The blinding maelstrom of greenish-yellow vapor which surged tempestuously up from that hole as the floods of acid descended will never leave my memory. All along Peach Valley Drive and up toward town, people still talk about the yellow day, when a barge filled with god-knows-what leaked into the Cumberland River, but I know how mistaken they are to the source. They tell, too, of the hideous roar which came at the same time, possibly the hull of the barge tearing open on some long-forgotten building drown by the TVA—but again I could correct them if I dared.
I don’t see how I lived through it. Certainly none of the sensitive equipment we had carried into the basement with us did. All was ruined and the information on it unsalvageable. I passed out after emptying the fourth container, which I had to handle after the fumes had begun to penetrate my mask. But when I recovered, I saw that the bodies were all gone and the hole was emitting no fresh vapors.
The two remaining containers I emptied down without particular result, and after a time, I felt it safe to shovel the earth back into the pit. It was twilight before I was done, but the fear had gone out of the place. The dampness was less noticeable and all the strange fungi had withered to a grayish powder which blew ash-like all along the floor. Hell had received at last the demon soul of an unhallowed thing. As I patted down the last spadeful of dirt, I shed the first of many tears with which I have paid tribute to my beloved uncle.
The next spring, the daffodils bloomed at Allendale and shortly afterward the Fitzgeralds rented the place. The barren old catalpa tree in the yard was white with flowers, and last year the birds nested in its gnarled boughs.
I still have wolfish-dreams, dreams that I am being pursued by a thing, something like a cross between a bear and a wild hog and a wolf and a mountain lion. But my father assures me that this is another family matter, a separate problem unique to the Allens, long left in the past, nothing to worry about. And, as long as I don’t dream in French or wake to small scratches or bite marks, I shall continue to believe him.