Estimated reading time — 41 minutes
To Whom It May Concern
I don’t know your name and you do not know mine. That’s just as well, because I have tried to speak with you these many times before as you leave for work, get your mail, bring your children home from school, or take your Saturday morning jog. But, each time I can never move myself to make an utterance. I know. You must think me terribly rude at times, not returning a wave, glaring across the swaths of yellow striped tar that separates our residences, or just simply walking away whenever you make a move to speak a greeting. Yes, I know how it all comes off, and I can do nothing now, but apologize to you. No, not apologize for those miscommunicated bouts of perceived rudeness, but because I have not had the singular mind or words to be able to tell you this before now. I hope though, that you shall not merely crumple this up when you are done, but rather discard it in the directions of your neighbor…not the one you share a picket fence with, but rather the one whose street number is one up from yours.
“But why?” you ask. I am not one for being straight forward. Nay, my grammar instructors and professors often criticized me for not being able to boil down the point and speak without an element of misplaced prose. Ha! Misplaced indeed. I would rather not tear this up and start over now. Time is of the essence, you see. I have played with it for far too long and manhandled its essence to a near criminal degree. Perhaps the Judge may have put this into law had he not… well… I’ll get to that. Forget I mentioned that for now, you did not know him, and you shall be cordially introduced later, I promise you.
What of all this? Where did it all begin? What is the pretense for this letter? I’ll tell you. It’s this house. No, not the house per se, but rather the order of this house. It’s place in the intricate weaved web of things that extend from the eldritch residences at the mouth of Howard Phillips Lane to the lush cul-de-sac at the bottom of our little lane’s hill, much over used, as you know, by the soccer youth and dogs of our neighborhood. Don’t get me wrong. It is a beautiful house! I got it on the cheap, yea about a half year ago now. I put myself to house browsing, as you might well be familiar with yourself, when I came upon this glorious residence with well trimmed shrubbery, sparkling clear windows, and no smudges save those left behind by its owner’s brats. To be honest, this was not my neighborhood of choice. It is much to far away from any place of convenience, and far too close to the Catholic cemetery where lover’s lane teens claim to spot a ghost or two when they are not busy fondling each other in childish fits of youthful stupidity. To think! Who would dare desecrate the dead with such obscenities? Just as well that they get spooked, if you ask me. Should my stay here have been any longer, I may have left one of these letters for the many specters said to be present there, asking for their picking up the pace and praising them for jobs well done.
There I go again. In my current mental state, I find it difficult not to stray, as the subject matter may easily drive me into a psychotic fit before I am through. Please, grant me these few moments of your time and put up with me here and there while I gather my anything but expedient thoughts.
Our quaint Howard Phillips Lane has its set of issues, sure, what confounded spacial set of residences doesn’t? But, it was not the afore mentioned issues that kept this neighborhood from being on my radar of livable spaces; rather it was the earlier mentioned ghastly, boarded up, and withered dwellings at the turn off to our lane. I recall it being three at the time. Three top dollar, four bedroom homes let go to an odd monochromatic black and gray. I’m sure you have noticed it too. Subtle, yes, but if you really pay attention, you shall see it. The shutters don’t flap quite right. Each forlorn yard is overgrown with weeds and tall grasses, whilst the shrubberies and trees are unclipped. Every window seems to suck light into an eternal darkness whether it be day or night. If you watch these abandoned homes once the sun goes down, you shall see how the high beams from passing vehicles do not cast rays in these glass panes, but rather cease their illumination upon hitting the transparent walls. It was these houses with their unopened doors, cobwebbed interiors, and unswept porches that turned me off to the prospect of Howard Phillips entirely.
My house though! Oh, the house was beautiful! I do not know, nor shall I begin to ponder here, whether it is that the house is truly as gorgeous as these words say, or rather the steep drop in price that created their indelible beauty in my mind’s eye; for upon seeing the asking price for this pristine elegance, I was immediately drawn in. This glorious residential shelter placed, in the newspaper, for less than half its original value! Surely, the interior would appear a mess, mold and termites would infest the walls, or the electricity would sputter into flammable ruin for such a reduced price as this…alas, I tell you, it was not. I did my homework and arranged for a walk through and a brief testing by professionals, in which the owners were happy to acquiesce. When, still, word arrived that the house met all due matters of requirement for a decent dwelling, I could hardly believe my ears. Yea, I trusted it so little that I still did not meet the owner’s $200k, and instead counter offered with one-sixty. The final agreed on price was a mere $180k, and the stipulation that I sign deeds and papers that very moment; and that not being a push of my own, but from the owners who claimed a necessary and immediate retiring across the country. I moved in less than three days later.
Oh my! The inside of this splendid residence was designed for a family of two children or more, with some guest room to spare. Imagine my sighs of freedom as I stocked it with only those furnishings fit for a bachelor with no time for such pleasantries of family life! Two floors to stock with books and other paraphernalia of my education and trade. Still, I owned not nearly enough to fill every room, so select rooms tucked away on the far end of the second floor hall remained vacant with their doors shut till a later date. The prior owners left those implements that would hinder a hasty retreat into retirement for my use, which consisted of a couch and other large, heavy furnishings.
It was on the fifth day of my first week in my quaint lodging that the tranquility of Howard Phillips Lane shattered into oblivion. The scream and subsequent wails came from four house numbers down toward the opening of our lane. I dropped my tome of the inner workings of criminal law and replaced my reading glasses to race out and meet the unseen tragedy. Twas there I first laid eyes on the Judge and the young couple who lived in the property in question. Collapsed on her knees in fits of hysterical sobbing and streaming tears, the young wife rocked back and forth in the arms of her bemused husband. Being new yourself, you have not met this young couple as they have since gone away. His attempts to comfort the clearly broken down woman were all in vain. The Judge, a small and portly man who held eminence in the local circuit courts, stood over them both, speaking softly into their ears. The elder man’s shrunken set eyes tripped from both husband and wife, then caught sight of me. He spoke softly once more, then patted the young man on the back and came over to me in his hunched over, yet effectively authoritarian way.
“Greetings neighbor,” the Judge extended a hand, which I took in weary distraction due to the intermittent cries of the distraught woman, “Unfortunate we meet in such a circumstance as this.”
I nodded my agreement and did a due and polite introduction, which he then replied in kind, “I recognize you from a few of the cases that have come across my courtroom. The world is too small perhaps.”
Again, I answered in the affirmative; my attentions stolen once more by a new burst of wailing from the not so distant driveway.
The Judge looked over his shoulder at them, a sympathetic, yet stern expression on his visage, “Poor young things. Just married last month. They have just started life, though…that doesn’t matter now.”
“Whatever do you mean?” I asked, “Are you to imply their marriage has not worked as planned?
