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Fri Sep 09, 2011 11:38 am

Joined: Thu Apr 28, 2011 10:15 am
Posts: 1927

Jim Shorthouse was the kind of guy who always made a mess of things. Everything that his hands or head came in contact issued from a contact in an unqualified and irreversible state of chaos. His college days were a mess: he was twice rusticated. His school was a mess: he went to half a dozen, each passing it on to the next with poor character and a more advanced state of chaos. His early childhood was the kind of mess that copy-books and dictionaries to spell with a capital "M" and his very young age - ugh! was the embodiment of howling, yowling, screaming mess.

At the age of forty, however, there was a change in his difficult life, when he met a girl half million in its own right, having agreed to marry him, and very soon succeeded in its most chaotic life in a state of comparative order and system.

Certain incidents, important and otherwise, of life Jim's would never have come here to hear, but for the fact that in obtaining his "messes" and from them again, he succeeded in drawing in the sphere of special circumstances and strange events. He and his path of the curious adventures of life as perfectly as meat attracts flies, wasps and jam. It's the meat and jam of his life, so to speak, that he owes his experiences, life after death was all pudding, with nothing but greedy children wear. With the marriage of the importance of his life not for everyone but one person, and was frequently away as the sun rather erratic as a comet.

The first experience in time order that he related to me shows that there is something hidden behind his nervous system was disarranged psychological perception of an unusual assignment. Over the age of twenty-two - I think after his second dismissal - his father's wallet and patience had given out right, and Jim found himself stranded high and dry in a major U.S. city. High and dry! And the only clothes that had no holes in them safely in the pursuit of a cabinet of his uncle.

A careful reflection on a bench in one of the city's parks led him to conclude that the only thing to do was the city editor of the daily journals that he had an attentive mind and a ready pen to convince, and that he could "do good work for your paper, sir, as a reporter." This is he, standing on a very unnatural angle between the editor and the window to the location of the holes to hide.

"I think we will have to give you one week to the lawsuit," said the editor, who, always looking for good material risk, men took to school that way and keep the average man at school. Anyway gave Jim Shorthouse means to sew the holes, and his uncle's wardrobe of burden.

Then he went to find housing, and unique features in this procedure are already known - what Theosophists would call it karma - clearly began to assert themselves because it was in the house he eventually decided that this sad story took place.

There are no "excavations" in U.S. cities. The alternatives are grim enough for small incomes - rooms in a boarding house where meals are served, or one-room house where no meals are served - even breakfast. Rich people live in palaces, of course, but Jim had nothing to do with "sich-like. "His horizon was bounded by boarding houses and room-houses, and, because of the necessary irregularity of his hours and meals, he took the latter.

It was a large, thin-looking place in a side street, with dirty windows and a creaky iron gate, but the rooms were large, and the one he chose and paid for in advance was on the top floor. The landlady looked gaunt and dusty as the house, and just as old. Her eyes were green and faded, and her large features.

"Waal," she says twanged, with its exciting western accent, "that is the room, if you like it, and that's the price I said: Now, if you want, why, just say so,. And if you do not, why, do not hurt me none. "

Jim wanted to shake her, but he feared the long-clouds of dust build up in her clothes, and if the price and size of the room suited him, he decided to take it.

"Someone else on this floor?" he asked.

She looked at him strangely disappeared from her eyes before answering.

"None of my guests ever to make such questions to me," she said, "but I think why you are different, there is no one at all but an old gent who kept every bit of five years he's Thar over, .. "Points to the end of the passage.

"Oh, I see," said Shorthouse weakly. "So I am alone here? "

"You bet you're pretty close," she says twanged out, ending the conversation abruptly by turning her back on her new "guest", and go down slowly and deliberately.

The newspaper kept busy Shorthouse most of the night. Three times a week he got home at 1 o'clock, and three times at 3 am The room was comfortable enough, and he paid for half week. His unusual hour had so far prevented to any occupants of the house, and no sound was heard from the 'Old Gent', who shared the floor with him. It seemed a very quiet house.

One evening, around the middle of the second week, he came home tired after a long day. The lamp usually all night was in the hall had burned itself out, and he had tripped up in the dark. He made a lot of noise in it, but nobody seemed to be disturbed. The whole house was perfectly still, and probably everyone was asleep. There were no lights in one of the doors. Everything was in darkness. It was after two.

