I’m writing to you under curious circumstances. As you know, due to the passing of my most honored uncle Pattrick, I have come into possession of a small cottage in the coastal hills of Connecticut. Last week I sold off my apartment in Hartford to a young Catholic couple and moved most of my belongings into a storage room. On Sunday I arrived at the cottage with only a few books and clothes. It was a misty afternoon, a cold wind slapping my face with heavenly furor, when I arrived. The cottage looked shabby from the outside, but was cozily furnished. I needn’t have brought my books, though, for the cottage had a well stocked library. On Sunday evening I had to go into town for dinner, since I hadn’t brought any food with me and the cellar was empty but for a few bottles of moonshine. There were some food stalls lining the town square but they didn’t look very trustworthy to a city man like me. I finally stopped at a smallish restaurant at the edge of town. I don’t quite know what led me there but the food was well-cooked and plenty. Though the ingredients mightn’t have been the freshest ones and some of the other patrons did glance at me strangely. The owners were nice enough, an old couple from the inland. After dinner, the proprietor offered me a glass of the local dessert wine. I gladly accepted and he sat down to drink one as well. I told him what had brought me to the coast and he got inordinately interested in the cottage. But I didn’t invite him, something in his manner put me off and I left the restaurant and the town soon after emptying my glass.
Coming back to the cottage under the sallow light of a half-moon a small animal surprised me as it fled screechingly from my doormat when I stepped up to my door to unlock it. I couldn’t discern what it was but the noise it made had frightened me so badly that I had to sit down for fully half an hour afterwards. Later that night, when I was fast asleep, a very unusual sensation roused me again. It was a numbing pressure that crept up the nerve cords of my legs, then rushed through my torso and legs until it had filled my head. Alarmed I got up, stumbled from my bed to my desk and lit a lamp. The room looked calm and peaceful in the warm light. The pressure did not lessen and it dawned on me that I was not just suffering from the psychological after effects of a particularly gruesome nightmare. No, my condition was altogether more real. But there was no visible change to my body. I could move my limbs freely and breathe freely even though it felt like I was drowning in icily cold liquid lead. Fearing that there might have been a poison in the air I rushed to the door and flung it open. Grabbing a coat I stepped out into the night. The sky was still overcast but the light that fell through the open door illuminated the garden enough to reveal that the shadows were behaving strangely. They curled and quivered and backed away when I stepped closer. Since the pressure on my nerve cords didn’t seem to lessen even as I filled my lungs with the fresh air of the night, I didn’t linger in the garden for long but went back into the house. In a shameful fit of what I now can only describe as a lack of scientific curiosity I opened a bottle of apple liquor and drank far more than I had ever before. When and how I fell asleep I cannot remember and that may be for the best.
The next day I woke up surprisingly early. My head was aching furiously but the pressure on my nerves had finally subsided. Looking back on the night in the light of a wonderfully bright sun I wondered whether what I imagined had happened had been nothing but a dream. The higher the sun rose the more I grew convinced that it had all been just a nightmare. Unfortunately this fit of optimism didn’t last long, for when I went into town before noon to stock up on some foodstuffs, I discovered the patterns in my lawn. Unholy and gruesome patterns that I hesitate to describe. I will only tell you that there were both signs of last night’s wreathing shadows and of the cloven hooves of hellish satyrs. As I looked upon the patterns in grass and earth, I felt the pressure on my nerve cords coming back again and I quickly rushed out of my garden and along the path that led to the town.
When I reached the town my hands were still shaking and my thoughts unfocused and blurry. I felt no desire to return to the cottage and did not even possess the will to want to reverse this desire. After wandering about aimlessly in the town I hailed a cab and let me drive to the next train stop. There I waited nervously pacing back and forth along the train tracks. The next train bound for Hartford arrived tens of minutes later. Fortunately for my sanity the train was brimming and bustling with jaunty people. I found an empty seat vis-à-vis an elderly couple and next to a dapper young lady. Greeting warmly and smilingly they quickly included me in their conversations. This let me forget the horrors of the cottage for a short while. In Hartford I purchased a bowl of stew at a food stall and quickly wolfed it down. My stomach was already a hot tight ball at this point and the food did not make it better. But at least my shaking hands were occupied for a few minutes and a while later even the tremors lessened. The contentment the food brought didn’t last long. For after my meal I visited the claustral library and delved into the ancient tomes of the restricted section. To no avail. My inquietude only grew as I opened tome after tome and found no description of a phenomenon that resembled the one I had experienced. When night had fallen I gave up. Distraught I bought a slice of soft cheese and a package of crackers at a grocery store and found a free room at a nearby hotel. It was small and motley furnished but at least it was warm and clean. I soon went to bed and sleep, thankfully, came quickly.
Now it is the next morning, I am sitting in a nice café, next to a lush plant trough and watching the bees and bumblebees whizzing from blossom to blossom. My heart is overcome with despair. I know not what to do. My stomach turns when I think of going back to the cottage. But I cannot ignore my honored uncle’s last wishes. Unfortunately I have grave doubts whether I could survive a longer stay in the accursed cottage without going insane.
But you, my dearest father, might just have the right advice for me.
I eagerly await your response,
Your son, William B. Thomson.