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Rise of the Sleeper Session One Part 2 - Harlow House and the Thing in the Pool

Max_Writer

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Bricker flung open the front doors of the house. A whirling cloud of gray dust wafted out to greet him. Dim, eerie light filtered in through the sheer, web-like drapes still hanging limply in the windows, silhouetting his figure in dusky auras of cyan illumination. An ornate circular staircase winded up and into the haunting darkness of the second floor where he could see a chandelier peeking down. Two large closets flanked the stairs, their doors open and framed by cobwebs. A once plush divan rested to the left of the front doors, while an empty table stood to the right. Directly across from the entrance, in the tony rotunda formed by the spiraling stairs, rested a small stand atop which sat an intricately pattered Oriental vase. A set of double doors stood ajar in the walls to the right and left. The curtains rustled strangely though he could not feel a breeze.

 

Bricker put his luggage down in the foyer, as did the others. Then he headed to the double doors on the left, followed by Miss Fairfield. Miss Ingerton and Virgil Thomas stood in the doorway. She thought the place would be impressive if it wasn’t so run down. Miss Fairfield was thinking about how to photograph the house.

 

The front doors squeaked as they slowly closed. Miss Edington moved towards them as they snapped shut with a click. She grabbed the handles and pulled them open once again.

 

“Who’s there?†she said.

 

No one was outside. She felt for the wind but it was very still. She backed away from the doors, watching them. Virgil Thomas watched them as well.

 

Bricker shrugged and pushed open the doors to the next room. The large, once comfortable chamber contained several rickety but serviceable plush chairs, a silent grandfather clock, and a sooty fireplace. A faded Oriental carpet covered much of the warping hardwood floor. Two large bay windows looked out of the front of the house while another window on the side wall stood next to the fireplace. Another pair of double doors were set in the back wall of the room.

 

Bricker walked to the other set of doors and pulled them open. As he did so, he heard a clicking off to his left and then a whirring noise. There was a sharp ringing gong from the grandfather clock, followed by another, and then another and then another and then another. Bricker jumped at the first one and then looked at the clock. By the last one, whatever mechanism that had, for whatever reason, activated within the clock wound down to make a sickening ringing noise.

 

* * *

 

In the foyer, Miss Edington heard the chiming of the grandfather clock as she continued watching the front doors. She yelped and jumped at the strange noise. Then she looked at the doors again before turning to the double doors on the right, followed closely by Virgil Thomas. She pushed open the doors on that side of the room.

 

* * *

 

Bricker looked back at the grandfather clock, which had chimed five times before the mechanism died. He shook his head and walked through the doors to find himself in a long hallway running the length of the house. Several doors stood on the walls, most of them double doors. He could see light at the far end of the hall, where there were apparently windows. The near end was very dark.

 

Miss Fairfield looked around at the place. The contrast of darkness and light would make for interesting pictures. The pure decay of everything would also probably produce some amazing photographs.

 

Bricker crossed the hallway to the doors there.

 

* * *

 

Miss Edington opened the doors from the foyer. The centerpiece of the chamber beyond was a large, cobweb-shrouded table set with 13 chairs in a similar state. A large, peeling painting of a stern, cruel-looking man hung on the wall behind the head of the table over another set of double doors leading deeper into the house. The only other item in the room was a lacquered cabinet containing sets of cracked china. Another door stood in the opposite wall of the room and a large bay window completely bereft of glass looked out the front of the house.

 

Miss Edington looked up at the portrait and it suddenly dropped from the wall to hit the ground with a sharp crack. She screamed and jumped. The portrait seemed to balance itself for a moment and then fell forward, slapping to the ground and sending up a wave of dust.

 

“It’s all right, Miss Suzanna,†Virgil Thomas said.

 

Both of them looked around nervously.

 

Miss Suzanna quickly walked to the opposite door. Virgil Thomas followed close behind.

 

* * *

 

Bricker and Miss Fairfield heard a yelp coming from elsewhere in the house and guessed it was Miss Edington. He pushed the double doors open. The room beyond was vast, running probably at least half the width of the house. A beautifully carved fireplace was the centerpiece of the room. The ornamental stonework extended right into the ceiling, consisting of assorted faces, gargoyles, and figures formed of rock by the hands of a brilliant artist. The mantle stretched a full 12 feet and was similarly carved, as was the equally massive hearth. Two large windows flanked the fireplace.

 

On the mantle were arranged a number of old photographs in frames. Other items on the mantle included two large brass candle holders with partially melted black candles, two crossed swords, probably from the Civil War, a cracked and blackened pipe, and a contemporary kerosene lantern.

 

On the wall to the left was another door. Across the room were two more sets of double doors. One obviously led back to the hallway they were standing in. The other led further to the back of the house.

 

Miss Fairfield crossed the room to look at the photographs. There were three of them. The first depicted a man and a woman in odd, black robes. The man was stern, almost evil-looking, while the woman appeared cold and possessed of dark wisdom. The second photo depicted the same couple with three boys in their mid- to early teens. The third photo showed two young men in military uniforms. She didn’t recognize the uniform but didn’t think it the same kind her brother had worn in the Great War.

 

Bricker, meanwhile, walked to the door in the back corner. It opened into a large closet.

