Such a book as this, plumbing the depths of everlasting human existence, could never be written alone, and the author is grateful to the following people and institutions without whom his expedition to Mosschase would not have been possible.
First, without the generous financial support of George M. Theerian, owner and president of the Theerian Wig Factory, this project could not have been executed at all. Though I never met his first wife Flora while she lived, she was clearly an extraordinary woman well worthy of her husband’s obsession with the postmortem persistence of spirit. I am sorry not to have made her acquaintance during our séances, but I’m told that women spirits deprived of their worldly bodies sometimes find my locus of masculinity too intimidating to confront.
The wit, class, and emotional sensitivity of the present Mrs. Theerian, the radiant Pauline, could well have been my bedrock during the whole ordeal of Mosschase House. From her knowing glances to her sublime taste in hats, I couldn’t ask for a greater companion. Her shoulder rubs were almost as exquisite as her insights.
My own wife Opal, of course, proved ever helpful as well, attending to worldly matters back in Sussex while I attended to the otherworldly ones.
David Darley and the team from Westinghouse were literally instrumental to our exploration: without their durable electrostatic detectors, temperature gauges, spirit condensers, radium lanterns, Victrola voice capture machines, or ectoplasm containment jars, we’d have been marooned forever on the island of ignorance. May they soon conquer the fickle bitch of alternating current!
Beatrice and Chester Kleiner, present occupants of Mosschase, permitted free access to their home for all six weeks of our investigation. Both graciously accepted the daily company of twenty spirit investigators, not to mention their equipment, their foodstuffs, their sweat-soaked waistcoats and cravats, and their often coarse language. Some of the men proved quite excitable, and I beg the good Mrs. Kleiner’s forgiveness for my torrent of obscenity in the face of the First Manifestation (see Chapter One). As for the wreckage of the south basement wall, I am sure the inevitable profits of this book can easily pay for that damage as well as the charred library mezzanine.
My gratitude runs especially strong for Emil Kleiner, that scamp cousin of Chester’s, whose home-brewed absinthe accelerated both our quiet nights and our active ones.
My sincerest apologies, too, to young Master Heinrich Kleiner. To eyes aching from the lack of sleep, a ten-year-old boy in pajamas can easily be mistaken for an apparition, and we pray that the burns from the Faraday Net have long since subsided. Chin up, little soldier!
Mosschase wouldn’t be a delightfully sinister heap of misshapen stones without the clumsy architectural stylings of Sir Quentin Montrose or the slipshod workmanship of Charles Gaston. Together, they built the perfect haunted house atop that lonely chalk cliff, knotted with ancient oaks and strangled by vines: a veritable spectral honey pot. Well done, gentlemen!
And, though I am loathe to do it, I suppose I must also thank Baron Gerhardt von Klaugh for the underlying psychic trauma that makes Mosschase such an embassy for the damned. While I can’t condone his practice of sewing shut children’s mouths or hanging their corpses as puppets, it certainly suited his former home for my purposes.
I offer much gratitude, also, to the generations of terrified servants, wide-eyed children, and gibbering drunks whose local gossip served like linguistic lenses, compounding mere rumor into legend and finally, wondrously, into reality. So, too, must I thank my peers among the spiritual sciences whose dim fumbling against the shadows on Plato’s wall saved me decades of false starts and blind alleys. Who’d have thought the answer, gentlemen, was simply to turn around?
Then there are the mediums. Where to start? Clearly with the ones who were less than successful.
Though poor Madame Vladovich’s spiritual eyes proved to be as cataract-clouded as her ordinary ones, I’m quite obliged for her energetic table-lifting. It isn’t easy for an eighty-seven-year-old woman to heft an oaken table with rulers in her sleeves, but she certainly did. Brava!
Little Wendy Wexham, God rest her soul, gave us the last few weeks of her consumptive life just to communicate with souls as estranged from life as her own. I hope she’s found her well-earned peace.
And, lo, the poor successful Erwin Haste: how sorry we were to have to send a bullet through your brain. Would that your open mind had not been so roomy for evil, my friend. Would, too, that the leather straps had held. May God forgive us for burying you facing down.
Harry the Gardener deserves my gratitude for his enthusiastic work with the pick axe. If I’m ever trapped beneath a wall of infant skeletons again, their tiny bone hands clawing at my face, you will be the first man I’ll telegraph.
To the neighbors, I will say I’m sorry. We did determine the awful truth behind the ghostly lights and the keening screeches at midnight, but ending them was beyond the charter of our expedition. We are planning a second excursion to your wonderful countryside, one dedicated to expelling this darkness once and for all. Donations for our cause will be heartily accepted by the publisher and passed on to us. Stay calm and carry on, good worthies: we’re on our way.
And finally, most importantly, I thank you, the discerning reader, the curious and adventuresome explorer, for your excellent taste. It is your enthusiasm for the outré that makes it all worthwhile.