Leonard – 2.16.6

Leonard was good at taking care of people when they were ill. In fact, when he’d been a small boy, he’d had to take care of Lavinia for five weeks after she’d nearly died of pneumonia because her caretakers were gone. He would take care of Richard, too, until Richard’s concussion had healed and he was back on his feet, even if that mostly meant sitting in a dark room reading by the light of a candle or simply being alone with his thoughts, while Richard slept off the medicines he was given for most of the day.

By November 22, which the Americans celebrated as Thanksgiving, Richard was much better, sitting up in bed with the windows open. He and all the other victims of the wagon crash were staying in the home of Monica Carter, the angel, because she was trained as a nurse. Leonard had also been staying over, though he avoided Clarissa and Ernest Janson like the plague. Serena came to call sometimes, but Leonard knew that she was spending most of her time in the sea, which was her natural home. He didn’t hold it against her at all, in fact, he was happy that she was getting to be in the place she loved so much.

On November 22, Leonard had been sleeping on top of the covers of Richard’s bed – with his permission, of course, having a pleasant but bizarre dream that somehow involved the French Revolution, which he had been reading  about before bed. He was torn from this dream by Mrs Carter practically breaking down the door and kicking him awake. 

“What the hell?” Leonard asked. He immediately winced, because making any reference to Hell or damnation on an angel’s property was physically painful, similar to the way that making any references to the Bible or prayer was on a demon’s. He had also sworn in front of Mrs Carter, who was a woman, but he figured she wouldn’t mind.

“That probably hurt,” Mrs Carter said.

“It did.” 

“Look at the paper.”

Leonard skimmed the first section of the newspaper that had been shoved under his nose. His eyes caught a few words in particular – Lincoln, President’s Message, Congress, secession, Union, compromise, Cabinet, and dissolution. A stone of dread hit the pit of his stomach. “Oh, no.”

Mrs Carter slapped the paper with the back of her hand. “Nothing’s happened yet, but I see foreshadowing for what’s about to happen. I think the South is about to secede.”

Leonard sat up and cracked as many of his aching joints as he could. He yawned, and looked out Richard’s window into the gray evening. His sleep schedule had suffered greatly, as evidenced by the fact that he had evidently slept the day away. “You can’t possibly be sure of that.”

“Do- do you remember what happened just before the Fall?”

He glared at her. “This is nothing like that.”

“I disagree.”

“They’re humans.”

“Which means they will kill each other.”


“Do you follow American politics, Duke Mephisto?”

“Not really.”

“Slavery has been a debate since this country was formed. Some people think it’s great, some view it as a necessary evil, some people – myself and everyone on this island included – think it’s just evil, and some people don’t care. However, I’m sure you can imagine the friction between people who love slavery and people who hate it.”

“Yes, I was there to witness it in England,” Leonard said. “I was a staunch abolitionist, myself.”

“That’s good, you’ll fit right in here.” Mrs Carter paused. “Did you pay attention to the election?”

“I paid as much attention as I could without leaving this room.”

“That’s good.” Mrs Carter sat down next to him on the bed. “Who did you support?”

“Lincoln, I suppose. I want slavery gone worldwide, and I follow anyone who has that as their goal.”

“Us too.” Mrs Carter handed him a piece of paper with a lot of numbers on it. “The election results. Lincoln united the Republicans and won most of the North, though his win was mostly through the electoral college. It’s odd that he didn’t get any votes from several Southern states – Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas, or Tennessee. He only got one percent of the votes in Virginia, as well. Do you know how the electoral college works?”

“No,” Leonard said.

“It’s a thing that’s a big part of the election. No time to explain further. In any case, these are the states that have been supremely angry about slavery, and now that Lincoln’s president, they’re even angrier. I think they’re going to secede over it. Though, Texas might not join in if they do secede, because their governor, Samuel Houston, says that it’s folly to leave the Union or, God forbid, start a war over it.”

Leonard looked at her paper of election results for a moment longer, then looked back up at her. “I’m glad to know all this, but why are you telling me this now?”

“Because you’re in America at present, and it’s a big deal. You need to know about it.” Mrs Carter sucked in a breath. “If the South does secede… it’s going to impact everyone. Think about how much of England buys cotton from them, and how important their ports are to international trade. Or, think about what’s going to happen if America fights a civil war. Think about how that might impact politics.”

“The Shaw-Captains buy cotton from the South,” Leonard said. “But Hell is for the most part self-sufficient. We have sinners to do our work.” 

“A kind of slavery in itself,” said Mrs Carter. 

“They put themselves there, and they could leave at any time. Besides, they do get paid for it. And we have straight feudalism, unlike America.”

“It’s still slavery.”

“We pay the sinners, and we don’t own them.”

“We can agree to disagree, but we still need to talk about how this might impact both of us, Above and Below. One of the Shaw-Captains sent a Speaker to talk to us about how they’re dealing with the high cotton prices and the possibility of the industrial production in the North being halted for the war. We also need to talk about… um…”

Leonard knew what she was about to say. He had had this exact conversation with Harriet and Tecualt through letters, and he knew how they were handling it. “The possibility of an influx of souls in the case of a war.”

Mrs Carter nodded. “Yes, that. What are you doing about it?”

“Tecualt has mobilized a force specifically for escorting the souls through to my land, and taking them to Heaven if they manage to redeem themselves. He has another force ready to keep things under control in the case of the soldier souls making trouble when they get down there. Other than that, Tecualt is fighting off the rebellion, which the possibility of a war up top should quench entirely.” Leonard ticked things off on his fingers as he spoke. “Harriet has families lined up to adopt any dead children who might need to spend time being punished in purgatory, or, unfortunately, children who might have to be condemned to Hell. She also somehow managed to find people to help soldiers with any psychological problems they might have gained. She’s offering extra food and days off work for anyone who stops their usual work to build new housing for the soldiers and anyone else who might have died. She’s rearranging who gets what jobs so that the slave owners are punished more harshly, and the people who died as young soldiers or civilians get easier jobs. She has people ready to train said soldiers for multiple of these jobs depending on what they did in life. She’s also asked people to open their homes to the possibility of new souls needing housing.”

Mrs Carter nodded along with him. “Good. We’re not expecting as many new arrivals in Heaven, but we’ve still prepared in much of the same ways you have, building new housing, mostly high towers into the clouds, finding positions for new arrivals, getting together psychiatric help for the people sent to their deaths by the war, mobilizing a militia of souls who were soldiers to get people from Hell and Purgatory if they’re sent there mistakenly in the chaos, buying the few things we can’t instantly make from the Shaw-Captains in bulk, getting people together to adopt dead children, building new schools for the education of anyone who didn’t get it in life – especially the children. The democratic assembly has issued multiple statements on what it’s probably going to be like, so that the souls are generally prepared for the chaos and know the protocol to deal with it. Some of them are also prepared for new additions to their families should a soul with no family arrive, and a lot of souls are pooling resources for the souls that will go to purgatory.”

“I should buy up what I need from the Shaw-Captains,” Leonard said. “That’s a good idea that I hadn’t thought of.”

They fell silent for a moment, before Leonard said, “What if there isn’t a  war?”

Mrs Carter sighed. “At this point, I can’t see there not being one. Besides, our orders to prepare for the war came from on high – literally.”

“Oh. Everyone in Hell is mostly just doing it out of panic.”

Mrs Carter laughed.

Richard sat up. “Mrs Carter. Good morning. I see I missed a party.”

“Not quite,” Leonard said. “We were just talking about the possibility of an American Civil War.”

“Oh. Is it very likely?”

“It would seem so,” Mrs Carter said.

Richard pulled his legs close to his chest. “Well, I suppose it’s a good thing I can’t be drafted, then.”

There was a heavy knock at the front door. Mrs Carter stood up. “That’s the Speaker. I’m sorry, Richard, but we really do need to go talk to this person.”

“It’s alright. I hope you enjoy yourselves.”

Leonard laughed at how dark that now-humorous statement was. He followed Mrs Carter downstairs and into her parlor, where the Speaker waited for them.


Sorry that this chapter is basically just another infodump! The action picks back up again soon, I swear. In the meantime, there’s a new drawing of Monty on the art page that you can go look at! Fun fact: That needle-like thing on his jacket that you’ll see is called a chockpin, and it’s something used on a ship. Harpooners would wear them to mark themselves as having killed a whale, which was a major and laudable feat back before humans realized that whaling is really, just, not good at all. And, I mean, if I killed an enormous animal with a bit of iron from a fragile wooden boat, I too would probably want to brag about it. You can see them having chockpins to mark themselves as harpooners in In the Heart of the Sea (2015), a very good movie about the Essex, the real life tragedy that inspired Moby-Dick.

Clarissa – 2.15.5

Content warning: politics and discussion of slavery

To Clara’s understanding, there was a lot riding on the United States election. From what she knew, the election was going to be the next in a long line of bloody conflicts over slavery that had been happening practically since the United States was formed, but had especially come to a head in the last few years. Monica had made her up to date on all the politics over the days before November sixth – election day – and reiterated all of what she had said on election day itself. She was jittery and nervous, and her attitude had spread to Clara, who could not focus on the family history Enoch was trying to explain to her.

“My sister has you all worked up over the election, doesn’t she?” Enoch said. 

When Clara nodded, he sighed and said, “I can’t stand politics.”

“I don’t usually participate,” said Clara. “But Monica makes it sound like-”

“Like this is going to be the end of the world, yes, I know. She’s very passionate about the issue, as is Father, and as was Grandfather, supposedly. We’ve harbored slaves in our basement before. I’ve harbored slaves in my basement as well, in Boston, but not as often. Apparently, this makes me a part of the Underground Railroad.”

“That’s good,” Clara said.

Enoch shrugged. “But Monica has you all up to date, I would assume. You know all about slavery and Bleeding Kansas and Lincoln, don’t you?”

“I do. I don’t have the ballot memorized, or anything, though. I don’t even really know who’s running for president.”

“Lincoln is the spindly, honest lawyer from Illinois. He’s a senator, I think. Maybe. I might be wrong. Either way, he’s a Republican, which means he’s forward-thinking in terms of abolition. There’s also Stephen Douglass, the Democratic nominee, who works for the South and wants slavery there to continue. There’s also John Breckinridge, the current Vice President, the Southern Democratic nominee. He’s pro-slavery and supported by James Buchanan, our good current president. There’s John Bell, a Tennessee senator who’s for the Constitutional Union party, which is essentially the old Whig party under a new name, and he’s avoiding the issue of slavery. Lastly, there’s Gerrit Smith, who claims to be in ill health, and is for the Liberty party, also known as the extremely radical abolitionist party.” Enoch closed the big family book and put it back on the shelf.

“And, who’s Monica voting for?”

“Lincoln. She says he’s not too radical, but also anti-slavery.” Enoch picked a duster and started dusting one of the higher bookshelves. “Monica’s always been rather critical of politicians. According to her, thinking a politician will do what they say when they’re elected is like thinking the prostitute actually loves you.”

Clara snickered.

“No, really,” Enoch said. “Anyhow, it’s election day. We’ll wait and see who gets elected. I suppose we’ll know in,” he checked his watch, “approximately twenty minutes. I suspect we’ll know right away, because Father – your brother, actually – has, or had, friends in the government.”

Enoch quietly dusted the shelves of his library, before going into the kitchen to wash the dishes. Clara followed him, unsure why he was doing this if he had servants, but she realized a second later when she thought about how he, who claimed to not like politics, could rattle off details about each of the presidential candidates out of nowhere. He probably just wanted to keep his hands busy.

