Letters from Unsung Heroes: The Train – Bruce Thomas

Dear Sam

I hope this letter reaches you. I’m trapped aboard a train with many others and I fear for our lives. Considering it’s been two days and no one has shown up to help, I believe someone wants us to die. Allow me to recount the events that have transpired since I began my journey to West Hampshire.

When the train left Bethany roughly two days ago by my estimation, nothing seemed amiss. In fact, I recall enjoying a late coffee and English muffin in the dining car almost immediately after I got on board as I had missed breakfast. I took my time making sure to savor every last bite as I knew it would be the last I would get to eat until lunch time barring some fruit that is kept out for anyone who wants something to snack on. Aside from the one member of the wait staff who was attending to me, I cannot recall another soul in the dining car except for a small child who ran through excitedly and a rather plump mustachioed man reading the newspaper with his coffee. When I was finished, I left some change as a tip and made my wait to my seat in the car behind.

For a train with one hundred and ninety-six people on it (staff included according to the registry I later found) my car seemed surprisingly empty. I chalked it up to the train’s new “Scenic Car” at the rear which I’ve heard is absolutely breathtaking. It was all as well to me. It’d give me some quiet time with my newspaper. However, it was nearly halfway into the tunnel by my estimation that the train lost power and came to a stop. It’s wasn’t a sudden stop or even the train slowing down at the hand of the conductor. It just lost power and slowed down until it came to a full stop.

I waited quite some time before I eventually arose from my see. Though I could see nothing, I could hear people frightenedly returning from the Scenic Car, groping their way back to their seats. A few of them used lighters or matches. Some of the more prepared ones had a small hand flashlight that they used. There was a lot of talk and worry, though no one had gone into panic mode yet. As time passed, people gradually grew more and more annoyed and began bickering, though nothing led to any violence, not in my car at least. Eventually, when night came, or at least what we assume was night by checking a pocket watch, we all went down for a very uneasy sleep.

When we awoke, everyone was groggy and grumpy, though no one really had anything to say. Most people got up and stepped off the train where the air wasn’t so stuffy. In fact, there was a gentle coolness outside. Though we couldn’t see anything except by the few matches and cigarette glows, it was really refreshing. Holding up my lighter to the walls, I could see that this train tunnel wasn’t much of a tunnel. Instead of being something expertly built, it was literally just a hole carved through a mountain just big enough to get a train through with some tracks laid down. No smooth walls or ground to be found whatsoever. How anyone ever considered this tunnel finished was beyond me, but it’s been used for well over a hundred and fifty years, so who am I to judge. Still, one would think it would’ve at least been modernized for safety reasons.

As the day went on, or at least I think it was day, I slowly made my way towards the front of the train. The people in forward cars seems strangely relaxed to their situation. Trying to make the best of it I suppose. Better than terror and panic, that’s for sure. The front three cars of the train are for authorized personnel only, so I was pleasantly surprised when the first door to the restricted part of the train was unlocked.

 There were twenty-eight narrow beds built into the walls in this car which meant that this was the crew’s sleeping quarters during those really long journeys. The beds didn’t have any blankets or pillows or anything. They just had backpacks and personal belongings which leads me to believe that this car hasn’t been used for sleeping in quite a long time. Instead, it was just being used as a place for the crew to stow their stuff. I rummaged through a few of the backpacks. Found some snacks, a couple of flashlights, first aid kit, and some random junk. The flashlights would be handy as it meant I wouldn’t have to use my lighter to see all the time.

 The next car was clearly a break area. There was a small refrigeration unit, a table with some cards, some lockers, etc. Not much else. The next door led to the engine of the train, but it was locked. I cursed under my breath and went back to the sleeping quarters and began rummaging through everything for a key, but couldn’t find anything. Cursing again, I made my way back to the passenger car. A young girl was waiting outside by the door. She smiled at me as she chewed a piece of gum. Asked me if I had found anything. I handed her a candy bar and showed her a few flashlights. She had a sly way of telling through my disappointment that I wasn’t finished looking, but couldn’t get any further. I’m not really sure what it was, though she knew there was something else upfront that I couldn’t get to but wanted to. So she asked what’s stopping me. When I told her a locked door, she pulled a couple of bobby pins from behind her ears. They weren’t holding her hair in place which lead me to believe she had skills that were less than reputable. Still, I was glad she had them.

After going back in, she began to work at picking the lock of the door to the engine right away. She asked me not to point the flashlight at it as it would only distract her. Upon inquiring where she learned to do this sort of thing, she just smiled at me and winked without ever slowing down. I asked her for her name. She told me Nina and that was it. And almost immediately, the door opened.

