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Infernal Machinations. Chapter 1(of 5): Nightmare on a Farm
Eingestellt am 22. 07. 2006 20:54

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Bright sunshine hitting him directly in the face made Mr. Manton wake up. Probably, it was already late because the sun stood rather high. He felt alarmed. Today, he would not be able to get much firewood. The money paid for that would later not be enough to get food for one day. And that had to happen just on his first day of work! Would Mr Archer keep him employed at all after that? Or would he have to go to the next town and probably commit a crime to get something to eat? He stood up quickly, took his axe and hurried out of the barn.

Old Mr Archer, the owner of the farm, was outside. After having seen him, Mr Manton felt even more incomfortable, expecting an unpleasant conversation. Mr Archer hurried towards the daylabourer and grasped his arm. Then he started a speech Mr Manton would never had expected. "I have to tell you something. You are the first person to hear it, and I absolutely must get rid of it. There is something outside in the woods."

Not just mistrust - doubt about the sanity of the old man came to Mr Manton. He even could understand it - a whole life in this lonely, remote farm in the middle of nowhere. Well, not really - not by the standards of that age. It was the year 1869 and many parts of Canada were not yet completely explored, let alone accessible by road. There were places much more far from the next railway station, still with white people living there. But the question if there are five or five hundred miles to the next town, what should it matter for an old man who has difficulties to walk just one mile?

However, the daylabourer was a simple man who did not know anything abot mental deviations. Instead, he was familiar with the fight for bodily survival. He could not help feeling slightly irritated about having to deal with the caprices of some aged person because the intellect of the latter started getting problems. "Excuse me, Mister", he said, "could it be that you are a bit wrong? I know that winter often starts before Halloween in this country, but Halloween was more tan one month ago!"

"I see.", said the old farmer. "I wished it was something of the sort you expect to hear. But it is not, and I can prove it. Every year, I employ tree fellers like you because I have still some money but little force, and I can't help the reality that four of them have been killed."

"Yes, I am very interested in your proof. And even more I am interested in the proof that you are not the murderer yourself." Mr Manton was still mistrustful, but showed that he was willing to hear.

"You find the victims' remains in the earth just under the gate. No human is capable to kill like this. There is not much more than the skeleton remaining, but it is very clean. There is hardly blood left after such a murder. It must be a beast, a rare beast besides. The first time, I was still relatively young and tried to hunt it, but without success - too many other tracks. The distances between the murders decreased. Between the third and the fourth, it was just one year. I'm sure that it - whatever it is - is actually outside every winter and it is a matter of luck to survive. The only thing common to all the four is that they were outside by dark."

"Well, I couldn't half be bothered with digging frozen ground", the worker said ironically. "I believe you if you can say it that exactly. Let's do the following. Just give me your gun. I will climb on your roof, so that the beast can smell me but is unable to get me. Then I stay there all night with a burning branch to get light. As soon as I see the beast I shoot it down like a dog. Unless it is the devil - then you need a priest to help you, not a vulgar man like I am one. "

"Yes, try it. Finally I will get rid of the biggest nightmare of my life. But I must warn you: Be back from the woods and in position before dusk! I need you alive if I don't want to die myself. To freeze my buttocks off. And then my brain."

Many hours later, Mr Manton was sitting on the old log hut's roof, on a place near the chimney where it was possible to sit with quite a minor risk. He had the gun hanging around his right shoulder and a burning oak branch in his left hand. It was cold, indeed. Overwhelmingly cold. Although it was only December, the temperature must have dropped to almost infernal lowness, probably more than -40°F. Above the air, a starless, pitch black sky created an impenetrable darkness. The kind of torch in Manton's right hand was the only mean to see anything except the snow and the blackness. This gloomy night, without any movement, not even the slightest wind, not the minor view on any luminary, had something of the death. You can't see it. You can' fight it. And yet you can't escape it, its merciless grip will inevitably tear you down until the point of no return. But sometimes it happens softly, without you noticing it, when a sleep slowly changes his temporary quality against an eternal one. Thus would it happen today to Benjamin Manton if he did not pay attention. He struggled hard against his weariness, he kept moving his extremities in order to avoid frostbites or even falling asleep. He did not rest for one single minute.

Hours passed. Mr Manton already thought he would not be successful this night. But at some moment, a creature appeared and moved towards the house. Apparently it was the beast, but what kind of one!

It looked like a hare, but a huge one, much bigger than many a dog. A blazing yellow light came out of the eyes, giving Mr Manton a possibility to see face better - a grey face which a usual hare could have had as well, were there not a grimace of incredible aggressivity, showing the horrifying teeth which any natural flesh-eating beast could have envied. It was a mere perversion of the natural order, turning a usually sweet animal to some precendentless evil creature, almost fit to be a demon in Hell. The beast must have smelled human flesh: it sniffed on the air and went straightly towards the house. Mr Manton's animal spirits awakened at once at that hateful sight. He could not stand it for longer that some seconds. He fired.

The view in front of Mr Manton's eyes was as terrific as it was disgusting. Gory mess came out of the wound in a fountain. It was impossible to see the colour; it seemed to be rather pasty, and yet it splattered like water. The more it came out, the more the creature´s volume decreased. Its entire essence seemed to have consisted mainly of this loathsome evidence of former bloody deeds. After the spectacular stopped in a few minutes, the beast, now apparently dead, had almost the size of a usual hare. Around the corpse, there was a puddle of nearly ten feet of diametre. Frozen before it had the time to be absorbed by the snow.

Manton stood on the roof in a stupor, unable to move. He froze in horror, let alone the cold. Never before had he seen something comparable. Once working as a docker in a harbour, he had heard about the most feared infectious disease among the sailors, called the "yellow fever". At the last stage of the illness, the victim threw up a fluid of a very dark color."Vomito negro" or "black vomit": these words were the trademark of the illness; seldom did one who once had this symptom ever recover. That was already terrible enough, but this sight outwent it by far. Anything like that could never emerge in any natural context at all, it was not a phenomenon from the earthly world, but from the demonic one.

When it was over, he experienced an incredible relief. "It was not the devil", he thought, "but something very close. Probably, the devil himself only did not appear personally because he does not have the time for such things. Well, this one is dead but I am going to take some steps in addition, to make sure that there are no other monsters like that left. Oh, how would I like to burn this one down at once! But I won't. I want old Archer to see it with his own eyes."

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