In all honesty, I thought Jonathan Coffin had died in 1867 when fire tore through the small home he kept on an island in Blood Lake. Part of my reason for this belief was the length of time in which the fire burned: 72 years.
It was a smokeless, terrible fiend which could not be approached for fear of death. I forbade any attempts to examine the flames and threatened the Cross Branch of Miskatonic University with several lawsuits (which, it turns out, is the best way to repel any interest they might have in a subject).
On a warm day in October, I noticed that the fire no longer burned on what had become, not surprisingly, known as Fire Island by some of Cross’ less than imaginative residents.
As soon as I discovered the absence of flames, I set sail for the island and saw immediately that there were other intrepid investigators as well. I later learned that they were graduate students from Miskatonic, whose curiosity drove them forward.
It also cost them their lives.
I was pulling into the lee of the island when I heard gunshots. By the time I reached the students, I found all five of them dead, and Jonathan Coffin sitting in front of his home.
Luckily, Jonathan recognized me, and he allowed me to approach. I asked him where he had been for the past seven decades, and he shrugged.
“Don’t know,” he replied, “but it was hotter ‘n Hell.”
Well, I suppose he was right about that.
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