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The Lonely Point Lighthouse - Part 1-3 - The Thing in the Wall

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* * *

 

Detective Sherman went down to the basement and looked around but didn’t find anything unusual. He found a lit kerosene lantern down there and called out to Washington lightly. He saw no sign of the man, though.

 

* * *

 

After reading the sad letter, Miss Hagger continued to look through the paperwork in the box. She found a photograph in a frame with broken glass that was old and water damaged. The woman in the photograph looked to be in her 40s with graying hair. She wore dark tinted glasses and a patterned shirt with a light jacket over it. Over her right eyes was a dark mark that looked very strange, though it could have been the age or the water damage done to the photo. Miss Hagger wasn’t sure, however. She pulled it from the frame and saw that, on the back, it read “Bessie Elliot Fitch 1909.â€

 

* * *

 

Detective Sherman went looking for the rest of them and found Miss Malone in the library upstairs looking through newspapers. The rain was coming down fairly well by then. He suggested to her that they meet for lunch around noon in the kitchen.

 

“That would be wonderful if you could make us lunch,†Miss Malone said. “I’m still looking for newspapers that were missing at the paper. But there is a really creepy picture in the master bedroom.â€

 

“Have you seen anyone else?†Detective Sherman said.

 

She told him that were further in on the second floor. He thanked her and found Miss Hagger in a sewing room, staring at an old photograph. She looked a little disturbed.

 

“Miss Hagger, I just wanted to figure out where everyone was,†he said. “I plan on having lunch about 12:00 if that would work for you.â€

 

“Yeah,†she said slowly.

 

“What are you looking at?†he asked.

 

“Just stuff,†she said. “I found an interesting letter and an interesting picture.â€

 

“Would you like to bring it to lunch and we could discuss it there?â€

 

“Yep. That was the idea.â€

 

She got up and left the room, taking the two pieces of paper with her.

 

Detective Sherman, meanwhile, found Washington in the master bedroom, tapping on the walls. The rolled-up wallpaper was on the bed nearby. He noticed the wedding picture on the wall and, when he examined it, found it nailed to the wall.

 

“Washington, we’re going to be having lunch at 12,†he said.

 

“Okay,†Washington replied.

 

He continued tapping on the walls.

 

Detective Sherman went down to the kitchen and started to prepare sandwiches with potato chips and cold milk for them for lunch.

 

* * *

 

Miss Malone found an article that caught her interest. It was dated July 22, 1917 and read:

 

 

LOCAL LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER HOOKS A BIG ONE

 

July 22nd, 1917—Morris Fitch, long time lighthouse keeper at Lonely Point, just might

be starting a new career as a professional fisherman. Along with local fisherman Jessie

Holland, he landed a 10-foot bull shark. While Mr. Fitch wouldn’t comment on his catch,

Jessie later said, “Morris was specifically looking for that particular shark. We let four other

bull sharks go, as well as anything else he hooked.â€

 

When asked who landed the shark, Holland replied, “Morris did. As soon as we got it close

to the boat, he blasted it a bunch of times with his shotgun, cursing up a storm at the damn thing.

It was the oddest charter I ever took out, but, so long as the client’s happy, that’s that.†We

hope to get a comment from Mr. Fitch, on just what the nature of his dispute with the shark was.

No word on if or when Mr. Fitch, who’s been lighthouse keeper at Lonely Point for thirty-six

years now, plans to retire.

 

 

* * *

 

Miss Hagger went downstairs and peeked into the small office. She searched it and found, wedged between the desk and the wall near the trash can, a wadded up piece of paper. She pulled it out and sat down at the desk, pushing the paper flat again. Ink was smeared at the top and bottom of the piece of paper but it appeared to be a letter. There was no date. It read:

 

 

Dear Gary,

 

If you are reading this, then I am dead, and there are some things you should know.

Your mother was unfaithful to me, unashamedly so. She even brought her new child

to me and asked me to help teach him English. Yes, you and your sister have a younger

half-brother now. Your mother has drifted further and further away from me since her

change, but this was more than I could bear.

 

I killed her lover, but couldn’t bring myself to harm the child. He is your brother, after

all, and innocent of doing me any wrong. Your mother and her lover are not. My rival is

dead, and your mother has been punished. I’ve forced her to keep her promise to me, and

she’s remained with me until my end. But now I am gone, and there are things which need

to be taken care of.

 

Come home and bring your sister if she’ll come. You’ll both need to bring someone you

can trust with you, to help. The island should be closed to you, and you’ll need some help

reaching the house. I can’t explain, but you’ll figure it out easy enough. Do what you will

with your mother and brother. I’m beyond caring. I may burn in hell for what I’ve done,

but the last few years of living alone here and being played for a fool by that devil woman …

Well, hell won’t seem unfamiliar.

