At a university graduation, Arthur Porter is confronting his nephew Andrew about the fact that he’s wasted three years of his life while living off of his money. Andrew’s friends Elie Green and Mickey Standish arrive and he introduces them Arthur, and says his uncle is debating whether to cut him off. Arthur insists that Andrew has spent his time learning witchcraft, and gives him six months to learn a job and get a decent living. If he does, Arthur will pass on his fortune to him.
Once Arthur leaves, Andrew grabs a book and begins chanting a mystical invocation. He then tells his friends that his only remaining relative is burning on the landing. They check, but nothing has happened. Andrew says that he’ll get him eventually, and wonders where his ancestor Jedediah is. He explains that Jedediah was burned as a witch, and could kill at great distances. He killed his wife, his friend’s wife, and his friend but was then killed as well. The ten pages that explain how Jeremiah did it and happened to him are missing from the book. Elie and Mickey suggest that he just get a job, but Andrew vows to find the missing pages. Andrew offers them a toast to six months hence, when he’s disinherited.
Six months later at Christmas, Elie and Mickey return and find Arthur there to inform Andrew in person that he’s being disinherited. Andrew admits that he hasn’t found a job, and Arthur says that when the bank opens the next day, he’ll file the papers cutting his nephew off. Arthur leaves and walks across campus, unaware that something is watching him from the bushes. It finally emerges and attacks him as he screams in terror.
In his room, Andrew smiles in triumph as Elie and Mickey turn at the sound of the screams. Andrew dismisses their concerns and pours them more wine. Elie hears something scratching at the door and assumes that it’s a dog, and goes to investigate, but finds nothing. Mickey and Elie leave and discuss Andrew’s lack of a future. They find Arthur’s corpse and realized that his throat was ripped open. They run back to tell Andrew, who is burning pages in the fireplace. Andrew is unconcerned at his uncle’s death but happy that he’s rich.
Later, Mickey prepares to leave for a job in Chad. Elie arrives and says that Andrew is living at MacBane Lodge in Massachusetts, where Jedediah used to live. Talk turns to Arthur’s death, and Elie wonders if there was more to it than a wild animal attack as the authorities claimed.
At the lodge, Arthur is screaming at empty air, telling something to stop.
When Elie returns to his room, he finds a telegram from Andrew waiting for him. He hears a scratching noise in the hallway but finds nothing there. As Elie starts to open the telegram, he hears the same noise again and remembers the night that Arthur died. Hastily locking the door, Elie reads the telegram. It’s a warning from Andrew that Mickey is in danger. He calls Mickey’s mother and she confirms that her son was killed by a leopard in Chad. Elie hears more scratching and growling noises and tries to leave. The lights go out and he runs down the stairs, as something pursues him. Elie finally runs into the basement and discovers a red-eyed creature lurking at the window. It starts to pull the bars apart and enter the basement...
Elie wakes up a short time later. The window is still broken open and there are handprints on the wall, but no sign of his pursuer. He goes to the lodge and Andrew greets him and hastily locks them both in the study. Elie realizes that Andrew found the missing pages and burned them the night that Arthur died. Andrew admits that he hoped to destroy the spell that the pages contained, but now the creature is there and he doesn’t know how to stop it. The spell summons a loyal and unswerving servant who will serve any MacBane who knows the spell. But once it kills, there is no way to stop it from killing again. Jedediah never did get rid of it, but only left it lurking in the darkness until Andrew summoned it. The first page of Jedediah’s diary contained the summoning spell, and he immediately used it. The other pages relate how the same summoned creature killed everyone that Jedediah loved. After killing Arthur, it came for Andrew, who gave it Mickey. He was forced to give it Elie as well, but recalled it at the last minute.
The creature scratches at the study door. Elie hastily locks it, but Andrew explains that it’s too strong. When Elie asks what it is, Andrew explains that it is the epitome of all jealousy on Earth. The demon smashes through the door and advances on Elie, but Andrew blocks its way and tells it to go back to where it came. He tells it to burn as it grabs him, and the demon bursts into flame. Elie confirms that his friend is dead and that there are no more MacBanes.
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