The False Hydra of Knobb Hill

Major Inspector George Butterworth was a high-ranking member of Scotland Yard. He enjoyed many perks of his position, but if he was honest with himself, he achieved his position-less for his deductive skill and accomplishments in the field and more for his ability to handle massive piles of paperwork. The labyrinth that was Scotland Yard bureaucracy had tripped many an accomplished inspector, dooming them to lower level clerk positions once their youth and energy was no longer enough to keep up with their more fit and younger counterparts. Butterworth suffered greatly in the beginning as he did not have the usual endurance required of inspectors to follow leads and endure week-long stake outs. However, once he began to climb the ranks Butterworth found that he had a natural affinity for the mountains of paperwork, paperwork that allowed him to excel within Scotland Yard. A few papers signed here, a favor there, and Butterworth found himself comfortably positioned within the police force within ten years of his tenure with Scotland Yard.

While others may scoff at his ability to file and retain seemingly useless information and file it in triplicate, Butterworth took pride in his ability to maintain a neat workspace no matter the workload. This is why it was with some chagrin that an invitation to a fall feast was discovered under his desk leg not by his trained eye for envelope and files, but by his young twenty something assistant Henry Jackson. To further his embarrassment, Butterworth had no memory of the Mayor who had sent the invitation. At first, he assumed it must have been someone he met during one official party or another, but the letter reverberated with far more familiarity than one would use for an acquaintance.

The invitation allowed for two guests and thus began Butterworth's third embarrassment. While he was very skilled in the art of filing and organizing, his social skills were sadly lacking. Most of his acquaintances were introduced through professional associates, associates that Butterworth couldn't even recall now. This caused him unease for some reason, but he quickly brushed it off, having more important details to worry over. Reluctant to go to the feast alone where he knew no one, not even the host, Butterworth instinctively invited his assistant to come with him.

Henry Jackson was so surprised by the request, he accepted without thought. While Henry and Butterworth got along professionally, he wouldn't describe them as being friends. Butterworth was his boss and he would have normally found a reason to let him down gently. This disturbed something in Henry, but just as Butterworth had he quickly dismissed it. Before they could depart from London the pair had to complete several vacation forms. Butterworth approved it as a business expense for his assistant. It was the least he could do. Bags packed, Butterworth and Henry met at the train station the following morning to begin their journey.

After several hours they arrived in Knobb Hill, a hamlet of at least several hundred people. The entire hamlet was covered in a light dusting of snow, creating a rather charming postcard image. Unfortunately, it was a hazard for travelers like Butterworth and Henry as they dragged their heavy cases through the half melted and muddy snow. They traversed down several cobblestone streets before Henry asked Butterworth where they were going. This was a more complicated problem than what Butterworth had been anticipating as the Hamlet was small enough that almost none of the streets were labeled yet too big for an outsider to easily navigate. The problem was compounded by the fact the Butterworth had no idea where their host lived, as the invitation just listed Knobb Hill as the return address. So, the two Londoners decided the best course of action was to ask a local. The streets were oddly deserted, even for a small town, but they eventually found an elderly man carrying a bag of groceries.

"Excuse me, my good sir. Could I trouble you for a moment?" It was decided by silent mutual agreement that Henry would be the one doing the talking. Lack of social grace aside, Butterworth was not graced with a pleasant visage. Henry, on the other hand, was young and spry, with short curled brown hair women have described as charmingly boyish. Despite all of nature's charm as an advantage the older man eyed the two Londoners distrustfully.

"Yes?" He asked reluctantly. The older gentleman subconsciously angled himself so that his groceries were partly shielded by his body, as though he feared the two men would tear the bag from his arms then and there. While there was some disparity in terms of dress between the two parties, the extreme xenophobia was off putting enough to create a rather awkward exchange.

Nevertheless, Henry swiftly rallied himself and pushed on.

"Would you be so kind as to direct us to the Mayor's residence?" At this seemingly innocent question, the old man's scowl grew even fiercer.

"Mayor? Never had a Mayor. Not ever, at least not as long as I lived here. We've got the Mayoral Estate though." At this Butterworth couldn't help but interject.

"Never? Then why have a Mayoral Estate, if there has never been a residence? Who lives there now?" After his outburst the Major Inspector felt embarrassed, his cheeks growing crimson as the older resident glared daggers at him.

