Ludlow held on to this image. One of his first published short stories was called “The Phial of Dread” (1859). It is written as the journal of a chemist who is visited in his laboratory by the insane daughter of an acquaintance, who felt herself pursued by Death. When she got to the lab, she immediately sought out some chemical with which she could kill herself:

We were alone together among the strange poisons, each one of whom, with a quicker or a slower death-devil in his eye, sat in his glass or porcelain sentry-box, a living force of bale. Should it be Hemp? No, that was too slow, uncertain, painful. Morphine? Too many antidotes — too much commonness, ostentation in that. Daturin? I did not like to ask how much of that was certain…

She finally stabs herself in the heart with a knife she finds in the lab. The author of the journal, Edgar Sands, panics, fearing that he will be blamed for the death, and attempts to destroy the body,

…he went calmly to work, with an awful despair in his eyes, and cut the shell of me — the husk I had left — to pieces; as a surgeon would, on a table in the laboratory. These fragments he screwed down into a large retort, and placed in the fiercest of flames, fed with pure oxygen…. I knew that all of me that had been seen on earth was reducing there to its ultimates — I was distilled there by degrees.

Her soul becomes trapped in the vial in which he pours the last drops of this substance, and he in turn is tormented by the presence he sees as a small, tortured woman within the vial. She is, however, able to at one point take over his body with her soul long enough to write the confession from which the above excerpts come. This saves Mr. Sands, when he is eventually found, from capital punishment, but he notes that the last pages of his journal were “written at the first lodging I moved to after I was discharged from Bloomingdale Insane Asylum.”