Joseph A. Pinto

barflypoet & author of dark fiction

When I came across the call for Sirens Call Publications’ ‘Mental Ward: Stories from the Asylumanthology, I eagerly jumped on it.  How could I not spin a tale about what goes on behind the walls of madness?

One thing I have learned about my own writing is that anything I may have planned might as well be tossed out the window.  My stories take a life all of their own and often lead to a narration arc outside the box.  It makes finding a home for them a study in supreme patience, but in the grand scheme of things, that is a good problem to have.  

As I prepared my contribution to ‘Mental Ward: Stories from the Asylum,’ one clear thought in my head emerged: my tale would revolve around an elderly patient named Gloria who had been trapped within an institution for longer than anyone could remember.  Wouldn’t you know it, by the time I hit my stride in only the second paragraph, my brain sprinted off in a completely different direction.

I have to be honest, aside from my initial thoughts about a character named Gloria, I had no inspiration behind what would become my story Hierarchy.’  And that is the complete thrill as a writer — it is like stepping off a ledge to nowhere, only strangely enough, you are completely cognizant that you are heading somewhere

Unfortunately, I cannot reveal the slightest bit about ‘Hierarchy,’ other than to say it was a complete joy to step off that shadowy ledge while writing it.  Divulging anything further would ruin your journey through what ultimately became my spiraling madness.  It is narrated outside the box (would you expect anything less from me?), and I have extreme confidence when I say that you, faithful reader, shall be thrilled to jump off the ledge alongside me while reading. 

I am happy to report that I was not committed upon completion of my tale.

I hope you enjoy my storyHierarchy,’ as well as the other fine stories contained within the walls of Mental Ward: Stories from the Asylum.’  A small excerpt is below.

GIVEAWAY TIME!!  Simply leave a comment on this post & be eligible to WIN a free Kindle version of ‘Mental Ward: Stories from the Asylum.’  Three (3) lucky winners will be chosen at random (the old name in a hat trick lol).

Mental Ward: Stories from the Asylum


Sanatorium, mental ward, psychiatric hospital – they’re all the same. Places where the infirm, the crazy, and the certifiable go for treatment… Or what passes for ‘treatment’.

This is a collection of stories of bedlam taking place within the padded walls of an institution. Stories of experiments gone wrong, patients revolting against the staff, or even the deranged doings of those charged with giving care. They are sick, depraved, and atrocious – the type of stories that rarely reach the light of day.

Are you brave enough to crawl inside the minds of the thirteen authors who wrote these tales… Or are you afraid you’ll be locked up for peeking?

Featuring the talents of:
Delphine Boswell, Alex Chase, Sean Conway, Megan Dorei, A.A. Garrison, Tom Howard, Russell Linton, Suzie Lockhart and Bruce Lockhart 2nd, Jennifer Loring, Sergio Palumbo, Joseph A. Pinto, and D.M. Smith

Purchase Links:
Amazon: US, CA, UK, DE, FR, IT, ES, BR, JP, IN
CreateSpace   Smashwords

Here is a small taste of ‘Hierarchy’. I hope you enjoy reading it.

I have learned a great deal in my time trapped here. If only the others could say the same…

If only these walls could speak.

But Gloria does. Incessantly. And has not stopped since first admitted to this ward. Ward. I cannot help but snicker at my Freudian slip. The word, cold and unforgiving in its own right, nonetheless suggests the tiniest sliver of hope when spoken in my mind. But cold and unforgiving would be a welcome reprieve for the hell these husks of wasting flesh find themselves trapped within; nothing more than common livestock to be herded, slowly quartered. I will recognize it for what it truly is, then—an asylum, alive of its own accord, its sickened heart bloated with the poison coursing through this decrepit place.

Since first wheeled on the gurney through these doors, Gloria has not shut up.

Chattering to invisible entities —friends, family, perhaps? Always, no one is there; of this, I am quite sure. No soul, living or dead, aspires to linger within this rotted canyon of the lost. Gloria does not truly speak, however; she mouths unintelligible, disconnected exhalations that one would assume are sentences. In truth, they are nothing more than neurotic blatherings. I am sure Gloria did not ask for this. No sane person would. Still, she finds herself here, like so many of the others, the corners of her lips moist with drool, soiled rag of what passes as a nightgown hanging about her emaciated body. Aside from the haunts in her mind, she remains alone. Still, I possess no pity for her.

