The Madness Behind Their Eyes

What would we see if we looked beyond what is known? Beyond what makes sense and what is sane? What possibilities can be found in the broken minds of the forgotten, forsaken outcasts? What madness lies behind the eyes of the insane?

A collection of dark tales inspired by Lovecraft.

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1. The Sudden Reappearance of Mary Dunhill

The Sudden Reappearance of Mary Dunhill

Amongst the greatest mysteries ever to plague our small town was the sudden reappearance of Mary Dunhill. To say her disappearance wasn’t a mystery of its own would be a lie; she had last been seen wearing a yellow skirt and jumper, carrying a black bag, and had been walking down a well-lit road. There was a well-placed CCTV camera on that road, but there was a notorious blind spot on the corner. It was as Mary reached the corner and entered the blind spot that she vanished, disappearing off the face of the earth. The area was full of rumours and theories after that: people assumed she must have been kidnapped, but for something like that to happen in such a small town seemed ridiculous, and the camera had not shown any traffic at the time, or for a while afterwards. Perhaps she’d ducked into the nearby trees, people said, but there was a fence all along the road that prevented that, and there would have been some evidence had she climbed over it. There was no way of telling what had happened to her, but people kept looking.

Years later, when all hope had been lost and Mary was long considered dead, she suddenly appeared. No one could have predicted it. It was four in the evening, and the CCTV camera saw her first, coming around the road on the very corner she vanished, wearing the same yellow skirt and jumper, carrying the same bag, looking no different than before. She walked as though nothing had happened, as though she hadn’t disappeared for any time at all. She continued down the road following it until she came to her house, not far away, and only then did she seem to realise that something wasn’t right.

Mary Dunhill had lived with her parents, but after she disappeared the town felt like a prison to them, and so they had left, getting as far away from the pain as they could. When Mary reached her front door and saw a different car in the driveway everything seemed so strange, and when someone she didn’t know answered the door it all became too much and the poor girl fainted.

She woke in the local hospital to find a doctor by her side and police officers standing outside. The doctor told her that the officers had some questions to ask, but naturally they weren’t the only ones with questions. Word spreads quickly in a small town, and by this time everyone who knew about the disappearance had heard that Mary was back. The news were already preparing their morning report on the miraculous return, and a sizeable force of journalists had assembled outside.

‘I don’t understand,’ Mary said to the doctor. ‘Who was that in my house?’

The doctor sat on the bed and sighed. ‘Mary…you’ve been missing for years. People thought you were dead.’

‘Dead?’ she cried. Her emotions got the better of her and she started to sob. ‘Do…do my parents know?’

‘The police have contacted them,’ the doctor replied. ‘I’m sure they’ll be happy to see you.’

Mary was left with little time to adjust to the doctor’s words, as the police officers had seen she was awake and were moving to enter the room. The doctor got to his feet, trying to stop them at the door and insisting Mary needed rest, but the officers were insistent.

‘We’re sorry to intrude,’ said the female officer. ‘I’m Sergeant Brigham, and this is PC Pritchard. We need to talk to you about a few things.’

Mary was still shaken from the revelation that she had been missing, but forced herself to take a deep breath and calm her nerves, hoping that these officers could help her make sense of things. The sergeant drew out her notebook, flipped it open and poised a pen over a blank page; she met Mary’s eyes and smiled reassuringly.

‘I don’t entirely understand what’s going on,’ Mary said before they could ask any questions. ‘The doctor said I’ve been missing…’

‘You disappeared for seven years, miss,’ Pritchard explained calmly, ‘gone from the face of the Earth until you suddenly show up in the exact place you disappeared. We need to know what happened. Where have you been?’

Mary stared at him, confused. ‘I…I didn’t go anywhere. I was walking home and when I got home someone else was living there.’ She shifted her gaze to Brigham. ‘Where are my parents?’

‘They’re on their way, Mary,’ Brigham replied. ‘We need you to focus now, think back. Did anything strange happen at all? Were there any people?’ Despite her questions Sergeant Brigham could not help but see that Mary had not aged a day. She had seen the CCTV footage, it was all over the documentary channels these days, and this girl in front of her was exactly identical to the girl who had gone missing. Something didn’t add up.

