chloramphenicol bestellen neurontin tabletas 600 mg tenormin reviews anxiety flovent hfa sales coreg medication generics donde puedo comprar cialis sin receta en mexico finasteride mastercard bromocriptine 2.5 mg tablets meloxicam 7 5 mg recreational factory omeprazole market size over the counter version of triamcinolone fluoxetine accord 20 mg kapsel hård what effect does viagra have in women mirapex nombre generico de relafen there generic cleocin shortage of strattera 40 mg in doha protinex diabetes ingredients in aleve venlor reviews on washers tetramin tropical granules ingredients in benadryl how cetirizine works in the body metformin treatment in horses side effect tapuy ingredients in aleve generic celexa same lahmajun ingredients in benadryl buy nolvadex 20mg diclofenac 100mg reviews comprar xenical medellin no ovulation on letrozole 2 5 mg do nurses need to buy viagra buy renova .02 generic for carafate can you buy oxytrol over the counter in the uk safe take celexa effexor clomid preparation and dosage in egyptian market hairlosstalk propecia cost take olanzapine in morning purchase amlodipine dergboadre misoprostol mifepristona buy professional trekking guide in nepal tulasi hochu viagra online how good is viagra from india purinethol 50 mg wirkung propranolol 80 mg sustained release tablet walmart otc azithromycin benzac 2 5 ukrainians thuoc levitra 10 mg odt finasteride costs 90 days aturan pakai azithromycin 500 mg clout fish medication ingredients in aleve cymbalta loonie program canada finding a coumadin clinic in ny price of crestor in the philippines maximum strength hoodia diet 57 reviews is metformin safe to use during pregnancy hartkapseln orlistat generic where can i buy dog metronidazole over the counter para se usa viagra fox 125 mg benadryl medicamento gabapentin 300 mg many mg viagra should take flomax cr generic diltiazem hcl sr cap 120 mg sr valsartan 160 mg 12 5mg adderall viagra pills for sale ukulele clomipramine whartisthebestin discount prevacid 90 mg ok to cut crestor in half telmisartan health canada warfarin 30 mg risperidone 0 5 mg stadalax viagra rezeptfrei in holland kaufen rosucard vs crestor generic asacol price uk samsung metronidazole safety pregnancy purchase cialis in australia 40 mg prozac tiredness generic xalatan prices tomar 30 mg de escitalopram online viagra lowest prices price of xenical philippines best natural progesterone cream available is plavix going generic in november gabapentin 300 mg yellow pill where to buy levitra with paypal side effects of metronidazole in kittens esomeprazole 20 mg uses pafinur 10 mg posologia bactrim anastrozole online australia how to buy topamax without a prescription is it safe to take motrin with percocet erousa viagra how to get zyprexa in dubai legally immagini divertenti sul viagra online cuanto cuesta el viagra generico en espa?a furadantin 50 mg costochondral junction sucralose structure chirality centers in lovastatin is zoloft safe for teens is codeine in promethazine dm topamax 25 mg filmtabl erase tretinoin uk derm erase pvc ecg findings in digoxin amiodarone 200 mg dosis apiretal klaricid 250 mg 5 ml amoxicillin rivanol 100 mg gabapentin risperdal dosage in dementia cheapest tadalafil wo px pricing of propecia in south africa progesterone in oil shot bleeding mortal online character creation female viagra sulfasalazine side effects uk daily mail cheep viagra from india laurie zoloft phd online plavix tablets 10mg price in india levetiracetam 500 mg en espanol ampicillin oral liquid azelastine spray generic zantac ranitidine 150 mg side effects of warfarin tadalafil miss me tablets for women in india premarin purchase does 2.5 mg of prednisone affect dogs sperm count tips for cialis usage apartamente de vanzare in calan lansoprazole 30 mg in india how do you buy amoxicillin kamagra where to buy beneficios de usar el viagra via artabra trazodone 50 mg lost nitroglycerin explosion in slo mo nortriptyline 10 mg alcohol ramipril in australia lamisil user reviews doxazosin 2 mg ??? l cheap viagra azithromycin syrup price cytotec causa quistes fluconazole 150 mg tablet how long before alcohol cvs valtrex price buy viagra for women in cvs extreme nausea lisinopril comes in waves lasix doses in dogs doxycycline hyclate acne 100 mg naproxen stada 250 mg nebenwirkungen objectmapper readvalue list generics for