"No one but no one's ever lived there, long as I've been here and I'm Knobb Hill born and bred. Now if you'll excuse me." With that the graying man turned on his heel and stalked back up the road, looking over his shoulder to glaring back at them every other step. After this rather abrupt and rude ending to what was honestly a painful conversation, the duo milled about before choosing a direction at random. Thankfully Butterworth and Henry did not have to walk aimlessly for long before they eventually found the Mayoral Estate. The Knobb Hill Mayoral Estate rested comfortably atop a small hill, with a view consisting of the majority of the town and its surrounding terrain. After struggling up the elevated snow cover path, they arrived at the front doors of a cozy three-story townhouse, composed of a mixture of dark wood and cobblestone.

It was also dark, snow covered, and empty. Henry gave a halfhearted knock and was unsurprised at the lack of response. "Bugger it all." He growled as he lashed out with a boot, kicking snow particles into the air.

"Language Henry."

"Sorry, sir." Butterworth sighed in dismay and annoyance.

"No need lad. If anything, it is I that owe you an apology. It seems I have been the target of a jest, and one in poor taste at that. Shame on me for falling for it and for dragging you into it." Butterworth stared dejectedly at the silent and dark estate for a moment. Then he gave a defeated sigh, turning back toward Knobb Hill proper.

"Come along now, we will need rooms for the night."

"We should just take a train back home. No need to waste time and pounds here." The plan had merit to Henry, but Butterworth immediately shook his head.

"We're not in London anymore lad. The train we arrived on was the only one scheduled to stop here. According to the schedule, the next train will arrive tomorrow at half past eight." Henry rolled his eyes at that. Of course, Butterworth had memorized the train schedule, never mind the fact that they hadn't planned to leave until the following Monday.

Along the way, Henry pointed out to the Major Inspector at the lack of activity throughout the hamlet, but Butterworth brushed him off. It wasn't that unusual for small hamlets such as Knobb Hill to have unofficial curfews.

By the time the pair trudged down the lazy hill of the Mayoral Estate the sun had set and gone. Fortunately, the two Londoners soon found a quaint bread and breakfast run by a charming older couple who were very welcoming. After a quick haggle over price and who would pay for what, the Major Inspector and assistant agreed to split the price of sharing a room and retired for the night. For any other, that would have spelled the end of the tale. In the morning the two Londoners would have embarked on the train home and attempt to salvage something from the nearly expired weekend. However, fate had a much different end in mind for George Butterworth and Henry Jackson.

When the pair awoke the next morning, they began the dull task of gathering their belongings and luggage. A task that was met with an unforeseen and unexpected catch.

"Don't forget your bag my lad."

"Forgive me sir, but that is your bag. I've already gathered everything I brought with me."

"Do not play games with me, Henry, I am not in the mood. Do you honestly believe I would own a case with such feminine coloring?" Henry swallowed a rude question on the existence of his superior's manhood. Instead, Henry stomped to the case.

"Well, there is an easy way to divine the truth. We just have to check the labeling."

After a brief manhandling of the light blue colored case, Henry eventually flipped the case face forward toward the Major Inspector in vindication.

"See here, S. R. Butterworth."

The older man frowned in confusion. He couldn't quite place why, but the sight of the case disturbed him. Much like Knobb Hill had since he stepped foot off the train. It was like an itch inside his skull.

"Henry, those aren't my initials."

"What are you on about now? Look here, Butterworth. Last time I checked, that's you."

"Yes, that is indeed my name but those are not my initials. My full name is George Edward Butterworth."

Henry frowned in confused annoyance, looking from Butterworth to the case. Plopping the case on his still unkempt bed, he flicked the clasps open to reveal the contents of the case. To both the men's confusions and embarrassment, the case was filled with women's clothing and other feminine travel equipment. By silent agreement, they ignored the more…personal attire to search for a clue to the owner. It was Butterworth that found the letter, placed within an opened envelope. He unfolded the letter to read its contents, his brow furrowing in an almost pained expression. There was something about that writing… Wincing suddenly, he handed the letter to Henry.

"Here, read this lad. Suddenly got a headache." Henry did so, reading aloud.

"Dearest Sarah, we cannot wait for your brother and you to visit us. Hillary has been nagging her poor husband to an early grave. As if he doesn't have enough to worry about along with his mayoral duties. But never mind that, I know you do not have the patience for small town gossip, please be sure George brings the old photo album. You know how he can be just as I know how you can convince him. Love Mom and Dad. PS. Please stop hiding your brother's letters, you know it upsets him."