“You could say that,” his answer lacked a definite quality of completeness, “One could say a few things on that matter.”
“Is she sane?” my mouth moved before my mind could edit the content of the moving lips.
“Used to be,” the Judge responded, “Used to have the brilliant mind of an artist. She could paint into life any number of vivid reflections of reality or imagination, and make them spring from the canvas like creatures of their own mobility…but not now. There are some things that the human mind and senses are not meant to tread on.”
“And what are those things?”
His furrowed brow spoke of a muted response, “Dark things…Not things for the present time or setting.”
“Is she to be helped?” I could not fathom the thought of this neighbor shrieking away the next several days until either voice or mind cracked fully, whichever would come first I was not too sure.
“Aye, she’s to be helped,” the Judge cast his eyes back to them, “Death has a funny way of curing all a person’s handicaps and fears. That’s what they just found out, as it were.”
“She doesn’t look ill,” my curiosity arose as her young husband ushered his wife back to the front door, “No worse for wear despite…current emotional factors.”
“In the mind, dear boy,” the Judge replied, “That is where death first occurs. She has seen it these last several nights. Now she feels it. Won’t be too much longer now.”
The casual apathy in which he spoke gave me pause for the emotional and psychological health of the speaker not the person being spoken of.
“Won’t you come over for a brunch or coffee sometime when our schedules coincide? I am leaving the circuit court soon…within the week actually. There is much out of the name of neighborliness and courtesy that we must discuss.”
I agreed, though I did not know as to why, and the short, pudgy Judge wandered back to his own home two house numbers away from the one in which we observed.
That night and for the two following, I noticed an arcane nocturnal oddity. The street lamps lining the sidewalk of Howard Phillips Lane flickered every hour on the hour until 3 AM. Upon which time illumination would continue unabated. I only knew this due to the hysterical cries during each of these hourly moments coming from the house of the newly weds four street numbers down from my own. Like a maniacal and deranged cuckoo clock, the young wife’s wails crowed out the nighttime hours in perfect succession until that infernal three in the morning. I caught glimpse of her in daylight only once more throughout these few twenty-four hour intervals. Her eyes, the window to the soul, seemed vacant, if not distant to some far away plane of existence. Perhaps her creator already took that invisible inhabitant before the vessel ceased function, because in her expression was the absence of anything faintly resembling a human being and not zombified puppet moving only on the whims of some unseen mechanical force which knew not rest or sanctity.
The end came on that third night. And, oh, what a horrible night that was! It shall rest within me until I too meet an unseemly and early grave! Three in the morning struck, but this time came no waking wail. I stared at the clock, pondering root causes of the abrupt change of routine. Before the minute hand moved, however, the most piercing, terror-filled, pained shriek I have ever heard slit through the still darkness of Howard Phillips Lane. I can no more describe it on paper, as I can put to words in the English language or that of any other how shattering and horrifying this vibration of pitch and echo was. Fearing the worst for the woman I knew no more from Eve, I dialed 9-1-1 and left the fate of the young woman to abler hands. I did not have to wait long. Seemingly, as if expecting a call that night, both ambulance and police vehicles arrived in too quick and too ordered a fashion…too planned to have been a mere result of my frantic call to their emergency line. What I saw next has perplexed me to this very point in time, and I can no more tell you the exact details of what happened as I can guess at the experiences of what those past newly weds partook in. What I can tell you is that not one, but two body bags came out that night: one on a stretcher, the other…I rather not say.
Details I gleaned from a contact I had on the force. As the next set of speculation goes: he heard it from a friend who knew a man who was the partner of a person who was in a squad car on the scene that night. Take, then, the details as you will; it shall not offend. According to this speculative source of information, what the professionals on duty walked into was nothing short of a madhouse. The woman, found lying face down on a bed, tore her own throat out with just her fingernails. Forensic evidence found under said nails consisted of ripped skin and…I shall cease there lest I waste time…oh that precious resource…through putting myself into a faint. The husband, as speculated, hung himself from the balcony of their second floor after finding his male aptitude being too little to save his wife. Here, I begged my source for further explanation, “What you describe, sir, is two whole bodies to be taken away in two body bags, however, that is not what those in other windows saw. How, pray tell, can a whole person be made into only a fraction of the size, so small as to be carried out in the cradling arms of a single officer?”
My source cringed upon the question, and in his visage I saw that there were some elements of the story he saw fit to change, not for the sake of embellishment, but for the sake of sanity and cleanliness, “They say that the male hung himself, yes. But, what happened to everything below the chest…no bag could carry out. Do yourself a favor, Donald, don’t go probing to find out more. Let them rest in peace, and thank God that you don’t live in that neighborhood.”
I paused here, but said nothing further. How could I tell this obviously distraught colleague that I recently moved into the very place he just warned me not to go?
You recall my earlier observations of those darkened homes at the front of our turn off? The ones that, most assuredly, you have taken to observing yourself as of late? Well, I tell you that upon the morning of the newly wed’s departure from this world to the next, their house too, obtained the irritable and irrevocable darkness. So close away, I could, and still can, feel an odd…how to describe it…dead quality about it. I am not a biologist by any right, but I suppose that if one were to inspect the yardage of these properties, then they might be surprised to find the absence of any kind of life that you and I might recognize outside of the paramecium or botanical.
The weekend following the demise of these two, I rang at the house of the Judge. Unlike others on our little lane, the Judge’s stood unlike any other. Where he was small, the dwelling where he resided towered over even our neighborhood’s tallest tree. The miniature, jolly bellied old man greeted me with a warmth undo of our recent occasion. He ushered me inside with zeal and animation that bespoke of an excited and well-earned early retirement from the practice of law and its arts. One cup of coffee became three and four, until finally the time came for a noontime beverage. The talk, for the most part, dwelt in forms of the mundane, yet pleasant, about our careers and experiences. Finally, I could stand it no longer, and referenced the elephant in the room.
“Dash it all, my friend, tell me what you knew of that young couple’s demise! You knew after all.”
He placed his mug down and cupped his short, stubby fingers, “I did. Of that I am most guilty. But Donald, make sure that you truly wish to know that in which you are bound and determined to ask. Before my career, I saw the sands of Normandy’s Omaha and the bloodied hedge rows of France. I have faced death, dying, and the morbid multiple times in my life; but you have been relatively sheltered in many ways from this reality of man. So, Donald, make sure that you are willing to lose that part of you that the shelter of your upbringing and innocent life has led you to live before I say further.”
I nodded him my assurance, but the Judge seemed unconvinced even then.
“Come with me,” my small host squirmed off his stool and waved for me to follow, “Some things are better seen than spoken.”
