What? You again?
I thought we'd taken care of this. Didn't you read the others? The other stories and tales? There was the one with the children who swallowed up their father when he didn't sing them a lullaby? What about the one where the author became his story, then accidentally cut his own character? Or the purloined thumbscrews? Hmm… I thought we'd got you with that one.
Well, none the less, I suppose I'm supposed to bid you welcome! Welcome to the tales, in honor, in… memoriam? No? Soon, perhaps. Tales of sorrow and joy. Tales of the goblet filled with the blood of the sun, or perhaps tales about the simple flute who became a man. Tales of the raven, snake, bear, and raven again, when coyote chopped him in half. Tales of paper tower made of lost stories, and the Cruciform of Jude. Tales of Little Bo Peep, the forgotten note, or the left handed tree. Tales! Tales to celebrate this, the day of your death!
Like there's that much of a difference…
Happy birthday…! And many more.
(An excerpt from The Thing on the Plate, a collection of restaurant reviews written by H.P. Lovecraft for the Providence Journal.)
As I set foot into Guiseppe's, I was promptly seized by a wave of thoroughgoing revulsion. My mind reeled at the churning revelation that the establishment was no temple to the finer inheritances of Rome, but rather a low den catering to the coarse pleasures of the debased Sicilian - a swarthy, degenerate people whose only talents lie in the demesne of street violence and the production of the vile Marsala - a mucilaginous, sanguinary mockery of the vintner's art.
The inchoate grunting of the proprietor indicated that I should select my own seating within. With mounting trepidation, I picked my way amongst the rude timber tables, eventually perching myself at the least repellant example of carpentry I was able to detect.
The very fabric of space-time itself seemed to elongate and ripple obscenely as I awaited some signal of acknowledgment from the sullen attendants. The escalating desperation in my eyes finally captured the attention of a waiter, who stamped gracelessly to my table with the languidness born of his Mediterranean birth-place.
The menu was engraved upon a coarse hempen paper, heavily adorned with the greasy finger-prints of the luckless diners who had paid visit to the blighted accommodation in days long past. With desperate haste, I opted for the spaghetti and meat-balls. I clutched to a slender hope that the proprietor's reluctance to specify the flesh involved did not implicate the establishment in some ghastly charade.
The beetle-browed attendant set the proffered dish upon the profane checked table-cloth with a clattering thud. Within seconds, my worst fears were made manifest. Deep within his sweltering lair, the oafish cook had, through a foul mockery of the culinary arts, taken the noble tomato and reduced it to a scrofulous paste, with a glabrous sheen never meant to adorn earthly food. With a heavy hand, this ichor was ladled over a collection of rugose agglomerations which disgraced the good name of sphere.
And underneath these insults lurked the most unsettling revelation of all. For the Sicilian, not content to take the staff of life and produce therefrom the wholesome bread of our ancestors, instead had so abused and warped the corn of the wheat-stalk as to produce a clotted mass of slithering filaments, a writhing heap of wheaten degeneracy which so rejected my every sensibility that I sat dumb-struck for several minutes as it steamed and coagulated.
Additionally, the cannoli I selected for afters was niggardly in the apportionment of nuts to a scandalous degree.
It was Sunday. The second Sunday in August. The apartment was small, but not cramped. The walls were lined with a faded floral wallpaper, added by a resident past, and Harold was enjoying his tea. He quite liked Sunday. It was a day where nobody would come around and knock on his door. No bills. No mail. Just peace.
At least, that's how it usually was. Today was something different. Because on that particular Sunday, there was a knock on the door. A quiet one, from somebody who wasn't bold enough to want to wake Harold up. It was just loud enough to alert him from his newspaper and warm mug.
He rose, joints creaking and slippers fluffing, and shuffled over to the peep-hole. On the other side of the threshold, there was a well-dressed man. He wore a dark brown suit, plain blue tie, and dirty glasses. His hair looked as though he'd recently been wearing a hat, that had been lost to the wind. Normally, Harold would have ignored the solicitor, gone back to his chair, and resumed reading. But today, he didn't.
Instead, he opened the door.
"Greetings." said the solicitor. "My name is Gerald, and I need only a moment of your time." He smiled, a phony but sentimental gesture. He set his briefcase down, and adjusted his tie. Harold just watched him, not sure why he had opened the door, and not quite able to think about why he couldn't think about why.
