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Rise of the Sleeper Session Three Part 1 - The Trap is Sprung



Monday, October 3, 2016


(After playing the Call of Cthulhu scenario “Rise of the Sleeper†by Scott David Aniolowski from Lurking Fears Sunday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. with Ashton LeBlanc, Collin Townsend, and Katelyn Hogan)


When they returned to Harlow House around dinnertime on Tuesday, October 11, 1927, Virgil Thomas was obviously terribly tired, having been awake more than 24 hours. Miss Fairfield took over making dinner from the man and he sat down in the corner he’d been sleeping in, staring ahead dazedly. His pistol was in his hand. Miss Edington looked at the man and went over to him.


“Virgil, you look like … a zombie right now,†she said.


“I’m a little tired,†he admitted.


“Did you sleep at all last night?â€


“No, Miss, I stayed up.â€


“Virgil, you need to sleep now.â€


“Somebody gotta stay up tonight. Okay?â€


“We can take our turns for the watch,†Miss Fairfield said.


Virgil Thomas grunted. His eyes drooped and he nodded off right about the time supper was ready. They let him sleep. Bricker fixed him a bowl of the food and sat it near him. The rest of them ate dinner and cleaned up afterwards.


Miss Fairfield said she’d take the first watch. Bricker suggested blocking the staircases up from the first floor. Miss Edington mentioned they’d killed the town’s leader but Bricker noted the others might figure out he was missing and might come after them. He thought it would be a good idea to block the staircases to make it harder for any intruders to get up.


“But would they know we did it?†Miss Edington said of Crawford Slater. “Better safe than sorry, but …â€


“We are the newest people in town,†Bricker said.


“What would we block it off with?†Miss Fairfield asked.


“There’s some boxes in the storage room,†Bricker said. “Tables and … just anything we can use.â€


“We still have a couple of hours til we sleep …†Miss Fairfield said.


“If our ghost likes closing doors so much, he might save us,†Miss Edington said. “Who knows?â€


“There’s also the windows that are busted,†Miss Fairfield said.


“Nothing we can do about those,†Bricker said. “At least blocking off the staircases so they can’t get up here even if they get inside.â€


They set to it. It took several crates to clutter the main staircase. They dragged the two dressers to the two back stairs and braced them against the doors that led down. They used the nightstands from the master bedroom to further hold the dressers in place. They had everything done in an hour so. It was dark outside by then.


Miss Fairfield headed up to the cupola to take first watch. Miss Edington and Bricker read the first two volumes of The Revelations of Glaaki, Bricker taking the lantern to the landing to read so he could keep an eye on the stairs. Miss Edington read as best she could by moonlight, straining her eyes. She found the first volume dealt with something called Glaaki and his associated witch cult. The horrible god, which she thought was the thing in the pond, lived in Great Britain somewhere. Bricker found that volume two dealt with Glaaki’s servants, which lived forever, if one could call it life. Once the things had been in existence long enough, they began to suffer from something called the green decay if sunlight struck them.


Bricker read until about 11 p.m. before he returned to the master bedroom with the lantern, put it on the floor by Miss Edington, and bedded down in the corner on Brandon Young’s bedroll. Virgil’s snoring was starting to get to the woman. She already had a headache from trying to read by moonlight. She took the lantern and headed up to the cupola.


* * *


Miss Fairfield has been pacing back and forth in the cupola, occasionally looking out the windows. Around 11 p.m., she saw the villagers headed towards the south side of the town again. Then she saw light coming from below and heard footsteps on the stairs.


“Who’s that?†she called.


“It’s Suzanna,†Miss Edington said, coming up the stairs with her shotgun and the lantern.


“I thought you’d be sleeping.â€


“Virgil’s keeping me up with his loud snoring. I wasn’t aware of this until this trip. So, I figured I’d stay up here to get away from the noise, at least. You can go to bed if you want.â€


“It doesn’t sound like I’d do much sleeping either.â€


Miss Edington peeked out of the windows and noticed a few of the villagers heading towards the strange worship pool, but not as many as she’d seen the nights before. It was very quiet except for the nighttime swamp noises. Around midnight, the two women heard the strange ululating noise coming out of the swamp, almost like singing. They both felt an urge, almost a compulsion, to see what was making the sound. They felt a need to go and see it but it was nothing they could not resist.


