"Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world."-Mary Shelley
I am Addison Poe and presently, I am in the process of writing a new novel, far away from the tormenting spirits that had pursued the owner of the Allan Mansion. I do not expect for the reader to fully understand the grievous nature of the intensity of my dreadful experience. Therefore, I shall proceed with the incontrovertible facts of the terror that had existed in that haunted house of reprobation.
Upon the late afternoon of October the 30 of the year 1888, I had arrived by carriage from Boston to the lone Victorian mansion, on the outskirts of the town of Amherst in Massachusetts. I had been offered an inheritance, by a wealthy man, who claimed he was a distant kin of mine; even though of his appellation, I was not totally apprised of its distinctive lineage. His name was Benjamin Allan, and his proud descendancy was directly attached, to the original settlers that had been established in the New England region for centuries. I could not forget the indelible image I beheld of the unique architecture of the Stick style representation and the wood exteriors on the second and third floors. The first floor was constructed of brownstone from a nearby quarry. On top of the roof, there was an imposing tower that had loomed over the shorter turret to the left. Once there, my carriage was taken to the carriage house in the rear. I was promptly greeted at the gate of the front door, by a fellow that was dressed in an overcoat that had a cut in the Chesterfield shape, with a short shoulder cape worn over it and a top hat. The autumn breeze had brought the cold. He was a certain banker, by the name of Mr. Eugene Landon. I was thankful about the suggestion of the inheritance, but I had questioned along the trip, the propriety of my selection.
After we had exchanged our pleasant salutations and introductions, Mr. Landon led me into the house. Inside I had seen the interior of the composition of the mansion and there was an evident sign of degradation. The rickety staircase and the crudity of the dusty furniture were in need of absolute repair and lacked the charm of its anterior refinement and antecedents. He promised to refurbish the rooms and halls in the mansion within a week, once the new purchase of the house was then finalized. I was not cognizant of the purchase of the home, and I had the general impression that there was more information that Mr. Landon had to disclose to me, in the comfort of our privacy. At first, I did not want to be inopportune in the matter, since the involvement of the transaction of the house I had thought did not implicate me. I was never prepared for the developments that had transpired afterward. My original intention was to sojourn in Amherst, until the entire duration of the signing of the will had proceeded forth. I was extremely eager to know more details, about the former life of my distant kin that I knew nothing of great significance. After all, I had not met or known this Benjamin Allan. In fact, I had not heard previously, his illustrious name mentioned to me, by any member of my immediate family. Truly, I could not comprehend the inducement for his generosity, since we had no acquaintanceship, except the actual link to the patronage of our affiliation.
"Mr. Landon, if I may inquire, how was I of all the members of the family chosen, for this inheritance?" I asked.
"I would assume definitely from the details of the established will of Mr. Allan that he must have had discovered your existence, Mr. Poe."
"But that does not explain my inclusion!"
"I cannot answer for Mr. Allan, since he is no longer among us. I can only respond to the legal matter. He had specified the urgency to locate you. The importance of the renovation of the house cannot be permitted to invalidate its worth."
"Forgive me if I seem incredulous or I am expostulating. Surely, you must understand my doubts and questions!"
"Frankly, I did not expect that Mr. Allan would have disappeared so unannouncedly!"
"What do you mean?"
"Oh, I thought you were aware of the mysterious circumstances of his disappearance!"
"I was not informed about the particulars of his perplexing disappearance."
"Pardon, the indiscretion Mr. Poe, but I had the assumption that you knew of this vital information. Nevertheless, it does not matter, and I am not the indicated one to make that private disclosure. My only concern at the moment is that the mansion has been in constant requisition, for a new proprietor. If I was you, I would requite the benevolence or benignity of my benefactor, with a judicious approbation."
"Perhaps, you are correct in your recommendation, but as you realize, I am an inquisitive man by nature."
"Cheer up Mr. Poe! You are by far the most rational relative of Mr. Allan I have met. The rest of them are nothing than inseparable parasites. There was an inveterate distrust of them by Mr. Allan, and it all revolved, around the invidious greed among them."
"I don't know how to explain it, but there is something peculiar and eerie, about this house that appears an inexplicable mystery."
I had noticed there was an inhibition and indisposition that was plainly seen in his expression, when asked the question, "Oh, as to the inner secrets of the mansion, that I am afraid, I cannot answer! You don't believe in wandering ghosts now, Mr. Poe?"
