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     I never did like this neighborhood. I thought it was a silly idea in the first place, but what could I say. My parents, if you haven't already heard about them around the town, are one of the most influential names in the country. You probably use some of the products made by my father's factory every day. If you read the papers you have often seen my mother's name up in the big print. You might be shocked at my disregard of respect of my parents---well, you shouldn't be. I am not their child, I wouldn't want to be, I'm just adopted. I was happy in the home. I wasn't homesick like some of the other kids, I had been there as long as I could remember. I wanted to make some nice couple a nice son. I couldn't; I had no choice. They practically demanded me. Said I reminded them of her brother when he was young. I wish I didn't. I don't like money too well. Oh, of course, I like to have some, but not too much---not as much as my mother expects me to dispose of in a week. I'm sick of this life.
     To get back to this neighborhood: I hate it. I despise it. I didn't want to live here. It was because of me that we moved here anyway. I wanted companions of my own age so I picked the kids of my age that lived around my old house. How was I to know that they were spoiled brats. How was I to know they ran around in souped-up convertibles. How was I to know they were going to kill that policeman. Shoot him down like a tin can on a fence. If I did I wouldn't have gotten into their silly club; but I did. So I got into trouble with the rest of them. Of course, nothing happened to me; money can do anything. I didn't hate the kids for that. It was just that that stupid Mrs. Gould, my stepmother, I wouldn't flatter her with the name Mother; I hate her, too. She had to bring up the idea of moving---she would. It was threatened for a long time but I never thought it would actually happen. Never. What did she do? Well, it's a long story, but I'll tell you; I have time, I'm not supposed to be in until one o'clock. That's what kind of a watchdog I got. I get sick and feel like crying when I think that I could have given some nice couple---oh, well, I can't do anything about it now. It's too late. Well, to start.
     Mr. Gould always was a bit eccentric---why else do you think that he would want a kid around the house for his old age---and he liked the upper crust. He didn't have TOO much money, but he always wanted to make a big show about it. He would have built a marble palace if he thought the fashionable world expected it from him. He always thought that the people around him were a instigating mob, forever urging him on to greater and more expensive things. Now with this scandal in the other neighborhood, he thought that that was the last straw. He had always dreamed of doing something great, something never done before. Boy, I can tell you he found it. First of all, he wrote a letter to the cream of the crop in the society column, the blue book was ransacked and he sent an invitation to the "upper ten" and ten there were. They gathered in my father's summerhouse on the lake and held a meeting---the likes of which had never been held before. The top ten were there: Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert Franklin, Madam Frontenac, Dr. and Mrs. Bancroft, Professor Alfred Stewart, and the others that put all the zing into the American aristocracy. The esteemed Mr. Gould, my stepfather, a virtual nonentity in such a gathering, broached his plan of action. It was the height of something-or-other, insanity or lunacy or what-have-you. He proposed that the ten of them put their entire fortunes of ready obtainable cash together, I'm sure it must have been enough to run into all of ten figures, large amounts, but then the "top ten"---well, now---.
     This was the plan of action. About fifty miles from where our residence was then---indeed, it was fifty miles from ANY residence---there was a huge swamp. It was the very well known Saunder's Bog that had recently come into the headlines. Some little girl was playing around this bog and fell in. After numerous attempts had been made to pull her out, the crowd that had gathered on the shore was horrified to see a tendril-entwined figure come jumping over the hillocks---coming from out of the center of the swamp---to save the dying child. It was a man who had gone raving mad many years ago. He had run into the swamp to get away from the devils that he said were tormenting him. He was entirely naked except for the creepers of the different exotic marsh ferns that had entwined themselves around his body and limbs during the long, damp years that he had lived in the morass. He waded over the spongy surface and tried to reach the child but she had already ceased her futile struggles and floated face down in the slough. The man---if man he could be called---gently picked up the child and prepared to cast her upon the shore in front of the onlookers. Then the entwining tendrils seemed to be imbued with a life of their own. They firmly wrapped themselves around the rotting tree stumps and refused to let the man do as he wished. They savagely began to weave themselves around the head of the dead one as the man and the onlookers gasped. The man struggled with the vines and managed to loose their grasp on the head of the girl. The creepers then endeavored to wreathe about the head of the man. He fought furiously with them, tearing off some of the shoots that the plants were sending out all along the main stem; the foliage writhed in seeming agony and started another onslaught at his feet. The anxious mother on the shore stopped her sobbing and all the other viewers watched with bated breath. Who would win? Man or Plant. With one supreme effort, the man wrenched his hands free of the matting of leaves and threw the tot to her mother to gather up in her arms and croon sadly in the child?s unhearing ears. The animate entanglement, enraged at the loss of its horrible viands---for what other use would the creepers have for the little one than to extract her life from her body for food---shot out in all directions and, sheathing the man in a filigree of green, decisively pulled his legs and trunk beneath the mire. He opened his mouth and emitted the most horrible ululating sound ever heard on Earth. He turned and twisted in his bonds, but to no avail. He bit and tore and in a frenzy of agony dissevered a great ramification from the main mass. The leaves themselves convulsed mightily and, in one last desperate attempt, SQUEEZED. The man's eyes started from their sockets and his mouth opened in a soul-shaking cry. The onlookers tensed; the tendrils waved in the air and with a tremendous effort pulled him completely under the muck. Just before he disappeared, his chest heaved and an unintelligible volley of sound---undoubtedly meant to be words by a man who had not spoken for over thirty years---pierced the air. Then all was silent and the ever-widening circles of water which were caused by the titanic struggle lapped at the feet of the watchers and threw up bits of ragged green leaves. Well, anyhow, that's the story of Saunder's Bog.
