Eastham, New Jersey is a (ficticious) small town located just north of Sussex. If you take Route 23 North all the way up past Sussex, you'll come to Castle Road on your right. Make the turn and take that to Main Street and make that right. If you go too far, you'll come to Sheckman's Road on your left where you can turn around. One thing you will notice is that it feels as if Eastham, and the roads to get there, were carved out of the forest that grows dense and right to the road. Truth is, it was.
Here's what I've learned about Eastham. back in the 1860's, William Harvey Eastham, and his wife, Sylvia, opened Eastham Institute (a polite word for sanitarium) as a retreat for those who had suffered nervous breakdowns. As more and people came, they started construction on brick buildings until by the turn of the century, when construction was complete, over five hundred mentally disturbed patients called the sanitarium home. Around the same time, they built an orphanage on what is now Sheckman's Hill.
As philanthropic as the Easthams were, they could not watch everything that went on and it was discovered much later, that some of the doctors, nurses, and caretakers (even a few of the religious people on staff) had agendas of their own, like experimenting on patients, including children, to make them perfect in the eyes of God. Some, but not all, were caught and sent to jail. The rest continued their experiments in secret until both the orphanage and the sanitarium burned down under extremely mysterious conditions.
During one of the worst lightning storms to ever hit the area, survivors claimed they heard voices telling them to leave the building. As they fled, multiple lightning strikes hit the institute and the orphanage, starting numerous fires that raged out of control before the Sussex Fire Department and those from surrounding areas could put it out.
When it was all over and there was nothing left but rubble, some asked why the innocent died and some said there were no innocents, only the wicked and those being made to be wicked. Once the debris and bodies were cleared, the local politicians and developers were only too happy to build a small, self-contained community there and an office building and warehouse up where the orphanage had been. The businesses in Sussex prospered, as did the new businesses in Eastham. BioTribe Corp. moved in to the office building, but left several years ago, under mysterious circumstances. The warehouse and office were turned into a homeless shelter, where close to fifty people live. Volunteers from the area come up to what's now called Sheckman's Hollow to feed the homeless and to make sure they're as healthy as homeless people can be.
What few people know, and others only whisper about. is that the area had become tainted by the madness that had seeped from the sanitarium and the orphanage into the ground, and though it never affected anything in nature (no one knows why), the people were much more susceptible.
There's a lot of weirdness in Eastham now, including sightings of lights in the woods, ghosts and shadow people, humanoid creatures that live under Eastham Lake, unidentifiable monsters, and more unexplained phenomena. A certain local magazine has been there a number of times to interview people, but the local police won't let them talk to anyone.
What goes on behind the closed doors in Eastham is up for conjecture, as no one's talking. But there are many dark secrets in this town.
I'll be writing more on Eastham and the residents soon.
Gary . . .