We stepped inside and pointed the flashlight to see a body slouched awkwardly over the controls. It was the engineer. He was dead. It looked like the side of his head had been slammed into the side of the wall with enough force to kill him. Inspecting the trauma, his head was actually quite soft at the point of impact and I could feel little pieces of bone sliding around underneath his skin. Strangely, there was no blood, broken flesh or bruising. It was as though the bone on one side of his skull just suddenly shattered inside of his head and killed him. I honestly don’t know what could kill a man in such a way and quite frankly, I don’t know if I want to find out.

As I returned to the front with Nina, I decided to keep quiet about what I saw. No telling how the others would react to such news. The Postman will be taking my letter to you. I feel it my duty to attempt to maintain the safety of the other passengers here despite what little good it’ll probably end up doing. Should you receive this, send help.

Regards

Bruce Thomas

Letters from Unsung Heroes: The Train – Gunther

Martin,

I believe I watched a man die yesterday. He was just sitting there in the dark, the only light coming from the match of the person next to him trying to see out the window. It was a rather frightening thing to see. He was just sitting there peaceably to himself with his hands folded in his lap when suddenly, his entire body tensed up and his eyes rolled back into his head. His mouth opened wide as if to gasp but no sound came out. Then his body just slumped back into his seat and he hasn’t moved since. The bastard sitting next to him didn’t even seem to notice. Just kept looking out the window until the matched burned to and scorched the tips of his fingers. After that, I couldn’t see anything.

I fear this train ride may be my undoing, Martin. We’ve been stranded in this blasted tunnel for two whole days now. Why hasn’t anyone come yet? Bah! It’s all rubbish now, isn’t it? Well, I’m not waiting to die. There’s a letter carrier here who’s decided to venture out of the tunnel and get help. He’s also offered to deliver any letters people might have so that their friends and what not may know what’s going on. I’ve offered my company to the bloke. The way I see it, I don’t want to die here with the rest of the poor sops and if something really terrible has come, well, he’s gonna need some help. It’s a win-win for the both of us really. Now I’m just waiting for him to tell me he’s ready and we’ll be off.

Martin, it fucking spooky out here, I have to tell you. I’m standing outside the train writing this letter by the light of my cigar. It so quiet that you can hear a drop of water fall from much further down the tunnel. You’d think I’d be able to hear all the people on the train moving around and talking, but really they’re not doing much of anything. Aside from the occasional polite conversation, it’s extremely quiet. It’s as though some uncomfortable acceptance has overtaken them. All the more reason for me to get the fuck out of here. I seriously don’t want to be around when whatever happens happens.

Well, looks like he’s coming, so I’d best put this away. Nice! Looks like he managed to get his hands on a flashlight. This little walk’s going to be easier than I thought. Hope to see you on the other side, mate.

-Gunther

Letters from Unsung Heroes: The Train – unsigned

Dear mother,

I am right now on the train to grandmother’s house. A splendid vehicle this is. Did you know that trains have dining tables? Really, they do. It’s a special car where you go to eat. Have you ever eaten in a vehicle, mother? I plan I shall do so come noon. That’s when the schedule says they serve lunch.

I can’t wait to tell grandmother all about my train ride. I love looking out the windows to the countryside. It’s so beautiful to look at. Especially on such a sunny day like today.

Wow! We just entered a tunnel. It’s so neat and dark outside the windows yet the lights make it so cheerful inside. I want to live on a train, mother. I can’t imagine a better way to live.

<unsigned>

Letters from Unsung Heroes: The Train – Ester Heraldine

Dear Mildred

Pardon my lateness but I have been stuck on the train for almost two whole days. There seems to have been a power outage of some sort and we’re stranded in the tunnel. I’m not sure how much longer it shall be, but I hope the power is restored soon; people seem to be getting restless. I admit, it is a long time to sit and my legs are getting a bit stiff. I imagine people would like to get out and stretch their legs a bit. I’ve noticed some men have stepped outside to smoke their tobacco.

Listen Mildred, you know I’m no prude and I know people need to de-stress, but don’t they realize how awful that tobacco is? Why, the Collins boy, you remember Jimmy, well he died a few months back from emphysema. He was only forty-three years old. I think it was due to all that tobacco he smoked. I heard that he smoked two or sometimes three of those little cigarette boxes a day. He didn’t care none what it did to him. He just liked the way it made him feel. Can you imagine? He tried to hide it, but I cannot fathom that he enjoyed all that coughing. I think he just had too much pride to admit he was wrong. There’s a reason pride is a deadly sin and the Collins boy is proof.