For the time being, it was not necessary to persist in my inquiry, but I pondered his innocuous remark. Thereafter, I had ceased my questions and proceeded to allow Mr. Landon to finish his duties properly, and the will was signed. I attentively read the whole document and had discussed at length, the matter of the sale of the house. It was too premature to make a hastened decision on whether or not, I was going to stay with the property, or simply seek a genuine profit from the purchase of the new owner. This would require time and a sagacious induction to surmise. According to Mr. Landon I had one week to determine the outcome of the mansion. He did not want to confound or precipitate my decision, but he did refer to the injunction that was imposed on one of the other relatives that was in complete objection of the pertinent business endeavors of the property. I was not one to be frightened in such a facile manner, by any haughty gesture or brash impudence. However, I did not want to embroil myself, in a scandalous contention, with any family members that would ultimately exacerbate the situation. Mr. Landon had departed the property, and he told me that I could stay at the local inn in Amherst that was only a few miles ahead in distance. He was going to remain behind to lock up and finish his additional paperwork. He had said that he would meet me at the house the next day.
I was kindly taken by the carriage driver to the local inn afterward. The bumpy road had caused the wheels of the carriage to move side to side, but we managed to arrive, without any incident. The innkeeper was an elderly man of small stature, but I had noticed his conspicuous stare and observation. He owned the inn, and it had belonged to his family for several decades. Even though I was from Baltimore, I was well acquainted, with the New England mystique and traditions. At the inn, I was given a room on the second floor of the two story building and the ironic thing was that I had a nice view from my room of the Allan Mansion that gave me clear visibility. The realization of my actual circumstance of good fortune had made me wonder, about the validity of Mr. Allan's claim of mutual kinship between us, within our maternal association. I was a Poe on my paternal side, while he was an Allan. Our affinity was most definitely on our mother's side of the family tree. Unfortunately, I was not very informed of that side of the family's correlation. Regardless of the mysterious abnormality, I had conceded the fact that the house was mine to decide its immediate future and solicitude. Although I did not know that well the banker Mr. Landon, I had entrusted him with the arrangements of the property, since he was a man of a sanguine comity and notable reputation.
The reconditioning of the house was a requisite for the reversion of the property, but the expropriation of the seclusive mansion was something that I did not wish to disrupt the main concourse of the town. There was this pending matter of the anonymous relative, who I was notified was a Mr. Steven Bowers. He was a distant kin as well like myself, and was related to Mr. Allan on his mother's side of the family. When I spoke to Mr. Landon the banker the following morning, he had warned me about the recalcitrance and recrimination of Mr. Bowers. He had told me that he was not reticent in his tongue and retractions. His obvious tone of condescension could be construed, as an evident sign of his refractoriness and banal hubris. I had explained to Mr. Landon that I was only concerned with the renewal of interest in the property and the receptivity of the townspeople. Mr. Landon had told me that he could not stay long, since he had other business to attend to in Amherst, with his clients. We discussed the issue of the sale of the house. He had suggested that once the mansion was remodeled it could be placed on the market, if I had decided to sell the house. I had understood the cogency of his argument, but I was not fully determined, whether or not, this was the cogitative recourse for me to undertake purposely. I could not dismiss the feasibility of the value of the house if sold. The retention of the facts was enough to stir my thoughts into a deep contemplation. It was difficult to imagine how I could explore the idea of my renunciation of the property or abdicate my responsibility, to my ties of kindred and congrousness. My finances were not that excessive, and the transaction if completed would be a definite boon for my economy. There were several items in the house that were priceless antiques that would fascinate any antiquarian. But there were two items in particular that had captured my attention mindfully, an 18th century marble top Kingwood commode, and a small ornamental box that was a reliquary in gilded silver, with niello and a glass cabochon set over a tinted foil.
"These two objects Mr. Landon are remarkable in their features and their decoration. I would only be speculating on why they are here in the house, amidst the state of utter dishevelment."
"Oh, your relative Mr. Allan was a very prodigious buyer and seller of antiques and invaluable relics of history."
"I see! What can you tell me of his personal inclinations with the townspeople, such as faith and good will?"
"He was always a man of reciprocity and religiosity. He treated each and every person in accordance to his judicious mien. He was never a man of extreme complacency; though he had one compunction and that was the moral decadence of society."
"As an assuming man of no religious attachment, I can educe, that we share an unusual characteristic that is the common passion for antiques."
