Chapter 2: To Hell and Back

The shock of what had just happened, the adrenaline pumping through their veins, and the horror at what lay before them all was almost too much to bear.

"Daddy?!" Amos screamed, puzzled.

Mother fainted.

Tobias fell to the ground and began to weep hysterically.

Anna, now oddly finding a strange sense of composure, walked over to father's body, and knelt down beside him. She put one hand on Tobias, a brother she hardly knew since they shared the same father but she had been born to his second wife who had been much younger. His weeping ceased at her touch and he looked up at her. She looked back and gave him a consoling grin. Her hand moved to father, brushing his eyes closed, and then her free hand swiftly removed the cane from his chest. The slight gurgle it made and spedicious manner it was removed made everyone but Anna shudder. She dropped the cane at Tobias' feet and headed to father's study.

"You aren't supposed to go in there," Amos said, the house rules rousing him from his terror. Anna didn't respond and kept moving. The room was a mess just like the living room was. She started flying through the mess of papers and books.

Staggering forward, Amos entered the study, eyes wide. The room was filled with strange artwork on the walls, shelves of ancient tomes, and odd contracptions spread throughout the room. "You aren't supposed to be in here. Father had a rule against it," Amos reminded his aunt.

She paused a moment. "The rules have changed, dear" she replied. Then she continued her search.

Tobias came in, clearing the tears from his eyes. "What are you looking for?" he asked wearily.

"Anything that can help make sense of what just happened," with no hesitation in her voice. The conversation roused Mother. Like Amos, she was still just coming to, and staggered into the room. She grabbed at Anna.

"Make sense?" she asked. "Make sense!?" her tone increasing. "How in the world are you going to make sense of this!?" She said waiving her arms around referencing the mess of the study and the living room. "How are you going to make sense of the fact that my husband turned into a beast and tried to kill us all!?" Her voice was almost frantic, demanding an answer. Seeming to find what she was looking for, Anna stood. She held a journal in her hands. Amos and Mother recognized it immediately, Father always had it with him.

"This was my brother's. Maybe he can make sense of it," she stated handing Mother the journal. Almost collapsing, the four of them huddled close, and opened it's leather binding.

It read:

"My dear loved ones,

If you are reading this, I'm most likely gone. Hopefully, my departure was uneventful. I only hope the pain of losing me is the greatest you feel. I fear though I may not be able to control that outcome.

Something is growing within me. A sickness of the soul, body, and mind. My senses are more keen than they have ever been. My heart races. My bones ache. I'm losing who I am to animal I am becoming. I do not dare try to explain it all for the only way to do so would require I start at the beginning of all the lies I've told. Only my love for you has been a truth, but anything else you think you know about me has been a farce.

Please do not try and investigate either my disappearance or death any further. On the bookshelf behind my desk you'll find a book titled "War and Peace." Please take what it's inside and go as far away from here and start a new life. Forget this place, forget the rest of our friends and family, and please forget me.

Your loving father, brother, and husband-

-James Burrows"

Seeing his signature seemed to strike a final blow to the realization of it all. No one said a thing. Everyone just lay there, wept a little, held each other close, and fell asleep.