This article is part of the Fur Trapper Saga series.

Following the example of my Lord God, I am wont to tarry upon the Sabbath to survey my works. Throughout my many years in the fur business I have claimed many trophies and built many monuments: my menagerie of human skeletons, bleached and arranged in the iconic postures of combat; my garden of lethal traps, many still fragrant with the curdled blood of beasts and solicitors; my unsurpassed quarry of teeth. Though some may be more terrifying to outsiders, none among them holds so much wonder for me as my pitch-black well, for despite its relative modesty it is the darkest and most inhumane of all my ventures.

Many years ago, a young orphan came under my employ after I struck his family dead with a boar's jawbone (I recall not what drove me to the deed, but I fondly remember the cruelty of it). He was a slothful and obstinate child, and though I yelled myself hoarse, I could not persuade him to take the life of an animal. So aroused was my pique that I devised a method of revenge against the babe: through evil, honey-coated whisperings, I impressed upon him the idea that his parents were alive and well, and buried in my yard beyond the trap garden. I lovingly crafted a makeshift spade out of a broom-handle and his own mother's pelvis, and I left him to dig.

When I returned some days later, I found that the child had dug himself into an inescapable hole, nearly five yards in depth, and I was mightily impressed by the diligence of his endeavor. Truly, thought I, I had found my deserving heir! I offered him my hand to assist him from his self-made prison, but of course he was quite dead.

My momentary disappointment quickly gave way to hearty laughter, and for many years I exercised variations of the same amusing ploy to persuade orphans and retardates to dig themselves to death. In a few short decades, my terrible well had become so deep that I could no longer see the bottom of it, and gazing into its inky depths became a favorite habit of mine.

And it was on a Sunday, countless months ago, when my ordeal began. As I stood above the hole, happily meditating upon the futile, misguided efforts of the laborers who created it, there came a sharp crack across the back of my neck and I felt myself plunge headlong into the blackness.

As I fell for what seemed a significant slice of eternity, I wasted not a moment ruminating on who shoved me in, or why. I am an evil man and I have visited suffering upon thousands of innocents, all of whom are perfectly entitled to their revenge. I felt no resentment toward my attacker, nor any desire to extract satisfaction from him; I could only assume that I had already harmed him in some unusually cruel way, and pure statistics promised that, if I survived, I would surely harm him again one day.

Happily, I landed with nothing but a soft splash. Though I had fallen a great distance, my impact was dampened by the jellied remains of the dozens, maybe hundreds of laborers who had dug my well. I was unfazed, for I knew that the pit contained enough bones to build a perfectly serviceable ladder that would carry me to freedom. But, as I looked above to apprehend the depth, a more serious concern emerged: whoever had cast me into the hole was now raining great stones down upon me, probably in an effort to kill me.

I have yet to be faced with credible evidence that I can be killed; many have tried, and all have failed. I can, however, be knocked quite entirely unconscious, and on that day I was.

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About this series

The esteemed P. B. Fouke, villainous J. F. Swanton and technocratic blowhard A. P. Brown battle for fur market supremacy in this series of old-timey dispatches.

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