"It does seem that way Mr. Poe, but Mr. Allan was also an art collector, such as the gallery of paintings that are kept in the studio, under the sheets. If you wish, I can show them another day!"
"Of course! I would be interested in seeing the portraits!"
"Oh, it is getting late, and I must be going. I will meet you here tomorrow in the morning at our usual time. Take care for now! Will you be staying or leaving with me?"
"If you don't mind Mr. Landon, I will stay here for a while and then have the carriage take me back to the inn."
"Suit yourself, Mr. Poe! Until then!"
As his carriage was pulling away from the estate, another carriage had been approaching, from the solitary patch of road from the point of convergence, between the countryside and the town of Amherst. A lone stranger had descended from the carriage and directed himself toward the front gate, where I was standing. The gentleman had identified himself, as Mr. Steven Bowers, the exact man who had contended the validity of the will. He was indeed, a very pretentious fellow with a haughty mien, who was of average height and stature. The one telling feature of his physicality was the effulgent twinkle of his large conspicuous eyes that reflected his disdainful look. He was not a modest fellow, who had come for a convivial visit. Instead, his obvious intention was to meet me in person and warn me of my mettlesome intrusion, in the matter of the stipulation of the will of Mr. Allan.
He expatiated on his expressible right and sudden determination for the property, based on his imprescriptible interpretation of the law. However, I had informed him that the property had been valued for probate. I had demonstrated a valid copy of the will and its equity, with my legible signature, and I could sense the repression of his anger, as he clenched his fist in opposition. Nevertheless, he did not refrain from the potency of his argument. I was firm in my conviction and resolution, and I told him that I would not disclaim my inheritance, as a volitional act. He had warned me anew, but I did not heed his idle threat, and I dismissed his act of disparagement or his dissuasive conduct. He had construed my words as cloddish and injudicious on my part, while I had comprehended the blatant interposition of his remark, as a desperate exertion. He said that he would return with his counsel at once, and I made the acknowledgement of my reliance of the law and the actual confirmation of the inheritance. I was more concerned, with making the necessary provisions of the house, then the insertion of his inadmissible evidence presented in the courts or his innuendos.
When I had spoken to Mr. Landon again at the house, the following morning, I commented to him the visit of Mr. Bowers and his brazen provocation toward me. He was not that surprised to hear, about my encounter with the enigmatical Mr. Bowers, but he did assure me that whatever petulant prevarication or demand that Mr. Bowers had would be rejected by the courts of Massachusetts, in spite, of the deponents of any future deposition. We decided on the betterment of our judgment to discuss the issue of the status of the property. This matter I pondered subjectively the previous night, and I had concluded that it was in my best interest to sell the property in a legal transaction. I told Mr. Landon to proceed in the refurbishment of the mansion at once. We had agreed that I would stay in Amherst, until the property was sold and the new proprietor would be granted his proprietary rights afterward.
We had entered the mansion and conversed about the general arrangements that would include a fresh coating of varnish overlaid
that would have a scintillating lacquer finished, "There is much to be done Mr. Poe, and if we are to get a good prize on the market, then we must repair and redecorate every nook and cranny of the property. We must begin from the interior of the house and then continue with the exterior portion that has been exposed more to the periods of the inclement weather, throughout the years."
"It will not be an easy task to achieve, but I trust that you have the proper personnel to assist in this endeavor conscientiously!"
"Of course Mr. Poe! I would not jeopardize the transaction of the mansion, since our bank would make a considerable profit."
"I take it then that we are in absolute agreement, with the decision taken!"
"I regret that it was achieved, under these indivisible circumstances."
"I suppose that there is much about my relative that I must explore, with the utmost sedulous care."
Mr. Landon had showed me the area, where the dusty portraits of Mr. Allan were stored in the house. I was not certain of what I was in stored of, until I had reached the place. The sundry portraits had been uncovered by Mr. Landon and were polished. The dirt and stains were removed, and the essence of the portraits was reanimated, amid the stark dreariness. I had found them to be well painted and their individual concepts conveyed magnificently. It was difficult to conceive that the house was once in a pristine fashion and embellishment. What could have caused the plausible deterioration of the house? From what Mr. Landon had explained, Mr. Allan had disappeared one day and never returned or was seen in Amherst again. Many people believe that the unusual outcome was connected to the mystery of the house, or so that was presupposed in the end. The concurrence of the truth was undetermined, as was the thorough perscrutation of the police. The reputation of Mr. Allan was firmly established in the community and region; even though he was known to have presumptive enemies that inveighed him constantly, with his investments and had lacked probity of proper etiquette. In time, the relation between Mr. Allan and the others had caused the estrangement of the local denizens and him. In my humble estimation, I was not convinced of his abrupt disappearance, but I was not cognizant of the entire facts of his insoluble case or his whereabouts. The only thing that I was sure of was the recent property I was handed, as an inheritance proffered.