Clara had nothing else to do but follow him downstairs to watch him make the beds in the servants’ quarters. She had started to help, when the door burst open and footsteps that were unmistakably Monica’s pounded across the floor upstairs. 

“Enoch-Clara-Howard-Ambrose!” Monica shouted.

Two people who were presumably Howard and Ambrose pounded down the stairs. Enoch’s hands were badly shaking. Even Clara felt nervous, even though she had never given a second thought to American elections before today and probably wasn’t even an American citizen, either.

Monica was standing in the foyer, grinning. Was it good news, then? Had Lincoln won? 

“Well?” Enoch asked.

“Lincoln’s elected.”

Ambrose whooped and threw himself at Howard for a hug. 

Outside, people were partying. Clara heard them singing through the windows, and even though the Carter household seemed pleased, Nantucket Island was partying, and even Enoch was in better spirits, something nagged at Clara and told her that the issue of slavery would not be so easily solved by a Republican president.


Apologies that today’s chapter is so short! Also, for anyone who isn’t American: the two current major political parties are the democrats and republicans. In 1860, there was also the whig party, though it was drawing to an end. Most of the background on the American Civil War (which I never actually intended to write a story about, but here we are) is explained later on in the story, so you don’t exactly need to be a history buff to understand where this story is going.

Monica – 2.14.3

Content warning: graphic description of injury

Monica had been trained as a nurse when she was little, which was probably why Caro woke her up in the middle of the night instead of someone else. 

“Mama, mama, mama,” Caro said, shaking her.

Monica groaned and sat up. “What is it, dear?”

“There’s some people who need you to nurse them.”


“Out there on the side of the road. I woke up Duke Mephisto, too.”

“Where are they?” Monica stood up and threw on a dress over her nightgown. “Why were you out on the road, Caro?” 

“I was getting water. Someone bought it from me and gave me money from England.”

Monica pulled on her boots and picked Caro up. She went out into the hallway, where Joseph and Millie were standing around looking confused.

“What’s going on?” Joseph asked.

“Some people are hurt,” Monica said. “Come with me if you have to.”

Joseph grinned and ran back into his room, presumably for proper clothes. Millie went more slowly, but she went all the same.

Duke Mephisto, a tall man with a flaming red beard and an angular face, was standing at the bottom of the stairs. “Mrs Carter. I apologize for waking you.”

“No, it’s fine. Where do I need to go?”

“Your girl told me they’re somewhere along ‘the road.’”

“That’ll be one of the roads out of town. I know where she goes to get water.” A servant handed Monica her bag of medical things, and her and Duke Mephisto set out walking, Caro in tow. They’d walked a ways when the other two children, Joseph and Millie, ran past them, evidently racing. After that it was uncomfortable silence the rest of the way, because Monica knew she was walking with a demon lord. What was she supposed to say to him? 

At last, Duke Mephisto broke the silence. “I can carry that bag for you, if you want.”

“No, it’s fine.”

“Your home is nice.”

“Thank you.”

They were silent again. There were things Monica wanted to say, like do you regret it and would you like to become an angel again and what is hell like, but she didn’t say any of them. How did she start that kind of a conversation?

“You know…” Duke Mephisto said. “I had a dream last night.”

“From the Man in Red.”


“Who do you think the prophet is?”

“I have a few guesses. It could be anyone who’s died in any way related to liquid.”

“Which are your guesses?”


Monica stopped walking. “Listen. If the Man in Red sends both angels and demons concerning messages, then…”

“You think he means for us to sort of… unite.”

“Maybe. I mean, neither of us want to utterly destroy creation, do we?”


Monica held out her hand. “Then how about, if only you and me, call a truce?”

Duke Mephisto shook her hand without hesitation. “Yes.”

“Then tell me your guesses.”

“You tell me yours as well.”


“Deirdre, the Irish girl Johann’s with. She drowned and she’s a dead banshee, but she might not know it.”

“This girl Caro, right here. She drowned, too, and came back as a ghost without explanation.” 

“Mama?” Caro asked.

“We’re talking about grown-up stuff, dear.”

Duke Mephisto smiled. “Well, Caro? Are you a herald of the apocalypse?”

Caro grinned. “Yes.”

Duke Mephisto laughed. Evidently, he had a very strange sense of humor.

“Any more guesses?” Monica asked.

“Ishmael Carter. He died at sea and has said he’s a prophet.”

“My opium addict relative?”


They had to stop the conversation there, because Monica heard commotion up ahead. They must have looked very strange coming down the road like they were. There was Duke Mephisto, impeccably dressed in a crimson waistcoat over a pressed, pale red shirt, black pants, and shoes that looked like they were made of polished coal. There was Caro, with her curly, messy, blonde hair, green dress, and giant pink bow adorning her head. There was Monica, black hair tied up into a loose bun, wearing a simple dress that was tied at the waist, and carrying a medical bag. They looked like all three of them were going to a different engagement: Duke Mephisto was going to a ball, Caro was going to a playdate, and Monica was going to a battlefield.

“Mama!” Joseph shouted from the ditch at the side of the road. “Look what I found!” 

Monica climbed down into the ditch, and saw an upturned wagon. A young woman with a broken piece of wood going straight through her calf lay half under it, unconscious. “Joseph, Millie, Duke Mephisto is going to lift the cart, then you’re going to pull her out gently. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Mama,” Millie said.

Duke Mephisto was barely able to lift the cart, even with demonic strength, so it took the children a moment to get the young woman out. Joseph held her leg up, while Millie did most of the work.

When they had gotten the young woman out, Millie turned to her brother. “Can you do that?”

Joseph glared at her. “Maybe I can,  booty.”




“Booty booty booty booty booty booty,” Joseph said. “Booty booty booty booty booty booty booty booty booty.”

Millie pushed him back. “Quit it.”

“You quit it,” Joseph said, shoving Millie.

Millie pushed him again. “You started it.”

Joseph ran forward, his head down like a battering ram. He crashed into his sister and she laughed. 

“Do you actually think you’re hurting me right now?”

Joseph roared, and backed up for another strike. 

“Children,” Monica said sharply.

They glared at her, but stopped fighting for the moment. Monica looked down at the young woman and did a quick analysis of what was wrong with her. She probably had several broken ribs, as well as a lot of surface lacerations that didn’t look very deep, and of course, the piece of wood going through her leg.

“I’m going to look for other survivors,” Duke Mephisto said.

“Wait. What’s her name?”

“The girl? Sylvia Sapping.”

“Alright, thank you. You may go. Children!”

Joseph and Millie came running. Monica took several bottles out from the medical bag, and began to pick at Sylvia Sapping’s leg wound. She pulled the cut open, probing it for complications or broken arteries that would be hard to repair. Luckily, she found none, and was now satisfied that she could safely remove the branch from the leg. 

“Millie, you get on that side,” Monica said, pointing to the other side of Sylvia Sapping. “Joseph, you get this side.”

The two of them got into position, each taking a part of Sylvia’s leg. “Lift on three,” Monica said. “One, two, three!”

They both pulled upward at once, lifting the leg and the stick in it off the ground. Monica saw that the stick didn’t actually go all the way through, just very very deep into the flesh. That was a relief. Monica slowly slid the stick out of Sylvia’s leg, then said, “Alright, every lower her leg to the ground. Gently.” 

Luckily, they listened to her. Joseph stood up and threw the offending stick into the tall grass at the side of the road.

“Bad stick. Bad.”

Millie had turned back to Sylvia. “Will she be okay, mama?”

Monica shrugged. “Sadly, I’m not sure yet. She may live, but I need to check her over and assess the damage before I tell you anything for sure. Why don’t you kids go home and get the real doctor? Take Caro with you.” She shouted to Duke Mephisto. “Is that quite alright with you?


Millie and Joseph went over to where Caro was twirling around in the grass clearing and singing nonsense words to her doll.

“Hey, Caro, we’re leaving now,” Millie said.

“Where is Mama?” Caro asked.

“Mama’s going to stay here to help the people you found,” said Joseph.

“Oh.” Caro paused. “I want to stay with Mama, thank you.”

Millie shook her head. “Come on, Caro, we need to go.”

“I want to stay with Mama,” Caro repeated.

“No, Caro, we need to go.”

“Yeah,” Joseph said. “It’ll be fun.” He grabbed her hand and tried to lead her off, but she yanked her hands away.

“I want. To stay. Here.” She smiled at him, then turned around and went back to playing with her doll. Monica applied antiseptic to Sylvia’s wounds.

Joseph jumped back, eyes wide. “Oh dear.”

“Caro, put your shoes back on,” Millie said, pointing to Caro’s abandoned pink boots, lying over in the shade of the silver birch tree. “We have to walk back.”

“No, I want to stay with Mama!”

Millie sighed, then went over and picked up Caro, throwing the girl over her shoulder like a sack of potatoes. 

“NO! Mama! Mama!”

Monica looked up. “Oh- Millie, would you put her down?”

Millie ignored her. “Get her shoes, will you, Joseph?” 

Joseph ran and grabbed Caro’s shoes. 

“I want to stay with Mama!” Caro shouted.

Millie,” Monica said sharply. “Put her down.”

Millie did not listen. Caro whacked and punched her sister’s back, to no avail. Apparently seeing that punching was futile, Caro went on to kicking, and eventually landed a solid kick in Millie’s stomach. She dropped her with an oof, and Caro ran over to where Monica was.

And then, the worst possible thing happened.

One of Caros’ obsessions was milk. She would often drink nothing but milk, and didn’t really care where it came from. So, when Monica poured milk from a flask into a bowl so that she could soak the iron instruments she was about to use on the faerie Sylvia in it, Caro suddenly forgot all about wanting Mama.

She crawled over to Monica, and looked up at her with large, innocent eyes. 

“That’s milk.”

Monica looked at her and smiled. “Not right now, sweetheart. I’m using this to help the girl here.”

“Hmph. Please, Mama?”

“Maybe later. You drank nearly an entire cow at breakfast.”

  So, Caro walked up to Millie.

“Can you ask Mama for some milk?”

Millie raised an eyebrow. “What did Mama say?”

“Mmm… Go ask her for milk?”



Lilia shook her head. 


“Hey, Caaarrrooo! I have miiiilk,” Joseph said, sloshing around what was obviously water inside a canteen.


Joseph was laughing as Caro went running after him, trying to get the ‘milk.’ He ran off down the road, sisters in hot pursuit.

Hopefully, they would find their way home, and hopefully, Millie would remember to get the real doctor. Monica focused back on Sylvia.

“Is there anything more you can do for her?” Duke Mephisto asked.

“I don’t think so, no. Not here. We have to wait for her to wake up.”

“I found another girl back along the road, but I think she’s dead.”

Monica followed him back to where a young woman with short, choppy blonde hair lay. Her throat and chest were badly scratched by some unknown blade, but she was still breathing. Barely. 

“What should we do?” Duke Mephisto asked.

Monica felt for a pulse and found the girl cold and clammy. Her pulse was slow and sluggish, and her breathing was slow and shallow. “Severe blood loss.”

“What do we do?”

“Stop the bleeding.”

“Right, I probably should have figured that out.”

Monica grinned. “Here, take some of the bandages from the bag. Do you know how to dress a wound?”

“Not really.”

“We need water.”

Duke Mephisto got up for a moment and returned with a heavy iron bucket full of water. “I have no idea what this was doing by the side of the road, but here it is.”

“I’d like to bless whoever put it there.” Monica dipped a rag in the water and showed Duke Mephisto how to wash a wound, add antiseptic, and place a gauze dressing over it.

