The foul creature squealed as the sunlight fell upon it. There was no way for it to move because Wilford nailed it to a tree using a sturdy iron pick. Young Stuart was watching in horror as it began to disintegrate filling their nostrils with the most horrible smell possible. They additionally bound it to the tree with metal chains just be sure it will not break free. The damned thing possessed the strength of many healthy men.
Smoke was rising between the trees as the rotten flesh melted off the age-old bones. After a few minutes, the ghoul's screeching voice faded into a low-pitch moan. Stuart almost felt sorry for it, but he then remembered what it had done to Wilford's family.
It was still clawing at the cold metal which had pierced its heart, but it was too weak now. It was chased all night by the two men through fields, forests and the cemetery of Greenfield, Wilford's home town. They hunted it with undying determination, shot it many times with their revolvers, cut it with their swords, and finally pierced it through the heart. A mighty swing from the heavy pick was the only thing which could reach the creature's rotten heart through the thick bone which surrounded it.
Liquefied flesh and innards flowed onto the snow. Stuart began to retch, and he had to struggle in order to hold back the bile which was fighting to come out. The freezing morning air helped him keep his latest meal inside. He just coughed and pulled the thick coat together on his chest.
This winter was one of the coldest winters in England, as far as people could remember. Wilford thought that this was the reason why the ghoul had killed his wife and two children. The ground was frozen solid and it couldn't get to the dead in the cemetery. It had kidnapped his family instead, then killed them. Having no taste for a fresh kill, the creature let them rot for a while in its underground layer before it's stomach could accept the meal.
'Rot in hell, godless beast!' shouted Wilford as tears ran down his cheeks onto his handlebar mustache.
'I can't believe this...' muttered Stuart, his blue eyes still fixed on the ghoul's remains.
'Well, you have to... I have to.'
'Do you think there are more of these creatures?' asked Stuart and looked sideways towards Wilford.
Wilford was a strong man, but losing his family broke him. Stuart saw his haggard face and felt awful. It was the first and last time he saw his best friend with tears in his eyes. All men must suffer, thought Stuart, but didn't know where this strange thought had come from. Maybe it was the sight of Wilford's bowed head and curved back. He looked a thousand years old now, and like the weight of a thousand years of suffering fell on his shoulders at once. His brown and once sharp eyes were now hiding deep within their sockets. Once a fearless and resolute man, now he was just a sad shadow of his formal self.
'Think?' asked Wilford lost half-way in a whirlwind of thoughts and feelings. 'I don't just think, I know. If there is one, there are certainly more.'
'Oh, God,' sighed Stuart and his gaze shifted to the tree again.
'I don't know what God has to do with all this madness, my friend. Why did He let this happen!?'
'I'm afraid I can't answer this question,' Stuart replied and put a hand on his friend's shoulder.
'You don't have to, you are but a man. A good man, nevertheless. You were a true friend to me. I've called upon you in my hour of need, and you've come. I will never forget that. If you will ever need my help, just state it plainly, and I shall come.'
'I would have gone to the gates of hell to help you.'
'I know, and I thank you. If it weren't for you, I'll be dead now too. I just need to figure out what should I do with my life from now on.'
Stuart was silent. For a moment, he watched as his breath drift upward like white smoke. There was no way he could tell his grieving friend how should he live his life now. He couldn't even stay with Wilford to help him through the difficult times. He had to go back to London.
'I know what I'm going to do,' whispered Wilford. Stuart heard him and sensed a terrible, possibly dangerous determination in the man's voice.
'I'm going to hunt these things down,' said Wilford and nodded as if speaking to himself, and acknowledging his own decision.
'I beg your pardon,' replied Stuart, and shot a concerned look at his friend.
'If there are indeed more foul creatures like this one hiding in the darkness, I shall find them. I shall find as many of them as possible, and I shall kill them. I swear it on my life.'
'Please, Wilford,' pleaded Stuart,' you are talking madness...'
'No! I'm talking about revenge! I'm talking cleansing, the extermination of the abominations which cause pain and suffering to all of us. Today it is me, tomorrow it might be you. My family didn't die in vain, and I shall not live in vain.'
'But it' still madness, you are running into your death.'
'I'll tell you what's madness. It is what it's lurking all around us in the darkness. Fiery eyes of hate and malice searching for their new victim. Madness is the desperate search for your loved ones not knowing if you will ever find them alive. Madness is finding their remains, desecrated by some unholy beast. Madness is living with the thought that you could have done something, but you didn't.'
'Is this truly what you wish?' asked Stuart, then realized how stupid a question it was.
'No, it's not what I wish, it's what has to be done!' said Wilford and looked into Stuart's eyes.
Stuart saw the fire in those eyes, and couldn't understand how could it burn in these circumstances. He didn't judge Wilford, he couldn't understand his feelings, only imagine them. If he were in this situation, he might hang himself now, or maybe shoot himself in the head. But Wilford wanted war, and war is what he will get. A war against the night...