Here my story ends. You have joined me for my trials and tribulations, my journey on the Afghan Hound and the relentless hounding that has followed me. The voices refuse to stop, they chase me, forever. I went to destroy the (the words here is blurred and illegible, it appears by tears. Further words blurred in such a manner in this copy will be represented by parentheses) but I couldn’t. It has such beauty. The ( ) and the artistry. Every time I go near it, I hear it sing( ), ( ) to me. I want to let it go, but I can’t. I put my hands in the flames before I ( ) in, and withdrew them once they were red and raw. It punished me for daring to defy.
I have decided. I will use the remains of my willpower and hide it. They are rebuilding the stable house at the manor, where they have said that they will be blocking up the cellar. I will put the object in there.
I will then do the honourable thing. I will not inflict it upon the world. I shall remove the offending item in the equation. I will go on my terms, burnt hands and all.
Consider this the farewell of Oscar Darius Hartwell. May this letter explain my journey. And may God help anybody who discovers it.
We’ve lived in the Stable all my life. My family have been groundskeepers for the Hartwells for years. Me and Rupert Hartwell had spent years building dens in the woods, having swordfights. When you’ve got a whole manor grounds to play through, your imagination is the limit.
Then we found the skeleton. We were deep in the woods, the sun streaming through the trees. I remember it so well. You know in autumn, where it gets just cold enough for a frost to settle? All the leaves go crunchy underfoot? Mum and Lady Hartwell had sent us out with scarves and hats armed against the weather.
We’d taken a different path to usual. Rupe had said he wanted to explore, instead of going to the usual places. And we’d found a house.
You know the classic haunted house? Smashed windows, door hanging open in a mockery of an inviting nature. A scent in the air, one of rotting vegetation and general disrepair. It looked like it had burnt once, but had managed to cling to its frame. ‘Come on, Dock, let’s have a look!’
I mutely shook my head. The building felt wrong. It felt evil. But it was too late. Rupe had disappeared inside and I did what everybody does. I followed him.
We were in there twenty minutes when we found it. Staring sockets, loose finger bones scattered across the burnt floorboards. There was a sealed document tube on the ground too. I opened it up and read the pages inside, covered with the cursive script of Oscar Darius Hartwell.
Rupe snatched it from my hands, his eyes devouring the words. ‘Dock, you see what this means?’
I said nothing. Just nodded, slowly.
‘We can find whatever he’s hidden?’
‘Now now. Would Captain Abraham Docker hesitate?’ I shook my head. Rupert always had had a silver tongue, weaving a web to capture anybody who listened. ‘I didn’t think so. SO why should Master Abraham Docker hesitate now?’ I could feel my body nodding even as my soul shivered. ‘Now come on. It’s in your basement! It could be anything. Treasure? Or a map?’ Rupert smiled at me, a confident grin. All that grin did for me was start gnawing on my soul with bright, perfectly spaced teeth.
We’d trekked back through the woods. Got into the Stable and Rupe dragged me down to the cellar. They’d uncovered it in ’95 and Mum was converting it into a games room. Rupe started tapping on the walls and the floor.
Thunk. A hollow echo. ‘Dock. We found something.’ The bright, pearly whites of dread began gnashing wildly, a deafening cacophony that chilled me to my core. Rupert picked up the hammer in the corner and drew it back, a gun poised to go off.
That’s the moment I remember. That’s the moment everything went to shit.
The Idiot in Tin Foil