- Stars Over Strangeways
Run at ConFusion 2012; Brooklyn Community Centre, Wellington, NZ
by Nik Crombie
Welcome to Strangeways Convalescent Home. Comfortable, quiet and offering a good quality of care invalids, at quite a reasonable cost. It is sometime between the two world wars, and money is tight, so it has no shortage of residents. This despite its isolated location; the nearest town is about an hour's drive away. Strangeways itself is a neat little Victorian building that sits on the cliffs overlooking the cold, rocky sea. Despite its outward appearance of tranquility, Strangeways has gained a troubling reputation. Strangeways itself used to belong to the Strangeways family, but passed into private ownership after the death of the family heir in The Great War; one of many Strangeways to meet an early end. But there has always been something not quite right about Strangeways.
The patients have noticed, of course. They either grow accustomed to the subtle atmosphere of menace or beg their families to take them away. Often this request is ignored, and these poor, unsettled souls slowly sink into despair and lethargy. But for those who can cope, Strangeways is somewhat bearable. Made up of a mixture of old and young, from all classes and backgrounds (not to mention a wide range of ailments), Strangeways patients are a microcosm of the outside world. They spend long hours together, talking over their pasts, taking walks and doing any number of therapeutic activities. For some, a better life than they could ever dream of outside. Others long for life outside Strangeways' walls. Everyone is supposed to leave eventually; it is merely a question of how long your stay will be.
Strangeways has always been quiet, until the death of one of the patients in what was either a freak accident or a very unusual suicide. Scribbled across the wall of his bedroom was the message "The stars are right." A new, darker, more intense unease grows among the patients; many of them are starting to have strange dreams and they begin to suspect the others of being involved in some unknown horror. Even the usually placid nursing staff are beginning to look anxious...