Friday, April 17, 2009

Adam Finch's Legacy

Adam Finch’s Legacy

From Nightshade

Copyright 1978 by Aldon R. Quay

C&P Granite Quarry.

The twin towns of Cyrus and Prentice, Iowa had been built up around this hellish hole in the ground, a quartz mine established in 1853. 27-year-old Adam Finch desperately needed to discover the truth behind his family’s one-time livelihood, now but a scar on the Earth, depleted of the minerals that once made it glorious. He needed to find out what evil had been unearthed in his recent attempt to reclaim the mine and turn it into something other than a wicked blight on the land. Because something was killing the citizens of Prentice and Cyrus, and Adam felt responsible.

Adam had known that something inexplicably bad was going on in the area when that poor girl, Claudia--no, Claudette—told him the impossible story that had confirmed his worst fears. Claudette was a pretty but unassuming California blonde with a French-sounding name bestowed on her by her former model mother. A sweet, fun-loving girl like Claudette belonged in San Diego, but her father’s job as a mine inspector had brought her to the hellhole that was Cyrus during her last semester of high school. The damn ugly twin towns with their ugly people had not only clouded Claudette’s sunny attitude but had destroyed her very life. There were murders that couldn’t be proven because the dead rose and walked soon after their slaying. There was no turning to the law for help in a matter that defied all natural laws, especially when the peacekeepers were themselves part of the problem. Adam wished that Claudette were still here to help him with her sharp mind and her insider’s knowledge. But she couldn’t deal with that knowledge and so she went away. Adam wondered if Claudette still lived, if living you could call it, or if she had eliminated her earthly body along with the risk of corruption of her eternal soul. No matter, Claudette was gone. And if Adam didn’t do something, a lot of other people would be gone too. The only other people who could tell him anything were long dead themselves, but Adam prayed that the words they had left behind could hold the key that could save himself and the still-innocent people who had no idea what to do about the supernatural corruption that was spreading through their towns. So Adam picked up his great-grandfather’s diary and began to read.

Adam’s great-great grandfather Jason Prentice and his cousin Sam Xavier Cyrus had been clever, hardworking young Southerners wanting to escape the chaos that threatened their home. They didn’t want to fight to defend slavery, an institution they reviled. They didn’t, in fact, want to fight at all. Their parents were dead, their siblings living with aunts and uncles. So they took the small fortunes left by their fathers and headed North. They were young and idealistic: Jason was 23 and Sam was just 19. Bright and full of enthusiasm, they reckoned that everybody else was mining gold, silver and coal. Why didn’t they mine for the less pricey but very useful quartz? The gravel that resulted from the operation could also be useful to line the roads of towns sprouting up in the young west. If the North won the war as Jason and Sam prayed it would, they could hire cheap labor among hopeful Negroes coming from the South looking for work, and from anyone else in need of a job. The wages might be negligible at first, but they’d offer three meals a day, adequate water, and bunkhouses for the men who had no other home. And they’d offer something that every soul craved no matter the color of his skin: respectful treatment.

The day that Jason and Sam arrived in the tiny coal-mining town of Devlin, Iowa they purchased a surveyor’s map and two plates of stew. They then rode out to meet one Noyes Istrodja, the owner of the land upon which lay the proposed site of their mine. Istrodja, a Balkan immigrant, had discovered the mineral deposits, which led him to place the advertisement in various newspapers around the country regarding mineral-rich land for sale. He had no interest in mining himself, and intended to move further west to the new territory of Utah where land was cheap and fertile. He wanted to bring his mother, brother and sister from his homeland. He was restless and didn’t care for the flatlands of Iowa. He wanted to be reminded of the mountains of the country he’d never see again.

Istrodja, with his father and grandfather, had built a rather impressive house with a little farm plot not far from the mining area. Jason and Sam were thrilled. The land now seemed like an even greater bargain. The house could be both a dwelling and an office. The men who had wives, mothers, sisters, or children old enough to work the land could help create a little working farm and all would share in the bounty.

The Istrodja family had a small cemetery plot behind the house. The gravestones displayed the names of Lorand Istrodja, Noyes’ grandfather; Kriztian Istrodja, Noyes’ father; and one Zsolt Ekjvater. Noyes reminisced about his father and grandfather. Both, he said sadly, had died from anemia apparently caused by hepatitis. He too had nearly succumbed but somehow fought off the infection and regained his strength. When asked about the third grave, Noyes paled.

“Better some things stay buried,” he said. “Better this ground never be disturbed.”

“What do you mean, Sir?” Sam asked.

“I am a superstitious man from the old country,” Noyes said with a sheepish smile. “I am forty years old and set in my ways. This land is, I fully believe, a good place for a mine. My father felt so too, and we would have followed his dream had he not died. But I feel the womenfolk of my family will be happier working a farm than a mine, and so I shall make haste to more fertile ground. The land here is workable but I have heard from a cousin that the land in the new territory shows great promise and beauty. Still, though I am but a superstitious old fool, I must offer words of caution. Out of kindness disturb not the graves of my kin. For the safety of the bodies and souls of all, disturb not the grave of Ekjvater. The souls of the good go to Heaven and the souls of the damned go to Hell. But when the damned have opened a doorway between Hell and earth, it sometimes takes extra measures to close the doorway again. If the sorcerer remains buried, your happiness shall flourish in this place.”

Jason and Sam believed that Istrodja was honest, if a little touched in the head. So they closed the deal on the sale of the property and celebrated with Istrodja who left before the break of dawn while the young men were sleeping off the prior night’s libation. Jason and Sam’s lucrative venture had just begun.

Mobile post sent by lilystrange using Utterlireply-count Replies.

No comments: