To My Dearest Martha,

There’s a place in the  midwest of the New World. It’s known as the Buck’s Eye. Within its’ Southern most boarder lies a sleeping, stumbling, place. A city that was once great. Business goes about as usual for many, for the jewelers, merchants, eateries, insurance agents and gypsy shops. The store fronts are historic and repurposed, with everyone making the best of what they’ve got.

As much good as there is in the land, there are great sinking patches of evil. Off the road a good ways the shacks and villages have degenerated. The landscaped has shriveled. There’s a common feeling of sickness about. The cold and flux of weather weary the traveler through. I’ve taken but a moment to relay this story to you, my dearest Martha, for I feel that I have something real to share. I’ve  seen a few instances that’ve given me quite a scare.

For but a moment I wandered off the beaten path and found myself walking along a reserve. The power of the land must have given its inhabitants means to live. Each house and yard was mirrored to its neighbor. The governing power may have done what was in their jurisdiction to do to help these inhabitants. For the governing body of any realm means well and provides to a point, to its obligation and duty at the least. Perhaps each member of that body means well my dear Marsha, but there is still a hinderance. The individual parts of the body form a new organism, that thinks and breaths for itself. Again, perhaps each person that makes up this new organism means well, and does what they can as either the hand or foot or the knee. However, this moving giant created a treacherous environment for these already wounded creatures to reside.

The governing monster did its’ best to feed and clothe the hungry, for as they would do to the least of these they were doing to the good Lord. The creatures did not respond in the manner expected. They only saw the crushing force of the governing body, and not its’ caring hands. They remember it for the death it nearly caused them, and never for its kind discipline or giving support. So they hiss at it, and chuck stones and fight. I pitied these people, for they are cats with bloodied tails. They hide back and lick themselves, frightened and acting accordingly.

All the while I’d been thinking though this dynamic, I’d stumbled upon a new place. A wooded valley lay ahead of me, but I needed to get back to the road again, so I thought it best to plunge through this place. Marsha, I now regret such a rash decision. It was stupid of me to have such adventurous zeal, perhaps that is just the naivety of a new traveler in me, or my own dullness. Regardless, I do not want you to fret about my safety, for clearly I am writing this letter to you now, and I must tell you what I’ve seen lest I lose the heart to do so upon my return.

There were houses in the valley. They were scattered about in the low of the valley, but the majority where on the ridges of the valley. They were not tidy houses. The landscape was overtaking them. Vines and Ivy ran up the sides of the house. Each house took on a grayness with discolored green growths. It would have been impossible to tell whether or not they were inhabited, had there not been scattered yellow luminance shining from a few of the windows. I came upon the oddest of camps I have ever seen. There was an array of furniture. Leaves where swept away from forest floor to fit in the new vacancy a set of matching victorian furniture. The complete set of furniture had a floral pattern. There was a Love seat, A full size couch, a chair,  dining table, lamps, rugs, and……my eye caught the back of the tall arm chair. Someone was sitting in it. Just….out in the middle of the woods….. Sitting. Within an imaginary floor plan. I could see only his grey hair and his proper top hat. Hello? I beckoned in what I’m sure was a frightful sounding hello.  He had heard me and started a little. His ear turned to me, then he stood and smiled.

The gentleman I saw was Tall, Pale and very thin. Wearing a white T-shirt with overalls attached to his black slacks. It could not have been more than 30 degrees outside. When we talked, our breath was clearly visible. I asked him what he was doing, and if he was cold. He told me he was waiting on a friend to join him for some conversation, half insinuated that I could be that friend If I wished. Given the unsettling circumstance of our greeting, I insisted I had to be on my way. I then asked If he knew the way to the main road. He said,”The 52!” Yes sir, I replied, the 52. “Well right this way!” He sprung into action and began up the hill to the top of the ridge. If I hadn’t been attentive, I might have lost him, for he was moving very fast. He was so thin that he seemed almost to slither around and over each tree and log like a fluid. His coordination and lightness was an amazing site to behold, still, I had no bearing on weather or not my ally was for the good.

We stopped short of a house with an unscalable looking gate. This snake-like man who had brought me thus far instructed me with the following. “You must go through the house, be calm as a cat and quick as a mouse. Do all that you can not to linger, with all of your might. Fight to walk straight through, and you’ll conquer the night.” I thanked the man for his kindness, thought I was not sure of his good intentions, and he turned to leave.

The night was set it. I realized at this moment how trapped I truly was. In the dark woods, with only the light from the house’s window to see by. In uncharted territory. The ambient growls and barks of the night forced my foot toward the house. I went to knock, and as my hand hit the door it swung open. I stepped in as quietly as I could. The smell was unbearable, and the hall dimly lit. Many creatures resided inside, of that I was sure. I stepped immediately into the kitchen, still unable to call for whatever horror was to lead me to the road, or instead attack me in this foreign land.

The countertops where stacked high with every kind of trash and dish and decaying food. Each layer had been melded together by the fungus and coloration of filth. An overflowing 50 gallon trashcan full of coffee grounds. A sputtering fridge. The blacked hard wood was perhaps the cleanest of all surfaces or spare space . The decaying food had invited legions of forest floor dwellers onto the walls and ceilings. All I could think of in that moment was of your tidy little kitchen. Oh Marsha, how I longed in the depth of that discomfort for your quite little cottage. Whatever assailant awaited me, I knew I had to face it. I knew not my way through the house, but as I stepped quietly a little further, I could see what looked like an exit through a storm door at the end of several more rooms. I bumped a loose pan off the table in my clumsiness. My heart sank, for in the quiet that pan might as well have been a half stick of dynamite.

My heart sank. The woman’s voice cried out from somewhere I could not discern in a shriek. “WHO’S THERE?! WHO’S THERE?!” I ran Martha, praying my heart did not stop me dead, toward the door in my site. The filth around me began to move toward me. Each door opened, revealing more filth and creatures and horrors. The furniture all was being dragged toward the kitchen I had begun in. I stumbled and this furniture took me back with it. I could hear the sound of chains, and rattling hardware. My senses where sharped by fear. Each second extended to 20 seconds. My legs where swept out by an ottoman and I landed facing the kitchen in a damp sofa.

The woman continued to scream profanities and demanded that I leave or die. I knew now where the voice came. The cabinets under the kitchen sink where blown off to reveal a massive woman cut into the floorboards. Her folds of skin spilled out now of every cabinet. She was a part of the house now. Her legs where under the house. Her arms where somewhere in the mass of flesh pointing and accusing me as an intruder to her sanctuary. Chains were attatched to great winches and she used he supernatural strength, winding all the possessions  of the house into her like a great black widow spider.

My shock nearly led to death before I fought back.  Meaning, I got up and ran, and became as a swift mouse, squeezing and clawing my way through anything that would not crush me. All fear of filth or health in rolling through such diseased trash left me as my life took priority. I  made my way to the door and ran it through. Falling down the steps of the back porch and rolling down the steep downhill that had so unpredictably awaited me.

I stood as quickly as I had fallen and began to run, feeling my arms and legs where not broken or bleeding, I took heart that I had succeeded and ran through the clearing. I could see the road ahead with scattered travelers and carriages. Glancing back to the top of the ridge, I could not see any longer where my life had nearly ended, and I took heart to know  that I had been delivered by more that luck.

I am protected Marsha, as I know you will continue to pray. The journey is long, and the people are in darkness, I must press on to the city of the King.

 

graciously yours,

Thomas William Pennysworth.