 

I wish I could

 

 

The rest of the page was smudged in ink and the letter was unfinished.

 

* * *

 

Detective Sherman was waiting in the kitchen at noon when Miss Malone and Washington entered the room. Washington walked in, picked up a plate of food, and left the room.

 

“Wait!†Miss Malone said. “I think he wanted to talk! Come back, Joe!â€

 

“Huh-uh,†Washington said leaving. “Somethin’ weird.â€

 

“I’m going back up,†Miss Malone said. “I’ll be right back.â€

 

She left the kitchen as well.

 

Detective Sherman sat down at the table and ate his lunch. Just as he finished, Miss Hagger walked into the kitchen and flung down a photograph and two pieces of paper on the table.

 

“What the hell?†Detective Sherman said when he saw the photograph.

 

“This is a picture Bessie Elliot Finch,†she said. “That’s not what she looks like in her wedding picture. And there’s been a lot of hinting that she changed or something. Here they mention the Innsmouth Elliots. It’s a letter to Michelle … Mickey. So, I don’t … do you know about … I don’t know what to make of this. He killed someone!â€

 

She picked up the letter she’d found in the office.

 

“What?†Detective Sherman said.

 

He looked at the photograph.

 

“She was …†he muttered.

 

“And in this letter it says that she’s gone a lot,†Miss Hagger said. “So … she’s gone a lot but apparently she’s been cheating on him and brought a baby home! I just don’t know what’s happening and he almost killed a baby!â€

 

“She’d been …†he said.

 

“Yeah!†she said. “I don’t even know.â€

 

“We need to tell the others about this,†he said.

 

“‘Because your mother and brother will be here?’†Miss Hagger said, quoting the letter. “I don’t even know what’s going on.â€

 

She picked up one of the sandwiches and took a bite.

 

“Just read over all that,†she said. “You’re a policeman. I … don’t even know. I just thought we’d come here and say ‘These are just rats - haha. Give me money.’ And then leave. Why? Why does this always happen?â€

 

Detective Sherman read the letters she’d found while she quickly ate most of the sandwich.

 

“I don’t even know!†she said again as he read.

 

He looked at her.

 

“Right?†she said. “Right? Did you read this one?â€

 

She pointed to the letter to Michelle.

 

“What the heck was wrong with this family?†she asked. “What the heck? She’s not been the same after ‘the change.’ What change? This photo is not the same as her wedding photo! What changed? I think that might be water damage. I’m hoping that’s water damage because … what else would it be?â€

 

“I don’t know …†he said.

 

“What else could it be?†she asked again.

 

“Could be violence,†he said. “Like he broke the picture frame.â€

 

“No, that’s water damage,†she said. “It’s that or an actual part of the photo. I’m thinking it’s water damage. I really want to take another look at that wedding picture that’s up there.â€

 

“Yeah,†he said. “I think we should definitely do that.â€

 

* * *

 

Miss Malone found Washington in the master bedroom. His plate of food was on the nightstand. A piece of wallpaper was on the bed. He was staring at the wall.

 

“What’s going on?†she asked. “You’re not breaking down on me, are you?â€

 

“Something’s wrong,†he said.

 

“Obviously,†she said. “That’s why we’re here.â€

 

Thunder rumbled outside.

 

“This room ain’t right,†he said.

 

“You talking about the picture?†she said.

 

He picked up the rolled up wallpaper and threw it at her. She caught it.

 

“Where’d you take this from?†she asked.

 

“It was in the basement,†he said. “This is the only room with this wallpaper.â€

 

“Well, let’s take the wallpaper down,†she said.

 

He grunted and tapped on the wall again. It seemed solid.

 

“Have you tapped on the picture?†she asked. “And the wall behind the picture. Because it’s nailed to the wall.â€

 

She went to the wedding picture and tapped on the glass. It sounded solid.

 

Washington left the room.

 

“Wait, where are you …?†she said.

 

She worked at the wedding portrait.

 

* * *

 

Miss Hagger grabbed the photograph and headed out of the kitchen, followed closely by Detective Sherman. They passed Washington coming down the stairs.

 

“Hey, we found some weird stuff−†Detective Sherman started to say.

 

“This is really messed up!†Miss Hagger said, passing the negro and heading up the stairs.

 

“We’re going up to the master bedroom,†Detective Sherman said, following her.

 

“Same,†Washington called after them.

 

* * *

 

Miss Malone was trying to pull the painting off the wall when Miss Hagger and Detective Sherman entered the room.