     Mr. Gould conceived this idea of his with the facts of the above incident fresh in his mind. No one owned the extensive tract of land on which this swamp was situated, but there was a clamor about the countryside to have it filled in by the government or whomever they could get to put up the sizable fortune for that tremendous undertaking. With his love for the spectacular, my stepfather contemplated a filling-in of the swamp by the amassed fortunes of the "upper ten" and then, not to let well enough alone and bask in the limelight of being generous enough to fill in the treacherous bog, with the remaining capital build a series of houses for the elite---the construction of which would be a feat unparalleled in the annals of architecture. Isn't that the most hare-brained, extravagant feat of mentality since the Tower of Babel? He wanted to do it, though, and it was done. The imagination of the country was thrilled by the stupendous undertaking. Just think, a very short time before, six months to be exact, a child had been killed by the unthinking treachery of the morass, and now some rich-witches were going to sink millions of dollars and millions of pounds of soil into that self-same swamp and then, as a crowning feat of impossibility, LIVE on top of it. A bigger and sillier publicity stunt was never before thrown into the headlines. All sections of the country were agog. Some of their most esteemed people were deserting their respective and very respectable mansions in Boston, New York, New Orleans, San Francisco, Miami, Philadelphia, Chicago, Cleveland, and a few smaller communities throughout the country; they were going to live in a swamp---in a SWAMP! Small wonder that the States stood up and took notice. My stepfather, of course, was extremely contented with the whole affair, first, because he didn't put up quite as much money as the rest; and, second, because at last he was getting the attention and respect that he thought he deserved. Reporters were constantly besieging him in his own home for news about his project which, from as much information that I could gather at the time from my scurrying guardians, was going along at a startling clip. And to think that I was the one who had touched off that mad spree---ME---I should have shot myself. Why? Just because I got my nose a little bit dirty; they had to wipe it off with the Mona Lisa. Ugh!
     That's the story; that's how I got into this neighborhood and the reason I don't like it is because it is so darn neat and exact. The whole of the settlement was enclosed by a huge granite wall with an electric eye arrangement that only opened for people who had a right to enter. The interior of the perfect circle inside the wall was divided into ten more or less equal areas in which each of the inhabitants had set up their own private homes. The homes backed on the fence and in the front of each was a rubber slidewalk. Since there were only forty persons residing in the settlement there was not too great a chance that two persons would want to use the walks to go in different directions at the same time, so the engineers arranged it thus: each house had its own separate slidewalk with a switchboard near each end. As you stepped onto one of the roadways, you pressed a certain button to a certain degree. The roadway slowly slid along its course until the passenger arrived at the second switch, near the end of the walk. The lever was pulled and the distance was just great enough to enable the matting to slowly coast to a stop and deposit the occupant before the second slide and its respective starter. In this fashion you could go to any point along the great circle the slider described with very little exertion---a wonderful feat of advanced engineering and a tribute to just what an unlimited supply of money can do. In the circle whose circumference is the roadway was a lavish park that was strewn with the most exotic plants, flowers and trees. In the exact center of the elaborate park was a small pond of the original swamp water that had been left.
