by Douglas Clegg
“I stabbed deep wounds into the heaving breast of truth, desperate for this opportunity to make my fortune.”
A young reporter wants to make his mark on the world like what had happened with the journalists behind other sensational stories such as the Lizzie Borden murders. Black magic, cannibalism, ritualistic sacrifices and madness made headlines. He discovers he has a distant relation to two sisters who survived a controversial series of murders/suicides in a mental institution decades earlier.
The murders involved a Doctor Windrow and his asylum run out of the secluded Bog House. The doctor, a practitioner in the relatively new field of mental health, had developed experimental new surgeries to ‘help’ his patients. Lucy and Sally, the two surviving sisters of the massacre, had rumors surrounding them to the extent horrible nursery rhymes and poems were known by every child. After embellishing a few details and selling the potential story to his boss, the young reporter makes the trip to Bog House where the sisters live. He’s willing to take the risk for his chance at glory, but it remains to be seen if it’s a wise move.
What follows is a series of getting acquainted questions and answers, much of it taking place over one delightful, multi-course dinner. Initially the sisters and their caretaker distrust the young man but as the hours roll by, and especially over the wonderful dinner, conversation begins to flow freely and the real examination begins. He spends much of his time in their presence nervous, wondering if he’ll be poisoned and eaten or worse, but takes some comfort in the fact he shares common blood with the two.
The isolated, carefree lives of the sisters are a revelation to the young man. The entire tale comes at you from an angle, and the fear introduced and magnified by the sisters’ backstory serves to set up the ending perfectly.
Cemetery Dance did a great job with book design for this novella, an important story that comes very highly recommended.