Miss Fairfield went back down to the master bedroom. She noticed it was very quiet and when she walked into the room, she thought, for a moment, that Virgil Thomas was gone. Then she realized she was mistaken. The man had rolled over onto his stomach and had, for the time being, stopped snoring. Relieved, she climbed into bed. Virgil Thomas resumed snoring a few minutes later so she got up and pushed him back over onto his stomach to stop the snoring again. That worked. Then he started snoring on his side.


Miss Fairfield climbed back into bed and, despite the snoring, fell into an exhausted sleep.


* * *


In the cupola, Miss Edington kept watch. After about 20 minutes, she saw someone walking away from the Harlow House. She recognized the clothing as that of Miss Fairfield, walking towards the south side of the village - the same direction the villagers had gone. She watched the woman for only a moment before she ran down the stairs to the master bedroom. She saw Miss Fairfield’s bed was empty and cursed.


How the Hell did she get down? she thought. There’s so many boxes.


She ran to the main staircase and saw some of the crates they’d placed earlier that evening had been pushed slightly aside. Angry, she went down the stairs as well, crashing out of the front doors of the house. The other woman was about halfway across the village, walking slowly, her hands by her sides. Miss Edington could see she was in her bare feet. She ran after the woman, taking an oblique course to cut her off. Miss Fairfield’s eyes were open and glassy. She had a thousand-yard stare and didn’t seem to see her at all.


Miss Edington checked her shotgun, breaking it open and making sure she had shells within. She closed it again. Then she held out her arm, pushing it against Miss Fairfield’s chest.


“Miss Fairfield,†she said.


The woman strained against her, trying to walk forward, but not otherwise resisting.


“Miss Fairfield!†she said louder.


Miss Fairfield continued to push gently against her, as if she thought she was still simply walking. Miss Edington slowly turned her but the woman continued to turn back to the swamp. She grabbed the mesmerized woman’s waist and guided her, with some difficulty, back towards Harlow House. The woman resisted but it was more like she was sleepwalking.


It took about 20 minutes for Miss Edington to guide Miss Fairfield back into the house, around he crates on the steps, and back into her bed. The woman continued to gently resist. Once she was laid back into the bed, she sat back up. Miss Edington pushed her back down and tried to tuck in the sheets, but she kept trying to get up and on her feet again. This struggled lasted until around 1 a.m. when the strange music outside stopped. Miss Fairfield finally lay still and rolled over away from the Miss Edington. Miss Edington went around the bed and found the other woman’s eyes were finally closed.


Miss Edington, exhausted by the events, climbed back to the cupola. The lantern had burned out, probably when it ran out of kerosene. She took it back down to the master bedroom and filled it from the kerosene they had brought with them. She crept back up to the cupola with the unlit lantern and, when she peeked out of the windows, saw villagers entering the town once again. She tried to watch where the villagers went but didn’t see any of them actually enter any of the houses. She had an idea of some of the houses they had disappeared behind.


She was a little unnerved. She lit her lantern again.


She stayed up, walking around in the cupola. It was almost 3 a.m. when she saw a light towards the boathouse. The moon was setting by that time. The light moved as if it were being carried by someone. As the person walked into the village, she could see it was a very dimly lit lantern being carried at waist level by a man who appeared to be wearing overalls. She blew out her own lantern.


The man walked into the town towards the town hall.


“Hello?†the man called. “Hello?â€


She didn’t recognize the voice but feared to approach the man. She was curious as to who he might be. The man wandered around on the Harlow House side of the town hall.


“Hello?†he called again.


* * *


Down in the master bedroom, Miss Fairfield woke up from a sleep filled with disturbing dreams.


“Hello?†she heard a man call from outside. “I’m here with the boat.â€


She gasped and sat up in bed. She looked out the window and could barely make out the man with the lantern, unable to see his features. She crossed the room to wake Bricker.


