Early in June I woke at dawn to let my dog out and found a wooden crate, the type used decades ago by a tea importer, outside the back door. The box was nearly identical to one I had found in an old barn in Ohio years earlier. The Ohio crate had contained diaries and journals of several people as well as newspapers and photographs – all from the 1890s – and a previously unknown story from author William Hope Hodgson that appeared to have been written in 1913 shortly before he left for the war that claimed his life. I had published several of the diary entries and the Hodgson story online as The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire.
My dog sniffed the box outside the back porch door with a suspicious air before she walked off to do her business under the trees.
I looked around, but did not see anyone. On top of the crate was an envelope with a handwritten note inside. The writer claimed to have tracked me down and left the chest to me because of my previous interest in the contents of the other crate. I carried the crate inside with my dog following at my heels. I set it on the kitchen table. Inside I found letters, notebooks, folders holding sheaths of yellowed, typewritten manuscripts, and a photo album containing dozens of images from the 1920s and 1930s.
As my morning coffee brewed, I glanced through the contents of the folder on top. It appeared to have been a manuscript written in the style of a 1930s pulp magazine story. My first guess was, of course, that the story was fictional. But as I went through the box and read the notebooks and what appeared to be investigation reports I began to wonder. I now suspect the story referred to actual events and the unknown author wrote up the account as a fictional story. I do not know if the author ever attempted to publish his or her stories, but I suspect from the writing style they were intended for Weird Tales or another pulp horror or adventure magazine such as Weird Spicy Tales.
In the initial story, with chapters posted on Fridays (photos on Wednesdays), and in other stories, there are references to other investigations, hidden pasts, dark deeds referenced only in passing, and secret organizations. I shall do my best to fill in the blanks where possible, but those secrets might be hidden away in other crates, perhaps to be unveiled at a later date.