* * *
Detective Sherman went down to the basement and looked around but didnâ€™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 wasnâ€™t sure, however. She pulled it from the frame and saw that, on the back, it read â€œBessie 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.
â€œThat would be wonderful if you could make us lunch,â€ Miss Malone said. â€œIâ€™m still looking for newspapers that were missing at the paper. But there is a really creepy picture in the master bedroom.â€
â€œHave you seen anyone else?â€ 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.
â€œMiss Hagger, I just wanted to figure out where everyone was,â€ he said. â€œI plan on having lunch about 12:00 if that would work for you.â€
â€œYeah,â€ she said slowly.
â€œWhat are you looking at?â€ he asked.
â€œJust stuff,â€ she said. â€œI found an interesting letter and an interesting picture.â€
â€œWould you like to bring it to lunch and we could discuss it there?â€
â€œYep. 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.
â€œWashington, weâ€™re going to be having lunch at 12,â€ he said.
â€œOkay,â€ 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, 1917â€”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 wouldnâ€™t comment on his catch,
Jessie later said, â€œMorris 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, â€œMorris 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 clientâ€™s happy, thatâ€™s that.â€ 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, whoâ€™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:
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 couldnâ€™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. Iâ€™ve forced her to keep her promise to me, and
sheâ€™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 sheâ€™ll come. Youâ€™ll both need to bring someone you
can trust with you, to help. The island should be closed to you, and youâ€™ll need some help
reaching the house. I canâ€™t explain, but youâ€™ll figure it out easy enough. Do what you will
with your mother and brother. Iâ€™m beyond caring. I may burn in hell for what Iâ€™ve done,
but the last few years of living alone here and being played for a fool by that devil woman â€¦
Well, hell wonâ€™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.
â€œWait!â€ Miss Malone said. â€œI think he wanted to talk! Come back, Joe!â€
â€œHuh-uh,â€ Washington said leaving. â€œSomethinâ€™ weird.â€
â€œIâ€™m going back up,â€ Miss Malone said. â€œIâ€™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.
â€œWhat the hell?â€ Detective Sherman said when he saw the photograph.
â€œThis is a picture Bessie Elliot Finch,â€ she said. â€œThatâ€™s not what she looks like in her wedding picture. And thereâ€™s been a lot of hinting that she changed or something. Here they mention the Innsmouth Elliots. Itâ€™s a letter to Michelle â€¦ Mickey. So, I donâ€™t â€¦ do you know about â€¦ I donâ€™t know what to make of this. He killed someone!â€
She picked up the letter sheâ€™d found in the office.
â€œWhat?â€ Detective Sherman said.
He looked at the photograph.
â€œShe was â€¦â€ he muttered.
â€œAnd in this letter it says that sheâ€™s gone a lot,â€ Miss Hagger said. â€œSo â€¦ sheâ€™s gone a lot but apparently sheâ€™s been cheating on him and brought a baby home! I just donâ€™t know whatâ€™s happening and he almost killed a baby!â€
â€œSheâ€™d been â€¦â€ he said.
â€œYeah!â€ she said. â€œI donâ€™t even know.â€
â€œWe need to tell the others about this,â€ he said.
â€œâ€˜Because your mother and brother will be here?â€™â€ Miss Hagger said, quoting the letter. â€œI donâ€™t even know whatâ€™s going on.â€
She picked up one of the sandwiches and took a bite.
â€œJust read over all that,â€ she said. â€œYouâ€™re a policeman. I â€¦ donâ€™t even know. I just thought weâ€™d come here and say â€˜These are just rats - haha. Give me money.â€™ And then leave. Why? Why does this always happen?â€
Detective Sherman read the letters sheâ€™d found while she quickly ate most of the sandwich.
â€œI donâ€™t even know!â€ she said again as he read.
He looked at her.
â€œRight?â€ she said. â€œRight? Did you read this one?â€
She pointed to the letter to Michelle.
