The Face

Lovely picture, credit to itzyazzy at DeviantArt

A semi-epistolary Ghost story, Written Summer 2011. First published here, July 2012.


Journal Entry, 23/8/2011, Dr Julian Douglas, Departmental Head (locum) – Woodrich Sanatorium
Case-study 17509-b

Winston, Gareth D.

Cursory Exam Notes: Subject is suffering severe psychotic delusions. Often including paranoid ideations about closest friends, family or carers. Intense lack of trust in any and all authority. Feels heavily victimised.

Patient History: Highly intelligent maths prodigy. Working on doctorate at age of twenty-two. Attacked and assaulted two professors at his university with a ball-point pen. Accused them of stealing his thoughts using the pot plant in their office as “a kind of mental funnel.”

Reasons for psychotic break remain unknown. Long history of OCD type behaviour accompanying limited social skills and high intelligence. Latent schizophrenia is not uncommon in such personality types.

Summary: No certain diagnosis, first interview pending.


New doctor today, temp shrink. Don’t like him. He looks over his glasses, stupid half moony things. Hate those kinds of glasses. He asked why I’d stopped doing maths. Nobody gets it so of course he doesn’t. I didn’t explain.

Asked about the face. That means they’ve been talking about me, I knew they would. I was sure I could hear them muttering. Muttering away like mice in the woodwork. Whispering to me the terrible things they think, between the implied bars of my little cell.

I like my new room. The walls are soft and there are no plants anywhere. I don’t like his glasses. I had dream about half moon glasses wanting my soul and belittling my political ideals. I screamed.

He asked about the face and I told him it was real. I told him it got bigger since last week. Bigger and angrier. I told him the others don’t see it. Or maybe they just won’t, but I mustn’t say that. Say “can’t” or “don’t” and they don’t mind. But say “won’t” and they get…upset.


Journal Entry, 6/9/2011, Dr Julian Douglas, Departmental Head (locum) – Woodrich Sanatorium

Case-study 17509-b

Winston, Gareth D.

Post interview notes, first session:

Patient shows remarkable descriptive powers. Was able to clearly and concisely put across what he felt his problems were. Still refuses to do even the most basic of mathematical calculations. No explanation was forthcoming. Suggest targeting of this area as could prove crucial to a greater understanding of his psychosis.

Subject kept pausing mid sentence to ask about my glasses. Read the description of professors and their wounds. I will not wear them again.

It seems he has a new focus for his paranoia, staff reports of his obsession with this “face” prove to not be at all exaggerated. When asked about it he pointed to the shadow in the corner of the room by the window. It was obviously pattern in the fabric following a fault in one of the cinder-blocks.

Could prove most persuasive to other patients. Should remain in isolation from the general population. After hearing him describe it I could almost see it myself.


It is a face. I know it’s a face.

Sure it doesn’t move, not when you’re looking at it anyway, but it is there.

What does it want?

The others don’t see it. Or can’t see it. My friends and family and colleagues and nurses and doctors. They all say the same. It’s just a shadow. A trick of the light, a psychedelic Rorschach. You’re seeing what you want to see. But no one, no one, would want to see a face like that.

No one.

The pills…the “medicine” they want me to take…they will weaken me. I know they will. Somehow…this is all a plot.

Just like the pot-plant.


Journal Entry, 20/9/2011, Dr Julian Douglas, Departmental Head (locum) – Woodrich Sanatorium

Case-study 17509-b

Winston, Gareth D.

Post Interview notes, second session:

Patient shows little to no improvement on new medication. Strangely it seems to not have any effect on him at all. Still insists that the face is there, I asked him where and he pointed to the same area of wall. Apparently it’s there in the day but “grows and moves and probes during the night”. I asked him what it probes for he said simply “a way in”. This “face” is some sort of mental symbol for his care, and I suggested that it finding a “way in” would be a breakthrough and help him get back to normal. He told me he’d never been normal, and refused to answer any follow up questions on the subject. He is a most interesting case.

He also reports whispering in a language he does not understand. Bouts of night terrors may be to blame, will have the sleep observation cameras placed in his room tomorrow when he is taken for exercise.


It glared at me all through my interview with the substitute shrink today. Glared and glared and glared.

It’s my fault. I realise that now. I should have pretended it wasn’t there, that’s why it doesn’t go after any of the others. They all manage to pretend. But I noticed…it doesn’t like being noticed.

I think that’s what its trying to tell me when it talks during the night. Strange words, not screaming or speaking or snarling but sort of all three at once. Scary. I scream.