Speaking of sin, I’m beginning to think this train is turning into a haven for the devil. I saw this older man flirting with a young girl who couldn’t be anymore than twenty-three and then walk off into a restricted part of the train. I think they were up to some hanky-panky. It’s simply disgusting the brazenness some people will have in a public setting. At least the queer boy in the next row over seems to know enough to hide his shame in public and not flaunt it. He just remains quiet and keeps to himself. I wonder if anyone has talked to him about Jesus yet? Perhaps I should go sit with the boy after I hand this letter over to the nice postman. He seems like such a sweet child. It’d be a shame for him to burn in Hell on account of his sin.

Also, I’ve heard a few people using foul language. It seems the more time we spend on this train, the more obscenities I hear. It’s as though Satan himself has grabbed ahold of these people’s tongues. Why, it’s making me just a little bit frightened. Hearing someone utter the word “blast” is bad enough, but some of these words begin with f and d. I even heard a word that began with the letter c. I don’t know what it meant but I did know that it was horribly offensive.

Not all is bad though. Some people are making the best of their time. One gentleman appears to be writing a correspondence to someone by match light as to not wake up the gentleman sleeping next to him. It’s so sweet to see someone being careful not to disturb those around him. I, myself, am actually writing to you by oil lamp.

In case you’re wondering, it was found in your sister’s attic. Apparently, it had belonged to your great-great-grandfather. He was a seaman of sorts and took this lamp everywhere he went. It lit his cabin on the boat and his way when he walked. It helped him to deal with a great many foggy nights. Anyhow, I was visiting your sister for tea and told of how I was coming to visit you. That’s when she sprang up and told me to wait as she ran into the other room. When she returned, she was holding this oil lamp. That’s when she told me all about the lamp and its history. She asked me if I would bring it to you because you so love to study family history. It even has the initials MHD carved into the side for Martin Henry Dennison; the same initials as you. A find like this is ever so delightful. And even though it hadn’t been used in over a hundred years, it was still full of oil.

I’d hope to have it all preserved for you when I arrived but it is ever so dark in here and I needed some light source some of the time. But, you’ll be pleased to know that it works splendidly and the light that it casts is most comforting. I cannot wait to hand it to you when I arrive. I hope that this letter reaches you in good fortune. And don’t worry for me. I have many other activities to keep me company. I brought my crosswords and my knitting. I cannot wait to see you again. Ta-ta!

Your friend
Ester Heraldine

Letters from Unsung Heroes: The Train – Johnathan Millowsborough

Dearest Joseph,

I am writing to inform you of the delay of my arrival. The train leading into West Hampshire from Bethany seems to have fallen into disrepair on the tracks inside of a tunnel. It’s quite dark in here and I am writing to you by match light. Genevieve was wrong to laugh at my purchase of one thousand wooden matches. She was also wrong to laugh at my bringing of quill and ink with me. “What if I were to get trapped in tunnel?” I protested. Looks like I have the last laugh now.

We’ve been trapped in here for about two days now and the cabin is beginning to stink. I believe the man next to me to have suffered an aneurysm and passed onto the next life a day and a half ago. I’m surprised that no one has been dispatched to come help. This train ride was only to be six hours journey and it broke down merely two hours into the trip. I find it difficult to believe that no one has thought to investigate.

A postmaster who has grown justly impatient has announced that he will collect any letters we have and deliver them to their loved ones free of charge. He’ll be traveling by foot and by my estimation, there are at least three or four miles left in this dark tunnel, so it is my hope that someone has a flashlight that they can lend the gentleman. Otherwise, I shall fear for his safety.

Should this letter reach you before I, good Joseph, please send help right away. This has been a terrible that we are all in and we desperately need help.

Respectfully

-Johnathan Millowsborough

Imaginary Fear

You know that feeling when it’s late and you’re tired.  You know the one.  You just got back home from being with your friends.  You stayed out all night and watched a bunch of horror movies.  Or maybe you’ve been up the past few hours reading creepy stories in a book or on your computer screen.  You know it’s all silly and you had a good time.  You’ve entertained yourself and now it’s time for bed.

You’re at home by yourself like every night, but now your imagination is working overtime and your senses are heightened.  Those little sounds that you don’t normally notice; you now hear every one of them.  The little glints of light and reflections that you never paid any mind to before are now only fueling your imagination.  An imagination that is currently writing and telling you stories which you do not need to hear right now.