Within a week the complete refurbishments of the interior mansion were finalized. Thus, the house was ready to be sold, with my consent. My residence was in Baltimore, and I was willing by my procurement to find a worthy owner that would take excellent care of the vacant home and property. This much I had owed in fidelity to the original proprietor Mr. Benjamin Allan. Thereafter, Mr. Landon gave me a list of the potential buyers of the property, and their names were John Crane, Thomas Baumgarten, George Watkins, Edmund Garrett, Patrick McKinney, Michael Doyle and Paul Wagner. They were all originally from Amherst, but ironically none of them had been living in the town. I did find this oddity to be a bit suspicious. Nevertheless, I had confided in Mr. Landon's background search on each of these men, in an orderly manner and had great expectations.
When the purchase of the property was approaching its finality, we were visited once again in person, by the obstinate Mr. Bowers, who strangely enough said he had forfeited his claim and retracted his audacious accusations. I was anxious to know of his concocted inveiglement and remonstrance. He had brought a man, who had asserted that he was his counsel, a Mr. Edgar Sharpe. He was addressed by Mr. Landon, and they spoke in privacy. I had no quarrel with Mr. Bowers, but there was no discourse I had wanted to partake with him, or opine any matter about the specifics of the will. I had learned that his selfish prerogative had changed. He had a sudden exigency to resolve with me. My curiosity to hear his proposal was heightened, by his immediate reaction and attempt at persuasion that I had perceived. I did not believe, at first, in his absolute resignation, since he was feigned in his presentation. I did not trust in his felicitous words that were expressed feelingly.
Mr. Bowers had underestimated my intellectual and noscible wit beforehand, in his unfavorable premeditation. He was no longer this renowned man of affluence. He had amassed insurmountable gambling debts, and he had sought to impose his foisted impression forcibly, upon my character. However, he failed miserably in his acrimonious dispute and ostensible purpose. After his attorney and Mr. Landon had finished their conversation, I was apprised of the important details. According to Mr. Landon, Mr. Bowers was willing to forswear his legal claim for the sole inheritance and obstruction of justice, if I had conceded to his singular demand of a partial distribution of the inheritance that was an equitable share. To Mr. Bowers it was a concrete pact of a conciliatory gesture and a concerted effort. I wanted to obviate this conflict at once, but I had still considered his gesture, as overboldness on his part. Mr. Landon was in full agreement, and he made my decision known to Mr. Bowers and his counsel. I was only willing to offer a fourth of the profit earned from the sale of the property. Mr. Bowers flounced out of the estate in vehemence, with my paltry proposition. He had finagled me, with his venal tactics and feint, but was then unsuccessful in that endeavor. We had ended at variance, and our ideas were vastly at the opposite point of views and exchanges verbally. The transaction was formalized and not voidable. I felt after Mr. Bowers' departure that I had not seen the last of him or his peevish attitude. I had hoped that I was absolutely wrong in my instinctive intuition. His final words were an utterance of a foul umbrage.
"I shall not stay idly by, as you steal that of which a bastard is not entitled!"
I had reciprocated with a gesture of my own, and struck him in the face, with my closed fist, "I rather be a bastard than a pathetic craven, such as yourself!"
I do not know how he obtained the slanderous information that I was an illegitimate son. He had fallen to the ground, and when he rose to his feet, he dared me to a foolish duel. He soon would desist after the wise recommendation of his attorney. The unpardonable stain of my possible murder was enough to dissuade the mediocrity of his pompous act of valiance logically. He dusted off the dirt on his clothing, grabbed his top hat and left in his carriage promptly, with a defiant smirk.