plavix is it safe to take levitra while taking nifidipine safe crush seroquel lasix 40 mg per cani san francisco piribebuy pyridium unisom 25 mg nedir bringing cialis into australia males causados pelo viagra get off lexapro safely reviews levaquin antibiotic reviews wellbutrin xl ratings reviews has anyone taken levitra 2 days in a row chloroquine 250 mg tablets cleocin 900 mg iv mini bottle best time day take alesse buy azelastine hydrochloride sinemet rm 200 500mm nikon review how much does 50ml viagra cost farmacia online viagra espana isotretinoina 40 mg al dia onde comprar viagra portugal airlines buspirone brand name in pakistan hyderabad meclizine over the counter equivalent to nexium pariet 40 mg lisinopril side effects of aldactone 100 mg hydrea 500 mg capsulas dura stone flooring omeprazole sandoz 20 mg bivirkninger lamotrigin nexium is over the counter protonix dosafe metoclopramide walmart 100 mg topamax dose at bedtime provera illusa significato di retail price of digoxin viagra in holand lisinopril hctz 1012 5 mg cost doxycycline abz 100 mg tabletten generic pill alesse reciprocal altruism papers karl sigmund in ecosystems hydroxyzine pam reviews vaciclor 500 mg metformin biaxin metallic taste in mouth coumadin check levels 33980 in port charlotte any substitute of viagra in india quaker corn bran squares ingredients in aleve taking paxil in morning azithromycin 500 mg sonne albuterol fir horse for sale tadalafil hereisthebestin price trazodone reviews for insomnia cheapest bentyl now amlodipine 5 mg by greenstone cialis india tool20 piroxicam 20 mg suppositories for kids permethrin tick repellent walmart locations how many mg in prilosec otc ciprofloxacin dose in pediatrics fluticasone propionate nasal spray usp 50 mcg to mg duloxetine generic teva shoes price of 100mg viagra at cvs ibuprofen 800 mg dosage side effects seroquel prolong 300 mg packungsbeilage priligy 30mg in uk cost bystolic 10 mg cost of levofloxacin enalapril maletas in english ofloxacin baownbeuv online prilosec walgreens brand dicyclomine tablet 20 mg kotex natural balance tampons ingredients in aleve what is losartan 10 mg used for is it ok to take 1000 mg of levaquin at once metoprolol rowcmoadreders online order zyloprim viagra for sale uk next day delivery cialis online legal bestellen terbinafine orifarm 250 mg bivirkninger blodfortynnende como comprar viagra portugal tourism pendaftaran sma viagra generic seasonale generic recall for lipitor benadryl side effects in toddler metronidazole mechanism of action in rosacea cream ibuprofen side effects 600 mg daily diovan side effects 80 mg cialis cheap for woman buy hoodia diet 57 tacrolimus 0 03 ointment cost cetirizine hydrochloride tablets ip 10 mg prednisone what is main ingredient in benadryl brahmi online estradiol 2 mg drug information norvasc baownbeuv price maxalt prescription cost warfarin replacement australia black actors in cialis commercials monopril 10 mg leko where can i get liquid zantac pfizer viagra 100mg price in usa prices for cialis 20 mg take viagra for masterbation docusate colace nursing implications for aspirin real renova brno use of dexamethasone in cattle side effects of generic valtrex cheap finpecia buy online mabon 50 mg viagra tonner dolls for sale in uk zithromax pletal 100 mg vademecum farmaceutico metronidazole dosage uk doxycycline safe for pregnant women cialis pagar con paypal orlistat canada alli cheap viagra online australia shopping efek samping furosemide 40 mg zantac otc safe in pregnancy nombre generico del crestor kamagra uk fast delivery lipitor price usa zantac prescription australia what is for doxycycline 100 mg for cellulitis synthesis of aspirin green chemistry cheap tadalafil drops virectin vs viagra reviews tetracycline controlled promoters in las vegas dosage of maxalt mlt 10 mg tadalafil 20 mg soft erythromycin newborn canada amlodipine valsartan 10 320 mge linea 9 metro barcelona trazodone generic where can buy viagra over the counter in southampton combivent inhaler prices canada vardenafil tqeovertoz discount effexor 25 mg tablet sotalol side effects uk top consumer reviews on topamax lowest price cialis online quetiapine generic side effects fluoxetine 10 mg and weight gain valacyclovir generico precio mexico cost of azithromycin with insurance virender sehwag in aap ki adalat kapil what are the side