They all think I’m mad…even the other mad people. I can see it in their voices and hear it in their eyes, but I’m not. The voice is real and not like the others. The voices in my head are nice. They tell me things I need to know…warned me about the mean men and their plant. Helped me stop them, made me realise about the numbers in my brain.

This new voice isn’t nice. It doesn’t like me.

But I know how to win. The nurses and doctors and patients all want the face to win but it won’t. I’ll watch it. It can’t get in if I watch it. It can push and pry and probe but it can’t get past my eyes while they’re open.


Journal Entry, 4/10/2011, Dr Julian Douglas, Departmental Head (locum) – Woodrich Sanatorium

Case-study 17509-b

Winston, Gareth D.

It seems that night terrors are not to blame for the reported delusions. The recorded footage seems to feature nothing but hours and hours of him staring at the wall. Calculations show that he has not slept in nearly two weeks. Just last night he broke the world record for days without sleep. While this is remarkable, and several students are currently vying for the right to publish a paper on the man, it will not do him any good in the long-term and should be called to a halt.

The cameras, at least, did the job of calling this to our attention. Also the mystery of the immunity to his medication has been solved. He has not taken a single pill. He has been hiding them in a split in his mattress. Shall take his superior intelligence into account in all future treatment, that he managed to fool the nurses this long is a joke.

Insistence that he take his medications in my presence met with violent resistance verging on hysteria. He seemed genuinely terrified of the effect they would have on him.

Unfortunately, the use of soft restraints was called for. Hopefully it will only be temporary.


They were watching…they were always watching. The voices warned me they would. How else could they have known about my pills? And my not sleeping? And now they’ve stopped me. They’ve stopped me winning. Cheaters…mean cheaters.

The face seems happy I can’t move. It’s laughing at me in my head. Gloating and snarling and trying harder than ever to get a way in. But it won’t have it.

They made me…forced me…to take my pills. And now I’m alone, with out even the voices to keep me company. Somehow the pills scared them off. I must stay watching. Watching all the time. But it’s hard.

The restraints hurt. And I am very frightened.


Journal Entry, 18/10/2011, Dr Julian Douglas, Departmental Head (locum.) – Woodrich Sanatorium

Last journal entry before handing over to new, full time, head of department.

Recommendations for future care of: Case-study 17509-b, Winston, Gareth D.

Patient seems to have a remarkable constitution, even once his pills were being taken beyond a shadow of a doubt – he remained completely conscious, and fairly cogent, for another 17 hours. Suggest further study and a referral to an Endocrinologist.

Also recommending complete physical check up, the recent lack of sleep must be taking its toll.

Two week course of nightly sedative injections starts this evening (18/10/2011), recommend monitor sleeping patterns very closely.



Patient: Winston, Gareth D.

No.: 17509-b

Doctor: N/A

Incident Type: Missing

Staff member of record: Security Officer Stephen Helms.


Patient was violently hysterical upon receiving first of a two week course of nightly sedative injections last night (18/10/2011). Threatened various staff members. Accused nurses present of “cheating” and wanting him “to lose” adding some other mutterings about pot plants that seemed highly irrelevant. Last words before staff left him were “you’ll never see me again if you do this.”

Despite large dose of intra-muscular sedatives, patient remained relatively animated late into the night. Muttering of some kind was heard coming from his room past two in the morning. Patients in nearby rooms report a scream, but are not able to give specific time only that it was “early”

Rounds nurse discovered patient missing whilst doing the early checks, roughly 7.30 this morning (19/10/2011). An inspection and search of the room found that his soft restraints were damaged. As if he had chewed his way through them.

Sleep observation cameras offer nothing in the way of evidence except four brief periods of static interference lasting roughly eight to fifteen minutes each and occurring between 2.30 and 4.20.

The last one of these, the longest, unfortunately covers the period where Winston appears to have made his escape.

Local authorities have been alerted as to the description and nature of the escapee. Quick recapture is expected.


Journal Entry, 9/11/2011, Dr George Peters, Departmental Head – Woodrich Sanatorium

Case-study 17819-c

Thomas, Katherine C.

Admission notes: Patient is classic “Type A” bipolar. Admitted semi-voluntarily by herself and her family to combat frequent hyper-active and damaging behaviour. (Extravagant spending, binge drinking, see full notes for detailed descriptions).

Patient History: Female, late teens, middle income suburban upbringing. Average intelligence, fully developed social skills. Brief stay probable. Most likely to become out-patient after suitable drug therapies have been trialled and found to have any success.

Addendum 20/12/2011: Subject shows disturbing progression in her condition. Though admitted solely because of her hyper-activity, recent changes show a slide into delusion. Since being admitted she has done nothing but rant about a face that “lives on the wall”.

* * *


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