Gerald set his suitcase down, and clasped his hands together."So, I'm sure you have many friends and relatives. You've know them in the past. But do you know them tomorrow?"
Harold blinked. "I… what?"
Gerald grinned, a genuine one this time. "So, you haven't heard the Good Word?"
Harold had not heard any such word. He shook his head.
"My dear friend, you have been living in a dark age. Constantly looking over your shoulder to memories half-gazed over by your own mind. Wouldn't you like to see the memories before they happen, to get ready?"
Frowning, Harold crossed his arms. "So, like… a fortune-reader?"
A waggling finger was thrust into Harold's face. "Not just any fortune, my friend, but one absolutely-positively guaranteed to work. You'll know everything you ever needed to know about what's coming up. It's like having advanced tickets to the Big Game!"
Harold could spot a phony when he saw one. The cheap smile, the dirty facade… this guy was a carpetbagger, through and through. "Prove it, then."
If possible, the solicitor known as Gerald grew an even wider grin. "Right away…" his arms lurched into the suitcase, unsnapping the hinges and wrestling with the cords, until he revealed a massive, oily hunk of metal. Immediately, the reeking odor of fish and dock rot permeated the hallway. Harold stepped back, aghast.
"Wha , guh-" he gagged. "What is that?"
Gerald held it clasped between his hands, the oily juices dripping down his fingers, leaving thin red trails in their wake. "Ah, this is what I have been promising you. Touch it."
"Go on, touch it."
Tentatively reaching out, Harold leaned into the device. Swiftly, a blade ejected from the front of its cobbled form, and pricked his outstretched hand. Recoiling in pain and surprise, Harold failed to notice the machine clutching itself as it savored the fresh memories, the new experiences that his lifetime had been enhanced with. Smoke billowed from its many openings and valves, until at last, an oily strip of paper printed out. Gerald snatched it, and peered past his grime-coated spectacles.
"Do you talk to your sister, much?"
Harold looked up, distracted from his distraction. "N-no… why?"
"You won't be talking for quite some time, sorry. But it proves my machine to be functional, yes?"
One blink. "H-hey… what the hell are… what're you talking about?"
"Your sister… Gloria, or something similar, the paper blurred a bit… she died in an accident sixteen minutes ago."
Behind them, Harold's phone began to ring.
"That's probably them now. Are you ready for the news?"
"I… you're fucking lying." Harold backed away, looking over his shoulder to the phone ringing off the hook.
"Here you are now, Harold. Looking over your shoulder to the past, once again."
The phone continued its ringing, but Harold stopped, and turned 'round to face the solicitor. "What do you… what do you want from me?"
"I want you to pay the price for my miraculous little device!"
"… What do you want?"
"You've already given it to me, Harry. Can I call you Harry? Your life, your blood, your past-present-future. This machine is tied to you, Harry. And so am I."
When Harold next had regained his faculties, he was sitting in his chair. His hand was unmolested, and the phone was silent. He breathed a sigh of relief.
Then, there was a horrid, ghastly noise.
Over his shoulder, a ticket printed, oily and dark. It read: Check the answering machine
I never look up anymore.
I don't mean that metaphorically. I'm not saying I'm pessimistic. Though I'm that, too. I mean, if you were me, you wouldn't be flowers and sunshine either.
But I'm talking literally. I keep my eyes down. It's safer that way. They hate being stared at…
The angels, I mean.
If you ask him, he'll tell you it's a matter of perspective. There's nothing wrong with you, per say, it's just that you don't really understand how things work around here. It's not about being kind, or strong, or right, or even clever. No, it's all about appearance. There's no such thing as power, he'll say, except for what people see. Ask him, and he'll say it's all about the shoes. You can do whatever you want, really, if you have the right shoes. Sure, he might have done some things in his days that wouldn't fly anymore. You couldn't say his closet was clean of skeletons, certainly not. If all you found were skeletons, you'd consider yourself lucky. If he was anyone else, it might have haunted him. But he has the shoes. And the hair. And the big, shiny smile. So he walks it off. Boy, does he walk it off.
What makes his shoes so special, you ask? Funny story, that. Ask him, and he'll tell you it's really not about the shoes at all. Walking a mile in a man's shoes is nice and all, but walking a mile in his toes is better.