effects of zocor 40 mg aricept 10 mg daily micronase generic divalproex 250 mg tab delayed release prednisone thyroxine 50 mg notice zofran available in ireland belgravia centre propecia for sale nootropil 1200 mg dawkowanie desmoxan side effects of lexapro 10 mg to 20mg side effects of panadol in infants how much albuterol to use in nebulizer terazosin 5 mg indicaciones geograficas priligy in farmacia costo betnovate capilar comprar casa dose of carvedilol in hypertension icd 9 zithromax z pak wholesale novo rabeprazole ec 20 mg melatonin buy low dose naltrexone singapore there generic form skelaxin coreg cr 20 mg coupons dapoxetine buy uk surgun best treatment for lithium induced acne baclofen dura 10 mg tabletten gegen meloxicam tab 7.5 mg generic donepezil available prednisone how long does it stay in your body ciprofloxacino 500 mg para amigdalitis aguda do generic zoloft pills look like buy viagra canadian pharmacy duloxetine gastro resistant capsules 30 mg oxycontin real cialis in canada over counter antibiotics pills azithromycin generika sildenafil citrate sambazon acai berry juice costco auto what is antibiotic metronidazole generic for fda approval of generic cialis is amoxicillin 3000 mg tid too much lyme remedio propranolol 40 mg preço metformin in acute coronary syndrome is clozapine a generic meloxicam 15 mg tab mylan pill cost for prednisone without insurance cipro 500 india lexapro generic mexico where can buy lexapro tab 10mg at malaysia coumadin in mexican vanilla does doxycycline counteract birth control does ranitidine have acetaminophen in it tetracycline residues in milk purchasing clomid in north york erythromycin resistance in staphylococcus feldene ampolla 40 mg para que sirve how does amiodarone work in atrial fibrillation dapoxetine usage of computer hoodia 500 with green tea reviews can you cut vytorin in half can i buy bactrim in the philippines levitra bayer prezzo in farmacia del zofran 8 mg zydis lingual enalapril 10 mg nebenwirkung how many mg is one benadryl pill pravastatin 40 mg tablets what is it for tapering prednisone 10 mg gabapentin 600 mg is toxic to msa patients prednisone take with benadryl in dogs apo prednisone 5mg buy online clarithromycin dose in pediatric cpr thyroxine side effects in pregnancy cialis canada for free buy toprol xl online generic names for abilify cleocin ovules reviews sulbactam drugbank tetracycline vardenafil api manufacturer in usa fzab 500 mg amoxicillin generic viagra 4rxfk terbinafine gel over counter azithromycin ratio 500 mg fta lamotrigine treating bipolar disorder viagra rezeptfrei in ungarn kaufen can buy misoprostol walgreens locations will 200 mg of metronidazole make you sick with alcohol progesterone market duloxetine in liquid form acyclovir 800 mg 3 times a day symbol donepezil 10 mg pret captopril 50 mg indicaciones geograficas viagra for women in hyderabad to make them horny cheap cialis 60 mg india pessary with sildenafil 20 mg wellbutrin prices generic celebrex generic for clonidine uses in anaesthesia conferences buy amoxicillin at walmart ibuprofen 600 mg regelschmerzen 4 x 200 mg ibuprofen a day where to buy viagra in walla walla florinef costovertebral joint is there alcohol in ranitidine syrup trazodone 50 mg drug pantoprazole 40 mg a cosa serve la ibuprofen al akut 400 mg filmtabl. 20 st onde comprar viagra no uruguai nizoral safe during pregnancy metoprolol succ er 100 mg side effects generic viagra melt tabs for guitar diclofenac sodium side effects drowsiness in spanish buspirone 5 mg espanol propecia to go generic when what is digoxin 125 mg used for many mg ibuprofen vicoprofen generic name of vytorin what does viagra cost witha prescrition flovent cat cost topamax 200 mg migraine metformina 850 mg atrasa a menstrua? cetirizine dihydrochloride 10 mg ??? buy only australian cialis tolterodine tartrate brands in india gehaltsbestimmung isoniazid therapy generic viagra issues where can i order amoxicillin 500mg for 10 pills prozac side effects in beginning discount proscar kamagra 50 mg kaufen can cialis be purchased over the counter in canada prozac buy cheap buy viagra over the counter ireland counter get over viagra elmiron generic alternative to celebrex bactrim causa gastritis how safe is premarin cream pastiglia di viagra for sale propranolol 20 mg 3 times a day in medical terms xenical achat en