 

“So, I found a picture of the wife and it does not look like that and something is weird,†Miss Hagger said.

 

She handed the photograph to Miss Malone.

 

“There ya go,†Miss Hagger said.

 

Miss Malone stared at the photograph.

 

“I think that’s water damage,†Miss Hagger said. “I hope.â€

 

“I hope that’s water damage,†Detective Sherman said.

 

“So, something’s weird about this painting,†Miss Hagger said.

 

“Why?†Miss Malone said.

 

“We found letters that also talked about the husband murdering her lover after she came back with a child,†Miss Hagger said.

 

“Wait … what?†Miss Malone said. “Sorry?â€

 

“Apparently, there had been some weird stuff going on because she started changing, the estranged daughter had something wrong with her that they had to give her medicines all the time,†Miss Hagger said.

 

“That’s not what water damage would do,†Miss Malone said.

 

“Yeah, that’s what I’m thinking,†Miss Hagger said. “But what else is it?â€

 

“That would be fire,†Miss Malone said. “If anything.â€

 

“What else is it?†Miss Hagger said.

 

“It’s on her clothes, not just her face,†Miss Malone said. “It’s on her hair.â€

 

“Because it doesn’t look like the lady in the photo on the painting,†Miss Hagger said.

 

“Does it not?†Miss Malone said.

 

They looked at the wedding portrait. The photo could have been the same woman, 30 years later, but it was hard to tell. There were similarities but they looked considerably different. It might or might not have been the same woman.

 

“Apparently she’d been cheating on the husband,†Miss Hagger said.

 

“Morris?†Miss Malone said.

 

“Yeah,†Miss Hagger said. “She came back with a child that she had with her−â€

 

“What year?†Miss Malone asked.

 

“What year?†Miss Hagger said. “We don’t know the year. There was no year on the papers.â€

 

“Pretty early on,†Detective Sherman said.

 

“It was pretty early on because it was a letter to the son before he was dead,†Miss Hagger said.

 

“To Gary?†Miss Malone asked.

 

“Yeah,†Miss Hagger said.

 

* * *

 

Washington had gone down to the basement where he found the trowel, hammer, and chisel and grabbed all of them. He headed back up, stopping by the kitchen. One of the plates had a half-eaten sandwich on it and he picked it up and munched on it as he looked over some of the letters and papers scattered on the table.

 

* * *

 

“Well, I mean her daughter had a baby in Ohio, so it might’ve been her daughter’s,†Miss Malone said.

 

“No,†Miss Hagger said. “She came back with her lover. Because he killed her lover.â€

 

“You obviously have some information I don’t have,†Miss Malone said.

 

“She came back with a lover,†Miss Hagger said. “She’d been cheating on him and said ‘By the way, I have this son−’â€

 

“So, she came back with her new kid and this lover guy like ‘Hey, look at my lover, husband.’â€

 

“Well … the husband killed him. That’s what it says in the letter.â€

 

“I’ll have to read the letter because you’re confusing me.â€

 

“I should have brought it with me. I don’t know what’s happening.â€

 

Miss Malone took out the newspaper article she had found.

 

“There’s a shark that Morris was mad at,†she said. “Remember how I told you about that story?â€

 

“Someone said, yeah,†Miss Hagger said. “You said he yelled at a shark.â€

 

“There’s a newspaper article I found in the library about it,†Miss Malone said.

 

Thunder rumbled ominously in the distance again. Rain pattered against the roof and the wind gripped the house. Detective Sherman went to the wedding portrait on the wall.

 

“I want to pull this thing off,†Miss Malone said.

 

He gripped it by the frame and yanked on it. With a screech of nails against stone, the portrait came out of the wall. Behind it was bare brick. In the center of the unpapered section of the water were several loose, unmortared bricks. He groaned. Miss Hagger noticed that on the back of the portrait was a smooth stone engraved with a star with a flicker of flame carved in the center of it.

 

“There’s something on the back of the photo,†she said.

 

Detective Sherman turned it over and saw the strange rock and the odd engraving.

 

“I don’t know,†Miss Hagger said. “It’s just a weird rock.â€

 

“It’s a rock?†Miss Malone asked. “Is it glued on or something?â€

 

“I don’t know,†Miss Hagger said. “It’s got a symbol.â€

 

“Does it come off?†Miss Malone said.

 

Miss Malone wanted to take it apart and Detective Sherman used his knife to pry the frame apart.

 

“I have seen this exact same symbol on the front door and the back door,†he said. “This weird star with the flame carved in it. I don’t know …â€

 

“It seems kind of …†Miss Malone said.

