A/N: don't know what possessed me to write it, some attempt to overcome a writer's block, maybe. Anyway, here's to Conan Doyle, a doctor, and Oliver Sacks, a psychiatrist.
The latter wrote a book ("Awakenings") about his experimental treatment of Parkinson's disease; in particular, he describes people whom he was able to "wake" after decades in catatonic state. Sacks speculates quite convincingly that after the Spanish Influenza outbreak there must have been another virus, resulting in worldwide spreading of "encephalitis" (please forgive my layman's terminology).
"Awakenings" are not an obscure scientific treatise (though there is a glossary and the side notes are quite extensive), but one of the most humane books I've read; look it up. You won't be disappointed.
I found the Old Man in a chaise-long near the flowerbed, gripping a framed picture I could not see from where I stood. Considering the dearth of personal belongings of these unfortunates, I could guess what he was looking at.
He waved feebly. 'Time for my medication, isn't it?'
'Well then, just a minute.' From the paleness of his face (more like 'countenance'), he was either cold or upset, neither conducive to his recovery.
'She wanted us to marry,' he raised his eyes to me. Ordinarily, patients dislike being hovered above, but Mr. Stackhurst, an Atlant if there was one, had a way of making you feel like you were caught fencing with his favorite ruler.
'Almost had, too.'
The woman he was talking about, the one whose portrait lay in his lap, died in the WWII, having transferred her loved one into a private hospital across the world. (The war he slept through and couldn't believe had happened.)
What do you say to people who'd literally lost half a century of their lifetime?
'You're new here, aren't you?' he squinted, and smiled a generous smile of a twenty-some-year-old.
'Come. The game's afoot, a friend of mine used to say.'
'Your friend Shakespeare?'
'Honestly! The youth today…' The Schoolmaster glowered.
'At least you've read something.'
…but the Englishman beamed.