Not for any of them.

Today, Gloria sits before a crooked wooden desk, a tepid bowl of tomato soup atop its warped surface. She shoves a rusted spoon and a single piece of moldy white bread to the side. Into the coagulating surface of the soup she dips her hand, and then proceeds to greedily suck upon her slickened fingers. The sound simply unbearable, is still a welcome reprieve from her babbling. She slurps each finger down to the knuckle until the bowl is half consumed. Face and gown now a pink slathered mess, she slumps forward.

Then she talks to the walls.

She rambles, a mad incantation of mangled syllables, every so often chortling over her stream of nonsense. Every so often she nods, some sense of approval discovered within the conversation polluting her brain. Today, however, something is different. I have listened to her ravings with as much patience as one could expect, tirelessly enduring as the sun rises and falls beyond the bars of her grime-stained window. Now her endless torrent of gibberish ceases. Now something coherent comes forth from her lips. “I… hear…”

Anxiously I await more, but her focus shifts from the shadows of nether that only her cloudy eyes seem to pinpoint to the orderly that shuffles through the doorway.

A puzzled look upon his greasy face slowly fades as he scans her room for the sound. He has little to check over—sparse, generic furniture squats upon the squalid floors. Characterless, colorless. Lifeless, like so much here. He blows a disgusted sigh from his pudgy cheeks. “You’re a mess.”

Gloria reaches for her white bread. Nibbles disinterestedly on a broken corner of crust…

© Copyright 2013 Joseph A. Pinto. All Rights Reserved.

38 thoughts on “‘Hierarchy’ giveaway

  1. Joseph, brilliantly creepy excerpt. Now, PLEASE pull me name out of your furry cap so I can get this! Pretty please?

    1. Joseph Pinto says:

      lmao Hi Sheila 🙂 How did I know you were going to say that… 😛

      Well, since you are oh so patient, I suppose we’ll allow the suspense to mount within that fuzzy cap o’ mine lol

  2. Chatty Owl says:

    Oooo, this sounds so cool! Random fact for you – i have always been fascinated with mental hospitals, abandoned asylums, etc. I had broken into a few abandoned ones and the chills i’ve got were great! Also, there is one near where i live and i went to visit it, it was one of the most powerful experiences!

    Hope all is well with you, will reply to you properly later on today! Have stories to tell 😛

    1. Joseph Pinto says:

      Hello, Chatty One lol

      Awesome, awesome, & awesome!! Look forward to it!! 🙂

  3. Hunter Shea says:

    Congrats on the story and for eluding the mental health authorities once again!

    1. Joseph Pinto says:

      lol Thanks, Hunter!! Yeah, I seem to be good at it 😛

    1. Joseph Pinto says:

      Thank you, John!!

  4. jaimiengle says:

    Joseph! Congratulations on the pub! I love the way things happen without you knowing as you right. In my YA manuscript I’m currently editing, there is a scene where the brother pulls back a curtain of leaves only to find his sister is gone. I remember writing it and covering my mouth thinking, “Oh my God! Where is she? Who took her?” And THAT is why I write.
    Look forward to reading the rest of your story…
    (ahem…pick me! pick me!)

    1. Joseph Pinto says:

      Hi Jaimie! 🙂 Yes, isn’t that amazing? I think in order to capture magic in any story, the writer must become a reader as well…react to your story, instead of steering it along…

      Thank you very much. And put your hand down…I see you jumping up & down lmao

      We’ll see if mystic powers push your name to the top of my hat…we’ll see… lol

  5. Barb Breese says:

    This sounds AMAZING! I hope I’m lucky enough to win! 🙂

    1. Joseph Pinto says:

      Hi Barb!! Thank you very much 🙂 We’ll see…I’ll be placing names into my lucky hat in a few days…now as long as I don’t wear it in the meantime 😛 lol

      Thank you for visiting; hope you stay around for awhile! 🙂

  6. Hi Joe! Thank you very much for running this promotion! Hierarchy is an excellent piece, and I’m sure the recipient of your GIVEAWAY (yeah) will love it! Thank you for supporting the book!
    ~ Nina 🙂