 

“Weird,†Miss Hagger said.

 

“It seems like some kind of significant meaning,†Miss Malone said. “If it’s in three places in this one house.â€

 

“Yeah, that’s weird,†Miss Hagger said.

 

Detective Sherman got the back off the portrait and popped the stone out. He found nothing behind the painting. Nor were there any markings or writing on the back. As Miss Hagger and Miss Malone went to the bricks to remove them, all of them heard heavy approaching footsteps in the hall. Then Washington walked into the bedroom with several tools.

 

Lightning flashed in the distance and the growl of thunder followed it.

 

He looked at the place on the wall where the painting had been. He walked over and struck one of the loose bricks with his chisel. It vanished into the darkness of the room behind and they heard it hit the floor.

 

“Stop!†Miss Malone said.

 

“I knew something was weird around here,†he said.

 

“Yeah!†Miss Hagger said.

 

“Washington,†Detective Sherman said.

 

Miss Malone pushed him to one side and pulled out the other three loose bricks.

 

“Let me hit it again,†he said.

 

“No!†she said.

 

The loose bricks formed a cross shape some 18 inches wide but only a few inches high. It was very dark in the chamber beyond though what little light came through the bedroom indicated a figure in the wall, probably a dead body. Miss Malone groaned strangely. Washington started to work on removing more bricks.

 

“Did you look?†Miss Malone asked him.

 

He didn’t reply but kept working on the wall. Miss Malone started to groan from the back of her throat. She was feeling strange, unstable, and afraid.

 

“Why?†Miss Hagger asked no one in particular. “There’s … there’s …â€

 

“Yeah,†Miss Malone said.

 

“Person … in the wall,†Miss Hagger said.

 

“Yeah,†Miss Malone said.

 

“There’s a person in the wall!†Miss Hagger said.

 

“Yeah,†Miss Malone said.

 

“Yeah, we should probably figure out who it is and why they’re there,†Detective Sherman said.

 

“You’re a policeman, you deal with dead bodies,†Miss Hagger said. “You do it.â€

 

“Fine, fine, fine,†he said. “Hold onto this.â€

 

He handed Miss Malone the round stone with the symbol upon it. Washington continued to work on the wall. Detective Sherman tried to see details of the figure in the wall but the entire room had gone dim from the approaching storm and it was simply too dark. He went downstairs, got one of the kerosene lanterns, lit it, and returned to the room.

 

He walked to the hole and looked in, holding up the lantern. The desiccated corpse within did not look human. Scales covered Bessie Fitch’s face. Her teeth were sharp. Her eyes were wide and fish-like. Her nose was flat and impossibly small. Her ears had grown larger and scales about them made them seem impossible massive.

 

Miss Hagger had followed him to the hole and peered in as well. She felt her blood run cold when she saw the terrible thing. It reminded her too much of the asylum with broken walls and monsters. She felt vertigo, as if the whole room were moving underneath her. Then she saw Bessie Fitch turn her head and look directly at her.

 

Miss Hagger squealed unnervingly, turned, and ran out of the room.

 

“Jade, wait!†Miss Malone called.

 

“No!†Miss Hagger shrieked.

 

Miss Malone leapt up from the bed.

 

“Follow Hagger!†Detective Sherman said to her.

 

* * *

 

Miss Hagger ran down the stairs and out the front door into the pouring rain. She fled around the side of the house and down the track towards the dock.

 

“I don’t want to be here!†she cried. “I don’t want to be here!â€

 

Miss Malone followed her, stopping at the front door long enough to kick off her shoes before running out. She saw Miss Hagger fall ahead of her, landing in the mud, but then she tripped and fell as well. Miss Hagger leapt to her feet, still screaming, and ran. Then Miss Hagger heard something running after her, like terrible bare feet slapping against the ground and she wondered if Bessie Fitch wore shoes.

 

“Jade!â€a horrible voice growled somewhere behind her. “Jade!â€

 

She ran as fast as she could.

 

Miss Malone called Miss Hagger’s name but the girl just kept running away.

 

Miss Hagger reached the dock and stopped. She looked out over the ocean in the pouring rain and, for just a moment, thought she saw something moving in the water. It was greenish blue, or perhaps gray and was huge. It surfaced and seemed to look at her for a moment with black, soulless eyes, and then vanished beneath the waves.

 

“NO!†she cried.

 

Then she heard someone run up behind her on the dock.

