“There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.”
Listen! My name is Edward LaSalle. I am trapped here in my father’s cellar basement laboratory on the night of the worst storm in a hundred years with no escape. I am surrounded by rats, cobwebs, insects, and God knows what else. Rain pours against the basement windows and lightning flashes outside bright as day. I have barricaded the door with utmost desperation, furiously typing this as fast as I can, battling against the encroaching waves of panic that threaten to engulf me. Time, my dear reader, is a fleeting companion, and how much of it remains within my grasp, I don’t know.
Yes! I speak of that notorious murderer whose nefarious deeds have plagued the headlines of late. The fiend who preys upon the innocent nurses, a modern-day manifestation of that monstrous Jack the Ripper. Alas, the bumbling police, deluded in their abilities to solve the riddle, won’t find the killer. They’ve already tried four times to solve the case, but they can’t, and they never will. They’re looking for fingerprints, motive, opportunity and a murder weapon. They’ll find none but our bodies tossed in Bryant Park.
Yes! Yes! It is there, in that desolate park, that we shall all be found! Each and every one of us! And I, the sole possessor of the grim truth, am left to tell the tale.
You will think me mad—but I am not mad. I have proof of what I say. It’s right here in this very computer upon which my desperate fingers type. Just read the file and look at the photos. It will explain all! You will see!
But now I must tell the story, calmly and sanely, that I might be believed.
When you read this, you’ll think my father discovered a cure for cancer. That’s what I thought too. But that’s not what it is. No! That’s not what it is at all! How can I make you understand? Oh! Am I not living in a nightmare?
It is impossible to say exactly when I should have known the truth. The only one with the knowledge was my father, withholding any hints or perhaps unable to divulge the unspeakable truth. Yet now that the truth has found its way into my mind, it torments me. Something that shouldn’t live, lives. My father, the eminent scientist, brought it forth into this realm. He even bestowed upon it a name, yet concealed his discovery from me. Now, we shall all pay the dire consequences of his clandestine knowledge.
I have not lost my reason. You fancy me unknowledgeable. Yet I know my father’s science well when most would know nothing. You should have seen me. You should have seen how thoroughly I proceeded—with such analytical understanding—with such foresight—with such speed did I see the solution! Or rather, see the problem, for there is no solution. We will all die in this house tonight. There is no escape. None whatsoever.
Like anyone, I do not wish to die, least of all painfully, and to know the hour and place is to count down the minutes and seconds and wait anxiously for the inexorable embrace of my relentless adversary.
What? What was that sound?!
Is that it? Is it at the door?
I hold my breath and hope it is my imagination. It runs wild and leaves my mouth bone dry. My heart is in my throat, while surrounded by damp must and all these creepy, crawly things down here. And all the while my eyes are fastened on that doorknob to see if it turns.
Oh! How that thing outside must be chuckling at me. It knows my terror, and tastes my fear. It knows that I know it’s approaching the door, steadily, steadily. I want to shout— “Is that you? Stay away!”
I keep perfectly still, listen, but hear nothing. For what seems like an hour I do not move a muscle. It’s on the other side of the door listening. I’m sure of it. It chuckles at my heart. It knows what I feel, knows the keyboard has stopped, and knows that I’ve been holding my breath ever since that first slight noise.
My limbs shake with terror.
I try and tell myself I only heard a mouse or the house creaking in the outside wind. Yet my fears have already seized upon me. I’m just fooling myself with those explanations: they’re all in vain. All in vain; because Death, in approaching the door, stalks me with its black shadow before it, stealthily, stealthily, to envelop me within its malevolent grasp. Although I neither see nor hear it—I feel the presence of the thing outside the door. It’s there and it has come for me.
I’ll never see the light of dawn. I’ll never live to finish this. I’ll die like everyone else here. And no one will know how I died. No one will know! For when I tell you what waits beyond that door, you won’t believe me!
When after I waited a long time, very patiently, without hearing a sound, I resolved to type a little—a very, very little sentence. So I continued—quietly, quietly—to type my tale.
In this world, dear reader, everything subsists upon another. And now, I have stumbled upon that which feeds upon me. Ultimately, we are all consumed, whether by the worms in the cemetery, the flames in the crematorium, or by that abomination with its insatiable hunger that lurks beyond the dreaded door. We are mere sustenance to something else. Yet I would choose any other fate than this.
Where to begin? For this is not my story alone to tell. There were others. All of us played our parts. We didn’t know. We just didn’t know! It was only as the hours passed on this fateful night that I pieced together all the deadly clues. At least, for those of us then still alive. There were seven of us. They included George Green, the groundskeeper, and Gladys Goodwin, our cook and housekeeper. There was also my father’s nurse, Mrs. Linda Vine, only recently hired, and my father, Henry, and his assistant, the one he called the Widow Black but whom I called Stella. Last, but not least, was my mother, Maria, whom no one could suspect of anything.
One would think, with so few suspects and with the number of corpses to follow, that the murderer would be quickly found, and the case easily solved. After all, there were only two ways into the house, and one was impossible to access.
The story begins, not with me, but with those who were there. I shall call it to their misfortune. As for my own participation, I shall call it from beyond the grave as I have no doubt, but that is where I soon shall be as I wait for what comes through that door.
It began four weeks ago but it came tonight with the storm. As I recall, Gladys was following the news…