts of the other boys and the lonely hours spent in the library, unable to study so deep was his isolation. After that, memories of his work-life, the endless, repetitious paper-work, the files, the early-morning and late-evening commutes through the dreary drizzle of Dublin.
The early shrill laughter of children mocked him as he struggled to retain control of his thoughts, images of his beautiful wives swam into view causing a licentious yearning he could even now feel in his loins, emotive images and passionate longing which endured within him even in this dark, desensitizing place.
His first wife, Catherine, appeared shockingly before his face, boring into his soul with accusing eyes. In a rare abandonment of guilt he recollected images of her he had buried deep within his mind for years, her haughty look staring at him reproachfully as he slammed his fist into her beautiful face, not once but twice, watching whilst her useless, flailing palms were held out against him in a final act of defiance as she slumped to the floor.