R.S. Cartwright

There is usually a good reason why a particular house is shunned.

Eric Cantrell was on the run since the night before. He didn't know why. Couldn't remember; blotted from his mind. And he couldn't remember why he couldn't remember. Only that something had happened, something dark and terrible, and he had to get away. Although he could never know it, that something dark shadowed him, came with him, lurking in the dark recesses of his mind. And waited.

That something dark had changed Eric, causing momentary fits of madness, blue bolts of light dancing behind Eric's eyes, sending his mind spiraling. As quick as the fits of madness came upon him, they were gone.

Eric shrugged them off as if he were accustomed to them, as if it was a condition he had always had. No matter that it was a recent development -- since last night -- when something happened that he couldn't remember. The only thing that mattered was to get away, to run. He wouldn't be running far for in his fits of madness, the path he was following was leading to the very thing he was running from.

* * *

The rain had stopped earlier in the day. The clouds were breaking. Dusk was coming on, the sparse cloud cover hastening the dark of night. Eric smiled. Nighttime driving, peaceful. No daytime hurrying here and there, cars whizzing by. Other drivers on the road made Eric nervous. He liked the back roads; hardly any drivers at all. All he had to watch for was himself.

Eric was traveling the state highway as darkness gathered. Traffic would slacken with the oncoming night. A road sign a few miles back said Route 644. The inner feeling, his love for back roads, was telling Eric to turn off. The highway was no place to be. A back road it would be. As soon as he came to one.

He was tired, driving most of the afternoon. He rubbed the weariness from his eyes in time to see an oncoming road sign. Millport -- 2 miles. Seemed as good a place to turn as any. Before he realized it he had come to Millport. And it seemed familiar to him.

Millport was a tiny cross road hamlet; actually a group of little houses and shops clustered around a "T" intersection. At Millport Route 518 wound its way east through dark hills and woods. Eric turned on to 518, leaving Millport behind.

He was surprised to find himself alone on 518; sure he'd see another car after a few miles. But, no, 518 was deserted. Alone on the road. Appealing, but it made him feel uneasy, nervous. Quite out of character. Trees crowded both sides of the road, seeming to push against the car. A low quarter moon dancing behind the trees had broken through the clouds. The moonlight cast bony fingered shadows that clawed at the car windows. A slight breeze whispered through the trees. Eric could hear the cries of whippoorwills. He shuddered, felt trapped. Unusual.

Eric stared ahead, strained to see beyond the range of his headlights. He saw an object along the road and let out a sigh of relief as the object came within range of his headlights. It was no abominous creature as his mind was trying to say, but rather a young woman. She was hitchhiking.

Hitchhhiking? On this goddam road!? No cars but me!

Eric pulled over, the woman spotlighted in his headlights. He smiled. She was beautiful, dark, long black hair, maybe early twenties. She wore jeans and a white silk blouse, unbuttoned, but gathered and knotted at the waist. She carried a small camping pack slung over her shoulder. She smiled, her smile sparkling as she approached Eric's car. A grin crawled across his face.

Hmmmmm ... nice. What's that ole brick shithouse phrase?

"Where ya headed?" Eric asked as the young woman opened the car door and jumped into the passenger's seat.

"Don't know," she said. She closed the door and smiled at Eric. "Anywhere, I guess."

"All right, anywhere it is!" Eric replied.

Eric smiled at her as he pulled the car onto the road. Her closeness made him re-evaluate her age. Not early twenties, more like eighteen, maybe nineteen. Eric's nervousness left him. With her as a passenger he didn't feel so alone or trapped. His eyes and head suddenly darted about birdlike. His mind flashed bolts of blue electricity that his eyes saw dancing across the dashboard.

... dancing in their heads! Sugar plum fairies; sugar plum fairies! She sees my lover sucking my mind with her eye! Blind, mad, and I? BLIND, MAD, and ... MINE!?

"And mine," he softly echoed the thought, glancing at her.