“There’s a guy out there,†she whispered to him. “He says he’s the boat guy but I can’t tell.â€


“Hello?†the voice came again. “I was sent to pick up some people?â€


“Does it look like …†Bricker asked dazedly. He looked at his watch. “He’s a little early. Three in the morning. Yeah, we’re not going out there.â€


The man continued to wander around the village, moving closer to Harlow House but not actually approaching the house itself. Shortly after that, Miss Edington crept into the bedroom with the unlit lantern. Miss Fairfield heard her come down.


The man wandered around the village for perhaps a half hour before he headed back towards the boat house.


“We should follow him,†Miss Fairfield whispered. “He had to get here somehow. Maybe he has a boat.â€


“What if he’s one of those things!?!†Miss Edington whispered.


“We’ve got shotguns,†Miss Fairfield whispered.


“We kill him and take the boat,†Bricker whispered.


“We didn’t think Mr. … what’s-his-name was!†Miss Edington said. “We didn’t know he was one of those things until later. And it’s nighttime! Why’s he out here at 3 a.m.?â€


“It doesn’t matter if he has a boat,†Miss Fairfield whispered.


“If he has a boat! But what if it’s a trick!?! He ain’t dumb! I don’t think. It don’t sound like it.â€


“I mean, I don’t trust it that much anyhow. It’s better than staying in this God-forsaken town.â€


Miss Edington sighed.


“I got my shotgun so, if anything happens …†she whispered. “We’ll go after him though. If you feel like …â€


Miss Fairfield got her pistol out of her pocket as Bricker picked up his shotgun. Miss Edington headed over to the corner where Virgil Thomas still snored. She shook Virgil Thomas violent.


“Wha!?!†the man said, coming awake with a start.


“Virgil!†she whispered.


The man balled up his fists and pulled one of them back as he tried to focus his eyes in the dark room.


“Virgil, if you hit me, I swear …†she whispered.


He stared at her a moment as if he didn’t recognize her, then looked around the dark room. He looked at his pistol and picked it up.


“Mm-hmm,†he muttered.


“Well, some man come around talking about he had a boat,†she whispered.


“He had a boat?â€


“We’re gonna follow him and we’re gonna see if he can take us back, but it’s early. We don’t know who he is.â€


“Wha …â€


Virgil Thomas pulled out his pocket watch and looked at it in the dim light.


“Okay,†he muttered.


“So … it may be one of them … but it may be our only way out,†she said.


“Okay. Okay. I’m coming.â€


“All right. Let’s go. Let’s go.â€


Virgil Thomas climbed to his feet and they all left the room and found the foyer doors stuck fast once again. Miss Edington climbed out the window in a huff, followed closely by Virgil Thomas.


I think that’s a sign that this isn’t going to turn out well, Miss Fairfield thought.


They all climbed out the windows and followed Miss Edington, who was trying to catch up to the stranger. Bricker lagged behind a little bit and watched behind them. They passed out of the town and could see the man’s light on the other side of the boathouse somewhere. As the others reached the boathouse, Bricker saw people coming out of the houses at the edge of the village and heading their way. He counted four people, moving slowly. He picked up his pace to catch up with the rest.


The light seemed to have stopped over by the water a hundred feet or so beyond the boathouse. They all stopped when they reached the edge of the building. Miss Edington watched the man for a short time but he didn’t move. She started to move slowly towards the man when Bricker caught up with them.


“Do you see a boat?†Miss Fairfield asked.


None of them did.


“Got to keep an eye out,†Bricker whispered. “There’s people coming behind us.â€


“What?†she said. “There’s people?â€


“There’s four,†Bricker said.


Miss Fairfield looked into the boathouse but it was very dark. She couldn’t tell if anything was in the place.


Miss Edington headed back the way they’d come, Virgil Thomas and Bricker following behind her, and was about halfway to the boathouse corner when four people came around the side of the building. They were in a small group and it was too dark to see much of them. They walked slowly.


“Stop right there,†Miss Edington shouted, raising her shotgun to her shoulder.


They kept approaching her. She fired into the group. The blast struck the man on the left in the left leg, and he stumbled back but didn’t fall over. Behind her, Miss Fairfield spun around from watching the man with the lantern.


“God damn!†Virgil Thomas yelled.