 

“Jade,†she heard Miss Malone. “It’s okay! What’s the matter?â€

 

“Help!†she cried. “Oh my God!â€

 

“Come inside!†Miss Malone said. “It’s pouring rain.â€

 

“No! No, I’m not going in there!â€

 

“You can’t go anywhere!â€

 

“But there’s something in the water. I just saw something awful!â€

 

“Well, then, let’s get off of the dock then!â€

 

“Ah!â€

 

“Let’s go back on land!â€

 

“It looked at me! That thing looked at me!â€

 

“Okay.â€

 

“That thing looked at me!â€

 

“Okay!â€

 

“It turned its head and looked at me!â€

 

“What are you talking about?â€

 

“It turned its head and looked at me!â€

 

“What did? We need to get off the dock!â€

 

“The thing in the wall!â€

 

Miss Malone grabbed her arm and started to lead her back to the lighthouse. Miss Hagger continued gibbering and crying out about the thing that had looked at her.

 

“There’s no way we can swim back to the mainland and there’s no way he’s coming to get us before …†Miss Malone said.

 

“Yeah, but that thing in the wall is not human!†Miss Hagger said.

 

“No, it’s not,†Miss Malone said.

 

“And it turned its head and looked at me!†Miss Hagger said. “It’s not dead! It’s alive! It’s alive! It’s−â€

 

“I don’t think it is.â€

 

“There’s something−â€

 

“I don’t think it’s alive. It looked pretty dead to me.â€

 

“It’s alive! It looked at me! There’s something in the water−â€

 

“Well, you know what?â€

 

“It looked at me too! Everything’s looking at me!â€

 

“The men are upstairs in that room. If it’s alive I’m sure they’ve wrestled it. Let’s just go. I have a gun. We can go. I have a knife.â€

 

“I don’t have a gun.â€

 

“I will give you one of my knives.â€

 

“Okay. I’m just going to stay in the kitchen.â€

 

“Okay, that’s fine.â€

 

“I’m just so not going up there.â€

 

“I’ll stay with you.â€

 

“I do not want to do anything like this ever again.â€

 

“What do you mean like this?â€

 

“I’ve seen some things before … there’s … I … someone wanted me to look at an insane asylum where I met that one black guy. Then he … there was a doctor who was evil and he turned into a big slime creature with mouths and tentacles and I was done.â€

 

“So, you were a patient at this hospital and you saw these things?â€

 

“I was not a patient.â€

 

“Are you sure?â€

 

“Yes!â€

 

“I’m not.â€

 

“They said ‘Help me with this.’ And I said ‘Sure, I’ll be nice and just check it out and help distract.’ But I thought it would be like a normal questioning someone thing and he TURNED INTO A MONSTER! HE TRIED TO KILL ME! A MONSTER TRIED TO KILL ME! I had to pour acid on his face and it melted his face! And someone died and I didn’t want. After that, I lived and I said ‘No more. Never again. Not ever! I’m done!’ And someone said ‘Oh, a paranormal thing.’ And I said ‘Most paranormal stuff is not real.’ And I come here and again, why me? Why every time?â€

 

“It could even just be a … rubber … dummy thing.â€

 

“I … would hope so.â€

 

“But you went pretty crazy. Are you sure that you−â€

 

“It turned and looked at me! You would understand.â€

 

“I think you were just having an episode.â€

 

“You would know. You would know.â€

 

“You need to eat something. We need to get some food in you. You are ... you need some food. I think you are light-headed.â€

 

Miss Malone looked around her carefully as they walked, fearful that maybe something she said was true.

 

* * *

 

Detective Sherman looked into the hole again after the women fled. The thing within the hole was terrible to behold.

 

“Should I keep going?†Washington asked him.

 

“Yeah,†Detective Sherman replied nervously. “We need to see what this thing is all about.â€

 

Washington got to work on removing bricks from the wall.

 

* * *

 

When the women returned to the kitchen, both of them cold, muddy, and soaking wet, they could hear the noise of the men breaking through the wall upstairs.

 

“See, it’s okay,†Miss Malone said.

 

“I’m going to stay in the kitchen,†Miss Hagger said.

 

“They’re fine,†Miss Malone said.

 

“No, you would understand−†Miss Hagger said.

 

“Eat your food! Eat your food.â€

 

“If you’d seen what I’ve seen.â€

 

“I saw what you’ve seen.â€

 

“No.â€

 

Miss Hagger looked down at her plate. Only the potato chips were still upon it.

 

“My sandwich isn’t here,†she said.

 

“Eat the chips,†Miss Malone said.

 

“Why every time?†Miss Hagger said dejectedly. “Why always me? If you had seen what I’d seen.â€

 

Miss Malone gave her half of her sandwich.

 

“You would understand if you had been at the asylum and you had seen that doctor,†Miss Hagger said.

