Death by Misadventure

📅 Published on June 16, 2022

“Death by Misadventure”

Written by Dale Thompson
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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Raw vulgarities and unspeakable explicatives in a seemingly everlasting anguish, embedded like a cancer in his soul.  Every unforgiven man has lacked forgiveness and thus has brought the pestilence to his own door.  In order for one to be forgiven, one must find it in their heart to forgive.  Otherwise, the malignancy spreads like a brush fire and eats everything to ash.  When anger is your driving force, you cannot, and shall not be forgiven.  When revenge is fueling your passions, judgment comes down like a heavy gavel.  He always said, “You’ll never find true justice in this world.”

He was a dead man walking.  His footprints left post-mortem impressions in the dirt.  He was the dead among the living, yet he still breathed the same air.  He couldn’t let go; he refused to fall.  He knew that according to The Good Book, “where a tree falls, so shall it lie,” and he thought of himself as a mighty oak.  In his present torment, he had one foot in the terrestrial world and one foot in hell.

He sought a priest on his way to the abyss who advised him in the confessional, “You have given your enemy power over you.  Your hatred is controlled by him.  Forgive him to take the power back.  Only you can release yourself from unending misery.  You will not find him here.  Even you have said he is dead.  You keep him alive in your memory, and he keeps killing you, over and over again.  Set him free of the debt he owes you, and you can again walk complete without the chains of persistent madness. Your rage has unleashed dread and has kindled an inferno in you.  Reflect and gather your volition, be the original you, not this person who has been reborn from madness framed in your mind.  Allow me to remind you of the world you have forgotten.”

For his counsel, the priest merely received an absent gaze from truncated eyes lost in the export of revenge.  The priest saw not a single shred of virtue or glimmer of light.  He saw a universe of hellish illusion and artifice.  What resonated was not animated but a reclusive black soul imbued with all hopelessness.  Eli Moore was audient to instruction and bent on finishing what he had started.  This was important to him.  It was something he could not abate because, like a demon from the abyss, this egregious obsession was attached to his soul, brimming in nefarious intentions.  This perniciousness was no longer a separate entity from Eli.  Eli had become virulent in resolve.  Father Timmons pushed a piece of paper through the confessional window, and Eli snatched it up.  He unfolded it, saw the number and slipped it into his pocket.

As Eli, unrepentant, left the confessional booth, he addressed the priest.  “Father Timmons, I’ve made my peace.”  Nothing more was said, it ended as the last word, and Eli left the sanctuary in pursuit.

Eli hunted something that certainly was in league with the devil.  This thing he tracked took no rest, but took everything from him in an instant.  Eli was not sure if it were man or beast, but his soul would not be satisfied until he handed down his own personal judgment upon it.

As he sat in a café listening to the sound of dishes being rattled and street traffic outside, allowing the aroma of a freshly poured black coffee to filter through his sinuses, he reminisced of a quieter time.  His life was not always this tragic.  Matter of fact, his life was very common, routine even.  He was thankful for everything he had.  The disruption of all he knew came unexpectedly, and it came horrifyingly hard and fast.  The calamity brought untold sorrow like he had never known existed.  A cataclysm of horror swept his life clean and left only festering open wounds, stubbornly never healing.  He carried no scars, only the pain of an exposed soul now hell-bent on massacre.

It was a weekend night, and Eli and his wife and small child sat at the dining table as they did every night.  Eli was a police officer at that time, working the day shift, which afforded him family time in the evenings.  There was nothing he cherished more than his wife and little boy.  Near the end of the meal, there was some sort of disruption heard in the garage.  Eli figured he had left the garage door open, and possibly a dog or raccoon was rummaging through his rubbish.  Without much urgency, he left the table and headed in the direction of the garage, which lay just at the end of the hallway.  He heard an unusual growling which did not sound like any dog he had ever heard before.  In this part of the state, there were no bears, and the sound was certainly not coming from a raccoon or any other woodland creature.  He could not imagine what it might be.  He quickly ducked into his bedroom and retrieved his shotgun.

