The Monthall Five

Start out by sneaking into Monthall School for Girls. Down the stairs from the kitchen, past the laundry and the storage, into the furnace room, pull up the grate, shimmy down through the hole, crawl on hands and knees through the grime and the spiders, out into the old drainage system, West through the main pipe to the ladder, and then climb. The room where you emerge is cut off from the surface: the building of which it was once the sub-basement is gone, torn down and the hole filled in.

We found the thing that lived in that room after it started taking children from the parish for purposes I will not describe. It got Jimmy Peoll, but Chick — who the next day we started calling ‘Charles’ — put some digging tool he had picked up in a panic through its torso. We cut it up and ‘buried’ it downstream in the sewer. We were heroes. We told no one.

By the next year Charles was spending a lot of time in that room. Jose never went down there again, but me and Walt used to go down looking for Charles and finding him, doing god knows what.

Charles had a lot of absences senior year, and didn’t come to graduation. His parents have the diploma, though. I went down one last time and found he’d cleaned the whole place up and managed to get a cot and a lantern and his comic book collection in there.

It’s been three years. Two months ago children from the Parish started disappearing again.

I’m not going back down there to get him. We already lost two people to that room.