This October is special in the Toy Photographers community. Our collaborative project united the real talents, masters of ink and paints. They do their best, sharing their vision of what happened to John – a mystery that happily coincided with the Halloween season… Today Teddi (@mightysmallstories on Instagram) prepared an amazing show that won’t allow anyone to stay indifferent to the characters’ destiny!
I couldn’t stop John, and my friend ran into the darkness of the night.
I followed him as he disappeared into the strip of woods between us and the sea. Moonlight created shadowy snakes on the dirt path from the twisted shapes of tree branches, and my heart raced from more than just the running. At last, I burst from the cover of the woods and saw John already halfway to the dock, where a familiar female silhouette awaited.
“Wait,” I cried, “Remember what Reeves said. Remember what you told me! She means you harm!”
But my friend did not slow until he reached the woman on the dock. He halted suddenly, as if a strong hand caught and held him still, just outside arm’s reach of her. I could hear the murmur of the woman’s voice, but the words were not clear. Then she took John’s hand and began to lead him toward the end of the dock.
A ship was anchored further out at sea, but no rowboat or dinghy was in sight, and I feared she would lead him straight off the planks into the deep. My boots crossed the dock with hollow thunder as I raced past the two and blocked their path, knowing that I was the only thing standing between my dear friend and his untimely end.
“John, you must resist her!”
John pulled away, and the woman turned on him, a fearsome grimace on her moonlit features.
“You cannot resist! You are mine!”
John was frozen in place, obviously caught, like a fly in a spider’s web. Somehow, I had to break the spell.
“Balderdash, you foul creature! This man’s life is none but his own.”
“Not if he has given it to me!”
John’s clenched teeth parted and he groaned. “She’s too strong, Doctor… save yourself…”
“I’m in no danger, and you wouldn’t be if you only understood! She has no power but that which you give her!”
John’s eyes widened, and he began to shake violently. The woman growled, reached for John and then clenched her fist as if to cling to his very soul. But her arm began to shake. John was realizing he could resist.
“Yes, John, that’s it!”
With a final, wordless cry from both parties, John and the woman stumbled apart from each other. John recovered himself and dashed over to stand behind me.
“Doctor, you were right. I was the one who had given her that power over me.”
I addressed the woman firmly.
“Now, go! Return to whatever dark dimension you came from, and never come back. This man is PROTECTED. Not only by me, but by the revelation that he has authority over his own soul.”
The shadows at the woman’s feet seemed to gather and then coalesce into solid, writhing tentacles that rose and surrounded her like an unholy nimbus. Gusts of chill wind blustered and swirled around us as she was lifted into the air by unseen forces. Screeching curses and unintelligible gibberish, she flew past us toward the ship that waited out at sea. Her dark silhouette merged with the ship’s shadows. A moment later, with a remarkable and unnatural lurch, the entire vessel tilted and dove, bow-first into the waves and disappeared.
I don’t know how long John and I sat on the end of that dock, staring at the waves in wordless and weary communion. The passage of time is a strange, wobbly thing, stretching to unexpected lengths or collapsing into a single blink. And this time when I blinked, it seemed the sun had leapt over the horizon without the slow increase of a normal dawn—and quite suddenly it was morning. Shaking his head as if to clear it, and resettling his top hat, John scrambled to his feet and reached out a hand to help me up.
I accepted it, but grumbled, “Don’t treat me like an old man.”
Grinning John said, “Then don’t act like one.”
I gave him my most intimidating eyebrow-wiggle and turned to lead the way off the dock. “Do try and keep up, youngster.”
Shaking off the remaining chill of the night’s events, we walked side by side across the beach to the path leading through the woods to the house. Instead of indulging in speculation about the nature of the creature, we found comfort in considering the nature of our coming breakfast.
What a thoughtful and emotional work! Teddi is a brilliant storyteller who suggested some strong and impressive themes to the readers: The sincere fear of the friend’s life was shown on full display at the moment of danger, and then hidden with the characters’ touching grumbling. But there is also a serious idea that became the base of John’s adventure: It’s the freedom of a human’s soul and secret power of will that saves him from the monster. We can see the deep insight into the characters’ relationships. It seems that the author has known them for a long time. I really enjoyed the “screen adaptation!” Have a look at the final shot: Doctor and John’s expressions perfectly correspond to how they’re described. Thank you so much for your creativity and imagination, Teddi!
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has something to say…
It’s the second time I’ve admired the coincidences that I see in our participants’ posts. As I said, “John Barrington Cowles” is a story written by Arthur Conan Doyle and the basis of our project. The writers didn’t know this fact, but Teddi definitely has an artistic intuition. She guessed a very important detail from the original!
Teddi: “A ship was anchored further out at sea, but no rowboat or dinghy was in sight, and I feared she would lead him straight off the planks into the deep.”
Original: “When the moon shone out between the clouds I could catch a glimpse of John’s dark figure, running rapidly in a straight line, as if to reach some definite goal. It may have been imagination, but it seemed to me that in the flickering light I could distinguish a vague something in front of him—a shimmering form which led him onwards. Then he disappeared, and that was the last ever seen by mortal eye of John Barrington Cowles.”
Yes, this is the real finale. But Teddi proves that even a scary story can have a happy ending.