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15 May 1873
Pineleaf

It is with heavy heart that I buried my beloved wife today, turning my back on the last vestiges of happiness in my life and setting myself to squarely and resolutely face the years that stretch before me like a lonely, dust-choked track road. Of all of the pain and miseries that I have seen in the past ten years— the internecine violence and destruction of the late struggle between the States, the loss of our son Caleb, my own father's passing— none have cut me to the quick as did the untimely, tragic loss of my beautiful helpmate, and the mother of my children.

Sarah came of a good family, the Conyers of Little Branch, where I was myself born and raised among the pine woods and tobacco fields. The Conyers were a sturdy, dependable, resolute people known for being good stewards of their not inconsiderable farmlands, as well as a clan not to be trifled with in disputes. My father, James Clement, a tobacco farmer of some means himself, had frequent business dealings with Samuel Conyers, the family patriarch, over the years, and I can say that they were always businesslike and honorable relations; then, my father was, himself, an upstanding, honorable man.

I believe that it was his regard for my father as much as it was his belief in my character and future prospects that led Samuel to gravely assent when I finally summoned the courage to ask his permission and blessing to wed his youngest daughter Sarah, the apple of his eye and the joy of my heart. His trust was well-placed, as Sarah and I, by wont of thrift and industry, quickly developed forty acres of unused scrubland into a productive farm and a happy, bustling home for the children that soon followed.

Sarah would prove herself to be of the Conyers blood during Lincoln's war, overseeing the operation of the farm, and seeing to the well-being of its occupants, with an aplomb that would have pleased her father, by then deceased. During the three years that I fought with Lee, years filled with privation and travail, my dear Sarah saw to my lands, and my family, better than many of my neighbormen could do for themselves. When I returned to Pineleaf, as our modest home was called, after a lengthy convalescence— my service to my state being cut short by a Minié ball from a Yankee gun— I returned to a farm that was just as I left it in 1861, or so it seemed.

I would not besmirch the memory of the beloved dead, but no eyes save mine will see this missive— my will containing an injunction to burn all of my personal papers upon my decease— so I will speak the truth here. The strains that my absence placed upon my dear wife caused her to frequently have pains in her head, and her quest for surcease from this suffering led her unknowingly into the grip of the Demon laudanum. With none here to watch over her and protect her— she, indeed, having assumed the role of protector— this devilish tincture was able to sink its claws deeply into her, too deeply for redemption, as it would prove.

As I wept by her grave this morning, it was with the knowledge that the war had killed my dear wife, just as surely as it shattered my health, luring her into a hellish, dream-haunted opiate phantasmagoria from which even the love of her devoted husband could not draw her. And when I say hellish, I know whereof I speak.

I received the Minié ball that would end my service to Virginia at Cold Harbor on the third day of June, 1864. A major pre-dawn assault by Hancock's corps led to Barlow's Division breaching our lines, in valiant defense of which I was wounded. Our artillery quickly re-oriented, turning the newly-seized entrenchments into a hell of canister shot, and our reinforcements counter-attacked and drove Barlow's men back, averting certain catastrophe.

I was evacuated to the rear, half delirious from the pain and loss of vitality, and taken to an aid station where a harried assistant surgeon dutifully dosed me with whiskey and then morphine sulfate. It was a chaotic scene, and I was given too much of the drug. I quickly slipped into a hellish nightmare as the opiate dimmed the war-torn scene around me to a diorama upon which danced the phantasms of delusion.

As the wounded soldiers surrounding me thrashed and moaned, a woman of demonic aspect approached me and gestured. The phantasms resolved themselves into the interior of a mercantile establishment, of an unreal size and modernity. At a long counter of gleaming metal and glass stood a shrewish harridan of a woman, gesturing at the bewildering array of jewelry displayed within the counter. Upon being handed a ring of unequalled brilliance for her inspection, the woman shrewdly grinned a vulpine grin, and as it seemed to me, said "an you are a fool, so I shall take this from you," though only I heard the words. Upon this, her face contorted with a satanic avarice and, unbeknownst to the merchant, she deftly pocketed the ring, replacing it with a dull circlet of iron.

Pointing at the now-cackling shrew, the devil woman intoned in a sepulchral voice that filled me with dread "And the Lord thou God sayeth 'Thou shalt not steal' and so shall it be," upon which the thief, merchant and all dissolved into a dancing, screaming, chaotic maelstrom. Looking back at the devil woman, I found her to have been replaced by a baker woman surrounded by a nimbus of light, who pointed at the ground and shook her head sadly.

The opiate kaleidoscope around me ordered itself into the interior of a house, again of fantastical modernity. An older woman, screaming with grief, threw herself onto an overstuffed settee, upon which lay the lifeless body of an infant, blue with death. A constable spoke a ritual of words to a younger woman as he bound her, accusing her of that foulest of murders. As the last of his words echoed, the young woman looked at me, her face lighting with the manic glee of the damned, and said "I did it. I put him *in there*!" and then spat a word of such vileness that I cannot bring myself to write it.