Henry frowned up at Butterworth. "I didn't know you had a sister. And why didn't you say you had parents in Knobb Hill. We could have spent the night with them instead."

Butterworth massaged his forehead, wishing his headache would go away.

"That's because I don't have a sister and my parents clearly do not live in Knob Hill. More pressingly, how did this case get into our room with neither of us the wiser for it?" Henry had no answer to that.

"Never mind. It doesn't matter how this case got here; it must be part of this horrid joke. Whoever our trickster is has crossed a line but they may have made a grievous error." Turning back to the opened case, Butterworth pulled out the envelope they had discovered the letter in.

"Our would-be antagonist actually put a return address here, so we shall go there and with luck discover the perpetrators."

"I don't know about this sir. It seems a strange lark to begin with, but smuggling in a suitcase? It may be better to leave the bastards behind and return to London."

"Firstly, language Henry. Secondly, it was insulting enough that they dragged us out to this way, but this? This crosses a line and I will not leave until we find the directors of this ruse." And that was that. Henry saw a glint in Butterworth, found only when he was eyeing a particularly poorly filed stack of papers, and knew there was no point in arguing further. As luck would have it, with an actual address they were able to make good time toward the residence in question. This did little to appease Butterworth, who grew more and more visibly upset with every crunch of snow. When the pair did eventually find the residence in question, Butterworth stormed up to the door and began pounding upon its green coated exterior. After the second clap of flesh on wood, the door swung upon to reveal a mudroom.

The Major Inspector hesitated for a moment before storming through the mudroom and into the house proper, with Henry in tow. Butterworth stomped through the house, breathing in deep to bellow at the occupants. He was forced to swallow whatever he may have said as the foul smell of rot entered his lungs.

"Sweet Virgin Mary, what is that stench!?" Then Butterworth took in the room and froze. Henry moved around Butterworth; a handkerchief pressed to his nose to dampen the smell. He saw a modest kitchen that held a table that could seat six comfortably. The table was set, plates and dining utensils all properly prepared. Along with a pile of rotting food. Henry pushed through a door into a sitting room, leaving Butterworth to try and gain control of his stomach. The Major Inspector succeeded just as Henry called to him from the other room.

Butterworth followed the sound of his younger assistant, to the sitting room. Henry stood in front of the mantel his posture almost ceremonial. He followed Henry's pointing hand to the picture that resided above it. There, in black and white but still unmistakable, was a much younger George Butterworth standing beside a young girl in front of an older couple.

"Forgive me, but this child here looks like a much younger you sir."

"That is me, in my school uniform before the start of my primary year. But who are these people?"

Henry looked from Butterworth's face to the older man in the enlarged photo.

"The gent here bears a striking resemblance with yourself, sir. In fact, I would be so foolish as to say that he is your father."

"That's impossible, my father doesn't live in Knobb Hill. He lives in…in…" There is a feeling one has as they fall backward. An almost primal fear and dread that forms in the pit of one's stomach. The fear is not of the unknown, but that the known was about to make its painful reacquaintance with oneself. As Butterworth struggled to remember first his father then his mother, he felt this fear rise up within him. Apart from his memory, the Major Inspector had not been blessed with many of nature's gifts. He could remember everything about the day this picture was taken, how itchy his uniform felt, how tight his shoes were, even his meal before he left for school. But the faces in this photo were not one of those memories.

"Sir? Are you alright?" Henry asked uncertainly, glancing worriedly at Butterworth's suddenly pale face. As though in a trance, Butterworth walked to the mantle and raised his hand as if to touch the frame of the photo but stopping just short. His hand closed into a fist as he whirled around and thundered past a stupefied Henry.

"Come with me Henry, we are off to the church."

"W-what? Why?" Desperately, Henry caught up to Butterworth as he exited from the mudroom.

"By law and tradition, small hamlets like this are to take a census every two years. If there is no local governmental body to do so, the church is required to maintain this practice. There we shall discover if this is indeed a ruse of unheard-of proportion or something fouler."

