I must begin by saying that my good friend, Thomas, was not known to be mentally disturbed, nor was he a violent man. However, the events which took place on a Wednesday evening in mid November, 1906 undoubtedly changed him for the worse.
I recall meeting Thomas on the Saturday of that very week. I was shocked to see that, despite his usual habits of washing well and dressing smartly, he was pale in the face, dirty and incredibly scruffy. I almost doubted that this was the man whom I had known for so many years.
Without saying a word, he marched on. I followed him into a small, dimly lit pub where we sat in a quiet corner. I decided to get drinks for us both as it certainly seemed like he needed one and I assumed that after talking to him, I would also be in desperate need of one.
If only I knew what his tale would lead to. Even now, after all these years, I wish I had declined his request to meet.
I was eager to hear his tale but Thomas, well, he certainly seemed more eager to tell it.
Though the story that followed seemed completely ridiculous and fanciful, his sense of conviction and sincerity forced me to believe the unbelievable.
“I've no doubt that you will think me a fool but what I have to tell is no story but the pure, unadulterated truth” He told me, his eyes not leaving mine, his voice trembling. “At first I thought my mind was playing a cruel trick. I would have thought myself insane if Jennifer had not seen it too-”
“My sister?” I interrupted, the mention of her name took me completely by surprise. I had not yet heard Thomas' story but no seemed to already believe it. If my sister had witnessed what Thomas had then it was undoubtedly true. “You have involved her in this apparent mess you're in?”
“Yes, but I had to sure that what I was seeing was real, no matter how horrifying it was”
He looked down at the table, seemingly haunted by the memory of this torment.
I was growing impatient. “Well, spit it out man”
“I apologize, I was sitting at my desk, going through my accounts when something caught my eye”
He stopped to take a drink. “What was it?” I quickly asked. Thomas looked directly into my eyes, a chill went through my spine. “You remember the old house down the road from my house?”
“The abandoned one, with the rusty gates?”
“The very same. I saw a light come on in one of the upstairs rooms. I'm certain that it was a lamp, it was too bright for a candle. This was curious itself as the house has been empty for as long I've known. It was what I saw in the window that haunts me”
“Go on” I said, impatience quickly replaced with intrigue
“I saw two figures in the window. I believe it was a man and a woman. The figure which I presumed to be the woman seemed to gently tap the man on the shoulder. From what I saw, this startled the man ad he quickly turned around and stabbed her repeatedly. I had hoped that was the end of the ordeal. The man seemed very distressed by what he had just done, h-”
I interrupted. “I’m not bloody surprised, wouldn’t you be?”
“Please, let me finish” I apologized and let him continue. “He turned to face the window, he appeared to be leaning on it. He then raised his other hand, the one with the knife, and then, without hesitation, slit his own throat. the window turned a dark crimson and then the light turned off”
I was speechless, I didn't know what to say. How do you respond to such a tale? I though that was the end yet I couldn’t help but notice that Thomas was yet to explain how my sister was involved.
“And what of my sister, did she see this also?”
“Not that night”
This took me by surprise. “That night? I don’t follow”
“I went for the police and took them to the house. They broke through the door, which took a while, and ran upstairs. They searched every room in that house. There was no evidence that this crime had taken place. nobody had been in the house for decades, this was obvious. The police marched me outside and warned me that should i drag them there again, they’ll lock me up for wasting their time”
I began to see why he was reluctant to tell his story. Nobody would believe him, but I did. This, however, had still not answered my question. “My sister, Thomas. What about Jennifer?”
“Please understand that I couldn’t tell anyone for fear of being locked in a cell for insanity. Your sister is very understanding and also a brilliant listener. The next night, Thursday, I saw the same thing again. Refusing to believe it was all in my head I rushed out to the house to investigate myself. Once again, nothing”
He looked exhausted and weak. I got us both some more drinks and thought it best for him to tell his story in his own time.
“Yesterday I told your sister, she immediately offered to sit with me in the window that very night. both Wednesday and Thursday, at 9:30 pm, I witnessed this horrible crime. We waited, time seemed to pass slowly when, at 9:30 pm, the room lit up and carnage followed”
My thoughts immediately left Thomas and flew to my darling sister. Nobody should have to witness such a terrible scene, especially a young woman such as Jennifer.
Both Thomas and I lit a cigarette and sat in silence. The minutes seemed like an eternity. I could see a sense of relief slowly creeping over Thomas’s face. Perhaps because I had listened intently rather than pointing and laughing in his face as if her were demented.
It’s times like this you feel you should console but I was unsure what to say. After finishing our cigarettes in silence, Thomas resumed his tale.
