I cannot tell you everything. I was only a little boy, and I do not know the whole tale. Perhaps I know more of it than some, certainly more than Scotland Yard does (they would never believe it), but not as much, I fear, as Dr. W. V. Lucas, God help that unfortunate man.
You may recall that I am an orphan. As I told you once before, my parents perished in a terrible fire, which also destroyed their manor house at the tiny fishing village of Devonshire. I will tell you know that this event is not at all unconnected to Dr. Lucas' experiments. As you may already be aware, Dr. Lucas was a fervent student of the arcane. His scientific nature yearned to discern the truth in all his boyhood nursery tales, and I fear this was his wretched undoing. His forays into the occult alone could not have led to such tragedy. The fire was set by the fearsome being the good doctor raised up from the shadowy realm of Hades. Any of the simple people residing in Levonshire will tell you this much.
How this monster came into Dr. Lucas' laboratory on the fateful night of April 17th is unknown to me. I cannot give you any specifics; as I said, I was just a child. Any notes on the creature were lost in that same horrifying blaze that eradicated the being and my parents. I believe that is for the best; mankind was not meant to hunt or dally with such dangerous creatures. We are weak inside; for all mankind's great accomplishments, we are nothing in comparison to their physical prowess. Our own legends warn us of their fearsome powers. The ancients called them Werewargs, today I believe they are known as werewolves. And yet, that is only half of what they are, for while they are not men, they are not beasts, nor are they any kind of intermediate stage. The being which roamed Levonshire did not rely on the moon for its strength, nor did silver injure it. Its true form I cannot describe; I never saw it. My parents shielded me quite well.
In any case, my childhood horror is still too strong, and so I could not describe it even if I had seen it. I would never describe it to you in any case, even if such a possibility was open to me. Partial sight of it alone was what drove the doctor mad, may God have mercy on his soul. Even I, who never saw it, am crazier for having been near its presence. Do not deny that this is so; you asked for this story, and I ask for no false politeness in exchange. I am quite crazy. I remain harmless, and so am tolerated.
Speaking of madness, it is interesting to note that for over a decade after this incident, the citizens of Devonshire experienced higher percentages of birth defects, and growth deformities than any other town in the region. It is as if some malicious specter remained to take revenge. The town has reduced in population quite substantially in recent years. Soon it may be completely deserted, and this ghost might be left there to roam in peace. I hope it might be so, for I fear nothing except time will abate its vicious hunger, even from beyond the grave.
Dr. Lucas was not so easily scared. I distinctly remember him saying to my father that the being he had locked up in our wine cellar was as harmless as a newborn kitten. We had heard growling, you see, and late at nights, there were loud noises, thumps, echoing howls, and more sounds of suspicious nature. My younger self found it very hard to sleep, and many a dawn rose where I had not slept all night. I still find myself plagued by this insomnia. For this reason, I find it most soothing to take a mid- afternoon nap instead of tea. As my oldest friend, you are of course aware of this habit. Perhaps you have not appreciated until now how hard rest comes to me. It is impossible when I find myself in the country. I cannot rest in such places; they are too similar to Levonshire. Even with the death of that creature, I have found it impossible to stay in that abominable place for any period of time. I cannot return. But I digress, you, as I said, are already aware of my eccentricities.
April 17th in particular is a day I dread. We both know why, let me state it again. It was a cloudy day, and Dr. Lucas had been out surveying the grounds with my father. They both returned about mid-afternoon and reported to mother that the grounds man, Willy Bartlaine, had predicted a light rain for that evening. Dr. Lucas retired to the study in order to peruse his books, and father joined mother and myself in the parlor for some small refreshments. The light rainfall predicted by Willy turned into a storm, and at ten o'clock, I was sent to bed. The frequent claps of thunder kept me awake well into a later hour, and at eleven, I heard the large door in the front hallway bang open. At that stage in my life I had not yet acquired the caution I have today. I snuck out of my room to discover what the fuss was all about. Below the balcony, I could see the pudgy shape of Dr. Lucas, as well as the wiry frame of Will Bartlaine, and a stouter figure belonging to one of the under gardeners. All three of them were too silent for my young ears to hear, but they all made passionate gestures in the direction of a large form covered in fishnets and the under gardener's raincoat. My youthful curiosity was aroused, but all my hopes were dashed when Willy and the under gardener managed to remove the bundle from the room without removing the raincoat. This fact is gladdening now, as I can recognize in hindsight this bundle for the monstrous beast it truly was. Should that rain slicker have slipped even for the moment, I might not be half as sane as I am now. As it were, even this minor exposure to the beast has corroded my mind.
