Jennifer, please forgive me. If there's anything left
of you, please forgive me. I don't imagine I have much
time, so I shall attempt to be brief. I may have only
moments before some wandering denizen of this infernal
house happens along and re-inspires the hunger for
savagery that has clouded my reason for untold hours.
That I am at all lucid right now shocks me considering my
circumstances and I must apologize for the crude medium
I've been forced to use; I have a quill, some paper, but
only my own spilled blood for ink, and that I have in
I was the favored student of one Professor Gordon at
the university, though I've only recently come to realize
the damnation such favoritism could mean. He is a
professor of abnormal psychology with an unhealthy
interest in the occult. He invited my fiancée and me to
this house, ostensibly for dinner, but his true purpose
was far more sinister. Had I any inkling of the
experiment he wished to subject us to, I would have taken
Jennifer and gotten as far away from this place as
possible. Of course, it seems ridiculous to make such
statements now; there was no way to know and wishful
thinking is profitless.
The house itself is a monstrosity, nestled securely
within the thickly wooded hills of a stretch of forgotten
Massachusetts countryside. It is the professor's
hereditary estate and only he and the cruel ghosts of his
ancestors know all the horrors perpetrated here; for
surely God Himself would have intervened long ago had He
the faintest notion of what goes on within these walls.
But this is knowledge I learned at a dreadful cost; when
Jennifer and I first saw it, we were entranced with the
place. The drive was long and we were pleased to have
arrived, just beating the onset of a terrific storm which
proceeded to paint the place into an ominous, yet
intriguing picture: It looked for all the world like the
archetypal haunted house. We were both very amused by our
singular reaction, for our field of study had done much
to expel such mythical concepts: Haunted houses, we both
knew, existed solely in the realm of popular
entertainment. I know better now.
We were greeted at the door by the butler, a strange
little fellow whose features eluded me for the shadows,
and whose voice was a tittering wheeze. He escorted us to
the library where we found Professor Gordon. The
Professor bragged of his arcane books and spoke always in
a conspiratorial manner as if there were others present
in the room who were keyed in to the hidden significance
of his words. Jennifer was clearly perplexed, and I could
offer no explanation since his demeanor seemed so
different from that exhibited in the lecture hall, but it
entertained her greatly and she did her best to
accommodate him. As I look back, there was the clear air
of madness about him: His eyes shone with mirth, but it
was a sadistic kind of mirth as I was soon to realize. At
the time, I thought it was the brandy in him.
After a fashion, the butler announced that dinner was
ready and at his words, the Professor nearly shuddered
with pleasure. Jennifer and I shared a look of confusion
as we moved into the dining room. The Professor remained
at the head of the table straining with inexplicable
anticipation as he told us to sit where we would. The
conversation at dinner was much like that in the library,
though now the Professor became more intense. He asked me
my goals, both professional and personal, and asked the
same of Jennifer. He seemed to find great irony in the
confluence of our career paths, explained himself with a
chuckle, and continued in silence with his meal. The food
was appetizing but unidentifiable and it appeared to
differ by plate.
Eventually, the Professor became intrigued with the
clock and said, "Tick tock," as the hour struck
nine. Just then, there came throughout the house a
resounding clamor that I later realized was the sound of
countless bolts being shot and bars falling before the
windows. The Professor put down his utensils and became
more cordial again. He asked us about the food, taking
special interest in Jennifer's opinion. In a sick parody
of response, she began to convulse slowly but with great
force. As I attempted to voice my concern I found the
sound of my own voice a strange and unfamiliar thing. My
limbs had grown heavy and the room began to spiral: I
could not move.
The professor's face took on a nightmarish quality as
he cackled and spat. "You, my good Richard, have
merely been drugged," he said. "She, on the
other hand, has partaken of a very special dish. One that
is sure to change her life." He laughed anew at his
own macabre humor. He stood up and backed out of the room.
"I'll open the house to you in a little while, but
first, I'll give you some time to be reacquainted."
With that he exited and locked the door behind him.
At first I feared for her health. She seemed wracked
with unutterable agony but then it became clear that
something else was happening. I could do nothing but
watch my poor, lovely Jennifer undergo a hideous bodily
transformation, the details of which I am loathe to pen.
For the first time now, I began to fear for my own safety
and not hers. The thing she had become stared and sniffed
and dashed the china from the table. It leapt before me
and sank both claw and fang deep into my breast. My head
was astir and I felt the pressure of her clinch, but,
because of the narcotic, pain was something far, far away.