After reading some English letters that had come during the day and dipping for a few minutes in a book, he became drowsy and got ready for bed. Just as he was about to between the sheets, he stopped for a moment and listened. There rose in the night, as he did, the sound of steps somewhere in the house below. Listening, he heard that someone emerge - a heavy tread, and the owner takes no effort to step quietly. Came up the stairs, bum, bum, bum - evidently the tread of a great man, and a bit of a hurry.

Immediately thoughts somehow affiliated with the fire department and police flashed through the brains Jim's, but there were no sounds of voices with the steps, and he expressed the same time that it could only be the old man to keep late hours and tumble into the darkness above. He was in the act of turning the gas and stepping into bed when the house by their previous silence footsteps suddenly come to a dead stop directly outside his own room.

With his hand on the throttle, Shorthouse paused before to see if the steps were again, when he was startled by a loud knocking at his door. Directly, in obedience to a curious and inexplicable instinct, he turned off the light, so he and the audience in total darkness.

He had barely a step across the room to open the door when a voice on the other side of the wall, so close it almost sounded in his ear, shouted in German held, "Is that you, dad, come inside"

The speaker was a man in the next room, and the beating, after all, was not at his own door, but that of the adjoining room, which he had supposed to be vacant.

Almost before the man in the passage had time to reply in German, "Let me at once," Jim heard someone cross the floor and open the door. Then it was hit with a bang, and there was heard the sound of footsteps of the room, and the chairs up to a table and knocking against furniture on the road. The men seemed totally independent from the comfort of their neighbor, because they made noise enough to wake the dead.

"Serve me well for taking a cheap room in a hole," Jim reflected in the darkness. "I wonder who they rented to the room!"

The two rooms, the landlady had told him, were originally one. She had a thin partition - just a row of boards - to increase its revenue. The doors were adjacent and separated only by the enormous upright bar between them. When it was opened or closed the other rattled.

With extreme indifference to the comfort of the other sleepers in the house, the two Germans had already started talking both at once and on top of their voices. They spoke explicitly, even angry. The words "Father" and "Otto" were freely used. Shorthouse understand German, but if he was listening to the first minute or two, an Eavesdropper in spite of himself, it was difficult for the head or tail of the conversation, because neither would give way to the other , and the jumble of sounds and incomplete sentences throat was completely incomprehensible. Then, suddenly, the two voices coincide, and, after a moment, the deep tones of one of them, who seemed to "father," said, with utmost clarity -

"You mean, Otto, that you refuse to get it?"

There was a shuffling sound of someone in the chair for the answer came. "I mean I do not know how to get It's so much, father is too much a part of it -..."

"Part of it!" exclaimed the other, with an angry oath, "a part of it, the ruin and disgrace are all in the house is worse than useless. If you can get half you anything, you miserable fool. half measures just damn all involved. "

"You told me last time -" began the other firm, but could not finish. A succession of terrible oaths drowned his punishment, and the father was, in a voice trembling with anger -

"You know they'll tell you all. You only have a few months married. If you have any questions and give you a plausible reason, everything we want and more. You can temporarily set. Everyone will be paid back. It will re-establishment of the firm, and they'll never know what's been done with it. With that amount, Otto, you know I can all the terrible losses to recover, and in less than one year everything will be refunded. But without .... You need to get it, Otto. Hear me, you should. Am I to be arrested for abuse of trust funds? Are our honored name be cursed and spat on? "The old man choked and stammered in his anger and despair.

Shorthouse stood shivering in the darkness and listen in spite of themselves. The conversation had him with him, and he had some reason to be afraid of his neighborhood are known. But right now he realized that he had listened too long and that he should make the two men that they can be tapped for each syllable. So he coughed loudly, and at the same time, rattled the handle of his door. It seemed to have no effect, the vote was as hard as before, protesting the son and the father more and more angry. He coughed again persistently, and deliberately contrived to tumble in the dark against the partition, feeling the thin plates yield easily under his weight, and making a considerable noise in doing so. But the vote was unconcerned, and louder than ever. Would it be possible they have not heard?

By this time Jim was more concerned about his own sleep than the morality of private eavesdropping scandals of his neighbors, and he went out into the hallway and knocked on their door smart. Immediately, as if by magic, the sounds stopped. Everything fell into silence. There was no light under the door and not a whisper was heard inside. He knocked again, but got no answer.

