The Armitage Files

If You Go Into the Woods Tonight ...

In which sinister plans are thwarted, for now

Thursday, October 17, 1935

Celestine Whateley does some research to see if there are any legends about mysterious animal attacks like the one on Vladimir Krotka. She doesn’t find any folklore that matches the particulars of this case, but she does find a series of newspapers reports on a series of similar attacks back in the spring of 1932 in Stanhope, a little mill town in western Massachusetts. Over a period of three weeks, a local farmer named Amos Spaulding, a pair of hobos (two separate attacks on separate nights), and a traveling salesman were killed along the Old Farm Road, an isolated, seldom-used road that runs past the Spaulding farm. A posse was organized to patrol the area at night, and after the attacks stopped, the general conclusion was that the animal responsible had moved on or been frightened away. The local papers seem to allude to stories or rumors about the Spaulding family, but in a vague “everybody knows what we’re talking about” kind of way.

Harold Shear reports on his analysis of the black substance found at the site of the attack. It’s very similar to the earlier sample that he analyzed, the blood stains from the first of the Armitage documents. Which is to say that it’s a blood-like substance that isn’t any specific type of blood he can test for.

That evening, Thomas Jackson, Officer Graves, and Dr. Whateley stake out the woods near where the attack happened. Hearing something moving, Jackson stealthily moves in closer and hears a small group of people walking in the woods. He follows them at a distance until they stop at the edge of the woods, where (he estimates) they have a clear view of the carnival site. Creeping closer, he manages to overhear a scrap of conversation:

“… don’t like all this sneakin’ around. He’s our kin, why’nt we just go in and take him?”

“Tain’t that simple, is it? There’s those as is opposin’ us, and they’ve got resources o’ their own. Clem’s gone down to see where things lay an’ I reckon he’ll know what to do better’n you or me.”

Getting closer, he can see that there are six men, carrying shotguns and rifles. About that time, he sees a man approaching from the carnival grounds. Someone in the woods signals him with a flashlight and he makes his way to where they’re hiding. Again, Jackson can overhear some of what he says: “That man ain’t gonna listen to reason, boys, so we got to go and take what’s ours.”

Sensing that no good can come of this, Jackson yells out, “Arkham Police! Freeze!” At which point the group in the woods immediately scatter in different directions, running blindly through the moonlit woods. Officer Graves catches one, and Dr. Whateley manages to trip another as he runs past her, but the rest — including “Clem,” the apparent ringleader — escape.

Back at the station, the two prisoners identify themselves as Jim Spaulding and Enoch Pivar. Interrogated separately, they give similar accounts of themselves. They’ve come from Stanhope with their uncle Clement Pivar to “rescue” their cousin Alfie from the Drake Brothers. As Jim puts it, “Them circus folk kidnaped Alfie and we was gonna rescue him.”

Jackson books the two of them for lying in wait, attempted assault, attempted kidnaping, and resisting arrest.



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