Rise of the Sleeper Session Three Part 2 - An End to It
* * *
Miss Fairfield woke on the morning of Wednesday, October 12, 1927, to see Virgil Thomas still walking back and forth, Miss Edington sitting on her bed, rocking and looking outside, and Bricker asleep on the bedroll in the corner.
“Did we get them all?” Miss Fairfield asked quietly. “Did we get all the villagers?”
Miss Edington shook her head.
“One of ‘em …” Virgil Thomas said. “Miss Suzanna said she saw one get away.”
“Just one,” Miss Edington said.
“What happened to me?” Miss Fairfield said.
“Everything else is dead,” Miss Edington said.
“I don’t know,” Virgil Thomas replied to Miss Fairfield.
“The thing that─”
“Something awful happened to you. You looked terrible last night. You don’t look much better. No offense.”
“We killed some man. Some black man. I don’t know what he was.”
Miss Fairfield rolled over and went back to sleep. Miss Edington lay down as well.
* * *
Miss Fairfield was the first to wake later that day around noon. Rain came down heavily outside and she was still in a great deal of pain. She felt sore all over. She got up and checked her pockets. She found the empty pistol there but didn’t find the second pistol so she looked all around for it. It was nowhere in the room that she could see. She loaded the one she had.
She made a rough lunch for the others and they all woke up as she puttered with the food.
Miss Fairfield looked older, as if she had aged 10 years. Her skin hurt, almost like sunburn, but instead of a hot pain it was a dry one. She hurt all over. She felt terrible.
Bricker suggested taking the rest of the day to recuperate from the terrible gunfight the night before. They ended up spending time resting and reading. Miss Edington read the first volume of The Revelations of Glaaki. Bricker continued reading the second volume of The Revelations of Glaaki. Miss Fairfield took up the third volume of The Revelations of Glaaki. In what little she could read in the few hours they had that day, she found it was about the imprisonment of some god named Byatis in England somewhere. Virgil Thomas slept all day.
The day passed uneventfully though as they ate their dinner that night, words appeared on the wall.
“One has escaped,” it read.
“I know!” Miss Edington said.
“We know,” Miss Fairfield said.
The words faded.
“Would you know where it is?” Miss Edington said.
There was no reply though an hour later, words appeared once again.
“Kill them all,” they read.
“Well, if you would help us out figure out where the other one is, that’d be great,” Miss Edington said.
The words faded away.
“Why you talking to ghosts, Miss Suzanna?” Virgil Thomas said. “That ain’t good.”
“It’s a shot,” she replied. “It’s telling us stuff.”
“Don’t be talking to no ghosts,” he said.
“It was trying to protect us,” Miss Fairfield said.
“They’re worse than boys,” Virgil Thomas said.
“Well …” Miss Edington said.
“Maybe we could lure him out,” Miss Fairfield said of the escaped villager.
“Hm,” Bricker said.
“Well, we know where he goes at night,” Miss Fairfield said.
“And there’s only one left,” Miss Edington said. “But would he be able to go on his own?”
Bricker told them what little he’d learned about the green decay and how sunlight caused it in the servants of Glaaki. He suggested they go to all of the houses the next morning and search them. Then they could pick them off there when they found them. Miss Edington was convinced if they burned all of the buildings in the village down, there’d be no place for the things to hide at all. Miss Fairfield remembered another trail that led off the trail to the worship pool. She reminded the others about the place where the trail split.
“We should just burn this whole place down,” Miss Edington said.
Virgil Thomas was on board with that.
“I’m going to think about it,” Bricker said.
They set watches that night again, Virgil Thomas taking Miss Edington’s watch, and went to sleep after it got dark. It continued to rain through the night.
* * *
Thursday, October 13, 1927, was a bright and sunny day. Steam rose off the swamp and the ground outside. They spent the day searching all of the rest of the houses in New Dunwich. Bricker was interested in possible valuables. Miss Fairfield was interested in books. Miss Edington just wanted to end the threat in the village. They found nothing of value or interest in any of the houses, all of them falling down and in at least partial ruins. They searched the boathouse and the town hall as well but didn’t find the thing that had escaped them.
Miss Fairfield found her pistol not far from the corpse of the negro who’s head was blasted to pieces. The bodies of the horrible things did not seem affected by the sunlight, much to Bricker’s disappointment.