"Gentlemen," he finally closed his lips to the keyhole, and in German, 'Please do not talk so loud. I can hear everything you say in the next room. It is also very late, and I want to sleep. "

He paused and listened, but no answer was forthcoming. He turned the handle and found the door was locked. No sound broke the stillness of the night, except the faint murmur of the wind over the skylight and the creaking of a board here and there in the house below. The cold air from a very early morning crept into the hallway, and made him tremble. The silence of the house began to disagreeable impression on him. He looked behind him and about him, hoping, and yet afraid that something would break the silence. The voices still seemed to ring in his ears, but the sudden silence, when he knocked on the door, affected him much more uncomfortable than the voices, and put strange thoughts in their brains - thoughts he did not like or approve.

Moving from the secret door, he looked over the banister in the space below. It was like a vault deep in the shadows that can hide anything was wrong. It was not hard to fine, he saw an indistinct moving to and fro under him. Was that a figure sitting on the stairs staring at him obliquely awful eyes? Was that a whisper of sound and move there in the dark corridors and desolate landing? Was it just over the unspoken roar of the night?

The wind made an effort overhead, singing on the skylight, and was rattling the door behind him and made him start. He turned back to his room and shut the door slowly, the design in his face like someone pressing against the other side. When he pushed it open and went in a hundred shadowy forms seemed dart quickly and quietly back to their corners and hiding places. But in the adjoining room the sound was completely gone, and Shorthouse quickly got into bed, and left the house with the prisoners, waking or sleeping, take care of themselves while in the region of dreams and silence.

The next day, strong in the sense that the sunlight brings, he decided a complaint against the noisy people in the next room lodge and the hostess ask them to change their vote at such late hours of the night and morning to make. But it happened that they had not seen that day, and when he returned from the office at midnight, it was obviously too late.

Looking under the door when he came to bed he noticed that there was no light, and concluded that the Germans in much the better. He went to sleep on a fully decided that if they came later, waking him with their horrible sounds that he would not rest until he woke up, the hostess and took her punishment with that authoritative twang, in which each word was like the lash of a metal whip.

However, there was no need for such drastic measures, for Shorthouse slumbered peacefully all night, and his dreams - especially in the fields of grain and sheep on the distant farms of the estate of his father - was allowed to run their erratic course unbroken.

Two nights later, however, when he came home tired after a hard day, and wet and blown about by one of the worst storms he had ever seen his dreams - always the fields and sheep - were not intended to as undisturbed.

He had dozed off in that wonderful glow that the removal of wet clothes and cuddling under warm blankets immediately, when his consciousness, hovering on the borderline between sleeping and waking, vague, was plagued by a faint sound that rose from the depths of the following the house, and between the gusts of wind and rain, reached his ears with an accompanying sense of uneasiness and discomfort. It was on the evening air with some pretense of regularity, dying away in the roar of the wind to confirm the distance in the deep, short hushes the storm.

For a few minutes Jim's dreams were colored only - tinted, as it were, by this impression of fear can be accessed from anywhere on him imperceptibly. His consciousness, initially refused to return those taken from enchanted region where he had wandered, and he did not immediately wake up. But the nature of his dreams turned unpleasant. He suddenly saw the sheep huddled together, walking as if frightened away from an enemy, while the fields of waving corn became restless as if a monster were uncouthly move under the pressure stems. The sky was dark, and in his dream, a horrible sound came from somewhere in the clouds. It was actually growing more distinct the sound down.

Shorthouse shifted uncomfortably on the bed with something like a groan of distress. The next minute he woke up and found himself sitting up in bed - listening. Was it a nightmare? He had the bad dream dreams, that his flesh crept and touched the hair on his head?

The room was dark and quiet, but outside the wind howled miserably and drove the rain with repeated attacks against the rattling windows. How nice it would be - the thought flashed through his mind - like the wind, like the west, went with the Sun! They made such devilish noises at night, when the cry of angry voices. During the day they had such a different sound. If only -

Hark! It was not a dream after all, the sound was just louder, and the cause came up the stairs. He noted that he feebly speculate what might be causing this, but the sound was still too vague for him to come to a definite conclusion.

The voice of a church clock striking two made themselves heard above the wind. It was about the hour when the Germans began their performance three nights before. Shorthouse in his head that if they started again he would not put up with it for very long. Yet he was terribly conscious of the difficulty he would have to get out of bed. The clothes were so warm and comforting against his back. The sound, still getting closer, had by then distinguished from the confused cries of the elements, and had decided in the footsteps of one or more persons.

"The Germans, hang 'em!" Jim thought. "But what on earth is wrong with me? So strange I never in my entire life."

