June 6th 1928
Joseph was unaware; slipping into a ten-year cycle of alcoholism and opium that his story had faded into myth. Were it not for my father’s collection of journals, articles and other such evidence, I would have lived quite happily without learning of these sorted events. My father had spent years of his life trying to piece together the truth behind these mysterious events. He died trying to do so. Upon his deathbed he implored that I compile the clues and documents into a format that the world could see.
I rifled through the overwhelming mass of papers that lay on my desk. My attempts to fill-in-the-blanks became increasingly difficult; records of the unfortunate souls that I had read so vigorously about were few and far between, at best.
I have copies of the death certificates for Joseph Stride, Mary Thompson and William Elbridge. Joseph had died as a result of his drinking, and Mary of the grief that followed. It was noted in the Holloway sanatorium’s records, that William had died with wry smile across his face, clutching a gunshot wound upon the chest. And so, scribbling away, I assumed that the story had died with Joseph and his lover. Compiling the book you now see before you; I set about lighting my pipe and gazing out into the darkened countryside that lay outside my window.
So much mystery remained, such vexing possibility and no possible ways of deducing the outcome. My sweet tooth for sleuthing had long subsided; I was rather contempt to leave the story as it stood. That is, until I received a knock at the large wooden door of my house. The thundering rattle echoed through the large halls. Containing my startling, I proceeded to the porch, silk dressing gown in tow.
“What hour do you call this?” I groaned, sliding the lock open. Standing before me, a man carrying a small parcel stared expectantly. “Well? What do you want?”
“I have a parcel for Mr. Victor Trickle?” The rain sodden man quivered.
“At this hour?” I barked. “What on earth is it?”
The courier shrugged before holding the parcel out to me. Snatching it from him and slamming the door I stomped back to my chamber, muttering under my breath.
“Can’t a man revel in his accomplishments without being disturbed?” I grumbled. “At this hour?”
I stumbled back to my desk dropping the parcel onto the mountainous pile of documents. I gazed into the roaring fireplace, a stern frown forcing the tips eyebrows to loom over my eyes. Puffing on my pipe, I continued to stare into the dancing flames. Pondering the success of my research I could not help but feel that it was incomplete, the ending very much lost in the sea of conjecture and rumor. My elation and smug feeling of accomplishment dissolved instantly. Moments after this realization, I heard the striking of a match from behind me. Leaping in shock I turned to address the cause.
“By god, who is there?” I whimpered.
Emerging from the darkened corner of the room a tall, suited figure emerged, smoking a cigarette.
“I see the parcel arrived on time.” A gravely voice croaked. “Money well spent.”
I stepped back brandishing the poker next to the fire.
“Who are you?” I barked. “And what are you doing here?”
“I am a represented of a mutual friend. That is all the you’d be required to know.” His voice was firm, cold and accurate, his accent a diluted American, from what I could tell. “Your father stirred a lot of well hidden information.”
“I must say that it was most certainly not well hidden.”
“Your father, Doctor Percy Trickle, collected a great deal of information, but the missing pieces never surfaced…right?”
“There were some…holes, yes.”
The American took a seat next to the fire, smiling haughtily.
“Open the parcel Mr. Trickle.”
Not wanting to aggravate the intruder I slowly edged over to the table and tore the brown paper open. Inside a small, dirtied leather journal lay.
“What is this?” I inquired.
“That is the missionary journal of Alfonso Chavarria, or at least the sections your father was unable to copy out.”
“Where did you get such a thing?” I pulled open the leather fastener. “Chavarria was found starved to death in the underworking’s of an old factory?”
“Quite so, but the journal had been taken prior.” The American stubbed out his cigarette in my brandy glass and proceeded to light another. “Your father acquired a few pages from the police. We assume that they must have fallen out before Chavarria’s death.”
“So why are you bringing this to me now?”
“My employer heard of your attempts to finish your fathers work, and upon his deathbed has decided to release the last piece of the puzzle.”