The first thing I remember seeing was the gorge and the grass. I'd spend hours playing in the fields and among the mountain rocks. But as time went on, I grew longer. I arrived at the concrete and the people. They came out of nightclubs and pubs, blinded by lights and throwing up. I could see glances, or a touch of the arm. The couples holding hands, followed by the break-ups and fights. Sometimes an old couple would pass by, sitting on a bench in the soft sun.
As I exited the city, I turned to look back at suburbs. A little boy was having a birthday party in his garden, surrounded by cake, balloons, presents and friends.
I left, and surged out into the sea.
The first time it happened I thought it was odd, but not the second time. The first was a mangy coyote standing on a wall behind an Albertsons, its eyes red and its teeth stained black with the blood of an unlucky crow. The second time it was just some asshole that stood me up.
I guess that could probably use some explaining. You see, whenever I get off work I always walk down Main and up 37th to my apartment, partly on account of I could use the exercise but mostly because Cindy at the flower shop on the corner sometimes says hi. Anyway, I was going past Albertsons and I heard a weird cawing sound from out behind back, like some bird had gone and gotten itself stuck in the packaging they dump back there. I went to see what it was, and as I turned the corner this huge beaming fucker just jumps up onto the wall, the bird hanging out of its teeth. I thought it was probably rabid, and that I ought to call animal control or something, but then the asshole opened its mouth and started talking. I don’t mean it was mimicking like those parrots do, or that I’m some sort of dog whisperer. I mean some asshole coyote was speaking English like it wasn’t any big thing. I didn’t actually catch the first thing it said, on account of the whole ‘holy shit a talking dog’ thing, but I remember the second thing. It said, “The woods by the old Wilson place where you and Tommy went in the summer. Come there Sunday with a knife and a piece of red cork.”
Alright, I get at this point you probably assume that I’m bullshitting you, or that I’m just incredibly stupid. Neither of those things are true, and at the very least not the first one. You probably assume I just hallucinated the whole thing, or that it was some homeless guy talking from behind the wall or something. Neither of those are correct either. At this point you’re probably thinking that surely I couldn’t have actually gone out to a patch of woods five hours away where I hadn’t been for twenty years, based on what was likely either Satan or a similarly-themed hallucination. Once again, bad news on that front.
Getting the knife was easy enough, but the cork took ages. Turns out that barely anyone sells cork in the first place, and the guys who do don’t really go for the full rainbow effect. Eventually I found some in a craft store down by the old hospital, the one they renovated last spring.
Sunday night at maybe five I showed up down by the creek across from the woods, expecting there to be some sort of sign or similarly genre-appropriate bullshit to point me towards a journey of self-discovery and excitement. There wasn’t. So, after milling about for a while and throwing little rocks at little fish, I decided to just check the creepy-ass woods themselves. Well, that’s not really accurate. The woods around there aren’t really that creepy, and a lot of it isn’t even real woods- just a ton of trees the developers put in to hide an ugly power substation that the County insisted go right in the middle of Fuck-all, Nowhere.
As it turns out, I’m not the greatest at going through the woods. You wouldn’t even believe the number of spider webs I walked through. Well, actually, you probably would, given that you’re reading this at all. But it was still a lot. Anyway, eventually I got back to the part where none of the neighborhood kids ever really went, because the giant hazard signs the County put up around the substation. I was walking along what could probably have been a path if it hadn’t been absurdly hard to get through when I saw the same coyote I had seen at Albertsons. Well, it was less that I saw it than it just sort of jumped out in front of me and knocked me over. But still, I did end up seeing it, albeit flat on my ass.
At this point in the story you’re probably expecting me to have my throat violently ripped out by a psychopathic ghost dog making some sort of dark sacrifice. If so, you clearly don’t understand how the first person works. I’m not dead. That’s sort of how it works. At the time though, I was sort of shitting myself in fear. Not literally, mind you, just metaphorically. If I had literally shit myself I probably would’ve just left that part out. But still, there I was, on the ground in the middle of the woods with an absurdly filthy coyote glaring at my face from about a foot away. So I made the clear and obvious choice and just said “What the fuck, man?”, accusatory hand gestures included.
The coyote stared at me for a while, and eventually just sort of stalked away. Not like in the movies or whatever where the animal guide leads the protagonist off into the woods to face some great evil. It just sort of left.
Eventually, after dusting myself off (or de-dirting, or whatever you call it) I looked around for the coyote. I looked for three fucking hours, and I couldn’t find it anywhere, which sort of pissed me off. Eventually I gave up, because hey, hallucinations happen, right? (right?)