"Like what sir?" Butterworth did not reply. In fact, he did not say anything until they were half-way to the church before suddenly turning back to their temporary residence. Major Inspector George Butterworth had faith in God, Queen, and laminated reports. He just found greater faith in his service revolver. After retrieving his firearm, the duo continued onto the church. There they meet with the local Vicar who was amicable, if not surprised, by Butterworth's demand of the town census in the name of Scotland Yard. Unfortunately, the filing system left much to be desired, forcing the trio to dig through boxes of census reports dating back three hundred years of Knobb Hill history. While they searched for the most recent census taken the Vicar, Vicar Pole, happily chatted with them.

"Know every one of my parish I do. And I know it ain't right to boast, but I reckon our choir is the best outside of London. I'd love to see you at Sunday mass, as they seem to have gotten a bit emptier than I'd care for. I's reckoning that sight of you city dwellers showing more faith than their lot oughta fire them back up. No offense meant of course." Henry took a break from flipping through old pages to wave aside any concerns.

"None taken my friend. However, if you don't mind me asking since you appear to know near everyone in town, did you ever have a couple with the family name Butterworth in attendance." The chatty Vicar thought on this for a moment before announcing that there had never been anyone with such a name living in Knobb Hill. When asked about the existence of a mayor, the Vicar responded with a simple, "We've never had a mayor." Before Henry could probe further Butterworth slammed down a hefty pile of paper and loudly exclaimed "By Jove!" Henry and the Vicar leaned over the document as Butterworth's finger traveled down the page.

"According to this report, the last census was taken less than two years ago. If they are not recorded here, then…" His finger froze over two names. Butterworth, Harold 71. Butterworth, Janice 69.

"Are you sure that no one with the name Butterworth moved here Vicar?"

The Vicar frowned in confusion, "Far as I can recall. Last family to move in was six- or seven years ago. Named Fisher or somethin' like that. Funny thing, this looks like my handwriting here. But that's impossible." Butterworth gathered up the papers as he thanked the Vicar and turned to Henry.

"Come along now Henry, we are off."

"Off sir?"

"The Constabulary, Henry. We have here evidence of skullduggery of a most heinous nature."

"Pardon me, sirs," The Vicar interjected, "But I'd be more than happy to guide to the constables. I'm more than a peck curious about this business now."

The Londoners agreed and together the trio headed into the town center. With the Vicar's help, they made quick time to the guardhouse, where they were greeted by two stressed and tired constables. After a brief introduction, Butterworth demonstrated his Scotland Yard badge. This was greeted by groans from the older of the two constables. The man had fiery red hair and carefully tailored mustache that he was quick to tug on when agitated.

"As if things weren't bad enough, what with us understaffed. Now we got you sods to come to piss all over us small folk. What's got your knickers in a twist now? The tea and crumpets not warm enough for ya?" Henry glared daggers at the two constables as Butterworth began their tale, presenting evidence as needed. With the two constables looking over the town census, Butterworth felt himself relax. He had just let the tension roll from his shoulders when everything went quiet. No, not quiet. Henry was just beginning to bicker with the red-headed constable while the Vicar and the younger mousy haired constable went over the census papers again. Butterworth could still hear all of this. However, there was a sound that had been ringing in his inner ear since he arrived in Knobb Hill. A sound that he had forgotten about and had grown acquainted with until it stopped.

Before Butterworth could more than blink, he felt a pain bite deep into his left leg. The pain was so bad he could not speak, not leaving him anytime to do more than suck in air before a mighty force wrenched him off his feet. The Major Inspector landed hard on his chest knocking what air he had out of him before the same force pulled again, dragging him across the floor toward the open door. He desperately croaked for help but none of the occupants in the room so much as twitched at his call or forcible departure. Butterworth cried out in pain as the fiery lances bite deeper into his leg. Half mad with pain the Major Inspector fumbled out his revolver, firing blindly at the shadowy thing he could see attached to his leg.

The sound of revolver deafened the Inspector as the smell of gunpowder filled his nose. Immediately the biting pain released its hold, but before it could retreat out of view Butterworth acquired a full view of its visage. And how he wished he had not. The creature was like nothing he had seen before, the closest analog the wounded Inspector could come to was of a piranha with an obscenely stretched body and many bloody teeth. Above its gaping maw rested a pair of eyes darker than the deepest recesses beneath the earth. It was only when the thing moved that Butterworth realized what he originally assumed was its body was actually an incredibly elongated neck. It stretched out the door and around the corner. A neck that withdrew the head out the door so suddenly that if not for the bleeding chunk still missing from his leg, he would have thought it a trick of the mind.