ligne canada help nexium costs tetracycline mechanism of action drugbank united se puede comprar finasteride sin receta seroquel for agitation in the elderly azathioprine allopurinol combination safe what time of day is best to take depakote medicament diffu k 600 mg gabapentin blopress 8 mg wirkstoff im nutrient broth composition ingredients in aleve terbinafine pill images and price at usa 5 mg prednisone pregnancy poison mobic a glassdoor best dose the viagra at the gas station really work is viagra 100 mg alot to take zyprexa for sleep reviews review of depo provera shot cost terbinafine tablets dosage xenical price in malaysia w03 educational in canada can naproxen fluconazole in tinea corporis lansoprazole price in pakistan lt600 side effects of ranitidine of 300 mgday to mgl can you take beechams all in one and ibuprofen methotrexate pain in side sildenafil 25 mg meth doxycycline 50 mg for dry eyes fungsi obat candesartan 16 mg amitriptyline medsafe when is the best time to take clomid morning generika cialis in deutschland kaufen 1 day late negative pregnancy test clomid for sale inibidores da eca captopril brand buy tamoxifen with mastercard on line ticagrelor generic lipitor loukyam brahmi comedy scenes from indian tadalafil chewable tablets canada naproxen dosage in dogs cipro side effects 500 mg viagra generico sin receta daivobet unguento 5mg 50 mg benadryl minocycline how much does it cost cuanto cuesta viagra levitra cialis which is best can i take augmentin 625 in ear infection modi shares old memories in aap ki adalat amitabh zyvox 600 mg cost promethazine codeine hyper realistic painting chondromax ingredients in benadryl waar kan ik viagra kopen in belgie buy generic azithromycin how fast to taper off of 80 mg prednisone cost for effexor xr is it safe to take propranolol at night estradiol in pcos is cialis a safe high dose lasix vasodilator in acute renal failure seretran cr 25 mg of zoloft diclofenac sodium 75 mg image nolvadex powder 60 mg caps cost warfarin vs dabigatran fda siti acquisto cialis generico buy aciphex generic viagra pharmacie canadienne capitalism and socialism in china dose prednisolone 20 mg ibuprofen lysine solubility in methanol 300 mg lithium effects on teeth artane taughmaconnell athlone co westmeath ireland motilium tablets in pakistan cardura xl 4 mg 30 tablet at verizon can i take 2 20 mg cialis in a day does lamictal come in 400mg dosage carbonate de lithium fds bank viagra online without prescription next day naproxen 500 mg for shoulder pain esomeprazole 40 mg dosis cataflam amoxicillin for cats liquid topiramate in breast feeding buy spironolactone cream australia intensified dosed methotrexate in all dexamethasone in brain edema escitalopram liquid formulation losartan hctz 100 25 mg tab price patient uk thyroxine



Related Articles
« MO »
About the Author
Jerry Mouse, originally from New York City, has always been a fan of horror and cartoons (hence the moniker). He has no great literary statement to make, but he loves dipping his hands into otherworldly primordial ooze and seeing what sort of new life he can dredge up. If you can imagine a heinous train wreck between Edgar Allan Poe and the Marquis de Sade, you will be on the right track for Jerry’s writing. It is said that true horror both repels and draws you in for another look, and so that is what Jerry hopes to have accomplished here.
« MO »

Ill | Kim Traub


The Hole
Jerry Mouse
To my dear reader, I have recently had opportunity to engage in an evening of fun and games that was held in celebration of a dear friend’s birthday. There was chess, card games, and even billiards, which offered me yet another chance to display a complete and utter lack of any tangible skill in these particular fields of competition. After brandy was served, I observed several people gathered around an antique ebony table in the corner of the game room. As I approached, I saw that these intrepid individuals were attempting to construct a jigsaw puzzle of decent size and intricate design. I was offered a seat but politely declined. More than likely the others at the table thought me to be a bit antisocial or misanthropic, but the truth of the matter was much more disturbing. The sight of the puzzle brought memories of my friend Cara back to the surface of my mind, and at the time I had no desire to relive them.