Bricker retrieved the rusty lantern the man had used two nights before. It was out of kerosene but serviceable. Miss Edington very much wanted to burn down all of the other houses. Bricker decided they would do so the next day.
* * *
Friday, October 14, 1927, was another sunny day. After they had their breakfast, they decided to investigate the branch of the trail that led to the worship pool. They crossed the village and turned right where the trails split, soon finding themselves in another cleared area of the swamp. A worn, rundown building there was little more than a moss-covered ruin resting on a small hummock at the center of a murky pool alive with alligators. A twisted black pipe jutted forth from the sagging roof. A small raft, large enough for but two people, was pulled up on the mainland shore, a pole upon it. Another trail left the clearing, heading back in the direction of town.
“We haven’t checked that house yet,” Miss Edington said. “Let’s burn it.”
“Ooh, Virgil,” she said. “You think daddy would like a stuffed alligator?”
“I wish I had a bigger gun,” Virgil Thomas replied.
“I betcha that’s where our little monster-man is,” she said.
She made a reference to Sodom and Gomorrah, noting that was what they should do to the whole town: burn it to the ground.
“That place about to fall down anyway,” Virgil Thomas said.
They shuttled everyone across on the awful little raft. The door to the house was connected with leather hinges. Bricker kicked it and it partially opened, scraping on the ground, before stopping when the upper leather hinge tore through, leaving it hanging off the lower one.
It was dim in the house but not dark as light came in through holes in the wall and the roof. The floor of the main area was dirt. The chamber contained broken second-hand furniture of the same type as seen in the rest of the town. There was a ring of stones in the center of the room which contained cold ashes, and several old iron pots lay strewn around it.
On the walls were hung bizarre trinkets, from stuffed and mounted swamp creatures to vile-looking carvings, wooden masks, strings of beads and bells, and a collection of skulls - some of which were clearly human. Dirty, worn curtains hung on two walls to close off the doorways to other rooms. The place had a smell about it. There were no windows.
All four of them had their weapons out, expecting to find the thing that escaped them the night before.
Bricker went to the curtain in the center of the wall and pushed it aside, revealing a small room beyond. A small, rotting bed stood against one wall and a few beaten pieces of furniture lay scattered randomly around the room. The same strange assortment of artifacts as found in the main room were also on display there, but in more profusion. In the far corner stood what appeared to be a scarecrow - a man-sized figure with wooden limbs, tattered, torn clothing, and a head carved in hideous fashion from an old, desiccated pumpkin. In the opposite corner was another curtain over a doorway that probably led to a small closet.
Bricker went to the other curtain nearer to the outside wall of the place. As he pushed it aside, the stink of feces got stronger. The cramped little closet held only a cracked, yellowed porcelain toilet at the far end. There was no tank or plumbing and he guessed it was over an open pit. He frowned and dropped the curtain.
He went into the little bedroom and, as he pulled the curtain over the closet aside, the scarecrow stood up and headed for him.
“Knew it!” Virgil Thomas cried out.
Bricker felt a chill go down his spine and then saw movement in his peripheral vision and realized another of the things was coming right at him from inside the horrible little closet.
Everyone in the doorway opened fire. Miss Fairfield shot the scarecrow but the bullet only barely winged the thing’s wooden left leg. Virgil Thomas shot it in the right leg, again the bullet just nicking the wood. Miss Edington blasted away with one barrel of the shotgun and blasted it in the chest, but again didn’t seem to really damage it. She blew a large hole in the wall behind it. Miss Fairfield shot the thing in the right leg a second time.
Bricker fired both barrels at the thing in the closet, blasting it in the head. The pumpkin seemed to burst and then all of the pieces flew back together. He also blew a large hole in the back of the tiny chamber. Sunlight streamed in as the scarecrow went for his throat. The other scarecrow tore at Bricker with terribly broken and splintered fingers, cutting the man badly. Blood splattered all over the floor and wall around him.
Miss Fairfield fired at the thing again, hitting it in the head, the bullet merely nicking the jack-o-lantern. Virgil Thomas blasted away at it and barely nicked the wood of the thing’s right arm.
“We can’t kill this thing!” he cried out.
Miss Edington aimed at the scarecrow’s head carefully even as Bricker fled the room.
“We have to burn the house down!” he shouted as he ran to the front door.
The scarecrow turned towards the three in the doorway and tore at Virgil Thomas, ripping his clothing in an attempt to tear at his skin.