You walk into the kitchen and shut off the lights and can’t help but glance over at the window.  Is something out there?  Nah.  That’s silly kids stuff.  You laugh it off and go through the living room turning out the lights and as you do, you feel a slight need to take a glance over your shoulder.  What are you nervous of?  You do this every single night.  Why is tonight any different?

You laugh and shake your head thinking to yourself about how foolish you’re acting and that you need to get to sleep before work.  Walking into the bathroom, you grab your toothbrush and toothpaste and begin brushing your teeth as if everything is back to normal.  But then you look in the bathroom mirror.  In it you see a dark area.  Maybe it’s the bathroom closet or perhaps a reflection of another room through the doorway.  And though you know damn well that nothing is there, you still feel as though you can see something in that dark area through your mirror and you can’t help but slowly take a look over your shoulder just to make sure.

Goodness, what the hell is wrong with you?  Are you actually starting to believe your imagination?  You spit the toothpaste into the sink and laugh again, only this time it’s more forced.  Then you let out a nervous chuckle at yourself.  This is ridiculous.  You can’t help but laugh at the sheer absurdity of forcing yourself to laugh to calm your fears.  But then you catch a glimpse of one of those dark areas again.  The closet.  The kitchen.  It makes no difference.  What ever area that catches your eye, it sends chills through your body and you don’t know why.

As you leave the bathroom, you pause at the door and hold your finger over the light switch, staring at whatever direction happens to be the way to your bed, perhaps even taking a slow look around your surroundings.  When you’re ready, you flip the switch and a make kind of awkward half run, half walk towards your bedroom, perhaps accompanying it with some awkward sounds of fear and maybe a bit of giggle as if to reassure yourself that there’s nothing there, yet you still move with haste anyways.  Depending on the type of person you are, you may stop at the bedroom doorway or keep moving.  Either way, the result is always the same.  You never actually crawl into bed or even really get near it like you normally do.  You kind of leap into the bed so your feet aren’t within any reaching distance from the bottom of the bed.  You know there’s nothing under there, but your imagination says otherwise.

As soon as you’re in the bed, you quickly pull the covers up high and, if your bed is against a wall, you roll against it, back to the rest of the room.  Hopefully, your pillow hasn’t fallen onto the floor.  You really don’t want to have to reach down to get it.  You just want to go to sleep and let your imagination pass.  And you try to go to sleep, perhaps attempting to think happy thoughts.  If your imagination will let you.  But what if, what if it wasn’t your imagination acting up?  What if there really was something there?  What if you shouldn’t go to sleep?

Nothing to be Afraid of

Such a peaceful relaxing night it’s been. Sitting there at your desk digging away through the splendors of the internet; or perhaps you’re sitting upon your bed or a comfy chair sloughing through a good book. It doesn’t really matter what it is you’re doing at the moment. You could be working on a puzzle for all that matters. The point is that it’s an incredibly peaceful night. And it’s these nights, my friend, that are the most fear inducing.

No, it’s not those stormy nights like the books always tell tales about. The crash of thunder, the flashes of lightning, and the loud pats of rainfall are all joys to the mind that reassure it everything will be alright. No, my dear friend, it’s those quiet peaceful nights that cause the greatest fear, the most internal panic. At least with a storm you know something is happening, but not with a peaceful night. No. Those are the nights where upon you finishing your activity whatever it may be, your mind suddenly becomes aware of the nothing that is going on.

Take for instance this very thing you are reading right now. Chances are that you are reading this on your monitor late in the evening, perhaps with some other creepy tales you’ve found on the world-wide web. Perhaps time has passed and this has somehow made its way to the Kindle or print format. Whatever format your current fancy, I believe it is safe to assume that you were most likely bored and decided to read some tales to tickle your imagination. What you may not have noticed is that the odds are in favor of it being an unexpectedly peaceful night.

Sure, you may sit up and take notice out the window at this very instant and hear the conversations of passersby or the sounds of rain and thunder. You laugh as think to yourself, “Ah-ha! But you are wrong Mr. Storyteller. It is indeed a normal evening.” And you, sir, would be a fool. It is not the now when you shall notice the nothing, but the then.

As you continue to read, your mind will slowly, but surely, begin to forget the words that I have just laid before you moments ago. Perhaps it will be by the end of this warning or perhaps you will read a few more stories. Perhaps it may be an evening where you are performing another quiet but solitary activity, but mark my words, by the time you are done you will forget and then you shall notice the nothing.