He was really shaking, and felt as cold as if in an icy atmosphere. His nerves were steady enough, and he did not reduce the physical courage, but he was aware of a strange feeling of malaise and trepidation, as even the most powerful men is known that experienced when the first grip of a horrible and deadly disease. As the footsteps approached the weakness increased. He felt a strange weariness creeping over him, a kind of exhaustion, accompanied by a growing numbness in the limbs, and a sense of dreaminess in the head, as if perhaps the consciousness left her accustomed seat in the brains and preparing to act on another plane. Strange to say, as was the vitality slowly from his body, his senses seemed to grow more acute.

Meanwhile, steps were already on the landing at the top of the stairs, and Shorthouse, still sitting up in bed, heard a heavy body brush past his door and along the wall outside, almost immediately after the loud knocking of knuckles someone the door of the adjoining room.

Directly, but not so far a sound had gone inside, he heard through the thin partition, a chair pushed back and a man quickly crossed the floor and open the door.

"Oh, it's you," he heard the voice of the son. Had the man, then sit there all the time, awaiting the arrival of his father? To Shorthouse it did not come as a pleasant reflection by all means.

There was no answer to this dubious greeting, but the door was quickly closed, and then there was a noise like a bag or package was thrown at a wooden table and had pushed some distance on it before stopping.

"What is that?" Said the son, with fear in his tone.

"You may know before I go," replied the other gruffly. Indeed, his voice was more than grim: the poor betrayed suppressed passion.

Shorthouse was conscious of a strong desire to stop the conversation before he went on, but somehow his will was not equal to the task, and he could not get out of bed. The conversation went on, every inflection and tone clearly audible above the noise of the storm.

In a low voice of the father. Jim missed some of the words at the beginning of the sentence. It ended with: "but now they have all left, and I managed to get to you know what I'm here for ..... There was a clear threat in his voice.

"Yes," replied the other, "I've been waiting for."

"And the money?" the father asked impatiently.

No answer.

"You've had three days to get in, and I contrived to avert the worst so far - but tomorrow is the end."

No answer.

"Speak, Otto What do you Speak to me, my son? God's sake, I say."

There was a moment of silence in which the old man seemed vibrant accents echo through the rooms. Then in a low voice answered -

"I have nothing."

"Otto!" exclaimed the other with passion, "nothing!"

"I can not get," was almost a whisper.

"You're lying! "Cried the other in half-choked voice." I swear to lie. Give me the money. "

A chair was heard scraping on the floor. Apparently the men sitting across the table, and one of them got up. Shorthouse heard the bag or package drawn on the table, and then a step as one of the men were crossing to the door.

"Father, what's that? Do I have to," said Otto, with the first signs of determination in his voice. There must be an effort on the part of the son in possession of the parcel in question to get the father and to keep it, because between them fell to the ground. A curious rattle followed her contact with the floor. Immediately there were sounds of a fight. The men fought for the possession of the box. The older man with oaths and blasphemous curses, the other in short bursts, the strength of his efforts meant. It was brief, and the younger man had apparently won, because one minute later heard his angry exclamation.

"I knew it. Her jewels! You villain, you will never have them. It is a crime."

The older man let out a guttural laugh short, that Jim's blood froze and made his skin crawl. Not a word was spoken, and for the space of ten seconds, there was a living silence. Then the air vibrated with the sound of a thud, immediately followed by a groan and crash of a heavy body falling on the table. A second later there was an oscillation of the table on the floor and against the partition that separated the rooms. The bed shook for a moment of shock, but the unholy spell was lifted from his soul and Jim Shorthouse sprang out of bed and on the floor in a single bound. He knew that had done horrible murder - the murder of his father by a son.

With trembling fingers, but a determined heart, he lit the gas, and the first thing that his eyes confirmed the evidence of his ears was the gruesome details that the lower part of the partition bulged unnaturally into his own room. The bright paper that it was covered had cracked under the strain and the boards underneath bent to him. How awful load was behind them, he shuddered to think.

All this he saw in less than one second. Since the last stitch on the wall had no sound came out of the room, not even a groan or a foot-step. Everything was just the howling of the wind in his ears which had a note of triumphant horror.

Shorthouse was in the act of leaving the room to wake the house and send for the police - in fact, already had his hand on the doorknob - if anything in the room his attention arrested. From the corner of his eye he thought he saw something move. He was sure, and turning his eyes in the direction he thought he was not wrong.