Mary sat in thought for a moment before shrugging. ‘I don’t know. I guess…well I suppose…’ Brigham and Pritchard leant forward without meaning to. ‘I went dizzy for a moment, my eyes went fuzzy and I think maybe I blacked out for a second…’ She trailed off slightly, and her eyes almost appeared to glaze over, gazing towards nothing in particular. ‘I was in darkness…it was so empty…and then came the lights…all the little lights, like faraway stars…’ Brigham hurried to write down what she was saying. ‘They sparkled and danced…they were my little diamonds, all my faraway diamonds…and then…’ As quickly as she had faded she was back, snapped back to reality. ‘It passed and I continued walking home.’

‘Was there…anything else in the black place?’ Pritchard asked incredulously, giving Brigham a sideward glance.

‘What black place?’ Mary asked; the police officers gave each a quick, concerned look, before Brigham got to her feet. Pritchard followed closely.

‘Thank you for your time, miss,’ the sergeant said. ‘We’ll be in contact again soon. Until then, do take care. I’m sure your family will be happy to see you.’

‘Thank you. I hope I’ve been helpful.’ Mary smiled as they left the room.

Once outside the officers stopped, Brigham scanning her notes. ‘What do you make of it?’ she asked.

‘Sounds like drugs to me,’ Pritchard replied. ‘You hear how she was talking about blacking out? Like she was high or something.’

‘Maybe…but what about how she hasn’t aged at all? It just doesn’t make any sense.’

Mary’s parents were quick to take her away from the drama, sneaking her out of the hospital and onto a plane to Spain, planning on taking a long holiday. Meanwhile the site of her disappearance and reappearance received extensive publicity on the news, accompanied by a muffled yet unmistakeable recording of Mary’s description. Soon everyone was hoping to see the sparkling lights, risking disappearing like Mary had just so they could see them.

It went on for some months. An investigation revealed the PC Pritchard had secretly recorded the conversation with Mary Dunhill, and though he lost his job he received a lot of attention from the news, showing up at the corner and talking with the people attempting to recreate whatever had taken Mary away. Eventually, as with all things, the hype died down, Mary’s disappearance and reappearance added to the growing list of unsolved mysteries in the world. That was until, when everyone had given up on it ever happening again, it happened again.

A nine year old boy, James Hogwell, suddenly vanished on the corner, yet this event was unlike Mary’s disappearance. Though the CCTV camera once again failed to capture the event, the boy’s mother was crossing the road with him when he ran ahead and, in her words, ‘’was swallowed by a black rip in the air’. The news were all over it without hesitation, and investigators started poking around the area again, hoping to recreate the event. Some claimed they hoped by recreating it they could bring James back without having to wait for years, but it was apparent that most just wanted to experience it for themselves. Perhaps it was all the excitement, but after a few more months it happened again, and again, and again. Dozens of people started disappearing on the corner, and no one reappeared. The local authorities were forced to close off the area, yet people continued to sneak in and most of them disappeared too.

The vanishings continued for three years and then stopped abruptly. Friends and relatives of those who had disappeared hoped this signalled an imminent return, yet there did not appear to be any sign of this happening for at least six more years. By now Mary had chosen to cut all ties with the town and her disappearance, and refused to speak to anyone – police, journalists, relatives of the missing – even if doing so could have helped bring them back. She was done with it; it had been more than ten years and she still couldn’t move on with her life. She wasn’t going to let herself get dragged back into it.

Finally they turned up again, all at once, a mass of confused people appearing suddenly on the street corner, falling over each other, spilling into the road. They were lucky there was no traffic, the area still cordoned off from public access; James Hogwell immediately ran home, whilst everyone else stumbled around for a short time, at first being mistaken for drunks before friends and family recognised their relatives.

The police investigation brought up nothing new. Everyone they interviewed, from nine year old James to the elderly Ron Hammond, gave the exact same account in dreamy, distant voices: ‘Darkness…it was so dark except for the lights…all the sparkly lights…the diamonds…the faraway diamonds…they were so bright…they called us…he called us…and then he let us go…sent us back…we’re not ready yet…he’s not ready yet…but one day…one day soon…’

There have been no disappearances since that day, and the media storm surrounding it has finally died down. It remains one of those big mysteries for everyone, receiving some attention from internet conspiracy theorists and TV shows about strange happenings, but for those still living in this town it left larger, more frightening questions. According to those who disappeared someone is waiting, but whom? Many want to move away, but something holds them there and won’t let them leave; they want to know what is going to happen, and the only way to find out is to stay where they are and wait for “him” to be ready.

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