I can tell you precisely when it will happen, too! It will happen when you are finished reading and decide to retire for the evening. It will happen when you turn off your monitor, power down your Kindle, or close your book. That is when you will notice the nothing. Not a sound will come from the outside. Not the sound of rain, nor wind, nor automobile, nor man, nor cricket. If there are street lights at your home, they will either work perfectly or not at all. Not a flicker nor moving shadow shall be seen from them. Creaky floor boards and pipes will be unusually silent unless you are the one to cause them to do so with heavy footsteps or a turn of the faucet.

You’ll probably go into the bathroom to brush your teeth, but the nothing that you have now perceived has caused your mind to panic, looking for things that aren’t there and listening intently for even the slightest of noises. As you turn on the faucet, it seems so loud. It should be comforting, but the knowledge of the nothing has caused your brain to panic and now the normal comfort of the sound of rushing water serves only to distract you from it. You turn it off and brush your teeth, watching the mirror with suspicion. You will freeze slightly under the feeling that you may see something from the other room in the reflection watching you.

You’ll laugh and tell yourself there is nothing there. And you would be right. Nothing is there. Nonetheless, you’ll rinse with relative quickness just in case. After perhaps doing any other bathroom business, you will make your way through the home making sure all the doors are locked and all the lights are out. And though you know for certain that nothing is there, your brain tells you that something is there in the nothing and as such, you have to look anyhow. Every window, every open closet, and the space between the bed and the floor is carefully eyed with cautious diligence. Just in case.

Getting into bed, you’ll probably chuckle about how silly you’re being. It’s just your mind acting up from reading ghost stories all night. But wait…you weren’t reading ghost stories this time were you? You were reading Huck Finn. Or where you up all night working on your taxes? It doesn’t matter. The point is, you could have been doing anything when you noticed the nothing.

You will get to sleep relatively quickly. Sure, you may be on edge a bit, but the nothing won’t keep you awake and you’re tired. In the morning you will wake up refreshed, most likely forgetting how unnatural the nothing was the night before. Or if you do remember it, you’ll probably have a good laugh of it with your friends and share a few stories.

The scientists say these incidents are our minds just playing little tricks on us and they would be right most of the time. Yet as disconnected as we may be, we cannot be fully separated from nature and everyone knows, albeit subconsciously, that nothing is completely unnatural. What if one night you were to learn that there really is nothing to be afraid of?

The Unforgiving Christ

Deep beneath the Vatican is an immaculate painting of our Lord, Jesus the Christ, crucified upon the cross.  Painted entirely in browns and dark flesh tones, this painting is the most realistic representation of Christ’s death ever to exist.  And it is locked away in the deepest recesses of the Vatican in lone room long forgotten.  Where it came from, nobody knows, but the dark secret it keeps is one that strikes the very soul.

Legend has it that it was discovered in the rubble of a long fallen down home in early 17th century Germany by a young Lutheran minister.  As the tale goes, he would go through the cemetery into the forest behind his church.  There was an old footpath that had been overgrown with tree roots and various foliage that led to the house of an old Catholic Priest that had died a few centuries before the reformation.  Stories surrounding the old Priest’s home and his acquirements caused rumors to rise up and the church was soon abandoned.  After the Protestant Reformation, a group of Lutherans restored the old church and used it for worship.

The second pastor to minister to this Lutheran congregation found tranquility in nature and would often go out to the woods when he wasn’t needed and just walk.  One day, he came upon the Priest’s old house.  He did nothing that first time but shrug it off and return back to the church.  In the church archives left over from its Roman Catholic history, however, he found records of all the previous Priests and learned that the house belonged to one of the later ones.  With this information, he grew excited to see what documents and artifacts he might be able to find in the old house and so he would make daily treks to the old church.

The Lutheran pastor would paw through the rubble, but for the most part he would find nothing of value.  That is, until one day, he looked through the window of an old fallen down wall and saw what appeared to be a framed portrait.  He couldn’t make out what it was of, but it looked as though it was intact.  It took many days to carefully break away the wall and rubble that surrounded without damaging the item, but he eventually got it, a portrait of great size.

He picked up the large portrait and held it out.  It was very large at three feet in height.  It was also very filthy and he could barely make out what it was.  Deciding that it must be cleaned up, he placed it under his arm as best he could and steadied it with his other hand as he began to walk back.