Afterward, I forgot the heated confrontation with Mr. Bowers and his affectation. We had reentered the house and continued the business of the arrangements of the visit of the interested purchasers of the property. The vestigial opacity had then been replaced, with the variations in the wondrous colors bedecked so magnificently, in the interior composition of its original form and grandeur. At the end of the day after the gentlemen had visited and seen the property, Mr. Crane had become the new owner of the Allan Estate and was given the deed of the property. He would not occupy the mansion, until the upcoming week, when his servants would arrive a day before his arrival. I had acquiesced to remain in Amherst, for that planned duration. I was a publisher and author, who had written numerous novels of Gothic horror, but never did I suspect the fathomless malignity I had witnessed. I was extremely grateful, for Mr. Landon's diligence and his appreciation for my kindred. Due to the fact that I had the money acquired, I decided to spend my time in leisure, within the town and townspeople. There was much to be informed about the history of Amherst. I was mindful of its historical pertinence in the state, during its colonial epoch. This was my first visit to the town, and it was my only scheduled visit.
That night I had visited the only local museum constructed in Amherst and was intrigued to know the verity of the Allan Mansion and the descendants of Mr. Allan. The curator had given me some thick volumes on the topic of the history of Amherst. As for the Allan house and the peerage of Mr. Allan, there was an unusual story, about the mansion that dealt with unspeakable witchcraft. It was recorded in the early 18th century that the mansion was built, over the deceased bodies of a former graveyard that had been destroyed and defiled, by the offspring of the Puritans. Naturally, this was all unfounded confabulation and hearsay. But what was more coincidental was the fact that the first proprietor was related to me, through Mr. Allan. His name was Theodore Allan, and he purchased the land officially in 1715, from the prior English governor Sir William Hampshire, who had relinquished his deed and had returned to England. I had not considered myself a man of superstition and malicious gossip. Thus, I did not get ruffled, by the things I had read meticulously.
After the museum, I went back to the inn and had meditated the circumstantial and reputed events established. I had difficulty sleeping and I was leery of the vilification of my estranged relative. The accusation of witchcraft was hardly a genuine practicality I could endorse so reasonably. The local university and museum had received several endowments from the Allan family. Yet there was a paucity of persons that made the asseveration that he was no magnanimous man in his life, but I could not believe that he was truly, a libertine man of no opprobrium whatsoever.
I would be then awakened the next day to the tidings of the ghastly death of Mr. Bowers. Incredibly, he was discovered murdered inside the house. I was stunned by this disclosure and even more, when the local police had knocked on my door at the inn to question me. They asked about my whereabouts of last night. I had no objection with their inquiry and therefore, I answered every question honestly. At the presumed hour of the death, I was at the museum. The curator had avowed for my presence. Mr. Bowers was found bludgeoned to death in one of the corridors. After the police officers had left, I went to the house immediately. I had called Mr. Landon and informed him of Mr. Bowers' death. As I had entered the house, I sensed the energy of a mysterious nature. There was something amiss about the house. What I did not foresee was the embodiment of an inimical force of evil that was attached to the house intrinsically. There was an effusion of a coccineous blood, and there were scant intimations of the murderer, but there was a lone cruet that held blood placed in the dressing table. There was also an object that seemed to be an ornamental tablet of silver medal, with the monogram of a name inscribed. I had noticed the name resembled the surname of Allan. These two items had not been there before. Whatever the motive was, the police were obfuscated, by the lack of evidence. The whole incident with my disturbing encounter with Mr. Bowers was witnessed, by Mr. Sharpe. But Mr. Sharpe had been arrested for accepting a bribe from a politician and was guilty of malfeasance.
It did not take long, for the discovery of the murder weapon afterward. Much to my amazement it was found in my room at the inn enfolded in a bloody handkerchief. The police officers were once again questioning me, about the death of Mr. Bowers. How on earth was I going to explain in a feasible manner of tangibility, this apparent admission of my guilt? The fingerprints of blood on the bludgeon were the key to my culpability or my exoneration. The questions were succinct and direct in their overtone, and they required definite answers that were not any procrastination of the truth that was aligned, with the concurrence of the events that led to the terrible murder of Mr. Bowers. Whomsoever that had killed Mr. Bowers had framed me for his murder, with an insidious precision. This bizarre subterfuge was of no facile maneuver or accomplished task.