That next Tuesday I was walking home when I heard the familiar sound of a bird dying a horrible, terrible death. Same thing as before, blah blah evil looking coyote blah. And it just sort of stares at me this time, doesn’t say a word. I swear to God, if an animal could be embarrassed, that one was. After just staring at each other for a while I decide to go with the good-old “What the fuck, man?”
It just keeps staring and starts talking, a dead bird dangling from its teeth, going, “Hell, I didn’t think you’d actually do it. Fucking weirdo.” And then it just scampers off, like some king-of-all-he-surveys asshole.
No, but, like, seriously. Fuck that guy. I still don’t know what that shit was about.
"So, Doctor Hartman," Doctor Grangeman said, sitting down at the interrogation table, "let's talk a little more about the delusion we were discussing yesterday."
Hartman sat in a little huddle at the far end of the table, humming to himself quietly. He stopped this for long enough to ramble: "…not a delusion…it's REAL!! it's ALL REAL! None of you Bastards would listen to me, but it's rEAL!!!"
"Now, now," Grangeman said in a soothing tone of voice. "Remember what we talked about: you've got to use proper spelling and punctuation when you speak. It's the polite thing to do. Now, what do you say?"
"…sorry…" Hartman mumbled.
"No, no," Grangeman said. "What do we say properly?"
"I'm sorry," Hartman said.
"Very good. Now, on to your delusion."
"It's not a delusion," Hartman insisted. "I found the missing note!"
Grangeman sighed. "I see you're still laboring under it. There is no missing note in the musical scale. It just isn't how these things work!"
"That's what everybody thinks!" Hartman cried. "Think of all the music that could be created! Think of all the new tones to create! Think of how the piano would have to be remade!"
"Listen," Grangeman said patiently. "These things don't work that way! All the tones and letters are completely arbitrary! They're all based on specific frequencies which our brain takes out and labels as specific pitches. The tonal system we have is just a way for us to categorize those frequencies! You can't discover another musical note; there are only a finite number of frequencies to find!"
Hartman shook his head vigorously. "It's true!" he said. "I call it hleem! Because the next note after G should be H, but I shook it up a bit! Here, I'll even hum it!"
Here he hummed a note. Grangeman, who had had some musical training, immediately recognized it. "Doctor Hartman," he said, "that's middle C."
"No! No!" Hartman cried. "You're out to get me! You're all out to get me! It's a conspiracy! A conspiracy i Tell You! A CONSPIRACY!!!!"
Grangeman sighed. There went another session, right down the drain.
"I feel sorry for the poor fellow," Grangeman commented later to one of his colleagues, as he watched the security camera footage of Hartman in his room. "A music teacher gone completely mad…you've gotta sympathize on some level."
"I suppose," his colleague said. "I just wish he could have chosen a less ridiculous thing to fixate on."
"Well," Grangeman said, "it had to be something. Not surprising that-"
"Wait!" his colleague said. "Look at Hartman's monitor!"
Grangeman gasped. "We've got to get over there, fast!" he cried.
But by the time they got there, it was too late! Blood was everywhere, and in the middle of it was Hartman, twisted into a grotesque parody of a half note.
Grangeman's colleague bent over and vomited, and he himself recoiled from the scene. He slowly walked into the room, trying to avoid stepping in any major blood puddles. Reaching Hartman's desk, he picked up a single sheet of paper laying there. It was a musical staff in all ways except for one: instead of five lines and four spaces, there were six lines and five spaces-enough room for one more note!
It's cold outside. I'm holding my jacket, my soft, warm jacket, as close to my body as I can, but it doesn't help much. I'm shivering, shaking harder than I have for a while. It's been a mess ever since they laid me off. My only joy, gone.
Gah. I have to stop thinking. It's not helping at all. I just have to get home, where I can snuggle up under my homemade blanket and read a nice book by the orange light cast through my newly constructed lamp and shade.
God. I just miss all of them. Little Albert, Josie, Laura, Stevie… I wish I could just pick them up and hold their soft, warm little bodies in my lap and rock them asleep. They were always so precious. I can't lie to myself, I even thought of them as my own for the longest time.
