He looked around and saw Miss Rice approaching.
â€œHow about you make yourself useful and go get a lantern?â€ Dr. Silverberg said to the woman.
â€œYou could also make us dinner,â€ Dr. Chambers quipped. â€œWe are going to be working really late.â€
â€œIf you would be so kind,â€ Dr. Silverberg said.
â€œAnd make us dinner,â€ Chambers repeated.
â€œNo, sheâ€™s got to go with us,â€ Dr. Silverberg said. â€œSomebodyâ€™s got to hold the lantern while weâ€™re shooting at whatever.â€
â€œI sure as Hell am not going!â€ Dr. Fry muttered.
â€œEnough talk!â€ Gutierrez said. â€œIâ€™m going in!â€
He walked up onto the porch. Dr. Silverberg called to him to wait until they got a lantern. Dr. Fry turned and walked back to the camp.
â€œWell, I never!â€ Miss Rice said.
She turned and walked back to camp as well. Gutierrez and Dr. Chambers smoked cigarettes. Stanford still stood in the middle of the crossroad. Just then they heard that same strange whistling coming from somewhere inside the house. Dr. Silverberg tensed up.
â€œThatâ€™s what I heard before!â€ he said.
Gutierrez swayed on his feet. It felt like some terrible pressure was coming down on his head and he felt like he was going to fall asleep right there on the porch. It passed after a few moments and the whistling stopped.
â€œYou okay, JosÃ©?â€ Dr. Chambers asked.
â€œNo!â€ Gutierrez replied. â€œSomethingâ€™s wrong!â€
He touched his head.
â€œI donâ€™t like that!â€ he said. â€œSomebody get a lantern!â€
He looked down the street and saw Miss Rice returning with a lantern.
â€œWould you hurry up with that lantern, woman!â€ Gutierrez said.
Miss Rice shoved it into Dr. Silverbergâ€™s hands. They quickly lit the lantern.
â€œWhy did you even bring this woman along?â€ Dr. Chambers asked.
â€œSo she can grab stuff for us,â€ Stanford said.
Gutierrez led them into the building, followed by Dr. Chambers and Dr. Silverberg. Miss Rice came after them. Stanford hesitated on the porch and didnâ€™t enter the building. He just looked in from outside.
As the four walked deeper into the house, the light from the lantern seemed to get dimmer and dimmer. Though the flame was not lower, the light that it gave off seemed muted and quenched. Almost as if the light itself were being eaten by something. They stopped and looked at it but it continued to get darker.
Dr. Silverberg ran back to the parlor and started opening the shutters there.
The others stood in the gathering gloom and, in moments, couldnâ€™t even see any light. Dr. Chambers took out a match and lit it. He heard the match flare and smelled the sulfur, but there was absolutely no light where the three stood in the hallway. They could hear Dr. Silverberg shoving open shutters, but there was still no light.
Something suddenly struck Gutierrez in the gut. It felt like a blade cut directly into him.
â€œMadre de Dios!â€ he cried.
The others heard Gutierrez cry out and then heard something that sounded like a body strike the floor.
â€œJosÃ©?â€ Dr. Chambers said.
The whistling and piping noises suddenly came from directly in front of him, perhaps only a few feet away. He flung his matchbox in the direction of the deranged sound in the dark. Then he found what felt like a pressure in his head and redness appeared around the edges of his vision. It completely filled his sight and then he knew no more.
â€œI told you there was no gas!â€ Stanford called from the doorway.
Miss Rice heard Dr. Chambers walking away from her. She started to back up and, as she did so, the light from the lantern appeared again. It was very dim at first, but the further back she walked, the brighter the light became.
â€œJosÃ©?â€ she said. â€œJosÃ©?â€
â€œWhat happened to JosÃ©?â€ Dr. Silverberg asked, having finished opening up the shutters in the parlor.
Miss Rice had backed out of an area of terrible darkness, her eyes wide.
â€œWhereâ€™s JosÃ©?â€ he asked again.
â€œI donâ€™t know,â€ Miss Rice said. â€œI just heard him say â€˜Madre de Diosâ€™ and he fell.â€
â€œWhat does that mean?â€
â€œI donâ€™t know.â€
They heard what sounded like a blade striking meat from the darkness. Dr. Silverberg rushed forward, feeling around on the floor in the unnatural blackness. He heard another noise like someone tenderizing meat. Then his hand landed on a foot. He grabbed it with both hands and pulled Gutierrez back to the foyer. The unconscious foreman left a trail of blood behind him. They heard another fleshy noise, as if someone was hacking at meat.
