The Henry County Horror

The Henry County Horror hasn’t been a part of darkicon.com since the LAST site redesign, several long years ago. That was an over site for which I profusely apologize. It really was a great story and for a long time were are a lot of people who never even knew it existed. That is no longer the case.

The story was originally told as a series of newspaper articles describing the gruesome, and ultimately otherworldly happenings in a small town near Atlanta. The articles (and the happenings) were fake, the setting was real. In the original presentation, I created a fake news website (I think it was called “OnTarget News”) that existed in a subdirectory of my main site. I intended to post the articles one day at a time, corresponding to the date on each one, as if the events were actually happening. I can’t remember if I actually DID that, but I think I may have managed to pull that off. My intention there was two-fold.

1) Tell a story in a new and interesting format. I’m always down for new ways of storytelling.
2) Try to fool a few people into thinking it was actually real (at least for the first part of the story, which is entirely plausible).

Now remember, this was 1999 and not 2007. People’s expectations of what a real news website looked like were much lower, and my presentation was… well… decent, if I must say so myself. Decent for 1999, anyway. The fact that it was hosted in a subdirectory of fiction website and not on its own top-level domain was probably a big show stopper as far as believability, but in the years during which the story was available, I’ve had one or two people email me just to… and here I’m paraphrasing…”make sure it was just a story”. That was attributable to the fact that on the internet, you can easily find yourself dropped into a single (fake) news article that is part of a (fiction) story. You don’t know its fake and you don’t know its a story, so you get confused. One article in particular might turn up as a “real” article for people looking for news about exotic animal attacks, which is what happened in these few instances. As a whole, I don’t think I fooled anybody, but that wasn’t my main objective anyway. It was all just a fun story in a new format for me, and hopefully it will be for you as well.

Now, about the story itself. I may need to do some ‘splaining here.

I’ve mentioned my “mythos” in a few other posts. Yes, way back then I thought I was going to be the next H.P. Lovecraft, so I cobbled together my own “beings beyond space and time that view us as less than insects” type of mythos, and the Henry County Horror was a part of it. No, not Lovecraft’s mythos… MY mythos. Completely different. Still, the name and general theme of Henry County Horror are taken directly from Lovecraft’s, “Dunwich Horror.” If you summarize the events in both stories, it might appear that they are, in fact, the same story. My thinking was that, if the events of Lovecraft’s Dunwich were to happen today, in rural Georgia, the resulting newspaper articles would be pretty close to what I wrote. Of course, MY creature is not a lumbering invisible behemoth, and I did venture down the “sinister government involvement” cliche path, but essentially it a very similar story to Lovecraft’s. That is intentional.

This was not going to be the end of the story, either. I have incomplete notes for a sequel, and other notes for stories that are directly related to Henry County Horror. The actual creature (or one of the same species) appears in an unfinished tale that, sadly, did not survive the Great Hard Drive Apocalypse of 2007.

But enough about those, what about the actual STORY. Yes, the events are somewhat scattered and it may be difficult to figure out exactly what the hell is going on. That, too, is intentional. You are meant to be able to follow the sequence of events, but NOT to understand them. The cause and meaning of the murders is hinted at rather strongly, but I don’t come out and say much of anything. At the very end, there is a crudely drawn picture of the creature (thanks to a fan who’s name I have long since forgotten), but that, too, tells you exactly nothing about what really happened. That information was to be revealed in future stories, which, unfortunately, never got written.

So here, from my memory, is the lowdown:
Obviously you shouldn’t read any further until you’ve actually read the friggin’ story

