By Gabriel McSherry
Note: After High Place burned to the ground, Francis decided to return and search the wreckage for any surviving traces of darkness left behind. In his search he stumbled across a small metal safe which carved in the side read: PROPERTY OF HOWARD DOYLE. He brought it down to the nearest blacksmith where they were able to melt the lock.
What they found inside were a few sketches that just seemed to be scribbles more likely than anything of meaning, and a small black leather book. The book cover had nothing on it, but when Francis opened it, the first page read Excerpts from H. Doyle 1683. Francis thanked the blacksmith, gave him some coin to keep quiet and sailed back St. Martin, a tropical Island located in the British Virgin Islands.
On his return, the night was stormy for there was a hurricane brewing somewhere off the coast. The boat barely docked safely. He rode horse and buggy to the small manor overlooking the bay where Noemi was waiting. Francis dared not look in the book until he felt safe with Noemi by his side. Once they were together sitting on the warm wooden floor with their only light source being two candles and the frequent enormous flash of lightning outside, they began to read…
June 12, 1683
We have been at sea for months. One hundred and fifty we set out with from Bristol now reduced to forty-four due to weather, mutiny, and disease. The mutiny was carried out by our cook who had a taste for blood. He was killed in the process. You would be proud of me Nathaniel; I held my ground. That is why I am a survivor. Quinn is our new leader, and he has taken quite a shine to me. He claims that once we land in the Americas, only the fittest will have survived. He claims there is this new species we are hunting for, something that few know exist.
June 18, 1683
We’ve landed in a port so rotten that even the birds would rather stay at sea. There are only forty of us left; the previous four were caught conspiring below deck on a second mutiny against Quinn. The four men were decapitated and thrown overboard. Nathaniel, all this violence is becoming unbearable.
Quinn states that it is the locals who will bring us misfortune, so we are to be weary and keep a close eye on them. They may catch on to what we are after. We caught a thief today and brought him to Quinn who was surprisingly generous and offered him to come with us as long as he keeps it a secret.
June 23, 1683
We have twenty mules for the forty of us and are trekking through the jungle. I have never seen forest so thick, Nathaniel. It is almost like the trees and plants don’t want us to find what Quinn is seeking. Our thief is holding up well and acting as a guide. Quinn is after this certain shrub that has a funny name. We would probably call it a toadstool or mushroom, but he is calling it something I cannot pronounce.
The heat is unbearable, and the ground seems to swallow your steps everywhere you go. Quinn promised us all shelter by sundown. There are also these tiny flying critters here that stab you and drain your blood. I have probably killed around five hundred at this point. I asked Quinn what they are, and he said parasites. I haven’t heard this term before, so I asked him about it. He said parasites are Creatures that need a host to feed and survive on. There was a light in his eye when talking about parasites like I said something that excited him.
June 24, 1683
True to his word, Quinn led us into this massive cave that overlooked the sea. We all lit torches and Quinn forced the thief in first. It was cold and wet. The further in we went, the less of the sunlight we could see. It was like walking down into hell except without the light from the flames, only from our torches.
We never were able to reach the back of the cave. We didn’t want to lose our way, but Quinn seemed dead set on going further. He called upon me to follow him a bit further down into the darkness where he believed the mushrooms, he was looking for were living.
A thousand more steps and Quinn gave the order to stop. All was quiet and pitch black around us except for the tiny insignificant glow from my torch which has almost burned out. We could see nothing but then began to hear something. Heavy breathing surrounded us. It sounded like an army out of breath was living down there as if they had run across the world in defeat and found the bottom of this cave to hide in.
I shined the last of my light in Quinn’s face and he gave a slow smile. “They are here” he whispered.
June 25, 1683
I am not sure how much more writing I am going to do Nathaniel. I feel we are on the brink of something lordly, something not even the Gods above can touch. If you ever find this book, know I am still alive and well. As a matter of fact, I could not feel more alive. Quinn is calling for he and a majority of the crew are ill and is leaving me in charge.
Authors Note: I had such a blast writing this and I really connected to the idea of an origin for Howard. Sometimes the biggest villains have the most intense and entertaining origin stories. In Mexican Gothic, Howard is something like 300 years old, so I traced it back to the 1600’s for a starting point. The Americas were founded in the 1400’s so everything worked perfectly.
Howard interests me because of how screwed up his beliefs are, but unfortunately a lot of people still have the mindset of Howard in Mexican Gothic where they believe they are superior for some reason (White Supremacy, Neo-Nazism). I wanted to try and create a young Howard before shit hit the fan. I created a young ambitious boy who gets all these red flags but is either trapped or too curious to heed the warnings. Nathaniel is someone back home who we don’t know nor can tell what kind of influence he exactly has on young Howard. But Quinn I gave a lot of the Howard we know from Mexican Gothic. One could argue that Quinn somehow becomes Howard and takes his name through the future, or this is exactly the beginning where young Howard constructs these ideas of immortality and superiority by being the last survivor from his crew and what these mushrooms do to him.
Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Mexican Gothic, Del Rey 2020
Peretti, P. O., Clark, D., & Johnson, P. (1984). Parental rejection as a criterion measure of negative attention-seeking classroom behavior among elementary school students. Psychologia: An International Journal of Psychology in the Orient, 27(1), 50–55.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Peter Jackson, J.R.R. Tolkien, Fran Walsh, Phillipa Boyens, New Line Cinema, 2001.
Chapelwaite, Jason Filardi, Peter Filardi, De Line Pictures, 2021