 

“I’m sure I would have understood if I had been in an asylum,†Miss Malone said condescendingly.

 

“Stop that!†Miss Hagger said.

 

They both realized they were soaked through to the skin and were very cold.

 

“He was there!†Miss Hagger said. “The guy was there! He saw the doctor change!â€

 

Miss Malone left the room, got some clothing from her suitcase, which was still in the foyer, and brought them back to the kitchen. She went into the bathroom off the kitchen to get changed, leaving the door cracked so she could hear Miss Hagger.

 

“Washington was also at the asylum!†Miss Hagger said, shivering as she tried to eat the sandwich. “He saw the doctor change! He was there! He ran with me! That’s how I know him! He was there! He understands!â€

 

“Because he was also a patient,†Miss Malone said.

 

“No!†Miss Hagger said. “I was not a patient! I pretended to help someone be a patient. Aw. No one’s going to understand.â€

 

As Miss Malone bent over to pull her pants up, she noticed that, stashed behind a pipe in the sink was a book. She carefully removed it and saw that it was badly damaged by water and mildew. The script appeared legible, but she had to be careful not to accidently pull the book apart.

 

“Go get some warm clothes on!†Miss Malone called. “Go put some dry clothes on!â€

 

“Aw …†Miss Hagger called.

 

“Do it!†Miss Malone called.

 

“Fine,†Miss Hagger said.

 

She left the kitchen.

 

Miss Malone took the diary out to the kitchen and sat down to read it. It looked like it was the diary of Michelle Fitch. Most of it was the typical ramblings of a teenage girl. She read through it, looking for something of interest or import.

 

* * *

 

Miss Hagger went into the office and changed before returning to the kitchen. She found Miss Malone reading the mildewed book.

 

* * *

 

“Washington, you going to be all right up here if I go see what’s going on downstairs?†Detective Sherman said.

 

“Uh-huh,†Washington muttered.

 

The detective went down and found the women in the kitchen, both of them having changed their clothes. Miss Hagger munched on the potato chips that remained on her plate while Miss Malone looked through a book of some kind. Miss Hagger seemed very shaken.

 

“What are you doing!?!†Miss Hagger said. “You left him alone up there with that thing!?!â€

 

“Yes, it’s just a body,†he said.

 

“It’s not just a body!†she said.

 

“It’s weird, but it’s just a body,†he said.

 

“Did you see it? It’s not human.â€

 

“It’s weird, but−â€

 

“You don’t know what that thing could do.â€

 

“For all I know it could be a costume or something! It’s … I don’t know. He’s fine. He’s got a hammer. He’ll be all right. I just came down here to see−â€

 

“Bunch of amateurs!â€

 

“I heard people come in and I just wanted to−â€

 

“If he gets mauled, it’s your fault.â€

 

“So, what do you have over there, Charlene?â€

 

The other woman continued to look at the moldy book.

 

“What do you have over there, Charlene?†he asked again.

 

“She just took it out of the bathroom,†Miss Hagger said. “She’s been reading it and I just decided to wait until she’s done to bother her.â€

 

“Yeah,†he said.

 

“She’s done enough,†Miss Hagger said. “She got … you know, while I was out there, I ran to the dock, and there was definitely something in the water and it looked at me. Just like that body looked at me. There’s something in the water. I believe the stories about that sea monster.â€

 

Miss Malone muttered something as she read.

 

“There’s … some big fish,†Miss Hagger said.

 

“You’ve obviously been shaken up,†Detective Sherman said. “Maybe you were seeing things.â€

 

Miss Hagger laughed derisively.

 

“I was not seeing things,†she said. “That’s … that’s like my … I had a friend who got eaten in front of me by a goop monster … creature … thing … I … I don’t … that was not seeing things.â€

 

“What are you−?†Detective Sherman said.

 

“This is Michelle’s diary,†Miss Malone suddenly said. “I’m not done with it yet.â€

 

She read for another hour. Detective Sherman went back upstairs.

 

Miss Malone found that mostly, Michelle wrote about people picking on heart school, boys she liked, and teachers she didn’t like, the typical ramblings of a teenage girl. Of the entirety of the diary, there were six entries that proved most interesting.

 

 

April 3rd, 1904

 

I had the oddest dream last night. I was swimming and dove down under the surface.

I’d lost something, something important, and was looking for it. I kept swimming

down and down, for a long time, but I wasn’t scared. I was breathing, under the water,

and I could see better in the dark depths. The deeper I went, the better I could see and

breath. I knew I should be drowning, but I wasn’t. In my dream, I felt physically really

comfortable. It scared me.