I was taken into custody, but not charged with the murder of Mr. Bowers yet. I spent the day in the county jail, as I pondered who was behind this notional and macabre machination. I was confident of my innocence, and I knew that I could prove it. When I spoke to Mr. Landon, he was so nervous that he floundered, through his affirmation of his testimony that made him fluster before me. I had not seen him, in the distressing and overanxious condition. He had obtained an attorney on my behalf, and I was subsequently, released on bond, with only hints and accusations of my clear participation. Any offhand remarks I uttered would be observed with scrutiny. The extenuating circumstance of my ordeal had evolved to an unsettling quandary that had transpired unknowingly. Upon my release, I stayed in the house, because I had feared the adverse reproach of the inhabitants and I had admittance to the property. I applied my forethought to assist me in my decisions and actions; although it was difficult to eschew the fact that I was considered a main suspect in the murder of Mr. Bowers.
The conceivable assumption of my guilt began to gnaw my conscience and my gentility with a qualm that I could not disregard nonchalantly. I had confuted the qualitative facts in my refutation and supposed nocence. The tidings had not reached the new proprietor Mr. Crane, and no one had known of his purchase of the estate. I could not allow myself to be at the mercy of the judge and court who would dispense justice unfavorably upon me. I had to galvanize my profound thoughts and contemplate my next step carefully and not aimlessly. There was a sudden eeriness that had encompassed the house. Perhaps, I was overreacting, and the situation with the murder of Mr. Bowers had compelled my discomposure. It was impossible to find quietude, amid the averseness and disillusionment I was facing. However, I had no other recourse in the matter. I had been patiently waited for Mr. Landon's visit. The need to speak to him was of a paramount interest. When we had spoken, he had informed me that Mr. Crane had requested my presence in the house. Apparently, he was not aware of my damaging implication in the murder of Mr. Bowers. The evidence against me was very incriminatory to say the least, but I had a solid alibi. Mr. Landon had discerned my preoccupation and made the keen suggestion that I remain vigilant at all times. When I had inquired the reason, he merely stated the killer of Mr. Bowers was still at large, among the community of Amherst. I felt uncomfortable with that ominous possibility.
Two days had elapsed and there was yet no evidence of the identity of the culprit. I had been waiting for Mr. Landon to arrive, and I had been watched during that time, by the police, as they conducted their thorough investigation. I on the other hand had attempted to understand the inducement for the murder. All that I could reconcile with the events was the effective pattern employed by the murderer, who was not merciful in his execution. How was the murder related to the Allan Estate in the end? And who was to profit from my misfortune? I had no actual enemy of hostility that wanted to cause me harm. Thus, the clues were few and inconclusive to substantiate a good case or an adjunct to base a fundamental argument. While I had been observing the recent alterations to the mansion, I heard a door creak wide open. The door was of one of the upper rooms. I walked toward the proximity and then entered the room. I thought it was Mr. Landon, who had come inside, without my notice. I called out his name, but there was no response in return. Suddenly, I descried the shocking image of Mr. Landon dead on the floor. I was immediately horrified, with the grisly sight. He was stabbed to death and there was blood scattered everywhere. I knew that if the police found his body inside the house and me present, they would accuse me of the murder of Mr. Landon, without a doubt. I had to react quickly and with considerable prudence. As I was in the middle of the room, I saw the oscillation of the chandeliers and had realized that someone had been in the house recently. What if that person was still inside and worse was the hardhearted murderer? I would not have to wait long.
There was a knock on the front door, and there stood a gangling fellow. It was Mr. Crane, who had appeared unannounced. He excused himself for not informing me, about his untimely visit. He had sensed my unnerving behavior, as I gave him a genial welcome. I had to disguise the obvious fear I had of Mr. Crane finding the dead body of Mr. Landon upstairs. I was not given sufficient time to think of what to do with the dead body. Mr. Crane who was a man of an equable disposition had insisted on seeing the interior configuration of the Victorian mansion. I was hesitant to answer and he asked me if I was occupied in my thoughts and lapse of concentration. For a moment I was, but my rapid instinct caused me to react rationally.
Once he had entered, I took him around the house to display the fantastic renovations made. It was such a morbid situation considering that upstairs, the poor Mr. Landon was stone dead on the floor. The ambiguous nature of the two murders was the abiding accompaniment of a series of abominable acts of depravity. Mr. Crane's mien did not suspect anything unusual I had presumed. Of course, the dead body was a definite sign of an ocular proof of a murder. We were in the foyer of the first floor, when there was blood dripping from the staircase above and a loud moaning was heard afterward. Panic entered in me, and I dreaded that Mr. Landon was not dead, as I had believed. The noise sounded like the tortured soul of a person. I knew that if I allowed for Mr. Crane to climb the staircase, he would surely locate Mr. Landon. I had to prevent him forthwith, and I picked up, a brass piece of antique striking him on the head. Mr. Crane fell immediately to the floor and was immovable to the point that I was not certain if he was alive or deceased.