He pulled his pistol from his pocket and fired at the same man Miss Edington had struck. The bullet hit the man in the left shoulder and he spun around and fell to the ground. Miss Fairfield stepped to her left to get a clear shot and fired at one of the people but missed completely. Miss Edington fired at the man on the right, blasting him in the chest. The man stumbled back and the woman behind him caught him and righted him.


Bricker moved up just a little behind Miss Edington and fired at the group but the blast merely blew a hole in the side of the boathouse. Miss Edington let out a cry, not expecting it. The men and women walked calmly towards the group as if they didn’t have a care in the world.


As the people got close, they could see that the horrible things had terribly long fingernails and holes in their chests from which projected the strange, red lines. Miss Fairfield shot at them again striking one of the things in the right hand. Virgil Thomas fired at the one they’d blasted away with before but it still didn’t fall. Bricker blasted away at another one, blowing its left hand away. The thing crashed to the ground.


Miss Edington backed up as she cracked open her shotgun and shoved two fresh shells into it. Miss Fairfield shot another of the things, hitting it in the left hand but only nicking it. One of them lunged at Miss Edington but she ducked out of the way. Another tried to grab Bricker, but merely scrabbled at his clothing ineffectually.


Miss Fairfield fired at the thing on Bricker, the bullet whizzing by the man.


“Bloody hell!†he exclaimed.


The bullet struck the man in the left arm, ripping it badly but the man continued to attack. Virgil Thomas shot the one harassing Miss Edington, blasting away at its head. It barely looked at him as part of its ear was ripped away. She leveled the shotgun at the thing and blasted away with both barrels. The corpse was flung backwards, a massive hole in the chest. Miss Edington was splattered with blood and guts.


Bricker, his shotgun empty, punched the thing. The blow struck the other man on the chest and his flesh seemed to sag under the blow. It felt like he was filled with water. Bricker cried out in alarm and wiped the back of his fist on his pants in terror. Miss Fairfield didn’t have a clear shot but fired away between Bricker and Virgil Thomas, closing her eyes as she took the shot. The bullet went high and whizzed through the trees.


The thing slashed at Bricker, cutting the man’s clothing and tearing at his chest, cutting him badly.


Miss Fairfield thought she heard something splashing around in the boathouse. Miss Edington was right next to the window where she was certain the noise was coming from. She dropped her pistol and took out a second. Virgil Thomas moved to the thing attacking Bricker and shot it in the right arm, blasting a hole that went through to the bone. The thing didn’t even seem to notice.


Miss Fairfield fired at the window next to miss Edington but struck the side of the structure. Miss Edington gasped and ducked, dropping her shells and her shotgun.


“Miss Fairfield, what are you doing!?!†she shouted.


Miss Fairfield heard someone off behind her chanting.


Bricker punched the thing in front of him in the nose. The man’s face collapsed under his fist, leaving it embedded in his skull. The body jerked strangely and then Bricker felt the man’s full weight as he collapsed to the ground. His fist slipped out of his face covered in slime and ichor. Bricker cringed and wailed in terror, throwing his hands up in the air.


Miss Fairfield, standing off from the others, turned to the chanting. A negro in stood nearby. It looked like he only had one eye, the left being a black, gaping hole. His left leg was wooden. She fired at the man, missing completely.


Virgil Thomas looked around and suddenly more of the horrible people came out of the undergrowth.


“Oh damn!†Virgil Thomas cried out. “Look out, Bricker!â€


He pointed his pistol at the thing just the other side of the Englishman, bumping Bricker’s chest, and fired. The bullet tore away part of the man’s left arm but it didn’t seem to bother him. Miss Edington picked up her shotgun and shells and struggled to reload the weapon.


Miss Fairfield aimed to take a second shot but the man stopped chanting and pointed at the woman. She suddenly felt pain all over her body, as if her skin were becoming too small for her bones and muscles. She heard a crackling noise as her skin shriveled. The sheer pain was intense and she stumbled and collapsed as everything went black. The others all saw her fall but only Bricker saw the negro standing there in the shadows.


He moved towards the negro while putting two more shells in his shotgun.


The horrible people moved forward, shambling strangely. One of them came at Bricker, trying to grab the man, and another rushed Virgil Thomas.