     Where I have been walking as I tell you this story is the only highway that leads toward the enclosure. Ah, now you can see the top of the wrought-iron gate over the top of that grove of trees. I have been to a school play in the adjoining city that sprang up because of the exclusive enclosure and am just now going home. I walked up to the towering gate and presented myself before the metallic plate that electrically opened the facade for you if, of course, you belonged there. A low humming broke the stillness and silently, majestically, the portal swung open. I entered and it closed behind me. From the gateway, the tree groves were so arranged as to give me a view only of Madame Frontenac's elaborate chateau. A few words of description is deserved by that magnificent structure. It was an exact replica of the far-famed Chateau Frontenac, the original of which, you know, is in Quebec. Of course the architects that designed the whole of the fantastic settlement were given full rein, and it could be imagined that they were not content to only build a replica; oh, no, they had to have it in marble---and not just plain marble: it had to be imported for a ridiculous cost from an obscure section of the world. I disdained the use of the slidewalk; I preferred to use my legs. The silence was bordering on the oppressive as I ambled silently past the Chateau Frontenac; a few insects called back and forth to each other in the midst of the garden, but that was all. The moon shone fitfully: occasionally obscured by the scudding clouds, occasionally shining brightly down on the flawlessly paved street. There were no street lamps of any kind along the walks; they weren't deemed necessary by the residents because no one usually ventured out at all---let alone during the dark of the night. Hedgerows separated one domain from another and thick brooding ashes that were all but dwarfed by the immensity of the villas cast deep, dark shadows along my pathway. I passed by the Chateau and into the stygian blackness of the first hedge. Simultaneously, the moon was obscured by a particularly dense bank of lowering clouds. My heart pounded with fear for only a second; soon I was out of the shadows and I breathed easily again. The next villa that swept into my view was the palatial residence of Sir Malcolm Sedge, the wealthy merchant from the most frequented British port of importation. The domicile was the most uniquely modern, in my opinion, of the whole group. Fragile fairy-like domes and minarets pierced the sky, glowing in the darkness with a warm, steady light. Hidden ultraviolet lamps, playing upon artificially fluorescent stone and steel, sent rays of invisible light to the dream-house. On the spacious front lawn a small group of marble elves pranced in delight to the accompaniment of almost unheard music. Grass grew on the lawn but it was not grass: it was a forest of delicate, painfully-white, African violets. A fountain softly spayed the most subtle sort of perfume high in the air---which then fell in a gentle rain into the sunken aquarium. Fish of the most amazing tints darted hither and thither in the amber liquid. A snowy egret, startled by my passing, stalked indignantly away from the pool. Such was the scene of infinite contentment that confronted me. I could never see enough of the unearthly play of colors that leapt from the walls and columns of the palace. Steady green hues intermingled with flashes of vivid reds and violets; yellow tints ran riot with the subdued sparklings of orange fire; grayness and black were absolutely absent from the color scheme, but white and blue predominated; the villa was a rainbow of color. I looked at my white shirt in the light and I could see the profusion of kaleidoscopic shades playing over it by the reflected brilliance. The colors were intense, yes, but certainly not garish or florid as you might expect. They blended and dovetailed into one another perfectly. The elves carousing before the colorations were transformed into color fantasies that bewildered but immeasurably thrilled the eye, and the twin gray-granite deer nearby were harmoniously flushed with the prismatic tones. Color ran wild but soon, soon---but I'm getting ahead of myself. An idea came into my mind and therefore I reluctantly tore my eyes from the fairyland of color and looked down at the street under my feet. It was made up of the most intricate mosaic that ever delighted the eyes of man. The parquetry was made chokingly beautiful by the scintillating shower of light. Across the road I saw the trees as in autumn, colored highly and brightly.
     Again my eyes fell to the road, but this time not to see the colors; no, there had been movement that had been caught out of the corner of my eye. But, no, my eye had momentarily become confused by the welter of light and I had been---there it is again, a strange heaving, it seems, of the street. One of the lines of the perfectly formed mosaic seems to be wider than the others---I'm seeing things! A hump rises in the middle of the street. A piece of crystal breaks from the apex and rattles loudly to the curb. Ideas as to what could be the cause of it flock to my head. Earthquake---absurd! There hadn't been ONE recorded earthquake in this area that had been felt. That's out. I back away from the slowly ascending bubble and wait. It becomes higher---about two feet from the level of the ground. The top splits open. Falls back on the bottom. SOMETHING COMES OUT! A shape! The colors reflected from the Sedges? house strikes it! What? It---is---IT! The man in the story---the man in the papers, no description, but those vines around him---those eyes! THAT FACE! It must be! He's dead but IT MUST BE! He's fighting with the vines---they won't let him have his freedom! It's HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE!