They'll regret sending me away. The goddamn Sunnydale nursery… the kids loved me there. Much better than that bitch, Evaline. Hell, they were all probably just jealous that all of the little munchkins liked me more. Well, forget them. I pull my jacket a smidgen tighter around my torso and take a deep breath of that glorious smell and remember that wherever I go, it doesn't really matter that I don't have a job to work with those kids anymore.
After all, I'll have little things that remind me of each of them everyday. Really (that reminds me, I need to make sure the lampshade has been tanned proper), those kids will always be mine in a certain way.
There’s a café that some know of, tucked away at the end of a back alley in a sleepy suburban city, that presents a different sort of atmosphere than most such establishments.
It’s said to live up to its name, Cloud Mind. Mist swirls around a customer the moment they step through the glassy double doors, this mist is present in the entire place; it creeps along the polished, mirror-bright white tile and curls at the heels like a contented cat.
The near-unnaturally pale-skinned serving staff are trained, precise, efficient—they glide across the swirling, ever-warping floors, whispering orders dreamily as they float from table to table. They wear feathered masks and only speak in rhymed couplets; it’s common knowledge among regulars that if you’re lucky enough to be approached by a server wearing a mask of blue feathers, you’ve been invited to spend your time, brief as it may be, in one of the specialty rooms.
With the ever-present mist caressing the soft white walls and floors, it’s impossible to know just how large the café truly is, but those who have been in the special rooms swear that the floor plan must be luxuriously grandiose because how else would there be room for the delicate abstract porcelain statuettes, the flowing fountains with clear water clean enough to drink, kissed with the fragrance of exotic flowers and foreign fruits?
It is a café, but only drinks are served. No one notices, and no one minds.
Perhaps it’s the soft, tinkling music of the café that lulls people to contentment, perhaps it’s the effect of the glossy surfaces, perhaps it’s the sight of the graceful servers, perhaps it’s the way that everything seems to gently melt into a rhythm of motion, an instinctive rhythm, perhaps, perhaps.
Most of those who leave realize later that something feels strange, something is missing. Some feel lightheaded and faint, all simply attribute it to the café’s ethereal, otherworldly atmosphere.
While the café willingly welcomes repeat customers, the staff keep their secrets to themselves, and so no one ever can decide whether there is something special about the place that keeps them returning to it, or if there was simply something missing from life all along.
The rooms are always full of light, but there are no windows.
The truth of the matter is that Aesop's fables were never fairy tales. In the past, animals did speak. So did trees, and mountains, and the wind, and fairies.
What changed? The human population grew. Since the day when Aesop first put stylus to wax, the world population has increased sixty-fold, from one hundred million to six billion. That's over five billion people who had to be born with souls. Five billion humans using up the souls that could have been used to create a talking tree or a living rock.
And as it turned out, the Hindus were right. Souls are a limited resource. New ones are never born. Old ones are never destroyed. And with the human population exploding the way it has been, the number of souls available for talking rabbits and magic mice is growing smaller…
One day soon, the very first soulless human will be born, and things will start to change.
The man gave a tuneless whistle as he walked along the dark sidewalk. Every fifty feet, he passed under another lamppost, briefly illuminating him before he passed back into the dark. There was a slight breeze in the warm summer night. In his right hand he held a plastic bag filled with all manner of goods: scalpels, wire, rubbing alcohol, needles, fishing line, lighter fluid, and cat food. The bag spun lazily back and forth as he walked.
He came to a crossroads. Although the street was empty, the crossing sign displayed a bright orange hand. He decided to wait. Once, while he had been carrying some of the waste from his hobby, he had crossed illegally. A policeman had yelled at him and told him not to do it again. And even though the policeman never asked him what was in bag he was carrying, rolled up in newspaper, the experience had put the man off of jaywalking for good.
As he waited at the light, he thought about home. He began to sort through the contents of the bag, just to be sure everything was still there. As he went through the bag, came a mewling sound from an alley behind him. It was so soft he nearly didn't hear it. But there it was again! Decades with his hobby had given him an instinctive understanding of animal sounds. Low and hungry, with a touch of desperation. His lips twisted upwards in an involuntary smile. An alley cat. People hardly ever missed alley cats. Not at all like a house cat. Several near misses with the law had taught him that feral animals were safer than domestic ones.
He moved slowly towards the alley, not wanting to scare away his new quarry. As he neared the entrance to the alley, he crouched down to seem more approachable. There was another sound from the alleyway, one which gave him pause. It was the same tone as the first, but it sounded different. Deeper. Thicker. More ragged. For a moment, he remained in place at the mouth of the alley as the bag twisted gently in the breeze.
