The Terrible Thing
By Duane Hewitt
Copyright 2016 Duane Hewitt. All Rights Reserved.
In that place that falls between what is known and what is thought to be, and where humankind engages in those things that oppose what is morally right and good, is The Terrible Thing.
No deed, despite the depth of its depravity or the monstrosity to which has been given birth from the hearts and deeds of man, is unknown to The Terrible Thing. For The Terrible Thing knows all the dark sins of which mankind is capable. No vile and reprehensible act, not the carnage of war or an evil malevolent will, or the hateful imaginings of the fantastical human mind are free of the final judgment of The Terrible Thing. What man does not possess in jurisprudence and decency, where the human species seems to think it can run rampant in all that it thinks and does, with nary a penance to make right again the ill doings and dark tidings of humankind. And so it is in that place far and between what is understood or assumed to be; where mankind engages in the makings of his own wicked realities; where lower and lower in the impossibly vast ends of an infinite universe, and forever does go the eternal beckoning of a seemingly tolerant creator, does The Terrible Thing out-manipulates this puny and arrogant species that engages in so much hurt and hatefulness that opposes what is fundamental to the function of all life; and at the end of that vacuous and desperate place where creation itself has ceased is the presence of all that can continue to exist in the plane of the most horrid of realities; that which is The Terrible Thing.
The three youths were reviled – hated wherever they went. From their drug-filled ecstasies to the thefts and shootings that left so many victims, this trio of thugs was indeed considered by all who knew them and the many tragedies that they left in their wake, the most abhorrent, the lowest and the most despised. Whenever the coffers got low, always and without exception one of the filthy, young hoodlums found someone to victimize and began the planning of their next scheme. Indeed, there was always a crime to be committed in the interest of the brotherhood.
Even their names were not clear. Nobody knew where they came from… these, the castoffs of perdition… Black Top, on account of his waxy, curly black hair; Dirt, a name picked up because of his perpetually unclean manner; and White Boy, a tongue-in-cheek name given to this youth because he was the white trash of the litter.
The caper would involve a boarding house that was run by a frail old man with a mysterious past. Some say he was in the war, and some said he had fought in both great wars. He oversaw the three-storey boarding house as a place for those who had fallen on hard times and needed help getting back on their feet. Word went out… the date had been set when the three gang members would break in through the front door and, floor by floor, would ascend and steal all that could be carried that night, even if not of great value. Anyone who got in the way would be silenced just as quickly. A short stay of execution would be granted. Was this possession really worth a life? Those that did not comply would finish their time on this earth and the end result would be the ill-begotten gains of the three hooligans. As for the old man, he would be tied and left to rot if he did not cooperate.
So at 2 a.m. in the night of the 15th, Black Top, Dirt, and White Boy plied their trade and entered the big 19th century building at the corner of 10th and Powers. There was a dim light in the dusty old foyer that allowed the three youths to navigate their way into the building, and yet none thought to question why entry into the building had been so easy, or the fact that the place was so quiet, or that no one had heard them enter and called out. Floor by floor the trio crept with stealth that was not unbecoming of the most loathsome of vermin. Room upon room they entered and room upon room there was no one to challenge them. Onward they went, gathering their stolen goods without as much as a single challenger. No phones rang. No sirens sounded. It was too easy, and simply too good to be true.
It was when they ascended to the third floor of the walk-up rooming house that a voice called out. It was the old man, as thin and gaunt and pale as can be imagined. His dirty old shirt hung freely off his lily-white ancient old body. Wisps of white hair fell gangly around his sinewy-like features, black eyes, and vulture-like nose. The old man stood at the end of the long hallway and called out while the three youths took it upon themselves to laugh and jeer. But the three did not plan for what had then been the reaction of the old man: He leered back at them and smiled a broad, evil grin. “You are here, finally,” he said, “after all this time; you have found that which has always been yours – your final resting place.”
There is no verifying that which followed. Those who claimed to be witnesses said they heard hideous screams that lingered long into the night. It is said that through the darkened windows of the old building that once stood at the corner of 10th and Powers, a red glow could be seen through some of the windows, with what appeared to be apparitions dancing in the reflections of the glass, as if in a Sabbath of Devils. Somewhere deep in the bowels of the night, three distinctly different voices sounded, begging for their lives and more; begging for their very souls, for they were granted the privilege of vision into their fates, and at that moment the screams never ceased, not then and not now.
If you are looking for a room in a particularly quiet part of town where you will not be bothered, and where you will be granted the peace and sanctity you may require to restore, to mend, to recover from the hardships and the heartbreak of a difficult life, there is a boarding house at the corner of 10th and Powers where it is said a miserly old man will take you in, with no questions asked. He is said to be very fair and in a strange sort of way, very compassionate; for he has a soft spot for the people of this world that have suffered much and it is said he does what he can to help and offer solace.
But be forewarned! On the main landing of that boarding house, center to the foyer when you enter, is a strange and dark work of art. It stands six feet high and appears to be made of wood, stone, and a number of elements that have the appearance of human skin, bone and hair. At its base is a small silver metal piece, titled, The Terrible Thing, and it is said that if you come close, and peer deeply within, while listening, you will hear the endless screams of three youths that once sought to steal from those who are protected here – that, and you will also hear the screams of thousands upon thousands and many thousands more, that emit through this mysterious old piece of art, that yields its sounds as if like that of a giant conch shell.
Deep, deeper, and deepest go those who dwell in the place of their choosing and a fate known only to The Terrible Thing.
Copyright 2016 Duane Hewitt. All rights reserved.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. No part of this work may be copied or transmitted by any means whatsoever without the prior written approval of the author. Duane Hewitt asserts his rights as the author to this work and its plot, themes and characters, under International Copyright and Intellectual Property Laws.