     I'm dreaming---I pinch myself---it hurts---not HERE---not in this settlement---anywhere else---not here! Why not here? He was killed here! We covered up the swamp. We were living on the swamp---on HIM! What can I do? Wait---he's not bad---he was good---he wanted to save that girl from those creepers---he's good, then. Thank goodness! He won't hurt me. He's good---yes, good. He's turning around---he was facing the park but now he faces me. He is like the description given by some of the onlookers of the day when he saved the child from those awful vines: he is tall---must be over seven feet---I wish he would get from behind that pile of dirt that he threw up from the street so I could get a good look at him. It's funny how calm I am---right, not eight feet in front of me, is a man who has been dead for about a year and who has lived in a swamp for about twenty hears before that---I'm not afraid---I guess I got used to anything while living with my foster-parents, hahaha! He is covered, as far as I can see---I DO wish he would come from behind that pile---with very thick lianas, and by the way that they are continually twining and waving in the air I guess that they ARE alive as the people said they were. I feel safe enough though---fifty feet behind me is a safe house---even if it IS a bit unusual---that I can come to if they come toward me---the creepers I mean, I know I have nothing to fear from the man---he is perfectly harmless. Now the vines seem to be battling with the man. Why, yes, they are! I remember hearing it said that the creepers were battling with the man to make him loose his hold on the infant that had been drowned in the swamp. The tendrils are wrapping themselves tighter and tighter about the man's head and neck. I wish they would get out of the shade. It would be my luck to have them come up right in the shade of that big hedge. I can't see any of the details---only the silhouette. Now the creepers seem to have the upper hand. They're lashing about his body in a frenzy. He's yelling---I can't hear what he's yelling; he talks like a foreigner; I guess he is; he hasn't heard a human voice or used his own voice for all those twenty long years; I sort of feel sorry for him. His voice rises in pitch; he's fairly screeching now. The vines twine more violently. The bellows increase. They end in a strangled gurgle. The tendrils have about choked him to death. Finally, out of the green of the leafy foliage surrounding him, I can hear a low despairing wail and suddenly he grows limp and sinks behind the mound of mosaic stones that he tore up when he ascended from the lower regions of the swamp.
     All is quiet. Then a small noise commences behind the barricade of stones---a sound as of rushing waters. I know it isn't water and I am sick with the probable reason. Suddenly a dim, shadowy figure again rises from the hollow and staggers across the street. There seems to be a weakness about the walk of the man, now. He stumbles and falls on the opposite curb. An irresistible urge pulls him up again and he is on his journey anew. Where is he going? He can't possibly climb the wall; not even with the aid of the creepers. I must find out---even if it means my death, I have to find out where he is going. He is across the road and going into the park in the center of the settlement. He vanishes into the darkness of the veritable forest of tress and shrubs. I run across after him and also gain the shadowy fringe of trees that mark the border of the dense woods. His trail is easy to follow; a slime from the creepers has rubbed off on the bushes and shines in the diffused moonlight. For a long while I can hear the crashing of the undergrowth ahead of me and I follow for what seems an interminable period of time. Then, up ahead, I hear the splashing of water, and I burst through into the small clearing bordering the pool of water that was the only visible vestige of the great bog that once covered this entire tract of land. The man is nowhere to be seen but the water is violently agitated, as if someone has just dived into it. The water lap-laps at the margin of the diminutive lake and then all is silent; even the myriad night noises are not to be heard. An eddy appears in the middle of the lake for a short while; and disappears. I stepped nearer to the brink to investigate a huge green leaf that appeared to have been just recently torn off, when the water was again troubled and I could dimly perceive a shape coming toward the surface from out of the depths. The moon chose this moment to hide her face behind a veil of cloud. A wind sprang up from nowhere and chilled me to the bone; my clothes were wet from my trek through the dewy woods. The insects were still silent---waiting---waiting, for I knew not what. The phantom in the water became more distinct---detailed, I could see its outline plainly---. Another chill swept me from head to foot and, not daring to turn my back from the waters, I retreated into the woods. The moonlight returned; I tripped over a root and fell to the ground. I sat up so I might see what I could hear was breaking the surface of the water. The green leaf-rafts scattered as if blown by a tremendous wind. A monstrous, pulsating, green-colored mass of matter rose above the surface. His head! Incredibly larger, bloated, densely covered with mud and mire, it rose into the air, supported by an equally large equally bloated body, twined and intertwined with wavering lianas. The mud fell away with the laving of the waves and---oh, no! Ghastly---odious---repulsive---execrable---hideous---loathsome---NO. IT---THAT FACE! Nonononononono. Run runrun. AWAY. NO. How can such things exist! Runrunrun---out of these woods away from that thing that monster that foul---RUN.