Dr. Silverberg rolled Gutierrez over and saw that he had a terrible wound in his belly. It was about five inches long and looked very deep, blood welling up from it as the man rolled onto his back. He could smell a whiff of bowel as well. He picked the man up in his arms and then turned to Miss Rice. The door was inexplicably closed.
â€œGet the door!â€ he said. â€œLetâ€™s go.â€
â€œWait!â€ Miss Rice said. â€œWhereâ€™sâˆ’â€
â€œI donâ€™t know! I know we can save JosÃ©. I donâ€™t know what happened to him!â€
â€œYou go in and save JosÃ©, but you wonâ€™t go in and save him?â€
Just then Dr. Chambers walked out of the darkness of the hallway. He had a bloody hatchet in his right hand and his skull had been split open right at the top and blood oozed out. His left hand hung limp and they could see that it had terrible cuts on the wrist, near the elbow, and a terrible gash on his neck.
â€œThere he is!â€ Dr. Silverberg screamed. â€œLetâ€™s go!â€
Miss Rice started to laugh hysterically. Dr. Silverberg stared at her, eyes agog.
â€œWhat is wrong with you!?!â€ he said.
He turned to the door and tried to get the handle to turn while not dropping Gutierrez. He looked desperately over his shoulder, gibbering.
â€œWoman, get us out of here!â€ he screamed.
Miss Rice, still laughing hysterically, picked up the pipe that Dr. Silverberg had been carrying around as a makeshift weapon. She swung the pipe at Chambers, hitting the man on the left hip. There was an audible snap and Dr. Chambers shuffled forward, limping slightly, and swung the hatchet at Miss Rice but missed completely.
Dr. Silverberg finally got a hold of the doorknob with his right hand, but the blood all over his hand made it too slick to open.
Miss Rice, laughing like a madwoman, took a better grip on the pipe and this time brought it down on the manâ€™s right hip. There was another terrible snap and Chambers stumbled and fell to the ground. He looked up, hatchet still in hand, and started crawling towards the woman. He hacked at her legs but she deftly stepped aside.
Dr. Silverberg finally got the knob to turn and ran out of the door, banging Gutierrezâ€™s head against the doorjamb as he fled. He saw no sign of Stanford in the street.
â€œRice! Letâ€™s go!â€ he screamed.
Miss Rice brought the bar down on the man again, still laughing madly. The hatchet completely missed her once again and she laughed in triumph. She brought the bar down on the impossibly moving man again and again and then the thing connected with her leg with the hatchet. The blade slid down her leg, cutting into it just below the knee and removing all of the flesh down to the ankle and one side.
Her laughter turned to a scream and everything went black for her.
* * *
Silverberg started shouting as he ran from that terrible house.
â€œGuys!â€ he cried. â€œItâ€™s me! Silverberg! JosÃ© got really hurt!â€
Then he heard Riceâ€™s maniacal laughter rise to a terrible scream mixed with laughter before it rose in a scream again and faded away.
He redoubled his efforts to get back to camp.
* * *
Stanford had turned and left the terrible house as soon as he made the snide remark about there being no gasoline. He had seen the terrible gloom that had filled the hallway and had had enough of it. He ran back to camp and told Dr. Fry that they needed to leave.
â€œOkay,â€ Dr. Fry said. â€œLetâ€™s just run.â€
â€œWe need to pack backpacks of food and water,â€ Stanford said.
Dr. Fry nodded and they got to work.
They heard screaming in the distance, approaching. They saw Dr. Silverberg running down the street with a bloody Gutierrez in his arms.
â€œJosÃ©â€™s hurt bad!â€ he screamed.
Then Stanford heard Miss Riceâ€™s terrible scream coming from the town.
Dr. Fry ran, grabbing a gallon jug of water and heading west into the desert. Stanford continued to quickly pack up his bag. Dr. Silverberg put Gutierrez down by the fire and Stanford told him that Angel could watch the man. Dr. Silverberg got the medical kit and bandaged Gutierrezâ€™s wounds as well as he could. Stanford looked back towards the town, watching for anyone else approaching.
Gutierrez came around when Dr. Silverberg used some smelling salts. The historian told them that they had to go and the man got to his feet.
â€œHey, JosÃ©, carry this!â€ Stanford said, shoving one of the backpacks into the injured manâ€™s hands.
Dr. Silverberg took it from the man and put it on his own back. Then he helped Gazolas to his feet.
â€œAngel, weâ€™re trying to get out of Dodge,â€ Dr. Silverberg said to the confused man.
He put the manâ€™s arm around his shoulder.