“Once again, I ran into the House, Jennifer close behind, once again we found nothing. Jennifer was as convinced as I that what we had seen was real, but without any trace of foul play we were forced to accept defeat and go home. It was there that Jennifer had a brilliant thought”
Thomas had suddenly regained all his colour, strength and happiness. As if this huge weight upon his shoulders had been magically carried away.
“Both Jennifer and I have informed the police and despite finding no evidence, they have agreed to watch from the window. Jennifer managed to convince them, after all, if two people see it then it certainly is not in my mind. we will go into the room at 9 pm, light the lamp and illuminate the room fully. At 9:30 pm we will catch whoever is involved in the act and put an end to this torment”
Thomas finally smiled, he was back. I asked if I could join the police in the window. After hearing this tale I had to be present when the perpetrators were caught. I admit, i was apprehensive, but i had been gripped by a morbid curiosity.
Later that evening, myself and the two police officers perched in the window. we had a direct view of the abandoned house. We saw Thomas and Jennifer walking through the gates and into the house. At 9 pm the room was illuminated as planned. Our eyes were fixated, not a word was spoken, silence filled to room.
As 9:30 pm approached all seemed calm. it felt as if nothing was going to happen. I began to doubt Thomas’ story but couldn’t help but wish it to be true.
Through the window I saw Jennifer act as if she heard a noise. She turned and placed her hand on Thomas’ shoulder. He quickly turned and suddenly time stopped. I recalled how the man had turned when the woman placed her hand on his shoulder and had a horrible feeling that I knew what was coming next.
I ran out of the house, charged over the road and looked up at the window. I saw Thomas looking out off the window but no Jennifer. I slowed for a moment thinking all was OK. Thomas raised his arm, put the knife to his throat. The window turned a dark, shiny crimson. My heart stopped.
I bolted, ran into the house, up the stairs. I could hear the police following me but paid no attention. I burst through the door and.......nothing. there was nothing in the room, no light, no blood, no Thomas and Jennifer. It was quiet, calm, clean.
The only thing I noticed was a strange symbol on the window ledge but ignored it.
We checked the entire house but it was empty. There was nobody here and hadn't been for decades, this was obvious. They had completely vanished.
To this day, nobody has seen or heard from Thomas or Jennifer. I bought the house so that it would remain undisturbed so that i may find some answers one day.
The police officers were too embarrassed to tell anyone so kept their silence. I couldn't through fear of ridicule.
This has not, however, weakened my resolve. I continue to search for them, travelling the country looking into strange happenings and disappearances.
Until the next time.
After the disappearance of my dear friend, Thomas, and my sister, Jennifer, I set out to find an explanation as to what happened.
I started to look into other mysterious situations. These took me far away from home, all over the country. I will not lie, I quite often found myself fearing for my life.
As i read the morning paper at breakfast, I noticed an article about a string of disappearances in a small village in the north of England. This wouldnt normally get my attention, however, my attention was snatched up by one intriguing factor in the case. The only thing linking these dissapearances together, apart from all the victims coming from the same village, was that the door to the room they were believed to be taken from was horrifically scratched on the inside.
Mrs. Baker, wife of the latest victim, was appealing for any help in finding her husband and the other missing persons. This, I thought, was too good to miss.
I boarded the next train and got there by early evening. it was a lovely, quant little village in the dales. At first glance it appeared to be desserted. most windows were dark, the pub was empty and the shops closed.
I found Mrs. Bakers address and knocked on her door. A little lady, possibly in her early sixties answered.
"Who is it?" She asked, one could almost sense the fear in her voice.
"I'm a private investigator. I'm looking into the recent disappearances in the area and I understand that your husband was the last person to vanish" There was quite a long pause. I was certain that she wasnt going to let me in. "Mrs. baker?"
"What do you know about them?" She quizzed. "Only what I have read in the papers" I answered honestly. Apart from the lack of evidence and the interesting scratch marks the article was rather lacking in details.
"Oh, come on in then. You don't want to be out at night around here" She led me through to her kitchen, told me to sit down and poured me a cup of tea.
"Are you another one who thinks they've all ran off then?" I must admit, this surprised me. Perhaps the locals weren't taking this new threat seriously.
"Ran off?, is that what people are saying?"
"Oh, aye. First Miss Trent, then Mr. Williams. Two nights after that it was Mrs. Pugh and night before last, my husband, Mr. Baker. What they would be doing all running off like that ill never know, folks just don't want to admit that there's evil around here" Now I was very interested. It seemed I chose the right person to talk to.
"Evil?, what kind of evil?
"Hellish evil. It's happened before, a few hundred years ago. Apparently, a hell hound was seen creeping through the village, sniffing out sinners and dragging them to hell. Every night someone went missing, a hound would be heard howling loudly, putting the fear of God into any who heard it"
"And the doors?"