 

Miss Fairfield picked up the first framed photo to look on the back. Suddenly, the man’s face in the photograph contorted as if in agony. She heard a whining wail that seemed to come from the photo. Then it was back to what it had looked like before. She shakily turned the frame over. On the back was written “Septimus and Hepzibah, 1830.â€

 

* * *

 

Miss Edington and Virgil Thomas entered the kitchen. A long-cold wood-burning stove was in the back of the room, unburned wood still in its chamber. There was also a rusted water pump, a sink, and counters with cupboards underneath. A single set of dishes lay unwashed at the bottom of the dusty sink. Two doors stood in the wall opposite the door to the dining room. A single broken window looked out the front of the house.

 

They crossed to one of the doors, which opened into a closet or pantry with shelves on the walls. Ancient canned goods stood on the shelves as well as preserves in old glass jars. She guessed the tinned and preserved food was probably from the 1800s.

 

“This house is old,†she said.

 

The other door opened into a hallway lit by a window. Behind a nearby door was a set of steps going up to the second floor.

 

She heard a rattle come from the kitchen and something fell to the floor. She ignored it and moved on.

 

* * *

 

Miss Fairfield picked up the second framed photograph of the two people and the three boys in their mid- to early teens. She turned it over quickly, not looking at the front. The back read “Septimus and Hepzibah with Ahab, Harrison, and Seth, 1830.†She quickly put it down and then picked up the last one, with the two men in uniform, and quickly turned it over. The back read “Lyle and Jed, 1861.â€

 

Bricker, meanwhile, stepped into the hallway and went to the darkened nearer end. He pulled the door there open to find a set of steps going up. He could make out only a little light at the top of the stairs and could just see a door there. As he turned away from the stairwell, he suddenly saw movement out of the corner of his eye. He glanced up the stairwell and saw odd, twisting shadows form out of nothing and loom at him for a moment. They vanished and he slammed the door.

 

Miss Fairfield looked around, startled at the sound from the corridor. She quickly walked to the hall, almost running into Bricker as he walked back to the room.

 

* * *

 

Miss Edington looked down the long corridor that ran the length of the house and saw the other two.

 

“Oh hey!†she called.

 

She and Virgil Thomas walked quickly down the corridor to the others, passing several doorways and raising a cloud of dust behind them. She quickly reached the other two.

 

“So …†Miss Edington said.

 

“What was in there, Nigel?†Miss Fairfield said.

 

“Uh … it was probably nothing,†Bricker replied. “My eyes playing tricks.â€

 

“What do you mean?†Miss Edington asked. “What’d you see?â€

 

“I thought I saw a─†Bricker said.

 

“Is it a room?†Miss Fairfield said.

 

“It’s stairs up to the second floor,†Bricker said. “Probably nothing. It just startled me.â€

 

“Well, I passed by another set of stairs,†Miss Edington said. “I didn’t want to go up there yet. There was a dining room and there was a large picture and it just fell. It scared me.â€

 

“Oh, that’s what that shriek was,†Miss Fairfield said.

 

“Yeah,†Miss Edington said, embarrassed.

 

Bricker said he wanted to explore the place before they had lunch. Miss Edington peeked into the large living room with the intricately carved fireplace. Miss Fairfield headed across that room to the doors beyond. Miss Edington followed her but then noticed the photographs on the mantle.

 

“Who are these?†she asked no one in particular.

 

She looked over the photographs and recognized the uniforms the men wore as Confederate uniforms from the Civil War. When she looked down, she was convinced she saw a footprint in the soot and dirt in the fireplace. She was certain of it. It looked like a hoof print with claws. It was very, very strange. She decided to ignore it and headed over to Miss Fairfield.

 

Miss Fairfield, nearby, opened the double doors at the back of the house. The room was in the worst state of any they had seen so far. Small trees grew up from the splintered floorboards, the windows were all shattered, and moss and fungi grew in profusion all about. The smaller room had once had a set of bow windows, which projected from the back of the house. Another set of double doors stood further down the wall from the one they entered.

 

* * *

 

Bricker, meanwhile, headed back out into the corridor. We went to the next set of double doors towards the back of the house, ignoring the small, open closets in the hall. Opening the doors led to a darkened hallway that ended in another set of double doors. One more set of double doors was on the wall to his right.

 

* * *

 

Miss Fairfield and Miss Edington stepped into the room. Miss Fairfield noticed there seemed to have been a fierce struggle there some time before. Furniture was overturned and broken and there seemed to be a small pool of dried blood staining the dusty floor. She also noticed that all of the windows had been broken inwards, almost as if something had been thrown against them from outside. Both of the women noticed three bullet holes in the wall near the broken window. Miss Edington saw something sticking out from a small pile of dead foliage and litter apparently deposited there by the wind. She picked up a .38 revolver that was not very old and seemed to be in relatively good condition. She showed it to the other woman.

 

They looked at each other in stunned silence and then looked at the bullet holes in the wall.

 

* * *

 

Bricker pushed open the doors to the right to find himself in a room shrouded in unsettling gloom by tangles of swamp vines that had encroached upon that section of the house, engulfing most of the windows and the doors that probably led out of the back of the house. A set of bowed windows, mostly broken, stood on the far side of the room, another door led back into the house to the right, and double doors leading out of the back of the house stood on his left.

 

The room was obviously once a library. The walls were lined with bookcases still filled with books, though many were covered in mold and some were obviously water-damaged. On a small podium in the center of the room was what appeared to be a family bible covered with years of dust.

