The following is offered as testimony by one Bernard Ramsey, currently on trial for the murder of Jameson Walden and the disappearance of his son, Seth. Mr. Ramsey dictated the following to an officer of the courts on the twenty-seventh of January, nineteen-hundred-twelve.
My name is Bernard Ramsey, and I am not insane.
I know what I saw on the twenty-fourth of January, in the Year of Our Lord nineteen-hundred-twelve. I know the cause for the disappearance of both Seth Walden and his father. I beg of you, all who hear this, heed my warning and listen well.
I first made the acquaintence of Seth Walden in Nineteen-hundred-seven. His father was a banker of some regard in New York. His mother, I knew, had Indian blood within her. I can only assume that it was this connection to the savage that allowed for what I witnessed to occur, but I shall explain that presently. We met at university, attending the same biology lecture. At the time, I had been studying to be a physican. Walden had always been something of a misanthrope; he always appeared more interested in animals than in people, and I knew he disapproved of his father’s profession. I had always assumed that he was studying at university to become a veterinarian; his apparent gift with animals made him, in my opnion, a natural choice for such a position.
Our relationship grew slowly; Seth was never much for building human acquaintances. I believe that his interest in me was always based in my fascination with the human form. I know that he considered most of our fellow students imbeciles, and made no hesitation about decrying them as such during our lectures. Needless to say, Seth was not well liked by either the professor or his classmates, but after one of his more lucid tirades against the ignobility of mankind I saught to discover the root of his general contempt for his fellow men.
After lecture one evening, I chanced to follow him some distance from the university. He spoke not a word to me, nor did he look at me until we were several hundred yards from the classroom. Then suddenly, he turned upon me with a frightful visage and demanded to know why I had the audacity to follow him! His totally unexpected demand drew the wind from my sails and I stammered for a moment, attempting to regain my wits. When finally I spoke, I could only come up with, “to try to understand what makes you hate the rest of our class so much, and Professor Carmichael besides.”
He threw back his head and laughed; it was not a pleasant sound. “Hate? Hate implies focus. I care not one way or another about them. I despise them; they’re human, and they have the gall to believe themselves above the rest of the animals.”
By this statement, I was perplexed, and I remarked as such to him. His only answer was a bitter sigh and a shake of his head. He said two or three times that I could never understand, and asked me to take my leave of him. I agreed, not wishing to further distress Seth. My entire walk home, I pondered his statements. I could only assume that he meant he believed himself to be other than human, but that obviously made no sense to me.
This experience I repeated on several occasions over the span of the lecture series. Though the pattern to his answers varied, they all revolved around the theme of believing himself, or perhaps even being different from the rest of the students, including myself. I never truly understood why. Finally, after our final examinations, I stopped him early on our walk home and confronted him with this.
His response stands out in my mind, for it seemed at the time to have naught to do with my question. “Man is just one more animal upon this earth, Bernard. Yet you of European stock live as if you were somehow above the rest of creation. You don’t understand what it means to be one with the world, in the way my mother’s family does.”
I was exceedingly puzzled by this. “But does it not say in the Bible that mankind was created to be shepherds over the animals? We are clearly of a different order of creation, are we not?”
Seth gave me a pained look. “Oh, please, Bernard,” he said. “Are you as blind as poor Professor Carmichael? We are one with the land, and the animals. No better, no worse. Merely different. My father might agree with you, but my mother and her family has quite another explanation for our existence. One that entails a oneness with the land, not stewardship over it.”
From here, the details of our conversation are lost to me, but I remember clearly that we stood there on that corner and talked for a great length of time. I learned much of his heritage that night. His father’s family had long associated with so-called “robber barons” such as Andrew Carnegie. While I had always considered him to be a philanthropist, from Seth I heard a different side of the story, of a man used to exploiting the land on which he worked, acting against nature, not in accordance with it. I learned of Seth’s growing dissatisfaction with his father’s lifestyle and with mankind in general. His study of biology and zoology was an attempt to find some niche within modern life with which he could feel comfortable. An attempt, I should add, that ended with his suspension from university because of professorial complaints.
At this point, gentlemen, I wish to point out that I lost track of Seth Walden for close to five years. I knew that his mother had died of natural causes, and that he had gone to her family in disobedience of his father’s wishes. I was never truly close to Seth Walden, though I dare say I knew him better than most humans ever will. Where he went in those five years, I can not say. I do not know, nor do I wish to know. I hope only that one day, I may forget what I witnessed the night of January the twenty-fourth.
During the next five years, I did observe with some degree of curiosity the goings-on of the Walden family. While I never heard anything of Seth himself, I know that his father rose to prominence in the New England banking community. Rumours of scandals involving conflicts with what the government had labelled Indian holdings circulated, but they either stopped or were silenced. Which, I cannot say, though I have my suspicions.