"Ah, ya say somethin'?" the young woman questioned.

Eric smiled. "Naw, just my mind rambling." He turned his dilating eyes back to the road. "So, what's your name?"

"Anna. Anna Sircola. My friends call me Anne. What's yours?"

"Eric Cantrell." He smiled and nodded to her.

She nodded in return, then fumbled through her small camping pack. She pulled out a pack of Marlboros, producing a rolled cigarette.

"Would ya like one?" she asked, glancing at Eric.

He shook his head. "No thanks. Don't NEED any grass."

"Do ya mind?" Anne asked, gesturing to herself.

Do ya mind, do ya mind, do ya do ya mind? Eric cackled to himself. "No, not at all. Go ahead."

Anne lit the joint and took a long drag. She held it in for several seconds, then let it go. She glanced at the joint, took another hit, held it in, then let it go again. She giggled as she turned to Eric.

"So, what do you do, anyway?"

A fire in his mind flickered and danced. His eyes remained on the road. He momentarily mulled over Anne's question, then spoke. His words were slow, deliberate. "I write horror and study classic writers of the genre ..." Eric suddenly fell silent, his eyes locked on the road. Whippoorwill songs played softly in his mind along with soft voices, like a chant. Anne stared at him.

"Classic writers?" Anne asked.

Eric darted his head in her direction. His eyes were deep black pools and wide like his pupils had expanded half way around his eyeballs. He grinned and spoke in a soft slow tone, giving complete names. "Like Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce, Algernon Blackwood, Walter de la Mare, Edgar Allan Poe, Howard Phillips Lovecraft, Montague Rhodes James, Joseph Sheridan LeFanu, ... even Donatien Alphonse Francios ... de ... Sade, the Marquis."

His fragmented vocalizing of 'de Sade' was calculated for response. The response he got wasn't what he expected.

Anne shrugged her shoulders, her tone of voice revealing she hadn't heard of any of those names Eric had mentioned. "Now if you talk 'bout Stephen King or Dean Koontz ..."

"Don't worry about it," Eric interrupted, his words quick and sharp. The name Lovecraft began to crawl across his consciousness for some reason, and his mind started to spiral, then quickly settled. The whippoorwill songs and soft vocal chanting remained.

Out of the darkness a cross road loomed before them. Eric stopped the car and looked at each prospect. 518 veered right. Left was Route 407. A sign marked the road straight ahead as Trinity Church Road. It lead into a dark tunnel of trees. Eric stared into the tunnel, registering a vague trace of recognition. He shrugged it off and sighed. The tree tunnel sure looked inviting. After a quick glance into the darkness of 518 and 407, he turned to Anne, his eyebrows arched.

"Which way ya headed?" Anne asked, noting his expression.

"Anywhere you like."

"Really?! How 'bout straight ahead! Looks excitin'!"

Eric noted the excitement in her voice meant more than the darkness of Trinity Church Road. "Then that's the way we go," he grinned, his mind thinking of Anne and the immediate future, his darkened mood, the song of the whippoorwills, and the chanting voices now beginning to soften.

"Good!" she exclaimed, taking another hit off the joint.

Eric crossed the intersection to Trinity Church Road and oppressive darkness greeted them. Trees on each side of the road arched above them, branches mingling, moonlight blocked. The tunnel darkness was total except for the headlights cutting only a few short feet in front of them. Eric wasn't sure he liked it, again out of character, having written horror stories. He wasn't sure of anything. But he drove on. Anne was delighted.

A short distance down the road the tunnel of trees began to thin out. Finally the soft silvery light of the moon broke through. Eric smiled, thinking how foolish his apprehension was in the darkness of the tree tunnel. He glanced at Anne. She was staring straight ahead. Her mind was on the road, on the future, on the very near future with she and Eric. Eric noted her smile. Huh huh! She ain't bothered!

"Look! A little covered bridge," Anne said, pointing to the little wooden structure to their right.