Somewhere in the articles it is mentioned that Holt had an ancestor who shared his fascination with old books. That isn’t an ancestor, that’s Holt. Using the dark books (that were mentioned in Sign of the Usurper), Holt found out how to extend his lifespan… and he used that extended lifespan to try and master the art of opening doorways to other planes. Unlike the hero of Usurper, Holt wasn’t an explorer. He was a summoner. He summoned things, controlled them, studied them, and did who knows what else with them. He decided that one of them was interesting enough to keep for an extended period of time, so he made a home for it in his basement. Unfortunately, this creature had a very large appetite… one that could only be satisfied with human flesh. The creature was, as Holt said, “insatiable”. The summoner kidnapped a few women and fed them naked to his pet, which would consume them entirely, leaving no remains other than whatever blood splattered the walls during the feeding process. I think (memory is failing me here) Holt had to dismember the first victim or two, because the creature was too small to take them whole. But the creature grew very large, very quickly, and one night it escaped to find food on its own. This is where the story starts. I really can’t explain how the dog got into the picture, as the creature (obviously) has no interest in canines. Maybe the dog followed its doomed master back to the Holt house, but then how did it manage to die in Holt’s driveway?Did Holt shoot it and just leave it there? Was it injured trying to defend poor Bonnie? I don’t know, so we’ll just skip that for now.

The police show up and arrest Holt. The creature somehow escaped their notice. This time, it was not an over site on my part… I just can’t remember. Either the creature can become invisible (making it even more like the Dunwich Horror), OR it can change size, OR it was hidden in a secret room that the police just didn’t find. I honestly can’t remember which. ONE of them was true, and I’m thinking it was the last one. Moving on… the creature gets hungry and breaks out to feed. It comes back to trash the Holt residence (specifically the books) because it isn’t an entirely stupid creature. Not intelligent like a human, but smart enough to see that Holt’s books caused it a lot of pain. PLUS there were lots of yummy police around, so why not have a snack as well? And then a few campers and some assorted locals. Then hunters. Then soldiers.

That pretty much sums up what the creature was up to. But there’s a little bit more to the story. Obviously there was a government cover-up involved. The government had been looking for Holt for a long time. They want the ability to summon unstoppable flesh-eating monsters at will on the battlefield, and just look, there’s a guy that can do that very thing! Holt is not a new name to them, the old guy has just been “beneath their radar” for a while. Then he gets himself arrested and here come the Men In Black. They fake Holt’s suicide and rush him off to their horror-summoning terrorist prison camp. The creature, however, remains a problem. They use the creature’s rampage to cover up the murder of a nosy reporter and a cop who knew too much, but the real killer is still out there snacking on locals. The soldiers go in to take care of it, but they don’t come back out. So they defrost Holt and haul him out to the woods so he can unsummon the damned thing, which he does with a full light-and-sound pyrotechnics show. Then they pack him up and ship him off again, and shove a dead bear up in front of the cameras for the press.

End of Story.

Only….not so much the end. The creature was never killed, but simply banished back to wherever it came from. As I said earlier, either it or one just like it is featured in another story I was going to write. That story didn’t *exactly* take place on Earth… and that’s all I’m going to say about that. But what about Holt? The government has him and you’d better believe he’s earning his keep. I have notes for a story called “The Henry County Horror II,” which does not feature the creature OR Holt, but is the story of Edward Found, who took over the original Henry County Horror narrative after the original reporter is murdered. THAT story was not going to get the newspaper article treatment, but was going to be a regular Dark Icon orgy of violence and destruction. It takes place several years the first story. Found is a radio talk show host and gets pulled into a familiar plot when one of another product of Holt’s “research” is out and about… this time not on a hungry rampage, but controlled by the government. It is not the same creature as before; this is a more humanoid type of… umm… thing. Found gets caught up in the conspiracy, the government looses control of its new pet monster, and all hell breaks loose in the back woods of Georgia. I have no idea how that story ends, but I liked Found so he was probably going to make it. This time.

And none of this actually answers the question of just what the creature from the Henry County Horror is. It is not a demon. Demons exist in my mythos (as does God and Lucifer), but this is something else. Something not from this plane of existence. Something not created by OUR God. It isn’t evil any more than is a hungry lion or a hurricane… it simply is what it is. And it is big, hungry, and is very particular about its food. And there are a lot more strange and horrific wonderful things out there that could pick this one up and eat it like a grape.

…but those are other stories.

Enjoy.


2 Comments

  1. nate, December 19, 2008:

    The “other story” mentioned here that didn’t exactly take place on earth. COTA?

  2. DarkIcon, December 19, 2008:

    No, I had another story in mind. I started writing it and got maybe half of it done years ago, but I lost it in a hard drive crash. When I started writing CotA, I got the idea of having them appear there instead, but even THAT appearance is different than what I originally had in mind.

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