Upon the following morning, our esteemed guest, Dr. Lucas, spoke of the matter to my father. He did not seem half as excited as he had the night before. I can only assume he did not want to share his scientific discovery with us for fear that we might steal the credit. Even as a small child, I remember Dr. Lucas as a rather ungenerous man, at least when it came to getting glory for intellectual achievements. Yet my father was his friend, and so Dr. Lucas must have had some redeeming features, for I do not believe my father would willingly associate with a man who was so horribly flawed.
For the next few days none of my family saw much of Dr. Lucas. He had barricaded himself in the wine cellar, which he converted into a makeshift laboratory, permitting only the interruptions of Willy Bartlaine, who brought him his meals. Whatever kind of terrible experiments Lucas performed inside that cellar are thankfully a mystery to me. I cannot conceive of them, nor do I wish too. They say that ignorance is bliss, and in this I must agree. Some things are not meant to be spoken of. The creature Dr. Lucas kept in my father's wine cellar is one of them. Yet I must speak of it to you now.
I do not recall how long it remained a slave to Dr. Lucas. I do not recall how it got free. It was at night, that I remember. My mother had led me to bed. I remember crying, wailing, pleading with her. The nighttime stifled me. On the night before, the painful howls I heard from that wine cellar had become louder than ever. I had been frightened, quite badly, by them. Yet my mother, God rest her soul, forced me into bed, and left me one candle to see by. As was now usual, I could not sleep. On most other nights, I did all I could to avoid looking at my window, which had a clear view of the opening to the wine cellar. Yet, on this night, for whatever reason, I bravely glanced at my window. I consider this the last truly brave thing I did. The door opened, and I saw Dr. Lucas emerge. Willy Bartlaine was with him, and the two huddled together, discussing something, I know not what. Now I know Willy Bartlaine must have been in cahoots with Dr. Lucas. Perhaps he was promised money. I do not know. All that I am sure of is that at that moment, the noises grew worse, and I could not look again.
I suppose I must have fallen asleep, although perhaps I might have fainted. It is so hard to tell now. My memory of that night blurs here; I remember a servant coming in and waking me; I remember running into the cold night, and seeing my home burn up in flames. I do not remember much more. The local authorities found me huddling in a ditch several miles away. I was incoherent, as any small child would be. Various relations and old family friends tried there hands at taking care of me; all failed. I was removed to a boarding school on the continent; they provided only food and shelter for me. My young mind remained fearful. I was often woken by strange noises which none of my dorm mates could hear. I refused to spend much time on the school grounds, which were poorly kept. I had no real friends, but eventually I learned to manage my apprehensions, and control my bouts of nervousness. I graduated with few distinctions, and would have spent the rest of my life traveling farther and farther from the corrupted land of my ancestors if money had not become an issue. But alas, my grandfather's fortune had dwindled. I returned to England.
There I spent three years of increasing terror before suffering a complete collapse. I lost the ability of speech, fever and cold shills wracked my body during those sleepless nights. In an ironic twist, my misfortunes became the means behind my material gains. A little-known, but brilliant physician took the room next to mine. He became aware of my condition, and decided to practice his expertise on me. He was baffled. His colleagues were summoned. All were astounded by my strange symptoms. Donations poured in after my impoverished state became known. I was a medial cause cèlébre, and a human guinea pig. At a later date, I made some sort of "recovery," though I would not attribute that to any doctor; no, it is all because that strange creature's ghostly spirit lost interest in me. At that point, I might have fled to the continent once again, but once again, my "patrons" tied me to England with this enriched lifestyle. I hope that perhaps one day I shall be able to leave, possibly to America, or the barbarous country of Australia. The farther away I am from my old home, the better I shall get.