Standing, I followed my host in the same worried and inquisitive manner in which Dante followed Virgil into the dank pits of Hell. He led me to a second floor room whose window opened to the mentally monochromatic dwelling whose inhabitants we now pondered. Here, the Judge had filed away all sorts of documentation into binders placed around a mahogany desk. Photos and copies of police reports also laid in neat stacks off to the side. Opposite of the odd filing was a canvas placed with its subject against the wall. It was here that my host paused and placed a hand onto the blank reverse side.
“It is not too late, Donald, to change your mind and forget about this line of questioning. Being a successful lawyer, you should know the risks of an unfavorable inquiry.”
When I did not reply in the negative, my host shrugged his shoulders.
“A brief prelude before I reveal this,” he said, apparently offering another chance and reasoning to decline, “Mrs. Richie, the young woman who you saw carried out as a whole in the full body bag, as I have said previously was an amazing artist. Only a few other places have I seen such an exquisite talent with the brush, and none of those in the last many decades. Abigail Richie held nothing but disdain for the current trend of painters, Max and Britto, who throw lines and abstractness onto canvases, then asking ‘What does this say to you?’ No, Abigail Richie did not use her imagination as a primary element to her creativity. Only that which could be seen, witnessed, felt, and sensed in other various ways could she ever bring herself to paint. Keep that in mind as I turn this around for you to view.”
I showed no sign of backing down, so with great and strained reluctance, my host slowly reversed the painting back to its front. My joints locked in unison, and my mouth dried and clenched to speechlessness. No scream or shout of horror echoed forth as my throat constricted too much to allow anything but the smallest bit of air for breathing. Never before, nor since, have I laid eyes on a painting that has captured that much reality using only bristles and pigments. I tell you, what I saw looked as if it might leap from its canvased prison and tear into the living souls of those two of us who viewed it. I became vaguely aware that the Judge did not keep eyes on the monstrosity for long, but rather diverted his eyes out the window. The subject of Abigail Richie and I locked gazes for the longest time, each tempting the other to move first. Ridiculous, I know! But, I swear to you that this horrendous creation appeared as real as you or I. It lived! If only in the mind of Abigail Richie, it lived and thrived in that space in between nightmares and that crude reality where men and nature commit the most unspeakable atrocities upon each other.
“An Abigail Richie original,” the Judge flipped the canvas back around to cause terror to the wall again, “What do you think? Did she capture something with no basis in this world? Just once did I see a painting rivaling the vivid nature of the life in which is depicted on this. Only one other place has such a terror been imprisoned into the chains of dyes and pastels. It came as a donation from a private collector to some bygone university, that then ended up in a museum of fine art. They had it on display for only a brief period, until complaints as to its subject reached the top of management. I think they have since placed it behind lock and key, but not until I saw the macabre realistic fantasy of the mythological painter Richard U. Pickman. I do insist that this before you is NOTHING like that which this earlier artist captured in terms of subject, but in absolute capturing of reality…the two are parallel and unequaled.”
“What in the name of Heaven is that thing?” I asked, having regained my wits.
My host glanced out the window toward the decrepit former residences at the front of our lane, “I do not know. A shadow? A daemon? A natural deformity? Or some unknown terror yet to be labeled? Your guess is as good as mine.”
“Surely…” I spoke with an attempt to not recall the image of the thing, “This is her own personal night terror. Such things do not exist in this rational world.”
“Ah, but this world ceased to be rational not so long ago. Almost four months to be exact. Almost four months to the day. Dear Donald, we no longer live in the sane former world, for that has passed away, now we live in the irrational one where the limits of our reality have been forsook. Throughout this room are those documents and evidences relating to the terror of that which now haunts our neighborhood, all of which I have had to pull many strings to obtain… But they all show that something changed in our world…something from elsewhere.”
“You make no sense. What do you mean, ‘elsewhere?’” I asked.
For this, the Judge sat behind the desk and put his reading spectacles on. He sifted through one of the binders until he found his query and twisted around to share it with me. The sheet of paper was curled on the left edge where it was ripped from its fellows. I found myself stumbling on the haphazard penmanship of the author, who wrote and spoke with style of a teenager just entering her prime. It read:
“Mom and Dad are dead. I got them and Jordi first, before it comes in. It wants to come in, and shall find a way before the night is out. I know I have spared them a fate worse than death…I know this, because I can feel it. I know that people will say I killed them and then myself, but it isn’t like that. You have to believe me! I can tell you when it began. I know how it sounds, but it began on Friday the thirteenth. Theresa and I held another séance with the Ouija board to see who in the next dimension we could contact. It wasn’t the first time our coven contacted the elder gods or other spirits, but it was our first time on this black date. We should have stopped when the letters spelled out the first word…but we didn’t…we couldn’t stop. We asked the spirit it’s name and it spelled ‘E. V. I. E. L.’
After talking with it longer, Theresa and I got worried. The pointer no longer required our physical touch to move, and communicated of its own accord. We asked it what kind of spirit it was and it spelled out, ‘D. E. M. O. N.’ We probed it further, acting careless and foolish the entire time. I should have shown it more respect. Had I known what I know now, I may never have continued the conversation after those first few words. Eviel hated humanity. She hated everything about us and what we stood for. Then it told us to do something. ‘W. O. R. S. H. I. P. M. E.’ it instructed, ‘K. N. E. E. L.’ I flatly refused, but Theresa did so shaking with fear as the smell of hot ash and sulfur filled the air. I grew afraid, so I ripped the board from the floor and tossed it against the wall. Immediately, I knew my mistake as the curtains blew inward, even though I kept the windows shut.
‘You didn’t close the gate!’ Theresa reprimanded me, but it was too late, ‘You have to close the gate!’
I almost forgot about Eviel two days later when nothing happened, and the only eyes I ever felt watching me were those of Muffin waiting for a treat. Then I saw it. In the collected fog on the bathroom mirror when I stepped out of the shower; the words, ‘Eviel Released. Kneel!’ I wiped the message away, but realized how badly I screwed up. You see, the gate to the netherworld must be shut before disrupting the function of the Ouija board. But I didn’t shut it. Instead, I threw it wide open. I fear that what I have done is nothing short than release a demon from Hell upon my house. What scares me more is the implications may be bigger than that. As punishment for not listening to her, Eviel sent something after me. I’ve seen it at night, nearing our house day by day. It sees straight into me. It is some hound of Hell that Eviel has sent out to track me down. I know it is coming tonight. I know because Muffin has quit barking…her voice just cut off without warning. Also, it is the thirteenth. One month to the day. Soon the pet of Eviel shall get in…and drag me away…to its master.”
Dear merciful Heaven! What horrid form of psychosis and obsession with the occult drove the poor girl in the suicide note to write such a thing? I expressed these thoughts to the Judge who merely returned the note to its fellows and hung his head.