“Seems simple enough,” Duke Mephisto said. “I can already bandage a wound.” 

“Good. There’s bandages in the medical bag. You work on her arms. I’ll do her throat and chest.”

They worked on the girl for a long time before she was all bandaged up, and the bleeding had stopped for the most part. When they were done, Monica went to attend to a young man with a broken collarbone, a young woman covered in dirt and scratches and bruises, a boy with a broken leg, and lastly, her relative Ishmael Carter, Monty. He had a broken shoulder, and the other young man he was laying next to had a head injury that would probably result in a concussion.All of the victims of the crash were covered in long, shallow scratches that seemed like they had been inflicted by an animal’s claws. What could have done this to them? Was it a demon, or a faerie, or a werewolf, or something else entirely? The thought of something else on an island that she had long ago claimed as under her protection made Monica angry. This was her home, and she would protect it.


Sorry I forgot to update yesterday! Something came up and I unfortunately didn’t have time.

Fortunately, I had time to update today, and I have several edited versions of the first few chapters (which are… rough, to say the least) that will be released as part of the extra content released during November and December.

Richard – 2.13.7

Content warning: Violence, including a traumatic head injury

Richard heard the howls first. He was just about to get his cane out from under the seat and go out to see what was taking the others so long, when a noise like the scream of a soul suffering in Hell split the air, and made the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. It also made him jump out of his skin and fall off the carriage seat to the ground, where he landed on his head. 

He blacked out for a split second, and when he opened his eyes Alice, extremely blurred, was standing over him. 

“I thought you had died,” Alice said.

“Sorry,” said Richard.

“Please don’t apologize.”


“What did I just-”

Sylvia came flying out of the wood, and slammed into Alice.

“What the f-”

“Shut up,” Sylvia hissed. “Get down.”

“What are we waiting for?” Richard asked. He was still seeing spots, and his voice sounded slurred and hollow.

Sylvia gave him an odd look. “You alright?”

He smiled deliriously at her for a few moments before he realized she had asked him a question. “Yeash, I’m just. Hit my ‘ead.” His tongue felt thick in his mouth and his ears rang. He felt like he was in a fog, with only the dull ache in his head to remind him that, oh, right, he had a human body. “What are we waiting for?”

“We got in trouble in the woods. The others are coming.”

“Oh.” The trees were blurry blobs of green and brown, even with his glasses on. Richard, still smiling, took off his glasses to see if that would help. It didn’t, and he still didn’t know what they were doing. “What are we waiting for?”

“I told you, we’re waiting for the others. You know, Johann and Deirdre and Monty and possibly Wilhelm?” Sylvia looked shifty, like there was something she didn’t want to say.


Johann suddenly appeared. “Richard, your hair has blood in it. Did something happen?”

Richard watched mesmerized as the stars swayed back and forth.


“I’m. Hit my head.”

“Richard, I think you have a concussion.”

Richard was incredibly dizzy. He groaned and put his head in his hands. What was all this sticky stuff coming off his head? He flicked his hands to get it off. He went to stand. Johann tried to help him up, but Richard threw him off and stood up on his own. He stumbled several feet, before almost falling on his face again.

“Richard, how do you feel?” Johann asked.

Richard furrowed his brow. How did he feel?

“Richard, I think you have a concussion.”

“Stup using. My name.”

“Richard, we have to get you home.”

Someone with a tricorne hat did a flying leap out of the bushes and landed on his back next to the girl with long brown hair whose name Richard couldn’t recall. 

“Ow,” said the person with the hat. 

Johann pulled him up. “Monty, you have to help me get Richard-”

Someone else, a young man with blonde hair, was next to Johann. “I can help you, Dr. Faust.”

“Right. Wait, Wilhelm?” Johann recoiled in shock.

“I ran away from the monster.”

“I thought you-”

“I crawled through the grass. I was almost struck by lightning!”

“We saw that,” said the long haired girl. “Only, it looked like you were struck.”

“I almost was!”

Richard struggled to count everyone there. He had a vague idea of how many people there were supposed to be, and he was pretty sure there was someone missing. 

“Deirdre,” he said. 

“She’s… um…” Sylvia wrung her hands. “She’s coming, Richard.”

Everyone went quiet. Monty whispered something to Alice, who looked immediately concerned. “Erm… Richard? Deirdre’s-”

“Don’t tell him the truth, he isn’t in his right mind,” said Sylvia.

“Deirdre’s leading the faerie in the woods away from us,” Johann said. “She volunteered.”

Richard tried to stand up again to go get Deirdre. She was in danger!

“Sit down, Richard,” said Johann. “Please.”

Suddenly, Deirdre was there, breathing hard, with flushed red cheeks, skin scraped by a thousand thorns, and wild eyes. 

Johann threw his arms around her, but he was only able to do that for a few seconds before the girl with the long hair shoved him aside and did the same. 

“We have to go,” Deirdre said, speaking between heavy breaths. “Go now!”

The man with the tricorn hat was surprisingly strong – he hefted Richard into the back of the wagon, where he was nestled among a few burlap sacks that were back there for some reason. Johann started the horses going, and the girl with the cap and short blonde hair that made her look like a boy perched on the back with a scythe to strike at something that might have been following them. 

The wagon took off, with Sylvia running after it. She did a flying leap and landed in a roll in the wagon bed, where she collapsed on her back.  

“How did you do that?” Deirdre asked.

“I used to be a circus performer, believe it or not.”

“What? When?”

“In the 1790s.”

“Are you telling me that you spent the French Revolution in the circus?”

“Yeah, basically. I met George Washington there.”


“George Washington, Deirdre.”


“The general of the continental army during the American Revolution?”

“The American what?”

The girl with long hair stared at her indecorously. “Have you been living under a rock?”

“Maybe. I was actually trapped in my grave from 1345 until 1850.”

“Jesus Christ. Why didn’t you tell me?”

“The Man in Red gave me an overview of what went on. I thought it was good enough. He didn’t tell me that America had a revolution, though. Pray tell, who did they revolt against?”

“Oh my God, Deirdre.”

The wagon jolted, and Johann screamed. A thing with black skin and long claws darted out of the forest, leaping onto the side of the wagon. It jolted again as the thing rocked it from side to side, screeching the whole time. In an instant, Johann was screaming, Sylvia was screaming, Monty was screaming, Deirdre was perfectly calm, Wilhelm was screaming, and Richard was screaming because he was busy hallucinating a horde of pink rats that his rational mind, which was being held captive by the other side of his mind, told him weren’t really there.

Alice stood up and jabbed at the monster with a scythe. It knocked one of its hands off, but didn’t do much otherwise, especially because the monster immediately launched itself over the side and into Alice. She went flying off and landed on the side of the road. 

The monster was back an instant later, crawling out from under the cart and jumping up on Johann’s lap. He screamed again, and dropped the reins. Sylvia dove to the side and grabbed them, but Richard’s head lolled back, and that distracted Deirdre, who went to pull his head back up by dangling her arms over the side, which hit Sylvia and made her overbalance. She fell backwards off the wagon, leaving the reins unattended, just as they were going around the curve, which completed the whole fiasco by flipping wagon, horses, and all off the road and into the ditch that ran alongside it. 

Richard must have hit his head again, or something like that, because the last thing he heard before he blacked out again was Deirdre screaming at someone passing by. “Go and get your mother! Hurry! Go!”


Apologies for the short chapter today! I am, however, aiming to get two new (and much better) versions of the header drawings up by 10 pm today, which might hopefully help make up for this chapter being much shorter.

Thank you for reading!

Deirdre – 2.12.6

Deirdre was full of apprehensive energy that kept her going through the woods ever after she’d tripped repeatedly, torn her clothing, and had to scramble through so much foliage that she ached all over. They’d gone on a little walk through these woods yesterday, but they hadn’t gone too far, certainly not to the old mill, or the dry river that she’d done a header into.

“It’s much harder to navigate in the dark,” Johann said as he helped her up. “Are you quite alright?”

“I think so.” Her hands were scratched up, but she wiped them on her pants and trusted that the blood wouldn’t show through the dark fabric.

Johann went to check Monty, who was lying on his back in the dirt. Deirdre clambered back up to ground level and stood to look at the old mill. It was decrepit and rotting, and it felt like something that had been thrown aside casually by its owner when they got their hands on a shiny new one. Deirdre squeezed through the broken entrance, and found that there was still quite a lot of room in there. The ceiling, which formed the floor of the second story, looked like it was about to collapse any second, but Deirdre didn’t feel like she was in any danger. In fact, she felt a strange calm. Something half-buried in debris glinted in the slight moonlight, and attracted her eye. She went up to it and picked it up. It was a thick, heavy knife that might have been used for sawing rope or thick parts of plants. Deirdre tossed it from hand to hand and ran her finger along the blade. It was very dull, but she thought she could still do some damage from the sheer weight of the thing, or maybe use it to dig, or as a hammer. 

“Deirdre?” Johann called from outside. “Where are you?”

She slid the knife into her belt and squeezed back through the door. Sylvia and Wilhelm had the sacks, and they were making Monty drag the blades for cutting the grass. Johann clicked his fingers for everyone to follow him, so they did.

The trees began to thin, and soon ended altogether. They were in an open field of long grass, maybe an acre wide, that looked like a rippling sea in the moonlight. There was a church in the middle of the clearing, and it was silhouetted against the sky like something off a postcard. 

“It’s abandoned,” Johann said.

“Shame,” said Sylvia. “I would have loved to absolutely almost die in the woods every Sunday on my way to service.”

“Monty, where are the blades?” Johann asked.

Monty jumped back and threw a scythe at him in the same way he would hurl a harpoon. Johann leapt out of the way, and the scythe sailed through the air to land in the grass, which obscured it completely.

“Nice job, idiot,” Sylvia said.

Monty shrugged and held out another scythe for her to take.

Deirdre took a different scythe and started poking through the grass, looking for the missing one. Johann was busy verbally abusing Wilhelm, trying to teach him how to cut grass and shove it in one of their sacks. Deirdre swept her scythe to the side in front of her, moving it from one side to the other in one fluid motion. It did the trick, cutting the grass low enough that it looked convincingly like some kind of product.

Johann gave up on trying to teach Wilhelm to cut grass, and instructed him that he was to join Monty in getting the grass into the sacks. He then moved on to micromanaging that task. Deirdre lent half an ear to what he was saying, focusing mostly on her own work, and the satisfaction of cutting the grass so smoothly and so evenly. 

The wind rustled the trees, and blew Deirdre’s hair into her face. She took a moment to brush it away, but it had tangled in the chain her crucifix was on, so she had to take an even longer moment to untangle that. 

“Having some trouble?” Johann asked.

“No,” said Deirdre.

“Alright.” Johann reached down into the grass and came up with the missing scythe. “Look at that. Monty, do you want to help us with the blades now?”

Something about that set off alarm bells in Deirdre’s mind. Johann grinned and held the scythe out to Monty, not putting much pressure on his grip on the handle, acting like it was the most simple and natural thing in the world. He was just going to give Monty the scythe. There was nothing wrong with that. Still, she couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong

She turned away from the exchange. It wasn’t her business what they did. Deirdre was close to the tree line now, so she turned around to go back to the field. As she did, she bonked into something with her head. Deirdre looked up, and an entire noose fell off the tree onto the ground in front of her.

“Hey, Monty?”

He looked up from what he was doing. “Yeah?”

“Did they hang witches in these woods?”

“Yeah. Why?”

The words stuck in Deirdre’s throat. “B- because-”

Johann scoffed. “As if witches really exist.”