     How I did it, I'll never know! I scrambled to my feet in an agony of terror and fear. Tripping, falling, stumbling, tearing my clothes, I ran---I cared not where---just to be away; away from that horrible vision: Hate solidified. I turned my head once---only once! IT came on, on, breathing down my neck---I tripped, fell. I expected never to get up again. I did---clambered back to my feet and surged forward once more. The forest was endless. My face was scratched. My clothes were torn. One shoe was gone. I was unendurably pained in my side. My throat was dry. My eyes smarted from the frequent encounter with leaves of low trees. I ran. Ran. My lungs demanded air. I gave them none. My feet demanded rest. I gave them none. I was a wild animal, running from the hunter. I was the hunted. It seems at times I flew. I had to stop; I could not go another step. My lungs were on fire. My tongue was sandpaper in my mouth. A knife stabbed again, again, again---into my side. My bare foot was cut. Must go on. Mustn't stop. MUST. MUSTN'T. No. NO. NO. NO.
     The most welcome sight in the world met my reddened eyes: the villa of the Sedges? welcomed me with its varicolored walls. I vaulted the pile of rubble, and dashed across the street. I could see the myriad colors come and go as my legs pumped furiously to keep distance between me and the HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE---. I peeped cautiously over my shoulder again. He was right on my heels; then he stopped, fascinated by the coloration of the house before him. I knocked over one of the elves in my mad drive for shelter. I barely missed running into the pool: startled the rainbow-hued fish. The egret stalked angrily away; I had again disturbed his toilet. I attained the safety of a large bush that grew to the height of four feet by the front door of the magnified Maison de Couleurs. I dropped to my knees behind the shrub and, making a small peephole between the branches, watched to see what he would do. He stood just out of range of the reflections, and therefore was invisible to me. I waited---for what, I knew not. I was content to lean against the comforting walls and rest from my harrowing race for life through the park. I swallowed many times and finally managed, to some extent, to assuage my intense thirst. I closed my eyes momentarily, and thus relieved some of the stinging that I felt from them. Rubbing my bleeding foot, I again looked toward the monstrous being. I could see that he was almost hypnotized by the iridescent flashings. He came closer, emitting a low, humming sound as he came. Even the once actively writhing tentacles of stalk were dangling limply at his side. The night sounds began as abruptly as they had stopped so long before. The moon again revealed her face to the earth. Except for the shapeless form advancing across the pure violets and the poor, frightened boy who crouched, cringing, behind a bush, all was the same; all was peaceful. The man advanced. The lights flickered on and off his hideous countenance. His eyes glowed with a malevolent inner fire. He grinned horribly at the bewitching colors that flashed agreeably in his face. He advanced. Then he stopped; he didn't know that he had stepped across the rays of the ultra-violet lamp that lay secluded in a corner of the yard: he was angry. A particularly vivid display of reds and violets were darkened by this towering shadow. Only now, when he was on the lawn, could I see how tremendous a figure he was. He must have been no less than twenty feet tall. I was terrified: he had been somewhat dwarfed by the trees when he had been chasing me through the woods. I hadn't seen his full height before because he had been below the slope of the land that gently graded down to the street from the house. His arms were long---almost ape-like. They hung to only a little above his knees when he walked. His hair was matted by the muds of years. His face, horrible enough, was bespeckled with bits of green scum from the surface of the pool that the run through the trees had failed to brush off. This ugly face twisted into a repulsive grimace of hate. He had seen the colors that had so intrigued him before, now he couldn't. He was standing in front of the lamps; he didn't know it, but he was. He was angry. In a voice made fearful by the evil influence of the victorious tendrils, he roared out his protest. His hands, dripping the slime of the morass, rose up to take revenge. He stalked toward the palace to find the cause of his anger. He was such a menacing figure and the night had already been such a strain. I couldn't help