“Donald, she spoke not of the insane, but of an actual phenomenon!”
“How can you say that?” I questioned his own sound mind, “How can a man of such preeminence believe in these ludicrous fantasies?”
“My early years of practice spent within a little place called Mayberg, Illinois, taught me to appreciate the stories of the outrageous, as this small township seemed to be a magnet for all the negative energies of the paranormal in the world,” the Judge gestured at the letter and painting, “The letter and subsequent stories I have collected since then, hearkened me back to that earlier time… a predisposition that led me to believe. But, I too have seen that which the girl unleashed, and what Abigail Richie captured on canvas. I first saw it when those squad cars and ambulance pulled away those few days ago. It glared at me with those daemonic unseeing eyes of death.”
I ignored his delusion and returned to the subject of the girl in the note, “What happened to the author?”
His pudgy shoulders shrugged, “I don’t know. No officer I’ve spoken to who investigated the crime scene found her body. However…”
Here the Judge took a deep breath before continuing, “They found cracked and torn fingernails, stained in blood, lodged in the wood floor of the entryway leading to the front door. An examiner I highly respect noted that it appeared as if the young girl lost them holding onto dear life as someone…or something dragged her out of the house. Officially, she is a missing person, possibly an abduction; but I know better than that.”
“And what of the other homes?” I asked, “Between this lost soul and the Richie’s residence, what of them?”
“The owner of the second one was a surgeon,” my host loosely pointed at the slightly bigger house across the street from where this all began, “Well respected and highly recommended. No one knows why he made practice here, but for one reason or another he did. They are gone now too.”
“Gone? What is your meaning?”
“Dead,” the Judge grunted, “The surgeon was good with a needle and proficient at his craft. So good that it was said that his hands never wavered when wielding the instruments of his trade. Not one misplaced nick or accidental cut…”
“On with it,” I stated after sensing hesitation in the Judge’s tone.
“With some drug taken from the hospital, the good surgeon knocked his wife and little boy out. In their unconsciousness, those guided, well-practiced hands sewed their eyelids shut, then slit his own wrists. When the police found the bodies, both wife and child were killed of fright; the Surgeon’s attempts to shield their eyes from viewing the hideous beast met in vain. The coroner ruled out the drug injection, as it was a safe level. No, instead, he found that the hearts simply stopped beating. When the coroner snipped open those locked eyelids, those pupils that stared back bulged in a frozen death stare as if what they saw were still emblazoned on the deceased retina.”
“That is impossible,” I remarked, showing my naivety, “You recount urban legends only.”
“Look here,” he passed a binder my way of copied police and medical reports that recounted much the same story, but in more detail.
“There once was a man,” the Judge began, “Who wrote to a far away and long forgotten university. He spoke of daemons and perils that lied just beyond the realm of human consciousness and understanding. In his letters and essays, this bygone author attributed these monstrosities to another dimension, a fourth dimension or greater. It was one in which all that seemed impossible could actually take place.”
“I’m not following,” I stated with wrested intrigue.
“Take the painting of the late Mrs. Richie for example,” the Judge answered, “That being lives in a two dimensional world. It can only see and sense that which is on a flat plane. No turning. No depth. No volume or distance whatsoever. Unless looking straight forward, it sees and experiences no other world. Then take our third dimension. Here we twist and turn, fill voids, cross distances, and can perceive solidity and size by refracting edges or traveling around. If a being of a third dimension were to try to pass over into a two dimensional world, or vice-versa, it would be as an abnormal monstrosity to those in the two dimensional. It would destroy minds, those minds only able to perceive the two dimensional, and would tear a gash in its space and time.”
“And what do you suggest of the fourth?”
He took a deep breath before commenting forth, “Those doors unlocked by those kids in the letter led to netherworlds, other dimensions, what have you…but they were intercepted. That one time, something else took control, much more powerful than the bygone philosopher or anyone else could imagine. Instead of closing that door, these girls left it wide open and allowed their evil contact to straddle both planes of existence. I have no doubt what they contacted was a daemon, as suspected, but what we know of daemons from the three Great Religions is that they are ‘gods of this world’ only; not any others. These girls unknowingly allowed this daemon, Eviel, to enter into another dimension once thought to be blocked off to her kind…and now she has sent something through…this thing which plagues our street now.”
“But why?” I asked in earnest, “Why would such an entity do that?”
“To cause us to kneel,” his response came short and sweet, “Just as the dying girl stated, this daemon wants us to bow before it.”
The Judge stood up then, and paced about the room, wishing to find his next words, but wanting to be sure of them before he spoke, “I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever that there is a reason why I have come by the information I have so easily. Less than four months is an expedient amount of time, as you well know, to request and accumulate source materials from different law enforcement agencies and jump through the legal hoops involved, even for me! Eviel’s hand is behind all of this. She wants the information out and public. She wants the world to know…to kneel.”
“So what, then?” the question came as fluidly as rushing water, “This thing kills off one house, then another on its way down the line. Every month on the same predictable date?”
“Yes,” came his only reply.
“Easy then,” I stated emphatically, “I shall rent off this piece of property and move elsewhere.”
“Hmpf,” grunted the Judge, “Like those in house number three, I suppose?”
“I see a story there too,” I thought aloud.
“Our subdivision attracts families with children due to our blue ribbon schools. It is no question, then, that a person would not relocate out of county or area merely to escape a string of murder-suicides,” the Judge gurgled a croaked laugh here before continuing, “Not so with the Ushers. Rodney Usher moved his wife and two children away shortly after the death of the surgeon’s clan. Last anyone ever heard of them, they fled State lines and settled on an old family estate in upstate New York. In their absence, the house was rented to a college student looking to investigate the unnatural history of the neighborhood. James Dupin majored in English and boasted a love of the macabre and paranormal aspects of existence. Poor lad, claimed it all to be ‘a part of his character make-up’, a part of his ‘DNA.’ Late at night one could see his flashlight twinkle as he broke into the Surgeon’s house and that of the missing girl with an EMF detector, divining rods, and other specter tracking materials. More than once, Dupin would finagle a friend or two to come with him into the former two residences. For the most part though, this intrepid novice detective traversed alone.”
The Judge paused to collect his thoughts, “Toward the end of the third week after the deaths of the surgeon’s clan, Dupin found something that terrified him. I recall that blood curdling shriek as he dashed out of the house leaving his equipment and flashlights behind. Besides that, I saw nothing…it was not yet my time to. Regardless, Dupin changed after that. His hands jittered when standing still, and his eyes never focused again quite right. In just a few days, James Dupin looked more like an old man, than a young man just old enough to legally imbibe alcohol.”
“What happened to him?” I asked, briefly catching my own hand shaking.
