‘The Black Journal: Introduction’ by Ahmed Nader Gretly


The notes I am going to share in this text, or others to follow are from a black leather bound journal I came across upon exploring the grounds of ‘Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital’ in New Jersey. I was doing research for my post-graduate studies on 19th century structures in the city, and the asylum (which was first opened in the year 1887) fit the bill. My intention was to gather information on the history of the place, its grounds, its craftsmanship, and ingenuity, but what I stumbled upon was far more mind-boggling than anything I’ve ever seen in my entire life. I found the black journal while I was exploring one of the underground tunnels that connected between the buildings, the grounds-keeper who was acting as a tour-guide at the time of my visit, whom I was supposed to follow at all times picked up the pace, leaving me behind peering at the beautifully lined original red bricks of the tunnel. I did not notice he was gone until I snapped out of my dazed exploration of the underground shaft. By then, I found myself at the threshold of an underground storage compartment, I shone my flashlight inside the dust covered room, and saw a heap of decaying papers, folders, and wooden chairs piled on top of each other. I walked inside, and started flipping through the old folders, which contained patient records, physical exams, and a lot of death certificates that dated back to the early 1900’s. The place began to give me chills, but at that moment, I wanted to take something with me; I wanted to take some sort of souvenir. It didn’t feel quite right taking one of the death certificates, so I dug deeper into the piles of old papers.

“Ms. Dupont, where are you?!”

I heard the voice of the grounds-keeper calling out to me, the old man sounded too frantic, so I pushed my hand through the mess of papers one last time, found something solid, then put it in my backpack without studying it. I called back to the old man, shining my flashlight on the walls of the tunnel in every direction to let him know where I was. The man found me, gave me a long lecture about how I could’ve been lost down there, and about how dangerous these tunnels were, then told me I had to leave because he had something to attend to.

After the grounds-keeper showed me the way outside, I got into my car, with my backpack on the passenger-seat next to me,  and headed home. Little did I know back then, that the souvenir I snatched from Greystone Park’s underground storage-room would change my perception of everything, the world… my own mind.

Sarah Dupont

[End of part one. To be continued…]


About Ahmed Gretly

Ahmed Nader Gretly. Construction/Site Engineer, fiction writer, poet, psychopath, researcher, a book addict, and a daydreamer from Cairo, Egypt. Currently doing Construction Project Management, MSc, at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.
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