Tuesday, June 14, 2005

A Phantom Stalks Bleak House

Yes, another one. That makes forty-seven, by last count, but they're hard to quantify, being all ethereal-like.

I'd advise persons in similar situations never to move into the ancient familial manor next the mist-enshrouded lake, not under any circumstances. If the circumstances include previous generations known down through the years for their history of madness, suicide, unholy rituals, shameless mushroom-and-poppy orgies with innocent local lasses who vanished soon thereafter, the unearthing of dire forbidden manuscripts, casual incest, vampirism, hunting captured strangers for sport, arcane researches into the resurrection of the dead -- and other things too horrid to mention here -- if, I say, the circumstances are anything like these, consider yourself duly warned. Buy a condo in a well-lit city.

It's too late for us now. Arabella wanders the cobwebbed corridors, bereft of all reason, cooing little nursery songs while clawing at the crawling creatures she thinks inhabit her nightgown, while with the other hand clutching by the hair the yellow grinning skull that is rumored to have belonged to Rupert. Not that Arabella wasn't a bit neurotic to begin with.

Tonight the wolves intone their bloodthirsty howl from the dark woods -- a sequence of nicely constructed minor triads in the sopranino range -- while older, more primordial, less distinct beings answer from across the lake with an echoing, too-clever-by-half, shoo-ba-doo-bop-bop. It's enough to shatter the soul and cleave the sanity of any man, but to me it's all just too tiresome. Is there no end to these irritating nocturnal hijinks?

Sometimes I think it would be far better for me to splatter myself with catsup, stake myself out in the moonlight, and wait for the end. I've already gone far toward this unhappy end, but I can never work out how to tie my remaining hand to the last stake.

The locals still sacrifice a maiden every new moon to the octopod supposed to live in the lake from time immemorial. I don't interfere with their quaint customs, but I rather think there'd be hell to pay if I didn't tie up a few cows every Saturday night. Nothing left the following morning but a few hooves, a great lot of blood, and a thick trail of some morbid excrescence that smells to high heaven, and burns while it clings to your flesh if you go too close before it evaporates, leaving a rancid, crusty glaze. I'm certain the creature, whatever it is, is no more than fifty years old, and has grown from the thing in the crate that Uncle Cedric was so secretive about on his return from the Maracot Deep, just before his very skeleton disintegrated in his body while he, poor chap, lived on a further three weeks, a quivering puddle in the now-closed master bedroom. Or at least so the family chronicles say, in their tepid, circumlocutionary style.

Well, I'm bored. At least I have my basement surgery, maybe a few subjects left, I forget; it's my way of giving back to the community. Tomorrow I'll be back to work, and if reviewing corporate protocols isn't the most exciting of careers, at least there aren't a bunch of bloody ghosts clattering about crying for vengeance or some such thing. It's getting so I can't sleep nights without a cup of warm milk and a few aspirin.