Before he could exit the bedroom, catastrophe struck with insane commotion, and he caught a glimpse of some sort of massive animal of no description he could promptly think of, racing down his hallway toward the kitchen area.  The disturbance had been this creature breaking down the door that led to the garage.  Eli yelled out for his wife to grab the boy as he went in pursuit.  As he entered the kitchen area, his eyes could not believe what they were seeing.  Facing his wife and their child, who she was shielding in her arms, was a massive disfigured beast.  It was neither animal nor man and could only be described as otherworldly; possibly a cryptid, some sort of cross mutation between a Chupacabra and a Mapinguary – neither of which exist, and certainly, there had been no sightings here.  The betrayal of his emotions conflicted with everything he thought he knew.

His wife looked absolutely terrified, blading her body in an attempt to protect their son from this despicable creature beyond conception.  The hideous beast stood, exposing a gaping mouth on its stomach.  It was ghastly veined, and the exposed skin was deeply corrugated.  Eli did not hesitate.  He remonstrated with the loudest voice he had ever used.  “HEY!”  He opened fire, aiming directly at the back of the horrid brute.  It let out a moan as Eli sunk another round into its hairy back.  It never flinched, just groaned as if in discomfort.  Again, a third shot, this time toward the head area.  In a reactive responsive remonstrance, swinging its formidable arm back, it struck Eli, and he and the gun went flying across the room.  His wife let out a scream of terror which Eli would never forget.  As he lay dazed from the attack, his blurry vision caught sight of his wife and child as the monster swept them away in its arms.  In unutterable grief, he found himself helpless to prevent the abduction.  His thoughts swirled, thinking how could this atrophied rudimentary creature even exist, much less storm his house and take the things most precious to him?

It was this night Eli became someone entirely different than the man he was.  Something inside him died on that fateful evening; something emerged from the grave; an indefatigable, fortuitous man whose heart had grown eternally cold.  There would be no surcease to his relentless pursuit.  He did not know where to look or which way to turn.  His report to the investigators made no sense.  There was certainly cause to believe something heinous had occurred, but it was hard for anyone to believe the story of a cryptid-like creature.  Dogs were initially brought in to take up the scent but after an hour of tracking, the trail went cold.  Eli was encouraged to lay low, recover from his broken ribs and to allow the police detectives to do their job.

Eli was not a passive man.  Maybe at one time in his life he would have followed instructions, but not now.  Armed with every bit of survival gear and weaponry he could carry from his arsenal, he attempted his own line of thinking, but it brought him nowhere.  A thought occurred to him some days later when he visited Father Timmons.  When he first visited Father Timmons, the priest told him it was possible he might know a man willing to help him, but he would have to return the next day, and if the man was willing to weigh in on this tragedy, he would pass on his number.  The following day was when Eli met with Father Timmons a second time, and Father Timmons received the go-ahead to share the contact information with Eli.

Eli sat alone in the café, tense expectancy fueled by an inexpressible sensation brought bedlam to his mind as he replayed the attack upon his family, unable to conciliate the strange incident.  He hoped the man highly recommended by Father Simmons would lend his expertise because Eli had nowhere else to turn.

The bell on the café door jingled, and in walked a distinguished-looking man.  His appearance was of prominence, an experienced man, punctilious and probably astute.  He strolled right in a straight line to where Eli was sitting.  Eli stood and extended his hand.

The man nodded first and said, “My name is Doctor Victor Monier.”  The two men shook hands and took a seat.  Eli shared his heartache with Victor and explained he was at an impasse.  He had no options, no leads to pursue, and he humbly said, “I am at your mercy.”

“All may not be lost, Eli,” Victor said.  “There has been something on my radar for some time now.  I receive reports from operatives working clandestinely in many different fields.  Because of my influence and well-established record for taking on the impossible and walking away with positive results, I have retained the services of many capable people throughout the world who feed me information concerning everything from criminal activity to the paranormal.  Now, why I say ‘all may not be lost’ is because just two weeks ago today, a message was conveyed to me of nearby seismic activity of the otherworldly kind, measured by a ghost hunter, who I am proud to say I trained myself.  Theodore Fitton contacted me about the Steel and Iron factory, which had shut down long ago, yet had eerily populated over time with nameless things.  Theodore conducted his own investigations after receiving word of strange occurrences, such as apparitions appearing and disappearing and the report of a beastly monster that roamed the facility.  When I heard your description of the foul beast which stole your wife and child, it matched the description I received from firsthand reports.”

