Sunday, April 02, 2017

The Horsingdon Transmissions No.92: Stokes

Devon Mansions - on the boundary of Northwich and Harlowe - was another of James Boreham's holdings. The building has since been redeveloped and turned into apartments. At the foot of the stairwell which forms tne entrance to Devon Mansions stands an iron door, which - with the exception detailed below- has remained locked and bolted for as long as anyone can remember. The door itself marks the entrance to what used to be a basement apartment which, at one time, was the dwelling lace of an individual known in local records only as 'Stokes'.

Stokes was apparently employed to act as a caretaker and handyman, tasked to keep Devon Mansions in good repair during Boreham's absence. Despite his lowly position, it seems that Stokes was deep in Boreham's confidence, and even party to some of his employer's best-kept occult secrets. Indeed, rumour has it that Stokes was not beyond making use of this knowledge for his own ends, ultimately experimenting with certain esoteric formulae which supposedly had the power to grante their user effective immortality - experiments which, by all account culminated in Stokes' sudden and mysterious disappearance. Curiously, after this incident, James Boreham sealed off the basement apartment which had, for the best part of a decade, been Stoke's habitation.

Nothing else is heard of Devon Mansions in the annals of Northwich until 1979 when, on New Years Day of that year, the bodies of a young couple were discovered in the stairwell. Homeless on the night of one of the worst blizzards to hit the UK since the 1960s, it seems that the couple had sought to gain access to the basement flat for shelter. They were, however, only partially successful at breaking open the door.

Whilst the cause of the couple's deaths were recorded as being due to exposure, I have it on good authority that no official cause of death could be determined; in addition to which, both corpses were found to have a strange symbol carved into the flesh of their foreheads.

Since then, it seems that disturbing experiences - often of a distinctly praeternatural character -  have been a recurrent feature of the daily life of Devon Mansions' residents. Thus we have the report of one occupant who observered a swollen face with shifting features protuding from out one of the walls of his apartment; then there is the suicide of another leaseholder, whose diary records her nocturnal encounters with a 'doughy, indistinct and eyeless face which appeared on the pillow beside me, whispering the most outrageous and horrible secrets, throughout each and every sleepless night'.
There have also been regular accounts of a quasi-anthropomorphic mass of gray flesh with a head but no face - and dressed in a set of workman's overalls - stalking the hallways of the building.

Whilst we may never discover exactly what happened to the mysterious Stokes, it may be that he did indeed attain - at horrible cost to his humanity - some form of immortality afterall.

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