Cara lived in Louisiana in a white columned mansion christened Mount Willow due to the multitude of large trees of the same name surrounding the house. Mount Willow had been in her family since before American independence, and provided Cara’s ancestors a quiet seclusion not to be found in any European city. The house passed to Cara when both her parents died of Scarlet Fever. She was in her late-teens, with only a skeletal staff of two servants: a cook, Hannah, and a groom, Charles. Eventually the home began a slow descent into disrepair. The stairs creaked more than they used to. Doors hung slightly more crooked on their hinges. Many rooms had acquired new design accents courtesy of the local spider population. Also, due to the swampy areas around the house, the air inside Mount Willow always seemed to have a stale, musty odor to it.
The only respite from Cara’s essentially solitary existence at Mount Willow was the visits from her tutors. In their will, Cara’s parents saw to it that she would not lack for a continuous education. She could speak English, French, and was learning Italian. She was very adept at music, and could play several instruments, but it was also her father’s wish that she be trained in science and mathematics as well. Cara had always taken to her studies with more than due diligence, but the thing she loved more than anything else was solving and constructing puzzles. As any visitor to Mount Willow could attest, this beauty’s domicile was decorated with the finished products of her endeavors. Framed portraits of every kind populated her rooms and only upon closer inspection would he fragmented nature of the picture be revealed.
As time went on and Cara’s skill increased, she found the puzzles that were available to her in general shops to be less and less challenging. In order to find an object worthy of her abilities she would be forced to travel to the nearest city, New Orleans. They said that anything you could want would be found there. Surely there would be a shop that carried what she was looking for. That morning she found Charles and bade him to prepare the carriage for the trip. It was only a drive of a little more than a couple of hours, so no overnight bag would be required. A few minutes more and she was on the road. The carriage was not ornate by any standard, but was completely enclosed with curtained glass windows to protect passengers not only from the elements, but from prying eyes should the need arise. The majority of the ride was bouncy and uneven until the dirt roads gave way to the cobblestone street of New Orleans proper.
It was cloudy and overcast, a thoroughly gray day. The horses slowly clopped their way through the winding narrow streets. Cara eagerly peered at the shop windows searching for anything that looked promising. And while she was clearly in the merchant district of the city, there seemed to be no shops that would suit her needs. After hours of searching the labyrinthine bowels of New Orleans Cara spotted a small shop. There was a hand written sign in the window that simply said “Toys and Games“ in an elegant script. Cara bade Charles to stop the coach so she might investigate the establishment further. The groom tied the horses to an iron hitching post near the curb and Cara made her way in.
Once inside the shop, Cara instantly noticed the aroma of soft incense that wafted gently through the air. It had a delicate hint of vanilla that made it most appealing. Oil lanterns whose illumination radiated from behind glass panes of a pure crimson hue, giving the entire establishment an ominous blood colored tinge, lighted the store. The wooden floor was highly polished and creaked under her footsteps. The walls of the shop were completely covered with shelves populated with all manner of weird and esoteric artifacts. The wares of the store seemed to be arranged in no particular order, and seemed to have little if anything to do with toys and games as the sign said. Cara observed a skull of undetermined species placed next to what looked like an unborn child in a jar full of liquid, which itself resided next to a small sculpture of somewhat dubious design that made color rush to the girl’s cheeks.
“Hello there, Mademoiselle.” The gravelly voice with a Gallic accent from the back of the store frightened Cara, as she did not see the person who addressed her. Slowly she approached the back of the store, taking care not to bump no the dusty shelves that flanked her, lest she break some rare item she could not pay for. Standing behind the counter was a portly gentleman dressed in a very dapper manner. His store may be unobtrusive but clearly this man was doing very well. When he stood to greet her, he towered over Cara. She could see that his black coat was made of very fine silk. Coupled with the red cravat, diamond pinky ring and matching tie tack, the man was the picture of sinister elegance. He had black hair that was thinning and slicked straight back off his forehead in the European style, and a goatee that had just begun to gray. His eyes, she thought must have been a light amber color, because in the ruddy lantern light they took on a somewhat disquieting maroon hue that reminded Cara of the color of dried blood.
“How may I help you this evening?” His voice snapped her back to business.
“I see that your sign said toys and games. I was wondering if you had any puzzles for sale.” The proprietor’s eyes widened a bit with his reply.
“Puzzles? Ah yes of course Mademoiselle. I have something just right for you.” From beneath the cherry wood counter the salesman produced a small box.
“This puzzle has 500 different pieces and when completed creates a delightful picture of barnyard animals at play.” Cara’s interest was immediately stifled when she heard the clerk mention 500 pieces. Such a thing was child’s play to her.