 

He went further up the corridor and opened the double doors to find himself in the overgrown room where the others were standing. Miss Edington had just struggled to open up a pistol and found six empty cartridges within. All of the bullets had been fired. Bricker’s entrance made Virgil Thomas gasp in surprise.

 

Miss Fairfield took the pistol from Miss Edington. It was still in good shape. Miss Edington put the cartridges down on the pile of foliage.

 

“What’d you find?†Miss Fairfield asked.

 

“What appeared to be a library or something,†Bricker said. “What’d you two find?â€

 

“I found this gun. All the bullets were fired. There’s bullet holes over there. There’s blood on the ground.â€

 

“Blood?†Miss Edington said.

 

“There’s broken glass on the floor like the window’s been shattered inward,†Miss Fairfield went on. “The furniture is in disarray as if there had been a fight.â€

 

Bricker showed them the library. He went over to the bible and opened it as the others looked at books on the shelves. He found the pages were completely black and covered by thick, slimy soot which, when brushed aside, revealed pages which had been charred and blackened from within. He turned through the pages but the only one that seemed intact was a blank page with a family tree and a short written entry on the Harlow family history.

 

The family tree showed Septimus Harlow (1790- ) and Hepzibah Baraton (1792-1892) having three children, Harrison Harlow (1816-1834), Ahab Harlow (1815-1830), and Seth Harlow (1820-1840). Harrison was shown to have married Katherine Whateley (1818-1886) in 1833 and had two children: Rose Harlow (1834-1852) and Collin Harlow (1835- ). Seth was shown to have married Rhoda Marsh (1822-1840) in 1839. They had three children: Amos Harlow (1840-1858), Lyle Harlow (1840- ), and Jed Harlow (1840-1864). Lyle Harlow was shown to have married Elvira Allen (1835- ) in 1856 and they had a single child, Armitage Harlow (1858-1874). Jed Harlow was shown to have married Rebecca Wilkerson (1840- ) in 1858.

 

The bottom of the same page was titled “The Harlow Family History†and read:

 


Septimus and Hepzibah Harlow were born in 1790 and 1792, respectively. They moved
from Dunwich, Mass., to the Florida Everglades in 1830 along with a dozen other families,
taking with them their three sons: Ahab, Harrison, and Seth.

 

With the aid of a mysterious black man who called himself Papa Jobe, they drained some
of the marshy land and raised a small town, which they called New Dunwich.

 

The Harlow’s eldest son, Ahab, contracted a mysterious wasting disease and died in 1830
at the age of 15. In 1833, Harrison Harlow married Katherine Whateley at the age of 17; a
year later Katherine gave birth to a daughter - Rose.

 

Early in 1835, the now-widowed Katherine gave birth to a son, whom she named Collin.
In 1839, Seth, the last of the Harlow sons, married Rhoda Marsh who, in 1840, died giving
birth to triplets: Amos, Lyle, and Jed. Distraught at the loss of his wife, Seth hanged himself
on the day of the funeral, leaving his parents, Septimus and Hepzibah, to raise the children.

 

In 1856 Lyle Harlow married Elvira Allen, and in 1858 they had a son, Armitage. That
same year saw the marriage of Jed Harlow and Rebecca Wilkerson.

 

In 1861 the Civil War began, and both Lyle and Jed Harlow took up arms to serve in the
Confederate Army. In 1864 Jed was killed in battle, while Lyle returned home at the end
of the war in 1865. In the year 1886, Katherine Harlow died at the age of 67. Hepzibah
Harlow died in her sleep in 1892 - she was 100 years old at that time.

 


The page seemed to describe the family tree accurately and he wondered what had happened to the rest of the bible. He noticed many of them had died very young.

 

The others had found the library was filled with books on a wide array of topics ranging from classic literature to volumes on science, the occult, gardening, wine making, architecture, and almost any subject. Miss Edington noticed that though it was a very eclectic collection filled with just about everything, there was nothing connected with Christianity. She took a few occult books related to witches and ghosts.

 

Bricker tore the page out of the bible and, as soon as he did, the book was suddenly ripped from his hands, crashing to the ground and bursting into flames. The others looked over as Bricker tried to stomp the flames out. Unfortunately, the book was completely destroyed by the combination of fire and boots. Miss Edington was completely mortified at the destruction of what she had assumed was a Bible. Bricker was a little disturbed as well. Virgil Thomas was very upset at the entire spectacle.

 

Demons, Miss Edington thought.

 

Bricker left the room. Miss Edington continued to look at the books. Bricker poked his head into the room again and asked if they wanted to come examine the second floor.

 

“I will,†Miss Fairfield said.

 

The two of them went back to the foyer through the dining room, where they saw the painting on the floor. They passed through without examining it and made their way to the front room of the house. As they opened the door to the foyer, they heard the stairs creak as if someone were walking slowly up. The noise moved up the steps and stopped at the top.

 

Bricker waited a few seconds before he went to the stairs. No one was upon them or at the top. He examined the tiny stand with the blue and white Oriental vase. He thought he might get something good from it and picked it up. He turned it over and some bits of paper thin plant matter dropped out, as if a flower or a plant had been in it at one point.

 

“Okay, I guess we can check upstairs,†he said.

 

On their way up the steps, they couldn’t help but notice the stairs made the same exact noise as they had just heard moments before though no one had been on them that time.

