Deanna Burrows didn't know why she wanted to learn. It could have been the way her father always grew tense when he talked about the family history. Or it could have been when the voices started...
The moment Deanna made notice of her condition, Mr. and Mrs. Burrows wasted no time in getting her treatment. She had seen countless doctors and psychiatrists. There was the strict regiment of pills to soothe her ailing mind.
"We cant send her off to college like this!"
"Her doctor said she's doing well on the medication. Besides, the school has a good therapist should she have a relapse."
The sound of her parents arguing drew Deanna from her book. They seemed to quarrel more frequently since the diagnosis. Inching down the stairs, she listened in on their heated conversation.
"Don't give me that! The only thing those college psychiatrists can do is ship her off to the looney bin!" Mrs. Burrows roared.
"Martha, you're being ridiculous-"
"I WONT HAVE HER END UP LIKE YOUR GREAT-GRANDFATHER'S SISTER!"
That was it. The argument ended as quickly as it started.
Deanna stood in a daze in the stairwell. And to think her father had sworn up and down that there was no history of mental illness in the family. Deanna locked the debate away inside her mind.
The girl awoke with a start. Her eyes clenched shut against the oppressive darkness of her college dorm. Like a crashing wave, a swarm of voices echoed in her head. But one voice shined out from all the others. It's tone soft and feminine, but full of pain.
Help me, Deanna... Set me free... We are prisoners...
Clutching her head, she sat on the edge of her bed until the voices gradually waned away to an indeterminate hum.
"That's it" Deanna sighed. "Enough is enough!"
Groping through the darkness, Deanna switched on her computer. It's welcoming chime shattered the desolate silence. To her relief, her slumbering roommate remained asleep.
Her fingers danced across the keyboard as she scoured the internet for information. All the while, the flame of her parent's argument burned inside her head. There had to be something. Anything that could explain her unmentionable past.
With a click of the mouse, a site flashed onto the screen. Your Entire Family Tree
Deanna's hazel eyes were glued to the monitor. As she typed in her last name, she scanned every aunt, uncle, cousin and grandparent that came up. None were very auspicious. Each one marrying, having children and living to a ripe old age. Typical family outline.
Elizabeth Ann Burrows: 1913-1931
"You were only eighteen" she murmured. "What happened to you?"
Barely able to hold back her excitement, Deanna clicked on the link. A second page opened, revealing a black and white photograph of a little girl standing outside her brownstone apartment. Attired in the style of the day, a cloche hat sat neatly atop her bobbed hair. At the time the photo had been taken, there appeared nothing unusual about the girl. Her wide grin with missing baby teeth flashed the undaunted happiness of youth.
But the article below melted away any cheer in the photo.
L. A. Mourns Youngest Victim in Vannacutt Massacre
Before she became ill, friends and family knew Elizabeth Burrows as a bright, happy girl. The daughter of local shop owner, Elizabeth (Ellie) was the pride and joy of Frank and Anabelle Burrows.
"She was so smart" her mother says with tears in her eyes. "She got high marks in school. She loved her brothers and sisters. Ellie was just a ray of sunshine, pure and simple."
Mrs. Burrows could not bring herself to comment any further.
At fifteen years of age, Ellie began to show signs of schizophrenia. At first she tried to hide her condition, but her family intervened when the symptoms overtook her life. She claimed to hear voices, had bizarre delusions and tried to commit suicide by swallowing rat poison. Dr. Jacob Burns, a medical practitioner, referred her to the Vannacutt Psychiatric Hospital for treatment. Dr. Burns could not be reached to comment on this story.
"Once she was admitted, we weren't allowed to see her" Mr. Burrows says. "Dr. Vannacutt said she might have a relapse if exposed to anything pertaining to home life. All we heard about her were the progress reports the hospital sent us every week."
The progress reports were a web of elaborate lies constructed by Vannacutt's staff. They stated that Ellie and other patients like her were thriving under the good doctor's expert care. That she was making leaps and bounds in her recovery.
"If she was doing so well, why wouldn't they let us see her!" Mrs. Burrows sobbed.
The Burrows and other families fought tooth and nail for the right to see their afflicted family members. But they were always turned down with a friendly reminder that the patients were doing well.
It wasn't until the fire did Los Angeles see the truth. The outrage from the public could have equaled the inferno's power. For the sake of decency, I will not go into the kind of torture inflicted on these poor souls. Only that the skull of Ellie Burrows bore the marks of multiple lobotomy incisions and trepanning.
With the consent of her parents, Ellie was buried in the cemetery. The bodies of those who could not be identified were interred in a mass grave and immortalized with a modest memorial.