“What IS the damned thing, and what does it want with my wife and child?!” Eli asked dourly.

“When the factory was up and running turning coal and iron into hard steel, it was overseen by a man named James Slag Wormwood.  This man was a hard man, a demanding and evil sort.  His expectations were unrealistic.  He supervised 150 men during the graveyard shift at the plant.  He was said to have been a real slave driver.  The crew could never live up to the demands that were forced upon them.  Legend has it, Wormwood never went to the highest point of the blast furnace as it was something he wasn’t required to do.  But supposedly, on one shift, sometime between sunset and sunrise in this living hell of fire and heat, where the men were not given any breaks, he is said to have gone to the top of ‘Big Alice,’ as they called this blast furnace. Once there, he was overcome by the methane gases, lost his footing and plummeted into the cauldron of melted iron ore.

“Everyone had believed he was gone for good.  Later, it was told, and rumors surfaced, that throughout his affiliation with the plant, he abused the immigrant workers and forced them to slave long hours in ungodly conditions.  There was one exception.  He befriended a man, if the story is to be believed, a gypsy who enticed him to make a pact with the devil.  No one knows the details of this arrangement, but Wormwood falling to his death accidentally made no logical sense.

The other supposition was he broke his contractual agreement with the devil, renounced his vow, lost his authority at the plant and became a marked man.  It is more plausible, according to firsthand accounts, that his own men tossed him into the fire.  Of course, they assumed they had rid the world of this wicked man, yet I am told he was penalized by the devil for violating his agreement and was cursed to return as a monstrous animal, to be hunted by men forever.  I can testify from experience, a breach of statutory laws set by the devil comes with harsh penalties.”

“Let’s just say I believe you.  What do my wife and boy have to do with this?” Eli asked with a fierce glow in his eyes.

“Wormwood might have treated his workers with disdain, but according to all accounts, he loved his wife and children dearly.  My colleagues and I feel it is more than likely he craves a family connection.”

“But why my family?!”

“Happenchance, opportunity, desperation, no one knows.  But, if at all possible, I plan to get them back for you,” Victor’s voice was firm and resolute.

Eli and Victor formulated a scheme right there at the table, and the next day Victor’s associates, Theodore Fitton and 3 others: Peter Blatty, Blake Plantain and Roger Medford, also came to assist. They realized the improbability; Wormwood’s world was inaccessible.  But the doctor had a plan to bring him out in the open, to bring the unreachable up to the surface.

The men arrived together at the abandoned blast furnace site at the stroke of midnight.  Victor had secured more than enough ghost hunting equipment, and he went nowhere without weaponry.  He was not naïve to believe a standard gun would stop a ghost, but it might just stop a beast.

The plant was intimidating, prehistoric, rustic and dark.  It was slowly disintegrating as nature was reclaiming the land where it stood.  The aesthetics were long erased.  Erect sky-high concrete columnar stacks towered, poking up through the framework of the plants’ inner and outer entities as if they were guide posts for things that came from the stars.  There was a complex of stoves visible from where they approached.  Blurred lines of machinery lay ahead through the cobwebs, which clung to every frame like a veil.  Each man carried a flashlight and wore a hard hat equipped with attached lights.  They also carried paranormal equipment: infrared cameras, heat, audio and motion detectors.

Eli saw the pistol strapped to Victor’s hip and said, “I shot that thing three times, Victor, and it never even flinched.”

“You were not loaded with what I have.  I designed my own bullets.  They are toxic to any living thing. The right combination of arsenic-laced tip, mercury concentrate, cadmium, and a very well-defined dose of polonium.  Nothing in the flesh can survive these.”