it. I was signing my death warrant. I SCREAMED. With a gutteral roar that shook my whole being, he wheeled about to discover the source of this new puzzle. He lowered his massive head and peered straight in my direction. I knew it was the end. I hurriedly said my prayers and prepared to meet my maker. He seemed to stare through the flimsy covering of the bush and sight me. He roared triumphantly and came toward me. A cold sweat broke out all over me and again I screamed---again---again. My heart went out in these screams. My body shook. I wept like an infant. My body convulsed, repelled, at the very thought of being mutilated by the hellish creature that stood over me. I felt the cold clamminess of one of the creepers as it brushed my forehead. Slime from it oozed down my cheek and over my lips. I was vastly repelled and violently ashamed of myself. I felt defiled. He again reached down and clutched my coat. I screamed louder. His grip tightened. He grinned horribly. I could see the swollen veins on his arms tense as he tried to pull me from behind my shelter. I fought. I struggled. To no avail. I was being irresistibly pulled out into the open to meet a fate worse than death. Then, as if through a dense fog, I heard a dull murmuring behind me. He had heard it too. He loosened his vise-like grip on my coat and stepped back to meet whatever came. He stood there: the colors still flashing vividly across his face, his body, his legs. Red, green, blue, yellow, violet, orange, and brilliant flaring white. It was maddening. The colors flared, died, blazed, fell, coruscated, retreated, scintillated, flickered in a bedazzling illumination. The apparition was horrible; color heightened, strengthened, exaggerated the horror. He swayed back and forth, waiting. The door opened. I wished it wouldn't. I wished it would. It saved my life. Gave me a reprieve. A parallelogram of pale yellow light that contrasted markedly in its coldness with the intensity of the fluorescence shot out across the entranceway. I could feel the gentle wash of air as the door was opened. From my vantage point beside the door, I could see a shadow come across that light: Mrs. Sedge. I wanted to yell and tell her to shut the door, quickly, and not look at the monstrosity that stared at her from the lawn of violets. By twisting around slightly behind the bush I caught a glimpse of her just as she saw the swamp-man. Her face was lavishly and, I thought, grotesquely made up. Rouge was caked heavily on her sallow cheeks. Her mouth was a gash of deep red. Pendulous earrings dangled below her be-diamonded upswept hairdo. Her eyebrows were arched; whether from surprise or, as I rather imagined, intent. Her face was wrinkle-less---originally. Her mask of rouge and powder seemed to crack audibly. Her mouth dropped to the strings of pearls surrounding her lean neck. Her eyebrows raised to an astonishing height. Her eyes widened; and, with a feeble gasp, she fell down collapsed at the feet of the vision of horror. After the rustle of incredibly expensive taffeta quieted, another voice was heard from the interior. "What the devil's the matter, Cynthia?" her husband, Malcolm, inquired, "and what were those awful shrieks for?---Gawd!" This after he saw the apparition. The monocle dropped from his eye, and he, too, looked ready to expire with fear. The fiend, with a gutteral growl, stooped; and with a mighty sweep of his paw, caught the Nobleman around the waist. Sir Sedge was paralyzed. The demon grasped him by the head and clasped him to his creeper-covered chest. The creepers waved hesitantly in the air before the struggling figure; then they proceeded to entwine themselves about the helpless victim. Malcolm struggled feebly once---again---then he was still. The tendrils wrapped themselves more swiftly; suckers detached themselves from the main mass and found their target. The whole mass of green pulsated as if motivated by a giant heart. The monster bent down his head over the wretch and he was taken out of my range of vision by the lowering head. There was a tremendous gush of blood and horrible slobbering sounds. I CAN'T STAND IT! IT'S TOO MUCH. NO. NO. NO! I shut my eyes to the horrific sight. I still heard the sounds. Foul. Vile. DAMNABLE. NO! I struck my head against the wall. DEATH. Aid me. Succor me. Save me. Assist me. KILL ME. Things such as this are not meant to be viewed with human eyes. Impossible. Horrendous. NO. My head hurt. GOOD. Make it hurt more. I must kill myself. I cannot live. I cannot stand it. My mind must snap. Those colors: dancing, carousing, reveling. Madness. Insanity. NO.
