A Steampunk Guide to Hunting Monsters 1 - Page 8

growing colder still , until each one of his fingers seemed a sculpt of ice .
I turned my head to look into his face , and just as I did , he opened his eyes and stared into the empty darkness above the table . " Do not release your hands !"
He had not raised his voice , and yet it suddenly seemed very loud . " Whoever comes , whatever is seen or heard , the circle must remain unbroken ."
Everyone drew in their breath and the temperature in the parlor dropped so severely that , as their breath was released , it rose into the air a visible vapor . The air itself had gone cold .
I am not sure if the apparition that followed formed itself of our cast-off breaths , or if it came afterward of its own making , but suddenly , it was there .
A woman , floating above the dark shine of the table , whose flesh and garment was of the most ethereal grey . Her eyes were dark , and she appeared tormented ; there was nothing about her that was pretty .
She turned , slowly in the air above us , meeting each of our gazes in turn . When she came to me , I was glad she seemed unable to speak , for I felt her gaze judged me most harshly . I did notice , now that I had an undistorted look at her , that the entire side of her gown was stained in dried blood . It had a very violent appearance , quite at odds with Lord Gorey ' s account of her passing . It must have been an incredibly fitful sleep ! It was a profound relief when her eyes released me , and moved on to the lady beside me . None of us seemed able to move , we only clutched the hands we held .
I could not see her face when she at last found the eyes of her husband , but I saw his . He stared at her , almost in horror , I thought , but then his face crumbled into grief , and something like ... guilt ?
" Esme ," he said , his voice a hoarse whisper . He
fumbled open the iron-bound case on his lap , and it was only then that I realized that he had broken the circle . We were no longer holding hands ; the spirit of Lady Gorey was no longer confined by our living humanity . Lord Gorey pulled a strange device from his case , and , rising from his chair , he climbed upon the table and ran to meet the specter of his late wife . I thought at first he meant to embrace her — a foolish desire , as a ghost is nothing more than slightly congealed air — but instead he slammed the device into her chest .
Corporeal mechanics met incorporeal form and joined in an ominous crackling of red light , and then ... and then , Lord Gorey was holding his wife in his arms . No longer ethereal , but still grey as death , she lifted her hand and touched his face .
Touched him , as any living woman might touch her husband . " Esme ," he sighed , " Esme , I never meant …" He buried his face on her bloody shoulder , and slowly — so slowly — she raised her hand off his face . I thought she meant to stroke his hair , but then her eyes looked down the table over his shoulder , and instead of coming down to comfort , her hand stiffened into a point ... directly at Miss Benedicta Basilio . Miss Basilio ' s face whitened until she resembled a specter herself . Benedicta stood and cried , " What have you done ? What evil invention is this ?" Lord Gorey lifted his head , his face contorting at the sound of her voice .
And that was the moment it happened : calmly , quietly , the late Lady Gorey snapped her husband ' s neck . I heard the crack most distinctly .
The ladies around the table rose up like a flock of screaming crows , each over-turning her chair in an attempt to flee . I , myself , could not rise ; my hand was still most solidly caught in J . W . Wells ' ice-cold grip . He seemed completely entranced — a
growing colder still, until each one of his fingers seemed a sculpt of ice. I turned my head to look into his face, and just as I did, he opened his eyes and stared into the empty darkness above the table. "Do not release your hands!" He had not raised his voice, and yet it suddenly seemed very loud. "Whoever comes, whatever is seen or heard, the circle must remain unbroken." Everyone drew in their breath and the temperature in the parlor dropped so severely that, as their breath was released, it rose into the air a visible vapor. The air itself had gone cold. I am not sure if the apparition that followed formed itself of our cast-off breaths, or if it came afterward of its own making, but suddenly, it was there. A woman, floating above the dark shine of the table, whose flesh and garment was of the most ethereal grey. Her eyes were dark, and she appeared tormented; there was nothing about her that was pretty. She turned, slowly in the air above us, meeting each of our gazes in turn. When she came to me, I was glad she seemed unable to speak, for I felt her gaze judged me most harshly. I did notice, now that I had an undistorted look at her, that the entire side of her gown was stained in dried blood. It had a very violent appearance, quite at odds with Lord Gorey's account of her passing. It must have been an incredibly fitful sleep! It was a profound relief when her eyes released me, and moved on to the lady beside me. None of us seemed able to move, we only clutched the hands we held. I could not see her face when she at last found the eyes of her husband, but I saw his. He stared at her, almost in horror, I thought, but then his face crumbled into grief, and something like... guilt? "Esme," he said, his voice a hoarse whisper. He fumbled open the iron-bound case on his lap, and it was only then that I realized that he had broken the circle. We were no longer holding hands; the spirit of Lady Gorey was no longer confined by our living humanity. Lord Gorey pulled a strange device from his case, and, rising from his chair, he climbed upon the table and ran to meet the specter of his late wife. I thought at first he meant to embrace her—a foolish desire, as a ghost is nothing more than slightly congealed air—but instead he slammed the device into her chest. Corporeal mechanics met incorporeal form and joined in an ominous crackling of red light, and then... and then, Lord Gorey was holding his wife in his arms. No longer ethereal, but still grey as death, she lifted her hand and touched his face. Touched him, as any living woman might touch her husband. "Esme," he sighed, "Esme, I never meant…" He buried his face on her bloody shoulder, and slowly—so slowly—she raised her hand off his face. I thought she meant to stroke his hair, but then her eyes looked down the table over his shoulder, and instead of coming down to comfort, her hand stiffened into a point... directly at Miss Benedicta Basilio. Miss Basilio's face whitened until she resembled a specter herself. Benedicta stood and cried, "What have you done? What evil invention is this?" Lord Gorey lifted his head, his face contorting at the sound of her voice. And tha Ё݅́ѡЁЁ)䰁եѱ䰁ѡє1ɕ͹)͉́$ɐѡɅЁѥѱ)Q́ɽչѡхɽ͔)͍ɕɽ̰ٕȵɹȁ)ѕЁѼ$͕ձЁɥ͔쁵)݅́ѥЁͽ䁍՝Ё(\]̜)ɥ!͕ѕ䁕ɅQ((