Strangers: The Researcher

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Some questions should not be asked.

Professor Reginald McFee joined the Department of Science at the Cross Branch of Miskatonic University in 1929. He was a man exceptionally skilled in the fine and delicate art of chemistry. He was focused, dedicated, and extremely reluctant to speak of his work.

On a July night, I found out why.

There had been a rash of disappearances over the past two months, and I was doing my damnedest to find where the missing people were.

All told, there were seven people, adults, and children, missing. Not a single clue could be found, which was damned unusual for Cross. On most occasions, I can pick up something, and I had decided to resort to calling in a few favors when I spotted something unusual.

A man was hurrying along the road towards the University, and over his back, he had a large gunnysack. From it came a mewling noise, similar to that of a cat in distress.

Since the man was not headed toward the veterinarian’s office, I followed.

His path took him to the science building on the campus, and I entered the building a moment after he did. The man’s well-heeled shoes rang out on the stairs and hid the sound of my own soft treads. When I reached the second floor, I caught sight of the gunnysack as it disappeared into a laboratory on the right.

I was halfway to the door when I heard a wail, and I knew it was the cry of a child and not an animal.

I was too late to save it.

When I eased the door open, I saw Professor McFee standing over a sink while a noxious cloud with a greenish cast to it, rose toward the ceiling. The professor shook his head and muttered, a sound that stopped when I drew my Colt and cocked the hammer back.

Startled, the man turned around, his eyes wide and his belly heaving.

When I asked him where the child was, he gestured toward the sink and explained that the child, like the others, had failed to prove his theory that a soul could be captured.

I put three slugs into his belly, and as he lay dying on the floor, I told him I was testing a theory of my own.

If I’m right, I’ll see him in Hell.

#horror #monsters #supernatural #death

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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