He shook off the feeling and moved slowly into the dark alleyway. Even without light, he could make out silhouettes of the mounds of garbage bags littering the place. "Heeere, kitty kitty. Here, kitty kitty," he said gently. No response. He moved deeper in. "Here, kitty kitty." He reached into the plastic bag and took out a tin of the cat food. "Hungry, ain'tcha? I got some food for you. And a place for you to stay, not all dirty like here." He ran a tongue over his upper lip. "Heere, kitty kitty kitty!"
One of the piles of trash began to unfold itself and move towards him. As it unfolded, its silhouette transformed into the shape of a cat. But it was at least four feet long, coming up to at least his knee. He stumbled backwards and fell, spilling the contents of the bag all over the alley floor. The former mound gave another mewl, low and ragged, as it came towards him. It moved with a pronounced limp. He picked himself up and began to back away. As the shape came closer, he began to make out certain features. Thin, frayed wires emerged from its head. Ribbons of flesh and fur hung from its face. It waved a tail, split down the middle, back and forth.
He backed away and began to walk quickly towards his house. The thing followed. He began to run. As he crossed the road, the mewling grew closer and more insistent. He looked to his left and right for cars, pedestrians, anything or anyone. Nothing. The street was deserted. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the cat-thing. For its size, it was emaciated, with ribs jutting out of its side. Its front right paw was missing. A trick of the light caused its eyes to appear pure white. He began to sprint. The thing kept pace behind him, meowing ever more insistently.
At last, at long, long last, he reached home. He took the key ring from his pocket and hurried through the various keys, trying to unlock the door. The thing was right behind him. After a thousand years, he unlocked the door, slamming it behind him. There was a pleading sound from behind the door, followed by a frenetic pawing. He deadbolted the door and braced himself against it. Eventually, the pawing ceased. He leaned against the door and slid to the floor, breathing a sigh of relief. He sat there in the dark, looking at nothing in particular.
From the kitchen, there came a sound. It was unlike any animal he had ever heard. It sounded deep, somehow greasy. For a moment, he was unable to recognize it. As his brain tried to process the sound, there came another, similar sound from the bathroom. Then another from the basement door, which had somehow opened itself. Then from within the living room. As he sat, unable to move, the silhouette of his armchair unfolded itself and began to move towards him, padding gently along the wooden floor. Even within the dark he could make out dozens of shapes, all moving towards him. One passed through a patch of light from a nearby window. Tortiseshell fur hung down in ribbons over a mouth relived of teeth. A trick of the light caused its eyes to glow pure white. From a jawless mouth there came a meow.
There was a town out a piece to the northwest. Way back, folks over there were bein’ overrun by snakes. Big and mean ones, too. These snakes didn’t go much for people, but they’d sneak up on the livestock and bite ‘em. Cows, sheep, pigs, hell, even the dogs! The animals’d be dead before anyone could do anything.
One day, this fella appeared in the town. Said he could get ridda the snakes. Only thing he wanted was a pair of boots, toughest ones the cordwainer could make. Townsfolk agreed, and Willard the cordwainer worked through the night on the boots, with a bit of input from the stranger. Willard never talked about what he said. Always was the quiet type.
Anyway, early the next morning, with his new boots, tougher’n a lumberjack’s callused thumb, the fella led a sounder of boars into the town.
What? ‘Course they ate the snakes! Long with damn near everything else! Ol’ Pethers had one clean out his coop, and take the coop down on its way out!
Now, when a boar goes after a man, his first point of attack is the feet. He gets at them, chewing and gnashing with his tusks, and the man’s down quick. Once you’re on his level, you’re at the boar’s mercy. And they’ve got as much mercy as a porcupine in heat. Even the toughest, meanest man, has still got his feet of clay. Except for that fella with the new boots.
So the townsfolk tore the boots off of him, tossed them into the bog, and threw him to the boars.
Boy, did he run. Never thought a man could run that fast. And those boars chased him through the bay and out onto that godforsaken island. Old timers used to tell us you can still hear screaming if you go out too close to it. They said that once a year, on Irv Eddy’s Eve, the stranger swims out to the Old Pine Bog to find his boots.
‘Course, later we knew the real reason why we shoulda stayed away from that island. Or used to, anyways. Can’t seem to remember it now.