"Scratched, just like the one upstairs. I suppose you'll be wanting to see them" She got up and started to walk out of the room.
"Yes, it may prove very useful in my investigation"
I followed Mrs Baker upstairs to her husbands hobby room, the room where he was abducted. There was no sign of a struggle and everything was in its usual place. Mrs Baker stood outside the room, her face was pale. She obviously hadn't been able to bring herself to enter the room since her husbands disappearance. It appeared the the very thought that this local legend may be true, and the beast had indeed returned to purge the village. At that point in time, I had no idea how justified her fear was."why don't you go back downstairs and put the kettle on, I can see this is causing you distress.
"Thank you, i'll prepare us some dinner"
Once she had retreated down the stairs my attention immediately turned to the door. Whatever had
scratched it had done do with such ferocity that light could be seen coming through the marks. I began to feel that perhaps this case was not for me, only a beast could do so much damage and only a beast of equal strength could defeat such evil.
I looked around the room thoroughly but found no clues to help me in my investigation. I had only just begun yet defeat seemed imminent. The only clue was the door and that only led me to believe in this hell hound.
“Would you like something to eat?” Mrs Baker called up the stairs.
“Yes, please. I’ll be down in a moment” She seemed to have prepared enough dinner to feed an army.
“Is there a guest house nearby that I could go to?”
“Nonsense, I’ve got plenty of room here. You’re helping to find my husband, I’ts the least I can do”
“That would be lovely Mrs Baker, it’s very kind of you”
“I’ll go and prepare the room for you now”
After polishing off the last of her delicious pork pie, I went upstairs, got into bed and fell into a restless sleep. The next morning I awoke feeling tired. After a good, hearty breakfast prepared by Mrs Baker, Which certainly did the trick I hasten to add, I went out for a stroll in the village. It was not much different than when I had arrived the previous day. The streets were empty, several faces peered out of windows only to sharply retreat again when I looked back at them. It seemed the people were too afraid to even collest their milk from the doorsteps. An overwhelmingly eerie sense of fear and drad filled the air.
As I continued on I saw the local priest attending to his garden outside his cottage. Seeing as he was the only person in sight I decided it was worth asking him if he could shed some light on this dreadful situation.
“Good morning” I said as I approached. He seemed almost surprised to see somebody walking the streets.
“Good morning, I haven’t seen you around here before. Have you recently moved here?”
“No, I’m here on business, sadly. Although, I must say that this does seem like a lovely place to come for a quiet break”
“Indeed it is. Though there is usually a much better atmosphere but, in light of recent events, it has become a bit of a ghost town”
“yes, I have heard a few things. Something to do with some recent disappearances”
“Oh, dreadful business. An old legend come back to haunt them, they say. Something to do with a hell hound. Absolute nonsense”
“You doubt it?”
“This creature is not from hell, but sent by the almighty himself, sent to rid this world of sin”
“You believe an agent of god has sent this creature?”
“only god can judge mankind, my son. Those who are free of sin have nothing to fear. God will spare the righteous and slay the sinners”
“but what of the scratch marks? Surely no agent of god could create such horrific damage.” This seemed to intrigue him.
“You’ve seen them? Where did you see them?” He said sternly.
“Mrs Baker showed me the room her husband was abducted from”
“You must not interfere with the work of the almighty. If you continue down this path then you will be dragged to hell for insolence. Now, you must excuse me, I have to prepare for a meeting” He headed back into his cottage, leaving his tools in the garden. I must have struck a nerve.
I decided to head back to Mrs Bakers and told her of my meeting with the priest.
“Father Kingston can be rather blunt sometimes, you mustn't take it to heart. When he first arrived here he was all fire and brimstone but now he’s calmed down a little”
“He seems certain that an agent of god has been sent to purge the world, he refuses to believe there’s a hell hound on the loose”
“No agent of god could produce such an unearthly howl”
I had absolutely no idea what to think. I wanted there to be a perfectly sensible explanation but the scratches seems to point towards something sinister and evil. The priests outburst had made it impossible to think. My mind kept focusing on the door but I just couldn’t make any sense of it. Something wasn’t right and despite the door being right in front of me, the solution was not.
Evening soon came and I was no closer to finding and explanation. What If these people had vanished just like Thomas and Jennifer? Was there any hope at all?
Late, in the early hours close to dawn, I was awoken by the sound on someone coming up the stairs. I assumed it was Mrs Baker having gone downstairs to get herself a drink but the footsteps were heavy. Shortly after, I heard muffled screams. I immediately rose out of bed and went to the door. As I reached for the handle I heard a sharp growl. The hell hound, it was real. My body had froze through fear, I was unable to open the door and rush to Mrs Bakers aid. Scratching. I could hear something violently scratching away at Mrs Bakers door, I wanted to help but I didn’t dare to move. All fell silent until I heard the beast going back down the stairs with a low thud following it on each step. Had the beast now claimed Mrs Baker? But she was just a kind, little old lady, surely she was incapable of provoking such evil.