â€œWhat the heck was wrong with this family?â€ she asked. â€œWhat the heck? Sheâ€™s not been the same after â€˜the change.â€™ What change? This photo is not the same as her wedding photo! What changed? I think that might be water damage. Iâ€™m hoping thatâ€™s water damage because â€¦ what else would it be?â€
â€œI donâ€™t know â€¦â€ he said.
â€œWhat else could it be?â€ she asked again.
â€œCould be violence,â€ he said. â€œLike he broke the picture frame.â€
â€œNo, thatâ€™s water damage,â€ she said. â€œItâ€™s that or an actual part of the photo. Iâ€™m thinking itâ€™s water damage. I really want to take another look at that wedding picture thatâ€™s up there.â€
â€œYeah,â€ he said. â€œI 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.
â€œWhatâ€™s going on?â€ she asked. â€œYouâ€™re not breaking down on me, are you?â€
â€œSomethingâ€™s wrong,â€ he said.
â€œObviously,â€ she said. â€œThatâ€™s why weâ€™re here.â€
Thunder rumbled outside.
â€œThis room ainâ€™t right,â€ he said.
â€œYou talking about the picture?â€ she said.
He picked up the rolled up wallpaper and threw it at her. She caught it.
â€œWhereâ€™d you take this from?â€ she asked.
â€œIt was in the basement,â€ he said. â€œThis is the only room with this wallpaper.â€
â€œWell, letâ€™s take the wallpaper down,â€ she said.
He grunted and tapped on the wall again. It seemed solid.
â€œHave you tapped on the picture?â€ she asked. â€œAnd the wall behind the picture. Because itâ€™s nailed to the wall.â€
She went to the wedding picture and tapped on the glass. It sounded solid.
Washington left the room.
â€œWait, where are you â€¦?â€ 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.
â€œHey, we found some weird stuffâˆ’â€ Detective Sherman started to say.
â€œThis is really messed up!â€ Miss Hagger said, passing the negro and heading up the stairs.
â€œWeâ€™re going up to the master bedroom,â€ Detective Sherman said, following her.
â€œSame,â€ Washington called after them.
* * *
Miss Malone was trying to pull the painting off the wall when Miss Hagger and Detective Sherman entered the room.
â€œSo, I found a picture of the wife and it does not look like that and something is weird,â€ Miss Hagger said.
She handed the photograph to Miss Malone.
â€œThere ya go,â€ Miss Hagger said.
Miss Malone stared at the photograph.
â€œI think thatâ€™s water damage,â€ Miss Hagger said. â€œI hope.â€
â€œI hope thatâ€™s water damage,â€ Detective Sherman said.
â€œSo, somethingâ€™s weird about this painting,â€ Miss Hagger said.
â€œWhy?â€ Miss Malone said.
â€œWe found letters that also talked about the husband murdering her lover after she came back with a child,â€ Miss Hagger said.
â€œWait â€¦ what?â€ Miss Malone said. â€œSorry?â€
â€œApparently, 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,â€ Miss Hagger said.
â€œThatâ€™s not what water damage would do,â€ Miss Malone said.
â€œYeah, thatâ€™s what Iâ€™m thinking,â€ Miss Hagger said. â€œBut what else is it?â€
â€œThat would be fire,â€ Miss Malone said. â€œIf anything.â€
â€œWhat else is it?â€ Miss Hagger said.
â€œItâ€™s on her clothes, not just her face,â€ Miss Malone said. â€œItâ€™s on her hair.â€
â€œBecause it doesnâ€™t look like the lady in the photo on the painting,â€ Miss Hagger said.
â€œDoes it not?â€ 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.
â€œApparently sheâ€™d been cheating on the husband,â€ Miss Hagger said.
â€œMorris?â€ Miss Malone said.
â€œYeah,â€ Miss Hagger said. â€œShe came back with a child that she had with herâˆ’â€
â€œWhat year?â€ Miss Malone asked.