“What on earth are you talking about?”
“The contents of that journal reveal the identity of the, so called, beast and the truth behind Chavarria’s kidnapping.”
My mind stopped, how could such a vital document have remained in the custody of an outside party for so long?
“Who is your employer?”
“My employer is no longer a concern, you have the journal; finish the job Mr. Trickle.”
“I shall do no such thing until you tell me who your DAMNED employer is!”
“You’ll make no progress threatening me Mr. Trickle.” The employee puffed hard on his cigarette. “I’m to make sure you do finish the book, please do not disappoint me.”
I labored for hours, in the company of my American watchdog, reading through the horrendous details in which Chavarria had written. I held my stomach as I read of Chavarria’s torture, disembodiment and mental degradation. Page after page of horrendous gory detail that dissolved into madness; I could not help feeling a tremendous sense of compassion for his leaden soul. I felt a tear fall down my cheek as I reached the end of the journal, his handwriting barely legible, no doubt due to both physical and mental exhaustion.
“There is no evidence at all to point to the culprit; there is little more than the saddening tale of man being butchered and starved to death.” I cried.
“You are not looking closely enough.” The American chuckled. “Chavarria’s research into the deceased cultist; read again.”
Begrudgingly, I returned to the book flicking through the pages until I reached Chavarria’s notes on the cultist.
Though I was unable to discern the origins of the cult, I discovered -to my horror- that the proprietor of the ground that the ritual had occured is none other the Lord Henry Elbridge, William’s father.
“Dear god.” I cried. “But this cannot prove William’s guilt?”
“Lord Elbridge had taken all record of William’s presence out of sight. Elbridge swayed every possible police officer to look the other way.”
“What do you mean?”
“William confided to his father; he attended the ritual, and brought the poor girl. William was the beast.”
“How can you be sure?”
The American rose from his seat and pulled a small envelope from his pocket.
“This is the confession of Lord Henry Elbridge; his son had committed countless atrocities while under the possession of a psychological personality called ‘Rebuke’.” The American held the letter out to me. Before he could speak another word I snatched it, tearing it open.
Dear Mr. Trickle
I am sorry to hear of your late father, he truly was a brilliant psychologist.
My reasons for confiding in you these matters of a dark and unruly nature come to me as I lie dying. You deserve to know the truth, the world deserves to know.
William had always suffered from a mental complication; his dual personalities forced me to remove him from boarding school. It was only when he left home that I realized he had been committing such…atrocities. He came to me one evening, harboring a voice unknown to me, he told me in detail about his acts. Every scrupulous nature that he had performed; using laudanum to induce a dream-like state in his victim, adorning tar and other vile liquids to his clothing to conceal his identity.
Scared for William’s safety, and that of my own, I contacted the official’s involved in the case, and paid them handsomely. Their silence was enough, for a while; once Chavarria had begun his investigation, I panicked. William was becoming clumsy, making far too many mistakes. Under the delusion that he was in Armenia, I had my staff lock him in the basement of my manor.
To my dismay he escaped, and wound up on the streets of London, at risk of being tried and hung for his crimes. And so I orchestrated his sentence to Holloway Sanitarium.
I fear that I am rambling, but I must confess as much as I can before I pass on. Though I committed many misdeeds, the worst by far, above all other evils is that of forgery. I forged William’s death certificate; his wounds were minor. I am ashamed, but I fear that William is not dead, nor is he hidden away. I have sent him to see that you are fully informed, and then disposed of. I am sorry my friend, I cannot allow my child to be taken from me once more.
Lord Henry Elbridge.
I did not panic, nor did I react physically. The flickering of the fire faded, the details of my chamber a darkened blur; all that remained was the unwelcome guest smoking in my chair. It made sense at last, the diluted accent a slapdash attempt at misdirection. A solitary tear fell down my cheek. I took in a lungful of air, my last as fate would have it, and simply spoke the words.
“Good evening William.”