“You mean,” said Marina, “you mean that we’re sitting here over Hell?”
“Over a hell, conceivably. There are many hells, and the same place may be Hell or Purgatory, depending upon the situation. Most of them are private.”
Those words echo in my thoughts as we approach the building. Turner School, built in 1898, is no Balgrummo Lodging, the Scottish manor house that is the setting of Russell Kirk’s Lord of the Hollow Dark, and not simply because the massive brick-and-stone structure sits right in the heart of Rockford, Illinois, about as far geographically and culturally as you can get from the suburbs of Edinburgh.
Still, as I draw near to the building for the first time, the words play over and over again in my mind. For in Turner School, as in Balgrummo Lodging, unspeakable horrors—indeed, ritual murders—have taken place, and the closer we come, the more strongly I feel the possibility of unavenged souls trapped in the place of their bodies’ destruction—and the souls of some of their destroyers as well, returned here, years later, to the site of their sin. If there is such a thing as a Hell on earth (and theologians as late as St. Alphonsus Ligouri have argued that Hell is, indeed, a physical place), Turner School, I can have no doubt, is one.
Over the past...