     The wall is hard, cold. My head is soft, bleeding. Pain. Horror. I repeatedly lift my head; repeatedly crash it into the wall. Again---again. Forever. Eternally. Unceasingly. Exquisite pain, crashing---reeling---whirling---insane---MAD. A sound. By my head. Over there. I stop. My head. Pain. My hand wanders up to the wound. It comes down. Blood---hair---scalp---I am sick, I vomit. Smell. NO. The woman is reviving. She wearily props herself up on one arm and looks out over the scene. The creepers are slowly, regretfully unwrapping themselves from around the mutilated body of Sir Malcolm Sedge. They cast him aside. They are appeased. The body falls half in, half out of the magnificent fountain. There is no blood to dye the water; it is all gone. The creepers motion toward the woman, who strikes their attention by rousing from her swoon. She looks horrified, as the monster advances toward her. She rises---trips over her flowing skirt---screams. The monster slowly advances toward her; sluggish, gluttonous. I can see him clearly; he has to pass me to get her. His eyes are huge---dilated---bloodshot; his mouth---bloody. He smiles in anticipation of another feast. Fangs glisten in the cascading colors. He spits out a clot of hair; it lands at my feet. Saturated with blood---loathsome---revolting. I tear my eyes from the caked mass, fascinated. She frantically scrambles, on her hands and knees, toward the safety of her house. He passes me. The acrid smell of decay---mud---slime, fills my nostrils. A creeper leaps forward, grabs her. She fights, scratches at his unholy face. Bites at the encircling vines. Disgusted, she spits out a mouthful of leafy mold. It splashes on the immaculate rug. Filth. She struggles, fights, much better than the husband had; women are wilder than men! In their struggles they again pass me and I gag with the smell. She doesn't scream or cry out; she fights as if possessed by the demons; she methodically pummels his head his chest his arms with her delicate white hands. Nothing daunts him. Creepers shoot out from nowhere to embrace her. The coloration of the combatants makes them grotesque---nightmarish. They come in my direction.
     She miraculously got loose from his deadly grasp and wildly ran toward the house. She twisted her heel as she bounded up the stairs. On, relentlessly, he came. She lost control of herself. She wept, cried, tore her hair. I turned my head as she began to froth at the mouth. She commenced laughing hysterically. Of all the events of the evening, that impressed me most; it was the indescribable wailing of the insane woman. I wept unabashedly. Such things were not meant to be; they were impossible---unmentionably cruel---heartless. She submitted without a shudder as he loomed over her and clasped her to his slimy breast. The vines tenderly embraced her. I could stand it no longer. I left the dubious shelter of the bush and ran across the variegated lawn to the hedgerow. An unendurable tinge of curiosity made me turn around. He had just cast aside the shriveled body of Mrs. Sedge and was cavorting about in front of the ultraviolet lights in order to see his shadow on the solid rock of the house of color. He, of course, didn't know what caused the peculiar blacking out of certain sections that he was in front of. He delighted in the effect. He danced a hideous jig. Then he started to back up in the general direction of the lights. As he got closer and closer to the source of the rays that activated the stones into color, the amount of space left colored became smaller and smaller. At length the lamp tripped him and, in a fury, he bent and tore the costly mechanism out of the ground, plunging the house and lot into inky blackness. The moon was gone behind an exceptionally thick bank of thunderheads. He looked around him, perplexed. The colors were gone! He couldn't understand it. He resented it. He was angry.
     In his anger he fell upon the snowy egret that had foolishly stayed in its place all the while. In a few seconds there was nothing to be seen except a few long, beautiful feathers. He endeavored to bring back the coloration by some obscure ritual. He failed. In an ecstasy of rage, he bowled over the elves, broke the white-granite deer to pieces, kicked over the fountainhead with a powerful blow that sprayed lavender water over him and the yard. He entered the door which had foolishly been left open and wrecked the house. He threw the costly damask-covered chairs through the flawless plate glass. He crashed through any doors that happened to bar his path with a single thrust. He left a mingled trail of slime and perfume in his wake. He disappeared from my view into the interior of the villa. Occasionally I saw his figure glide by one of the windows, but, aside from that, I had no idea what havoc he was wreaking. Suddenly, a huge explosion shook the house and a fragile pinnacle of ivory crashed to the ground. I saw a figure at the third-floor window; it was he! He was outlined for a split second by the fire that appeared behind him, and then he jumped, flames eating at his back. He plummeted to the ground, writhing in agony. He squirmed in an endeavor to put out the flames. The creepers were damp and just the outer leaves that had dried out were burning. The fire was easily put out.
     The conflagration in the house wasn't so easily halted. I had heard that every house had an expensive fire-fighting apparatus installed in the walls, but evidently the one in the Sedge mansion was defective. The man, injured from the leap, managed to crawl away from the blazing palace. The house burned rapidly. It was no doubt filled with expensive tapestry and elaborate hangings and drapes that added fuel to the flames. A whoosh was heard as the floorings fell into the basement. The domes on the roof shivered with the impact, and then tumbled in on themselves.