Eli had never heard of such a thing, but because he now had allies, he would not dare to disagree.

As they entered the plant through the visitor center, a deer who had bedded down there jetted out. This was the first scare of this vegetated, engrossed place.  Going in with high emotions, the next area was the dilapidated cast shed which once covered the area where iron was poured from the number 2 furnace.  The men spread out, forming a line, and proceeded with much caution.  They turned right and followed a gravel pathway onto a wooden walkway which led to the first of the 16 boilers.  Eli tried to imagine how the workers existed in what would have been stifling temperatures.  Everywhere his light shone revealed a mournful past, frozen in time.  To know 47 men had lost their lives here during its operational times brought on a certain kind of indescribable distress.  If his wife and child were locked away within this rotting skeleton, he would not leave until he found them.

Methodically the men advanced along the noisy walkway, taking care with each step, not wanting to test the reliability of the planks.  When they made their way to the stock trestle, stock tunnel and skip hoist, Victor raised his hand for them to stop.  Everyone listened while keeping an eye on their paranormal detector devices.

Peter notified them that he was getting a heat reading on his thermal detector straight ahead.

Victor gave instructions, “Men, below us is a room they called the ‘dog house.’ The pyrometer house is the most secure room in the entire plant.  Stay alert; this might produce results.  Eli, Theodore, come with me, and we will check it out.  The rest of you remain here in case we flush something out.”

The three men descended down until they were in the ‘dog house.’  To their disappointment, it was empty.  Like most of the plant, it was littered with broken contraptions and rundown machinery. Apparatuses were covered in grime and dust as thick as a brick.  The levers to the equipment were all frozen in time.

It was at the precise moment when Victor motioned for the men to return upstairs to the others when a gut-wrenching cry broke the emptiness they had found.  There was a commotion and scuffling overhead as if a vigorous fight was happening.  There was a race up the stairs to see what had caused the horrible chaos, and when the three emerged, they saw the others just pulling themselves up from the floor.

“It was here.  Everything happened so fast.  It tried to grab Roger and almost had him until we jumped onto its back.  It flung us off with no effort at all,” Peter described acrimoniously, still breathing heavily from the mayhem.

“Are you alright, Roger?” Victor asked with concern, seeing the physical evidence of the attack.  Roger had several superficial defensive scratches on his arms and a nasty gash on his palm.  Although the attack left an indelible impression upon Roger, he said, “I’m fine.  Aren’t I always?” Victor, who was a retired physician, quickly treated the wounds and wrapped Roger’s hand with gauze.

“That thing is playing with us.  It could have obliterated us if it had chosen to do so,” Peter said.

“Our plan of stealth and surprise has been thwarted.  Since we have been introduced to the beast, I am of the opinion, worrisomely, we may very well be the hunted now.”

“Just to be sure, do you all believe what attacked you is the same creature that kidnapped my wife and son?” Eli asked, wanting to be sure they were after the right creature.  In his mind, who was to say there wasn’t more than one?

Blake answered with a question, “Big, hairy, gnarly, mouth in its stomach?”

“Yeah, that would be the SOB.”

“Which direction did the foul thing go?” Victor asked.

“Toward the water tower,” Roger said as he rolled his shoulders in obvious discomfort.

“Are you going to be okay?” Blake altruistically asked.

“Aren’t I always?” Roger answered in a dry, benign tone.  He was the guy who usually took the worst punishment on every excursion, but he had incredible perseverance and determination.  He often found himself in precarious situations but always managed to weather every storm.

An odd, sibilant vibration was heard and tingled their skin.  It was a peculiar note as if a machine was running, yet whatever drove it was stuck.  It was a constant haunting sound, adding more suspense to this lugubrious nightmare.

Gradually they approached the water tower, where they came upon five tall cylindrical hot blast stoves. These steel-shelled stoves were lined with heat-resistant brick and filled with tall lattices of fire brick called ‘checkers.’ A sixth blast stove was located around the corner, and the men continued past the turbo blowers, down steps into the Blowing Engine Building.  This was an ominous structure standing thirty feet tall and turned flywheels some 25 feet in diameter.  The steam cylinders along the bottom were practically rusted through.