â€œWhat year?â€ Miss Hagger said. â€œWe donâ€™t know the year. There was no year on the papers.â€
â€œPretty early on,â€ Detective Sherman said.
â€œIt was pretty early on because it was a letter to the son before he was dead,â€ Miss Hagger said.
â€œTo Gary?â€ Miss Malone asked.
â€œYeah,â€ 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.
* * *
â€œWell, I mean her daughter had a baby in Ohio, so it mightâ€™ve been her daughterâ€™s,â€ Miss Malone said.
â€œNo,â€ Miss Hagger said. â€œShe came back with her lover. Because he killed her lover.â€
â€œYou obviously have some information I donâ€™t have,â€ Miss Malone said.
â€œShe came back with a lover,â€ Miss Hagger said. â€œSheâ€™d been cheating on him and said â€˜By the way, I have this sonâˆ’â€™â€
â€œSo, she came back with her new kid and this lover guy like â€˜Hey, look at my lover, husband.â€™â€
â€œWell â€¦ the husband killed him. Thatâ€™s what it says in the letter.â€
â€œIâ€™ll have to read the letter because youâ€™re confusing me.â€
â€œI should have brought it with me. I donâ€™t know whatâ€™s happening.â€
Miss Malone took out the newspaper article she had found.
â€œThereâ€™s a shark that Morris was mad at,â€ she said. â€œRemember how I told you about that story?â€
â€œSomeone said, yeah,â€ Miss Hagger said. â€œYou said he yelled at a shark.â€
â€œThereâ€™s a newspaper article I found in the library about it,â€ 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.
â€œI want to pull this thing off,â€ 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.
â€œThereâ€™s something on the back of the photo,â€ she said.
Detective Sherman turned it over and saw the strange rock and the odd engraving.
â€œI donâ€™t know,â€ Miss Hagger said. â€œItâ€™s just a weird rock.â€
â€œItâ€™s a rock?â€ Miss Malone asked. â€œIs it glued on or something?â€
â€œI donâ€™t know,â€ Miss Hagger said. â€œItâ€™s got a symbol.â€
â€œDoes it come off?â€ Miss Malone said.
Miss Malone wanted to take it apart and Detective Sherman used his knife to pry the frame apart.
â€œI have seen this exact same symbol on the front door and the back door,â€ he said. â€œThis weird star with the flame carved in it. I donâ€™t know â€¦â€
â€œIt seems kind of â€¦â€ Miss Malone said.
â€œWeird,â€ Miss Hagger said.
â€œIt seems like some kind of significant meaning,â€ Miss Malone said. â€œIf itâ€™s in three places in this one house.â€
â€œYeah, thatâ€™s weird,â€ 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.
â€œStop!â€ Miss Malone said.
â€œI knew something was weird around here,â€ he said.
â€œYeah!â€ Miss Hagger said.
â€œWashington,â€ Detective Sherman said.
Miss Malone pushed him to one side and pulled out the other three loose bricks.
â€œLet me hit it again,â€ he said.
â€œNo!â€ 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.
â€œDid you look?â€ Miss Malone asked him.
He didnâ€™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.
â€œWhy?â€ Miss Hagger asked no one in particular. â€œThereâ€™s â€¦ thereâ€™s â€¦â€
â€œYeah,â€ Miss Malone said.
â€œPerson â€¦ in the wall,â€ Miss Hagger said.
â€œYeah,â€ Miss Malone said.
â€œThereâ€™s a person in the wall!â€ Miss Hagger said.
â€œYeah,â€ Miss Malone said.
â€œYeah, we should probably figure out who it is and why theyâ€™re there,â€ Detective Sherman said.
â€œYouâ€™re a policeman, you deal with dead bodies,â€ Miss Hagger said. â€œYou do it.â€
â€œFine, fine, fine,â€ he said. â€œHold 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 Fitchâ€™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.
â€œJade, wait!â€ Miss Malone called.
â€œNo!â€ Miss Hagger shrieked.