Upon this profanation, the baker woman looked sternly upon the young woman and said "And the Lord my God sayeth 'Thou shalt not kill' and so shall it be." The young woman began to melt, like wax running from a candle, and screaming in a way that pierced my ears like frozen silver nails. The entire scene melted, colors blown about as though by a whirlwind. When I looked again the baker woman had vanished, and in her place was a narrow man with a desert-blasted face and a large revolver.

The whirlwind settled, and the colors reordered themselves, depicting the interior of a ship, fast filling with smoke. Dozens of men, women and children, garbed in outlandish clothing, ran about frantically, their panic rising volubly around them. I could hear the hungry crackling of flames behind their panicked utterances, goading them into heightened paroxysms of fear. The armed man gestured, and the scene shifted, and I watched as the captain of the boat and his mates slipped overboard, abandoning their passengers to a fate that I could now only hear.

The man gestured again, and everything went dark. The silence was an immensity. This nullity seemed to last an eternity. I felt that I must have died, or that the world must have ended. Then I felt a cold blast, like a winter wind out of the icy mountains, and next to me I saw the phantom of a man, grim and foreboding. The phantom pointed.

Out of the darkness sprang a sunny day. The phantom and I stood in a strange expanse of soft black stone outside of a church, littered with large metal contraptions. Angry, strident voices rose within the church, profaning God's house on what I knew to be the Sabbath. As we watched, an enraged woman strode from the church, demonic fury distorting her face. Uttering maledictions, she retrieved a revolver from one of the metal contrivances and turned to re-enter the church. A man who I somehow knew to be the pastor seized her and tried to wrestle the weapon away from her. It discharged, and as the report profaned the Sabbath air, I knew all in a flash— this woman, filled with demonic hate, ready to murder another churchgoer in the House of the Lord, was the pastor's wife, and her hatred was for the deacon's wife, and it was a mutual hatred. This was a church led by hate and sin. It was an abomination.

"And the Lord their God sayeth 'Thou shalt not take my name in vain' and so shall it be" spoke the ghost in grating, graveyard tones that chilled me to my soul, and they all began to scream and melt— the pastor, his wife, the other churchgoers— and as they melted, they *changed,* as did their screams. The sunlight began to get brighter, became unbearably bright, everything a blinding whiteness. Out of the white came an enormous eye, fully as tall as a man. The eye blinked.

The whiteness slowly receded, color draining back into the world, painting the interior of a house— frighteningly modern, as had been the scenes of all of my delusions thus far. The eye blinked again, and I heard the report of a gun, and screams, and a young male voice raised in anger. More reports, more screams, young mixed with old, and more yelling. Pleas for mercy unheeded, pleas to God unanswered. Finally there was nothing but the angry yelling. I knew, somehow, that an entire family had been slain.

The eye blinked again, and shadowed silence fell upon the phantasmal scene. Out of the shadows walked the baker woman, bringing light with her. She shook her head sadly again, and a scene formed around me that I will not describe. There was a family on the old trace north of Little Branch, which I will not name, and in which the father was *with* the children unnaturally. This was of a kind. What I saw was so evil that I cannot even write it here where only myself and a merciful Heaven can see it.

The baker woman looked sternly upon the miscreant and said "And the Lord my God sayeth 'Thou shalt not commit adultery' and so shall it be." He began to bleed, it seemed as from everywhere at once, and to shriek, and to melt. The whirlwind seized his blood and flung it, dancing, into the air, which shimmered as though filled with thousands of red jewels. They danced and spun until I was surrounded by a shimmering sheet of red. Out of this incarnadined haze walked the desert-faced man with the pistol.

He gestured, and the red haze darkened to brown, and then formed itself into the interior of some sort of cabin. Seated at a small table in this cramped compartment was a tavern wench, slatternly and scared. Yelling at her in a hectoring tone was a teamster of some sort— unshaven, unclean, and quite the worse for drink. As we watched, he began beating her, berating her all the while. After beating her, he raped her, briefly, with needless brutality. Then he beat her some more, and fed himself noisily on cheap victuals like a hog, and applied himself to a bottle. This cycle was repeated for what seemed like weeks, until at long last the wench escaped her especially cruel bondage, and the man with the pistol gestured us back into the dark.

The appalling absence of everything was only momentary this time, much to my relief. It was dispelled by the baker woman and the light that seemed to perpetually play about her. She pointed, and looked down sadly, and the shadows where she pointed came alive with whirling color that resolved itself into a room with a bathing tub and an angry man. In the tub was a scared, naked young girl. I will not write what he did to her, only that she did not survive it. A woman burst into the bathing room— angry, panicked. Then they put the dead wee one into a closet to stay.