“He’s right!” Virgil Thomas cried out. “He’s right!”
The other scarecrow ran out of the closet and after Bricker. It ignored all of the others and they ignored it as they couldn’t see Bricker’s terrible hallucination.
Miss Fairfield ran but Miss Edington, having been training her shotgun on the pumpkin, blasted part of it away. The scarecrow didn’t slow down but turned towards her. Virgil Thomas fled the house. Bricker ran out of the door. When he reached the raft, he saw the scarecrow in the doorway. It rushed him and tried to grab him by the throat but he ducked out of the way.
Miss Fairfield watched Bricker ducking and dodging something she couldn’t see.
Must be a bee, she thought.
Inside the house, the thing tried to rend Miss Edington but she ducked out of the way. It had been swinging at her face and ripped a chunk out of the wooden wall.
She hopped on the raft and Virgil Thomas leaned down and gave it a push to get it started across. Then Miss Edington ran out of the door of the shack. Miss Fairfield picked up the pole and pushed her and Bricker across as he dodged and ducked away from the hallucinatory scarecrow. When they reached the other side, he leapt off the raft and ran down the trail towards Harlow House. In his mind, the horrible scarecrow was running after him without making a noise.
Virgil Thomas aimed at the door to the shack, waiting. Miss Edington quickly reloaded her shotgun. Miss Fairfield pushed the raft back to the hummock where the other two stood. Miss Edington crept to the door and peeked in. Nothing looked different out of the main room.
“I’ve got matches if you want to light this place on fire,” Miss Fairfield said.
Miss Edington took out her lighter and lit it.
“Don’t we need some gasoline or something?” Virgil Thomas said.
“This place is wooden, isn’t it?” Miss Edington said.
Virgil Thomas looked around. Mist still came up off the water and the ground and even the building. Water dripped down from the house from the many days of rain they’d experienced.
“I don’t think it’s going to burn without some help, Miss Suzanna,” he said.
“We ain’t got no gasoline though,” she said.
“There’s kerosene back at the Harlow House,” Virgil Thomas said.
* * *
Bricker reached town before he felt like the scarecrow wasn’t following him anymore. He looked over his shoulder in desperation and saw that it was gone. He continued sprinting towards Harlow House.
* * *
“I find it interesting that that scarecrow is not coming out,” Miss Edington said.
Virgil Thomas muttered something that sounded like “I’m going to regret this.”
“What do you want to do about that, Miss Suzanna?” he said.
“Maybe it didn’t want us in the closet,” Miss Fairfield said.
“I wonder what was in that closet,” Miss Edington said. “This is dangerous curiosity though.”
“Yep!” Virgil Thomas said. “Killed the cat!”
“But what if there’s something important in there? Oh. Miss Fairfield, I’m terrified of that scarecrow but I really want to know what’s in that closet now. I do want to burn it, but I don’t want to burn it right now.”
“Well, the shotgun seemed to do the most damage, so …” Miss Fairfield said.
Virgil Thomas glared at her.
“Well, I’m completely reloaded,” Miss Edington said. “I can try.”
Virgil Thomas shook his head and opened up his revolver, swinging out the cylinder and removing the empty cartridges to replace them with live rounds. He dropped his brass and then closed the pistol up again.
“There might be something important in here, Virgil!” Miss Edington said. “You are so grumpy.”
“Yes miss!” he replied.
“Somebody opens them curtains, I can just shoot from the main room since it don’t want to come out, I guess,” she said.
Virgil Thomas walked into the shack, followed by the others.
“Who’s going to hold them curtains for me?” Miss Edington said.
“Hold on,” Virgil Thomas said. “Let’s just see what we see before we see.”
“All right then,” she said.
Miss Fairfield pulled aside the curtains and Miss Edington and Virgil Thomas aimed into the bedroom. They saw the thing back in the corner.
“I’d cover y’all’s ears,” she said.
She blasted away with the shotgun, blowing the pumpkin head to pieces. The wooden body didn’t even move. She crept in with the shotgun ready, poking at the wooden body. It didn’t move. She knocked it over and it clattered to the floor.
“You keep watch on it,” Miss Fairfield said, heading for the closet.
Miss Edington stood on the wooden body of the scarecrow.
“Virgil,” she said. “Help me keep this thing down. Stand on it.”