Eric's eyes darted to the bridge even as Anne pointed to it. He turned off Trinity Church Road onto the narrow weed choked dirt track that lead to the bridge. The bridge, blotched in moonlight, was a short distance away. It spanned a small creek that meandered through the woods from the north. Eric switched on his high beams as he pulled alongside a Heritage Marker.

"McKaig's Mill Covered Bridge," he read the marker.

"Quaint, ain't it?" Anne said, butting the joint.

"Old." Anne turned, peered out the rear window as if looking for something, then turned and looked through the old bridge and up the narrow dirt track on the other side. "What road is this way?" she asked.

"I don't know; I didn't see any sign." Eric paused. "If you can call it a road," he whispered as an afterthought.

"Kinda dark."

"Yeah, you wanna turn around?" Eric asked, his voice slow and drawn. He swung his eyes slowly to meet Anne's.

"Naw, let's go on," she replied, anticipation in her voice.

They crossed the old rickety bridge, the bridge moaning and creaking beneath the weight of Eric's car. On the other side the dirt track gradually veered to the left. Eric drove slow, the shadowed darkness lining the narrow track more oppressive than before. Still, the moon shown through the trees, casting strange ominous shadows across the narrow dirt track.

They hadn't gone far, perhaps no more than a mile, when the car began to sputter. It lurched a couple of times, sputtered once more, then died. Anne looked at Eric. He banged a closed fist on the dashboard, his eyes trained on the gauges. As an afterthought he cut the headlights. Don't need a dead battery too!

"Dammit!" he voiced angrily, staring at the steering wheel.

"What's wrong? What happened?"

"Ran out of goddam gas! Out here in the middle of nowhere!"

"That's okay," Anne was smiling. "We got alllllll the time in the world! I'm sure we can thinka somethin' to do!"

Eric looked at her. Her smile continued as she slid across the seat toward him. Without saying a word he turned his eyes to the steering wheel. Anne noted he was deep in thought. An eerie light danced in his eyes. Moonlight reflection. Disappointed, she turned away, sliding back across the seat to her side of the car. She crossed her arms, shook her head, her face a scowled expression. Eric realized his mistake and tried to bridge the gap.

"Ah, Anne, what about you?" he asked hesitantly.

"What 'bout me?"

"Well, I mean, you asked what I do; what about you?"

She checked herself from looking at Eric. "Don't do a goddam thing," she said, her voice angered. "I juz like ta ..." She fell silent as she noted something out of the corner of her eyes.

She glanced right, straining her eyes. There was a light in the woods, shining through the trees. A cold chill passed through her as she stared at the yellow glow. Her eyes adjusted. There were two lights, not one. She could clearly see they were rectangular. The cold chill dissipated as she realized they were the lights of a house in the woods.

"A house," she pointed. "Maybe we can get help or somethin'."

Eric glanced at the two rectangular lights among the trees. "A house?" he questioned. Again his words were quick and sharp. "Out here?"

"Why not?"

"All by itself." Eric was skeptical, his voice drawn. "Kinda strange ..." His words trailed off as he continued to stare at the house. The blue bolts suddenly flashed behind his eyes. One brick at a time, and Fortunato was never found! And the whippoorwills began to sing louder.

Anne glanced at the house, then at Eric. "Come on." She grinned, a devious smile. "Might be fun. One way or another."

"All right." Eric was subdued, hesitant. He took the keys from the ignition, climbed out of the car, and walked around to the passenger's side.

Anne was already out, standing next to the open door, and fumbling through her camping pack. "Just a sec," she said. She pulled a small piece of paper from the camping pack, held it up, and smiled at Eric. "Might need it," she added, and popped it into her mouth.

"What was that?" Eric asked.

"Blotter acid," Anne replied.


"Right, honey," she laughed. "Gotta get in the right mood!"

"That stuff will kill you," Eric said, then added critically, "How old are you, anyway?"

"Twenty three."