 

They arrived at a landing above. The steps had circled halfway around an open area that went all the way down to the ground floor. A thin railing ran around it. A large iron chandelier hung above the steps, it’s crystal beauty dimmed by grime and cobwebs. The creaking bowing stairs winded down into the gloom. The landing at the top had four sets of double doors, two leading into the depths of the house while the other two were on either wall perpendicular to the front. A large window illuminated the room though most of the glass had been broken out of it.

 

They crossed to the nearest doors and pushed them open. The room had two windows looking out over the front of the house and a set of double doors to the left, going deeper into the house. Three cribs sat in the middle of the room surrounded by antique baby toys. They walked into the room and looked briefly around before Bricker went to the other set of double doors and opened them. They found themselves in another hallway with a few windows and another set of double doors towards the front of the house. A few other doors were on the back walls. Light came through windows set around the place.

 

They moved to a single door to the right and opened it. Steps went down and he saw a door ajar at the bottom. He guessed it probably came down near the kitchen. They went to the nearby double doors and found a corner room with several broken windows. It looked like the place had been taken over for storage and was so cluttered with assorted items from clothing to furniture it would be hard to make their way through it. They went into the room and began searching it.

 

They soon found a trunk that looked interesting. Within were several black robes like the ones they had seen in the photographs. Bricker pulled one of the robes out. It had a large, bloodstained hole in the center of the chest of the robe. Removing it also revealed a small black book. Miss Fairfield picked up the book and saw that it was very thin with only a single page having been written upon. That page had a poem upon it titled The Ritual of the Sleeper. It read:

 

Behold, the Sleeper wakens to rise up from the deep
Behold, the Master calls to us in sleep.
Rejoice, for the Great Ones return from voids and dreams
Rejoice, the children journey home on winds and stellar beams
Sing out, for stars align to merge as one as seen
Sing for the chosen, on mortal blood shall ween
Look, and kneel at murky depths malign
Look, and behold, for ancient are the signs
Behold, the Master calls to us in sleep
Behold, the sleeper wakens to rise up from the deep

 

Priest: Praise the Unbegotten Source
Congregation: Father of us all
Priest: Praise He Who Is Not To Be Named
Congregation: Brother to the Priest
Priest: Praise the Wind Walker
Congregation: Stalker of the wastes
Priest: Praise the Crawling Chaos
Congregation: Prophet to us all
Priest: Praise the Thing That Should Not Be
Congregation: Bishop of the dark
Priest: Praise the Black Goat
Congregation: Mother of us all
Priest: Praise the All in One
Congregation: Master of Time and Space
Priest: Praise the Sleeper
Congregation: The Inhabitant of the Lake
Priest: Praise our Keeper
Congregation: The Inhabitant of the Lake
Priest: Praise the Reaper of our souls
Congregation: The Inhabitant of the Lake

 


It was quite disturbing.

 

Bricker, meanwhile had pulled out all five of the robes. Three of them had the bloodstained hole in the middle of the chest.

 

Suddenly, the book was jerked from Miss Fairfield’s hand and crashed to the floor. To Bricker, it looked like she’d flung it away. She stared at it and then turned away, content to let it lay where it had landed.

 

The two continued to search the room and found what appeared to be another painting, this one covered with a large drop cloth. It was probably at least six feet tall and five feet wide. Bricker pulled the cloth off to reveal an old painting of a ghastly subject: a huge, lumbering monstrosity composed of hundreds of tentacles, eyes, and mouths. It was a grayish hulk, with purple and blue splotches, and what seemed very like a human face at the top of its malformed and malign body. No artist had signed it, nor was it dated. The brass nameplate simply stated: “The Dunwich Horror.†Perhaps the most disturbing thing about this abominable work was its clear, photographic-like quality, which created the impression that someone had snapped a photograph of the living subject and enlarged it to that size.

 

Miss Fairfield just stared at the horrific picture, unsure at first if it was an actual photograph. It wasn’t. It was merely terribly realistic. Bricker put the cloth back over it. Miss Fairfield picked up the book and transcribed the writing in it into her personal journal.

 

Bricker left the storage room and went to one of the doors on the far wall. He found a staircase going up. The rough-hewn stairs showed the signs of much wear, and the passage, which was clogged with spider webs, was very narrow. It was dark at the top of the stairs but they didn’t seem to lead anywhere but a blank ceiling. He shut the door.

 

He went to the next door, which led into an old bathroom. The tiny, musty chamber had cracked fixtures and tiles, paint peeling from the walls, and a large, bulky water pump over a receiving basin. A cracked mirror was above that small sink. There was a toilet with a tank high above it. Pipes connected it to the pump.

 

He went to the next door, which led to a wide back hall that ran the length of the house. He could see a window at the far end. Doors were on either wall, five on the right and three sets of double doors on the left. He waited for Miss Fairfield, who came out of the other room after a few more minutes. Bricker heard a creak from behind him and turned to see the doors to the storage room close by themselves.

 

The two headed down the back corridor to the first doors on the right, guessing the double doors led back to the main landing. The room behind the single door was engulfed in swamp vines. They realized it was probably above the library, where the vines had been. The windows were broken, allowing wild vegetation to creep into the room to partially cover the walls. The room was thus cloaked in the same haunting, shadowy light as the library. There didn’t appear to be any furniture.

 

Checking out the double doors across the hall, Bricker found they did, indeed, lead to the landing.

