I was traveling home from Boston last year. I had traded an oxen for a new horse and a weighty pocket, so my trip back was to be much easier. I passed through many towns lit with bonfires. The rebellion was spreading. When I had traveled to town, just a few rabble denounced the crown, now the squares were teaming with people shouting and arguing. I was glad to pass through that turmoil and into the deep woods.
My relief lasted but a few leagues, though. The further I got from the last village, the more I doubted my own senses. A rustle off the trail startled me, and I spurred the horse to investigate, but no creatures scattered under my hoofs. I cursed the full moon that I had blessed an hour before, now it only cast shadows in the darkness. They moved with every breath of wind.
I tried to set a pace, but the horse was too tired to keep more than a fast walk. I saw what I thought was a fire in the distance, off the path to my right. Just as I turned in that direction, the night was split by a howl. No winter in the northern colonies has ever chilled me like that piercing wail of rage. It must have been upon us already. I only just kept my seat as the horse burst forward, galloping wildly. I could feel the monster’s breath burning my neck. I pulled myself back into the saddle just as the horse screamed and went down. I tumbled onto the mossy bank next to the trail.
I pulled the dirt from my eyes. The horse screamed again. At first, I thought it was a bear, but as I levered myself to my feet, I realized that it was an enormous wolf. I pulled my Bunney flintlock pistol and my sabre. Brandishing what courage I could, I advanced. It looked up from its prey, gazing at me with a fury that nearly broke my will. I shot at it, but must have missed. The beast lept at me without pause. I managed to bring my sabre up just as it reached me. I felt teeth sink into my shoulder, but my blade had found purchase. I pushed it away from me. My own howl of pain was matched by a much louder one as the beast finally released me and bounded down the trail out of sight.
I staggered for a moment until I saw why the wolf had left me alive. On the ground at my feet was one of its claws. I must have severed the limb with my sabre. I wrapped it in a linen and put it in my pack. I remembered the fire I had seen earlier and tried to orient myself. A glimpse of light in what I thought was the right direction was enough. I wept as I reached for each tree to support my progress. Fear gripped me each time I staggered and grunted from pain. I thought it would return and finish me. I don’t know how long I stumbled, but a dwelling finally emerged from the wilderness. This was the light I had seen from the trail.
It was like no other house I had ever seen, even in Boston. Stone and lumber, two stories tall, with glass windows ablaze with candle light. It seemed to tower over the forest. I crawled to the door, but was able to do naught but collapse in front of it.
When I awoke, I was was lying in a goose down bed. I turned to the window, but the afternoon sun blinded me, so I looked away. Next to my head was something that took a moment to focus on. I screamed as I realized that it was a woman’s hand in front of my eyes. I struggled to get out of bed, but found that the linens bound me tightly to the rack. I fell silent as I realized that my screaming had awakened the master of the house. I trembled as footsteps fell outside my bedroom. The door opened and a man walked into the room.
He stood well above me. His eyes burned from beneath large brows and he clenched his teeth so hard that his beard seemed to twitch on his face. He walked to the bed and clasped my shoulder in a massive hand. I writhed as he squeezed my wound, but could not free myself.
“Come in, darling.” He growled. A woman appeared at the door. She had raven black hair, and dark eyes. She seemed to glide as she entered the room. I saw it immediately. Her left arm ended abruptly above the hand., and a rough bandage covered her other forearm.
The man leaned over me and whispered in my ear “You have harmed me, now I will harm you.”
I could describe the months that followed, but how could you understand those torments? Yes, they recreated me. I howl in frustration each night as the madness overtakes me. I claw at the walls and ceiling for hours. The deep grooves in the stone attest to my frenzy. I awake each morning, cold and naked. It isn’t long before they come down to exact their revenge. It cannot still be revenge, can it?. It has been so long. We regenerate quickly from even the most grievous wounds. Indeed, she had full use of her left hand before long. Yet, they come down each day to inflict new machinations of pain on me. I have died a thousand times, but have found no escape.
If someone reads this, they have finally finished me. If you have not taken my place, have a care when you travel in the dark places.