“If this thing was working, it would blow our eardrums out,” Theodore mentioned as they followed the path to the right of the steps.  A stack of heavy barrels, which were against the far wall, suspiciously collapsed for no reason whatsoever, as if someone or something had yanked the bottom barrel loose. The men went diving out of the path of the avalanche, fortunately not being hit by what appeared to be a deliberate act of sabotage.

“Is everyone good?” Victor asked as he slipped his pistol back into its holster.  No one was injured, but they were very wary.  It appeared they had awakened paranormal and unseen sinister forces.  Exiting through the doorway, they continued right up the stairs and into the Power House.  This Power House was used for electricity in the plant.  Steam from the boilers turned a turbine powering up the generators.

A swelling sound erupted as if someone struck a tree-sized match.  “What was that?!” an excited Roger shouted out.

“Sounds like a furnace has ignited,” answered Victor, who led the way.

“Fundamentally impossible,” Blake commented, stating the obvious.

“It may be inconceivable, but something has awakened a furnace.  This way, quickly,” Victor said as he darted straight down the path, veering left, impressively for a man of his age.  The men followed him to The Water Tower Plaza and jetted up the stairs to the base of the number 1 furnace, which was burning hot.

With great care, trying to exit as it was heating up considerably, they trekked to the end of the amphitheater, through the number 1 Cast Shed to the walkway.  Once they had established themselves on the walkway, they were aghast at the grisly vision floating toward them.  Six transparent men, obviously former workers of the plant, drifted across the walkway just 20 feet in from of them.  Every man had their flashlights targeted on them.  Each of the phantoms had no eyes.  They had been burned blind.  They did not regard the living and crept as if wandering aimlessly away into the dark.

“Gentlemen, we are among the dead and the beastly,” Victor warned.

Below them were the remains of the Sloss Pig Caster and a demolished conveyer belt system.

“There’s nothing here!” Eli said, growing angrier by the minute.  He was losing control and began to shout.  “Come out, you coward!  Give me my wife and kid back!  I am not going to play your foolish games.  Show yourself!”

No one attempted to quieten him.  The men knew he was full of rage and he was looking for a fight. ”Damn you to hell, Wormwood!”

A hideous decrepit voice answered.

“Get back to work, you slacker!”

“Quickly, men, it’s coming from the other side of the Cast Shed,” Victor directed.

Charging ahead, prompt and peremptory, as if mercenaries headed to war, they made incredible strides through the Cast Shed ending up at the Spray Pond.  Other furnaces were igniting with tremendous detonating concussions, which shook the facility.  The bones of the factory creaked and swayed, and there were blasting and imploding noises in every direction.

“Push some steel, slackers!”  The voice was incredibly louder than the cacophony of metal bending and lamenting.  The cryptid finally showed itself.  It was alone, standing on a second-story metal walkway.

“Get back to work!” it shouted with maliciousness and vituperations.

“Where is my family?!” Eli demanded to know.

“You have no family, you slacker.  Push some steel!”  The repulsive cryptid almost grinned.

No one was aware Eli had secretly brought his service gun along.  Instinctively, he fired 15 shots as fast as his .40 cal Glock could fire.  Every bullet found its mark, and although Wormwood let out a rancor growl, he seemed unphased.

“You! Ingrate!  How dare you?” Wormwood leaped from the walkway straight down to where the men had come to a stop.

“This is my plant!  I control the lakes molten with fire.” Wormwood let out a roar, and fire sporadically shot up from locations near the men, some 10 feet high.  No one was harmed, but the heat from this warning left the men astonished; indeed, a look of consternation spread over each face.  Wormwood hurled imprecations at them, enraged and unpredictable.

“Wormwood!” Victor mitigated addressing the beast by name, appealing to what might remain of his human side.

The unbearably disgusting beast, unrecognizable as a man, in all his detestable manifestation, halted in contemplation as if he had not heard his name in ages.

