The Drain Song

If it may please the court, the supplicants in this case request that the last will and testament of the deceased Frederick Arnelius Boethium, Esq. be set aside. Mr. Boethium’s will indicates that his mansion should be destroyed and the land be declared as a wilderness preserve which should be made off limits to all persons.

The supplicants desire to present evidence that will demonstrate the mental incompetence of Frederick Arnelius Boethium, Esq. in the last months of his life. Mr. Boethium’s survivors feel that this mental incapacitation is the sole reason for his indicated desire that such valuable real estate be destroyed.

The supplicants request that the will be declared null and void and that the property be awarded to Mr. Boethium’s closest living relatives to dispose of as they see fit.

As evidence of the impaired mental faculties of the deceased, the supplicants would like to present the court with copies of the diaries of the deceased that were written in the period of time preceding his passing.

As your honor will no doubt perceive in his perusal of these entries, Mr. Boethium’s madness explains the strange manner of his death. It is our contention that only a man with impaired mental faculties would dive into the ocean with a container full of lit dynamite.

The following passages are excerpts from the personal diaries of Frederick Arnelius Boethium, Esq.

August 20th, 1922

My real estate broker has discovered a property of the type I have been searching for recently. It is a stately old mansion that stands on a rocky shore on a relatively isolated stretch of the Maine coastline. He assures me that it will be worth my while to journey to the area and view the structure for myself.

The price for the mansion is surprisingly low. While I am certainly not averse to obtaining goods at low cost, such a low price does cause me to wonder if the mansion is as sound as it appears. However, as this is too generous an offer to risk losing to another buyer, I plan to set out at once to view the property for myself.

August 23rd, 1922

I have arrived at the mansion. The property is breathtakingly beautiful. The mansion overlooks an incredible ocean vista. The surrounding land is hilly, rugged, and heavily wooded.

Apparently the low asking price is due to the fact that the previous owner of the mansion, and his family, all passed away recently in an accidental drowning tragedy. Due to financial reversals that have been recently suffered by the family of the heirs, they need to dispose of the property as quickly as possible. Thus, the low asking price.

It seems that the family which previously occupied this mansion had acquired it fairly recently themselves from an elderly uncle of theirs. This uncle had apparently died of natural causes after living here peacefully for the previous forty years. It is said that he was a deaf hermit who valued his privacy highly.

This deaf old hermit was also responsible for the original construction of the mansion. He had become very wealthy in his youth, but it seems to be a mystery as to how the wealth had been generated.

After the death of the hermit, his nearest living family inherited the mansion and his fortune. This was a nephew of modest means who had a small family. The inheritance came as incredible boon that should have allowed them live out the rest of their days as idle millionaires. However, they seem to have been unaware of the freakishly dangerous currents in the waters just offshore. The only indications of their fate were a collection of items found on the shore that made it appear that they had decided to go for a swim at their newly acquired beachfront. The towels, beach chairs, sun umbrella, beach toys, and such, lead investigators to conclude that their disappearance must have been due to a tragedy in which the whole family must have been caught in a riptide and pulled out to sea, where they met their untimely fates.

At any rate, I have made a thorough inspection of the structure and the surrounding area. I can find no flaws that would indicate any other reason for such a low price. Therefore, I have decided to purchase the property. I believe it will be an excellent place to retire, especially due to the fact that I do not intend to do any swimming.

September 10th, 1922

The mansion is now mine. All the papers have been signed and the cheque has been issued. I have arranged for a team of movers to transport my furnishings to my new home. I plan on taking up residence at the mansion by the end of the week.

September 15th, 1922

The mansion is now officially my new residence. I received my first letter in the post box this morning. Pleasantly enough, it was a card from a business associate who wanted to wish me a happy retirement at my new home.

It is quite a long walk out to the road where the mail is dropped. However, I believe that a little hike each morning will probably do my constitution good, at least until the winter season sets in.

September 18th, 1922

I am beginning to feel that this mansion is a little too isolated. After living in a city for so many years, it appears that too much quiet and solitude is a bit taxing on my nerves.

I’ve decided that it would be a good thing to acquire several live-in servants. The house is easily large enough to accommodate servants’ quarters. Moreover, such a large home warrants more than just an occasional visit from a housekeeping service. I think that a permanent staff will really be necessary for proper upkeep.