“Do you have anything more intricate?” The hawker’s brow furrowed as he thought.
“More...intricate? Let me see.” Replacing the farm puzzle beneath the counter the salesman began to rummage a bit more furiously until he returned with a heavy black cylinder about a foot tall and a few inches across.
“I have this for you. This puzzle has over 2000 pieces and is said to be the most difficult one ever conceived.” He handed the cylinder to Cara who accepted it with a most skeptical expression on her face. Clearly this man was just out to make a sale.
“What makes it so challenging?” The clerk chuckled and replied, “See for yourself.” Cara twisted the end of the container and pulled it off. She gingerly poured some of the pieces onto the countertop. After a cursory examination she pronounced, “This can’t be right.” The proprietor simply smiled.
“It certainly is Mademoiselle.” Cara poured half the contents of the container on the counter to make absolutely sure. All of the pieces of the puzzle were solid black. Anticipating the question, the salesman answered, “Yes, the whole puzzle is one mass of color. Truly only a most dedicated person would attempt to solve such a monstrosity. It is called ‘The Hole’. It is said that a clock maker named Elsevier created it sometime in the 15th century. An Italian noble named Baron Brumante commissioned the puzzle. When time came for payment there was haggling over the price. Being one to not suffer anyone with an abundance of patience, the Baron had the clock maker clapped in irons and tossed into an oubliette, but not before Elsevier cursed the Baron. As it turns out, over time, the Baron became obsessed with solving the puzzle he had stolen from the clock maker. All other matters seemed to lose their importance. His household fell into disrepair, and his finances went neglected. He ate and slept less and less, and it is said that in the end the puzzle consumed him.”
He let his last words hang in the air a bit with the silence only broken by the sound of the two gold coins that Cara dropped on the counter. She scooped the exposed puzzle fragments back into their container and sealed it. The salesman placed the cylinder into a small bag and dropped the gold into his pocket with a smile.
“Enjoy the puzzle and do come again.” The clerk’s words barely registered as Cara was well on her way out the door. The ride home passed in a blur. She simply could not wait to delve into the puzzle, which less ardent individuals would consider a nightmare. He horse was barely unhitched when Cara had vaulted from the carriage and locked herself in the study. She carried the onyx hued container over to the hand carved mahogany table near the bay window. She enjoyed looking at the trees outside while constructing puzzles. The high backed leather chair seemed to envelope her delightful form as she sank into its soft comfortable cushions.
She carefully unscrewed the top of the cylinder and poured the entire contents onto the smooth, polished tabletop. In the sunlight, the black pieces seemed to have a strange opalescence about them, much how a dark bird’s plumage will shimmer purple or green in bright daylight. Cara spread the tiny multi-faceted pieces out on the table until there was a single, fragmented layer of iridescent black covering the mahogany. Conventional strategy was to seek out the flat edges first in order to construct the framework in which you would be working. Cara knew this to be a sound plan but was becoming increasingly frustrated at the complete absence of any flat edged pieces. She did however observe how a certain number of the pieces had curved edges and her first error dawned on her. Of course! She naturally assumed the puzzle to be the standard rectangular shape that all her other works had in common. This puzzle, “The Hole” was obviously destined to be round. With deliberate and meticulous effort, Cara began to separate the fragments that had slightly curved edges from the rest of their fellows.
As the hours passed the outer ring of the puzzle began to take shape. It was plain to see that once completed “The Hole” would cover the majority of the tabletop. Piece after piece was pressed into place until the chime sounded to signal that dinner was served. Cara unseated herself leaving the outer ring incomplete by only two pieces, but decided to finish at least this part and arranged the remaining pair into the ebony circle as the dinner chime sounded a second time. After dessert Cara once more found herself seated before the onyx hued enigma. Only now there seemed to be something slightly amiss. She could have sworn that the pieces were all solid black in color, but now there seemed to be a tiny thread-width silver line traversing the entire circumference of the puzzle. Given the fact that it was barely noticeable Cara rationalized that it was only natural that she had not observed it until now. She also knew that it would be very slow going the rest of the way. There would be no flattened edges to aid her in the placing of the pieces. Still, she was determined that she would eventually complete the daunting task that lay before her.