“What is wrong with you?” Sylvia asked. “You’re still in denial that Heaven and Hell exist, even though you’ve seen them with your own two eyes.”

Johann shook his head. “I have seen a man who claims to be a demon, and I have seen the place beyond while under the influence of drugs. Neither of those offer conclusive proof on-”

A bloodcurdling howl split the air. Immediately, Deirdre’s instincts kicked in, and she ran for the holy ground of the church. She didn’t know if it would help, and she didn’t know what the danger she was running from was, but there was a foggy memory in the back of her mind that told her that holy ground would help.

Sylvia grabbed the back of Deirdre’s shirt so hard that it jerked her back and almost choked her. “The church isn’t going to help. C’mere, help me with this.” Sylvia bent down and picked up a stick. “Here, put this in your pocket.”

Deirdre shoved the stick in her pocket and continued her run for the church. Something burst out from the woods behind her, and gave an unsettlingly humanlike scream. Deirdre turned around, and saw a woman whose neck hung at a bad angle levitating at the edge of the wood. That was the witch, wasn’t it?

“That’s one ugly witch,” Monty, who had crawled on his stomach through the grass, said. 

“Oh, that’s not a witch,” Sylvia said. “Most witches are innocent women mistaken for what they are. Trust me, if they really had satanic powers, or the kind of faerie powers most witches have, they would not be able to be hanged.”

“What the hell is that thing, then?” Monty asked.

“An unseelie faerie.”


“Someone insulted her, I guess.”

Rot and dead grass spread from the faerie’s feet. Sylvia handed Monty a stick. Johann, Alice, and Wilhelm were missing. 

“Where are the others?” Deirdre asked. She slowly lowered herself to the ground, trying to calm down. 

“I don’t know,” said Sylvia.

“They’re just gonna get magically kidnapped, right?” Monty asked.

“That’s the seelie court. Unseelie faeries kill people.”


Someone tried to run away across the field. The faerie levitated over to her, and with a bolt of lightning, the unfortunate person was gone.

Deirdre turned around and saw that Johann had somehow snuck into the church. That must have been Wilhelm, then. 

Monty was crawling on his stomach like a snake through the undergrowth. Sylvia was running awkwardly in a crouched position, so that her head was beneath the grass. Deirdre went down to her hands and knees, which was uncomfortable and felt cowardly but did the trick.

The three of them managed to sneak in through the entrance to the church and join Johann behind the door. 

Sylvia smacked Johann in the face.

“Hey!” Deirdre said.

“It’s his fault,” Sylvia said.

“How do you know?”

“I can tell. Who else has been out far enough into the woods to annoy a faerie? What did you do? Did you drop hawthorn on a sacred spot?”

“Um… yes, I think I did.”

Sylvia smacked him again. 

“This is no time for fighting,” Deirdre said.

“Au contraire! Let’s beat the snot out of each other!” Monty snapped a stick over his knee and brandished the broken end like a knife.

Sylvia raised an eyebrow, apparently unimpressed.

Deirdre snatched the stick out of his hands. “We have to get out of here. Is there any way to barter with this thing?”

“Yes, let it hunt us for sport,” said Sylvia.

“That’s useful,” said Johann.

“What if we let it get its hooks in one of us, then that person led it on a wild goose chase away from all the others?” Monty asked. “Then that person could take an alternative route to safety. That’s what the whales did.”

“That’s a fine idea,” said Sylvia, “except for the fact that one of us has the suicidal task of leading the faerie away from the others.”

No one volunteered. Deirdre hesitated for a moment, then raised her hand. “I’m good at running and leading danger away from people that I care about.”

“You don’t have to,” Johann said. “Really, you don’t.”

“But I want to.” Deirdre took a deep breath. “I really do.”

Johann gave her a hug. “Please be careful.”

“Don’t worry.” She’d run from monsters in the forest a lot during her childhood. This was something she was prepared for.

The four of them crawled back out into the field. Deirdre got a good look at the faerie for the first time, and saw that she was female, but horribly ugly, with skin like ebony, empty eye sockets, long, sharp teeth, and claws as long as Deirdre’s arm. If it caught her, she would be dead.

“We’ll do it now,” Monty said.

“Good luck, Deirdre,” said Sylvia.

All four of them stood up at once. The faerie’s head turned around three hundred and sixty degrees to stare at them.

“Go!” Sylvia shouted.

Deirdre took off running.

Richard – 2.11.6

Richard sat on the front porch of Monty’s house, enjoying the feeling of the cold night air on his face. The farm had a certain smell about it, an old, musty smell that he liked more than he would have thought. Just ahead of him, on the road up to the farm, Johann and Wilhelm were fixing a wheel on the cart they were going to use to steal corpses. There was a lot of yelling and swearing in German, but it looked like they might have been making progress. Richard had tried to help them, but Johann insisted that they didn’t need any help. It made Richard feel worse with every passing minute.

However, he also had Monty leaning against his side, which he liked a great deal, and Deirdre, Sylvia, and Alice were having fun poking around the dilapidated stables to one side of the house.

Monty was quiet and slow in his movements tonight, for no discernible reason. Richard didn’t want to bring him because of that, but Johann insisted that he should come.

“The stars,” Monty said.

“They are beautiful tonight,” said Richard. 

Monty pulled something out of his pocket and placed it in Richard’s hand. He looked down and saw with a jolt that it was the strange doll who he’d conducted a conversation with. 

“I talked to this doll,” Richard said.

Monty smiled faintly. “Me too.”

“I don’t like what it has to say very much.”

“Me neither.” 

Johann approached and roughly pulled Monty to his feet. “Get in the damn wagon.”

Richard whistled to the girls, which sent them running to get in the wagon. He climbed up to the seat, beside Johann, and pulled the map of Nantucket out of his pocket. “We have to go down the road and around here to the graveyard. We’ll need to disguise ourselves as some more legitimate operation.”

Sylvia’s head popped up from the bed of the wagon. “We have all these old empty sacks in the stable. Seems a shame they should go to waste. Why don’t we fill ‘em with dead grass so they look like some kind of grain or something, and we can pour out half and then hide the bodies in with the grass? These are really big sacks I’m talking about here.”

Johann shrugged and looked to Richard. Apparently, he was by default in charge of this mission. 

“That’s a smart idea,” Richard said. “Wilhelm, go help Sylvia with getting those sacks. Alice, get some blades from the shed. Johann, look at the map and see where we can get dry grass. Monty, make sure we have enough shovels for everyone.”

Deirdre raised her hand. “I’m going to go inside and get oil and matches.”

That was slightly disturbing, considering they were going to be working with dry grass, but she might have wanted it for some reason other than setting the grass on fire. Richard waved his hand to signal that everyone should go off to do their separate tasks. 

Johann wasn’t looking at the map. “Richard?”


“Through the woods there’s a huge clearing with a lot of long grass in it. According to this map, if we went there and continued through the woods we’d come out onto a graveyard for poor quaker farmers around this end of the island.”

Sylvia and Wilhelm returned with a wheelbarrow full of empty burlap sacks, which they dumped into the bed of the wagon. Sylvia jumped up on them and leaned back to lounge back on the pile. 

Richard had a feeling he knew what Johann was getting at. “Sylvia, are you completely comfortable with leading a group through the woods?” 

“I’m sorry? No.”

“Wilhelm, are you completely comfortable with leading a group through the woods?” 

Wilhelm shrugged. “I don’t know these woods.”

“Monty, are you-”

“For God’s sake, I’ll do it,” Johann said. 

Alice threw a selection of blades onto the wagon’s back and crouched on them so that no one would lie on top of them and cut themselves. Deirdre returned and held her cask of oil in her lap. 

“What are we doing?” Sylvia asked.

“Here’s the new plan,” said Richard. “I’m going to take Alice on this wagon to the target graveyard here.” He pointed to the place on the map. “Everyone else will follow Johann through the woods to a clearing full of long grass that you’re going to cut and fill these sacks with. You’ll then continue through the woods to the graveyard, where you’ll meet me. We’ll dig up the bodies there and hide them in the sacks of grass. Does everyone understand?”

“Isn’t the idea that the sacks will help to disguise us before and after?” Deirdre asked.

Oh, right. Richard took a moment to reconsider before speaking. He pointed to a new spot on the map. “Okay, we’ll meet you here, instead. That’s near enough to the clearing, and near enough to the graveyard. Is that better?”

Johann looked at what he was pointing to. “That’s sort of close to the clearing. Maybe to the right of the church.”


“There’s an old church in the clearing.”

Richard shivered. The concept of old churches lost to the woods scared him. “Alright, that’s where we’ll meet you.”

“Do I have to go?” Monty asked.

“You know this island the best,” said Richard. “You’re the guide.”

Monty groaned and rolled off the wagon, somehow landing on his feet before he hit the ground. Johann, Sylvia, Deirdre, and Wilhelm followed him as he walked back towards the woods. Richard watched them until they were all but out of sight, then he signaled to Alice that she should climb up on the seat. “Listen, Alice. You’re my maiden daughter who’s engaged to your dear sweetheart Wilhelm, and we’re going to meet him across the island.”

Alice pulled a bonnet out of her pocket and tied it around her neck. Richard put a top hat on his head and cracked the reins of the wagon. They had only a single horse, a big black stallion named Thistle, but he pulled the wagon well enough. 

The plan went off without a hitch until they had to take a detour through town past the local Catholic church, which the deacon was loitering outside of. He hailed their carriage to stop, which Richard reluctantly did. 

“Where are you going?” The man asked.

Richard opened his mouth to talk, but Alice cut him off. “We’re going to meet my dear sweetheart Wilhelm. He’s a right brave young man, and devout, too. I love him! Have you met him, good deacon?”

The deacon’s brow furrowed. “Not that I know of. What does he look like?”

“He goes to the broken church across the way, in the woods. Oh, love! I cannot wait for a moment of apprehension!”

Richard pushed her away, acting annoyed. His fake American accent was less good than hers. “Sir, we’re going to meet the young man she’s t’marry. Excuse us, if y’will.”

“Oh- Yes, sorry. Best of luck to you.”

Richard and Alice continued on their way, until they were stopped again by an old man.

“In my youth,” the old man said, “A pair of able-bodied young men like you would be out on the sea, catching whales for the glory of Nantucket, not hiding on a wagon dressed as a woman.”

“I’m a girl,” Alice said.

“Oh,” the old man said. “Well, you’re still nothing compared to people in my youth. A strong young man like your friend-”

“I use a cane,” said Richard. “I’m disabled.”

“They’d still find plenty’a use fer you on a whale ship. They don’t care if you got noodles fer legs, you go on that ship you’re put to work. I knew a young man once… Ishmael, he was called. That boy had some problems like you, but he didn’t let that stop him. He was a magnificent young man… we were together, fer a time. Y’know what I mean. Then he died on a whaleship. The noblest way to die!”

Richard nodded along with his story, wanting both to be polite and to get the story over with as soon as possible. “Seems correct.”

“The noblest way! No one has any respect for whaling any more, but what do they know? Anyway, where are you two boys headed?”

“I’m still a girl,” said Alice.

“Where is this boy and this girl headed?”

“To the little quaker graveyard on the other side of the island,” said Richard. “Not the main one. The one for farmers.”

“Good luck, boy and girl.”

Richard tipped his hat to the old man, and cracked the reins to get the cart going again. It wasn’t long before they were stopped a third time by a small girl with bouncy blonde curls who was carrying a heavy iron bucket along the road. 

“I got this water for my mama back in town,” the girl said. She had a strange, cruel smile. “Can I ride with you?”