“What’s that noise in the boathouse?†Virgil Thomas cried out.


He backed up, put the gun into the man’s face, and blew a hole in the man’s head. The man stumbled back and fell to the ground.


“I’m empty Miss Suzanna,†he said.


He broke open his pistol and dumped the empty cartridges out, groping in his pocket. Miss Edington cracked open her smoking shotgun and put two more shells into it.


“What the hell is that?†Virgil Thomas said.


He looked towards the other end of the boathouse, where he had heard chanting.


Bricker moved towards the chanting man and put his shotgun to his shoulder. He fired both barrels, blasting away at a nearby tree. The negro smiled but didn’t seem to have any teeth in his mouth at all. He continued his chant and held up one hand.


The horrible people with long nails moved forward, trying to grapple with them, two on Virgil while one tried to pull Bricker to the ground. Virgil cursed at the men, shouting for them to get off him.


Miss Edington closed her shotgun with a snap. She put it to one of the men’s chest and blasted away with a single barrel. The blast knocked the man a few steps but he didn’t fall down. Virgil Thomas gave up on his pistol, dropping it and pulling the bayonet at his side out of its sheath. He slashed at one of the horrible things but didn’t seem to cut deep. Miss Edington blasted away at the same man with the shotgun again, hitting him in the chest. He was knocked back and fell to the ground.


The negro nearby laughed at Bricker.


“You get ‘em,†he said. “You get ‘em. We’re takin’ ‘em.â€


“Who the hell is that!?!†Virgil Thomas yelled.


Bricker rushed the negro and swung his fist at the man, who still had his hand out in front of him. The man ducked to one side, actually dodging into the blow, and Bricker struck him in the face. The man stumbled back but then grinned at Bricker again. Bricker didn’t think the man was really hurt by the blow.


“You gotta do better than that,†the man said and slowly laughed.


Near Miss Edington, arms reached out of the window of the boathouse and tried to grab her from behind. She ducked, screaming, as another of the things started climbing out the window.


“Just kill ‘em! Just kill ‘em!†the negro cried from near Bricker. “It’s too late for all this!â€


Both doors of the boathouse were flung open as two more of the things stumbled out. Virgil Thomas slashed at the thing he faced but didn’t seem to hurt it badly. Miss Edington jogged away from the boathouse, loading more shells into her shotgun.


We should have never left the house, she thought. We should have never left the house.


The old negro backed away from Bricker, drawing a wicked-looking little knife and gesturing with it for Bricker to come at him. Bricker took the bait and swung at the man, missing him by a wide margin. The negro laughed in the man’s face.


“I don’t care if you live or die like they do,†he muttered.


Another of the things tried to grab Bricker but he shoved it off.


Over by the boathouse, one of the things grabbed Virgil Thomas. Another one appeared at the door of the boathouse. Miss Edington found herself surrounded by the things on all sides She only had two shotgun shells but there were at least three or four of the things close around here. She pointed her shotgun at the head of the man holding Virgil Thomas and saw Virgil’s eyes go wide as most of the man’s head exploded right next to his own.


But the man still did not fall, instead continuing to hang onto the negro. She fired the second barrel into the man’s head as well, blasting it to pulp. Virgil Thomas cried out in pain. The shotgun had gone off very close to his left ear. He staggered back from the man, holding his head.


“I can’t hear anything!†he cried out desperately.


Nearby, the negro laughed at Bricker and then stabbed the man in the chest.


“Oh!†the negro said. “Does that hurt? It hurt, don’t it!â€


Bricker felt the blood dripping from the wound. He punched at the man, who ducked out of the way.


“Whew!†the negro said, mocking him. “Oh. Oh! The white boy think he good.â€


Another of the things grabbed at Bricker from behind but he broke the thing’s grip and stepped aside.


Over by the boathouse, the things tried to grab Virgil Thomas and Miss Edington. Virgil Thomas put his back to Miss Edington and swung away, slashing at the people but not hurting them.


“Virgil, we need to get out of here!†she said.


“Run!†he said.


She cut and ran, rushing past the things until she reached the corpses of the ones they had already killed. She tried to step over one but tripped and fell prone.


