That was over seventy years ago this spring, but I still remember it with complete and utter clarity.
I spent four weeks in a hospital in northern Minneapolis getting my jaw re-hinged and my mouth stitched shut. I know if Jones would’ve been there he would’ve made some crack about how the doctors could’ve done everyone a favor and kept stitching until I couldn’t talk at all. I miss him now as much as the day he was taken.
Catherine stopped by to see me one afternoon when I was able to speak and we talked for some time. There were many things she couldn’t, or wouldn’t, tell me, but for the most part she answered my questions.
She said that the thing that had tried to be born from inside me was an ancient spirit that had probably been lurking in our area for quite some time. Whether it was a spirit of the ground or water or wind, she couldn’t say. I told her about the murder of John Whiterock and she said that the possession of Justin Feller was probably Asag’s doing as well. When Whiterock was murdered it appeased the spirit and loosened its hold on the young boy. I asked her if it would have worked again, the murder of someone to release me from its grip and she didn’t answer me, only looked out the window onto the city streets below.
She left when I fell asleep and to this day, even after searching for the last fifty odd years, I haven’t been able to find a trace of Catherine Abercrombie anywhere.
When asked later about the events that happened in Sara May’s bedroom, most who were present couldn’t recall exactly what they’d seen, but one thing was unanimously agreed upon: almost every word Catherine had uttered after the thing had revealed itself had been in that strange language, even though I understood her clearly.
Other than my jaw and mouth, I had no other injuries, internal or otherwise, and was able to come home at the end of June. Much of life in Rath had returned to normal in the wake of my exorcism, but some things weren’t able to heal as most know who’ve gone through trying times.
Arthur Nimble shot himself three weeks to the day after the events at the Tandy farm. Someone passing by his store heard the gunshot and swore up and down that they heard him talking clearly to someone even though his tongue had been torn out by the root.
I stayed on the farm with my mother and father until I turned eighteen and was drafted into the marines. I asked Sara May to marry me before I left and she said she would on the condition that I come home alive to her.
I’m happy to say I kept that promise and it resulted in three beautiful children of our own along with a house I built on my parents’ property after they’d passed away. We just celebrated our sixty-first wedding anniversary and the love that blossomed so many years ago continues to flourish.
I firmly believe that love is what saved me that night from the clutches of something unholy. I don’t know if it was a demon, or a spirit, or a being from another planet, but I do know that it couldn’t stand the power that love exudes.
So many years have passed since the depression ended. People fought, loved, lost, and moved on to other places, different lives. I think about that a lot sometimes when I can’t sleep late at night. It gives me comfort to know the virility of the human spirit and how much we can overcome if we decide to.
But on other nights, when the wind is cutting its teeth against the side of our house, and Sara is asleep beside me, I can’t help but remember those last few seconds before I lost consciousness on that night all those years ago. I can’t unsee what Catherine did with the thing writhing in her hands. How she straightened its body out and how her own mouth widened enough to shove it, fighting and shrieking down into her own body.
I remember how her eyes changed from that placid gray to completely white. And sometimes in those darkest nights, I’m very thankful I never was able to find her again.