I watched with understandably mixed emotions as my life-blood
rushed down my front and sullied the chops of what had
once been my fiancée.
In my prison of flesh I became aware of the beating of
my own heart as it began to drown out all other sounds.
It slowed and slowed until I was aware of nothing else. I
would be dead soon. Or so I thought. It would have been
so simple had that been the case. My dinner plate, gaudy
and large like the rest, exploded suddenly and without
provocation. The shattered remains revealed something odd
that I could not help but focus on as I began to slip
into darkness. It looked rather like a face; a mask
really, wrought in fine, stippled ivory, which somehow
had been baked into the plate.
My next recollection is of waking up alone in the
dining room except for several bloodied forms strewn
about the floor and upon the table. The door was flung
wide and there was the sound of activity beyond,
something scrabbling down the hallway. All was dark, but
I was able to see fairly well which I cannot really
explain except that it must be some property of the mask
that I found affixed to my face and which is still there
now. The noise from the hall grew louder and something
entered the room. It wasn't altogether human, nor was it
purely animal, but some ungodly combination of the two.
As it crossed the threshold, my will abandoned me and
was replaced with indescribable fury. My vision
immediately became a thing filtered through blood-soaked
gauze and my body began to move of its own accord. I was
as a passenger on a train unable to affect my own course
and I watched as my fists struck with precision and
unmitigated violence. My knuckles were soon slick and red
and that incited me all the more. It was then that I
heard the voice in my head. First I took it for lunacy,
then I knew the truth: It was the voice of the mask.
"My price is blood, my product is power," it
whispered. "I am dying and I am to do it insane,"
I thought. "My price is blood, my product is power,"
it repeated. "My delusions are insistent," I
And then it said something that made me think I might
be hearing the voice of another and not that of my own
madness. It said in its horrible whisper, "Blood is
blood," and I began to comprehend its meaning. I was
dimly aware now of my fists rending flesh, tearing at
organs, and shattering brainpans; indeed the dining room
was a gory mire and blood flowed in rivulets. The room
had filled with hideous hybrid creatures and I seemed to
be a staunch nemesis to each and every one. A whispered
laugh echoed in my head as reason faded into the now
familiar and intrusive lust for carnage.
I can only remember flashes of particularly abhorrent
actions I witnessed myself perform -- and I am strangely
unmoved by them now in my sobriety. When the last heart
besides my own stopped beating and nothing more entered
the dining room, a semblance of coherent thought returned
to me. I found myself panting as I climbed clumsily over
masses of broken and unholy corpses. The mask spoke again.
"Power is satisfaction, is it not?" It laughed
at my attempt to deny this.
"Who are you?" I said aloud.
"Look in the mirror," it whispered in my
head, and then it laughed all the harder when I couldn't
bring myself to do this.
"You are my jailor," I whimpered.
"Perhaps. But I am also your liberator and savior.
Do you not live and breathe?"
"Yes, but for how long and for what purpose?"
"As long as there's blood, and you have already
"To pit two obscene powers against one another
and the two of them against the dangers of this house? Do
you answer to the Professor?" I said.
"I answer first to blood, then to you. You wish
to kill him."
I tried to protest but it plumbed the depths of my own
mind far better than I ever could. "The Professor is
clever, but there is a larger threat which my design will
not allow to go unchecked," it said.
"Yes, though she as you knew her is gone...
Mostly." I would say that we struck a bargain, but I
know that really this was just my dawning acceptance of a
course I could not alter. The mask requires blood, and I
require the mask for survival or the wounds I had
incurred would finally take their toll as they are
beginning to now. I also realized that the mask was not
so alien. It looked into my psyche and extracted what it
needed. I was capable of the things it helped or made me
do, it merely acted as a focusing lens and continues to
do so, but for how much longer I cannot say.
What troubles me is how thin the wall is to rabid,
animal violence: I nearly crave it now if only to keep
myself alive -- and alive for what? Justice, I suppose.
Or maybe it's better to call it what it is: Revenge. I
found Jennifer and we fought. I have few and fragmented
memories of our exchange. What remains of her is across
the room before the bookcase. I do not know what to feel.
I have killed a monster, a monster which sought to kill
me, but which was once the love of my life. My victory,
while far from complete, is perhaps tenuous: One of her
blows left the mask with a long crack and it has grown
silent for a time. I go now in the hopes that the mask is
still hungry, that blood is its balm for all things, for
I intend to satiate it, if at all possible, with all that
remains in this wicked, wicked house.
March 3, 1918