Miss Malone leapt up from the bed.
â€œFollow Hagger!â€ 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.
â€œI donâ€™t want to be here!â€ she cried. â€œI donâ€™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.
â€œJade!â€a horrible voice growled somewhere behind her. â€œJade!â€
She ran as fast as she could.
Miss Malone called Miss Haggerâ€™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.
â€œNO!â€ she cried.
Then she heard someone run up behind her on the dock.
â€œJade,â€ she heard Miss Malone. â€œItâ€™s okay! Whatâ€™s the matter?â€
â€œHelp!â€ she cried. â€œOh my God!â€
â€œCome inside!â€ Miss Malone said. â€œItâ€™s pouring rain.â€
â€œNo! No, Iâ€™m not going in there!â€
â€œYou canâ€™t go anywhere!â€
â€œBut thereâ€™s something in the water. I just saw something awful!â€
â€œWell, then, letâ€™s get off of the dock then!â€
â€œLetâ€™s go back on land!â€
â€œIt looked at me! That thing looked at me!â€
â€œThat thing looked at me!â€
â€œIt turned its head and looked at me!â€
â€œWhat are you talking about?â€
â€œIt turned its head and looked at me!â€
â€œWhat did? We need to get off the dock!â€
â€œThe 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.
â€œThereâ€™s no way we can swim back to the mainland and thereâ€™s no way heâ€™s coming to get us before â€¦â€ Miss Malone said.
â€œYeah, but that thing in the wall is not human!â€ Miss Hagger said.
â€œNo, itâ€™s not,â€ Miss Malone said.
â€œAnd it turned its head and looked at me!â€ Miss Hagger said. â€œItâ€™s not dead! Itâ€™s alive! Itâ€™s alive! Itâ€™sâˆ’â€
â€œI donâ€™t think it is.â€
â€œI donâ€™t think itâ€™s alive. It looked pretty dead to me.â€
â€œItâ€™s alive! It looked at me! Thereâ€™s something in the waterâˆ’â€
â€œWell, you know what?â€
â€œIt looked at me too! Everythingâ€™s looking at me!â€
â€œThe men are upstairs in that room. If itâ€™s alive Iâ€™m sure theyâ€™ve wrestled it. Letâ€™s just go. I have a gun. We can go. I have a knife.â€
â€œI donâ€™t have a gun.â€
â€œI will give you one of my knives.â€
â€œOkay. Iâ€™m just going to stay in the kitchen.â€
â€œOkay, thatâ€™s fine.â€
â€œIâ€™m just so not going up there.â€
â€œIâ€™ll stay with you.â€
â€œI do not want to do anything like this ever again.â€
â€œWhat do you mean like this?â€
â€œIâ€™ve seen some things before â€¦ thereâ€™s â€¦ I â€¦ someone wanted me to look at an insane asylum where I met that one black guy. Then he â€¦ there was a doctor who was evil and he turned into a big slime creature with mouths and tentacles and I was done.â€
â€œSo, you were a patient at this hospital and you saw these things?â€
â€œI was not a patient.â€
â€œAre you sure?â€
â€œThey said â€˜Help me with this.â€™ And I said â€˜Sure, Iâ€™ll be nice and just check it out and help distract.â€™ 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 didnâ€™t want. After that, I lived and I said â€˜No more. Never again. Not ever! Iâ€™m done!â€™ And someone said â€˜Oh, a paranormal thing.â€™ And I said â€˜Most paranormal stuff is not real.â€™ And I come here and again, why me? Why every time?â€
â€œIt could even just be a â€¦ rubber â€¦ dummy thing.â€
â€œI â€¦ would hope so.â€
â€œBut you went pretty crazy. Are you sure that youâˆ’â€
â€œIt turned and looked at me! You would understand.â€
â€œI think you were just having an episode.â€
â€œYou would know. You would know.â€
â€œYou 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.
â€œShould I keep going?â€ Washington asked him.