“We aren’t going that way,” said Richard.


“We aren’t going towards town.”

“But could you turn around?”

“We have to meet someone.”

“Would you buy this water, then?” The girl asked.

“Why would I do that?”

“Because I won’t go away until you do.”

Richard didn’t have any American money, but he threw her a few pence as payment for the heavy bucket of water. This seemed satisfactory, because she put the coins in her pocket and bounced away. 

Alice put the bucket of water down by the side of the road, and they continued on their way.

When they got to the place beside the woods, they positioned  their wagon slightly out of sight so that they would be able to surreptitiously wait for the others. However, after half an hour of waiting, the others still hadn’t shown up. Richard began to feel uneasy. Where were they? 

“Is there some kind of problem, I wonder?” Alice asked.

Richard shook his head. “I don’t know. Nothing to do but wait, I guess.”

Monica – 2.10.2

Monica was eating breakfast with Howard and Angelica when a servant ran up to her with a calling card. 

Lady Clarissa Janson

Woman of the gentry and unicorn of the Seelie court

Monica handed the card back to the servant. “See her in. I’ll meet her in the front parlor.”

“Janson?” Howard asked. “I know that name.”

“He’s an important duke from England,” said Angelica.

He was also the demon Mephastophilis, which put Monica on edge. However, Clarissa Janson claimed to be a faerie, and no faerie who was allowed to refer to themself as such would align themself with anyone who worshipped or honored any kind of superior force. That was sometimes the only way to tell faerie from werewolf: the werewolves honored the Things. The faeries honored nothing and held nothing sacred.

So, hopefully, Mrs Clarissa Janson wouldn’t be serving Satan now. Hopefully.

Monica went to the front parlor, a small room with two sofas facing each other and a fireplace on the back wall, and sat down on the sofa facing the window that looked out onto the street. Caro wandered in a few minutes later and sat down on the sofa next to her. She had her doll Catherine, and was busily sticking pins into its arms.

“Aren’t you hurting her?”  Monica said.

Caro shrugged. “Wanna see something funny, Mama?”


Catherine the doll had a hard head made of plaster and wood. Caro threw the doll across the room and laughed gleefully when its head thwocked on the hard wooden floor.

“Caro!” Monica said.


“That wasn’t very nice to poor Catherine.”

“She’s only a doll.”

“But you threw her across the room!”


“You wouldn’t like it if someone threw you across the room.”

“My head doesn’t make as funny a sound when it hits the floor.”

That was a relief to hear, at least. 

A servant opened the door. “Mrs Janson here to see you, ma’am.”

“Thank you, please let her in.”

“Do I have to leave, Mama?” Caro asked.

“No, you can stay, dear.”

The door opened again, and a young woman with platinum blonde hair came in. She was a handsome young woman, with a round face, button nose, and sparkling eyes. She wore a red dress in the latest fashion, which contrasted against her pale skin and hair.

“Mrs Carter,” Mrs Janson said. “Good morning to you, and to your… daughter?”

“Yes, Caro is my adopted daughter. Say good morning to Mrs Janson, Caro.”

“Good morning, Mrs Janson!”

Mrs Janson smiled. “Good morning, Caro. How are you today?”

“Very good! Do you want to see something funny?”


Monica knew exactly what she was going to do, but Mrs Janson presumably didn’t, which was probably why she had such a horrified look on her face when Caro threw her doll across the room again.

“You mustn’t be so cruel to your doll,” Mrs Janson said. “They have eyes and ears, you know. You should be careful or it might just take you away while you’re sleeping.”

What kind of a comment was that? ‘Be careful with your doll, little girl, or it might abduct you while you’re sleeping.’ Monica stood up and led Caro out of the room. “You go play with your siblings, alright? Go see what Charlotte is doing.”

Charlotte was her second youngest daughter, and Caro’s constant companion, especially during the summer months. Caro bounced off, and Monica went back into the room with Mrs Janson. “Sorry about that. Caro is a bit of a wild child.”

“Oh, no, it’s just alright. You’re Monica Carter, right?”

Monica sat down on the sofa, unsure why this Englishwoman would be so interested in who she was. “Yes, that’s my name.”

“Well, Mrs Carter, you see, I… erm…”

“If you’re about to say something related to the Seelie court, know that I, as an angel, am ready to believe you.”

Mrs Janson looked shocked, but relieved. “Oh. That’s good.”

“What did you want to tell me?”

“I was raised by King Oberon and Queen Titania on the border of the Unseelie court, but I am not their biological child.”


“No. In fact, I am told that I belong to this family.”

That was unsurprising, given the faeries had a history of stealing babies from their cradles. Monica went and got the family Bible, with the family tree in it. It took her a moment to find anything promising, but then she spotted a baby girl named Clarissa who had ‘died’ just after being born in 1814. Monica handed the book to Mrs Janson and pointed to the child. “I think that this might be you.”

“Yes, that looks right.” Mrs Janson craned her neck to get a better view. “Oberon said that my father is Percy Carter Sr.”

“That’s my grandfather,” said Monica. He was also possibly the father of her adopted daughter, but she didn’t say that.

“It’s nice to meet you. Are any of my brothers and sisters still alive?”

“Yes, there’s my uncle Joseph and his wife Josephine, and my aunt Emily, and her husband my uncle Robert, but he’s bedridden and likely won’t be with us much longer.”

“I want to meet Robert before he goes,” Mrs Janson said.

“You will.” Monica stood up and rang for a servant. “Why don’t you come with me and I’ll get a bed prepared for you and your husband to sleep in tonight? It’ll be a lot better than a hotel.”

“I would like that.”

Monica led her upstairs. There was an empty bedroom with a double bed right by the staircase up to the third floor, which she didn’t have any plans for in the near future. It was a good sized room, with an adjoining closet and bathroom, that she figured Mr and Mrs Janson would find quite adequate for their needs.

“Thank you, Mrs Carter,” Mrs Janson said. 

“You’re very welcome, Mrs Janson.”

“Please… I know I’m older than you, but I still feel younger. Please call me Clara.”

She wasn’t older than her, since Monica was an angel who had existed since time itself was created, but it would have been rude to correct her there, so she didn’t. “Alright, Clara, I can call you whatever you want.”

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

“Would you and your husband like to dine with us tonight?”

“We would love to.”

Monica smiled at her. “Very good.” She took Clara’s hand and led her upstairs to the room where Addison lay abed. “Addi?”

He looked up from the whale book he was reading. “Mama?”

“This is Mrs Janson. Say hello to Mrs Janson, Addison.”

Addison smiled politely. “Hullo, Mrs Janson.”

“Hullo, Addison,” Clara said. She shook Addison’s hand. “What’s that you’re reading, there?”

“It’s a book about cetology.”

“Do you like cetology?”

“Yeah, I do.”

“What’s your favorite whale?”

“The right whale. It has all the right things.”

“That’s a good choice.”

“Thank you, Mrs Janson.”

 Monica felt Addison’s head to check for a fever. Luckily, he seemed like he was just fine. She kissed his forehead and led Clara down to James and Joseph’s room. 

Joseph was fiddling with something small and wooden rather than doing his schoolwork. Monica gently took the thing out of his hands and put it in her pocket. “Joseph, darling, you need to focus.”

He was obviously angry. “I’m sorry!”


He glared at her and pointed to the door. “Close it!”

“Say hullo to Mrs Janson first, Joseph.”

“Hullo, Mrs Janson.”

Monica closed the door and went downstairs. “There’s also James and Mildred, my eldest, and Charlotte, Joseph’s twin sister. They’ll be there at dinner tonight.”

“That’s nice to hear. I’m looking forward to meeting the rest of your family.”

Monica smiled. “I’m glad to hear it. I was going to go take a little nap. Do you mind if I do that?”

“Of course not.”

Monica left Clara with Angelica, and went upstairs to her bedroom. She slipped out of her dress and undid her hair, then climbed into bed and shut her eyes.

She wasn’t physically in her home in Heaven, but she could have information from there given to her when she dreamed. She saw an ancient library with a well that contained something terrible, watched over by a figure in a red monk’s outfit who had served as sentinel for ages beyond counting. He was reading when she arrived, but he was quick to talk.

“I would assume you know what the antichrist is?” the Man in Red asked.

“Yes, I know what that is.” 

“And you know what the Things Without Faces are?”


The Man in Red bookmarked what he was reading and closed the book. “Gods will have their prophets.”

“They are not gods.”

The Man in Red shrugged. “They might be.”

“They aren’t.”

“They have a prophet all the same.”

“Who is it?”

“Someone visited by one of them regularly.”

“That’s too vague.”

“Someone baptized by death in liquid. Seawater, maybe, or blood.”

“Does the person know?”

“They might. They might be a person who does and says odd things because they know. They might be someone who represses memories of their death in liquid. They might not have returned yet.” The Man in Red lit a candle. “They might be dissatisfied with their lot in life, or they may have a reason to live. In any case, they’ll be ready for change, and even if they don’t know it, they’re doing that by heralding the Things in.”

“It’s not Doctor Faust, is it?” Monica knew about that. Everyone who was anyone knew about that, and the ripples it had created. 

“It’s not. He’s still on his first life.”

“You’d love to see your kin back,” Monica said.

“Alas, I admit it.”

“I’ll bet you created the prophet yourself.”


Monica stood up. “You’re giving your enemy an advantage.”

The Man in Red laughed in a low voice. “Ah, angel. Don’t count your eggs before they hatch.”

Johann – 2.9.6

Johann woke up at an unholy hour of the morning the day after arriving in Nantucket, because someone was banging hard on his front door. He sat up in bed and stormed to the window, which faced the front of the house and looked down on the porch. There was someone in obnoxiously bright clothing sanding outside the front door, holding something in their hand and knocking violently on the door.

Johann left the room as quietly as he could, so as not to wake Deirdre. He threw open the door to the master bedroom and found Monty lying in bed smoking opium.

“It’s five in the hecking morning,” Monty said.

“What does ‘hecking’ mean?”

“I’m too lazy to curse for real.”

“There’s some clown outside.”

“Actually, you’re looking at the only clown in the house.”

“Yes, exactly. The second clown is out of the house.”

“I’m not moving. My joints feel like they’re about to explode.”

Johann glared at him. Monty didn’t move. After a few moments of this, Johann realized Monty wasn’t going to get the message, so he threw his hands up and went downstairs to see who was at the front door.

It was a man dressed in the obnoxiously bright multicolored clothing of a clown, with pale skin darkened by the sun and curly chestnut hair that didn’t quite touch his shoulders. He was of average height, and he had a wide, pearly white smile. 

Johann was not pleased to see a random clown showing up outside his house this early in the morning. “What do you want?”

The clown whipped a letter out from his pocket. “A letter for you, sir!” He spoke in German.

The letter was from his mother. Johann remembered how he had sent her a letter asking after the health of his brothers after having his first drug-induced hallucination beyond the void, and suddenly everything made sense. He still wasn’t sure why she had sent a clown to deliver it, but that was just a detail. “Thank you, sir.”

The clown bowed. “By the by, do you happen to know where Doctor Johann Faust lives?”

“I am him.”

“Oh! Doctor Faust, I have been sent by your family as a recent graduate of university to assist you in your studies. I will do whatever you say!”

A naive, excitable assistant was actually the last thing Johann needed at the moment, but his other options for a helper were slim, consisting of a secretive giant Frenchman, an extremely strange young woman, an opium addict, a painter, a resurrectionist, and Deirdre, who he did not want to drag into this mess. “What’s your name, then?”