 

Miss Fairfield noticed the vines on the other side of the room they were just in shaking strangely right after Bricker left. She opted not to investigate and left the room as well. When Bricker returned she went with him down the hallway.

 

The next door on the right opened into a curved stairwell going up into the darkness. They decided to check on those stairs later and went on to the next doorway, which opened into a short hallway that ended in another door. They crossed to it and opened it, revealing another long, narrow room. This one was equipped with a small fireplace above which hung the stuffed and mounted carcass of a six-foot long alligator. There was also a stuffed vulture perched on a branch nailed to the nearby wall. Both were old and decayed. Portions of the bodies had fallen away, the scales and feather very dry and brittle.

 

Bricker walked over to the small fireplace and examined the alligator. It was falling apart. It looked like it was staring right at him, the eyes being quite realistic. He circled around the side of it and touched it. It gave way at his touch in a disturbing way. A few scales fell off as well.

 

As he looked at the alligator, Miss Fairfield saw the vulture behind him move its wings, its head lowering towards the man.

 

“Nigel!†she said. “Get away!â€

 

He ran back towards her.

 

“What?†he said.

 

“The bird,†she said. “It was moving.â€

 

He looked at the bird but it looked exactly as it had before. He walked carefully over to the thing and poked its beak. Nothing happened except some dust fell from it. He saw it was mounted on a stick that was mounted to the wall. He walked back over to Miss Fairfield.

 

“You okay, Miss Fairfield?†he asked.

 

“Yeah, I guess … just not enough light in this room,†she said.

 

“Right,†Bricker replied.

 

The room was fairly well lit.

 

They returned to the hallway and went to the next door on the right. The room looked like the others, dusty and hauntingly uninviting. Several windows were in the corner and a door stood near them, slightly ajar. In all other respects, it was completely ordinary. They went in and looked around. Nigel went to the door and he pulled it fully open. He saw a stairwell going down, another door at the bottom.

 

Then someone shoved him from behind, sending him tumbling. Miss Fairfield only saw Bricker suddenly jerk forward and disappear into the door. Then she heard him crash down the stairs. She ran to the door and looked down.

 

“Are you okay?†she called.

 

“Did you shove me down the stairs?†he called as she came down the stairs. “Did you see anything behind me?â€

 

“Why would I shove you down the stairs?â€

 

“I don’t know. I just felt like something hit me and …â€

 

He cursed as he stumbled to his feet.

 

“You didn’t see anything?†he said, clutching his aching head.

 

Miss Fairfield helped him to his feet and up the stairs. They quickly moved away from the door, which Bricker slammed shut. As he limped towards the other door to the bedroom, they both heard a creak as the door to the steps opened very slowly. They fled the room.

 

The last doorway on that side of the hallway opened into another tiny, musty chamber that showed some signs of repair. Cracked fixture had been replaced, floors retiled, and walls painted, all done some time ago obviously. A large and bulky water pump stood by the receiving basin and another cracked mirror was on the wall over it. Bricker pumped the water pump for a while. Eventually, cool water trickled into the receiving basin but it stank, bearing a foul stench.

 

They crossed the hallway to a set of double doors. The room was the best-kept of all and it was obvious Brandon Young must have stayed there and had cleaned it thoroughly. Though three years time had done its work, the room was somewhat tidy. There were two beds plus a dresser and a nightstand for each. In one of the dressers, they found what proved to be Brandon Young’s earthly possessions: a bedroll, clothes, wallet, spoiled provisions, and a backpack. The latter contained a map of New Dunwich, a letter from Ezekiel Rosenwald informing him of his inheritance dated 1924, and a notebook. The letter noted Brandon had inherited the property from Rebecca Harlow. It was noted that in 1908 news of her death reached Boston and he was deemed the sole heir of the Harlow estate.

 

The notebook proved to be some kind of a journal. Bricker sat down on the bed and read it:

 


October 12 - Have arrived in New Dunwich - - what a dump! The whole place seems to be
falling apart at the seams. Very strange here; I’ve only seen one person so far, a creepy old
coot named Crawford Slater. He seems friendly enough, but I get the feeling there’s something
not quite right about him - - maybe it’s his breath.

 

October 13 - My first night here and it wasn’t a pleasant one. Had bizarre dreams and woke
up to some weird noises coming from the swamp. Could be I’m just jumpy; this place is spooky
enough to do it to anyone, but I really could swear I’m not alone in this house.

 

October 18 - My first week is drawing to a close and so far I haven’t had a single night’s decent
sleep. I feel like I’m being drawn towards some place out in the Everglades - pulled there by some
hostile force. Guess they’d say I was acting like a scared kid back home - but then none of them
are here!

 

October 21 - I asked Slater about those strange noises today. He gave me some runaround
fairytale about bullfrogs and night birds, but that sounds like a lot of hokum. I’m becoming
very suspicious of Crawford Slater and his town. I mean, I hardly ever see anyone, and then
only at night. What is this, a town full of vampires?

 

October 24 - When I was out back today cleaning up the yard, I was sure I caught a quick
glimpse of someone in an upstairs window, but when I checked, I found no one. Maybe Slater
is checking up on me. There’s definitely something about Crawford I do not like - - something
that just gives me the willies!

