The Thing in the Well

Boston, March 23rd through 25th, 1926

The stars wheeled across the sky, heedless of the disaster their very positions portend. Within the ancient house, a group of dedicated investigators, somewhat more in tune than most with the mind numbing truths about the nature of the universe, discussed the end of the world.

The study was clean, despite the great antiquity of the furnishings and slightly musty air that seemed to accumulate in old houses. A single oil lamp provided the only source of light, basking those in the room with a warm orange glow -- an effect that electric lamps could never hope to equal. Franklin looked around the room at the others who had gathered here in answer to his summons. Mac Cochran, a paranormal investigator and close friend, knew the dangers the group now faced. Likewise, Franklin knew he could count on Professor Miranda Vaughaun's experience with unknown horrors if, or more honestly put, when the group was in dire straits. Jack Diamond, a private investigator, had worked with both Mac and Franklin in the past, but never on a case more sinister and important as this. The same could be said for Karen Eisling, a pharmacist, and Kim Lovell, a psychologist, both of who had only helped out in laboratory experiments, and had no real world exposure to the blasphemous things they would certainly encounter in the near future. And then there was Patricia Cartier, a wealthy socialite and friend of Kim Lovell who really had no business here at all, and would probably leave them all when the dull research work began the next day.

Paul LeMond sat in the center of the room. Paul wasn't one of the group, in fact he was the reason they were all here. To be more precise, his dreams were the reason Franklin and called his friends and associate's together on such short notice. Paul was a famous psychic, and a friend of Mac's, who had undergone two startling personality changes several years ago, before he became aware of his psychic abilities. Franklin had several theories about Paul's personality changes, and their apparent link to his psychic abilities, each of which lead credence to the man's talent of foretelling the future. Then there was Paul's recurring dream: nothing less than an apocalyptic end of humanity. The dreams always followed the same sequence, and always begun with a series of ghastly child murders here in Boston. The terrifying thing about these dreams is that two days after Paul first described them to Franklin, a child's mutilated body was found in town. Two more child murders have taken place in the same area in as many days, which convinced Franklin that the time for action was now.

After a lengthy discussion with Franklin, Mac and Paul, the team decided to split into two groups: one group would interview postman Ralph Emerson, who found the latest victim, and the second group would research the All Hearts neighborhood, scene of all three child murders.

Ralph Emerson told the team that the child's body he found was covered with slime, and hideously scarred by strange pockmarks. He discovered the body in the All Hearts neighborhood, near the old Cornwallis estate. After obtaining directions to the estate, the first group left to meet up with the second over lunch.

Meanwhile, the second group discovered several unsettling facts about the All Hearts neighborhood. At the end of September, 1891, a series of child murders took place near the Cornwallis estate. The estate had recently been the site of a tragic double murder. It seems that Dr. Ambrose Cornwallis and his wife, Emilly, had killed one another in a bizarre double murder. According to testimony from Dr. Cornwallis' sister, Sarah, Emilly suffered a nervous breakdown after the loss of her son, Jeremy, who died shortly after birth. For some unknown reason, Emilly attacked her husband with a knife, and he shot her just after she mortally wounded him. Further research of the Cornwallis family uncovered a fanatic who was caught in the Cornwallis crypt trying to turn the body of Ambrose Cornwallis face down, because the lunatic claimed Cornwallis was a warlock. The second group left to inform the first of their discoveries.

It took little work for the team to realize that the Cornwallis estate was the center of the strange and tragic occurrences in the All Heart's area, and that a visit was in order. Dr. Lovell decided to investigate the Cornwallis family crypt while the rest of the group went to the actual estate.

At the All Heart's cemetery, Kim found the Cornwallis family crypt, but the entrance was blocked by an iron grate. A quick, well-aimed kick broke the ancient, heavily rusted lock, and Kim bravely entered the dark interior of the mossy stone structure. Within, Kim found that Dr. Cornwallis had indeed been turned face down in his coffin, and more important, Jeremy's small coffin was full of rocks, but no corpse! Kim quickly left the crypt to find her friends.

The rest of the group stopped at the site of the most recent child murder and investigated the scene. Miranda, Mac, and Jack followed a path of trodden down weeds that trailed away from the crime scene, while the others drove on up the hill to the Cornwallis estate.

The estate itself perched upon the top of a low hill, surrounded by a crumbling stone wall, with a single gate opening onto the dead-end road. As the team arrived, a small boy came through the gate and picked up a bicycle. Franklin stopped the boy and asked if they were at the Cornwallis place. The youth, Ted Ryder, said he was a delivery boy for the neighborhood grocery store, and was making a delivery to Sarah Cornwallis. Further questioning revealed that the boy delivered the same thing every week (bread, vegetables, and seven stewing chickens). Ted also mentioned that Sarah tipped well, but seemed "off her rocker" most of the time. Ted rode off, while the team pondered their next step.