“My name is Wilhelm Redd.”

“And what can you do, Mr Redd?”

“I have a university degree in medicine. I’m really very good at medicine. Oh, and I can play the pipe!”

“Which university did you graduate from?”


Johann rolled his eyes. “You’ve forgotten, have you?”

“It really was quite a while ago.”

“You said it was recent.”

“Oh, yeah.”

Johann rolled his eyes again. At least Wilhelm Redd seemed idiotic enough that he would do what he was told. “Come in, then. Take your muddy shoes off, please.”

Wilhelm took off his shoes and placed them by the door. “I am excited to work with you, Doctor Faust.”

“Good. I’ll need you to provide some kind of credentials, but otherwise-”

He was cut off by a scream from the kitchen. Sylvia had jumped up on the counter and was pointing a butcher knife at them. “Demon! Demon! Creature crawled from the depths of Hell! THERE’S A DAMN CLOWN IN THE HOUSE!”

Monty vaulted down the stairs. “Where is it?”

Fortunately, Jean was also there to stop him in his tracks and wrench the knife from Sylvia’s hands. “It’s only a clown.”

“Actually, this is Wilhelm Redd, a recent graduate from a medical school, the name of which he’s forgotten,” Johann said. “Everyone say hello.”

Monty shook Wilhelm’s hand violently. “Good morning sir, good morning! My name is Ishmael Samuel Carter, but only people I’m in love with can call me that. I’m Monty.”

Sylvia was next to smack Wilhelm on the back in greeting. “Good morning, I’m Sylvia. Where are you from, William?”

“It’s Wilhelm. I’m from around Hamelin, if you know where that is.”

“Don’t know, don’t really care.” Sylvia drank something out of a mug and gestured to Monty. “Get the man something to drink!”

Johann grabbed Wilhelm’s shoulder. “Actually, I think we’re going to go upstairs and talk about some things. Where’s Deirdre?”

Sylvia shrugged. “Still asleep.”

“Hey, Johann, aren’t I your assistant?” Monty asked.

“You’re not trustworthy enough,” said Johann.

“Ugh.” Monty tried to take an entire egg out of the cupboard and put it in the oven, but he dropped it halfway there. “Damn. I hate this.”

Johann dragged Wilhelm upstairs and showed him to the office, where he’d set up a small lab. Johann handed him a stack of newspaper clippings. “Fresh bodies.”

Wilhelm’s eyes were as large as quarters. “Do you need them?”

“Yes. Two of the people here, Richard and Alice, deal in them. I’m taking them, and you, and Monty to the Quaker graveyard tonight to find a body for our experiments.”

“Stealing a body?”

“Yes, Wilhelm, that’s what we’re doing.” Johann threw him a shovel. “Go out into one of the fields and practice digging as fast as you can. You need to be able to get that body out of the ground in less than six minutes, understand?”

Wilhelm grinned and nodded, then ran off with his shovel. Johann sat down at his desk and rubbed his temple. He was exhausted. What would be the problem with taking a few minutes of rest? Nothing, right? Johann leaned back in the chair and closed his eyes. He was asleep in seconds.

A man watched vast armies from a platform of stone. A huge three headed red dragon stood by his side, roaring for blood. The same man was sitting on a throne, a cruel glint in his eyes. His head dissolved and was replaced  by a single all seeing eye, surrounded by writhing pale tentacles. There was an executioner’s platform. The sword fell, and the head of a dark-haired young woman was held above a roaring crowd. The eye-headed man lifted his hands to the sky and tore it open. He turned and looked right at Johann. When he spoke, his voice was the voice of the legion. 

Fifteen in the first hour.

Better than seeing eleven.

Eleven will burn

But hands will learn to ruin.

Across the country and at the sea

They are missing.

Eleven get angry with Him

However, eleven managed the poems themselves.

Eleven are stronger.

When you find something missing

Put the blood in the fire

Only nothing

The war destroyed the whole earth

The future is now in the hands of eleven.

There were eleven in the last hour

Eleven will come

Johann woke up in a cold sweat. Dammit! He was sick of hearing weird, ridiculous poems in his dreams. He groaned and turned his aching neck to the small window. It was getting dark outside. Had he slept the entire day away?

He checked his watch and saw that it was five in the afternoon. Apparently he had slept upright in his uncomfortable wooden chair for a full twelve hours straight.

Johann stood up and stretched, which made all of his bones crack. He walked downstairs and found that he was the only person left in the house. Johann pulled on his coat and boots and went out into the yard. “Deirdre? Sylvia? Richard? Jean? Monty? Alice? Wilhelm?”

There was no response, but there were some broken branches at the edge of the wood. Johann had his cane with him, which he used to smack aside the few plants that the previous group hadn’t broken. There wasn’t any kind of path, but he managed to find his way pretty well, at least until he missed a stone sticking out of the ground and went flying several feet. His cane spun out of his hand, but it wasn’t activated, so it was easy to pick it up again out of the foliage, cursing to himself. 

Johann leaned down to pick up the offending stone and hurl it off into the wood. Immediately, he realized that it was too big to dig out with just his fingers. It was covered in odd grooves. Was that writing? Johann switched his efforts to trying to clean off the stone. The writing was soon revealed to be yet another strange poem.

My mother, she knew things others didn’t know

Helped the village when plague brought them low

But they burned her body and threw her in a ditch

They yelled and cursed and called her a witch

And they buried her here

Under the witches’ tree.

Oh no. Had he just disturbed a witch’s grave?

“I’m so sorry,” Johann said. “Really, I am. So sorry.”

The grave gave no response.

He remembered seeing a blackberry bush some ways back. Johann stood up and raced back to collect a sprig of the plant. He wrapped it and a random yellow flower around a pair of sticks he’d found, one hawthorne and one elder, and ran back to the witch’s grave. 

Johann looked up at the tree. He saw ancient knotted rope among the branches, and a chill went down his spine. 

Suddenly, the stupidity of the situation hit him. He was trying to appease a gravestone. His friends easily could have put this out here just to scare him. Why was he actually believing it? He was too nervous, and overworked. He would have to take a rest tomorrow, or the next day, or whenever he’d finished with the body he was going to get tonight. Johann dropped the bundle of sticks and flowers on the ground, picked up his cane, and continued on his way.

There was a clearing in the woods up ahead. Johann walked into it, and immediately nearly fell into a dry river. He stumbled back, heart racing, and stood well away from the river to reassess the situation. 

There was the dry river, about six feet deep and maybe ten feet wide. It clearly hadn’t had water in it for a while, and Johann could probably climb down into it if he worked at it. There was a bit of a rock staircase on the other side that would be useful, too. There was also a bridge a few meters away from him, too, but it was overgrown and the wood looked rotten. 

On the other side of the river was a ruined mill. It wasn’t too big, and was built out of solid cobblestone that had lasted the years, but the roof had caved in and most of the wood had rotted away. How long had this been here? Surely since the 1700s, at least.

Johann carefully climbed into the dry river, and back up again on the other side. He didn’t see any more evidence of anyone passing this way before, which meant he was probably off track, but he pressed forward anyway. What else might he discover in these woods?

Soon, the tree line ended and revealed a large clearing of maybe an acre, filled with long grass that came up to Johann’s knees. It also was filled with thorny bushes, but he didn’t discover that until he waded in and felt the first stinging on his calves. Still, he pressed on, because in the center of the clearing was what looked like an abandoned church, and that was too interesting to not explore.

The church was probably Catholic. It was a typical church – a one-story building with a sloped roof and a steeple with a cross on the top, but it also had three stained glass windows on each side. The first two windows on the right side were the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ on the cross, and the last one was probably Saint Jerome, judging from the lion at his feet. On the right side stood Saint Francis, as shown by the animals flocking around him, Saint Sebastian, who had been impaled by hundreds of meticulously done arrows, and someone who might have been any of the core apostles, but was probably Saint Peter, judging from the fact that he hung upside down on a cross. There was a very small graveyard out to that side of the church, framed by a stone fence in disrepair and shadowed by the branches of a hawthorn tree. 

Johann went inside the church, and was immediately struck by the creepiness of it. The pulpit and altar were on a raised platform at the back, which had a door behind it that presumably led to the sanctuary. There was a staircase right next to the door that led to a walkway just under the rafters, presumably to accommodate a choir. The pews were all still there, as well as most of the other furniture. The church was eerily silent, but that wasn’t the most uncanny thing about the entire place. Instead, it was the fact that the stone basin for holy water was still full, despite not being fed by any apparent source. Johann crossed himself as he entered, even though the water seemed to irritate his skin where it touched him.

There was an old bible under the pulpit, still marked on the last page that must have been read there. It was the story of Jonah, which was random but allowed Johann to calculate when the church might have been abandoned. 

The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.

But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.

Johann slammed the book shut. He’d spent enough time reading the Bible when he was younger. It was dark outside, and he needed to get back home.

As he was about to leave, he spotted another book under the pulpit. It was much thinner than the Bible, but he almost dropped it when he brought it into the light, not because of the weight but because it had the same eye he’d seen in his dream printed on the cheap paper cover. 

Johann flipped to the first page.

Faceless Messengers

Second edition

Authored by Daisy Pickman

Printed AD 1754

He thought that he knew Daisy Pickman. How was it possible that she’d published a book some time before 1754?

It looked like it was just a discussion of the thoughts and motivations of the Faceless group, the people who wanted the Things back. Johann knew he’d gone to one of their meetings, but he barely remembered it beyond seeing Jean and Camilla there.

There was a sound like someone walking along the upper walkway. Johann shoved the Faceless book in his pocket, leaving the Bible open on the pulpit, and ran. He thought he heard someone running after him, but he didn’t look back, and they never caught him.


There really are fields in Nantucket that look like a great place to take your dog to run around but are actually full of stinging thorn bushes. I had to rescue my brother from the middle of one when we were kids. It wasn’t a fun experience.

Also, I have now decided that the story is going to be put on hold for the holidays, which for me means October 30th – January 6th. However, new content will still be published, in the form of short stories, artwork, and a few posts on the lore and inner workings of the world. New chapter images will also be added at some point during this time, or possibly sooner, because not only are the old ones not very good they also aren’t on every chapter. Of course, October 30th isn’t for a while, but I thought it would be best to announce this far in advance.

Thank you for reading!

Richard – 2.8.5

Richard settled down into his blankets. This was his first night in Nantucket, and his first night in this new house. 

Well, he called it new because this was his first night in it. Otherwise, the house was older than anything around it, save maybe the stones in the deep forest. It had seen tragedy, this house, and it had a great many ghosts. When everyone was asleep and the house was silent, Richard could hear a person with grating nails making their rounds through the hallways. He was scared out of his mind when they walked past his door, but that paled in comparison to when he got up to use the restroom and saw the wet footprints along the carpet.

Richard looked up, and saw a figure standing motionless at the end of the hallway. He squeezed his eyes shut and blindly felt his way to the restroom, locking the door once he was in there to make sure that that thing couldn’t get him.

Once he was finished, Richard went back to his room, making sure to keep his eyes closed until he had locked the door. When he turned around, he nearly jumped out of his skin, because Monty was sitting on his bed.

“Monty?” Richard asked. He really did look familiar. Where had Richard seen him before?

“Hullo, Richard.”

“What is it?”

“I’m doing badly, Richard.”

“…What do you mean?”

“I’m in a really dark place tonight.”

“Oh.” Monty was coming to him for help, then. Very well, he could help this young man. Richard sat down on the bed next to him. “Do you need to talk about it?”

“I think so.”

