Not a character
Dr. Orson Hall is a kindly old man in his early to mid sixties. His eyes are grey, and are always hidden behind his black-framed glasses. He has short white hair where he isn’t starting to go bald, and a large, bulbous nose. He is a heavy-set man and tends to wear tweed suits, and it isn’t uncommon to hear him complain about his ‘old bones’ – he is not a particularly athletic man.
In personality, Dr. Hall is gentle and soft-spoken, with a caring heart and inquisitive mind. As a psychiatrist, he works diligently towards putting people’s psychological demons to rest and giving them closure. He doesn’t like, nor is he particularly adept at, violence, but he understands there are times when it is necessary.
Doctor Orson Hall was a skilled psychiatrist – some even said he was a genius. Graduating from Harvard Medical School at 22, completing his residency requirements by 26, and eventually rising to become the head psychiatrist at the Blackstone House for the Mentally Infirm, Dr. Hall amply demonstrated a talent for connecting with his patients, deducing the locus of their problems, and helping to either mitigate or, rarely, entirely solve them, through the use of both drugs, surgery, and therapy. Over his years of practice, Dr. Hall found himself gravitating towards those patients that suffered from severe schizophrenia, psychopathy, and other such disorders, with a special focus on those whose disorder brought them to break the law, especially serial offenders. Dr. Hall wrote several books on serial murderers and rapists, both those he treated and those he simply studied, and even worked occasionally as a consultant criminal profiler on such cases.
In his personal life, Dr. Hall was married to his wife Helen, at the age of forty-four; two years later, they had a daughter, Rebecca. They had their share of bad times, but they had their share of good ones as well, and for most of their marriage, everything was fine – until the disappearances and blackouts began ten years later.
Six years ago, Dr. Hall began experiencing blackouts – he would be doing something, maybe driving, maybe talking to a patient, maybe in bed with his wife, and then… he would be somewhere else entirely, and hours would have gone by. At around the same time this began to happen, Dr. Hall began to experience strange feelings, sometimes even hallucinations, some so vivid they left him stunned. Dr. Hall tried self-medicating, performing blood tests and CAT scans, but he couldn’t stop the hallucinations or blackouts, or even figure out what was wrong with him. Even worse, during this time patients began disappearing from Blackstone House, and his wife began complaining about his strange and erratic behavior. The stress level in Dr. Hall’s life kept boiling to the breaking point, and his family almost fell apart, but then things began to slow down again – he had less frequent blackouts, his hallucinations, while not disappearing, weren’t always so vivid, and flocks of patients were no longer going missing, and the few that did were simply put down to occasional escapes or misfiled paperwork.
Six months ago, Dr. Hall finally found out what was happening to him when he awoke from a blackout to find himself in the asylum’s basement, bloody surgical tools in his hands, a video camera set up on a tripod recording him, and one of the missing patients lying down on the table in front of him, his cranium cracked open and his brain exposed for examination. The patient was deceased, and it appears Dr. Hall had been in the middle of an autopsy – something he occasionally did when a patient died, true enough, though this wasn’t one of the rooms he normally used, and a nurse usually assisted. Dr. Hall put the instruments up, and turned to the camera and the laptop it was hooked up to.
Within, to his horror, he found the answers he had been searching for. There were hours and hours of video, hundreds of pages of notes, all of them extensively detailed. They detailed Dr. Hall’s activities while he was blacked out, though the man in the tapes hardly acted like Dr. Hall – he spoke with exuberance and a confident swagger, he drank and smoked, he even moved and walked differently. And worse, this man, this ‘Dr. Hyde’, seemed to have no morals whatsoever. He spoke of various experiments, most with dubious legality, others that were very clearly illegal. Experimental drug testing on himself and various patients was the least of the revelations, finally culminating in full-on vivisections, the autopsy of living humans; Dr. Hall had found out where the patients were disappearing to.
The one thing all of these experiments had in common was an attempt to understand the mind better and, eventually, a focus on so-called ‘psychic powers’. ‘Dr Hyde’ even went out and kidnapped certain criminals and other unlikely-to-be-missed lowlifes he believed were ‘psychics’ and began performing experiments on them, interrogating them, and finally killing and autopsying them. Some of the videos showed what were supposedly impressive feats of psionic ability, including someone who could discharge lightning from their fingers, one who could seemingly teleport or turn invisible (that was noted as to have escaped temporarily, but then tracked down and ‘taken care of’ later), and one who could lift objects with only his mind. Dr. Hall found a morbid fascination in all of this, finding it very hard to believe – until he found the series of experiments and notes about himself.
‘Hyde’ meticulously documented his discoveries of his own self, marking down that he was what was called an ‘ESPer’, a person with ‘extra-sensory perception’. The hallucinations and strange feelings Dr. Hall had been feeling were actually his latent psionic powers finally coming to light, granting him visions of the future or past, the ability to see things that were in the ‘astral plane’, detect other psionic activity, and ‘attune’ himself with objects or people, allowing him to track them down from miles and miles away. The notes gave explicit, detailed instructions on how to use these abilities – and Dr. Hall found that, when he followed them, they worked, and easily, as if he had been using them all his life. The revelation was extraordinary enough that it shocked him into finally accepting what he had seen, and his horror finally caught up to him and he fled.
Dr. Hall came back down to the basement several weeks later, finally getting the nerve to take action. He began destroying all of the evidence, keeping only the laptop with all of the research notes, burying the bodies, stowing the surgical and pharmaceutical kits in his trunk, completely cleaning the make-shift surgical suite/prison with bleach, etc. With the evidence safely hidden or destroyed, Dr. Hall recorded a message on the laptop and left it for Hyde to find. The message was a threat – no more killing or kidnapping, or Dr. Hall would confess to his crimes or even commit suicide, stopping Hyde with finality.
For the next several months, it seemed like the threat had worked. Hyde replied, angry but understanding – he had not been killing for his own amusement, of course, but only for the advancement of science. Life continued on, the blackouts happening occasionally, though they were now just a part of life – a terrifying one, certainly, but one he was used to, and with understanding of his psionic gifts, the ‘hallucinations’ no longer troubled Hall. Then, again, everything changed.
His wife was waiting for him when he got home that day. Their marriage had been rocky for the past few years, and getting more tense recently, though Hall couldn’t figure out why. She would barely speak with him, and would lie there stiff as a board when they were in bed together. That day, he found out why when she greeted him at the door and handed him a photograph apparently of Hall and another woman sleeping together – Hyde’s work. As he stared at it, he smelt something strange in the air, and it took him a moment to recognize it – gasoline. His eyes focused upon the lighter in his wife’s hand just as he blacked out…
When he awoke again, Hall found that he was in his car, speeding down the interstate, a blazing inferno behind him where his house had once been. On the dashboard in front of him was a post-it note, with “Do not forget: I can hurt you, too” written on it in red ink. With tears in his eyes and uncertainty whether his wife or child were alive in his heart, Hall barely noticed it when he entered the fog before him…