Nightmares in the House of the Rising Sun

Nightmares in the House of the Rising Sun

A Story by Capri Minora

This is a story about a girl who gets placed in a mental institution for something she can't remember. It is in her point of view and in the form of journal entrys. Let me know what you think!


“Nightmares in the House of the Rising Sun”


April 14, 2011

They said to start with something from my old life that I loved. They said that maybe writing it down would help me remember. I want to remember, so I said that I would try.


There is a house in New Orleans

They call the Rising Sun.

It’s been the ruin of many a poor boy

And God I know I’m one.


My daddy used to sing that song to me before bed. At one point I couldn’t sleep without it. When I got older he stopped singing, but I knew that he would if I asked. When I had the nightmares, the black and terrifying ones, all I had to do was remember his voice singing that song, and it would beat away the shadows once again.


I don’t remember his voice anymore. I don’t remember the pitches or sounds, whether or not it rose or fell with his breath, how his lips parted, or even if he spoke loud or soft. And now that I can’t remember his words, nothing beats back the nightmares. They follow me everywhere: drowning, running, screaming, killing. They tangle around each other inside my tainted mind: serpentine, grotesque, terrifying. They tear their way through me at night, leaving glimmering pools of blood in their wake. And when my eyes snap open to the whiteness of the room at the beginnings of a new day, they still haunt me from the shadows.


They said that my mind would want to switch from the things I love to the things that scare me, but I would have to stop that from happening. They said to start with the simplest things I know and work my way through the other, darker, things.


My name is Rachel Williams. I am seventeen years old. I am at the St. Francis Mental Hospital in Red Lodge, Montana. My entire family, including my horses, are dead. I can’t remember how they died. I loved them.


There. I’m back to my father singing.


Oh mother tell your children

Not to do what I have done.

You’ll spend your life in sin and misery

In the House of the Rising Sun.


May 30, 2011

            They asked me what scares me the most during the day. All I replied was, “The mirror.” They didn’t understand.


            In the mornings, in the white room, I am forced by my own mind to gaze into the single mirror, perched delicately on the dresser. My feet then shift themselves closer and closer to it, my body following, until the tip of my nose almost touches the reflective glass, a crazy masquerade grin plastered on my lips even though I feel petrified. And what follows that sly grin terrifies me more than any nightmare could. My eyes, my grey eyes that can take on any shade of blue if the light is right, show me red fire burning in their depths. It’s as if there were flames dancing in front of me, and my eyes had captured their image behind curtains of glass. The flames lap at my irises and beckon me closer, seducing me to lose myself in their flashes of light and their dancing shadows. But what scares me more than my reflection is the sudden recollection of forgotten nightmares that come with it, always accompanied by haunting lyrics sliding into my head.


Mirrors on the ceiling

The pink champagne on ice

And she said, “We are all just prisoners here

Of our own device.”

And in the master’s chambers

They gathered for the feast.

They stab it with their steely knives

But they just can’t kill the beast.



June 8, 2011

            They told me it would be better to write about the nightmares instead of trying to cage them in my mind.


            The ones from last night are more vivid than the ones from before the white room, but they all are the same. First, I run down the dirt road toward my home, a gasoline can and a handful of matches clutched between my fingers. The hard packed gravel rises up to meet my feet as I skid to a stop. I set the red gasoline can and the matches down and turn from my house. When I turn back, there is only a pile of ash being picked up by the wind. That’s when the voices screech their way into my head, roaring of death. I start to run, gasping for air as the ash clings to my body and the voices start to yell louder and louder. Then silence. Softness reaches my ears on a gust of wind in the form of a song I used to sing my horses. But the lyrics are twisted and manipulated into something sinister.



Don’t you cry.

Go to death my little baby.

When you fall

You shall have

All the beasts in misery.



July 25, 2011

            They say that I won’t be able to leave even if I do remember. They won’t let me out to feel the wind sending my blond hair cascading down my back, to hear the crickets tuning their musical legs at dusk, to see the honey colored horses running through the yellowing grass.