Anne's eyes were smiling at Eric. 'Old enough' those eyes seemed to be saying. Eric was captivated, his thoughts jig-sawed. He looked into Anne's eyes, his mind echoing -- Old enough!

"Let's go," he said, shaking the desire from his mind.

Eric turned. Anne followed. They crossed the narrow dirt track and entered the woods, pushing weeds and tree branches aside. No more than fifteen feet into the woods Eric stopped and cocked his head. He had heard something or thought he had, something other than the whippoorwills and chanting that echoed in his mind. Anne looked at him. She was puzzled. Eric shook his head, glanced at Anne, then moved on. Just my fuckin' imagination.

Anne followed five steps behind. Her mind flowed with drug induced images. She saw fleeting shadows, things creeping and lurking among the trees. Once she saw a pair of red glowing eyes glaring at her from the dark woods. Her pulse quickened. She blinked her eyes and looked again. Although the glaring eyes were now gone, they had seemed so real. She smiled, shook her head, and looked at Eric in front of her. Still, other horrible images danced amidst the trees, following she and Eric on their trek to the house in the woods.

Anne suddenly stopped dead in her tracks. "Wait a minute! It moved! It ain't where it was!!" She paused as Eric turned to face her. "Maybe because we ain't where we was," she added softly, trying to reason the change in the location of the house.

"Ssshhhhhh," Eric whispered. He turned his gaze back to the house. Anne noted that he was listening for something. Suddenly he turned to her again. "Did you hear that?"

"Hear what? What you talkin' 'bout?"

"The sound," Eric whispered. "Listen ..."

They paused in silence as Anne listened. She heard it, faint at first, but growing louder. She gasped, covered her mouth with both hands. Her eyes were wide with a mixture of fear and surprise. The drug cloud lifted from her mind. Her thoughts cleared. The sound was vague, but familiar. It suddenly dawned on her. It sounded like a human heartbeat, not exactly, but similar. It was a hollow low tone that echoed like sound bouncing off the walls of a great concert hall.

"Tell me I don't really hear that!" Anne whispered.

"Hear what?" Eric asked, looking for a confirmation of his own.

"Tha ... that heartbeat," she replied.

"Yeah, that's what it sounds like, all right."

"Uh oh! No I don't!" Anne shook her head, trying to convince herself. "Man, itza bad trip! It's that acid!"

Eric grabbed her by the shoulders, his eyes boring into hers. "Listen, I hear it too ..." He fell silent as the heartbeat ceased. Anne snuggled close to him, wrapped an arm around his waist. He glanced at her. She was looking at him, her eyes expressing fear and concern. The arm was for comfort.

Then new sounds, a grinding noise like something very large being dragged; snapping sounds like breaking twigs, huge breaking twigs, and the sound of crashing timber. Eric froze. The blue bolts danced behind his eyes as he looked at the house. It was alive, turning on its foundation! Eric could see the dark form of trees collapsing under the pressure of shadowed walls as the house turned. Concrete dust from the splitting foundation billowed before the dull yellow light of the two front windows. The grinding noise continued as the house turned.

Anne saw it as well, and they began to back away. A faded memory struck Eric. Something familiar, and in one fleeting moment he knew he had seen the house before. Then the moment was gone. The house stopped, its glowing yellow eyes squarely facing them.

Eric's mind recoiled. Strange the windows should look like eyes! His blue bolts flashed again. Alive! Like a big fuckin' head stickin' outta the ground! Real? Imaginary? The dark night? Memorex? He tried to steady his spiraling mind. The blue bolts ceased and he turned to Anne to confirm his suspicions. It was real. He read fear in Anne's wide eyes.

The house suddenly lurched toward them, pushing down trees, brush, weeds -- anything in its path. The ground churned along the porch and front wall, rolling in a wave of dirt, then disappeared beneath the house as it moved through the woods.

"Jeezuz K-riste!" Anne exclaimed. "That thing knows we're here!" Terror gripped her. She turned and bolted into the darkness.