“Alright, what do you need to talk about?”

“Well, Richard, you see, I, um,” Monty swallowed and popped his fingers nervously. His voice started to crack. “It’s just hard.”

“What’s hard?”

“Being here again. In this house.”


“Because my mother died here, a- and, my father, too. Several years apart.”

Richard sighed. “Grief can be hard.”

“But it’s not just grief, Richard, it’s also other things. You know when you’re just so depressed all of the time that you can’t even remember what it was like to be happy?”



“You’re there right now?”

Monty wiped his face. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. There’s no reason to freak out like this. No reason to be so depressed. God, I need to get a grip. I’m sorry, Richard, I shouldn’t be bothering you.” He moved to get up, but Richard touched his arm to stop him. 

“You can’t control how your mind is telling you to feel. Sometimes, you just… you get depressed like this. I understand. Do you want to tell me anything else? I’m listening.”

Monty looked like he was considering actually taking his offer, but instead he stood up and shook his head. “No, I don’t know what I was thinking. I’m sorry, Richard. Goodnight.” When he went to leave the room, his face was highlighted in profile by moonlight coming in through the window, and suddenly it clicked. Richard remembered where he had seen him before.

“Did you by any chance go to Yale between 1855 and 1857?”

“Actually, I did.”

“I think I saw you there. A few times. Under an assumed name.”

Monty smiled tentatively. “Yes, I have quite a few of those.” He reached for the doorknob again.

“Goodnight,” Richard said.

“Goodnight.” As he opened the door, he slipped something out of his pocket and put it on the dresser. Richard was confused, but he didn’t ask about it or tell Monty to take the thing back.

After Monty left, Richard was unable to sleep for a while. He didn’t understand it, but he’d felt the same instant connection with Monty that he’d felt with Leonard, and Barrorah, and his old partner Cesare. It was a different kind of connection than the one he felt with Deirdre, who was more like a sister, and Alice, who was just a best friend. Even with Camilla, Daiyu, Enoch Carter, and the rest of his writer friends, the people he felt most comfortable around, it was the same distinctly other kind. 

In the middle of overthinking and wondering if this was going to be like how it had been with Cesare, Richard fell asleep and dove right into a nightmare.

He was in a wide, open field at the base of a hill. Richard knew where he was, because he’d actually had this exact dream repeatedly when going to a new place, as many times as times he’d slept in a new place. Every time it was the same: he would dream this, and trek through the mountains to the shrine, where he would say a prayer that seemed to pop into his head at that moment. After that, he usually slept soundly and dreamlessly for several nights. Richard did not expect this time to be any different, nor did he expect to hear voices in his head before he reached the shrine.

Turn around, said the first voice. Richard shook his head, dismissing it as just part of the dream, and kept walking.

You go on a fool’s errand, the voice insisted.

Richard wasn’t sure why this dream was different from every other, but he tried not to let the creation of his unconscious mind get to him. The shrine was only a few minute’s walk away, under the trees there. He wanted to bask in the presence of his God again, and he wanted to do it alone.

Do not approach the shrine, a second voice said.

Richard stopped. One voice was strange enough, but two was bothersome. He shook his head violently, as if to knock them out of his ears.

You must not go there, said the first voice. Think of your home, of your peaceful life. If you value this at all, you will not go to the shrine today.

“Please just let me get this over with,” Richard said. “It’s just a dream.”

You will stop, or a storm will come to wash you away, the second voice said. A storm will come, and take away your friends, your home, even the land itself. The storms will come, and your God will not save you.

“Please, shut up,” said Richard. “I’m not going to listen to you. You’re just a weird blasphemous dream. Besides, whatever you’re going to do, God can stop it.”

Oh, no he can’t. He put us away. Should he save you from one of equal power to himself? I think not, young ghoul.

Richard did not immediately reply. Instead he continued to walk, fixating his eyes and mind on that shrine that had always worked before. The voices fell silent, and Richard could see the small shrine right over the ridge. He smiled, and felt as if he had triumphed over the strange dream voices. They could not keep him from doing anything.

It was then that he felt a strange tugging sensation at the bottom of his waistcoat. Richard looked down, but there was no one there. He dismissed the feeling as a breeze, put his cane down in front of him, and tried to take another step.

His foot was stuck in place. After several minutes of struggling, he managed to wrench it free, and plant it down in front of him. Now the other foot was stuck, and there were invisible hands pulling at the back of Richard’s waistcoat, pulling him down.

He fell, and landed on his back.

Do not go to the shrine, the voices chorused.

Richard stood. “This is a dream!”

Do not go.

Richard’s cane was wrenched from his hand, and thrown down the hill. He went to fetch it, and as he ran was pushed forward by some force, so that he fell again. He slid several feet, and landed in a pool of mud at a stream’s bank. Richard sat up, and stared at his reflection in the water. His dark hair was knotted with dirt, and his entire outfit – a simple waistcoat over suspenders – was covered in mud.

“Why are you doing this?” Richard asked. “Why do you care what I do in my dreams? None of this is even happening in reality.”

The voices choresed in laughter. The first one had something else to say after that. It is a better fate than going to the shrine, 

Richard would have been angry with the voice, if he hadn’t known this was a dream. Instead, he retrieved his cane from the bottom of the stream, and turned to dash up the hill. The voices would not keep him from getting to the shrine. They would not.

Turn back, turn back, do not go to the shrine, the voices chanted. Turn back, turn back or the storms will come, they will come.

The trees themselves were hindering him. Richard tripped on a root as he ran, and when he tried to stand he found that the branches were much lower than they should have been. He could see the shrine, it was only a few feet away from where he’d fallen. Richard reached out and gripped the sides of the shrine, which consisted of a stone image of a tall, cloaked man leading a sheep. The image was protected by a small half-circle, which made sure that no rain would hit the statue. Both the statue and its protection sat on a block of carved stone, which had strange writing on it. Richard didn’t know what kind of shrine it was, only that when he prayed to it he got a few nights of undisturbed sleep.

Richard began his prayers, at first whispering them under his breath, but slowly his voice increased to a shout. He prayed for sleep, thanked God for his life, for everything he had, and he prayed against the strange voices and their malicious influence over nature.

A clap of thunder sounded in the sky, and Richard saw lightning at the edges of his vision. The voices in his head were chanting in a wild frenzy, speaking a language Richard did not recognize. He was certain, however, of their intent. They were calling the storm down upon him, calling the storm to stop his prayers.

Richard finished his prayer, and tried to stand up. There were tendrils of smoke pulling him down, dragging him away from the shrine. The voices were screaming with anticipation of the coming storm, the coming sacrifice for whatever force they served. Richard screamed, and tried to claw his way back to the shrine. Smoke obscured his vision, and the tendrils pulling him were too strong to resist. He was going to die here, in this dream.

“Lord, please!” Richard said. “Please, I beg of you, spare me.”

The land fell around away around him. Richard couldn’t keep hold. He fell until he was gripping the edge of a clif with both hands, being pulled down by slimy black tentacles, and the only person above him was Dr Faust.

“Doctor Faust!” Richard shouted. “Doctor Faust, please!”

Instead, he watched as Faust turned around and injected himself with a thick black liquid, before laughing and tearing the sky in two. A pair of long, pale arms with fingers of all the same length reached through that tear, and started to pull itself through.

Faust ran up and stomped on Richard’s fingers, causing him to fall. He fell and he fell, down, down, down, until he hit Earth, and was at the bottom of a well. There were stars above him, and he watched them move until the same pale arms that had come out of the sky dove down into the well and made everything go black.

Richard awoke in a cold sweat. He rubbed the back of his neck, making sure that his head was still attached. It was just a dream. Just a dream.

Laughter sounded from the dresser. There was a doll sitting there, sewn of mismatched fabrics and no doubt stuffed with rags. Its tin button eyes shone in the feeble moonlight, and the stitched mouth was dissonantly cheerful. That must have been what Monty put on the dresser.

“Hello?” Richard asked.

The doll laughed again. “All just a dream, is it?” It was the first voice from his dream.

“I think so.”

“Maybe a premonition?”

“I’m not the prophet here.”

“Would I be talking if it was just a dream?”

“I think I’m hallucinating you.”

“All of me?”

“I don’t know if you as a doll exist, but I sure as Hell know you aren’t talking right now.”

“Am I? Am I not? If you’re real, why shouldn’t I be?”

This had gone on long enough. Richard was going to stand up and put it on one of the shelves in his closet. He hesitated, and looked at its happy burlap face, and the tin button eyes that some child had probably loved, once. This was only a doll. Why would he throw it away?

“I think you can imagine who put me here,” the doll said. 

“My dreams,” said Richard. 

“If I’m only a dream, what will you see when you wake up?”

That was it. Richard went to get out of bed, but was horrified to find that he couldn’t move. He tried and tried to move his legs, his arms, anything, but his body wouldn’t respond to even the simplest command. 

The doll laughed and laughed. “You think you have such control, don’t you. Everyone does, until they realize they don’t. Is this your realization, Richard?”

He’d always known that thanks to his skin condition, he probably wouldn’t make it much past thirty, or forty at the most. He’d never had any control over that. But he’d always thought that up until that point, his life was his own. Richard suddenly realized how ridiculous this entire thing was. A doll, telling him that he had no control, and he was believing it?

“I don’t have control either,” the doll continued. “I’m a puppet for children to play with. They move my limp limbs around and play that I’m a living thing with feelings and control over myself, even though they know I’m not. I think that’s the only difference between me and the children that play with me, Richard. I know that I’m an unconscious being who exists only as a plaything of more powerful beings. They don’t.”

The doll was soaking wet, drenched in seawater. “Humans have never realized. They don’t know what’s right on the other side of their mirrors. But they’re about to, Richard, mark my words, they’re about to.”

Suddenly, Richard was able to push himself up in bed. He shot upwards, rocking all the way forward from the inertia. The doll had fallen silent, but the first thing Richard did was stand up, pick up his cane, and go over to throw it in his closet. When he picked it up, it was wet to the touch.


Anybody read Haita the Shepherd by Ambrose Bierce? It’s a very short but very good story, and Richard’s nightmare was heavily inspired by it.

Deirdre – 2.7.5

Content warning: Implied abuse and cannibalism

They arrived in Nantucket on the Fifteenth of October – four months before they had left the harbor in Hell. Deirdre asked Duchess Mephisto about it, but was advised not to think about it too deeply.

Monty was there as they coasted into the harbor with a myriad of information about his birthplace.

“Nantucket, looked at from an aerial view, is in the shape of a whale, which is fitting considering its history. The harbor of Nantucket is worn out in curves, like the top of a scallop’s shell, and in this harbor is Great Point Lighthouse, which is the second oldest lighthouse in America. Think of that! Second-oldest! Built in 1769!

“Once upon a time, Nantucket was the booming center of the whaling industry. Once, it was a thriving gem, and a person hailing from it could conquer most of the world – or, at least the part where the whales were. Trust me, I was there. But, having been ravaged by a fire in 1846, and thanks to the gradual buildup of sandbars, it’s in decline. This talk of war seems like it’ll lead to the final blow on whaling in Nantucket, at least by my reckoning.”

“That’s very interesting, Monty,” Duke Mephisto said. “What’s all this smoke?”

“Whale oil refineries and candle factories. Whaling ain’t dead yet.”

“You were born here, right?”

“In 1793.”

“Right, right. How old are you, Monty?”

“Twenty, when I died.”

“You were born in 1840, then.”

“Impossible. I was born in 1793.”

“I’m not arguing with you about this.”

“That’s just alright, because you’re wrong.”

