Dacatus

Dacatus is a story I have had in the back of my mind for some years now. I once wrote about it in a series entitled The whisper of the Erbe, which I hope one day may see completion, and I may yet upload here to my site what I have so far, perhaps one day, but of late I have been toying with the thought of reviving it, and only just today a renewed inspiration came to me in journal form that falls into the horrific story of Dacatus and what happened in the town. Here it is:

Dacatus

October 1,

I first saw the smoke on the horizon in the falling light of evening. Into the dusk it curled in many thick, black columns until the valley was heavy with it, and though Old Man Charles would not tell me whether it was the Ashton’s house, or the Witherton’s, I knew it must be one or the other, for theirs are the only so far within the valley. I cannot even now still the beat of my heart when I wonder what has happened to them.

October 5,

The council met in the town hall before sunrise; Eldridge, Jackson, Webb, and Cross were present, and Charles too. Still he would not tell me anything, save that they need meet before it happened once more. And they did.

October 15,

Charles has gone out again, although night is falling fast. He took his shotgun and jacket and went out into the dark, and did not come back till dawn, though I waited for him with a candle burning in the window. Late in the night I heard some foul cry on the wind, though I cannot now say what it is I heard. It might have been only a tree falling.

October 24,

Today they shot one and dragged its body back to town. They ran a rope over the hanging post before the town hall and strung it up. It was still kicking when they tightened the knot.

November 2,

The council has met once more. Yesterday they went out to hunt again. Today the bodies still hang in the hall, all six of them, even the smallest with its dead eyes open, and they have refused to take them down. It will be some months before the foul stench of their rot has cleared and the hall may be used once more for other purposes.