Butterworth felt hands touch his shoulders and flinched instinctively, but it was only Henry. The young man said something, but the deafened Major Inspector was unable to understand him. He blacked out at that point, awaking a few minutes later. It was long enough for someone to do a crude bandage around his leg and for his hearing to return. This was made painfully clear to him as he woke up to Henry cursing him as he attempted to make the Major Inspector comfrotable.

"-astard, what the hell were you thinking? First, you drag me on this bloody goose chase, like your fucking Sherlock Holmes. Then you go off all bloody gunslinger, like a bloody American. God as my witness I swear that-. "

"Language Henry. Also, please quiet down, I have the most arduous of headaches right now." Groaning, Butterworth pulled himself into a sitting position to see that he had been lying on two desks pulled together as a makeshift bed. The two constables and Vicar were tucked away in a corner whispering furiously. He could equivalate on what they were discussing. Ignoring Henry's instinctive, "Sorry sir" Butterworth continued, "Now where did that horrid creature go? Was anyone else hurt?" At this Henry gave his boss a strange look.

"Creature?"

"Yes, blasted thing. Reminded me of an unholy union of a piranha and a python of Africa. Took a chunk out of my leg?" Again, Henry's only response was to give him that strange look that Butterworth couldn't decipher.

"What are you on about sir? You've been bleeding the whole time we've been here. One minute we are going over details with the locals, the next you've gone and fired your pistol into the picture of the blooming Queen and half the room beside. What the hells were you thinking? I was barely able to keep the two gits from chucking you in a cell. If you hadn't been bleeding half to death they probably would have anyway."

"Again Henry, language. And following that, have you taken a leave of your sense? How could you not see that abomination to God's holy kingdom? It was big as my leg!

"If you're on about that leg wound of yours, I already told you it was like that when we got to Knobb Hill."

"Henry if I almost bled to death, pray tell how I could have been running around this whole misadventure of ours? I should have bled like a stuck pig a dozen times by my reckoning if that were the case." A confused look came across Henry's face as he realized this. A moment later he gave a pained gasp as he grasped his head.

"Are you alright there, lad?"

"Y-yes, sir. Just…just a bit of a headache." While Henry massaged his head, Butterworth struggled with his own realization. Butterworth did not have the patience for 'supernatural' or 'curses'. He liked to believe he was a man of reason, with a meticulous mind for all those details others describe a frivolous. Because he held to those principals, he was now forced to consider the inconsiderable. When you have gone through all other possible solutions what remains, no matter how improbable must be the answer. There was no logical reason for the happenings of Knobb Hill. This had long since passed the grounds of tomfoolery and entered the deep water of the unknown. On an intellectual level, he accepted that even if he still battled emotionally.

The question was not if something unnatural was occurring. The question was, why he was the only one who realized it. Butterworth tried to think back to that creature, but already the details were blurring. The more he tried to grasp it the quicker it seemed to slip from him. In frustration he covered his ears, trying to drown any distracting sounds out. To his surprise, this seemed to work, as suddenly that horrible mouth filled with needle teeth was crystal clear. Blood, his blood, dripping from the fine points onto the ground. Those pitiless black eyes, darker than the space behind the stars. Shuddering in existential terror, Butterworth lowered his hands. Immediately the memory became vague and distorted, like a half-remembered dream.

Reactively, Butterworth clapped his hand back over his ears, pressing as tightly as possible. Again, the horrible visage appeared in his mind, less clear than before. The realization struck Butterworth like a rouge lightning bolt. He knew what he had to do but had little time to enact it. Reaching out, he grabbed Henry by the front of his shirt, pulling with a strength the young man did not realize Butterworth possessed. Then next thing Henry knew he was nose to nose with the older man.

"Henry, do you have my revolver?"

"Wha-what? Your revolver? Um, yes sir right here sir."

"Good. Now, Henry, do you trust me?"

"What?"

"Do you trust me, Henry? If you do not, then none of this matter and the best course we can take is to flee from this place as swiftly as possible and never return. Now, do you trust me?"

Henry hesitated for a moment before he stuttered out, "Of course I do sir. You may be a nigh unbearable ass to work with, no offense, but you've always tried to do right by me."