The negro on Bricker stabbed him in the chest again, very close to the same place. A rush of pain ran through the man’s body. The negro laughed.


“Oh, you gonna die, boy!†he said mockingly. “You gonna die!â€


Bricker moved off to one side as he cracked open the shotgun and shoved two shells into it. He could feel the blood pouring down his left side and pain shot all the way down his left leg. Then the horror that had been chasing him the whole time finally grappled him, the shotgun going straight up between them.


The thing that came out the window of the boathouse rushed Virgil Thomas and tried to grab him but the man moved too quickly. Two more tried to get the man and one of the things came at Miss Edington and tried to grab her but she kicked at his arms and held him off.


Virgil Thomas finally slashed one of the things with his bayonet effectively, cutting it badly. Black and green ichor oozed out of the terrible wound but the thing didn’t fall. Nearby, Miss Edington got to her feet and away from the horrible thing coming at her.


“Oh!†the negro dealing with Bricker cried out. “Oh! Oh! The white boy’s held! This is too good an opportunity to miss!â€


The man lunged but the blade only tore at Bricker’s clothes this time. The man grinned at him insanely. Bricker broke from of the man who had grabbed him and noticed the old negro looked slightly concerned. The horror grabbed the man again, holding him solidly. The old negro grinned again.


Virgil Thomas fought off the things all around him, backing away from them and swinging wildly. The one near Miss Edington tried to grab her but she slipped to one side and out of its grip. Virgil cut at the same man he’d struck before. Miss Edington ran away as the thing followed her more slowly.


The old negro laughed at Bricker but then looked at the thing that had grappled him. The thing shook his head at the man.


“What?†he said. “What? God damn it! Good! Take him then!â€


As the horrible thing started to drag Bricker to the undergrowth, he pointed the shotgun at the old negro. The man’s eyes went wide and he cried out in terrified surprise just as Bricker blasted away with both barrels. The man tried to put his left hand in the way of the blast and seemed to actually catch some of the pellets somehow. He missed most of them, however, and there was a nasty, fleshy noise the blast struck him in the right arm, which was almost ripped from his body. He spun around and landed, face down, in the grass.


The thing dragged Bricker into the trees.


Several of the things still tried to grapple Virgil Thomas. One of them followed after Miss Edington but she easily outran it.


“They got Mr. Bricker!†Virgil Thomas cried. “They got Mr. Bricker!â€


Virgil burst between two of the horrible people to run to Miss Fairfield. Miss Edington turned around to see several of the things chasing after him. She saw no sign of Bricker. She put two more shells into her shotgun as one of the things approached her. Another that had been pursuing Virgil Thomas turned and headed for her


In the woods, Bricker broke free of the horrible thing’s grasp and it lunged at him.


Miss Edington lifted her shotgun to her shoulder and aimed at the thing coming at her. She fired both barrels blowing the thing’s head to pieces. The body was flung backwards by the blast and landed in a heap to lay still.


“God damn it!†Virgil Thomas yelled as he turned.


He had just guessed Miss Fairfield was probably dead.


Standing over her prone form, he turned to face the two horrible people coming at him. He slashed at the thing with his bayonet but it didn’t seem to affect the horrible person at all. Bricker burst out of the overgrowth towards Virgil Thomas. The thing followed slowly after him. One of the things managed to grab Virgil Thomas.


The thing coming at Miss Edington slowed near the corner of the boathouse and then ducked inside. She reloaded her shotgun and heard splashing coming from inside the boathouse.


Virgil Thomas broke free of the thing’s grip. Bricker slowed to a walk and reloaded two shells the shotgun. The horror following him tried to grab him once again. The two things facing Virgil Thomas tore at his clothing without effect.


Bricker shoved his shotgun into the horror’s left foot, blasting it off the body. The same greenish black liquid spewed out of the leg and the thing stumbled into Bricker and slid down, trying to grip at the man. Bricker swung his arms around, desperate to get the thing off him and it finally crashed to the ground.


Virgil Thomas stabbed the thing he’d been slashing at for what felt like so long. The blade went into the man’s chest but when he pulled it out, the blade covered in filth, the thing still didn’t fall.