As soon as I was certain that the house was empty, I shot out of the bedroom an went to run down the stairs but then I heard it. The ungodly howling. Mrs Baker was gone, and I let the beast get to her.
I ran back upstairs and went into her bedroom. Just like her husbands hobby room, all seemed calm. The bed was in a bit of a state but one could only assume that Mrs Baker had been dragged out of bed. I looked at the door. It was scratched just as badly as the other but something still didn’t seem right.
As I continued to look around the room I noticed a rag on the floor. I picked it up and noticed it was damp. Chloroform. Why would a savage beast need Chloroform to subdue its victim?
In the corner by her dresser, I noticed a butter knife coated in blood. She had fought the beast, what a brave woman. It was now safe to assume that the beast was injured and hopefully in a weakened state.
I waited for daylight to break before heading out onto the street. I started to walk towards Father Kingston’s cottage looking for help. If anyone knew how to vanquish a terrible beast, It would be him.
As I approached, he came through the front door. I went to call him but noticed he was walking with a rather pronounced limp. He was walking perfectly fine the day before. He seemed to be in a rush. Once he was out of sight I decided to head over to the cottage. His gardening tools were still where he left them, well, all except one. I recall him using a small claw cultivator when I spoke to him. One with three claws. Three claws, that was it, that’s what I was missing.
I headed straight back to Mrs Bakers house and straight to the rooms with the scratched doors. Mrs Bakers door was indeed a horrific sight but upon closer inspection I noticed that the claw marks came in sets of three. To my knowledge, hounds have at least four claws, not three. Was the other door the same? It was. Sets of three, just like the missing tool.
I almost refused to believe that a man of the church could commit such atrocities but this was the only lead in my investigation so far.
I ran back out into the street and called for a constable to meet me at the priests cottage.
I recalled what Father Kingston had said to me.
“Those who are free of sin have nothing to fear. God will spare the righteous and slay the sinners”
“Ah, constable. I believe I have an answer to the recent string of disappearances”
A rather stout and bearded constable walked over. “What’s all this about?”
“We need to search Father Kingston’s cottage, I have evidence to prove he is somewhat involved”
“You think a priest has been kidnapping people?”
“Can you really risk not searching his cottage? After all, I’m sure the constable who solves the mystery may have a good future in the force”
“If it’ll shut you up then, why not”
We entered the cottage cautiously, checking every room but there was no sign of foul play. The house was a bit of a mess but nothing grabbed our attention. I was certain that the answer would present itself.
“Are you satisfied. The priest had nothing to do with it” The constable turned and went to walk out of the room but his footsteps sounded hollow. A basement perhaps?
“Help me move this rug, I'm sure there's something underneath”
We moved the rug and found an entrance to a basement. Once the door was lifted a strong smell of decay was evident. We slowly ascended the steps and found what appeared to be a makeshift torture chamber.
“Well, ill be damned, perhaps you were right after all”
It was hard to see but I made out a figure in the corner of the room.
“Its Mrs Baker, get her out of here. She needs medical attention immediately”
The constable clambered up the steps with Mrs Baker over his shoulder, clinging to life. She had been beaten terribly. But where were the others?
I continued to look around until I found a large mound covered with a blanket. I pulled it off and found the others. Mr Baker, Miss Trent, Mrs Williams, Mrs Pugh and Mr Ford. They were all here. They had been disemboweled. Their throats ripped out and their backs scratched by the same tool used on the doors.
In a rage, I left the cottage and headed straight to the church to confront the murderous priest.
“Kingston!” I shouted as I burst through the doors. “We've found them, all of them. Its over”
“You dare to interfere with the lords work? It is my duty as an instrument of god to rid this world from sin” He said calmly.
“What you have done is barbaric”
“I’d say it was mercy. After hearing their confessions I was filled with rage. I asked the lord for guidance and I was given this task. The inquisition is back and judgement day is near”
“Oh, shut up. I'm taking you to the police. They know too, so you cant escape” It was at that point he lunged at me carrying a large crucifix in his raised hand. He overpowered me almost instantly then landed a blow on on my head and all went dark.
I awoke in a hospital bed feeling rather dazed. The pain in my head was unbearable. I was informed that the priest had evaded capture. I asked the nurse for something to help me sleep and just as it started to take effect I heard an unearthly howl from outside. I tried to call out but the sedative had done its job and I fell into a deep sleep.