Allendale: A Shunned House Part 30

At 11 a.m. the next day, I began to dig. The weather was sunny and I was glad for it. I was still alone, because, as much as I feared the unknown horror, I feared telling anyone—feared they’d think I was mad, feared they’d think I killed my dear uncle. Later, I told the Fitzgeralds out of necessity, and because they were already somewhat aware of the circumstances of the house. As I turned up the stinking black earth in front of the fireplace, my spade causing a viscous yellow ichor to ooze from the white fungi which it severed, I trembled at the thought of what I might uncover. Some secrets are better left undiscovered and I worried this might be one of them.

My hand shook perceptibly, but still I dug. After a while I was standing in a large hole I had made. With the deepening of the hole, which was about six feet square, the evil smell increased, and I lost all doubt of my imminent contact with the hellish thing whose emanations had cursed the house for two centuries. I wondered what it would look like—what form it might take, and how big it might have grown, through the long ages of preying on my family.

After a while I climbed out of the hole and arranged the containers of acid around two sides, so that I could empty them into the hole quickly. After that, I dumped earth only on the other two sides and I worked more slowly. I donned my gas mask as the smell grew.

Suddenly my spade struck something softer than earth, the gentle give of rotting wood. I shuddered and turned to climb out of the hole, which was now as deep as my neck. Then courage returned. I thought back to Demonbreun’s letter— Jean Deraque, “deux fils, ainsi que quatre Indiens.” I couldn’t know which crude coffin contained the garou, but I knew I had to uncover all seven bodies. Slowly, so slowly, the layer of dead men revealed itself, some covered still with planks not yet rotted completely away, some so bare all that was left of them were bones and bits of metal—buttons, buckles, coins, and the like. One of the partial skeletons—one of the Deraques, I presume—was larger than the rest and its skull was obviously lupine, even in the dimly lit hole. Though the rest of the bones were gray and crumbling, the teeth of this one were still sharp and white. Whether it was a trick of light, I cannot say, but I swear I saw the jaw open slightly and then seem to snap shut, as if whatever vital animating force compelled the beast was not thwarted by barely having a body to animate.