Eric paused, a quick glance between the house and the car, then turned in the direction Anne had gone. "Anne!" he shouted. "Hey! Anne! Wait a minute!!"

She had gained a head start on him. He only caught a glimpse of Anne as he took off after her. The trees seemed to come alive, reaching for him, grabbing his arms, restraining him, holding him back. Were the trees accomplices? Eric thought so. They were deliberately slowing him down. He was losing ground on Anne.

The whippoorwills sang louder; the chant echoed through his mind. Eric glanced over his shoulder. The house had turned again. It was following him through the woods, coming faster, gaining. The lights in the windows were glaring, blinding. The heartbeat was roaring in his ears now. He could see the shadowy figures of trees bending and breaking beneath the weight of the house as it moved.

Eric's mind was reeling as he stumbled through the woods. All about him he saw strange monstrous figures dancing and darting among the trees. Everywhere he turned he saw red glowing eyes glaring at him. The eyes were laughing. Eric could hear the laughter in his mind. The laughter became real, permeated the woods, bounced off every tree to pound in his ears. The laughter added to the cacophony of noise of the heartbeat, whippoorwills, and strange whispered words that had invaded his mind. He lost sight of Anne. The blue bolts danced. The shadows, the darkness, the woods. Sound, noise, things ...

Lovecraft and Derleth and Bloch! Oh my!
Lovecraft and Derleth and Bloch! Oh my!
Lovecraft and Derleth and Bloch! Oh my!
The Hell with Toto!

"Yeah, the Hell with Toto!" Lovecraft and Derleth and Bloch? Now why was I thinking of ...? Eric paused, tried to shake his head clear. He glanced about wildly for a sign of Anne. She was gone. He turned, stumbled, fell, got up and continued on. Branches grabbed him, slapped his face, brought red welts of pain to the surface. He lost track of time, thought he'd been running for hours. The blue bolts in his mind flashed on, getting stronger.

How dense ... woods? How far do I gotta run? Livin' and dyin', livin' and dyin', livin' and dyin'; la dee da dee da; on and on and on and on and on! Eternity in a bottle!

The faded memory of the house's familiarity suddenly streamed into Eric's mind. The event he couldn't remember from the night before that had set him fleeing came back to him. It was the house -- THAT house! With the black stone obelisk! But how did it ...? How did I ...? The obelisk, those things ...! The book! De Vermis Mysteriis! That book told about the obelisk! Destroy it! DESTROY IT! And Eric did, and was now running from a horror he could only guess at.

Silence descended. Eric was surprised. He broke into a small clearing, tripped over the gnarled root of an ancient tree, and stumbled and fell. The blue bolts in his head ceased. His mind cleared. He rolled over and looked around. Patchy clouds obscured the moon, sending the clearing into the realm of shadow. Yet, Eric could make out the dark forms of trees which dotted the clearing.

"Eric? Is that you?"

The voice was soft, uncertain, a short distance to the left. It made his pulse jump. His fear subsided as he recognized Anne's voice.

"Anne," he whispered. He rose to his feet and stumbled a few yards to where Anne was lying on the ground. "Are you all right?"

"My ankle," she stammered, gasping for breath. "It hurts. I think I twisted it."

She rubbed her ankle as Eric sat beside her. He gazed around the shadowed clearing. All was silent. No heartbeat, no sound of crashing trees, no grinding of the churning earth, and no chanting or singing whippoorwills in his mind. The darkness in the woods was deep. There was no sign of the lighted windows.

Eric turned back to Anne. She was staring at him. In their shadowed closeness Eric could see that her eyes were bloodshot, hair disheveled, clothes torn, face showing scratches where tree branches had whipped against her as she fled. Her head swayed from side to side. She was shaking. Eric wasn't sure if the shaking was the drugs or fear.

"Where are we?" she whimpered.

"I'm not really sure. That house ... I ... I don't know."