â€œYeah,â€ Detective Sherman replied nervously. â€œWe 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.
â€œSee, itâ€™s okay,â€ Miss Malone said.
â€œIâ€™m going to stay in the kitchen,â€ Miss Hagger said.
â€œTheyâ€™re fine,â€ Miss Malone said.
â€œNo, you would understandâˆ’â€ Miss Hagger said.
â€œEat your food! Eat your food.â€
â€œIf youâ€™d seen what Iâ€™ve seen.â€
â€œI saw what youâ€™ve seen.â€
Miss Hagger looked down at her plate. Only the potato chips were still upon it.
â€œMy sandwich isnâ€™t here,â€ she said.
â€œEat the chips,â€ Miss Malone said.
â€œWhy every time?â€ Miss Hagger said dejectedly. â€œWhy always me? If you had seen what Iâ€™d seen.â€
Miss Malone gave her half of her sandwich.
â€œYou would understand if you had been at the asylum and you had seen that doctor,â€ Miss Hagger said.
â€œIâ€™m sure I would have understood if I had been in an asylum,â€ Miss Malone said condescendingly.
â€œStop that!â€ Miss Hagger said.
They both realized they were soaked through to the skin and were very cold.
â€œHe was there!â€ Miss Hagger said. â€œThe 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.
â€œWashington was also at the asylum!â€ Miss Hagger said, shivering as she tried to eat the sandwich. â€œHe saw the doctor change! He was there! He ran with me! Thatâ€™s how I know him! He was there! He understands!â€
â€œBecause he was also a patient,â€ Miss Malone said.
â€œNo!â€ Miss Hagger said. â€œI was not a patient! I pretended to help someone be a patient. Aw. No oneâ€™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.
â€œGo get some warm clothes on!â€ Miss Malone called. â€œGo put some dry clothes on!â€
â€œAw â€¦â€ Miss Hagger called.
â€œDo it!â€ Miss Malone called.
â€œFine,â€ 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.
* * *
â€œWashington, you going to be all right up here if I go see whatâ€™s going on downstairs?â€ Detective Sherman said.
â€œUh-huh,â€ 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.
â€œWhat are you doing!?!â€ Miss Hagger said. â€œYou left him alone up there with that thing!?!â€
â€œYes, itâ€™s just a body,â€ he said.
â€œItâ€™s not just a body!â€ she said.
â€œItâ€™s weird, but itâ€™s just a body,â€ he said.
â€œDid you see it? Itâ€™s not human.â€
â€œItâ€™s weird, butâˆ’â€
â€œYou donâ€™t know what that thing could do.â€
â€œFor all I know it could be a costume or something! Itâ€™s â€¦ I donâ€™t know. Heâ€™s fine. Heâ€™s got a hammer. Heâ€™ll be all right. I just came down here to seeâˆ’â€
â€œBunch of amateurs!â€
â€œI heard people come in and I just wanted toâˆ’â€
â€œIf he gets mauled, itâ€™s your fault.â€
â€œSo, what do you have over there, Charlene?â€
The other woman continued to look at the moldy book.
â€œWhat do you have over there, Charlene?â€ he asked again.
â€œShe just took it out of the bathroom,â€ Miss Hagger said. â€œSheâ€™s been reading it and I just decided to wait until sheâ€™s done to bother her.â€
â€œYeah,â€ he said.
â€œSheâ€™s done enough,â€ Miss Hagger said. â€œShe got â€¦ 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. Thereâ€™s something in the water. I believe the stories about that sea monster.â€
Miss Malone muttered something as she read.
â€œThereâ€™s â€¦ some big fish,â€ Miss Hagger said.
â€œYouâ€™ve obviously been shaken up,â€ Detective Sherman said. â€œMaybe you were seeing things.â€
Miss Hagger laughed derisively.