September 19th, 1922

I ventured into the nearest town today to post an advertisement seeking live-in servants. I hope that I will be able to find decent applicants. The local population, while not exactly genteel, is affable enough.

The number of the people in this area is quite low. However, due to a lack of employment opportunities, it seems that I may have a chance of obtaining some of the best of them as domestics.

From the conversations I held with several of the locals, it appears that this area used to be very rich fishing grounds. However, about thirty to forty years ago, all of the fish stocks in the area suddenly dwindled remarkably. There was no apparent reason for the change.

To compound the problems caused by the drop in the amount of seafood available, there was also a sudden rash of tragedies amongst the area’s fishing fleets. Ships began to flounder in perfectly calm seas for no discernable reason, their crews being lost to a man. Stranger still, several vessels were found drifting with no crew at all left on them. There was absolutely no indication of the crew’s fate on these ships – no signs of violence, nothing.

The waters in the area soon earned an evil reputation. The surviving fisherman all set sail for other sections of the coast. Trading ships which would occasionally dock here also took their business elsewhere.

Soon, the remaining populace was extremely small, and mostly unemployed. The economy of the area is now mostly farm based, and the goods produced by those farms are not shipped out from any ports in this area.

I had thought that it was a little odd that such a large mansion on such beautiful shoreline would lack any sort of dock for mooring pleasure craft. I imagine that the reputation of the surrounding waters may have kept the previous owners from wishing to engage in much sailing. I believe I will follow suit and keep to the land myself.

September 25th, 1922

I had the most disconcerting experience last evening. I had just finished my evening bath and I was in the bathing chamber undertaking my usual toiletries. As I went about these tasks, I heard the most unusual noise issuing from somewhere around me. It was an almost song-like sound, but still unlike any song which I have before heard performed.

It had a strange, slow cadence that seemed to have a peculiar effect on my nervous system. I assumed that it must be due to the wind blowing through some extremely odd nook of the house. However, as the wind rose and fell outside, the sound did not alter in its nature.

I finally realized the source of the sound was within my home, and somewhere very nearby. I began to search the chamber, listening carefully for the sound to rise and fall in volume.

To my amazement, I eventually determined that the strange tones were issuing forth from the bathtub drain! I kneeled down and listened carefully at the drain, hoping to gain some clue as to the nature of the cause of the odd noise.

After listening to the tones for a considerable length of time, I was completely unable to identify them. Finally, they faded away.

When the noise had completely faded, I attempted to arise from my rather uncomfortable crouch over the edge of the bathtub. However, rising from that posture proved to be much more difficult than I had expected. I was shocked to discover that nearly all of my muscles had become thoroughly cramped. Extracting myself from that position was a long and painful process.

I was still more shocked when I realized why all of my muscles had suffered such prodigious cramping. When I turned and looked out the window, I saw that it was daylight outside! It was the next morning! I had somehow spent the entire night crouched next to the bathtub with my ear pressed to the drain!

In fact, not only was my ear pressed to the drain, it appeared I had unconsciously pushed my ear against the drain very hard for an extended period of time. My poor ear is now rather bruised and misshapen.

I must have somehow fallen asleep in that ridiculous position. I can’t imagine how such a thing could happen. The solitude here must be having a more marked effect on my nerves than I had previously believed. I do hope that I shall be able to locate quality domestic help very soon.

September 29th, 1922

I once again ventured into town today to acquire some needed supplies and check for responses to my posting. I was disappointed to learn that there had been no responses at all. When I inquired with the man at the newspaper office as to why there would be no one seeking employment in an area that was obviously in such dire need of jobs, he claimed that he could not think of any reason that might account for the phenomenon.

I could not help but feel that his ignorance was feigned. I, therefore, pressed him further on the subject. I was eventually successful in wheedling out of him the fact that many of the nearby residents have a strong aversion to this mansion.

This aversion apparently stems back to the old hermit that built the place. There were old rumors concerning the man that linked him to piracy in his youth. Local superstition was that many of the evils that had befallen the area could be laid at his door. People apparently had believed that when he settled here, the drowned ghosts of his victims had followed him. They believed that vengeful aquatic spirits that the man had murdered were wreaking their vengeance upon any who dared to sail in the area.