 

October 26 - There must be something out in the swamp that the townfolk are hiding, because
every time I start out along that one path Slater is there to stop me. He tells me all kinds of stories
about gators and crocs, but that’s exactly what I think it all is - - a crock!

 

October 27 - Still haven’t had any decent sleep. The heat is horrendous, and the smell - - my
god - - the smell of something long dead and rotting has filled this town; bad enough during the
day, but in the night …! I heard that same weird noise again last night; in fact, I woke up from
a really bad nightmare screaming like the devil was after me, soaked in a cold sweat - and there
was that damnable noise! I don’t recall much of the dream, just that I was standing on the shore
of a lake or pool, and something came up out of it after me - something long dead and buried and
smelling … like that smell!

 

October 30 - I stayed up last night, and I saw the strangest thing. Just after midnight the townspeople
left their houses and tramped off into the swamp. Shortly after I heard that odd noise, and I saw a
weird glow coming from out there where those people were. It was then that I felt an incredible
urge to join them, but something held me back, and made me resist. A little while later the noise
faded, and everyone came back home. I think tomorrow night I’ll follow and see where they’re
all going - and what they could possibly be doing in the middle of the swamp in the dead of night.

 

October 31 - My god! Horrible … vile! Insane things are done out there, and I saw it! What
are they? Now I understand what’s wrong about Slater; I only wish I would’ve guessed sooner.
The chanting … that strange black man … My god, that thing that answered their calls! A huge
spiny blotch in the darkness, but nothing this world could’ve birthed … Sweet mother of Jesus
help me! They tried breaking into the house to get me, but I fought them off - - for now. They
want me, want me to be one of them, and they’ll never let me out of this cursed town. There’s
only one way out for me, one way to at least preserve my soul from this thing, and I beg forgiveness
for what I’m going to do. But you must understand what’s waiting for me in that putrid lake out
there! I’m going up to the cupola, where it’ll take them longer to reach me, and if they do, it’ll be
too late. The rope is strong and the drop is a long one if I want it. If you are reading this, get out
of New Dunwich!

 

Pray for me.

 

* * *

 

Miss Edington had finished looking through one of the shelves and was bored with looking at books. She and Virgil Thomas left the library and took the back stairs up to the second floor. She looked around at the doors on the landing, noting the open doors. She peeked into one of the open doors and saw the nursery. She heard a noise and saw something in one of the cribs.

 

“Virgil, do you see that?†she asked.

 

“Huh?†he replied.

 

“That thing moving in that crib? Is that something moving? Or is my mind playing tricks?â€

 

“That is something moving,†Virgil Thomas said. “Yeah.â€

 

“Should we look at it?â€

 

“Iunno.â€

 

She took his arm nervously.

 

“Please come with,†she muttered.

 

“Mm-yeah,†he said.

 

They stepped forward and saw a baby in the crib. It was happily cooing and looking at them. Then the skin melted off its bones and horns came out of its head and it reached for them before vanishing. Miss Edington shrieked.

 

“What the Hell is that?†Virgil Thomas said, stepping back and drawing his pistol.

 

“I knew it was demons!†she said.

 

She left the room, followed closely by Virgil Thomas, who pulled the doors closed behind them.

 

“Virgil I don’t know where they’ve gone,†she said desperately.

 

“Well, you could call for ‘em,†Virgil Thomas replied.

 

“I’m not about to yell in this house after seeing that!†she snapped.

 

She crossed to the bathroom and peered in and then went through the open door to the wide hallway. She peeked into the vine-covered room to the right and then went in, looking around the corner. No one was in the room and she left, going down the corridor, passing the doors back to the landing. She passed the closed door to the curved stairway and looked into the open door that led to the next bedroom, down the short corridor. She slipped in and saw the stuffed animals. She left, peeking into the bedroom on the other end of the house. She saw a door on the other end of the room close and she heard someone going down the stairs.

 

She quickly crossed the room and opened the door at the top, revealing a dark stairwell with no one within. She quickly closed the door and left the room, going to another bathroom and then the room across the hall, where she found Bricker and Miss Fairfield. He was reading a notebook and the woman was looking over his shoulder at it.

 

They found Brandon Young’s driver’s license in the wallet along with a few dollar bills. Bricker pocketed the money. There was also a library card for Boston Public Library.

 

“I know this library,†Miss Fairfield, originally from Boston, exclaimed.

 

Bricker suggested they go back to the foyer and get a bite to eat before regrouping. They went back down the main stairs and found the front doors closed again. Their luggage and supplies sat by the front door, untouched. Bricker took the small table next to the door and moved it to one of the doors, opening it and propping it open with the table.

 

They had a cold lunch of canned cheese, canned ham, preserves, and water. Miss Edington, still disturbed, smoked a cigarette to calm her nerves. By the time they had finished eating, it was about 3:00 in the afternoon.

 

Bricker wanted to check out the third floor and so they all went back to the curved stairwell off the back hallway upstairs. The steps were fairly narrow and curved upward. The reason for them curving became quickly obvious as they opened up into the lowest floor of the cupola above. The ornate tower stood in the center of the roof, overlooking the rest of New Dunwich. The room was silent and empty save for the by-now expected dust and webs, as well as a broken ladder lying in a splintered heap in the center of the floor. Directly above the ladder in the center of the high ceiling was a man-sized hole. The ladder obviously once led up to the hole.