â€œI was not seeing things,â€ she said. â€œThatâ€™s â€¦ thatâ€™s like my â€¦ I had a friend who got eaten in front of me by a goop monster â€¦ creature â€¦ thing â€¦ I â€¦ I donâ€™t â€¦ that was not seeing things.â€
â€œWhat are youâˆ’?â€ Detective Sherman said.
â€œThis is Michelleâ€™s diary,â€ Miss Malone suddenly said. â€œIâ€™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 didnâ€™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.
Iâ€™d lost something, something important, and was looking for it. I kept swimming
down and down, for a long time, but I wasnâ€™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 wasnâ€™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 â€¦
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 donâ€™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 didnâ€™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 donâ€™t know why daddy would ever marry such a monster!
He tells me that mom and I fight because we are so alike but Iâ€™m NOTHING like her â€¦
June 9th, 1907
Motherâ€™s getting sick more and more. Sheâ€™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 sheâ€™s the only mother I have, but I
donâ€™t care. I hate her. Life will be better when sheâ€™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 itâ€™s part of who I was, who she was,
and what our family was. Not daddyâ€™s side, but hers, the Elliotâ€™s. Iâ€™d never met them, and
she never talked about them. I told her I didnâ€™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 â€¦
I knew the names from the chants in my dreams. She said the reason we didnâ€™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 couldnâ€™t talk to her like that. How could he
side with her! Heâ€™s such a slave to her! I hate them both!
May 23rd, 1910
I need to get away from here, just like Gary did. Iâ€™m going away from the sea, away from
my mother and from these dreams. When I graduate next year, Iâ€™m moving inland. I wrote
to Aunt Janis in Dayton and asked if I could visit next summer. If she says I can, I wonâ€™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.
â€œWallâ€™s open!â€ 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.
â€œHm,â€ he said when he saw it.
â€œI think this thing was alive when it was put in here,â€ Detective Sherman said. â€œSomeone 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.
* * *
â€œTheyâ€™re fish people,â€ Miss Malone said as she read the letters. â€œTheyâ€™re fish people.â€
She looked at Miss Hagger.
â€œYou read this letter, right?â€ she said.
â€œThat one and that one, yeah, I found them,â€ Miss Hagger said.
â€œThis one I havenâ€™t read but â€¦â€ Miss Malone said. â€œThis explains this letter here,â€
Miss Hagger looked over the diary. Then she gasped.
â€œLet me know when you finish that letter,â€ she said. â€œI think I just made a connection. With this.â€
She picked up the newspaper article about Morris Fitch and the bull shark.
â€œOh yeah, I know,â€ Miss Malone said. â€œI get it. Keep reading the diary.â€
She finished the letter she was reading.
â€œThe shark was the father!â€ she said.
â€œYeah!â€ Miss Hagger said. â€œThatâ€™s why he was so mad at it. And yelled and killed because he murdered â€¦ yeah. But then whereâ€™s the kid?â€
â€œThatâ€™s the question,â€ Miss Malone said. â€œMaybe heâ€™s the giant thing out there.â€
â€œGo tell them the shark was the lover and they are fish people,â€ Miss Hagger said.
* * *
Miss Malone entered the master bedroom where the two men were looking at the hole in the wall.
â€œSo, we figured it out,â€ she said. â€œThis is really weird, but it doesnâ€™t explain the ghost. It explains â€¦ okay. I found a diary from the girl. She had dreams.â€
â€œWhat girl?â€ Washington asked.
â€œMichelle,â€ Miss Malone said.
â€œWhoâ€™s Michelle?â€ Washington asked.
â€œThe daughter of Morris Fitch, who lived here originally.â€
â€œShe 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 becauseâˆ’â€
â€œLike this thing?â€
â€œI donâ€™t even want to look at that thing. Yes, thatâ€™s her. Maybe. Maybe not. I donâ€™t know that thatâ€™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 couldnâ€™t bring himself to harm that.â€
â€œWait, wait, wait, wait, wait,â€ Detective Sherman said.
â€œWhoâ€™s the child?â€ Washington asked.