Again he gazed around the edge of the clearing, expecting to see the lights of the house coming through the woods in pursuit of them. Still no lights. He wondered if it was his imagination. A lone blue bolt suddenly crackled in his head. Houses don't move! Houses aren't alive! No fall!! No fall!! It crawls!! The House of Usher crawls!!! He shook his head as Anne began to laugh.

"This looks familiar," Eric said softly, peering around the shadowed clearing. "Those trees ..."

"Man, bad trip!" Anne laughed hysterically, interrupting Eric. "Wow! Ya know, I seen and done some pretty weird things, but ..." Her words dropped off as she continued to laugh. She shook her head and propped herself up on her elbows.

"We've gotta get out of here," Eric said as Anne continued laughing. "You think you can walk with that ankle?"

"I'll try."

Eric grabbed her under her arms, helping her to her feet. She grimaced in pain as she put weight on the twisted ankle. Eric wrapped an arm around her waist to support her. The two of them began to hobble slowly across the clearing.

"Wow, and all I wanted was a little fun." Anne was still hysterical. "I sure wasn't prepared for this!"

"Neither was ..." Eric's voice was suddenly cut short.

They stopped dead in their tracks. The moon broke from behind the clouds and bathed the tree studded clearing in soft light. What had caught Eric's eye, cutting his words short, was the house -- on the edge of the clearing, cold and dark, looking diseased, ragged cobwebs in the corners of the front porch eaves listing on the soft breeze, oblique shadows cast by the moonlight cutting across the porch. The house hadn't moved at all, had never moved.

"NO! NNNOOOOOO!!!!!" Anne screamed, breaking free of Eric's grasp. She stumbled, fell backwards. She began to crawl away, glancing over her shoulders at the house.

Eric stared disbelievingly at the house. He took a couple cautious steps backward. A feeble light suddenly began to glow softly from a second story window. The figure of an old man appeared at the window, staring out at them. Eric's blue bolts flashed. How could we ...?? ... a ding a derry ... a man at the window ... the window ... without ... within ...? Hold together ole boy! Gotta see this one through! He glanced at Anne. She was lying on the ground propped up on her elbows again, staring blank faced at the house. A calm seemed to have settled over her.

The whippoorwills began to sing again, and Eric realized their songs this time were coming from the depths of the woods and not inside his head. Blending harmoniously with the song of the whippoorwills came the soft ethereal chanting voices. And Eric remembered -- it was the same ethereal chanting he had heard the night before, and the same song of the whippoorwills.

Eric realized that what he was running from he had unknowingly returned to. Strange things happened here at the old Wilkins house, the place everyone shunned, the place with the towering black stone obelisk in the back yard. But the obelisk was no more. Eric had seen to that in a fit of madness -- last night.

It had started four months earlier, researching an idea for a new horror story. Eric had gone to the library at Youngstown State University. There he had stumbled across a photocopied chapter of the legendary De Vermis Mysteriis. The chapter told of the strange obelisks and the alien hieroglyphs carved on them, that many of them were scattered across the globe. According to the chapter, they were the gathering sites for the worshippers of strange horrid alien beings, that when the stars are right, these beings would return and herald in a new age of domination.

Eric had laughed it off as someone's frightful fancy, an episode of fiction from some demented mind. Interesting in itself, he believed, but pure fabrication. Making no notes from what he had read in the De Vermis Mysteriis chapter, the obelisk and what it meant had slipped from his mind as he continued his research which included looking for a local site to set his story.

The dark brooding woods of southern Columbiana County seemed a logical choice. Eric had cased the woods from Fredericktown in the eastern part of the county all the way to Minerva in the west. But it was here, just off Trinity Church Road midway between Lisbon and Summitville that he came across the old Wilkins house deep in the woods. It was THE place, the perfect locale for his next horror story.

What Eric didn't know at the time, but would soon discover, was the fact that the old Wilkins place harbored a horror story all its own -- the house and those who still lived there. And in the backyard stood the towering black stone obelisk.