 

June 28th, 1905

 

I had that dream again, gotta be the third time this month. I was swimming into the

depths of the ocean without drowning, looking for something. But this time, I could hear

singing, chanting, sort of like church. I knew it was for me, welcoming me, calling me …

I was so afraid I told my dad about the dream. He looked so sad and said I should go talk

to my mom about it. I don’t want to; she has such a temper lately.

 

March 18th, 1906

 

Mom asked about Sam today. She wanted to know if we were serious. I lied and said no.

She pulled my hair and called me a trollop. I think dad must have seen us coming out of

the woods and told her about it. She then asked if I had anything I wanted to talk about,

and asked me about my dreams. I said no, and pretended I didn’t know what she meant.

I know she means the dreams about the sea. I told her she was crazy and she beat me, calling

me a lying little slut. I hate her! I don’t know why daddy would ever marry such a monster!

He tells me that mom and I fight because we are so alike but I’m NOTHING like her …

NOTHING!!!

 

June 9th, 1907

 

Mother’s getting sick more and more. She’s walking slower now, and her back is hunched

over. Her hair is so thin and greasy looking. She smells too. Good. I hope she dies! Father

tells me to be a good girl and not to upset her. He says she’s the only mother I have, but I

don’t care. I hate her. Life will be better when she’s gone.

 

January 21st, 1908

 

Mother tried to get me to talk again, even made us tea and cakes. She wanted to talk about

the dreams of the sea and about what they meant. She said it’s part of who I was, who she was,

and what our family was. Not daddy’s side, but hers, the Elliot’s. I’d never met them, and

she never talked about them. I told her I didn’t have any dreams about the sea but she said

she knew I did. The blood of Dagon and Hydra breeds true, she said. Dagon and Hydra …

I knew the names from the chants in my dreams. She said the reason we didn’t get along was

that I took after her, and her family, so much. I told her she was crazy and that I was nothing

like her. She makes me so angry. This time when she hit me I hit her back. Daddy had to

pull us apart. She called me an ungrateful little whore. I told her she was a bitch who stank

like low tide. Then daddy smacked me and said I couldn’t talk to her like that. How could he

side with her! He’s such a slave to her! I hate them both!

 

May 23rd, 1910

 

I need to get away from here, just like Gary did. I’m going away from the sea, away from

my mother and from these dreams. When I graduate next year, I’m moving inland. I wrote

to Aunt Janis in Dayton and asked if I could visit next summer. If she says I can, I won’t

ever come back.

 

 

She started to read the letters that Miss Hagger had found.

 

* * *

 

It was about 2 p.m. when Washington finally got the wall opened up enough that they could get into the horrible cell. The hole was about two feet wide and about five and a half feet tall. A large pile of bricks and broken mortar lay on the floor.

 

“Wall’s open!†Washington called downstairs.

 

Detective Sherman lifted up the lantern and examined the area behind the wall as best he could. The withered, nearly skeletal body within was wearing a wedding dress that matched the dress from the portrait on the wall. He thought it might be a woman. She was chained to the wall behind her with short chains. Washington got his first good look at the corpse and found it very disturbing.

 

“Hm,†he said when he saw it.

 

“I think this thing was alive when it was put in here,†Detective Sherman said. “Someone was trying to hold it back from something. If you look at the picture and you look at the thing, the wedding dress is the same. I think this is Bessie Fitch.â€

 

Thunder rolled outside.

 

* * *

 

“They’re fish people,†Miss Malone said as she read the letters. “They’re fish people.â€

 

She looked at Miss Hagger.

 

“You read this letter, right?†she said.

 

“That one and that one, yeah, I found them,†Miss Hagger said.

 

“This one I haven’t read but …†Miss Malone said. “This explains this letter here,â€

 

Miss Hagger looked over the diary. Then she gasped.

 

“Let me know when you finish that letter,†she said. “I think I just made a connection. With this.â€

 

She picked up the newspaper article about Morris Fitch and the bull shark.

 

“Oh yeah, I know,†Miss Malone said. “I get it. Keep reading the diary.â€

 

She finished the letter she was reading.

 

“The shark was the father!†she said.

 

“Yeah!†Miss Hagger said. “That’s why he was so mad at it. And yelled and killed because he murdered … yeah. But then where’s the kid?â€

 

“That’s the question,†Miss Malone said. “Maybe he’s the giant thing out there.â€

 

“Go tell them the shark was the lover and they are fish people,†Miss Hagger said.

 

* * *

 

Miss Malone entered the master bedroom where the two men were looking at the hole in the wall.

 

“So, we figured it out,†she said. “This is really weird, but it doesn’t explain the ghost. It explains … okay. I found a diary from the girl. She had dreams.â€

 

“What girl?†Washington asked.

