The Legend of Archibal: The Phantom

Mr. Clough faintly smiled. “When I was younger, I was a different man than I am now. I was harsher on my children. I demanded the most out of them, especially Edward. I knew Cordelia would be fine and so would her sister, Josephine. They would marry nicely into respective families. Edward was the one I expected more. I wanted him to be a shrewd businessman like me, but unlike me, he was magnanimous. No matter what cruel things I say to him he would forgive me. I loved him the best… I know I shouldn’t say that, but it was true. I see a lot of Edward in Alden. He even looks like him too. Don’t tell Alden, but I have set aside a trust in his name. When he comes of age, he will receive a small fortune. I never told his mother… I can’t even protect my grandchild.”

“What do you mean?”

“Every night, I’ve been going to the cemetery, hoping to find my son… I needed to tell him—something. Alden must have snuck out and followed me. I didn’t expect him to do that. Before I knew it those dark creatures were upon him. Soon after he began to sleep walk. It was my fault and it almost cost him his life. Nothing I do goes right. I had better sense, but when it came to my family, I was terrible at it. I was never a good father how can I be a good grandfather.” Mr. Clough sighed and hanged his head low, he became more despondent. Walter felt bad.

“Mr. Clough—I know what happened to your son—the night he died.”

“What—How—When?”

“Archibal gave me a ring that took me to the past. I don’t know why, but it did and I saw your son and your friend die. They must have died in different nights.”

Mr. Clough was dismayed. “No, they didn’t. They both died the same night. They found my friend’s body in the woods along with the other man, the tracker. Then they found my son in the cemetery. That was the darkest days of my life.”

Walter didn’t know what else to say. He was certain Mr. Clough felt enough guilt to last him a lifetime.

“Did they suffer much?” Mr. Clough wanted to know.

“No—they didn’t,” Walter believed it or at least he thought they didn’t. They were certainly scared, but pain, they felt no pain. It was a quick death. That was how the phantom worked. Walter knew it wasn’t polite to ask him the reasons they were at the cemetery or why he was yelling at his son, but curiosity got the best of him.

“Mr. Clough, why the cemetery?”

Mr. Clough sighed. “I went to place flowers on my wife’s grave. I was there for a while when my son came looking for me to tell me my friend had gone off searching for the light. Edward had provided him with the tracker. Nobody else would take him to the mountain. I told my friend it was a bad idea and town folks don’t make up stories like that. The stories were true and he wanted to assuage my fears. He was a man of science, he didn’t believe in the myths. As he called it. I had tried to persuade him, but he must have convinced Edward. Edward didn’t need to be convinced. For many year, he too tried to dissuade me of my superstition. Everything had a scientific explanation, he said to me, but I wouldn’t listen. My stubbornness cost me my son and friend.”

“Is that why you were mad at your son in the cemetery?”

“I told him the worst things a father can say to a son. I was angry, but that gave me no excuse to say what I did. If I would have known he would die. I wouldn’t have said it. The fact is I did.”

“Is that why you come back? To tell him you’re sorry?”

Mr. Clough nodded. “Silly, after all these years, isn’t it?”

“Not really,” Walter said. “I’m sure he knows you are sorry.”

“I just need to tell him myself,” Mr. Clough said sadly. “I want that chance.”

A loud crash coming from inside Alden’s home, caught the attention of Mr. Clough and Walter. One of the windows in the parlor was open and they could hear the commotion coming from within. Mrs. Bagley’s voice shrieking in umbrage. “He’s hiding money from us again!”

“What! Did ye find any?”

“Of course Oi did! Ye know he keeps changin hidin spots.”

“Where was it this time?”

“In the library in one of those books he reads. Oi thought ye said ye had him working for Mr. Boyd payin off yer debt!”

“He is.”

“Then where is he getting this money?”

“Oi’ll ask him when he gets back.”

“Where is he right now? He doesn’t have school to go. He should be home, taking care of me! Oi’m his mother.”

“He must be with that Banny boy.”

“Doesn’t he love his mother? One day, he will find me dead. Then what’ll he do? Oi need someone to take care of me. Oi am a sick woman Oi could be dying already!”

“Now, calm down, calm down, Cordelia. Don’t get yerself in a frantic. He’ll be home. Oi’ll make sure of that. Oi’ll go lookin for him. Go lay down before ye give yerself a headache again.”

Walter and Mr. Clough took the cue to leave before Mr. Bagley saw them standing in front of his house. They hadn’t gotten far when Mr. Bagley stepped out and began searching for his son.

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