When the town of Suttercraft came into view, I could see that it was in the process of being fed upon. Trees rose like stalks of towering fungus erupting from its spoiling flesh, and green waves of hungry woods had eaten away most of its roads and parking lots. Houses and businesses were hollow and broken. This place was merely a rotting trunk, and the people inhabiting it were no more than tomb-worms. I quickly determined that the place would pose little threat to me—it was already dead.
The burg was not at all unknown to me. I had heard of its penchant for producing strange black coffins from the churned earth of its planting fields, basements and other deep places. I was also aware of the dreadful bodies that were removed from those coffins, looking much larger and fiercer in death than any human has in life. However, beneath all the chatter about caskets and corpses there lurked an even more fantastic tale—according to certain dreamers, the souls of the deceased citizens of Suttercraft are systematically reborn into those inhuman corpses, and once returned to life, they must rise to take their place within some vast and wicked enterprise beneath the earth. Such stories, if at all true, give me hope that one day dreams won’t be forced to hide behind sleep, but might find their way upon the earth to do the good work of abolishing this dead world.
I made my way through crooked streets, pinch-tight alleyways and sluggish fog, all of which lent the city the odd appearance of being either scribbled out or partially erased from the paper of time and space. I stopped momentarily to listen to church bells sound out the hour. They cushioned my thoughts with their overstuffed tones, better allowing me to bridle my mind by lulling to sleep those shadows whose voices would not be called upon.
As I voyaged through the corpse-town, my fascination with Hayden Trill began to swell. What weird and wonderful thing might result from killing him? (I wouldn’t normally work on a subject lest the outcome was, in that spectacular but fleeting moment, the embodiment of a forgotten dream. However, my feeling is that I have been invited to work on a much grander art project, in which Mr. Trill will be merely a single, masterful brushstroke.)
As I paused within the rippling shadows of a weeping willow, I reexamined the mystery of Suttercraft. I was suddenly rather curious as to the number of times I may have to end Mr. Trill—as well as the depths into the earth I may have to dig to finally finish him.
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