When I scoffed at the concept of the old, deaf hermit being a retired buccaneer, the newsman informed me that evidence had surfaced at different times that lent the idea credence. The old man occasionally sold various valuable items through certain agents. It came to light that some of the valuable items had been aboard certain ships that had come to a bad end.

If such a story has any truth to it, I can’t help but wonder what odd treasures may be buried somewhere on this property. Could the old hermit have left behind a small trove which he had never sold before old age finally took its last toll?

While I don’t have any real need of wealth from buried treasure, it is an interesting thing to contemplate.

October 4th, 1922

I had another of those strange episodes after bathing last night. When the drainpipe started to emit those devilish tones, I resisted the urge to listen. I attempted to continue with the tasks at hand and just ignore that odd noise.

However, to my dismay, I awoke the next morning horribly cramped and crouched over the bathtub’s drain hole. Once again, my ear was bruised.

I may have to pay a visit to an alienist regarding this matter. I fear that I may be having some sort of strange nervous fits. However, before I subject myself to the attentions of such a professional, I think I will bring in a plumber to have a look at that drain. It would be best to seek out some sort of physical explanation for the noise before I assume the worst regarding my mental state.

October 5th, 1922

The local people in this area are proving quite frustrating. I could not induce any local plumber to come to property. I even tried offering to pay double their normal rates!

I have decided that I will have to take the extremely unusual steps of locating a plumber from as far away as Portland.

October 6th, 1922

I have secured the services of a plumber of extremely high repute through an agent in Portland. The man apparently thought it was very odd that I would want him to travel all this distance for a simple plumbing job, but the financial incentives I set forth were too tempting for him to refuse.

He should be arriving tomorrow.

I considered the idea of venturing down into the cellars beneath the mansion myself to examine the piping. However, my nerves have been worn so thin that I just cannot make myself enter the dim, dingy areas.

When the plumber comes, I will try to accompany him into the cellars when he examines the plumbing. I believe that I will be able to venture into those repelling subchambers in the company of another man. I would like to more closely examine some of the items that lay mouldering in trunks down there.

October 7th, 1922

The plumber arrived today as promised. He performed a thorough examination of the drain and its affiliated piping but could find no cause for strange noises. I inquired if perhaps the noises could be issuing forth from the sewers below the house. The plumber replied that an old, isolated house such as this wouldn’t be connected to a sewer. He claimed that the drainpipes undoubtedly just emptied into the sea.

While he went about his tasks in the basement, I took the opportunity to rummage through some of the old trunks. It looked as if the old hermit’s heirs had taken everything down there that would have been valuable. The trunks mostly contained old clothes, books, and assorted detritus.

I did note, however, from the assortment of items contained in the chests, that the old hermit had definitely spent his early years engaged in seafaring activities. The clothes and the various types of old, rusty equipment in the chests definitely would have been used by a sailor of some sort. Perhaps the tales of piracy have some basis in fact?

The man had also had a large collection of diving equipment. Perhaps, rather than looting ships and then sinking them, he derived his wealth from looting the wrecks of ships which had already sunk.

He had a surprising number of mouldering old books in his possession for a simple sailor. Moreover, he had an incredible number of books that were in foreign languages. If he actually read those works, he must have been a terribly gifted linguist. It seems odd that a deaf man would have been interested in learning a wide variety of languages that he would never be able to hear. Beyond that, it seems peculiar that one who was extremely gifted at communications would eventually choose a life of seclusion and avoid communication.

Although the plumber had been unable to find any cause for the noises in the plumbing, I found that procuring his services had not been completely in vain. I was extremely pleased to learn that he had a niece who would undoubtedly be interested in working here as a domestic servant. Even better, the young lady is married to a man who is a handyman of some skill. It is very probable that the pair of them would be willing to come here as live-in domestics.

The couple also has a young daughter who would be living here with them. Although I am not normally terribly fond of children, I can’t help but think that having a youngster frolicking about the property would make the place seem a little happier and more alive.

October 9th, 1922

I have received word from the plumber and his niece. The young lady and her husband have accepted my offer of employment. They and their child should be arriving within days.

October 10th, 1922

I once again found myself listening to the drainpipe. This time I didn’t snap out of the queer trance until midafternoon. I am very anxious for the new help to arrive. I hope that their presence will help counter this odd fascination which my subconscious mind seems to have developed for plumbing noises!

October 13th, 1922

Mr. Leonard Dyer and his wife, Imelda Dyer, arrived today to begin employment as my housekeeper and groundskeeper. Their daughter, Linda Dyer, is an energetic young girl of 7 years of age. Linda is noisy enough that her presence would normally be quite irritating. However, in my current state, the ruckus she creates is an extremely enjoyable distraction.

October 14th, 1922

I had Leonard help me haul some of the old books out of the cellar so that I could examine them more closely. I was surprised to realize that almost every one of the books was penned in a foreign tongue. The only books that are in English are ship logbooks. Apparently the old hermit was a ships captain and kept all his old log books. I’ll have to look through those a bit; just to get a better idea what sort of chap built my home.

The foreign texts are very strange. I recognize some of the languages, but I can’t understand any of them. Many of the languages I can’t even identify. However, many of the books contain odd diagrams. I can’t for the life of me determine what the diagrams are supposed to be. Very peculiar. I would have some expert examine them for me, but I don’t believe there are any qualified experts of that sort any closer than Boston.

October 17th, 1922

The little girl, Linda, discovered me this morning once again listening to the drainpipe. She’s not supposed to be in my personal rooms, but I can’t say that I minded her intrusion in this case. I fear that the Dyers may become a little nervous about working for a man of uncertain mental condition. Unfortunately, I can’t think of a single good excuse to give them for listening to a drainpipe all night.

The good news is that the little girl heard the odd noise too! It’s not all in my head!

I’m not sure what to do about this very strange problem. However, I think that I will begin bathing less often.

October 21st, 1922

The Dyers have now been in my employ for over a week. Their presence has been a godsend for my mental state. Even though the drain still emits its oddly alluring harmonies, I feel much better having someone around. I think I will have to give them the day off tomorrow to enjoy themselves a bit.

October 22nd, 1922

The most horribly tragic thing took place today. Just writing about it twists my innards.

I informed the Dyers last night that they could take today off and just enjoy themselves as they wished about the property.

Due to my nights at the drain hole, I apparently have become a bit more exhausted than I usually am. I ended up sleeping a bit later than is my norm this morning. When I awoke I went out on the balcony of my room, which overlooks the ocean.

From my balcony, I saw that the Dyers were down on the shore. I was a bit worried at the sight due to the fact that I had failed to inform them of the dangerous currents. However, upon feeling the cold October air, I realized they weren’t likely to be doing any swimming.

I could see that Linda appeared to be collecting shells along some wet, seaweed covered rocks. As she scrambled over those slippery stones, a wave hit her which was a bit larger than most. She was knocked off of the rocks and into the water.

I wouldn’t have expected there to be any real trouble in the shallow water next to the shore, but I was dumbfounded to see her start to swim away from the shore, further out into the water! I couldn’t believe my eyes, why in the world would she have been swimming out deeper into those frigid waters?

Her mother realized immediately that their daughter had fallen into the water and went in after her. She dove into the waves and swam after her daughter. As I watched, I was shocked and confused to see Mrs. Dyer, who was a much stronger swimmer than her youngster, not only catch up to her daughter, but then pass her by! Imelda must have gotten confused in the cold water and not realized that she had already overtaken her offspring. She just kept on swimming further out to sea!

Leonard saw his wife in the water and went after her. As I watched in horror, the three of them swam a good ways out away from shore and then dived beneath the surface. I know this sounds insane, but I would swear that they deliberately dove down into the water! It didn’t appear that they had been pulled under by treacherous currents; it appeared that they swam downwards on purpose.

I was yelling at the top of my lungs, trying to get them to come out of the water, but it was no use. I watched for them to surface again, but I never saw them come up.

I ran down to the water, but didn’t dare enter it myself. Even without the chaotic under pulls in the area, I probably am too poor a swimmer to survive long in the water.

After checking along the shoreline to make sure that they hadn’t surfaced somewhere out of my sight, I ran to the carriage house and drove my motorcar into town to alert the authorities and ask for help in trying to rescue the missing Dyers.

The local sheriff and a couple of his deputized men accompanied me back to my property, but no attempts were made to locate any bodies. The sheriff and his men felt that such efforts would be much too dangerous.

As they left, I heard one of the superstitious dolts whispering to another about the Dyers being pulled under by ghosts!