“He figured it out,” the Judge locked eyes with me, “Whatever he saw in the surgeon’s house that night affected him profoundly. His mind shattered after receiving that glimpse into the fourth dimension. Like that painting over there viewing a third dimension, Dupin came upon something his senses were never meant to capture. The night of the thirteenth, an All Points Bulletin went out to all on duty officers for a missing child…the daughter of the family whose house in which you now live. When authorities arrived at Dupin’s residence to ask about the missing youth, they overheard the ravings of a madman and the cut off cry of a little girl.”
“God in Heaven…” I exclaimed, “What did they discover?”
“I only receive this part now in bits and pieces from eyewitnesses,” the Judge warned, “But I have placed it together into a cohesive whole. Now having probable cause, the officers kicked in the door and tracked Dupin to the living room. Candles lined every edge, nook and cranny of the space, now devoid of any furniture save a table dead center with a white cloth draped over it. Placed on top, gagged and bound was the missing girl. Standing over the child, Dupin held a knife over his head in both hands. ‘Place the weapon on the ground!’ one of the uniforms shouted. Dupin didn’t seem to notice of the officers, and instead seemed to speak to something waiting invisibly in the air. ‘I obey your will! Your will be done!’ As Dupin’s knife fell down to the child’s bare chest, one of the elder officer’s fired. He did not kill Dupin, but merely wounded him.”
“Thank God for that,” I said, “At least no one died that night.”
The Judge frowned, “I didn’t say that. Dupin went to a psychiatric ward screaming about daemons and shadows, and the child went through the proper channels, then home…but the Usher’s who rented the property…their lives ended quite tragically. They found Rodney Usher with a hose flowing through his window and to his automobile’s exhaust port; an empty six shot pistol carried in his dead right hand. Usher put one round into the temple of his wife and two children tucked in their beds. Those casings were found in each room.”
“And the other three casings?” I asked.
His brows narrowed, “Inside the car with him. But, the investigators never found the receiving end of those shots. What they did find baffled them even more.”
The Judge sat back down and fidgeted, clearly uncomfortable with recounting the tale, “Donald, you are an intelligent man. So, you know that the character and composition of glass only allows for it to be scratched from one side or the other. It is impossible, unless for rare exceptions in the manufacturing process and certain extreme environmental factors, that scratches can appear from inside the glass pane itself. I tell you Donald, what those investigators found left them with more questions than answers, for every last pane of glass on the exterior of the vehicle was scratched in long claw-like gashes from dead center! It was as if something tried to tear its way into the vehicle from inside the glass itself! On the front passenger seat, the detectives found shards of glass from the inner half of the adjoining window!”
“Clearly make believe…how else do you explain it?” my naive mind would still have no part in believing these stories.
“Some cultures,” he began with the utmost patience, “Believe in the ‘fauna of mirrors.’ It is thought that within these artificial reflections are glimpses into another universe…or dimension of existence. This creature, released from that damnable witch board, followed the Ushers to their new residence, and killed Rodney Usher by breaking into his car from inside his passenger side window!”
“No, my friend,” I corrected with kindness, “You said he was found with the hose through his window.”
“Ah, I did say that,” he agreed, “But it is hard to kill oneself with carbon monoxide…when the car is not running and the keys are in your pocket! No…Rodney Usher was found dead with a six shooter in his hand. But it took DNA and fingerprint analysis to confirm the identity of the man behind the wheel…because something ripped his face clean off!”
“Could this be some maniacal serial killer?” I asked, still not willing to give up my laughable rouse of reality.
“If so,” the Judge brushed off the suggestion like so much annoying dust, “Then it is the most efficient and effective murderer ever to have walked this Earth, as it leaves no fingerprints or other traces of its presence.”
We both discontinued the conversation, and I stole the moment to look out the window at site number four of this macabre strain of terror. Gazing into its soulless glass panes now, a new wave of gratuitous fear overtook me. Those windows! Those black voided windows allowing glimpses into only the recesses of dark nothingness! Could the Judge be speaking of something within this sane world of ours? Though I dare not look out at them in the present for a different reason of the likes I shall get to later; I can still recall them in a more vivid reflection than any those alien panes ever allowed since the demise of their former owners. The reason for the blank vestibules devoid of any reflection of light or image is that they are no longer depicting images of this universe, but another! Though I knew it not then, I now know why James Dupin fled so frantically from the house of the Surgeon. He found that place which is denied to any three dimensional being of our plane of existence. Somehow he stepped through that area that the daemon Eviel now straddles, and passed into the void which the older houses are filled of completely: he stepped into that infernal fourth dimension and experienced those things that the eyes cannot comprehend, the ears cannot understand, the buds cannot taste, the nostrils cannot partake, and the flesh cannot touch! Save for some inner most subconscious level, Dupin’s sound and healthy mind shattered upon the mere eclipse of realities. It was in that pure depth of subconsciousness that Dupin garnered that thing which he held with him…that thing which he spoke to that night of the Usher’s fall…he heard the voice of Eviel and knelt.
As for converse between the Judge and I, it ended shortly after this. The next seventy-two hours I spent brooding over this information. Despite the routine of my days, I struggled against the sense of foreboding lurking around every fateful corner, creeping in every dark corner, and watching from behind every door. The Judge’s stories effected me in clearly visible ways, but to leave at this point seemed the crux of insanity. What if the Judge had gone feeble minded, and his musings no more than urban legends? When questioned by coworkers as to my affliction, I merely stated the causation being of some virus, insomnia, or other malady of the body. These answers sated the most curious of the inquisitors. Over this time, I found that my waking moments of rest were plagued by an uncanny obsession with the Judge’s assertions…so much so that that I could do nothing less than confront him on it again.
The time came on a sunny Monday morning as the Judge watered his shining green suburban lawn, amplified in brightness and color due to the monochromatic graying of the neighboring stalks of the same plant. Upon my wave, our conversation began anew.
“So…the itch has gotten you too,” the Judge did not ask this, but merely stated it as simple fact, “I see it in your eyes. You can see a lot in a person’s eyes: their intent, manner, and emotion.”
“I need to know…” I stated, my hand trembling at my side, “I need to know all that you know…all that you have in those documents upstairs.”
His brow hardened, and the Judge scrutinized my every fiber, “If you mean what you say, stop by after work. My door will be open.”