"Very good, we'll talk more about that cursing of yours later, for now, be quick and help me to the door. If I'm right I should be able to show to you the true perpetrator of this entire debacle." The young man hesitated a moment before obeyed, helping his boss walk to the door, unnoticed by the three Knobb Hill locals. Already Butterworth could feel his focus waning, why he was doing this already slipping from his mind like the moon at sunrise. He rallied himself, although he didn't know why he was doing this now he knew it was important. Butterworth desperately held onto that thought, allowing all other details to fade into obscurity.

Henry rested his boss against the door frame as they looked out into the late afternoon. The streets were still deserted, still covered in a light dusting of snow. There was nothing else out of the ordinary, to his eye at least.

"Do you still have my revolver lad?"

"Yes, sir. I managed to snatch it up before those idiots thought to grab it."

"Good, give it here."

The young man hesitated for a moment but figured since he was already this deep that it would be a shame to back out now. He fumbled the revolver from where he had tucked it into his waistband, handing it to the Major Inspector.

"Good lad. Oh, and Henry?"

"Yes, sir?"

"Apologies in advance, my good lad."

"About what-"

Before the assistant could finish, Butterworth brought the revolver beside his head and fired a round into the air deafening the both of them. Henry staggered away from Butterworth into the street, screaming curses that he could not hear as his ears rang. Suddenly he froze, for he saw the true Knobb Hill now. The once idealistic postcard image was gone. The once clean and untrodden streets were covered in drag marks and dark stains of blood, both old and new. The houses and building along the street had holes punched through them, exposing their interiors to the elements, while the residents of Knobbs Hill walked blithely by.

He saw before his eyes the unspeakable horror that had attacked Butterworth pounce on a passerby. Henry assumed the woman screamed in pain as the thing tore into the poor woman's shoulder, as he could not hear anything still. No one else on the street reacted and Henry could only watch on in shock as the thing wrenched the woman off her feet and dragged her swiftly down the cobbled road. Before disappearing around a corner and out of sight, leaving nothing but a trench in the snow and blood. It was not the only creature he saw.

He felt a pain in his shoulder and nearly jumped with fright, terrified that one of those godforsaken creatures had chosen him as the next victim. It was just Butterworth with a grip like coiled steel, digging his fingers into Henry's shoulders. He was able to pick up words through his damaged hearing.

"-you see? Please, Henry, tell me you see."

"Y-yes sir…I-I see." He was rather proud he was able to speak coherently, instead of crouched in a corner jabbering like a madman.

"Good then come on, we don't have much time before we start to forget again."

With Henry's help, Butterworth limped into the guardhouse. The Vicar and two guardsmen stared at him in shock and fear as he brandished his revolver at them.

"Do you have something to deaden sound."

"What?" The red-headed constable asked, arms raised in the air.

"Sound, do you have something to quiet noise?"

At their continued confused looks, Henry interjected, understanding what Butterworth was doing.

"Something to plug up ears, so that sound can't be heard." The Vicar piped up, "Like wax?"

"Yes. Get it now." The Vicar moved with the speed of fear to gather up clumps of wax from several cabinets. Under instruction from the Inspector Major, the three residents of Knobb Hill stuffed their ears with the wax, then handed the extras to the Londoners who copied their actions. Then they herded the three men outside where they saw the true horror of the sleepy hamlet. As another one of the things slithered down the road they retreated back into the guardhouse. After struggling to communicate for several minutes, the short brown-haired constable eventually retrieved a small chalkboard they could write on.

What the hell is going on? He quickly wrote on the board. And how do we stop it? Here Butterworth took over the board, erasing the previous questions with his sleeve before neatly writing. I cannot be certain of what this abomination is, but it clearly has the power to affect everyone in this town with an inaudible sound. This sound makes everything appear normal and encourages those who hear it forget, both the monster and I suspect its victims. He paused to wipe the board clean again. There is only one solution to end this horror. We must find the body and kill the beast. There was a brief fight over the chalk before the red-headed guard, who introduced himself as Johnson, took over.

This is way outside our paygrade. We should alert the army, queens guard, the church! Someone who isn't us that's for sure. With effort, Henry wrestled the chalk from the Johnson. Oh sure, that'll go well. Yes, that's right, a horrid monster from hell itself eating the citizens of England and we must gather our armies to kill it. Oh, by the way, we have no actual memory of the people who were eaten, and neither does anyone else even their kin. And you can't see it unless you block up your ears.