Then, a week ago, I received a telegraph from Seth Walden, requesting my presence at his home on a matter of utmost urgency. While I had begun my practice, I felt it important to answer his request. I believe that I was the closest thing he had to a friend within the wholly human community. Yes, gentlemen, that is what I said. If you would but let me finish, I hope that you too will understand the horror I witnessed.
When I arrived at Seth Walden’s address, I must admit to some degree of apprehension. I knew not where he had been in the last five years. He greeted me at the door, and I was met with an odd odor, one that I thought I should know but could not place. He smiled at me and bade me enter, which I accepted. He offered me a small snifter of brandy which I also took, and we began to talk of minor pleasantries. I felt very odd, after five years to be talking so calmly with a man that, in our youth, had been so full of passion and life.
I asked him what was so urgent, and he brushed aside the comment at first, but then finally said that he had found a way to solve his moral dilemmas involving his family but that he would need some assistence. I looked at him askance and inquired into the nature of this assistence. He looked at the clock, then out the window. He said that he presumed enough time had passed, and set his snifter on the mantel. Then he bade me follow him down into the cellar of his house. Curious and a little loosened from the strong brandy, I followed.
The cellar of his house was dark but lit with a few torches that provided enough illumination to see. What met my eyes horrified me, and yet I could not tear my eyes away from the scene. On the floor, spreadeagled, was the nude form of Jameson Walden, Seth’s father. His hands and feet were tied and bound to stakes that had been driven into the ground. His eyes were wild, and when he saw me he began to shout, or at least to attempt to do so. He had been gagged and his mouth tied with thick rope, preventing all but the slightest of noises to escape. I turned to look for Seth, to ask what in God’s name he intended to do, but of my host I saw no sign.
The next few moments, gentlemen, are hazy. I remember running down the stairs to attend to the elder Walden, and then a hand upon my shoulder throwing me back against the wall, much stronger than any man should have right to be. I looked up and saw Seth, also now quite nude, framed in the torchlight. He smiled.. oh, God, gentlemen, his smile was that of a feral animal, not of any sane man. In a voice quite unlike his own, he said that the time had come for him to sever his ties to the world of men and return to the land whence he came.
With that pronouncement, he turned to his father still on the ground and kicked him soundly in the ribs. I heard a soft crack and the old man’s screams increased, though still quite muffled by the gag. I knew that if I did nothing, Seth would most likely kill his father. However, gentlemen, if you have ever seen a madman in the flesh, you would do little to impede his progress either. Time and again, I saw Seth’s foot rise and fall into his father, shattering ribs and crushing the man’s breastbone. I called on God several times to end this nightmare, but to no avail.
After a good dozen kicks, Seth knelt down next to his father, now crying and gasping for breath. I heard Seth chanting in some unknown tongue, one of the Indian dialects, I can only presume. He picked up a knife from beside the form of his father, and then with one swift stroke plunged it into the man’s chest. Jameson’s cries silenced as he went into shock. Blood fountained, coating the two men in blood. Seth seemed to bathe in this crimson font as he drew the knife down through his father’s chest, his chanting never ceasing.
Seth finally set aside the now-bloody knife and reached into the man’s chest. Placing his other hand onto the man’s shoulder, I saw a quick jerking motion, heard a soft rip and then Seth held within his hands his father’s still-beating heart. Finally stopping his chant, Seth raised the bloody tissue to his lips and began to eat, partaking of this demonic feast.
Here, gentlemen, no doubt you will begin to question my sanity. As if all that I have said to date were not enough, it at least is backed by your physical evidence. The knife, the mutilated corpse of Jameson Walden, all found in the cellar. What follows, however, can not be explained by any medical or forensic test.
As Seth Walden continued to feast upon his father’s heart, ripped fresh from the dying man’s chest, his features began to flow like melting wax. The colour of his skin changed from pink to a light grey. A thick white fur began to sprout, covering his entire body. I saw his face twist and distort in the torchlight, lengthening into an almost feline muzzle. The tips of his fingers stretched, claws growing forth from them to replace the nails that receded. The thing that was Seth Walden opened its… muzzle, I presume, and I saw a row of sharp, needle-like teeth, which it used to calmly finish devouring Jameson’s heart. Throughout all of this, the beast made no sound, save soft mewling noises which I can only presume stem from the pain it must’ve felt in its transformation.
When this hellspawn finished with the heart, it turned and tore several large pieces of flesh from the still-warm corpse and ate with gusto. I stared at this… this thing of unbridled savagery as it ate the human flesh of its once-father. Then, sated, it turned to me with Seth Walden’s eyes, and it smiled again.. Oh God, kind sirs! That smile… to look into the face of pure ferocity and unhindered savagery. Without warning, it let out a high-pitched keening wail that shook the house to its very foundations. Then, without further sound, it ran up the stairs and vanished from my sight.
There, gentlemen, is my testimony. I admit that I was found in the basement of Seth Walden’s home, with the bound corpse of his father. But I did not kill him, nor do I know there whereabouts of his son. For my sake, gentlemen, and your own, I would suggest that you do not attempt to find him.