Deirdre stifled a laugh, and fortunately, Duke Mephisto chuckled.

Sylvia had been seasick for most of the voyage, but she was up on the deck now. She was much better than she had been, since she wasn’t throwing up anymore, but she maintained that she still felt ill most of the time and would spontaneously get much better when she set foot on land.

Monty pointed to a whaling ship in the harbor, the presence of which seemed to contradict what he’d been saying earlier. “I’ve whaled on that ship. She’s been retooled.”

“Why did you go whaling, Monty, if you have such a hatred of the sea?” Serana Mephisto asked. Deirdre rolled her eyes. They all knew much about Monty’s hatred of the sea.

“Precisely because I hate whales, and I wanted there to be less of them on this planet.”

“Are you being serious?”

“I am.”


The ship grated to a stop, and a sailor threw down the gangplank. It was cold, and the island seemed very desolate with the freezing fall wind blowing across it, stealing peoples’ hats and making skeletons of the trees lining the cobblestone streets. Deirdre shivered, and pulled the thick blanket she’d been carrying around her shoulders. 

The Shaw-Captain, a tall shadowy figure wrapped in scraps of black fabric, came up from below deck to bid them all farewell. This was the first they’d seen of the Shaw-Captain, which did not bother Deirdre because of how much she’d been seeing the thing at the end of the bed, since setting off.

The ghostly sailors unloaded their luggage. Those Deirdre was afraid of, because of something deep in her memory that told her that she could have ended up like them, had she not been able to do something that she wasn’t able to consciously remember. She took her small bag when it was handed to her and then got away from them as fast as possible.

Duke Mephisto handed Johann a wad of money. “Get a hotel, or something like that.”

“Why can’t we stay with you?”

“You find a Carter who invites you, you can stay with Janson. You find an important person who invites you, you can stay with me.”

“Oh- alright.”

Monty hooked his arm around both Johann and Deirdre’s, putting himself between them. “I’ve got a house to my name somewhere around here. We can go stay there!”

Deirdre was nervous about going to a new house on this island, but maybe the sea all around would keep the thing that haunted her away. She put on a brave face, and followed Monty, Sylvia, Johann, Jean, Richard, and Alice down the street, hopefully to a warm house.

The house was not warm. It was furnished, but that was the only thing it had going for it: it had probably been a farm, once, but now vegetation covered the front, vines climbed the cobblestones of the house, and the fields had been overgrown with tall grasses and sharp, curling thorns. There were two fields, a large one off the side of the house, and a smaller one behind it. Both were overgrown into thorny nightmares. There was also a field of grass  in front of the house that was not used for planting, and at its center was an oak tree that looked like it had been there since before the birth of Jesus. There was also a forest in the back, behind a back field and small lake, and the darkness of its trees unsettled Deirdre greatly. 

The house itself was made of stone and brick, with two stories. The house was mainly a simple rectangle, but there was also an extension to the right side that was only on the first story, and a mirror one on the left that was exactly the same from the outside except for the fact that it went up to the second floor as well. The house and all the land around it gave off a general aura of great age, so that when Deirdre stepped onto the property she was immediately aware that this house had been there long before her and would be here long after her, too. It was unsettling, and made her uncomfortable even before she went inside.

Obviously, it hadn’t been cleaned for a long time, but all the furniture was there. The first room was a simple entryway, with doors going off to the cellar, the hallway to the kitchen in the right extension, the dining room, and the parlour, which was at the back of the first floor. Off the kitchen hallway was a room with a toilet and bathtub. There was also a set of stairs in the entryway, which had a door to the master bedroom at the top, another door to another bedroom at the right, and a hallway to the left. There were two more bedrooms along that hallway, another bathroom, and a last, larger bedroom at the end of it.

Last but not least, the house had a ladder to a widow’s walk. Deirdre and Johann climbed up there to survey the land, and realized they could see the sea from there.

Deirdre enjoyed herself up there until she saw a dripping figure in a tricorn hat standing in the back field. Then she started to sweat, and hurried down the ladder before she had a full-on panic attack.

“What did you see?” Johann asked.

“Someone standing out back.”

“I didn’t see it.”

“You can’t. Only I can.”

The back door slammed. “I fell in the damn lake!”

Oh, it was just Monty. Better safe than sorry.

Despite the fact that she and Johann got a beautiful front-facing bedroom with a double bed pressed up against a wall of windows, the house was still bad to be in because it was freezing cold. Jean lit a fire downstairs, and they dug up blankets to sit huddled in on the sofa, but it was still cold. 

Sylvia was drinking laudanum to keep herself warm.

“Amen to that,” Monty said, accepting a bottle from her.

“Our host should not be getting high,” said Richard.

“Oh, I’m the host?”

“This is your house.”

“…Oh, right. I kind of thought you might continue with that role”

Richard looked annoyed for a moment, then he smiled. “Alright, I can do that, if it makes you feel better. I just think you should-”


“Drugs are trouble.”
“Well, sorry.”

Richard had a copy of the Bible, and Johann The Iliad, written in Ancient Greek. Deirdre couldn’t read that, so she read The Canterbury Tales instead, which she had found on a shelf upstairs. Sylvia and Monty were both too high to do anything else, but they seemed happy.

Monty broke the silence after it had gotten dark. “I’m a prophet, I think.”

“No one’s a prophet any more,” Richard said.

“But I think I am one.”

“You’re wrong.”

“But I talked to God once.”

“No you didn’t.”

“I did.”

“What did he say to you, then?”

“‘Can a man curse and deny a god?’”

“As if that makes sense out of context.”

“I’m a prophet.”

“Fine, then, you are. What do you say, O mighty prophet?”

“Whales are evil and we should avoid them at all costs.”

“I’m hungry,” Jean said.

“Starving,” said Deirdre. “Yet unwilling to move.”

“I’ll eat a bird, but not a whale,” Monty said. 

“You’re in luck,” said Richard. “We haven’t got any whales.”

“Do you know my favorite food, Richard?”

“I don’t, but my curiosity is aroused.”

“Wigs. I mean eggs.”

“Wigs are really good, to be fair,” Sylvia said. “I eat wax.”

“Actually, I used to do that, too,” said Monty

“You what?” Richard asked.

“When I would find molten wax I would just… stick my hand in it and eat it.”

“Are you being serious?”

“Deadly so.”

Richard shook his head and laughed. “You’re really strange, you know that?”

“In a good or bad way?”

Richard paused for a moment. “A good way, I think.”

“That’s good.”

“I do think you should slow down on the drugs.”

“Shut up.”

Jean stood up. “I can’t take it any more. I’m going out for food.”

Everyone else went back to reading, even though Deirdre was more on edge without the biggest, strongest person there. She tried to settle down and read her book or listen to Monty and Richard’s quiet conversations, but it wasn’t easy. She imagined she heard someone tapping on the window. Deirdre buried her head under the blankets and closed her eyes.

When she awoke, it was late at night, but Jean was giving out plates of meat. The meat looked like beef, but when Deirdre bit into it it tasted like pork. It was delicious all the same, and she ate it all up.

“I know what this is,” Monty said.

“Yeah, it’s pork,” said Jean.

“No, it isn’t.”

“Yes, it is.”

“No, it isn’t, this is human meat.”

Jean laughed. “You have quite the imagination while on drugs, my friend.”

“I highly doubt this is human meat,” Sylvia said.

Monty held his stance a moment more, but then shrugged and bit back into his steak. Deirdre hadn’t stopped eating even for a moment. Even if it was human meat, it was delicious all the same.

Deirdre managed to fall asleep almost immediately once her and Johann were in bed. Her dreams were strange, vivid visions of an endless sea, so mindbendingly incomprehensible that they woke her up on their own. Either that, or she’d been woken by the thing that sat at the end of her bed.

“Johann,” Deirdre whispered.

He groaned. The thing didn’t move.

“Johann, wake up.”

Johann sat up. “What?”

“Look there.”


“At the end of the bed.”


“Do you see it?”

“The thing.”



“There’s nothing there.”

“There is. It’s a monster.”

“I can’t see it.”

“You can’t?”

“No, I can’t.”

“You might be lying.”

“I swear I’m not. I just can’t see it.”

Deirdre was silent. Was she out of her mind? Probably so. Her father had convinced her that most of the things that she thought had happened in Ireland hadn’t really happened, so why should this be any more real? She was just crazy.

“Why don’t you go get some water?” Johann asked. “Come back and we can talk about this more. Maybe it’s just the light. Or maybe I can’t see it because it doesn’t want me to.”

That reassured Deirdre a little. She went downstairs and drank a cup of water, ate a slab of bread, and sat on the counter waiting for it to be alright to walk up the stairs again.

The Man in Red walked into the kitchen. “I don’t like the milk here.”

“Shut up,” said Deirdre. She didn’t know how or when he’d gotten in, but she decided to accept it.

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s alright.”

“Are you alright?”

“Johann says that he can’t see it.” In fact, she was glad he was there. The Man in Red would know exactly what she was talking about.

“He can’t.”

“Why not?”

“Too rational.”


“It’s a gap in reality, Deirdre. You have to be a little disconnected in some way to be able to see it. Johann has his head all full of science and math and heaven and hell. He’s too rational to see something right in front of his face because it doesn’t match up with any of that.”

Deirdre was silent for a moment. “You mean I’m too irrational to not see it?”

“No, you… um… Deirdre, how much do you remember about Ireland?”

“I don’t want to talk about that.”

“Then I can’t answer your question.”

She took a deep breath. Talking about it was good. Talking about it was healthy. She needed answers. “Fine. I want to know why. Why can I see these things?”

“Your father. Do you remember him?”

He had been tall, with iron muscles and flaming hair. “Yes.”

“Do you remember what he was like?”


“Right. Do you remember how he kept a room that you were never to go in?”


“Do you remember going into that room?”


“You did.”

Deirdre swallowed and tried to focus on where she was. “And after that?”

“You ran. He followed you. Him and his wife, the woman who wasn’t your mother.”

“Did they- did they catch me?”

“Yes, Deirdre, they caught you.”

“And they hurt me?”

“They didn’t just hurt you, Deirdre.”

“What else did they do?”

“They killed you, Deirdre.”

“Killed me?”

“Yes. They drowned you in the sea.”

Deirdre looked down at her hands, not fazed in the slightest. They were dead hands. Dead dead dead. “I knew that.”

“You did?”

“Yes, I knew that.”

“So I suppose you know that you’re alive because I stole your soul and put it back into your body? But, it took me a long time to find it so you were trapped in your gravestone for several hundred years?”

Deirdre sighed. “You’re the reason I can see them, are you?”

“I’m sorry.”

“But I saw them as a child.”

The Man in Red frowned. “I can’t explain that.”

“Didn’t think so.”

“I can explain everything else, though.”

“Is Monty a madman or a prophet?”

“Ishmael Carter is… hm… a very strange personage, I should say.”

“A prophet.”

“Maybe in another life, a mad prophet.”

Deirdre stood up. “I want to see how bad this milk is.”

“You do that. Goodnight, Deirdre.”



Fun fact: the thing about the lighthouse is true, and if you go to Nantucket today and happen to go past the lighthouse at all, people will tell you. Every single time, they will tell you. Every. Single. Time.

Whaling was also in steep decline in Nantucket even in the 1850s, (though it was stronger in New Bedford) which means that by the time Herman Melville published Moby-Dick in 1851, the height of whaling on Nantucket had more or less passed. It’s still a cool place, though, so expect for a few notes with random facts – like the thing about the lighthouse – over the next few weeks.