At his gesturing, Henry passed the chalk to Butterworth who took over. Clearly, we are not the ones best suited for such an endeavor, but we are the only ones who can act on it. Unless I am mistaken, the rest of your collogues have been devoured by this monstrosity. We have all taken oaths, Henry and I to safeguard the citizens of our great Empire, and you two to protect the residents of Knobb Hill. We have no choice but to act and the more time we spend arguing, the more people this abomination to God's creation will devour.

The two surviving constables exchanged fearful glances before Johnson visible collected his courage and nodded to Butterworth. Things progressed quickly from there. The two constables collected a bolt action rifle, two revolvers, and a shotgun from the guardhouse gun safe. The Vicar disappeared for half an hour before returning with an ax and a silver crucifix. Henry took the offered shotgun from the short constable and the five men marched out. It was easy enough to find the lair of the beast, as near countless trenches and trails of blood all lead to the Mayoral Estate. As they arrived, the five men saw all the horrid heads of the creature retreating into the holes that perforated the large estate. It would appear the beast was expecting an assault.

It was too late to turn back so the five of them hurriedly wrote out their battle plan in the snow. Henry and the short constable would enter first, as Henry was armed with a shotgun and the constable wielded the two revolvers. The Vicar would be in the middle with Johnson, armed with the rifle, and the limping Butterworth taking up the rear. With this, they cautiously marched up the hill. Upon reaching the front doors, Henry smashed the glass window. He then reached inside and unlocked the door. Cautiously he entered the house with constable, guns raised. The Vicar took a moment to mouth a prayer before following the constable and Henry into the house, Johnson, and Butterworth right behind him.

The plan went wrong almost immediately. It had been decided that the lair of the beast most likely resided beneath the estate, so the first course of action was to find the stairs. The group had checked little more than the entrance hall and a side room before the beast struck. The heads exploded from the floor, walls, and ceiling in a coordinated attack. Butterworth was unable to count the heads crashing into the room before Henry opened fire with his shotgun. One of the heads attacking from the ceiling was hit between its bulbous eyes, causing it to explode like a rotten pumpkin. The dead head drenched the group in foul-smelling black ichor, blinding Butterworth for a moment. The constable beside Henry did not fare so well, getting two shots off from his twin revolvers before a head burst through the floor and bite deeply into his leg. The man released an unheard scream of pain before emptying both barrels into its neck, punching holes straight through the creature. This seemed only to anger it as it released its hold only to bite down stronger than before. Even through the wax Henry could hear the bone snap. The short constable fell to his knees in pain, abandoning his pistols to try and pry the creature off his leg.

The Vicar came to his rescue, bringing the head of the ax down hard, nearly severing the neck of the creature. Butterworth missed what happened next as a head lunged at him from the wall forcing him to drop his revolver. He grappled with the horrid creature, desperately pulling the biting mouth away from his exposed neck.

Luckily, he was saved by the red-haired constable bashing his rifle repeatedly into the meaty neck of the creature causing it to scream in pain. It quickly retreated back into the wall but was soon replaced by another. This one struck from the ceiling biting into the shoulder of Johnson as he tried to bring his long rifle around. Butterworth fumbled his revolver and limped toward the besieged man as he tried to pull off the creature and maintain hold of his rifle. He jabbed the barrel of the pistol into the eye of the creature and fired. The head gave a wordless scream of agony that sent shards of pain into the two men's heads. Instead of attacking the creature withdrew back into the ceiling, giving the two men a moment to orientate themselves. Butterworth pointed to the exit and Johnson nodded in understanding.

Turning, Butterworth limped over to the Henry. He tapped the man on the arm and ducked as Henry whirled around, blasting the place where Butterworth's head had been a moment before.

"Retreat!" He mouthed/yelled at Henry, trying to be understood through the sound of gunpowder, screams, and crunching wood. Henry seemed to understand, nodding once before crouching down to pick up the wounded constable. Before he could lay hands on the man, three heads exploded from the wooden floor beneath, biting any exposed limbs deeply. They then pulled back with their unholy strength, pulling the constable through the floor into the darkness below. Henry gaped in horror before whipping his head to the Vicar. Sometime when he wasn't looking one of the monsters had bitten off three of the fingers from his left hand. Now the Vicar was desperately trying to stem the flow of blood, his ax all but forgotten.