“God damn it!†Virgil Thomas said. “Won’t you die!?! Die!â€


Miss Edington, watching the boathouse with the shotgun aimed at it, edged towards the others, certain the thing was still in the structure and fearful it would come suddenly out at her. She didn’t hear the splashing any more.


One of the things grabbed Virgil Thomas. Miss Edington continued to edge towards the combat while watching the boathouse. Bricker quickly reloaded his shotgun. The two things near Virgil Thomas actually seemed to speak, muttering something to one another. Then they tried to tear him to pieces, ripping at his clothing and trying to cut him with their terribly long fingernails.


“Get off me!†he cried out. “Get off me!â€


Virgil slashed at the things, cutting at them inefficiently. Miss Edington continued to edge over towards the men, stepping carefully among the dead. Bricker stepped over and shoved his shotgun into the thing’s mouth. Virgil Thomas let out a shout as Bricker blasted the thing’s head to pieces, knocking the body backwards. Virgil Thomas cried out, putting his hands over his ears.


The last thing broke and ran into the undergrowth.


“Oh no!†he shouted. “Uh-uh!â€


Virgil Thomas chased it into the trees, swinging madly. Miss Edington continued to edge towards Miss Fairfield while Bricker reloaded his shotgun.


“I didn’t tell you you were done!†they heard Virgil Thomas yell.


The sounds of cutting and tearing and the sound of Virgil Thomas’ continued cursing came from the woods. Bricker jogged over to the negro who had stabbed him twice.


“I said come back here, God damn it!†they heard Virgil Thomas yell.


Miss Edington watched the boathouse as Bricker put the shotgun up against the back of the fallen negro’s head and fired both barrels. Blood and bits of skull and brain splattered all over his boots. Miss Edington noticed Virgil Thomas’s pistol and walked carefully over to pick it up.


The fight in the trees continued.


Miss Edington moved to Miss Fairfield and tried, unsuccessfully, to wake her up. Bricker also tried to help the woman as best he could. Her skin looked desiccated and shriveled, as if she’d suddenly aged terribly. Miss Edington told him she had seen one of the horrible things escape into the boathouse.


The sounds from the trees had stopped, after several curses from Virgil Thomas and the sound of hacking.


“Stay with her,†Miss Edington said.


She headed into the foliage, hoping to find Virgil Thomas. She heard someone moving around in the underbrush. Then she heard what sounded like someone hacking up a piece of meat. Then Virgil Thomas loomed up out of the darkness. The woman gasped.


“It’s okay,†he said. “That one’s dead.â€


“Did you kill it?†she said.


“Yeah, I killed it. I took its head off. And its arms. And its legs.â€


The bayonet in his hand was covered in gore.


“That’s not all of them Virgil,†she said. “We need to go back. There’s one more. He ran away. I know where he went.â€


“Let’s go get him,†Virgil Thomas said.


They walked back to the boathouse and found Bricker there with the unconscious Miss Fairfield. Virgil Thomas wiped his bayonet off on the grass and sheathed it. Miss Edington gave him back his pistol and he reloaded it with cartridges from his pocket.


“I’m so glad you’re okay, Virgil,†she said.


“Are you all right, Miss Suzanna?†he asked.


She nodded.


He picked up Miss Fairfield though he struggled under the tall woman’s weight. They went back to Harlow House but saw no sign of the last thing that had escaped. They reached the house without incident and stumbled back up to the master bedroom. Virgil Thomas put Miss Fairfield back into her bed.


“Does anyone know first aid?†Bricker asked.


“Oh my goodness, Mr. Bricker,†Virgil Thomas said.


He tended to the man’s wounds, using one of Miss Edington’s dresses to make bandages. He recommended the man see a doctor as soon as possible as the knife wounds were deep and still oozing blood. Miss Edington also looked over the injuries. Virgil Thomas bound up the scratch from the horrible creature’s impossibly long fingernails. He asked if there was any alcohol in the place but no one carried any. He went through Miss Fairfield’s luggage while Miss Edington searched her herself. There was none.


Miss Edington stayed awake and Virgil Thomas paced the room through the night. Bricker got a few hours sleep.


* * *

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