In January of 1756 Mr. William Frost, just a day new to the colony, undertook a survey of his newly acquired patch of land twelve miles outside Concord accompanied by his indentured servant Bramwell. After walking arduously through three feet of crusted snow for an hour Frost came upon a small opening to a cave. He broke a branch from the lower limb of a nearby tree and started clearing away the entrance.
"An animal might be wintered up in there sir," said Bramwell, shivering, for he had only a light jacket and a woolen scarf for warmth. "It mayn't be prudent to go poking into its living quarters."
"If there is an animal there Bram, we shall kill it and eat it for dinner," said Frost, grinning. His face was red with the day's exertions, and he dug vigorously into the snow. "Help me Bram, for you've excited my curiosity even further! We shall have meat, Bram, we shall have meat tonight! Help me!"
Bramwell reluctantly removed his hands from their opposing armpits and broke another branch from the tree. Together they worked to clear the snow down to the frozen flora at the base of the cave.
"There Bram, we have done it. You shall go in now, and scope out the creature's den."
"Me, sir? You want me to go in there?"
"Why yes, Bram, I do." Frost stood with one hand on his hip, and the other smacked the branch against his velveted thigh.
"Sir, I will gladly forgo a meal of meat tonight if I can escape the fate of entering this cave."
"Nonsense!" laughed Frost. "You shall go in and pull out whatever beast lives within. Pull it out by the toes or the nose--by whichever end you encounter first."
"Sir, I shall not, for I fear I will get the biting end of it first."
"Are you afraid of teeth Bram?" Frost gnashed his teeth and curled up his lips, then he slapped Bramwell on the shoulder hard enough for him to lose his footing and fall down into the snow. Frost offered his servant his hand and pulled him to his feet. "Fear not Bram," Frost continued, "for a hole of this limited diameter could not possibly contain anything large enough to devour a whole man."
"It's not the devouring I fear, sir, but the chewing, and a smaller animal could certainly chew enough of me to--"
"Bram, Bram, Bram," said Frost, "you fret too much and it tires me."
"Sir, if you are so eager to see the inhabitant, why don't you go in yourself? You are a far braver man than me."
"You appeal to my vanity, Bram. It is a low move, and how can I resist?" Frost chuckled with delight. "I am a man of action. I have sailed all the oceans. I have slain men with my fists alone, in the name of His Majesty during the crucible of war. I slew a man with a cutlass too, but that was over a woman named Lil. Ah yes. And I have dined with knights and barons. I have endured storms and illnesses and the wrath of scorned women. And what have you done with your life, but get yourself so far in debt that you had to sell yourself to me? You've scratched but a ghost of a life from this earthly plane. So yes Bram, I am a braver man than thee, a hardier man than thee, a stronger man than thee. I shall enter the cave myself, and bring out the beast within. I shall Bram, I shall!"
Frost unbuttoned his frock coat and threw it and his hat to Bramwell. Then he rolled up his sleeves to the elbows and got on his hands and knees. He squeezed threw the opening to the cave and began to inch along its dark wet corridor.
"Do you see the beast?" yelled Bramwell.
"It is dark and it smells," replied Frost. "I feel no fur or talon."
"Then you must go further," said Bramwell.
"I shall," said Frost, his voice muffled now.
Frost crawled forward, over sharp shards of shale and discarded bone. The floor of the cave began to decline. Frost continued tentatively, but soon started to slip. He grasped frantically at the walls of the cave but they widened away as Frost fell lower and lower into the chamber. Frost managed to turn around to slide feet first, and he looked back up to see the opening of the cave recede to a white dot. When it was nearly gone, he finally came to a rest at the back of the cave. He panted with adrenaline, and tried to climb back up but slipped back again and again.
"Bram!" he shouted, "You must fetch a rope and throw it down, for I am trapped!" There was no answer from above. "Bram! Do you hear me?"
Then to the left, a rock shifted. Frost stilled himself to listen more acutely. There was the raspy breathing of a second mouth. More rocks moved in the darkness.
"Ah, the beast presents itself!" remarked Frost. He pulled a knife from his boot and held it in the air in front of him.
"I am no beast," said a small voice.
"What manner of creature speaks to me? What sort of trickery is this?"
"I am no creature," said the voice, "for I came to be...outside of creation."
Frost reached into his vest pocket and withdrew a match with a shaking hand. He struck it against the side of his rough face, and the cave chamber lit up. Looming over him, inches away, was a large, eyeless head, with a mouth and slitted nose, but instead of a proper body underneath, it was supported by fifteen ropey tentacles. The mouth was ringed with feelers, like that of a catfish. Inside, the mouth was carpeted with needle-like transparent teeth. Frost dropped the match, extinguishing it.
"Bram! Help me!" screamed Frost, clawing at the inclined wall of the chamber. "I am nearly in the clutches of an unholy beast!"
A tentacle flung out and grabbed Frost's calf. It pulled Frost back as it retreated further back into its lair.
"Get off me!" Frost frantically stabbed at the air with his knife. Finally they stopped moving and the tentacle slid away from Frost's leg. Frost started to stand, but then he felt a sharp pain in his abdomen. He felt down with his hands and came across a cold thin appendage, inserted into his muscles just above the navel. Then the pain was replaced with a dull numbness. Frost swayed, then fell forward. The appendage withdrew and returned to its owner. Frost fell asleep within seconds.
"Eat, my children, eat. For the winter will not last much longer," said the small voice. Five mouths began to chew on Mr. Frost, first ripping away his fine clothes, then tearing hungrily into his well-fed flesh.
Above, at the entrance to the cave, Bramwell looked over the pockets in Frost's coat. In the left breast pocket, he pulled out the deed to the land. He smiled, and shoved the deed back in, then donned the coat and hat of his master. He bent down and worked to cover the hole to the cave with branches, rocks, and packed snow. When he was satisfied with his handiwork, he continued the survey of his land.