â€œThe child is Bessieâ€™s and her loverâ€™s,â€ she said. â€œWhich might be that giant thing thatâ€™s out in the ocean, so either thatâ€™s â€¦ I think that might be her half-child with her lover.â€
â€œWait, you mean the thing that Jade was talking about?â€ Detective Sherman said.
â€œThe thing that everyoneâ€™s been talking about,â€ Miss Malone said. â€œThe giant thing might be the half-son.â€
â€œOh,â€ Detective Sherman said.
â€œBecause Morris sent a letter to Gary about the half-child. Morris told Michelle that she needed to come back because they canâ€™t fight it, because they tried to fight his wifeâ€™s changing it just wouldnâ€™t â€¦ didnâ€™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€
â€œI think you did a good job of explaining it. The thing is, the dress in the picture is the same as the dress on whateverâ€™s in the wall. So, Iâ€™m not sure what that means. Iâ€™m pretty sure that thing is Bessie.â€
â€œMaybe. 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€
â€œSheâ€™s chained to the wall.â€
â€œSo, he was crazy too.â€
â€œAlso said something about punishing her,â€ Washington said.
â€œWhat said punishing her?â€ Miss Malone asked.
â€œOne of the things I read,â€ he replied.
â€œA letter from â€¦â€ Detective Sherman said.
â€œOh yes!â€ she said. â€œYes, youâ€™re right! He said she stayed with him and he punished her.â€
â€œSo, maybe he chained her to the wall andâˆ’â€ Detective Sherman said.
â€œAnd then he fell down the stairs!â€ Miss Malone said. â€œAnd died. And she died of starvation!â€
Miss Hagger entered the room.
â€œOkay guys,â€ she said. â€œDid you tell them everything?â€
â€œI think so,â€ Miss Malone said.
â€œAll right,â€ Miss Hagger said. â€œThat explains all the sickness and why she was so sick and everyone said she was so sick.â€
â€œYeah, because she changed,â€ Miss Malone said.
â€œAnd they were trying to fight it,â€ Miss Hagger said.
â€œYou canâ€™t keep a fish outta water for long,â€ Washington said.
â€œIâ€™m worried about â€¦ remember how they said the son was really ugly and always got in fights?â€ Miss Hagger said. â€œMaybe it was because he was a fish person.â€
â€œThey said it was on the Elliottâ€™s side, which was the motherâ€™s side,â€ Miss Malone said. â€œBut he didnâ€™t have the dreams, at least that we know about. Just the daughter.â€
â€œYeah,â€ Miss Hagger said. â€œIâ€™m worried about where the daughter is.â€
â€œSheâ€™s the only one alive, right?â€ Miss Malone said.
â€œYeah,â€ Miss Hagger said.
â€œApparently sheâ€™s in Ohio,â€ Detective Sherman said.
â€œAs far as we know,â€ Miss Hagger said. â€œSheâ€™s going to change andâˆ’â€
â€œWhat did you say?â€ Miss Malone said to Detective Sherman.
â€œSheâ€™s in Ohio now,â€ Detective Sherman said.
â€œShe apparently has two kids now,â€ Miss Hagger said. â€œAre they fish people? Are fish people everywhere now? Are we going to be eaten by fish people?â€
â€œSlow down, Jade,â€ Miss Malone said.
â€œI â€¦ okay,â€ Miss Hagger said. â€œDo you think he was trying to suffocate her? Maybe she breathed water and so â€¦ now sheâ€™sâˆ’â€
â€œNo,â€ Miss Malone said.
â€œBut whyâˆ’â€ Miss Hagger said.
â€œI think he was punishing her,â€ Detective Sherman said.
There was another rumble of thunder.
â€œSo, he bricked her up and left a hole where her face was so he could open the hole?â€ Miss Hagger said.
â€œYeah, but the picture was nailed,â€ Miss Malone said.
â€œYeah, I think he left her there to die,â€ Miss Hagger said.