Synopsis: The story behind Casper's death and the effects of that event on his father. One-shot. K+ for language.
Disclaimer: I do not own any characters mentioned, except for doctor, psychiatrist, his assistants, and Aunt Bertha McFadden.
Author's Note: The Maine Insane Hospital was founded in 1840 in Augusta, Maine. I'm British and thus I use British spelling, FYI.
Moonlight filtered through the bars of Joseph Theodore McFadden's hospital cell. The moustachioed man with a receding hair line and fading dark hair sat on the lumpy mattress of the cot, his weary blue eyes shaded with puffy bags and dark circles. J.T., as Joseph was often called, was suffering from post traumatic stress, brought on by the events which had occurred less than a year ago. His wife, Elizabeth Anna McFadden, had died in a freak automobile accident in 1904. Since that time, J.T. had devoted his spare time to their only child, Casper Johannes. His brothers-in-law, dapper young men known in town as 'The Trio', rarely helped, as they had their own wild ways.
They had both been feeling a bit down once Christmas came around in 1905, as their last Christmas was spent in customary mourning. Casper had come home from his all-boys boarding school, Saint Malachi's, for the holidays, and J.T. wanted to make this time of year special for his son. One wintry afternoon in Friendship, the small town near their estate, Whipstaff, father and son were walking along a crowded street filled with Christmas shoppers, and Casper had spied a sled in the window of the toy shop. He politely manoeuvred his way through the crowd of admiring young boys, and pressed both his hands to the window, staring in awe at the beautiful sled. Casper had begged his father for it, but J.T. refused. Casper had continued to plead for the sled for the next several weeks, but J.T. was always busy with the lobster exporting business that had made the family's fortune. While walking home one evening from his office, J.T. paused in front of the toy shop. The bright red sled was still there. Feeling guilty about the lack of attention his son received from him as of late, J.T. went inside and purchased the sled. Two days before Christmas, J.T. presented the sled to Casper. The blonde twelve year-old bounded outside in his snow clothes, and sled down the hill near the house. J.T. stood at the window of his office and smiled. He had finally done something good.
Several hours later, just as the sun was setting, J.T. realized in horror that Casper was still sledding. He had been working on paperwork, and had let the boy be outside on his own for far too long. J.T. opened the window and hollered for his son to come in. "Come on, Dad! Just a few more slides!" shouted Casper. J.T. frowned. His little boy looked so happy. "Well, alright," he relented. Finally, he succeeded in luring Casper inside with a few sweets, and mug of hot chocolate by the fireside. J.T. told stories of brave hunters and cowboys, and Casper listened with rapt attention into the wee hours of the night. Father and son were contented.
Within the next few days, however, J.T. noticed something. Casper was coughing and wheezing quite a bit, which concerned J.T. profusely. J.T. had shrugged it off as nothing more than a cold, hoping Casper would get over it before he had to go back to school in a few weeks. But it soon turned into more than a cold. Casper stayed in bed, feverish and delirious, and coughing more than ever. J.T. thought his son's lungs might fail, and Casper had already broken a rib from coughing. Fearing for his son's life, he fetched the local doctor one morning. After examining Casper, the white-bearded doctor stepped outside Casper's room, where J.T. was pacing reverently. His brothers-in-law had assembled downstairs on the sofa, waiting quietly. The doctor bowed his head, and J.T. knew. His son was dead. J.T. flew into his son's room. Casper's limp body was lying on the bed, his head propped up by pillows. He could have been sleeping, were he not deathly pale and completely still. J.T., now weeping openly, grasped his boy's hand in his, and gently brushed a hand over his son's sandy blonde hair that was so much like his mother's. The doctor had called the coroner to take the body away. The doctor gingerly put a hand on J.T.'s shoulder. Pneumonia was rampant at this time of year, and this case was not any different. He had seen many young patients die from this devastating illness, but the old man could not help but feel sorry for this father. He had treated the man's wife's injuries a year ealier, and knew now that J.T. had only his brothers-in-law, but no immediate family. The doctor removed his hand and gently asked J.T. to take leave, but he refused, still sobbing. The coroner had arrived and a maid had escorted him upstairs. J.T. was asked to leave again. The doctor placed his hand back on J.T.'s shoulder. "No, damn it, no! I will not leave my son!" he roared, and batted the hand away. He fought the urge to hit the doctor. "It's my fault. It's all my fault. I failed him. I've failed my boy," he whispered with his head in his hands. He then got up and left, not looking back at anyone, not even his boy.
