“Only the dead have seen the end of the war.” - George Santayana, Spanish-American philosopher.
“They wore their strange beauty like war paint.”
― Holly Black, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
‘Miss Brinley said that they were all in the same boat… you know, relatively, as us…’ Duncan said, flicking his eyes down and twisting his mouth to the side. ‘And she said we probably won’t have to actually speak to them or anything, they’re in the other wing of the house. That’s why all the beds were moved.’
‘Yes, I know!’ Dinah replied, more irritated than before. ‘It’s just that it’s always been us, just us, for so long… how can she even begin to imagine bringing grown men into this place?’
Duncan looked over at the collection of children.
They were all shapes and sizes, from the smallest, Christina, who all the girls called “Kissy”, a child who was barely old enough to speak clearly and was currently balanced on the hip of another older girl, looking out at the bus that was arriving, all the way up to Duncan himself, who was now nearly nineteen. He even remembered some of the older ones who had been there when he was smaller, when he had arrived at Miss Brinley’s Institute for Children. Once they were adults, many chose to leave, and it seemed that Miss Brinley would never stop them, though Duncan often wondered what became of those poor souls.
‘But they’re not just any men,’ he continued, remembering what they had all been told when they had been gathered into the large room Miss Brinley used for assemblies. There were only twenty-three children in the place, and they all sat in rows according to their size, neatly.
‘They are war heroes, brave men who have suffered greatly in the horror of war. We owe them our freedom and our thanks,’ he parroted back to Dinah and she sighed, clearly not sure about any of it.
‘But what’s that got to do with us?’ she said, ‘I know the war was horrible, I know that lots of people died, but… that doesn’t mean we should turn into some sort of veteran’s hospital. Does it?’
‘But they’re not ordinary veterans,’ Duncan replied, quietly…
The children were a buzz, long after the bus had pulled away, empty of its passengers. They sat around the recreation room and no one played games or talked of anything else. They were crouched in twos and threes, like birds on wires, chattering and fidgeting. It was well over an hour before the door finally opened and Miss Brinley entered.
She was a woman of a certain age, a woman who should have long ago been married with children of her own and yet was quite unexpectedly unwed. Her institution was a one of a kind and the knowledge of that burned brightly in her green eyes when she looked around the world that she had created for those who could never live elsewhere. She was a fierce creature, unafraid in the face of things that would make greater creatures shrink in fear. Her entrance to the room was accompanied by her raising her still gloved hands. She had been outside, her face was ruddy from the wind and she tried to quell the tide of excitable small people as she reached up to pull the pin from her hat and remove it.
‘Yes,’ she said, ‘They’re here.’
There is a house, an institute, where children who have been “supernaturally disturbed” are sent when their families are unable to care for them. Begun in 1890 by Miss Brinley, a scholarly and intelligent spinster of some means.
The house has a collection of children who have all had some kind of run in with the supernatural with which their families are unable or unwilling to handle. They have any number of difficulties, including but not limited to- Haunted by ghosts, taken by fairies and returned, possessed, under the thrall of a vampire, infected with werewolf blood, possessing “powers” pyrokinesis and so on, children of spirits or some kind of supernatural affair…
After WW1-(1919) there is an influx of a new group of people, no longer only children. The house fills one of the wings with young men returned from the front with stories and scars of a different kind.
There are men who have seen ghosts of their comrades, seen horrific monsters feeding on the dead, ghouls and cult activity. These men have found themselves either sent to asylums or having to completely hide their experiences, something which has posed difficult. These men are unable to continue with the scars they bear in a society that might accuse them of madness, cowardice or both.
EDIT- The Soldiers do not have to have any supernatural powers at all. They can merely have seen too much, or been affected by the supernatural. I thought I had said that somewhere in this VERY long intro, but I think it was missed! Sorry!
Hosted and narrated by:
Dan McGru (DanMcGru)
Scenes played: 8
License: Community License