 

“Michelle,†Miss Malone said.

 

“Who’s Michelle?†Washington asked.

 

“The daughter of Morris Fitch, who lived here originally.â€

 

“Oh, okay.â€

 

“She had dreams about swimming in the ocean but not swimming. But going down and being able to breathe and see better in the dark. She told her parents about these dreams and they were sad and said she was just like her mother and that her mother changed. Which I believe means changed into a fish person because−â€

 

“Like this thing?â€

 

“I don’t even want to look at that thing. Yes, that’s her. Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t know that that’s her. Because he said that she left and I think that means that she went out into the ocean because she changed into this fish person, and she made a child, which I believe was with the shark, because Morris admitted to killing her lover which would have been the shark, but then there was this child she had with her lover and he couldn’t bring himself to harm that.â€

 

“Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait,†Detective Sherman said.

 

“Who’s the child?†Washington asked.

 

“The child is Bessie’s and her lover’s,†she said. “Which might be that giant thing that’s out in the ocean, so either that’s … I think that might be her half-child with her lover.â€

 

“Wait, you mean the thing that Jade was talking about?†Detective Sherman said.

 

“The thing that everyone’s been talking about,†Miss Malone said. “The giant thing might be the half-son.â€

 

“Oh,†Detective Sherman said.

 

“Because Morris sent a letter to Gary about the half-child. Morris told Michelle that she needed to come back because they can’t fight it, because they tried to fight his wife’s changing it just wouldn’t … didn’t work. And she needed to accept that and come back to the island, even though in her diary she wanted to leave and swore she would leave and never come back. You should read the diary if this is too confusing. But it all makes sense in my head. This is so weird!â€

 

“I think you did a good job of explaining it. The thing is, the dress in the picture is the same as the dress on whatever’s in the wall. So, I’m not sure what that means. I’m pretty sure that thing is Bessie.â€

 

“Maybe. Because he did say that Bessie did keep the promise to stay with him to the end no matter what. So, maybe when she died, he put her in the wedding dress and buried her in the wall.â€

 

“She’s chained to the wall.â€

 

“So, he was crazy too.â€

 

“Also said something about punishing her,†Washington said.

 

“What said punishing her?†Miss Malone asked.

 

“One of the things I read,†he replied.

 

“A letter from …†Detective Sherman said.

 

“Oh yes!†she said. “Yes, you’re right! He said she stayed with him and he punished her.â€

 

“So, maybe he chained her to the wall and−†Detective Sherman said.

 

“And then he fell down the stairs!†Miss Malone said. “And died. And she died of starvation!â€

 

Miss Hagger entered the room.

 

“Okay guys,†she said. “Did you tell them everything?â€

 

“I think so,†Miss Malone said.

 

“All right,†Miss Hagger said. “That explains all the sickness and why she was so sick and everyone said she was so sick.â€

 

“Yeah, because she changed,†Miss Malone said.

 

“And they were trying to fight it,†Miss Hagger said.

 

“You can’t keep a fish outta water for long,†Washington said.

 

“I’m worried about … remember how they said the son was really ugly and always got in fights?†Miss Hagger said. “Maybe it was because he was a fish person.â€

 

“They said it was on the Elliott’s side, which was the mother’s side,†Miss Malone said. “But he didn’t have the dreams, at least that we know about. Just the daughter.â€

 

“Yeah,†Miss Hagger said. “I’m worried about where the daughter is.â€

 

“She’s the only one alive, right?†Miss Malone said.

 

“Yeah,†Miss Hagger said.

 

“Apparently she’s in Ohio,†Detective Sherman said.

 

“As far as we know,†Miss Hagger said. “She’s going to change and−â€

 

“What did you say?†Miss Malone said to Detective Sherman.

 

“She’s in Ohio now,†Detective Sherman said.

 

“She apparently has two kids now,†Miss Hagger said. “Are they fish people? Are fish people everywhere now? Are we going to be eaten by fish people?â€

 

“Slow down, Jade,†Miss Malone said.

 

“I … okay,†Miss Hagger said. “Do you think he was trying to suffocate her? Maybe she breathed water and so … now she’s−â€

 

“No,†Miss Malone said.

 

“But why−†Miss Hagger said.

 

“I think he was punishing her,†Detective Sherman said.

 

There was another rumble of thunder.

 

“So, he bricked her up and left a hole where her face was so he could open the hole?†Miss Hagger said.

 

“Yeah, but the picture was nailed,†Miss Malone said.

 

“Yeah, I think he left her there to die,†Miss Hagger said.


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