The Misfortunate Chronicles of Havisham Hollow; chapter 1
There is a plot of land, hidden deep in the Pacific Northwest, where the mist from the freezing coast is indistinguishable from the dense fog of the forests. It cannot be found on any map or atlas. Only those unfortunate wanderers—strangers either to the world or to themselves—have been led to its grounds. There, the air is full of the crisp, ever-present gloom of eternal Autumn. The pewter grey clouds gather low and heavy with rain. Leaves have long since forsaken their green, but though some may fall, and others wither away, they never seem to die completely. Perpetually in decay, but never truly deceased. One might say this reflects the land’s inhabitants, for like the weather, no one who has entered this place has ever truly left. Many an outsider has their theory about this place, many more have questioned whether it even exists at all. Please be assured, Havisham Hollow is all too real.
The origins of this haunted place can of course be traced back to one man with misguided ambitions, and a lot of money. Upon the death of his wealthy father, Edgar Cromley was taken as an apprentice by the local apothecary, a rigid man and long-time friend of the Cromley family. In time, Edgar became fascinated by the chemical world and the advancement of life. One day, he had a revelation: ‘All of these so-called intellectuals devote their entire life treating disease after disease. But their efforts are ultimately wasted, worthless! Ought I not to focus on only one cure—that which addresses the only plague every man has fallen victim to since Adam bit the apple?’ Thus, Edgar Cromley set out to cure death. To his benefit, Cromley was skillful with words and remarkably convincing at selling ideas. It wasn’t long before members of prestigious scientific institutions were enthralled with his unconventional, almost disturbing ideas. They too became obsessed with circumventing death, and what power, riches, and intelligence came with it. Cast out by their more conventional colleagues, Cromley and his followers moved to this once unsuspecting Hollow. Here, they founded The Order of the Odd Fellows: a clandestine society dedicated to the pursuit of immortality.
The Order spent countless hours entrenched in the research of medicines, cordials, poisons, and tinctures, but their study was to no avail. By October, Cromley grew desperate, on the brink of madness. All the books had been read, and every cadaver dissected, but they were not a single step closer to remedying death. One fateful day, it occurred to him: if the answer could not be found in academia, perhaps it lay in the occult. He called for an urgent meeting of the Odd Fellows and there, performed a séance. They read from ancient texts, summoning every supernatural entity they could think of. The lights flickered, the wind blew harsher, the clouds darkened, and for a moment it seemed their pursuit might be accomplished, that the reality of life and death would forever be altered by their actions. Looking back, I suppose they did achieve immortality that night. Eventually, each one of the Odd Fellows was buried in this place, last of all Cromley himself. They had not escaped death, but the repercussions of that fateful séance were certainly irreversible.
You see, in our town nothing dies—not truly. Not the trees, not the weather, not the people. Their souls, their pasts, everything lingers here. We are a haunted place, doomed to remain after death— immortal imprisonment.