That had been two weeks before. Eric had watched and observed from the shadows amidst the trees. There were the gatherings around the stone obelisk, the chanting rituals, the songs of the whippoorwills from deep in the woods. Eric remembered the chapter he had read from the De Vermis Mysteriis at the library of Youngstown State University. And he had a vague understanding of what was transpiring at the old Wilkins house.

It was a horror beyond anything anyone could imagine, a closely guarded secret that few across the world were privy to. There were cults centered around great alien beings called the Great Old Ones, beings who slept dying and dreaming in time and space, inside and outside the realm of Earth. The purpose of these cults was to prepare for and herald the reawakening and return of these same Great Old Ones. And those not a part of these cults who happened to discover their existence and purpose were dealt with accordingly.

Eric knew the risk to his life and gambled. His gamble was to destroy the obelisk at the Wilkins house, an effort to stop those who gathered there. This he did, the night before, and fled. And now, standing before the old Wilkins house again, not knowing why he returned or why he hadn't remembered the events of the previous night until just then, Eric realized that his gamble had failed.

Eric stared wide-eyed at the house as a mysterious figure appeared from the darkened shadows of the porch. The figure stepped the two steps to the ground and stopped. It towered at least eight feet, and was solid black except for a pair of red glowing eyes. It was in the form of a man, its blackness like that of shade or a silhouette, no features to be seen.

And in that moment Eric knew why he had returned to the old Wilkins house, knew why he hadn't remembered being there the night before, knew why the blue bolts of madness danced in his head, knew why both he and Anne imagined the house to be chasing them through the woods. It was all plan, purpose, and execution of this one single towering figure of black, its name suddenly appearing in Eric's consciousness -- Nyarlathotep.

A voice seared through Eric's mind. Nyarlathotep. Black God of a thousand different names! Know thou your judge, jury, and executioner! For what thou hast done here, thine sentence is pronounced! Death!

As the dark voice echoed through Eric's mind, he glanced up at the second story window of the old Wilkins house. The old man was still there, and in the soft feeble glow Eric could have sworn the man was smiling down at him, perhaps knowing of the sentence just pronounced. Then, out of the corner of his eye, a movement caught Eric's attention.

He turned his head to see Anne rising from where she lay. She was calm, trance-like, her eyes vacant. Without looking at Eric, she walked past him, her vacant eyes and approach on the Black God standing before the house. Her footsteps were sure as if she had never injured her ankle. Eric tried to move to stop her, but found himself frozen where he stood.

Anne stopped before the Black God that towered over her. Her vacant eyes stared up at the red glowing orbs of Nyarlathotep. There was an eternal moment. Eric's blue bolts suddenly danced, and in a fit of rage and madness he broke free and rushed the Black God.

With both hands, Eric grabbed what he thought was Nyarlathotep's throat. His madness and destiny were nearly complete. He bore the figure down, squeezing its neck as hard as he could, and repeatedly slamming its head against the ground. For one fleeting moment Eric thought he saw the image of Anne's face staring wildly up at him, a pleading face, expressing astonishment, fear, and pain. Then, just as suddenly, the image of Anne was gone. The blue bolts exploded. Eric's mind was showered with disjointed images. Silently he cackled as his mind danced. And Nyarlathotep stood above them as death descended in the night.

She spits her hate into my eyes, my eyes, my ... eyes. I'll be there; I ... I won't be real, but ...

Eric caught a glimpse of something rising next to him. It looked like a white sleeve, a woman's hand with something in the hand. Before he could be sure, a piercing pain invaded the back of his head. The images were gone. The blue bolts were gone. There was darkness.

Then the upstairs light in the Wilkins house went out, and the mad howling laughter of Nyarlathotep echoed through the darkened woods.


© 1997 Edward P. Berglund
"The House In the Woods": © 1997 R.S. Cartwright. All rights reserved.
Graphics © 1997 Old Arkham Graphics Design. All rights reserved. Email to: Corey T. Whitworth.

Created: December 2, 1997; Updated: August 9, 2004