Our vigil began at 10 p.m. and for a long time, it seemed nothing would happen. We had, along with our weaponry, all the accoutrements fitting of a modern ghost hunter—EMF readers, voice recorders, video cameras, and motion detectors. They made no unusual noises, recorded no anomalies of any sort until they ceased to function. A weak light filtered in from the raining night, the red and green glows from our equipment, and a feeble phosphorescence from the detestable fungi within showed the dripping stone of the walls from which all traces of whitewash had vanished, the dank, foetid, and mildew-tainted hard earth floor with its obscene fungus, the damp and broken, uneven brick area, and even the someone new concrete had a sad, tired appearance. The heavy planks and massive beams of the ground floor overhead, the rickety staircase with the ruined wooden hand-rail, and the crude and cavernous fireplace of blackened brick—these thing and our austere cot and camping chairs and the heavy and intricate destructive machinery we had brought all seemed to emerge from the darkness according to the vagaries of the passing lightning.
We had, as I had done so many times before, left the basement door to the outside unlocked so that we had a direct and practical path of escape, should we be dealing with forces too great for us. It was our idea that staying overnight, continually, if necessary, would lure out whatever malign entity lurked there. And that, since we were so well-prepared, that we could dispose of the thing as soon as we had recognized it and observed it sufficiently. How long that might take, we had no idea. It occurred to us, too, that we had no idea how safe this whole adventure was, because we had no idea how strong the thing might be, in whatever form it might take. But we thought it was worth the hazard, even as we were conscious that, if we had to call for help, we would be a laughingstock and, perhaps, then, unable to secure the house from evil. The only hint we had that we were not alone in thinking that there might be some unexplainable element to Allendale was that the Fitzgeralds had given us a small statue of St. Hubert, the patron saint of hunters and the saint to whom one appeals in case of bite. I placed it near my Bible, which was tucked under the pillow on the cot. My uncle was tickled at the notion of a saint who might protect one from the bite of a supernatural being. And though we laughed at this, both of us took some comfort as well. Such was our frame of mind as we talked—far into the night, until my uncle’s growing drowsiness made me remind him to lie down for his two-hour nap.
Bridgett! I put St. Hubert in just for you.
Brr. I’ve got to remember to read this during the light of day…
(And such torment, having it doled out a few paragraphs at a time! When all is said and done, do you plan to make the entire thing available in one big chunk anywhere?)
I was hoping you would! I’m touched.
This is another one of my favorite moments, just because, as much as I feel for ole George, I love to also laugh at him. He’s been going around the whole Mississippi River watershed for however long running into person after person who’d be the prime suspect in any Scooby Doo mystery and he’s still all, “The only hint we had that we were not alone in thinking that there might be some unexplainable element to Allendale was that the Fitzgeralds had given us a small statue of St. Hubert.”
Motherfucker! Have you not been paying attention to the very story you’re telling us? This is, my friends, why I refuse to believe that the horror from Allendale is really gone, regardless of how the story ends. The Allens’ sin throughout the story has been to not recognize others’ testimony and especially not recognize it as valid.
George has a whole giant watershed (or two, if we count Quebec) saying “Something isn’t right” and he still only counts what his relatives say as the only hint he’s gotten.
The only question is how long we think he’s been working in the service of the garou. I say it got to him as far back as when he was a kid. And now that the only Allen who seems not only open to getting rid of it, but who had the know-how is dead, the garou can get back to murdering people in French. Ha ha ha. It’s going to suck for George when he figures out he’s been used.
SherryH, the truth is that I don’t know. I’ve enjoyed the shit out of this, but it really weighs heavily on my mind that this isn’t really my story. And yes, I know, it’s in the public domain and we retell fairytales all the time and that’s cool. But I hewed really, really close to Lovecraft’s tale. I followed right along and used his language and his plot points and… I mean, it’s like I took a car he built and painted it a color I liked better and then drove it around town after his death.
And I want to honor that that’s what I’ve done. This is Lovecraft’s story, not mine. I’m probably over-fretting about it, but something about putting it together in one spot, as if it is its own stand-alone thing? I don’t know. It feels a little to me like I’d be driving Lovecraft’s car around and pretending it was mine. Like I did the work of writing the story, rather than just the work of entertaining y’all with a retelling of it.
But maybe that’s stupid? I guess the thing is that so few things come into the public domain anymore that I kind of feel like I’m groping along for a way to understand if what I’ve done is okay. They remake movies all the time. And music has a concept of a cover that can be pretty transformed from but still recognizable as the original.
But does writing? I don’t know. I’m interested to hear what folks think.
I think it depends. If you were putting out a collection of your stories, IMO it would be completely appropriate to put this in with an explanation of what it is. To put it out as a stand-alone story under your own name feels more ethically dicey. However, if you felt like reworking it once again, to make it more clearly the story of the Allens’ sin …[of] not recogniz[ing] others’ testimony and especially not recogniz[ing] it as valid, then you have not just changed details but changed Lovecraft’s focus and conclusion. And that would make it your own in a real way.