Virgil Thomas didn’t look happy about that at all but complied, standing on the thing’s legs and bracing his arm against the wall.
Miss Fairfield pushed the curtain to the closet aside. With the confined, malodorous space hung a hooded black robe with a smoking shotgun hole through it and the wall behind it, an ugly pendant of alien design, and, on a small stand set against the right wall, an age-worn tome bearing the title Rise of the Sleeper. The closet was filled with smoke and she could smell gunpowder.
“Hey, Suzanna, it’s a book,” Miss Fairfield called.
Miss Edington gasped.
“I don’t want to get off this thing,” she said. “Get it!”
Miss Fairfield picked up the tome and the amulet.
“Let’s get out of here,” she said.
“All right then,” Miss Edington said.
“Are we burning this place?” Virgil Thomas asked.
“Mm-hm,” Miss Edington said.
* * *
Once Bricker reached Harlow House, he went to the pantry and started getting jars from the room. He began pouring out the preserves into the sink. The stench was foul. He didn’t know preserves could go bad but these certainly had. Though the smell was terrible, he weathered through it and held down his gorge. He eventually had 15 empty preserves jars.
Then he went up to the master bedroom and filled each of them with kerosene.
* * *
“Let’s just go back to the house,” Miss Fairfield said, leaving the room.
Miss Edington nodded and carefully climbed off the scarecrow. It didn’t move. Virgil Thomas stepped off the thing and it remained still. The man kept his pistol pointed at it as he and Miss Edington backed out of the room.
Miss Edington looked into the room with the horrible-smelling, indoor pit toilet but quickly dropped the curtain and backed out. She wondered if the creature that escaped was in the pit but didn’t want to look there.
“Did we search the body of the black man from the other night?” Miss Fairfield asked.
“No,” Miss Edington said. “I just saw him laying. I wasn’t worried about it.”
Virgil Thomas just shook his head.
“I was more worried about you at the time, Miss Fairfield,” Miss Edington went on.
“That’s fair,” Miss Fairfield said. “Maybe we should go check it out.”
“It should be there,” Miss Edington said. “Unless he stood up.”
They paddled back across the nasty water and then headed out of the clearing through the other path. It led to another clearing where they stopped before entering. There were botanical oddities unparalleled. There were huge pitcher plants some 10 feet tall. There were impossibly large butterworts, their leaves glistening with some liquid. There were great sundews with still hairs on the leaves that dripped some kind of glistening dew. All of them were impossibly large. The strange plants seemed to shiver in the still air, almost in anticipation. Another trail went out of the far side of the clearing towards the village.
“Florida’s weird,” Miss Fairfield said. “Like Alice in Wonderland.”
Miss Edington had never read the book. It just didn’t appeal to her.
“I’d rather go back the other way,” she said.
They turned and went back the way they’d come and back to the body of the old negro Bricker had fought a few nights before. Miss Fairfield searched the man and found a bloody knife next to him. His pockets were empty. The only thing the body had was a ring on the left hand. As she slid the ring off the corpse’s finger, the body suddenly desiccated as if it aged hundreds of years in a single moment. Within seconds, it was nothing more than a skeleton wearing overalls filled with dust.
They returned to Harlow House and could smell a strange odor in the air. It got stronger as they went up to the master bedroom where they found Bricker filling preserves jars with kerosene. The rotten smell was not overpowering but still foul.
“So, you’re burning down the houses?” Miss Edington said.
“Uh-huh,” Bricker said, nodding.
“I second that,” she said.
Miss Fairfield looked at the book she’d found in the terrible shack. The cover had been carved with the words “Rise of the Sleeper.” The age-worn tome was entirely handwritten in nearly illiterate, messily-scribbled English. She saw the word Glaaki within. She sat down to read it.
Miss Edington and Virgil Thomas helped carry the jars filled with kerosene, following Bricker out of the house.
The three spent the rest of the day burning down the village. The ground was very wet so there was little chance of spread. They started with the house on the hummock out in the woods where they guessed the old black man had lived. They crossed to the building once again and Bricker tore the curtains from the doors, soaking them kerosene and then lighting them on fire. They left the building and crossed back to the mainland.
Soon they saw smoke coming out of the chimney pipe. Then it started to puff out of the cracks in the sides of the house.
“Okay, we’re good,” Bricker said. “Let’s go.”