So that is what I did. I twiddled through my day doing nothing of significance, for fear of losing sight of the evening’s goal. Entering the Judge’s house that night, he met me with a cup of coffee and a gestured arm to the stairs toward that room of housed evil. The sun sank beneath the top of the dwellings of the Surgeon and Richie’s residence on its track to the opposite hemisphere, adding to my growing fear of the truth the Judge kept chained in loose binders and pinned photographs. I spent the first hour alone reading the police reports, poring over the suicide note of the young girl, and reviewing the coroner’s examinations. All the data corroborated the Judge’s story to the finest details. Most obscene were the justifications allowed for the apparent mysteries the investigators found. For the untimely demise of the Surgeon’s family, the coroner wrote off the cause of death to be “stress from bodily wounds,” although the only bodily blemish was that sewn into the eyelids. Likewise, the explanation for the death of Rodney Usher was “firearm misfire,” with the mystery of the interior window scratches being conveniently left out. Finally, it came time for me to return to the painting by Abigail Richie.
My soul wished not to glimpse the subject of the macabre illustration ever again, but my rational mind forced my hand. I had to see it again with the eyes of a believer. The dead cried out to me in the tales of law enforcement and medical examiners, now I had to pay homage to the ghost memory of House Number Four and sobbing Abigail Richie. In the Judge’s darkened room, I flipped the painting around and gazed into the slit-like eyes of the ghoul from the impossible dimension.
You may recall having seen drawings that hold double images where the viewer sees either one or the other: a young maid or an old hag, and other such complexities. The painting of Abigail Richie held much the same quality. In those few seconds that I viewed the monstrosity a second time, my mind twisted the shadow-form inter-dimensional being into a myriad of analogous structures. Suffice that this creature, if indeed you can call it that, bore eyes of a color not of this plane of existence and revealed teeth and claws that appeared more as serrated mirrors, reflecting the impossible images of the deceased. I stared intently into these slivers of captured reflection and recoiled in such terror, as my hands instinctively twirled the painting back to face the wall. In each reflection I saw another victim: the stitched eyelids of the Surgeon’s clan, the gory hole of Usher’s face, and the fate of the Richie’s themselves. Yes, in those reflections I even saw the fate of the missing girl…needless to say that the young one is no longer among the living, unless it be possible for a third dimensional being to exist in that fourth dimension for very long. What I can say of her fate is that in a reflective claw, I saw her screaming in an eternal darkness not of the confines of Hell, but of a place that no human soul is ever meant to dwell…a space that James Dupin narrowly escaped that night while snooping in the Surgeon’s house.
The Judge and I grew more connected in the days that followed. He and I joined forces in locating possible solutions to the enigma of the curse befalling our street. Two minds fixated in the dissolution of that abysmal fate of terrifying death that slowly overtook our quaint division of suburbia. I observed him in those following days. With gradual decadence, the authoritative preeminence of the elder disintegrated. As I returned after work each day, some other nervous tick grew in prominence. His eyelids sagged with lack of sleep, and the ancient muscles of every limb obtained a stiffness as if in constant shock. Fidgeting fingers, clicking nails upon the nearest flat surfaces, and darting gazes told me that my friend the Judge no longer boded well. A cursory glance at the calendar told why: we slowly approached that accursed thirteenth day with nothing to show for it save ruminating over the same theorems, conjectures, and compiled research into the oddity. Twas one of these circumstances that the Judge grasped my cuff before I could turn from his patio for the evening.
“I see it!” he whispered in all too forceful a tone, “The shadow of the abyss! I first glimpsed it the night of the Richie’s demise…but since then it has returned and come closer!”
“Explain,” I obliged my frantic friend.
“Every night!” his voice rose ever so slightly, “It takes a step closer! Last week it stood on the edge where the Richie’s uncut grass meets the pavement. Now, last night, it stood in the center of the street. It grinned at me, Donald! I don’t know how, but that shadow-form grinned at me like in Abigail Richie’s painting!”
A brief recollection of the implacable disfigurement, otherwise known as a work of art, flashed through my mind; its reflective teeth bearing outward. Could that mouth have been upturned in a fiendish smile, or was that supplanted by the unnerved ally before me? Of which I could not be sure.
“It’s coming Donald, and I know not how to prevent it…” dire resignation choked through, “Soon those streetlights will flicker again. Then…then my mind shall begin to break like those previous to me. Come by no more Donald until after the deed is done. That infernal thirteenth is only a week and a half away. I bequeath all of the findings and evidences to you, come and gather them at your leisure, save for one thing which I shall keep on my person until the end. I have left in a will that it go to you…when it comes to your possession let it never out of your sight as it may be the only saving grace you have. I have left a key to my door under the brown rock in the front garden. Do not worry with the bell, just come and get the materials and return no more. Not until for better or worse, this thing is finished and the thirteenth passes.”
“Goodbye, my friend,” I said, startled by the endeavor ahead of me.
“Goodbye Donald,” he replied, “And good luck.”
I would like to tell you that the days did not grow dreary over this last length of time. I would like to tell you that the Judge met me cheerfully at the door when I came for his collected data. I would like to tell you that those damnable streetlights did not flicker in the count down of the final three nights every hour. I would like to tell you about how on the morning of the fourteenth, the Judge raced out of his front door to greet me with the relieved smile of one who has faced death and escaped. Alas, I would like to tell you all these things…but none of them happened. At 2:50 AM two squad cars paced Howard Phillips Lane and kept careful watch until 3:10; upon which time they ceased their stride on the edge of the Judge’s driveway. I met the officer’s silently at the edge of the property and directed them to the key beneath the stone after their first attempts at knocking failed.
Ignoring orders to remain behind, I followed the officer’s inside and aided the search for the kindly old Judge. We found him, head slumped over and body wrapped in a baby blue bath robe. A tattered copy of the Bible rested in his lap open to a select page. Highlighted in yellow, I read the passage from First Peter that my now lost friend must have utilized for his own sanity and failed protection: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
Though anti-climatic it may sound, the truth is that I do not know what befell the Judge in those last few moments or days of his life. All I know is that which I have recounted and experienced since. The investigators found every mirror and reflective glass object in the house shattered to minuscule powder and the windows blacked out with paint. Still, whatever hunted the Judge found him regardless. Clinging to that passage of scripture, the Judge either got the gift of his creator in peaceful death, or happened upon so great a fear stepping toward him that his heart tensed and never beat again.
The next two months of time I shall recount as quickly as possible, if only to describe to you how ineffectual the plans you have, perhaps, begun to devise truly are. I never paused in my searching for answers. Many times I took days off to meet with professors of physics and mathematics to discuss dimensional theory. It seemed a general consensus that a fourth dimension would be the element of time, but none agreed with the conclusion that there existed life forms within other dimensions, let alone interact with beings on our third. Upon my insinuation that such things were possible, their behaviors toward me turned to that of polite retreat from a lunatic. This made further interrogation as to how to close the gap a fruitless endeavor. However, my efforts were not all in vain. My accumulated knowledge allowed me to draw parallels, though to what end I still know not, between the professors’ assertions and that which the victims experienced on Howard Phillips. For instance, if this creature came from a dimension framed of time, then did it not make sense how it always struck in the same rhythms month to month? Also, time exists to us as an ordered and constantly moving entity, yet if it was a dimension in and of itself, then it would have features unable to be witnessed by us three dimensional entities. This brings up the subject of a tearing from one dimension to the next if an entity were to move between. I can not say with any non-speculative measure, but it seems that the explanation for those monochromatic properties may be that they now straddle the dimensional rift where the creature travels to and fro. It makes me wonder if, or when will the properties fade from our third dimensional existence entirely…that is if we are, indeed, discussing a dimensional question at all…of that I am still unsure.