I don’t really want to stay in this mansion tonight, but there are no lodgings available within a reasonable distance. Tomorrow, I plan on packing a travelcase and heading towards an inn somewhere down near Portland. Hopefully I can find a nice inn that isn’t anywhere near the ocean.

October 23rd, 1922

I found a very nice inn on the landward side of Portland. I believe I will allow myself at least a week or two of rest time here before I head back to the mansion – if I can force myself to ever head back there at all.

On impulse, I brought along several of the books which poor Leonard and I had hauled out of the cellar. I’m not sure if it will be good or bad for my state of mind, but I may try looking through them.

October 26th, 1922

I have been at this inn for several days now and I haven’t heard a single noise come from the drainpipe. It is extremely reassuring.

What are not so reassuring are the odd things I have learned from those books that I brought along. Of course, the only books I can understand are the logbooks. However, I unexpectedly found an expert in antique books and tomes here in Portland. I showed him the two foreign books that I had brought along.

The expert looked at one book that I had recognized as having been written in German first. Apparently the fellow understood some of the language of the Huns because he was able to tell me that it was a book on sorcery! Apparently the strange and inexplicable drawings in the tome were some sort of magical patterns meant to be used in summoning up devils, or some such thing.

The other book he was unable to decipher. He told me that he believed it was written in Arabic, or possibly Hindi. He said that he couldn’t read a word of it however.

The ship’s logbooks were rather strange. The ship was a salvage vessel. As I had surmised from the diving equipment, the old hermit had acquired much of his wealth salvaging treasures from sunken wrecks.

However, there were some very queer passages in the logs. From the way the man wrote, I got the definite impression that the entire crew had been deaf, not just the captain.

There were also passages that gave the impression that he may have been somehow causing the ships he looted to sink. However, I have not yet read anything that explained how he might be making them sink. From what was written, it seemed almost as if he simply wanted them to sink and they did!

I still have a small pile of the logs that I haven’t read; hopefully I’ll find something that makes a bit more sense.

October 28th, 1922

In one of the oldest logbooks, actually more of a diary than a logbook since it was written before the man acquired his ship; I believe I have found a clue of great importance.

The old hermit wrote the entries while he was working as a common sailor on a tramp steamer. He claims to have found an old text for sale in Hong Kong that no one could read. Since it was indecipherable, he was able to get it for next to nothing.

The hermit seems to have indeed been gifted at languages, it seems like he could read at least a score of them! He especially enjoyed studying “dead languages”. I have to say that this is very strange in a common sailor – but strange things do happen.

He claims that he was able to figure out the meaning of the text eventually, after obtaining several other works that contained languages that were related both to the book in question and to other languages with which he already was familiar.

This ancient book held secrets that allowed him to summon some strange race up from the depths. Using the knowledge he gained from the book, he was able to deal with them. He records that in return for certain commodities that he could acquire for them on the land, they gave him some strange creatures that he calls “Shell Sirens”.

From the old hermit’s description, these Shell Sirens were some sort of huge clams or oysters that gave off a resonance that affected the nervous system of everything in the water around them. This resonance caused a fascination like affect. By using this affect, the clams were able to induce creatures to simply swim into their open maws, where they would be trapped and digested!

Horribly enough, in shallow waters the resonance generated by these creatures can affect people on passing ships! The hermit used these hideous creatures to lure the crews of ships off their crafts and to their doom! He purposely deafened himself so that they wouldn’t affect him!

I’ve come to the conclusion that when the old hermit died, he left behind some of these “Shell Sirens” just off the shore of his property. The Dyers and countless others must have died because of these beasts.

October 29th, 1922

I’ve returned to the mansion. I’ve armed myself with, what I hope, will be the necessary equipment to kill off those horrible death clams.

I have purchased several cases of dynamite and some waterproof containers. I plan on sinking the dynamite within those containers to the seabed in the area where the Dyers disappeared.

Those “Shell Sirens” will need awfully thick shells to survive the blasts I’m going to hit them with!

I’ll need to use a small boat I’ve purchased to sail to the right spot to drop the dynamite. I’ve brought earplugs to help me resist the hypnotic tones.

Just in case something goes wrong, I’ve wired my lawyer and instructed that this mansion be destroyed and people kept out of this area. There would be no use in trying to convince others that those clams exist. If something goes wrong, it will be easier just to have the mansion destroyed, then I won’t have to worry about any of my heirs being lured into the depths like the Dyers.

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