    1. Joseph Pinto says:

      Hey Nina!! 🙂 Well, I’m going to have not one, not two, but three lucky winners! 😉 You’re welcome, but thank you for including me in the antho in the first place!! 🙂

  7. poesravenlady says:

    Hhhmmm…what secrets might “Gloria” divulge? Just who or what is fiendishly “observing” her? And what are the sordid reasons for such a damning imprisonment? Only YOUR wicked mind knows! Very intriguing excerpt…hints deliciously as to what awaits the reader’s of Joseph Pinto’s HIERARCHY. Looking forward to it…Congrats!

  8. Sue Ann Rakes says:

    Coooooool! Can’t wait to read more.

    1. Joseph Pinto says:

      Hi Sue! 🙂 This antho is chock full of madness; I hope you enjoy not only my tale but all the contributing authors as well 🙂 Good luck in the giveaway!! 🙂

  9. poesravenlady says:

    What secrets might “Gloria” divulge? What are the sordid reasons behind her imprisonment? Just who or what is kindly sharing their observances? Only the dark mind of Joseph Pinto knows!! Wonderfully wicked excerpt…looking forward to reading more!! Congrats, sir!!

    1. Joseph Pinto says:

      Hello, Raven Lady!! Thank you very much 🙂 Hmmm, questions, questions, questions…and yes, only I can provide those answers 😛

      Thank you for your continued support, it is much appreciated!!

  10. John says:

    Stories from the Asylum … sounds like my house. 🙂 The excerpt certainly is creepy enough … and, one can never have too much creepy.

    1. Joseph Pinto says:

      Hey John! lmao Yeah, your house & mine 😉 Thank you very much! Good luck in the giveaway! 🙂

  11. meredith gmitter says:

    awesome usual joe. never a surprise though u have great talent.

    1. Joseph Pinto says:

      Thank you so much, Meredith! You’re always very kind to me & it’s greatly appreciated!! Good luck!! 🙂

  12. AR Neal says:

    Your excerpt is fabulous and I’d love to be a winner of your giveaway! And darn it, wish I’d known about this project–would have loved to develop a piece for it!

    1. Joseph Pinto says:

      Hi AR!! 🙂 Thank you very much!! 🙂 Trust me, I’ve had to pass on many an antho because either I learned of it too late or my schedule was too tight, so I understand your disappointment. Well, in a few more days I’ll be drawing names from my ole hat, so good luck to you!! 🙂 And I appreciate your support!! 🙂

  13. Love stories like this – would love to read it 🙂

    1. Joseph Pinto says:

      Hi Kat, thank you very much!! Well, you’re in the running, so hopefully you’ll be one of three lucky names drawn!! 🙂

  14. Emma Audsley says:

    Reblogged this on The Horrifically Horrifying Horror Blog and commented:
    Joseph Pinto giveaway!

  15. zkullis says:

    Congratulations on the story Joe!

    I can’t wait to read that that collection. The human mind can be such a dark playground!!

    1. Joseph Pinto says:

      Thanks, Zack!! It’s going to be a good one. Good luck with my giveaway, buddy!!

  16. Congrats, great excerpt. Going to get a copy for sure 🙂

    1. Joseph Pinto says:

      Hey!! Thank you very much!! I appreciate your support for not only myself, but all the authors in the antho 🙂

  17. Emma Audsley says:

    Ooooooo! Please! Me! Me!

    1. Joseph Pinto says:

      Hi Emma! 🙂

      lol Well, we shall see what the horror gods (and goddesses) decide… 😉

  18. rjk1981 says:

    Sounds cool! Mental hospitals are interesting and they are just ripe for story ideas.

    1. Joseph Pinto says:

      Hey Robert!! Thank you very much! And good luck on my giveaway contest – winners to be announced in a few more days

  19. Cristina says:

    It sounds really cool. Really enjoyed the excerpt; it made me think of The Yellow Wallpaper for some reason. 🙂

    1. Joseph Pinto says:

      Hi Cristina!! Thank you very much. I appreciate that you’ve taken some time to read my post 🙂 You’re officially entered into my giveaway – good luck!! 🙂

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