While I pondered this inter-working, the plan devised by the neighbor immediately bordering me carried out the conclusion of his grand scheme of survival. It seemed that this industrious individual saw the writing on the wall months before and ceased paying his bills. When the collectors came knocking, no resident was ever found; so the State took over the property. By the time of the thirteenth, no one heard from the fled owner; to this date I still am unaware of his whereabouts. Hell holds no bounds though, and I am sure that if Eviel and her fabled pet wanted to track him down, then they very well might have.
The streets remained calm the night of the thirteenth. Police vehicles roamed and checked on the residents of our lane, but, it seemed, the violence finally ceased…seemed until I read a headline in the Sunday paper. The State Treasurer, the one to whom the abandoned property switched hands when it fell to State ownership was heard to be screaming in his home at 3 AM on the day in question. When police arrived, the Treasurer laid dead in a pool of his own blood with a large knife through his chest. A young girl cowered in a corner, half naked and pale as a specter. She recounted how the Treasurer abducted her from a school playground and spoke only to himself as he forced her to lay on a counter. He rose a knife over her exposed form and let out the afore heard scream. Fortunately, the Treasurer maintained enough sanity to know what wrong he was about to commit and attempted to end himself instead…attempted.
Besides the horrific knife wound, later found to be serious, but not fatal, other injuries sustained on the corpse begat a wilder story. The paper did not regale its readers with the particulars of the Treasurer’s wounds, but made it abundantly clear that the murderer was inhuman and a maniac of the most diabolical proportions. My investigative pursuits would not let this little matter go unresolved, so I pulled strings with my contact from whom I previously gleaned information about the unfortunate Richies. Appearing to him once earned me nothing more than a casual glance, but twice in regards to similar mysteries acquired a more suspicious and inquisitive eye from him this time. When I explained myself, his eyes turned bloodshot and his face drained of all color.
“Donald! Didn’t I tell you to not touch the place?” in my contact’s eyes, I saw the look of a man glimpsing a rested corpse about to be interred into the ground.
From him I learned of the suppressed testimony of the little girl. Too macabre even for the words of my contact to convey wholly, I shall do my best to give the horror witnessed as much due justice as is to be had in the English language.
The girl’s story corroborated that of the local papers until the point of the knife being raised over her chest, upon which time things took a horrifying and terrible twist. The Treasurer is said to have mumbled under his breath words that she could not understand. Gradually, the Treasurer’s voice raised to that of just below a shout. Every other phrase she could identify something spat in English. “Hail Eviel! …the gods of this world flee in your wake! …Glory be to Eviel, the new ruler of Hell!” At this point tears streamed from the Treasurer’s eyes and brought the knife swiftly down to bear…but not into the sacrifice’s flesh as suspected. “I can’t!” the Treasurer shrieked as he buried the weapon in his own gut, no doubt hoping to end himself then and there. As the girl slowly regained the use of her muscles, she rolled off the table and backed toward the corner where she would be found much later.
Suspecting him dead, the girl did not approach, but then his arm twitched. The Treasurer’s eyes scanned the room, fell on her, and his mouth opened for another scream whose wind cut off in frozen terror. Five red tears opened up down the strip of middle-aged baldness at the center of his head to his brow. From whence these gashes came, the girl could see neither form nor shadow. His twitching arm raised to the air, followed by a set of vertical lacerations of the same caliber stripping the skin and muscle from the palm to the elbow, slicing through cuff links and suit sleeve. I shall leave you here, as to tell more would overdo the point and send me into further fits of madness.
“What I will say is that it was none of these wounds that did the Treasurer in,” my contact informed me, “But a series more of them that continued without any physical form entering the retinas of the watcher in her dark corner.”
“Burn the house or sell it for the love of God, Donald!” my contact bid me once more, “Whomever this serial killer is, he has it in for whoever’s name ends up on the deed of ownership!”
The month following, I renewed my desperate search for a solution elsewhere. I consulted priests, pastors, and holy men of various practices and faiths as to what to do. My greatest responses came from a Baptist minister and Catholic priest. The Baptist chanted in tongues, thumped on his leather bound text, and raved in the name of his Savior at the daemons he swore were present. On the other hand, the priest kissed his rosary, spread his Holy Water, and carried on to the Virgin Mary and his God to intercede on behalf of myself and the neighborhood. Both these stylized rituals were done to my dwelling and those of the recently deceased, despite the occasional curious glance from the nearest of neighbors. Prayers were said on behalf of those murdered souls, and in every circumstance the holy men left convinced that the entity of evil was cast asunder. My casual observations of my next in line neighbor spoke differently.
With each passing day, the husband and wife of the parallel dwelling to my own grew pallor in disposition and expression. Though these men of God felt convinced of their success, something that my neighbors sensed told them different. Arguments frequently arose between husband and wife, sometimes sounding as if they got outright physical. Crashing dishes and wayward shouting became daily occurrences.
Not one to give up, I next consulted a slew of mediums and psychics. Each charging me an arm and a leg for the application of their craft, I bid them all to come and witness my home and the surrounding neighborhood. Out of desperation alone I bought into their charlatry. Charms, burning of incense, smudging of herbs, and seances all performed for my benefit and to drive off the unseen inhabitants of Howard Phillips Lane. An unclean medium, smelling of the overhauled perfumes and spices that she pedaled, claimed to have channeled the spirit of the missing teen from ground zero of our local phenomenon.
“Help put my soul to rest,” the hushed voice of the medium pleaded in imitation of that which the deceased was said to speak, “Find my body where the man in the white van put it.”
Yes, I knew it too. All this charlatan knew was some series of conjectures about a serial killer that the press purported. I knew the truth though, as you now do, that the missing teen wailed not from some recently dug pit on the side of a ditch, but from a recess where not even the devil spirits of this world dared dwell…except for one. A palm reader and tarot card holder came closer to getting the facts correct. The “lines” of my palm spelled out terror and disaster on the lifeline, and an encounter with evil on another, whereas the tarot cards told of sudden death if I did not make necessary preparations. As to the entities that stalked Howard Phillips…no information came.