            They won’t let me go out to see my family’s headstones, to the place where my horses are buried. I remember when I bought my favorite, Apache. It was toward the end of summer at a horse fair. I remember climbing into a pen full of horses and seeing him. His mane and tail were as black as night. His coat was blue like the dawn, speckled with white like fading stars. I was fifteen that summer. He was three. We were perfect for eachother.


            But now I will be stuck in the white room forever. This room is a void. With no windows and one door, it sucks in everything; every color, every sound, scent, possibility; and swallows it whole. It leaves the world, my world, devoid of everything except the whiteness. It hurts, so much nothing. It will remind me now and forever of what I will never see again. I have lost the reds, greens, browns of the trees. I have lost the purples of the mountains, the yellows, oranges, pinks of the flowers in spring. I have lost the blues of the sky and the fire that is the sun. I have lost everything.


            I can’t stand myself. I can’t sleep. No matter how long or how often I shower, I feel as if I reek of smoke and gasoline. Fire dances in my peripheral vision but is never real. I know that if I listen to the crackling of the imaginary flames for long enough, I could remember.


The last thing I remember

I was running for the door.

I had to find the passage back

To the place I was before.

“Relax,” said the nightman,

“We are programmed  to receive.

You can check out any time you like

But you can never leave.”



July 30, 2011

            They want to give me drugs to get rid of the fire at the edges of my sight. But I won’t, I can’t, take them.


I remember when I was a kid and got bucked off a horse for the first time. I remember hitting the ground with so much force that black spots swelled across my vision. And after a few minutes that stretched on for what seemed like eternity, I remember feeling an unbearable pain lace through through my side as I struggled to breath. The doctors in the ER had to spike my blood with a concoction of drugs, including morphine and vicodin, just to operate on my damaged body. Three of my ribs had shattered into a million pieces and punctured one of my lungs. They kept me in a medical coma for three days; but behind my closed eyes I didn’t sleep at all. I could hear everything, feel my parents holding my dead hands. I was a prisoner in my own body. Every time I tried to move, I couldn’t. Every time I tried to speak, no sound came out of my throat. Every time I wished I could cry, the tears wouldn’t overflow. I never want to feel so helpless. I never want to feel suffocated, struggling against the poison in my body. I never want to feel trapped in the dark dream world my nightmares inhabit. And I know that if I take the drugs they offer me, I would be imprisoned there.


            The fire that has been chasing me has withdrawn  to allow a new image to appear. Between the white day and the black night, the ash I now see becomes my shade of grey. It reminds me of destruction, but in it I see wildflowers blooming after a forest fire. Some days, it seems to hang over my head. Others, it seeps into my pores and blankets me in its smell. It slips into my dreams, my nightmares, as I sleep. Sometimes I believe that I can get through this hell when it whispers barely audible words to me.


Just close your eyes.

The sun is goin’ down.

You’ll be alright.

No one can hurt you now.

Come mornin’ light

You and I’ll be safe and sound.




August 17, 2011

            Did I kill them?



St. Francis Mental Hospital, Red Lodge, Montana

Case file 133: Rachel Williams

3:36 pm January 30, 1994 to 6:16 August 18, 2011

Cause of death: Found hung by the neck with a rope made from dental floss.

Remarks: Recording of patient singing part of House of the Rising Sun by the Animals playing when found by hospital staff. (Note: Asked for a cassette tape recorder in therapy sessions.) Personal meaning?


There is a house in New Orleans

They call the Rising Sun.

It’s been the ruin of many a poor boy

And God I know I’m one.

© 2012 Capri Minora

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Added on August 9, 2012
Last Updated on August 9, 2012
Tags: nightmares in the house of the r


Capri Minora
Capri Minora

Steamboat Springs, CO

I am a student who would love to write, but often can't find the time to or writes things not worth while. more..