Something was crawling slowly towards him across the floor. It was something dark and serpentine in shape, and it came from the place where the partition bulged. He stooped to examine it with a feeling of intense horror and disgust, and he discovered that it was moving toward him from the other side of the wall. His eyes were fascinated, and when he could not move. Quietly, slowly, from left to right like a fat worm, it crawled forward into the room beneath his frightened eyes, until he finally could no longer and reached over to touch. But at the moment of contact he withdrew his hand with a suppressed scream. It was slow - and it was hot! and he saw that his fingers were stained with live Crimson.

A second more, and Shorthouse was in the passage with his hand on the door of the next room. It was locked. He plunged forward with all his weight against her, and, to make the final, he fell over in a room that was pitch dark and very cold. In a moment he was on his feet again and try to penetrate the darkness. No sound, no movement. Not even the feeling of a presence. It was empty, miserably empty!

Across the room, he could trace the outline of a window with rain streaming down the outside and the dim lights of the city beyond. But the room was empty, empty appalling, and so still. He stood there, cold as ice, staring, chills listening. Suddenly there was a step behind him and flashed a light in the room, and when he swung his arm as if warding off a tremendous blow, he found himself face to face with the landlady. Immediately the reaction began to set in.

It was nearly three hours in the morning, and he was barefoot and striped pajamas in a small room, in the gracious light he regarded as absolutely empty, carpet-less, and without a stick of furniture, or even a window blind. He stood there staring at the unpleasant landlady. And there they stood and stared silently, in a black box, her head almost bald, her face white as chalk, shading a sputtering candle with a bony hand and peering over it at him with her flashing green eyes. She looked positively awful.

"Waal?" She laconically at length, "I heard yer right enough Guess you could not sleep or just prowlin 'round a little -.! is that it? "

The empty room, the absence of all traces of the recent tragedy, the silence, the hour, his striped pajamas and bare feet - all combined together temporarily to his speech. He stared at her blankly, without a word.

"Waal?" Rattled the terrible voice.

"My dear wife," he burst out finally, "something dreadful -" So far, desperation took him, but no further. He continued stabbing at the positive content.

"Oh, there's been no nothing," she said slowly, still staring at him. "I think you just saw and heard what the others I have never been able to keep people on this floor, most of 'em to catch on sooner or later .. - that is, those who is a kind of rapid and sensitive Only you. being an Englishman I thought you would not mind Nothin 'is really happening, it's just thinkin'. as ".

Shorthouse was beside himself. He felt ready to pick her up and let her fall over the banister, candle and all.

"Look there," he said, pointing to her within an inch of her blinking eyes with fingers that had touched the dripping blood, "Look there, my good woman is only thinking.?"

They stared at one minute, and not knowing what he meant.

"I think so," she said at length.

He followed her eyes, and to his amazement saw that his fingers were as white as usual, and entirely free from the terrible stain that there had been ten minutes earlier. There was no sign of blood. No amount of staring could bring it back. Was he out of his head? Had his eyes and ears such tricks played with him? His senses are false and wicked? He ran past the hostess, into the passage, and got his own room in a few steps. Whew! . . . the partition no longer bulged. The paper was not torn. There was no creeping, crawling thing on the faded old carpet.

"It's all over now," drawled the metallic voice behind him. "I'm going to bed."

He turned and saw the landlady way slowly down again, still shadows of the candle with her hand and staring at him from time to time as she moved. A black, ugly, unhealthy object, he thought, as she disappeared into the darkness below, and the last flicker of her candle threw a queer-shaped shadow along the wall and the ceiling.

Without hesitating a moment, Shorthouse threw himself into his clothes and left home. He preferred the terrors of the storm on the top floor, and he ran through the streets until daylight. In the evening he told the landlady he would leave the next day, despite her assurances that nothing would happen.

"It's never coming back," she said - "that is, not after he was killed."

Shorthouse gasped.

"You gave me a lot for my money," he growled.

"Waal, it's not my show," she says laconically. "I am not a spirit medium. You take risks. Some'll sleep right through and never hear anything. Others, like you, are different and get the whole thing."

"Who is the old man -? Hear it? " Jim asked.

"There is no gentleman at all," she replied coolly. "I told you that you will feel easy as in the case you heard anythin '. You were all alone on the floor."

"Say now," she continued, after a pause, which Shorthouse could think of nothing to say, but unpublishable things, "say now, tell, do you feel kind of cold when the show was a sort of tired and weak , I mean, if you should go to die? "

"How can I say?"

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