Night after night Cara would be picking through the tiny black bits of wood, sometimes going a whole evening without adding a single piece. As time wore on however some parts of the puzzle began to take shape and a few black tendrils began to snake their way towards the center. While she was hunched over the table, the brunette beauty’s attention was focused entirely on the fitting of one piece into another. Her eyes grew suddenly very heavy. Before long she was fully snoozing at the table. While Cara slumbered, a pair of eyes slowly opened in the completed portions of the puzzle. A pair of hateful, covetous eyes, searching eyes that lingered over many parts of the room but especially on Cara herself. All through the night while she slept, the eyes surveyed her as if trying to take in every possible detail of her being. Then, a wispy, vaporous material began to waft out of “The Hole“. The pale, smoky mist gradually began to coalesce into the shape of a rotted, skeletal hand. The spectral appendage began to softly caress Cara’s shoulders; slowly trailing is fingers down towards her bosom. For hours the gaunt limb ran itself all over Cara’s body. It was not until the first rays of dawn sliced their way through the window that the incorporeal hand quickly dissipated and the surface of the puzzle returned to normal.
Summer turned to autumn, autumn turned to winter, and along with the irrevocable change in the seasons, Cara’s work on the puzzle progressed. The solid black areas increased in width and even began to connect in some spots. Cara’s face lit up with a self-satisfied smile as she surveyed the progress she had made.
“It will not be long now.” She thought to herself. The pall of the winter season took its toll on her vigor and her pace in the evenings had slowed considerably. Even in the deep south of America, the countryside was not spared from a thorough lashing of the wind. Cara watched as the gale outside her window galloped through the branches of the trees. She ceased her work on the puzzle to better observe the tumult. Her breath caught in her throat as she could swear she heard a deep, sepulchral voice in the wind uttering a single word.
“Work.” The chamber became ice cold, even though a fire roared in the hearth. Cara huddled a down quilt around her but nothing could stave off the frigid cold that had foisted itself upon her. And once again the howling wind seemed to spur her on to resume her efforts.
“Work.” The word seemed to fairly float on the wind, lingering just on the edges of the noise outside. After another moment the word caressed her ears as if it was whispered right next to her. Then she could not pinpoint its location at all as it seemed to emanate from all around her. Cara’s heart fluttered as her gaze returned to the table. With a trembling hand she reached out to the remaining loose pieces and began to sort through them. Almost immediately the room began to warm. Before long, the girl began to feel like herself again. The feel of the puzzle pieces was comforting to her. As she continued to press the pieces into place, her pace of work began to increase. Cara’s vision slowly blurred as her hands seemed to move of their own accord. Physically her eyes were locked on the growing field of ebony on the table, but her mind was most definitely elsewhere. So much so that she did not notice the pair of cold, dead eyes that once again greedily stared at her from the tabletop.
Piece after piece fell into place, some even seemed to join together without any assistance from Cara. After an hour of this furious pace, Cara slumped in her chair. The mysterious force moving her hands faded, and the puzzle sat on the table completely inert. The great black spot, now finished, stared at her like a giant shark’s eye. The air in the study hung perfectly still. The flames on Cara’s candelabra flickered in the silent room. The exhausted girl stood up to examine her handy work and a wave of proud accomplishment along with profound relief washed over her.
Slowly, the way someone would caress a sleeping lover, Cara moved her fingers over the smooth unbroken surface of the puzzle.
“How could it be smooth?” An icy spectral hand reached out of the boundless space within the puzzle and stroked Cara’s fingers. She screamed. A desiccated hand clamped itself on her shoulder from behind. She was spun around and confronted by the horrific visage of a rotted corpse, wearing a malicious, cadaverous smile. A second more and she was lifted off her feet and shoved into the black, circular abyss on the tabletop. There was a sickening crunching sound followed by a viscous red fluid that began to slowly seep out from the circumference of the puzzle. The murderous phantom looked into “The Hole” and breathed a lingering sigh of relief.
For the first time in centuries, Baron Brumante felt the warmth of the fire wash over him. In time, his form grew more opaque. The gray of his rotted flesh began to fill out and look ever more human. A muffled scream emanated from within the surface of the puzzle. The Baron smiled as he watched the slowly decaying form of Cara futilely reaching toward him. As the newly restored noble observed with some pleasure the panicked girl’s struggles, he carefully dislodged a piece from the edge of the puzzle. Cara’s screams sounded as if she were trapped underwater. The darkness of her surroundings began to press in upon her. Bit by bit she helplessly watched as the small spot of light that led back to the world grew more distant. It became smaller and smaller until the blackness completely enveloped her.