However, as he walked back, he found himself becoming increasingly depressed for no explainable reason.  The portrait grew heavy in its frame and the normally reasonable walk seemed to drag on for much longer.  When he approached the church cemetery, the sun had gone down and tears of mental anguish slowly rolled down his cheeks.  He couldn’t carry it much further, it was simply too much for him to handle.  So the pastor entered the church and left it in the narthex and then went home.

That night was very restless for him and his wife and child could see it in his face when he arose in the morning, still full of sorrow.  After breakfast, he went to the church to clean up the portrait which took the better part of the day.  As it became more and more clean, he became more and more distressed, cursing himself and all that he was.  And when he finished, the eyes of a crucified Jesus stared down upon him.  Judging him.  Condemning him.  And he broke down in tears as he all at once knew all of his sins.  He pleaded for forgiveness, but he found none.

It was almost midnight before he returned home.  He collapsed in a heap as he fell through the door, exhausted from repentance and tears.  His wife found him the next morning lying in the doorway sleeping soundly as could be as peasants outside looked at him in awe.  With the help of a neighbor, she got him inside and into bed.  When he finally woke up, he just began apologizing for his sins.  Every sin.  Sins that he never even knew he had committed but now remembered in every detail.

He stayed at home for a few weeks and over time he recovered.  The lord Jesus Christ had forgiven him of his every sin and he knew it.  God’s mercy through Christ’s blood shed on the cross had covered all his sins and he was glad.

The following Sunday, church services resumed as normal.  Parishioners were fed the flesh and blood of Christ.  Sins were forgiven.  Spirits were high.  And there was much rejoicing.

 Sometime after the service after he thought all had left, he heard a terrible weeping coming from the Narthex.  Under a table, he found a small child crying uncontrollably.  It was a boy and he was babbling over and over about how sorry he was, and that’s when the pastor saw it.  The painting he’d found had been shoved behind the table, and there was Jesus looking back at him, dying on the cross.  The pastor removed the boy and took him home to his mother before returning and examining the painting.

Just as before, he felt the complete guilt of all his sins at once.  He prayed for forgiveness and repentance in the Lord but received none.  He exhausted himself in sorrow and passed out on the floor.  When he eventually awoke, the anguish was still there as strong as ever.

The story goes that he was eventually dragged out of the church and taken to a hospital where doctors and preachers tried to nurse his mind back to health, but to no avail.  Nothing could convince him that he was forgiven.  They say he eventually killed himself by bashing his head against the stone walls of the hospital when he was left alone one day, a sin in the eyes of the church, but probably for the better.

As for the old church, rumors of demon possessions and evil sprang up and caught like wildfire.  The church was soon abandoned and slowly over time fell into disarray.

The painting would not turn up again until the late 19th century when some children playing in the woods came upon the old church, now over grown with plants.  They found the painting covered with dust rubble, but still intact.  Knowing their father was a man of the arts, they brought it home to show him what they’d found, although they were significantly depressed by the time they returned.

He sent them to bed with good tidings.  When his wife went to bed, he began to clean the painting.  And he felt the weight of all his sins.  And no forgiveness.

When his wife awoke in the morning, she found him dead, his wrists slit and straight razor lying limp in his hand.  Against the fireplace was the portrait of crucified Jesus, immaculately cleaned. And he judged her.  And she felt the weight of her sins.  And she found no forgiveness.

It was days before she was found.  She was next to her husband.  Dead with their two children.  She died of slit wrists and the children of impalement.

The painting moved around pretty quickly at this point, racking up quite a few deaths in mere weeks.  The Vatican heard about it and it was sent for it to be investigated, but only on holy ground.  It was covered, boxed up, and sent to Rome where it was to be examined on the holiest ground.

The group examining suffered from extreme guilt and it took weeks of being away from the portrait with constant supervision and consultation before they could feel the forgiveness and go back to their work.  It was decided that the painting must be destroyed, but when the time came, the guilt overcame them and they could not bring themselves to destroy such an image of their lord.

They covered it with a sheet and left it locked alone in a room for weeks on end until they could once again feel Christ’s mercy.  They called in a Priest who had no former contact with it to take it to the most recessed, dark, and unused areas of the Vatican and lock it in.  And it has been there since and still is to this day.  Nary an individual has seen it for over a hundred years.  Yet on occasion, someone will go down to the dark room to leave a strange trinket with specific instructions no to touch anything.  Those who go down say they feel an uneasiness about the whatever is under the sheet and express that, for no apparent reason, they begin to feel shame and sorrow.  When they ask about it, those who know of the portraits existence grow cold and simply tell them that, “The Devil works in mysterious ways.”