     I no longer paid any attention to the monster that lay on the ground in front of the burning villa. Maybe I should have but I was fascinated by the leaping, swirling, flames. The right side collapsed and sent a shower of sparks high into the night sky. The walls tottered on their foundations for just a fraction of a second and then, with a thunderous roar, the walls cleaved apart and disintegrated into ash. The flames attained an impossible height for the split second before the final dissolution and now semi-darkness descended over the settlement. At first I was startled by the fact that there were no people gathered around to watch the holocaust, but then, remembering the pains taken to make the walls of the houses soundproof so that the residents would not be bothered with any chance noise outside of their ken, I realized why there wasn't.
     The multitude of servants and maids that worked around the grounds during the day left the premises every night so "we wouldn't have to clutter up our choice experiment with servant-quarters" as my stepfather had put it. So there weren't any other people around the Sedge section before or during the fire. What I didn't know was the fact that some of the residents of the neighboring town saw the tremendous flames and called up the police department to report it. From the size of the fire, the police force thought that the whole settlement was going up in smoke. What did they do? They couldn't enter the enclosure to fight the fire because the gate wouldn't recognize them. They had been given specific instructions, moreover, that they should not be worried if they saw anything wrong because they had adequate facilities within the gate to cope with any emergency that might arise. The mayor, however thought that he must do SOMETHING about the fire, so he telephoned the electric company that had been put up exclusively to furnish the power needed for heating, cooking, lighting, and the electric eye that guarded the gate. His instructions, though I didn't know about them, would cause---again I'm getting ahead of my story---were to shut the electricity that serviced the settlement. His reason for that was that if the fire WAS out of control, the electric mechanisms would not add any danger to the fire.
     I turned my thoughts from the absence of onlookers to the monster that I had seen lying on the grass in front of the house. I stealthily advanced to the spot where he fell to see if he might be dead. HE WASN'T THERE. Panic seized me. I had felt secure before, in the thought that I could see him if he tried to get up from where he fell. He must have crawled away while I was intent on the burning building. I glanced wildly around. Nowhere to be seen. The moon was still obscured by the thick clouds. The winds that had been faintly blowing as the house burned, died away completely. I could not even smell where he was now. I chuckled dryly to myself. Smell him. Haha. The laugh froze in my throat. I could have sworn I heard someone in that line of hedgerows. My eyebrows came together---so intent was my gaze. Try as I might I could not fathom the stygian blackness. I could feel eyes, inhuman eyes, drilling into my back. I whirled. Nothing. My already frayed nerves tingled. I ran. I hated the thought that my house was the fourth one up the walk. I was in the domain of Fear. I trembled---ran faster. My heart stopped; I could SWEAR there was someone lurking behind that hedge up ahead. I crossed the street---my eyes glued to the suspected hiding place. In that way I didn't see the silent figure that crept up behind me. I felt an intensely disagreeable object around my neck. A TENDRIL. Oh, NO. It can't be. I will be---no, NO. The THOUGHT of it! I felt other slimy arms imprison me. I fought. I tried to run! I couldn't! Tentacles of steel held me back! Wrapped around my legs! I screamed until I was hoarse---to no avail. Screams cannot kill a monster. I kicked backward. I felt the solid flesh of his legs. I kicked---no use. It was like kicking a tree. I felt his arms enfold me. I twisted around in his grasp. He twisted me completely around to face him. NO! What a face! Grinning in enjoyment at his victuals. I WOULD NOT submit myself! I called for help. I begged, entreated him to spare me---he had no understanding. More and more creepers twined themselves around me. I could feel their frigidity through the rips in my clothes. I was lifted bodily off the ground. His face was pressed close upon mine. I could see the clotted blood from his previous repast. His eyes were green---unendurably evil. His fangs shone close to me. I felt his humid breath on my neck. I could not even struggle; so completely was I bound up by the tendrils. I felt an agitation in the foliage. Blunt noses pressed up against my bare skin! SUCKERS! I screamed at the top of my voice. My ribs ached from the increasing pressure. Slime dripped over me. He bent closer. I could feel his slobbering lips on my neck. I was repelled---horrified. I felt hundreds of suckers on my skin. They drew. My skin tickled, then ached. Then---oh, NO. His fangs met my bare neck. Saliva dribbled from his lips. Repugnance welled up in me. His teeth clenched. Pain. EXQUISITE PAIN! My blood rushed through my veins. Soon---soon. OH. NO. The teeth broke my skin. The suckers drew in irresistibly. My flesh was torn in many places. Blood poured into the horror. It pulsated. His teeth sank in farther. NO. NO. NO. Blood overwhelmed me. Pain unendurable. Blackness rushed up. A roaring sounded in my ears. I lost sensation in my limbs. Numb. HORROR. TEETH. NUMB. BLOOD. BLACK. RUSHING ** ROARING-------