 

Bricker wanted to climb up so Virgil Thomas helped the man by letting him stand on his shoulders. Unfortunately, Bricker lost his balance when he misjudged where to grab to pull himself up. He overbalanced and crashed to the ground, landing solidly and knocking the wind out of himself. It was several minutes before he could breathe normally again.

 

“Are you okay, Nigel?†Miss Fairfield said.

 

He was ready to try again and this time he managed to get a good grip and pull himself up into the room 13 feet above the ground floor of the cupola. The smaller upper chamber was high above New Dunwich. A rotted, severed rope was tied to the very top of the cupola, swinging mournfully in the breeze. There was no glass in any of the round windows. The only object in the cramped little chamber was a beaten but serviceable telescope which was trained towards the ground pointing to the south.

 

A man stood next to the telescope. He pointed at it and suddenly disappeared.

 

“Brandon!†Bricker said.

 

He walked to the telescope and peeked through it without touching it. He could see a large, dark, monstrous form hulking amidst the cypress and Spanish moss. The gross, loathsome form didn’t move, but the grime-encrusted telescope lens didn’t allow for any clear detail.

 

He looked out the other windows and could make out a garden shed and a well behind the Harlow house.

 

“What’s up there?†Miss Fairfield called up.

 

“I’ll tell you when I come down,†Bricker said. “Just a second.â€

 

He returned to the telescope and looked through it again, trying to get a good look at the thing in the swamp. The grime and mold encrusting the inside of the lenses made it impossible for him to get a good look at whatever the thing was. When he tried to look at the spot without the telescope, he couldn’t see it. It was too far away and too obscured by the surrounding foliage. He had an idea of where it was, however.

 

Bricker climbed back down with the help of Virgil Thomas.

 

“There’s a telescope up there but not much else,†he said.

 

“Oh,†Miss Edington said.

 

“Probably for star gazing,†Miss Fairfield said.

 

“Well, I thought that too and then I looked through it and saw … well, I don’t know exactly what I saw,†Bricker said.

 

“What do you mean?†Miss Edington said.

 

“What’d it look like?†Virgil Thomas asked.

 

“Some … big … shape,†Bricker said. “I mean, it could have just been the trees. The leaves and the trees making me think it was something but it looked … I don’t know.â€

 

“Well, try to describe it!†Virgil Thomas said.

 

“Oh my God,†Miss Edington said. “Virgil, help me up.â€

 

Virgil growled and didn’t look happy about it at all. She insisted and climbed up on Virgil Thomas’ shoulders and deftly pulled herself up into the cupola. Virgil Thomas looked down as she did so, as did Bricker.

 

Once she was up there, she noticed the rope. She guessed that the was rope Brandon Young had hung himself with. She looked back and forth between the rope and the telescope. She also noticed the garden shed and the well and saw no one was around in the village. Finally, she looked through the telescope.

 

“You all right up there, Miss Suzanna?†she heard Virgil Thomas said.

 

She saw the grotesque shape out in the swamp and tried to make it out more clearly for about a minute. The thing didn’t move.

 

“Miss Suzanna!†Virgil Thomas called. “You all right up there?â€

 

“Yes, Virgil,†she called back.

 

She heard the man mumble something.

 

“I’m just trying to figure out what this is,†she called back.

 

She watched the thing through the telescope for another minute or so. She moved away from the telescope, trying to see from the window but couldn’t make out the shape without the aid of the instrument.

 

She climbed back down with the help of Virgil Thomas.

 

“Maybe we should go back to the library and see if we can find more information,†Miss Fairfield said.

 

Miss Edington asked if the others had found anything else of interest in the second floor. Bricker handed her the journal and she opened it up and started reading it. He told her the more interesting stuff was towards the end. Miss Fairfield showed her the strange writing she’d copied into the journal. She was also of the opinion they should look in the library for any books containing any of the key words from the strange ritual.

 

“Now where’d you find that?†Miss Edington asked.

 

Bricker said they should probably look in the storeroom to see if the book was still there. Miss Edington asked about the book and they took her to the room next to the nursery. The book still lay on the floor where it had fallen and Bricker picked it up. When he found the ritual was the only thing written in the book, he ripped the page out. He half expected the book to catch fire but it didn’t so he simply dropped it. Miss Edington grabbed it but the pages were blank. She also tossed it away.

 

They searched the room once more and found two gray military uniform with patches marked “CSA.†Miss Edington recognized them as Confederate Army uniforms from the Civil War.

 

After a short discussion they went down to the library to search through the books while Virgil Thomas took their luggage and the little cook stove up to the master bedroom, which had the most intact windows of any of the rooms in the house. He also set to work cleaning up the room and getting food for them. They found nothing of interest in the library though Bricker used his machete to hack at the vines while they looked at the books. He didn’t make much progress. Miss Fairfield brought her lantern to brighten the room.

 

When they returned to the master bedroom some hours later, just after dark, they found the room much cleaner. Virgil Thomas had brought up the small table from the foyer and set up the camping stove upon it in the interior corner of the room. He had aired out the old and rotten linens on the beds for the ladies and set up Brandon Thomas’ bedroll for Bricker. He had also made a passable dinner for the four of them.

 

After they ate, they settled in. Miss Edington went to one of the beds, which were pushed up against the front windows, sitting upon it and looking out the window, watching for the residents of New Dunwich, who allegedly came out at night. Virgil Thomas hunkered down on the floor in the corner near the camp stove and went to sleep. Miss Fairfield made some notes on photographs for the next day but then turned in. Bricker lay on the bedroll in the other corner and immediately fell asleep, exhausted.