My panic swiftly became absolute desperation, when another knock at the door I heard, and the utterable voices of policemen were calling my name. I did not know if it was the semblance of madness that had controlled my actions, or it was a ceaseless entanglement of impetuosity. Either way, I was doomed if the police discovered the dead or wounded body of Mr. Landon. I had left behind Mr. Crane in the foyer and headed toward the front door. I had a matter of seconds to recompose myself and open the front door. The police entered and began to ask direct questions, about the whereabouts of Mr. Landon. According to the police, Mr. Landon was reported missing and was last seen entering the Allan Estate by a witness. The horrid events were accelerating out of control. I had understood the precarious gravity of the situation, and I could not let the police arrest me, for senseless crimes that I did not commit. Yet I had no other viable option, but to comply. There was heavy sweat pouring down on my face and the palms of my hands. It was then conspicuously detected by the police that were suspicious of my strange comportment. They had asked for permission to search the house, and I was forced to permit their search, with my volitient approbation. I could not dispose of three police officers; although the compulsion to save myself was overpowering. I had never contemplated murder, but my apprehension had turned into an ungovernable trepidation. In the end I suppressed that unthinkable thought and allowed them to investigate the house. I shuddered with total fright, and the echo of the whistling wind was heard from outside. However, when they had passed the foyer, there was no trace of Mr. Crane. He had simply vanished from our sight.
Then, they looked up and saw the upper rooms. They gradually climbed the staircase and walked through the contiguous corridor. They examined the rooms and found nothing. Soon, they would head to the room where Mr. Landon's body had been left on the floor. This was the moment I had feared exposed, before the police officers. They had located the body of Mr. Landon, and he was not moving. There was no doubt this time, he was dead. There was something in one of his pockets of his waist coat, and it was a paper, with the written words of "Beware of Mr. Crane, he is not who you think he is. He is the real murderer, Mr. Benjamin Allan in flesh." This assertion if confirmed was unbelievable to be true. Mr. Allan was accused of being a dissolute man of evil.
Were the groans I had heard, the groans of other sequestered victims of this deadly game of the killer? Where in God's name was Mr. Crane or whoever he was in person? Was he still in the house? Did he escape? The police officers attempted to use the telephone, but the cables were cut. Someone had cut the cables from inside and outside. It had to be the murderer himself. But who was the vicious fiend? The police officers had presumed my involvement in the murder of Mr. Landon and were eager to hear my disavowal. The circumstances and motive had inculpated me directly. I was not able to unmask my frantic thoughts, and I demonstrated my atwitter state of mind so visibly. I was extremely nervous that I had stammered incoherent words to justify my innocence. They did not seem to believe me and had instead assumed my complicity in the murder of Mr. Landon. They asked who else was in the house and I answered no one. I could not tell them that Mr. Crane was also in the house; even though he was the possible murderer. Surely, Mr. Crane would reveal to the police the fact that I had attacked him from behind and it would be my word, against his solemn affirmation. This would definitely compound my troubles and aggravate my predicament.
When I thought I was going to be arrested and taken to the police station to be questioned for the murder of Mr. Landon, Mr. Crane had entered the room holding a hunting rifle in his hand. He said not one word and fired several bullets at the police officers, before they could react. The police officers were all dead lying on the floor. It was a horrendous sight of blood and mindless confusion. I was the only one that had survived the wrath of Mr. Crane. His graceless smile was reflective of his nonplussed misanthropy and ill will. After he killed the police officers in cold blood and in a heartless fashion, he had pointed the hunting rifle at me and directed his derogatory words of complete derangement of the police officers to me so plainly.
"Come now Mr. Poe! You should not regret their deaths, since they died deservedly of what they sought!"
"Who are you really? Am I to assume, you are Mr. Benjamin Allan, who has returned?"
"Indeed, I am Mr. Allan reincarnated in flesh and bones! I must commend you and Mr. Landon, for the marvelous refurbishments done to the house. I detest that I had to permit the total deterioration and obsolescence of the house, but this was not optional."
"Why did you do all this? For what reason?"