A short time later, Miranda, Mac, and Jack arrived, having followed the trail from the murder site to the wall surrounding the Cornwallis estate. The reunited group entered the gate, and found a large yard choked with shoulder high weeds. After a brief sojourn in the collapsed carriage house, the team stopped at an old well at the center of the yard. The stone work around the well was crumbling, and the well itself had been filled in with large rocks. Chicken bones were found scattered about the place. The party knocked on the front door and waited for a response.

An elderly lady answered the door and invited the group in for tea. The house was filled with piles of dirty laundry, stacks of newspapers, and boxes of old magazines. Everything was covered with a thick layer of dust. Although Sarah readily answered their questions, the team found little from her that they didn't already know. Therefore, when Sarah went into the kitchen to make tea, Jack and Kevin quickly explored the rest of the house. After breaking down a door, Jack followed a spiral stairway up into a tower room, where bizarre equipment was arranged all about. An unusual, small wooden box rested upon a desk, but there was nothing else that might be relevant to their case. Kevin arrived, and the two of them took the box down to the others. After bidding Sarah farewell, the group met back with Kim at Franklin's house, and explored the contents of the box. Within the box they found a leather bound journal, written in Latin, two letters, written in German, and a strange pair of spectacles.

Kevin quickly translated the letters, which were from a Baron Hauptman in Klausenburg, Romania, while Franklin worked feverishly to translate pertinent portions of the journal. While waiting for Franklin to finish, Kevin put on the bizarre spectacles, and found himself looking into an alien landscape. A monstrous creature shambled into his field of view and attacked him. Those watching Kevin suddenly saw deep, bloody claw marks form in his side, and they quickly knocked the glasses off of his face. Franklin finally completed the translation of the journal, and comparing this with the evidence from the letters and the crypt, the investigators came to several stunning conclusions.

Dr. Cornwallis was a member of a fantastic cult, who awaited the birth of a child under the right stars. This child would lead the cult through some horrific rite, which didn't bode well for humanity. Dr. Cornwallis found this prophesied child, called only "young Master Edward", and notified Baron Hauptman, head of the cult. Hauptman came from Europe, and took Edward back with him, but left Dr. Cornwallis a gift from the cult in appreciation. The gift was a pair of spectacles. Some weeks later, Dr. Cornwallis' wife, Emilly, tried on the glasses and was driven temporarily insane by what she saw. A few months later, Emilly was pregnant, but Cornwallis feared some creature she encountered while wearing the glasses was the father. When Emilly gave birth, Cornwallis simply noted that "little Jeremy was born", and that Emilly had gone completely insane.

The team quickly realized that "little Jeremy" must indeed be some sort of monster, and was responsible for the deaths. They also guessed that Sarah had been feeding Jeremy over the past years, but had forgotten to feed him recently, hence his late night excursions to find food (yummy, tender little children). The investigators immediately left for the Cornwallis estate, to try and find Jeremy before he struck again.

Armed with guns and several chickens, the party waited outside the well on the Cornwallis estate until night fell. They had baited the edge of the well with the chickens, and shortly after darkness descended upon Boston, they heard soft gurgling noises coming up from the well, followed by a strange sucking sound, and a dim sickly-blue light. Jeremy crept over the well wall, and the team gasped as one. Jeremy was octopoidal in shape, with a child's head mounted above his quivering mass of gelatinous arms and tendrils. As Jeremy consumed the first chicken, Jack shot it. As the bullets passed through Jeremy, he hissed and recoiled, then fled back down into the well, squeezing in between the rocks that sealed it. Miranda siphoned gas from one of the cars, and then poured it down the well. Standing back, she tossed down a match, and large, intense gouts of flame leapt high into the air. Sounds of shrieks and wails came from down in the well, but soon stopped. Little Jeremy had apparently met a fiery end.

The next day the group met at Franklin's house to consult with Paul LeMond. Paul's dream had once again haunted him the night before, but this time the sequence of child mutilations was missing. The team had obviously eliminated the local threat, but in doing so found the next link in a chain of hideous events, which they must track down and stop for the sake of civilization, as well as their own sanity.

The investigators must now research Baron Hauptman and make their way to Romania, which may prove dangerous, for several of them have made bitter and powerful enemies along the way from London to Romania!

Next chapter.