Miss Edington took a few steps back but continued to watch, fearful something would come out of the burning building. Bricker slowed his pace but continued back towards town.
More smoke poured out of the house with the occasional lick of flame coming from the walls. After a short while, she and Virgil Thomas followed Bricker back, catching up to him as they reached the village. There was a thump from back where smoke was pouring into the sky. A burst of flame went up into the sky over the trees. Miss Edington ran back, followed closely by Virgil Thomas.
The side of the house where the porcelain toilet had stood had nearly collapsed. It appeared the walls were blown outward by some great force, probably the methane gas in the terrible indoor outhouse. The flames were roaring now and the roof was caving in on one side. Miss Edington smiled and they walked back. Her fear that something might have been hiding in the pit was now stilled.
“The toilet exploded,” she told Bricker.
They went to Crawford Slater’s house next but remembered all of the books in the house and wondered if the embalming fluid or whatever the man had been fermenting himself in might be flammable. Virgil was of the opinion it might be. They decided to skip the house for the time and, instead, went to the house to the west of Slater’s house and worked their way around the village, setting fires in each of the ruined homes.
Most of the buildings burned to the ground, the rotten wood catching quickly despite how soaked it was. Three of the houses only smoldered and didn’t burn well, leaving considerable structure still intact. The house nearest to the boathouse didn’t burn at all. Most of the shingles in that house were missing and the interior was as wet as the ground outside. Even the wood was heavily saturated with water. The town hall burned very satisfactorily, though.
Bricker suggested getting some of the books out of Crawford Slater’s house and they decided to move all of the books to Harlow House and sort through them later. It took them until dinnertime to move all of the books from the library and the study in the Slater house into the foyer of Harlow House.
Once they had all of the books out that evening, they started a fire in Crawford Slater’s house and then sprinted away, fearful of what might happen if the fluid was flammable. Miss Edington stopped a few dozen yards away but Bricker continued on to the copse of trees nearer to Harlow House. She and Virgil Thomas followed the man and they took shelter behind several thick and obviously ancient cypress trees.
A terrible whooshing explosion shook the ground shortly after, as white flames spewed out the windows of the house and through the roof, which was partially flung up into the air, spinning around before it crashed back onto the building. Debris struck the trees and even Harlow House as splinters of woods, glass, and debris were flung like bullets into the remaining buildings and trees. It was a terrible explosion and they were all shaken by the fact that they might have been killed by the blast.
The trees near the house caught fire but everything was so wet it didn’t spread very far. Some flaming debris was flung as far as the boathouse, but none of the fires caught.
They returned to Harlow House for dinner. By then, the entire area stank of wood smoke and they smelled like kerosene. A few of them remembered the idol out in the swamp after they ate that night.
Words appeared on the wall once again: “One is left.”
“I know that!” Miss Edington shouted at the house.
More words appeared that read: “I cannot rest.”
“Aw,” Miss Fairfield said. “Poor Brandon.”
“Well, you’re not really helping us out very much,” Miss Edington said.
She put her hands on her hips.
Bricker mentioned his wounds. Miss Fairfield tended to one of Bricker’s knife wounds and bound it up nicely. Virgil Thomas tended to the scratch the terrible scarecrow had inflicted upon the man.
“Virgil, you’re pretty good at this stuff,” Miss Edington said.
“I had to be,” Virgil Thomas muttered. “During the War.”
“I know, Virgil,” she said.
Blood spurted from the terrible wound as Virgil Thomas worked on it.
“Virgil!” Miss Edington said. “What the hell!?!”
“I haven’t had much sleep and we’ve been burning houses down all day,” he said. “It just … seemed like the right thing to do.”
“Can someone else try?” Bricker gasped.
“Sorry sorry sorry, Mr. Bricker,” Virgil Thomas said. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. After seeing that house go …”
Miss Fairfield tried to tend to the man’s wounds.
“Why’d you put your finger in that?” Miss Edington said to him.
“I’m sorry,” Virgil Thomas said again.
“It ain’t a bullet wound.”
“I don’t know why I was thinking there might be a bullet in there,” he said. “That’s why I was feeling around in there.”
“It’s been a long day, Miss Suzanna. I’m sorry.”
“You need a nap.”
Miss Edington stopped the man’s bleeding.
“Virgil, I fixed it,” Miss Edington said. “It’s all fine. But you need to be careful next time.”