"Oh, it is a long story, but I shall relate the necessary details. You see Mr. Poe I have been planning this concoction if you wish to call it that, for some time. I had difficulty in finding a relative that I could trust. I could not merely grant my trust in the other idiots of our family, since they are nothing more than greedy leeches that would sell their soul to the Devil like I have done in the grander scheme of my intent. I had utilized a distractive measure of actual dissimulation to accentuate my deceitful equivocation. How else could I actuate this masterful plan?"
"You used me, as her your sacrificial accomplice. The inheritance was only a bait to lure me into your trap and mansion."
"Exactly, and it all developed according to my plan and sapient consideration."
"But why allow the sale of the mansion and why did you murder Mr. Bowers and Mr. Landon?"
"If you must know, first, the sale of the property was only a peerless diversion. I had accrued my fortune, from a gainful inheritance of my own. My father was a naive man, who had worshiped his children, and I suppose that was his greatest flaw that led to his sudden downfall. As for your other question, I killed Mr. Bowers, because I could not allow him to disrupt my plan, and moreover, he was an intolerable lout that had to be silenced. As for Mr. Landon, I regret killing him, since he was a man of accreditation and was a dedicated employee of the family. I was inside the home upstairs, when he had discovered my presence. Naturally, I could not permit him too to ruin my plan. Therefore, I had to get rid of him."
"Why did you disappear in all these years? And what now? Am I your next victim?"
"Oh, you could say I took a sabbatical leave to pursue other activities outside of Amherst. Verily, the propagation of the rumors of my demise or disappearance was exaggerated, as a belittling premise of futility. And what is going to happen to you, you have two choices. Either you kill yourself and it would be a suicide, or I shall kill you. I do enjoy the thrill of murder."
He let out a guffaw and had pointed the rifle at me and was going to pull the trigger, when a pounding was heard on the door that led to the cellar below. The chandelier in the room had begun to sway side to side, and the shutters began to flap. The lamplights then became dim, and we listened to the sounds of indefinite voices around us. His grotesque sense of gratification abated, and he ordered me to walk toward the door of the cellar in the cutting acidity of his gruff tone of speech, as he commanded with his rifle. We climbed down the staircase and headed toward the door of the cellar. We could hear the thousand voices of the dead spirits, whose souls were trapped within the cellar. When we approached the door, a rapid gust of the wind had entered through the windows and made us flinch. Mr. Allan had gnashed his teeth in anxiety, with this unwanted obtrusion of vagarious souls. He had ordered me upstairs, and I climbed the staircase, when a preternatural force of an inimitable terror of eidolons had pounded the door open and rose from the old graveyard of the dead. Some of them had started to come out of the walls that were replete with pools of pouring thick blood, while we began to climb the staircase. There was a glaring stare of inordinate fright in the eyes of Mr. Allan, as he was distraught with chills of horror, and he had recognized the devious souls of maleficence that pursued him. He lurched backwards to escape, but he fell down the staircase and broke his neck and had died. The agency of retribution had come to take the soul of Mr. Allan for the uncontested accountability of his murdering spree. They had no precise lineaments of definition, except a vitreous form. They made me recoil in dread and disbelief. I had feared for my extrication from the earth, but my extirpation would not occur. Instead, the horrific eidolons were liberated by the death of Benjamin Allan. They soon would disappear into the rapid gust of the wind that blew before the shimmering of the gloaming. Within a minute, there was a muffle sound of placidity that had overtaken the prior haunted grassation of extremity. The horrifying blood had evaporated, and the grisliness was over.
In the end, I was exonerated from the murders and there was instrumental evidence of Mr. Allan's evil acts of murders that were germane to the investigation. He had avoided his detention, with the detachment from his indubitable reality, but not the remission of his remitting sins that had brought abasement. His despotic traits could not placate his careless whims of death. The absconder of justice was dead and so was the lucid intervals of his mental vacuity and hardihood, as a man of tremendous exploits. I suppose the only thing I was guilty was the preponderant gullibility of accepting a gracious inheritance, as a birthright. I never quite understood the veracity of the abnormal nature of the inscrutability of the phenomenon that had happened in that Victorian house. Perhaps it was better if I had acted in abnegation and had never accepted the inheritance from a man I knew nothing, with the exception of our ties of kindred. The fleeting ghosts were I believe a confluence of innumerable souls, from the fragmentary remains of the old graveyard built before the mansion. If I had known about the prescient warning of the evil that existed in Amherst, I would have never conceded to the concealment of the truth. My days of reverie emanated would have never brought me there in the first place, and the effacement of that ghastly memory has troubled my diurnal sleep forever.