The Champ

The Champ

I’ve always had a fascination with old, abandoned places that have nothing left but their deteriorating memories and the ghosts of decay that haunt their empty halls and rooms. Perhaps no such structures retain the twisted tales sealed within the coffin of time more than institutions where people go in but can’t come out—at least willingly, that is. Old mental institutions and prisons are haunted, haunting places indeed, so I combined the frightening best of both worlds in the second story in my new short story collection The Knife and the Wound It Deals. “The Champ” tells the strange tale of an old fighter who isn’t ready to step out of the ring just yet. The setting is in part inspired by the historic Danville State Hospital in Danville, Pennsylvania, where both of my parents worked for a time in the 1980s. In fact, the rocking chair incident in the underground tunnels actually happened to my mother, who decades later still tells the tale with a quiver in her voice.

 
Vintage Postcard of The Danville State Hospital

For more information about the Danville State Hospital, click here to visit Phil Thomas’ excellent web site, which includes a timeline, history and much more, including a photo gallery filled with intriguing original and historic images.

“The guards eventually found the Champ after he failed to show up for his round of dinner meds. An investigation was launched, but nobody poked around all that long or hard. The Champ didn’t have anybody on the outside who cared if he was alive or dead, and more than a few were relieved to hear it was the latter.  His murder was filed under “Unsolved” along with a hundred others, and that’s where it would have stayed if a month later the Professor hadn’t seen the Champ standing in the shower room looking as mean and nasty as any ghoul come back from the grave with a score to settle…”
To read “The Champ” and twelve other chillingly gothic tales, click here to purchase The Knife and the Wound It Deals in either paperback or e-book version.