They spent a few hours looking through some of the books they’d found. Bricker started to read through volume four of The Revelations of Glaaki. It was about some “God of the Labyrinth” called Eihort. The thing apparently had something called a brood. Miss Edington went to the foyer to sort through the books and did so until it was too dark to see.
They set watches and bedded down.
* * *
It continued sunny on Saturday, October 15, 1927. Crawford Slater’s house was completely gone by then. Most of the other houses were also burned to the ground, though a few had left ruins and one of them never caught.
Miss Edington and Miss Fairfield continued sorting the books. Miss Fairfield was not helping and actually going through the piles that had already been sorted and moving them around. She eventually went back to her reading in the master bedroom. Miss Edington finished her sorting by dinnertime.
Miss Fairfield found Bricker upstairs reading volume five of The Revelations of Glaaki. It was about something called Ghroth, the Harbinger and the Maker. Apparently it was some kind of comet- or asteroid-like creature and the inspiration for the Nemesis myth. It’s sighting meant the end of worlds. She picked up the sixth volume of the set and read about a fertility god called Shub-Niggurath and a cult in Britain that had something to do with something called a moon-lens. The god was called The Black Goat of a Thousand Young.
Miss Edington returned that evening to show them she had separated the books between ruined books, valuable books, and a few she had that she wanted to purchase from him. She paid him $10 for the books.
Miss Fairfield suggested they lure out the last thing as they ate that night.
“Let’s go visit that shrine,” Miss Edington said.
“You think he’ll be there?” Miss Fairfield said.
“They do seem to go there about eleven at night, so …”
“Maybe if we go early we could ambush him,” Bricker said.
“We could wait a few hours,” Miss Edington said.
“If we go early though, we could probably ambush him as he’s coming down the trail.”
“But what if he sees us?”
“That’s why we’re going to hide.”
“Last time we tried to hide, we didn’t hide very well.”
“Last one that ran, Virgil caught it. I think we’ll be fine.”
“I’m interested in the shrine anyway. Let’s go see it during the day.”
“I think I’d rather ambush him on the trail because I don’t want to get near that place,” Miss Fairfield said.
“Well, before it gets too much darker, I want to see if that thing is made out of wood or something,” Miss Edington said.
They took a couple jars of kerosene and walked back to the worship pool. Everyone was armed as they crept down the path and were relieved to see the horrible thing was not there.
At the center of the expansive, slime-coated body of water stood a small island upon which reared a moss-encrusted, looming statue of a creature that was half turtle and half sea urchin, before which had been raised a stone altar stained by years and unmentionable fluids. Nothing grew on the blasted hummock, nor did the vegetation encroach any nearer than 20 feet from the shore of the fetid pool. The silence there was heavy, expectant, and electric.
“Now … how we gonna get across?” Miss Edington asked.
“There’s that raft over by the shack,” Miss Fairfield said.
“I suppose we can get that if we need to,” Miss Edington said. “The only thing we’ve got is a stick though. I don’t know how deep this pool is.”
The water was brown and slimy.
“Maybe there’s some oars in the boathouse,” Miss Edington said.
They went back for the raft and carried it back to the pool. They put it down at the water’s edge and, as they did so, there was a splash as something stood up out of the water. The horror was a large, hideous humanoid about seven feet in height. Rubbery, jet-black flesh covered its body and its eyes were large and red, its mouth wide and filled with rows of shark-like teeth. A long, tapering noise matched the thing’s general appearance — horribly thin and reedy with the exception of a distended abdomen. Its limbs terminated in gross appendages. While the feet resembled those of a man, its hands were only huge, crab-like pincers. On one of the claws was a ring with a dark-green stone. As the thing stood, it rose up to seemingly float just above the water.
All of them were shaken by the sight of the horrible thing. Miss Edington was the only one with gun in hand and she raised up her shotgun and blasted away with both barrels. The blast struck the horrible thing in the left arm where it met the body. The force of the blast literally blew the horrifically spindly arm completely off the thing’s shoulder. It flew almost gracefully away from the horror’s body as ichor spewed out. The thing shrieked and then Miss Fairfield shrieked as well. It spun around and crashed into the water, vanishing under the surface.
As Virgil Thomas and Miss Fairfield struggled to get their pistols out and Bricker pulled his shotgun from his shoulder, Miss Edington splashed into the shallow water where the arm had disappeared. She had noticed the ring and quickly found the horrible arm in the murky water. She picked it up and came out of the water as quickly as she could.
