The Story of Quinton Applewithe by Forrest Lancaster

If you shout too often, people will quit listening.

In some forgotten corners are monstrous places, of which few know, and from which fewer return. In a small town lost by the past lives a man. He knows of such a place. If you were to ask him he would just nod his head and smile, his whiskered unkempt face betraying nothing of his knowledge. Now this man lives on Blackmore Street, on the edge of town in a large, mostly dilapidated old Victorian house. When asked about him, the inhabitants in the town will say that they rarely see him, and that he only comes to town to collect his monthly supply of groceries at the General Store. But some will tell you other things. When late at night, in bars or around the campfire, when men's inhibitions are gone, you may hear the tale, the tale of these forgotten places, and the old man who knows of them.

In earlier days this man had a name, Quinton Applewithe. Now Quinton was the last of an old New England family, who had lived in the town ever since the first settlers, and laid claim to direct descent from John Applewithe, the founder of the town. Quinton had a small family: his wife, an amicable woman with a nosy air, and a young son of five named Edgar. This family had lived happily in the town for some years, with no apparent hardship. They visited their neighbors regularly, were involved in church activities on Sunday and were known for their generosity and moral fiber. However, one day in winter, January I believe, he claimed there was a strange slime that was oozing from the ground in front of the house. He was so scared that a number of people who heard him responded to his demands to come and see it. Yet, when they finally arrived at his house on the edge of town, there was nothing on the snow-covered lawn. A frenzied search for the thing's whereabouts led by Quinton followed, but the amorphous slime was not to be seen. The few people who had witnessed the spectacle later recalled how sincere he appeared to be, and how concerned they were for his sanity. For strange events are not uncommonly heard of in such small towns, where legend blends with everyday life.

Many cases of infamous insanities are related in the town records, which date back to 1634. Among these is the strange case of Willard P. Banks, who was a fisherman who thrived off the industry that was booming at the time. However, today the business has only a vestige of its former glory and the docks, now dilapidated, are unused. What small income is made in the town these days is from outside employers. Now Banks had gone out fishing in the morning, and by about 9:00 p.m. he had not returned, and a search party was sent out. Late that night they found him, raving mad, off the Black Rocks, an area where twisted, black stones protrude from the waterline. He was screaming and pointing at the rocks endlessly, and when stopped would shortly stare and scream some more. After a few days he had recovered from his fit. Whenever you talked to Banks he would seem normal, but when you asked him about the day he was found he would suddenly become agitated. "The rocks, the twisted Black Rocks! There's something in those blasted rocks, I saw 'em move, but it wasn't them!" he would yell directly into your face, his eyes wild, and he would always turn unfalteringly in the direction of the bay and point, just staring. After a few minutes he would always snap out of it, but it was always disconcerting to anybody watching. Legend tells that on his deathbed he scribbled a hasty note. To most it was illegible and hopelessly scrambled, but some could make out enough to understand its content. In it he told the fishermen to never go near those rocks again. And that was the way it was. Fishing shortly stopped after a number of disappearances and strange sightings, and the town sunk into anonymity, poverty and a slow decline.

But back to the story. Now nobody had believed Quinton, he being the only one who had seen the supposed ooze on the lawn. Yet this was compounded by Quinton once again running breathless into town to again claim that a now apparently larger mass had mysteriously popped up a few feet from where the other had originally been. Once again some interested folks trudged over to see this anomaly and were again disappointed by its apparent nonexistence. Quinton searched the grounds endlessly but never found a trace of it, and his neighbors became convinced of his psychosis more and more, as time after time Quinton would come rushing into town, frantically rounding up reluctant bystanders to make the now infamous searches at his home.

By the month of February nobody would come, none believed his claims, and young children were cautioned by their parents to give a wide berth of his habitation, as they themselves did. Contact between Quinton and his neighbors slowly stopped, as did their church visits, for they were not welcome there anymore. A disturbing note began to creep into the Quinton stories; he began to claim that it was slowly getting larger. His daily visits to town began to become less frequent, and finally stopped. The only time he was then to be seen was during his hours-long searches of the house grounds. Mystified passer-bys noted his unkempt appearance, and how he would stoop and flit about, looking here and there as if for some lost trifle.

By March he was not to be seen outside of his habitation, the only sightings being of a pale face occasionally appearing in this or that window, its ever roaming eyes searching endlessly, disconcerting anyone who saw it. Rumors in the town grew, whirlwind theories on what he was doing, whether or not he was sane, and what the townspeople should do to protect themselves from this man. Thomas Heaney, an immigrant of Irish descent, during the town meeting fired up a crowd with his impassioned speeches on "The way town life should be." The crowd wildly responding to his moralistic positions, grabbed any nearby weapons they could find: hoes, axes, old guns and anything else that looked good and rushed in a ragtag mob toward the silent house of Quinton Applewithe.

Down the dark road they headed, torches casting wavering shadows on the encroaching walls of nearby houses. Into the country, past orchards, fields and farms they rushed, until reaching the edifice of their malice. One other source lit the gloom, from on high at the top story shone a light. And into that light came a face. Quinton Applewithe, his clean-shaven visage sporting a joyful smile. What surprise shocked those who saw it, expecting to lynch this man, they dropped their weapons and just stared. "He's the Devil! Don't let him trick you!", cried Heaney, gesturing at the fixed form in the lit window. Some few men recovered and again approached the gambrel-roofed dwelling, but stopped as Quinton had disappeared from sight and reappeared on the long-grassed lawn. Red-faced, with the fires of fanaticism burning in his eyes, that old rabble-rouser Heaney, strode to where that "Devil" Quinton stood, and demanded that he immediately cease his strange ways, and rejoin the community or be dragged bodily to infamous Farnsworth Sanitarium to be treated. Through this Quinton just lazily stood there, his relaxed pose and disturbing smile almost mocking the one who spoke to him. "Well?!" Heaney demanded. A further mocking grin cracked Quinton's countenance, and his eyes glimmered with a strange joy or happiness.

"I found it ...," he said, looking around the circle with his gleeful smile.

"We don't have time to play games, what is it you found?" barked Heaney, quickly becoming impatient.

"The thing I've been looking for, that nobody believes in, I know where it is ..."

"Well then, tell us then," said Heaney, still more impatient, and noticing the growing mutterings of other members of the group.

Quinton Applewithe just smiled, and to this day nobody knows where it was. Since that day Quinton never again mentioned it or claimed to have seen it, or his wife or child who were nowhere to be found. The whole affair was covered up, and charges of murder were dropped due to lack of evidence, the County Sheriff responding by quitting his job in disgust. All that anybody knows is that if you ask him about where it is, and what happened, his face will just split in a big old knowing grin and his eyes will sparkle with a weird luminescence that has nothing to do with the lighting.

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© 1998 Edward P. Berglund
"The Story of Quinton Applewithe": © 1998 Forrest Lancaster. All rights reserved.
Graphics © 1998 Old Arkham Graphics Design. All rights reserved. Email to: Corey T. Whitworth.

Created: January 31, 1998; Updated: August 9, 2004