Abridged Sixth Instalment

Foreword

Welcome to The Interactive Novel, the novel that allows you the reader to decide what happens during the novel. This is the abridged version of the latest instalment to read the full instalment click Sixth Instalment of the Interactive Novel

At the end of each weekly instalment will be at least one poll where you will decide either:
• What happens next
• A setting
• A character to be introduced

Whatever option receives the most votes decides what happens. To take part, read the instalment below and then make your vote.

Voting closes on Thursday 6th December at 8am GMT

If your new to the interactive novel or what a refresher what has happened previously find a quick reminder below or read all the other instalments at http://www.theinteractivenovel.com


Previously in the Interactive Novel

After a terrifying encounter in a haunted house Nigel Briggs, assistant to Professor Ashcroft debunker of the supernatural, decides to resign. Before he can write his resignation letter he is summoned to the professor’s study where a girl, Anne Farmer, who hints she can foresee the future, requests his help. Moments latter a doctor from an asylum restrains her and takes her away. On leaving Nigel asked how the doctor managed to find her. The doctor reveals Anne had caved Nigel’s name and address into the walls of her cell.
The next morning Professor Ashcroft requests that Nigel accompany him to an auction. Going under the hammer is a supposedly cursed artefact (the Amulet of Nergal). However, the auction is interrupted by some armed robbers. During their robbery a porter is killed, and the amulet vanishes.
Returning home after the auction Nigel is handed a note by Gertie (a servant in the professor’s house). Gertie believes the note was left by the mysterious Anne Farmer. The note is an address of a property in a slum district of London. Exploring the property, Nigel and Gertie discover the body of one of the robbers from the auction house. In his hand is the cursed amulet.
The police hunting for an escaped patient from Elmwich Asylum raid the property. Nigel and Gertie are arrested. They are later released without charge and Nigel agrees to forget all about the amulet and Anne Farmer. That is until something happens to draw him back into the investigation…
Find out what you chose that to be in the latest instalment below.


The Abridged  Sixth Instalment

 

Monday 24th September 1860

I had spent Sunday writing my resignation letter. I  took my resignation letter from under the floorboard. I reread it and frowned. It just didn’t read right. Perhaps I should rewrite it.

The Professor rang his bell.

I stuffed my resignation letter back under the floorboard and hurried down to his study.
“Morning Nigel,” the Professor said flicking through the post.  “This is for you”.

He held out a brown envelope.

Puzzled I tore open the envelope.

“Tuesday 17th September
Dear Nigel
By the time you read this letter I know you  have visited Pear Lane. I left the note like you instructed. I wonder if the stolen Amulet of Nergal is now in your possession. If not, you must find it. It is the key to everything.
I need your help more than ever. Evil is lurking in Elmwich Asylum. I hear the screams to come, I see the death, I have felt the suffering.
Anne”
I passed the letter across to the Professor. I wanted his opinion.

“The letter is a hoax. In a poor attempt to convince you of her prophetic ability she has back dated letter. I suspect the letter was really written over the weekend.”

“What about the amulet?”

“I can only deduce that she was part of the scheme to rob the auction house. We will have to share this with the police.”

“But why is she writing to me?”

“If I was to hazard a guess it is part of some scam. She obviously wants you to go to Elmwich Asylum. Well let us trigger her trap and force her to reveal her hand.”

“When do you want to leave, sir?”

“Miss Farmer clearly asks for you.” He reached for the morning paper. “Besides I am far too busy.”

****

It was early afternoon when the train pulled into the town of Andover. The village of Elmwich was a good seven mile walk from Andover. I would not reach the village until early evening. Far too late in the day for a visit.

Not far from the station I found an inn. For a night I had a room just big enough for a bed and chair. I took Anne’s letter from my pocket.

Convinced the letter was a hoax, the Professor had concluded that Anne was involved in an armed robbery that left a man dead. Gertie would fully believe that an evil force did exist at Elmwich Asylum. I didn’t know what to believe. All I knew investigating armed robbers or a mysterious evil would only lead to the same thing. Yet again I was potentially putting myself in danger.

Tuesday, 25th September 1860

Tall elm trees grew beside the road to the asylum. Their branches stretched and interlocked above creating a gloomy tunnel.  I had the creeping feeling that I wasn’t alone. I have had that creeping feeling enough times to know that perhaps there was more to it than my imagination.

My first impression of the asylum was looking at a fortress. A red bricked wall ran around the perimeter of the buildings. The asylum had once been a large manor house that had been extended with two extra wings built on either side. The main part of the house was built from faded grey stone. In comparison the extensions were larger than the original house.

All of the opulence had been stripped from the building. The chandelier that hung was functional rather than gaudy, the plaster work plain, and the room bare of furniture. What surprised me most of all was the silence. It felt as if we were the only ones inside the building.
A guard led me to a small office. Doctor Downer sat at his desk writing. He chewed on the unlit stem of his pipe like the rodent he looked like.

“Master Briggs welcome to Elmwich Asylum. Where is Professor Ashcroft?”

“He could not get away from London. He’s very busy at the moment and had to send me in his place. I have a few questions regarding some of your patients.”

“We have strict rules on patient confidentiality. I am not at liberty to discuss our patients with you.”

“Professor Ashcroft is writing a new paper. He has sent me to interview Anne Farmer.”

“If Professor Ashcroft writes to us requesting a visit it may be granted. Now please allow me to accompany you to the front door.”

Instead of retracing the guard’s steps we followed the corridor deeper into the asylum. At the end of the corridor we stepped out on to a balcony overlooking the main staircase for the manor house. The grand staircase descended down to a large lounge where female patients sat reading, knitting or staring out of the barred windows. I searched their number for Anne. She was not in the room.

We walked through the middle of the room without any of the women acknowledging our existence. Something about the women  felt wrong. It was the way they moved. The small movements of their heads and limbs were short and sharp, almost unnatural. The women knitting moved their needles in perfect time with each other. The synchronisation was mechanical.

The next room was full of men in disciplined ranks performing star jumps, each man jumping in perfect unison. We walked past the front of the them and not one man glanced at us. I looked at their glazed eyes. They did not even appear to blink.

Downer was deliberately taking me on a tour of the asylum. I suspected he was trying to show me how good the asylum was. Well it wasn’t working. In fact, it was having the opposite effect. The mechanical actions of the patients and the silence that they moved in felt unsettling.

Our tour came to an end in the lobby.

“Now I must get back to work. Good bye Master Briggs.”

Struck by a sudden thought of something Anne had mentioned in her letter.  I called after him.

“Peter Boden had stolen an ancient artefact from an auction house. Does the Amulet of Nergal mean anything to you?”

“Never heard of it,” Downer snapped his abruptness catching me by surprise.

I looked at the buildings around me as I left. Something wasn’t right at Elmwich Asylum. Downer had lied to me. He had heard of the amulet. I looked over my shoulder. Doctor Downer stood at the window a look of concern upon his face.

I had stumbled upon something and Anne was right the Amulet of Nergal was the key to the matter.

What happens next is up to You!
The choices with the most votes will decide what happens next, so choose wisely from the options below

 

Voting closes on Thursday 6th December at 8am GMT

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