Audaciously agitated, “What did you call me?” Spitting the words out of his abdomen and slobbering a green goo that dangled in a thread from the corner of his mouth.

“You are James Wormwood.  Don’t you remember?” Victor was desperate to keep a thought-provoking dialogue going.  He needed the creature alive in order to find Eli’s family.

By this time, Eli was hysterical and had lost the plot.  He pushed another loaded magazine into his pistol and impulsively brought it up into a firing position.  Theodore recognized this irrational move and, with lightning fast reflexes, disarmed Eli before he could pull the trigger.

Victor gave Eli a look of disapproval.  “Good Lord, man, control your emotions!  We need Wormwood to tell us where your family is!”

Eli held up both hands in humiliated surrender.

“James Wormwood, that’s your name.  Don’t you remember?  You used to work here.  Remember?” Victor was speaking gently, which appeared to be soothing the indignation in the beast.

With a completely different tone, he replied, “I have not heard that name in a very long time.  It means nothing to me!  The man that was no longer exists.  The life before was stolen away by lazy, insolent, ungrateful immigrants!  They did not appreciate anything.”

“You are correct.  The past is the past.  However, this is a new time, a new place.  It doesn’t have to be what it was.  You can start anew,” Victor passively encouraged him.

“I do not know who you are.  Any of you.  I only know what I remember.  My memories are all tragic. Look what they have turned me into!”

Victor had to take a gamble.  “James, listen to me.  You do not want to go on, tormented for ages to come, being hunted like a dog.  This will only increase your anguish.”

“I know, but I have been cursed.  This is my punishment, to be forever imprisoned in this foul body whose reflection I cannot bear to see.  I am a condemned man.”  The gruesome brute bowed its head.

“What if I told you I can free you from the curse?”  When Victor made his suggestion, Wormwood rolled his eyes up to meet Victor’s.

“What do you propose?” Wormwood was indisposed in impermanent thought.

“Give us back Eli’s family, and I will tell you,” Victor said firmly.

“You can free me?”

“Indeed, I can,” Victor spoke assuredly.  “James, listen, you have buried yourself in damnation.  Your temperament has been obscured by hate.  You have never sought or pursued forgiveness.”

“I will agree, but if this is a trick, I will kill all of you without mercy.”  Wormwood’s tone resonated with the sounds of a desperate man.  He led them further down the sidewalk until they came to the Slag Pit. It was a literal pit where molten slag from the factory flowed through a trough and emptied into the pit. The pit was empty now of any burning hot slag.  The only things in the pit were Eli’s frightened wife and son.  Eli ran to the edge, and with help from the other men, they rescued them.  Tears flowed, and they embraced as if they would never let go.

“I have done my part.  Now how can I be free of this curse?”  Wormwood looked desperately hopeful, somewhat interested, almost encouraged that maybe Victor had the answer he sought.

“Theodore, lead everyone out to the entrance.  I shall come along shortly once we have concluded here,” Victor ordered.

Theodore started to object, then rethought it.  He trusted Victor’s instincts because he was the Great Doctor Vincent Monier.  Once his party was out of sight, Victor addressed James Wormwood.

“James, I will break this curse for you.  Do you trust me?”

Wormwood measured Victor with his eyes.  “I do not believe you have given me a choice.”  With terribly pitiful, sad eyes, he gave Victor permission.  He acquiesced any objection to resolve in defeat.

“Do what must be done.  Free me,” James said.

Victor did not hesitate.  He had no second thoughts as he drew his pistol and, with a lightning trigger finger, fired three explosive shots into whatever this hybrid cryptid was.  His bullets were much more effective than those which Eli had fired earlier.  Wormwood was not surprised this happened but was astonished that peace came so quickly.

James Wormwood was dead, the monster vanquished, and the curse was broken.  Nothing from hell or regions beyond could bring life back into the creature that now lay in the slag pit.

Victor returned to his group and explained.  “It was regrettable; however, any wounded animal suffering beyond any conventional means of restoration should not suffer another moment in this life. I did what had to be done.  We will call it…death by misadventure.”

Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Dale Thompson
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Dale Thompson

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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