The funeral was held a few days later. He was accompanied by his brother-sin-law and his middle-aged aunt, Bertha McFadden. Outsiders would have thought this was his wife, but townspeople knew better. Everyone knew he had lost the two most important things in his life.
That evening, after spending the day crying in his home office, and refusing food and visits, J.T. sat emmersed in the novel Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley. Nothing contributes so much to tranquillize the mind as a steady purpose . . . he read. He thought back to his lab, and the Up-and-at-'Em machine that concealed it. What if he could bring him back? What if… My God.
The following morning, after breakfast, J.T. raced down to the lab using an alternate route. He went through his library, looking through volumes on chemistry and alchemy. He laboured for several months, relentless in his pursuit. He quit his job. He ordered fast quanties of steel and glass, and made blueprints outlining a machine. After a year, he had completed his 'resurrection machine', as well as the formula to resurrect Casper. While taking a break, he absent mindedly flipped through a worn copy of the Bible which had belonged to his father when he came over from . His eyes fell on a passage about Lazarus: "But someone may ask, 'How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?' How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies... the splendour of the heavenly bodies is of one kind, and the splendour of the earthly bodies is another... So it is with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable... If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body... I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable." (Corinthians 15:35-50). The machine would be called the Lazarus.
And yet…his son had never visited him in spectral form. Maybe J.T. thought he caught a white glimpse of something every now and then, but shrugged it off as his imagination. Still, he felt his son's spirit was with him in the house, and this gave him the drive he needed. He would talk out loud at night, telling his son the stories he told him before he died. He went to visit the graves of his wife and child often, which was remarkable, as they were both burried in Rockland, thirteen miles away from town. Soon after the construction of the Lazarus began, the hired help left. The business was closed, and J.T.'s brothers-in-law moved to the capital of Augusta, undoubtedly bored with him. His aunt Bertha McFadden had left as well. J.T. assumed she was ashamed of him.
This was not the case, however. She was concerned about J.T.'s mental health. Bertha had travelled to Augusta to consult with a psychiatrist, who paid a visit to Whipstaff a week later. No one had ever seen J.T.'s lab, and when she and the psychiatrist, Doctor Deurf, arrived, J.T. was in the parlour studying documents. J.T. looked up, startled. "What is the meaning of this?" he inquired quietly. "Sir, I have come to ask you a few questions," began Doctor Deurf. "If you will come with me please,". Two men in medical uniforms entered with a straight jacket and doctor's bag. "You won't take me. I have work to do!" he shouted brazenly. The two men advanced on J.T., and one held him down while the other injected him with morphine. "No, you don't understand!" J.T. exclaimed. His words were slurred as the drug began to take effect. "You…don't…damn…you…fools," he said sluggishly, and finally collapsed.
J.T. was admitted once he had arrived at the Maine Insane Hospital after the two day journey from Friendship to Augusta. The lab was abandoned, but he had left the instructions and the switch for the machine in clever places. He wondered if anyone would ever discover them, and then decided probably not. At least, not a human. Casper was a clever boy, and if he did indeed haunt the manor, then he would figure it out eventually. This gave him some hope, but he knew his health was deteriorating.
The brothers had sold the house to a man named Crittenden, and then moved on. Once settled in a new town in the state, the fattest of the brothers was reading the newspaper. He paused on the page when something caught his eye. There was a full page article about J.T. and his insanity. "Hey, fellas, look at this," he called, and his two brothers crowded around the paper. The tall, skinny brother sighed and said, "Well, what do you know. He finally cracked."