She found the arm was melting away to nothingness and it was soon easy enough to pull the ring off the claw. When Bricker saw it, he recognized it from the painting of Septimus Harlow in the dining room. He suddenly realized the horrible thing was probably Septimus Harlow.
“It’s pretty but I don’t think it would fit my finger,” Miss Edington said.
“It’s pretty but I don’t think it would fit my finger,” Miss Fairfield said.
“I did say that, yes.”
“I did say that, yes.”
“Are you all right Miss Fairfield.”
“Okay. That was strange.”
“I don’t think that thing’s dead,” Miss Edington said. “I only took off its arm. I don’t want to go in the water now.”
“We still need to ambush the villager,” Miss Fairfield said.
It was darkening but they still had some time before it was completely dark. Miss Edington reloaded her shotgun.
Bricker and Miss Edington took the raft to the hummock and examined the nasty little idol. It was apparently made of Cyprus wood but very solid and thick. Bricker thought it was a hardwood and would not only not burn, but would be impossible to cut up with an axe.
“We can try to burn it but it probably won’t burn,” he said.
“I’d rather try than just leave it here,” Miss Edington said.
“You sure? I don’t want to waste the kerosene.”
“We can get more.”
“All right then.”
“I’m going to burn it.”
They dumped their two jars of kerosene on it and lit it on fire before poling back across the pond. The idol burned for a little while and then went out. The kerosene left some scorch marks but otherwise didn’t damage it.
“Just leave it,” Miss Fairfield said. “Let’s just kill the villager.”
They hid the raft in the undergrowth and then tried to hide in the surrounding foliage. Unfortunately, none of them were very good at it. Though Miss Edington and Miss Fairfield hid themselves well, Virgil Thomas and Bricker were always visible. The men finally gave up and just walked around to the other side of the pool and hid themselves far enough away so as not to be seen.
“You shout when he comes,” Virgil Thomas told the two women.
Then they waited.
* * *
It was around midnight when a lone person snuck into the area and prostrated himself by the terrible pool, muttering and chanting. He was fairly close to both Miss Fairfield and Miss Edington.
Across the pond, Bricker and Virgil Thomas both saw the figure.
Miss Fairfield fired at the figure, missing it completely. Then Miss Edington blasted away with one of the barrels from her shotgun, blasting its head off even as it struggled to get up from the ground. The body was flung backwards and the thing fell to the ground, obviously dead. She got up and approached the man, poking him with her shotgun barrel. They could hear Bricker and Virgil Thomas crashing through the underbrush. She kicked the body but it didn’t move or react.
“Let’s get back to the house,” Miss Fairfield said. “I guess the house will know.”
Miss Edington fired another blast from her shotgun into the chest of the horrible thing. Moments later, Bricker and Virgil Thomas arrived. They all went back to the house. All was quiet when they got back.
“I think he’s resting now,” Miss Fairfield said.
“Maybe,” Miss Edington said.
The night passed uneventfully.
* * *
It was around noon on Sunday, October 16, 1927, when they heard the puttering of Arvid Delp’s boat returning. When he learned of the loss of his other boat, the man was outraged.
“I want another $10,” he said. “I want the money now.”
Bricker paid the man for the lost boat and an addition $10 to return them to New Dunwich so they could gather the books and their luggage. It took the rest of the day for them to go to Ochopee for another boat and to leave their things at the general store return to New Dunwich to get the books that seemed worth any money and their luggage. Arvid Delp complained the entire time. It was evening before they had the extra books and things, as well as their luggage back to Ochopee.
Bricker handed the deed to the property to Arvid Delp.
“Here,” he said.
“You ain’t getting no money back,” Delp said.
He crumpled up the deed and shoved it into his pocket.
They loaded up the rental car and returned to the town of Everglades.
It felt wonderful to have a bath that evening at the hotel. There was even a shower in the place so Miss Edington enjoyed that. She threw away the clothing she had worn most of the time in New Dunwich.
* * *
They took a train back to Atlanta on Monday, October 17, splitting up The Revelations of Glaaki with Miss Edington taking volumes one, four, and seven; Bricker taking volumes two, five, and eight; and Miss Fairfield taking volumes three, six, and nine.
Bricker and Miss Fairfield returned to Providence, R.I. by rail on Tuesday, October 18.