Stanford packed another backpack with food and water and they headed into the desert. At first, they followed Dr. Fry in the distance, but the two injured men soon caused them to lag behind and, within an hour, they had lost sight of him. They soon realized that they were lost in the desert as well.
* * *
Stanford, Dr. Silverberg, Gazolas, and Gutierrez wandered through the terribly hot desert until nightfall.
â€œFather?â€ Gutierrez said at one point.
â€œStay with me, JosÃ©!â€ Dr. Silverberg said. â€œStay with me!â€
Gutierrez was not doing well and could not walk any further. Dr. Silverberg changed his bloody dressing several times during the day but the wound was terribly deep. He was afraid that the manâ€™s bowels or stomach has been cut.
â€œLook, I know youâ€™re the boss man, but if you want him to survive, youâ€™ve got to help me,â€ Dr. Silverberg said to Stanford.
The vice president thought about that, looking at the semi-conscious Gutierrez.
â€œSomebody give me a cigarette,â€ Gutierrez murmured. â€œPlease.â€
â€œYouâ€™ve got to help me start helping these guys,â€ Dr. Silverberg said. â€œPlease.â€
â€œI canâ€™t help him and carry the food,â€ Stanford said.
â€œYou canâ€™t put the backpack on and sling his arm over your shoulder?â€
Stanford just shook his head. He was a weak man and he knew it. Dr. Silverberg cursed.
They discussed spending the night in the desert or trying to keep going.
â€œIâ€™m so tired,â€ Gutierrez said.
â€œWe should probably â€¦ keep going,â€ Stanford said carefully.
Stanford handed off his backpack to Gazolas and then helped Gutierrez as best he could.
By daybreak, they spotted the mountains, the sun rising over the desert behind them. Gutierrez fell to the ground and lay there. They found he was not dead, but had passed out, probably from shock and blood loss. They realized that he had to get to a hospital as soon as possible.
* * *
Dr. Fry wandered through the desert in the night. He was confused when he saw the sun rising behind him and then spotted the buildings in the distance. He recognized Harlotville. He had walked in a great circle and come back to the accursed place. He fell to his knees.
â€œNoooo!â€ he cried to the empty sky, shaking his fists in frustration.
In the distance, the buzzards flew up and circled.
* * *
Dr. Silverberg dropped the backpack heâ€™d been carrying full of food and water.
â€œYou can carry them!â€ he said to Stanford.
Dr. Silverberg carefully picked up Gutierrez and told Stanford to dump the extra backpack. Gazolas followed them as they climbed into the mountains, Stanford trying to help the worker as much as he could. It was another couple of hours before they reached Datil, N.M. They used the telephone at the general store there to call the State Police and get help.
A hearse showed up to take Gutierrez to the nearest hospital, which was in Socorro, some 50 miles away.
Stanford told the State Police that there were several people lost in the desert on the Plains of San Augustine, including Dr. Thomas Fry. He also noted that there was a crazy man in a ghost town out there as well.
â€œThereâ€™s a bunch of Mexicans lost in the desert too,â€ he said.
* * *
Dr. Fry had given up. He wandered back to the camp, drank his fill of water, ate some food, and then went into one of the tents and waited to die. He was surprised, sometime before dark, when he heard the roar of an engine. He left the tent and spotted an aircraft flying overhead. He tore some of the canvas off Stanfordâ€™s ruined tent and waved it until the biplane circled several times. It fired off a flare and then headed to the north. Within an hour, a ruggedly build police car drove up to the camp.
â€œDr. Fry?â€ one of the police officers within said.
â€œYes! Thatâ€™s me!â€ the man said.
â€œMr. Stanford said you were out here,â€ the policeman said. He noticed the body. â€œOh my God!â€
â€œOh my God, they made it!?!â€ Dr. Fry said.
â€œWeâ€™re still looking for some of your other workers,â€ the other policeman said.
They covered up Fernandezâ€™s body a little better, using rocks on the canvas, and then drove Dr. Fry back to civilization.
Two of the workers were also located by the manhunt: Andrew Lefkovits and Diego Rios. Michael Juarez and JosÃ©ph Aceves were never found.
* * *
They told the police that their camp was attacked by a crazy man who had killed one of their workers and terrorized them.
â€œWe think heâ€™s black,â€ Stanford told them.
Police investigated the town and the ruined camp. They recovered the body of JosÃ© Fernandez and the Dr. Silverbergâ€™s photographic equipment. The bodies of Dr. Chambers and Miss Rice were not found.
* * *
Gutierrez actually survived his ordeal and made a full recovery after surgery.
Stanford lost his job the next year when Standard Oil took over the Midwest Refining Company.