 

* * *

 

Around 11 p.m., Miss Edington, who had managed to stay awake, saw some movement in the village. She spotted several villagers cross the village towards the south, moving quietly amid the buildings without a word to each other. She only saw a few people but they all disappeared into the trees and foliage in the darkness. She realized it was in the same direction of the thing she had seen through the telescope.

 

She woke the others.

 

“What is it?†Miss Fairfield said sleepily.

 

“The townsfolk are going out in the swamp,†Miss Edington said.

 

“Oh, like Brandon Young’s notebook,†Miss Fairfield said. “Yeah.â€

 

“You want to go see what they’re doing?â€

 

“Uh … isn’t that what got him killed?â€

 

“He hung himself, sweetheart!â€

 

“Notebook made it sound like it,†Miss Fairfield mumbled incoherently.

 

“What?†Miss Edington said. “You don’t have to. I can go by myself.â€

 

Virgil Thomas got up and pulled his boots on. He checked his pistol and put it in his pocket. Just then both Miss Fairfield and Miss Edington both heard an outré chanting and chilling music from somewhere to the south. Light reflected somewhere back in the trees.

 

“I don’t know what they’re up to out there but it can’t be good,†Miss Edington said.

 

Bricker sighed.

 

“Yeah, let’s go,†he said.

 

Miss Edington put on her boots while Miss Fairfield loaded the revolver they’d found. The weapon was nearly an exact match for the .38 revolver she used. Miss Edington picked up her shotgun and Bricker shouldered his own. They headed out of the house and crept, as quietly as they could, towards the edge of town the way the townsfolk had gone. It was rough going in the dark but the nearly full moon gave them quite a bit of light. They soon found a path leading out of the south side of town and spotted the lights of fires ahead. They passed a place where the path split and continued on to the south.

 

As they approached the place where the singing and chanting continued, stepping on twigs and making quite a bit of noise, a loud splashing of water came from ahead. They crept through the bushes and looked into the strangely-lit clearing where an eerie noise like a ululating wail began along with a whirring, rumbling, sucking noise. A dozen or so dimly-lit figures stood off from fires in front of an expansive, slime-coated body of water wherein a small island stood. Upon it 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 that blasted hummock, nor did the vegetation encroach any nearer than 20 feet from the shore of the fetid pool, where they hid. Both Bricker and Miss Edington immediately recognized the statue as the thing they had seen through the telescope, though their eyes were immediately drawn to the other thing in the clearing.

 

What was worse was the thing in the horrid pool around to the tiny island. From an oval body protruded countless thin, pointed spines of multicolored metal. At the more rounded end of the oval, a circular, thick-lipped mouth formed the center of a spongy face from which rose three yellow eyes on thin stalks. Around the underside of the body were many white, inverted pyramids, presumably used for locomotion. The diameter of the body must have been 10 feet at least wide and twice as long. Long stalks twisted above it. The shape towered, pulsed, and shook with deafening vibrations.

 

The people around the pool were naked but they looked strange, not quite completely human. They had terribly long fingernails but were otherwise only silhouettes.

 

Bricker was especially affected by the terrible thing in the pool and felt himself overwhelmed with a terrible urge to have sex with the horrible creature. It was a feeling that was completely out of his control and he felt he had to do it immediately or perhaps miss the chance of ever being able to do it. He started walking forward, licking his lips and pulling his shirt open as he started to strip.

 

Both Miss Edington and Miss Fairfield grabbed the man by either arm and dragging him back into the bushes. He struggled to get free but the women were too strong for him. He had a wild look in his eyes and kept licking his lips.

 

“What the hell is wrong with you?†Miss Edington whispered to the man.

 

They dragged him to the ground, pinning him down.

 

“Let’s get out of here!†Virgil Thomas whispered. “Look at all of them!â€

 

“And that thing!†Miss Fairfield said.

 

Virgil Thomas helped them hold Bricker down as the horrible creature continued its strange and horrific ululating wail. It seemed almost compelling, that terrible sound, and made them feel like they should go to the pool and join the others.

 

As the two women dragged Bricker away, Virgil Thomas drew his pistol and backed away from the terrible clearing behind them, watching. They managed to drag Bricker back to the Harlow house as he struggled. They brought him in through the front doors and up to the master bedroom. The man didn’t say anything to them as they fought their way back to the room. There, Miss Fairfield took one of the sheets off one of the beds and tied the man up in a sort of makeshift straightjacket, tying his hands behind his back with a belt. Once he was fairly secured, Miss Fairfield sat on the man to hold him down. As they had been tying him up, both of the women noticed that he sported an erection.

 

They could hear the horrible music the terrible thing sang for some time after they returned to the house.

 

Bricker tried to break loose for some time before he finally fell into a troubled and disturbed sleep filled with dreams of sexual intercourse with the terrible thing he’d seen in the pool. He also felt a compulsion to get to the pool and to the thing that had nothing to do with sex either.

 

Miss Edington sat on the bed, listening to the strange music, and fell asleep shortly after it stopped that night, her chin on the headboard of the bed. Miss Fairfield went to bed shortly after that, exhausted both mentally and physically. Virgil Thomas was still walking around the room nervously, pistol in hand when she went to sleep.


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