Week two brought an unexpected element to the drama unfolding across the street. While out at the movie theater, a pop followed by yellow-orange flames engulfed the north side of their house. Neighbors alerted the local volunteer fire department, and the flash fire quickly died out…having only touched a tiny portion of one room and two walls, but not nearly to decrepit levels. Investigators deemed the near tragedy an act of arson via an amateur firebomb left inside the burnt room. Though wives and arson investigators are not trained in the art of lie detecting, my years of experience as a lawyer provided more than enough knowledge to identify the guilty nervous ticks of the unusually distraught husband.
I heard from neighborly gossip that a subsequent separation came quick and expedient. Though I normally do not celebrate such tidings, I am secretly elated in the fact that the separation saved at least one life that month. I need not tell you the ultimate conclusion to the husband’s story, though being human, your interest may not be sated just by stating the obvious fact that the three days preceding the thirteenth the street lights flickered every hour, and the following 3 AM, he was dead. Do not think that this man did not fight for his life. His body was found in his kitchen huddled over a newly bought Ouija board of his own. No living soul can tell you what was said in that final conversation between he and the netherworld, but what I can say is what the final word was, as shown by the placement of the pointer: “No.” How do I know that he did not put the pointer there himself? Frankly, I do not know that for certain, but can speculate it due to the victim’s lack of arms from the elbows down. One might ask where the missing appendages might be. To that there is no definitive answer, but I might speculate that they exist in that realm where the teen from the original note screams eternally to this day.
Now we enter the last month…this month. You moved in the same day that the prior mentioned corpse was taken away. Do not blame your home’s previous owner, as you can see, many others on our lane also know which direction the wind blows, though they know not the details. I, myself, cannot blame my own residence’s former occupants, as they learned the key to survival before anyone else did. There is a bad air here that creeps in from those dead properties at the front. Some speculate that the killer comes for the owner of each home in order. To that they are correct. Merely, you are the previous dweller’s replacement: I feel that courtesy is best extended to you now from your late neighbor Donald Weatherby. My home has been for sale recently too, but once word spreads about a street of death, it is hard to garnish a sale.
I have sold nearly every asset, other than the damned house, of value in my possession and given the money to the Bank of America in Mayberg, Illinois to keep a vault specifically for the documents and artifacts bequeathed to me by the Judge and that which I have accumulated myself along with copies of this letter…following the former’s advice that such a town was privy to the strange and the macabre. The bank, itself is old and the town small, so I am not concerned as to the honesty and integrity of those individuals who run it. Use the password “Donald” when asking the tellers for vault 1408. All I ask is that you add, not subtract from what is present, as there is no guarantee that you shall survive your encounter either.
What of me? Shortly after watching you move in, I saw it. That night as you and your spouse sent the kids away to celebrate your new home in private, I saw the Judge’s shadow and Abigail Richie’s subject. Having witnessed the sight of it every night hence, I can say with the utmost certainty that the being holds no true form and is inherently amorphous. This makes sense in terms of what the physicists and mathematicians told me about what a “being” from another dimension might be like if ever one were to exist. Such a thing would not, nor could not be in any form that our third dimensional selves could sense or comprehend in its entirety; instead all we might glimpse is a reflection out of the corner of one’s eye. A reflection indeed! Maybe those ancient cultures knew of what they spoke when the made claims about the “fauna of mirrors.” If I can describe this being in any known word in the human vocabulary it would be: “reflection.” Looking into its soulless eyes, I see a form built and designed without a soul, for in its dimension such a spiritual concept may never have been intended for the God that created the universe. Its form collects and morphs in the shadows with each movement of its non-muscles. The constant variables remain its dark eyes, and indescribable teeth and claws. I see, now, why Abigail Richie chose to represent those serrated parts of its anatomy as reflective surfaces, because looking into them, one gets the sense that they are seeing a reflection of some inner world held within the beast itself. Surely, there is an aspect of truth to this as James Dupin, the fool who accidentally stepped into the void, found out in his late night wanderings. Where this thing stalks, it leaves rips in the fabrics of our dimension. Not by existing there, thus why our street remains intact, but in where it interacts with our world…the homes. I have not traveled to the Usher’s New York residence, but I suppose that it is as barren and desolate as our dwellings here.
I’m sure you might have seen the street lights flicker for the last two nights. Now you know what that means. I will deposit this in your mailbox on my way to the site of the first occurrence…the home where it all began. I have accumulated my own Ouija board and…procured that certain other more precious “resource” that the Treasurer and Dupin also realized. Utilizing these implements, I might either end this all, or have it skip over me. Of which end I am uncertain, but as the street lights flicker once again as I write this sentence, I am stalwart in my desire that you read this in full and pass it along to whom it may concern. It is imperative that you keep this going should your month come to an end as well. In case this note is lost, I have a set of copies to be delivered to the bank I spoke of along with a flash drive upon which more may be printed. I know not how this all will end should I no longer be among the living to help it along its course, but I do know that one day all of the houses of this lane shall be as dead and vacant as the ones at the front should Eviel and her pet beast not be stopped. In that case, we can only speculate as to what might happen. Will their reign of terror continue onto the rest of the neighborhood? What then? Shall it spread outwardly and in what direction? These variables shall remain in the unknown. Rest assured though, that if you are reading this and not on Howard Phillips Lane, then someone, or something has thought it wise that you receive this. In that vein, I ask you not to stare out your window when the sun goes down, else you will see the creature of the fourth dimension looking in. If you live elsewhere and you receive this, then I offer this speculation to you: Reading through the contents of this letter as I come to a close, I see that my writing is not my own. I flow in and out of an archaic tone not of this age. I do not know why this is, and for the life of me have not known it til now. This means only one thing…that, perhaps, I am being “led” to write it, that something wants this written for the express purpose of passing it along. It makes me wonder whether it was, in fact, my idea to write this at all and not someone else. Likewise, I wonder if it was that something else that prevented me from speaking to you in person.
Now, I leave you with my final words of advice in the form of what I am about to do. It is clear what Eviel wants, and that those who carry it out might survive. It is also clear that the door she straddles has not been shut. Maybe that is what the arm-less husband meant to do that final night on his devil board. If it is, then I shall most surely die, as Eviel might not give me the chance. However, it seems that Eviel does wish her subjects to kneel. As I have said, I have procured the proper resources for either the shutting of the door or my own survival. The knife lies next to this note on my writing desk. We all have two options in this war: to live or to die. Until one of us finds a third, this is the hand we are dealt. I leave it in your hands to come to a decision for yourself and family; as for me… I have decided to live if defeat is certain and the door cannot be shut. I shall not be deterred like those others before me…no matter the cost.
Credit: Benjamin Krause