Desperately grabbing the man, he dragged him from the room into the entrance hall. As they neared the door a head burst from the floor, darting toward the encumbered Henry. Before it could reach them, the head exploded its momentum enough to cover the men in gore. Henry looked up to see Johnson waving his smoking rifle from the front door, screaming something at him. Most likely run.

He tried to follow this sage advice pulling the thin Vicar along as they exited the house behind Johnson at a dead sprint. Butterworth slammed the door behind them, hoping to slow the creature's pursuit, before following the survivors down the hill. Once they reached the bottom of the hill, they turned to face the estate, bodies tensed as they expected monstrous heads to burst from the building like demons out of hell. After several minutes of inaction, they relaxed, marginally.

They took this time to desperately bandage both the Vicar and Johnson's wounds while struggling to process what happened. Only Henry had escaped without serious injury, as Butterworth's leg wound had reopened during the dash, but he had been forced to abandon the shotgun in the entrance hall when he made that last desperate sprint for safety with the Vicar. All the men panted and gasped as though they had run a marathon, soaked in sweat and blood, of their allies and of the monster.

It took awhile before Henry's hands were steady enough to write in the snow. That could have gone better. Johnson scowled angrily at the man, his fear and exhaustion seamlessly transitioning into rage, before he launched into a rant. It took a moment for him to realize that through the wax and damage done to all their ears from the shooting and screaming, that none of them could hear him. He instead started writing several crude words about Henry and his lineage in quick savage strokes in the snow.

While the two men argued in the snow, Butterworth checked on the Vicar. He tried mouthing words at the man, but the poor fellow was in shock staring uncomprehendingly at his mutilated hand. The Major Inspector desperately racked his brains trying to think of how to close the man's wound. They had no way to sew it shut. The only other option that Butterworth knew to seal a wound was to…cauterize it. This sparked a mad idea in Butterworth, and he ran with it. There was no time for further planning as the monster, while obviously too cowardly to pursue dangerous prey from the shelter of its lair, could not be counted upon to maintain that stratagem for long. And there was a madness within Butterworth, a madness that would not allow that foul multiheaded beast to achieve victory over them. Not after all this.

Leaving the three survivors he limped jogged to one of the nearby houses. There were so many holes punched through that the structure audibly groaned under its own weight. Despite this Butter worth rushed inside, searching desperately until he found the objects he wanted. He sprang outside as quick as his injured leg would allow him, carrying an unlit oil lantern in one hand, and a small stool in the other.

The three men had not even noticed his absence until Butterworth reappeared, smashing the stool into pieces on the ground and then desperately soaking the tips with some of the lamp oil. He snapped his fingers at Johnson who, quickly catching on, produced a box of matches. Butterworth snatched them from the red-haired man and began feverously striking a match. After nearly dropping a lit match, he lights several of the broken legs of the stool as though they were torches.

Before the two men could question him about this, he thrusted the improvised torches at them before limping up the hill back to the estate. Henry understood first and rushed up the hill, passing Butterworth and reaching the estate first. There he ran to the side, smashing open a window and hurling the burning wood inside, successfully lighting several carpets that soon spread to the furniture.

Upon realizing the mad play, Johnson ran to the other side of the house, tossing his through another window. Butterworth finally reached the front door hurling the lamp through the broken window, causing it to burst open. It spilled oil all over the entrance, oil that was quickly ignited by the follow up throw of Butterworth's torch. As the three men retreated to the still comatose Vicar, they watched in horrified awe as the monster desperately tried to extinguish the blaze they had created, its heads breaching the walls in a vain attempt at escape. It was much too late for the creature and before the sun had finished setting, the Mayoral Estate collapsed into itself, sending embers and smoke high into the air. As the estate fell the beast gave one more desperate, soul tearing cry of agony from all its heads, which was abruptly cut off as its lair gave way.

And as the beast died the memories it had stolen returned to the people of Knobb Hill. The crowd that had gathered to stare at the burning inferno cried out in grief and horror as they realized the calamity that befell their home. At the base of the hill, Henry lay passed out on the ground with Johnson not far behind him. Only Butterworth remained standing as all those odd moments and off-put feelings were replaced with memories. And as he stared up at the burning hill, Major Inspector George Butterworth collapsed to his knees, bowed his head, and wept.

The End