The baker woman looked angrily upon the pair and said "And the Lord my God sayeth 'Thou shalt not kill' and so shall it be." As had the last murderer that she rebuked, they began to melt and to scream piercingly. My head ached abominably from it. Then, with a disorienting wrench, the scene dissolved into whirling chaos, and the baker woman was gone.

I felt another blast of icy wind that seemed to chill my very soul, and the ghost was back with me. It pointed.

The whirling chaos formed itself into the interior of a sort of large jail. A woman who I intuitively knew to be a ward of the institution was complaining vociferously about something that I could not catch. She grew angrier and angrier, and seemed to be completely mad. Goaded by her words, one of the wardens of the jail caught her up like a brute and slammed her to the ground. On this, the others fell upon her and beat her without stint or remorse. They then dragged her brutally to a bathing chair and flung her limp form into it, laughing about their cowardly deed all the while.

The phantom pointed at them and spoke in its burialyard undertone— "And the Lord their God sayeth 'Thou shalt not kill' and so shall it be." The wardens began to scream, as one, their screams spiraling up to a merciful Heaven as they melted and ran like beeswax. The walls of the jail melted away, letting in the light of a thousand suns, blinding me to everything but its sheer immensity. Out of this unbearable glare strode, for a third time, the lean man with the pistol. He gestured and the world reformed around us.

We were in a small barn of some sort, and a large angry woman with blueberry-colored hair was beating a small girl— beating her and screaming at her about a charm. The little girl, wailing with pain and fear, disclaimed the woman as her mother, and this seemed to completely madden the woman. Shrieking, she strangled the little girl, thumping her dear little head against the rough flooring rhythmically until all trace of life was gone from her body. Then she stuffed the lifeless young body into a bag and hid it.

One last gesture from the armed man, and I was back in the dark. Merciful oblivion after all of the morphine-spawned madness that I had experienced. It would be over 24 hours before I recovered from the overdose, and it is my sincere belief that the soul-blasting sights that I saw during my journey through the Chinaman's dragon-lands are responsible for my poor health, and not the broken femur, which has healed remarkably well.

These sights have haunted me since, disrupting my sleep for weeks on end, particularly during the early days of June. And now, with the loss of my dearest Sarah, lost to that same Demon, I tremble to think about what will come a fortnight hence. God save my soul, I do not think that I will survive it. I am old before my time, and so tired.

I must see to my will now that Sarah has passed.
 
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Alf

Keeper of the Dowager Tabby
Staff member
I read it, went back and forth re-reading it, and tried to figure out where the frisson was coming from.

Then the penny dropped. And I found myself on the home page searching out the stories and checking to see if I was right. I was.

The "woman of demonic aspect" is Satanica.

The "baker woman" is Sugar Cookie.

The "narrow man" is Turd Fergusen.

The phantom, the ghost, is ghosttruck. That was where I had my first inkling of the underpinnings of the tale.

And the "enormous eye" is EyEgOrE.

Well done, OMM. I applaud you, and wait with bated breath to see what you come up with next.

--Al
taking out spoilers
 
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Old Man Metal

Trusted Member
Staff member
#1: Indiana Cops Warn Skylea Carmack, 10, May be in 'Extreme Danger' After she Disappeared on Saturday

by @Turd Fergusen





#2: Female Inmate Beaten "Within An Inch Of Death" By Florida Prison Guards

by @ghosttruck





#3: Grandma Finds 5-Year-Old Girl Dead In Closet; Mom Questioned

by @Sugar Cookie





#4: Amber Garrison Was Held Captive In A Semi Truck For 6 Weeks

by @Turd Fergusen





#5: "Deviant" Pedophile Will Spend 3 Months In Jail For Exploiting Children And Breaching An Intensive Corrections Order

by @Sugar Cookie





#6: Alabama Teen Kills His Whole Damned Family

by @EyEgOrE





#7: West Virginia Pastors' Wives Feuding Ends With Gunfire In Church Parking Lot

by @ghosttruck





#8: "Vessel Fully Engulfed... There’s No Escape," Up To 34 Dead In Santa Cruz Boat Fire

by @Turd Fergusen





#9: A Three-Month-Old Infant Was Found Face Down, Between The Cushions

by @Sugar Cookie





#10: Woman Steals $28K Costco Diamond Ring By Swapping It For Cheaper Stolen Ring

by @Satanica




*****


Top Story: @Turd Fergusen with 850 views


most stories: @Turd Fergusen and @Sugar Cookie tied at 3


most views: @Turd Fergusen at 2010


Congrats to @Turd Fergusen for his seventh consecutive week in the Top Ten, and second week at #1!


Congrats to @EyEgOrE and @Satanica for getting back in the game!
 

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