Lost Port Royal Part 5 - Lost Carcosa
* * *
“Your patient is still sleeping,” Gregory said to Dr. Leighlin when he finally got up that day.
“My patient?” Dr. Leighlin said.
“The man you brought in last night,” Gregory said. “He’s a-still sleeping.”
“All right,” Dr. Leighlin said.
He went down to examine his patient once again. While he was doing so, Gregory returned.
“There’s a Mr. Ackworth here to see you,” the young boy said.
“Yes,” Dr. Leighlin said.
“I will bring him to the a-study,” the boy said.
Dr. Leighlin went into the study to find Ackworth there. Ackworth noticed the man looked even more exhausted than he felt.
“May I offer you brandy?” Dr. Leighlin said.
“I’m fine,” Ackworth said. “Has our friend woken up?”
“No, he’s still unconscious,” Dr. Leighlin said. “I … I have thought about … I can try … to wake him.”
“Is he restrained?”
“No. I haven’t restrained him yet.”
“We should restrain him first.”
“I would suggest you stay out of the room.”
“Of course. But I will be close by.”
Dr. Leighlin went into his surgery, strapped the madman down, and then used smelling salts to awaken him.
“Uh,” the man said, looking around desperately. “Oh! Where is it? What day is this?”
“Sir, it’s all right,” Dr. Leighlin said.
“What day is this!?! What day is this!?!”
“Today is Wednesday. Please. Please calm down.”
“No! I’ve lost a day! It’s gone. I’ll never get it … I have to get out!”
“It’s all right, sir. What are you─?”
“My shoulder hurts. So badly.”
“Yes, you were shot.”
The madman moaned.
“I’m so sorry,” Dr. Leighlin said. “Let me get you something for that.”
He picked up the laudanum he kept in the room.
“No!” the man said. “No. No! I must find 10 righteous men or Port Royal is doomed. Doomed!”
“Well you can’t do it like that,” Dr. Leighlin said.
“I know! I can’t get up! I can’t get up!” the man said.
Dr. Leighlin forced the laudanum and water mixture upon the man who choked on it but it went down. The man cried out in despair.
“Wait!” the man suddenly said to him. “Are you a righteous man?”
“I … I don’t know,” Dr. Leighlin said.
“You don’t know? That’s not a … oh no … I’ll never … I must … you must let me go. I must find 10 righteous men. I must save Port Royal. I must save Port Royal.”
“That’s a familiar story, my friend.”
“As Abraham himself said, if there were 10 righteous men in Sodom, he would spare the city but … no one looked. No one looked. They didn’t look!”
“Did he tell you this?”
“No, but I read the story and I know the Bible and, if there are 10 righteous men in Port Royal, perhaps we can save it. Perhaps. Perhaps we can keep it from falling …”
“But this is neither Sodom nor Gomorrah. We can’t expect that.”
“But he thinks it is!”
“Father Diego thinks it is!”
“Father Diego is just insane.”
“No! No! Yes! Aren’t we all? He knows the secrets. He has cast the spells. He will bring Carcosa to Port Royal. And then …”
“Wait! Are you saying he’s behind this?”
“He was. But all has been set into motion. Unless I find righteous men … unless I find righteous men … unless someone goes into Carcosa and stops this … nothing will ever stop it. And then Port Royal is doomed! It’s doomed. If I can find 10 righteous men … then … he won’t destroy Port Royal. ‘It’s a wicked city,’ he said, ‘a wicked city.’ And a fool, I … I believed him. I followed him. He says that in the manner of Sodom and Gomorrah, Port Royal will be destroyed. He summons Carcosa. And Carcosa … Carcosa will eat Port Royal. I was a follower of his until some days ago. I realized the folly of my actions.”
Tears welled up in the man’s eyes.
“Much … much of my time with him is a blur,” he went on. “But … but I might be … but … he said there were basalt stones that would help with its summoning. He was … he tried to destroy the city … but the Yellow Sign … he was … the more violent and more repugnant Port Royal is, the more likely it will be consumed. He was … he … you have to let me go! I’ve got to find … 10 righteous men. But you don’t know if you’re a righteous man. Are you a righteous man? Have you sinned? Are you a sinner?”
“Calm yourself,” Dr. Leighlin said. “Calm yourself.”
The madman wailed in despair.
“I can’t get up!” he said. “I’m getting up! I have to get up!”
The man was not moving at all but, due to the laudanum, obviously thought he was breaking free of the restraints. Dr. Leighlin backed out of the room to where Ackworth loitered outside.
“Well, he’s awake now,” Dr. Leighlin said to the man. “What should we do.”
“Well …” Ackworth said.
“I’m not sure it’s safe to let him go. But he seems like he knows a lot more than any of us at this point.”
“I don’t think he’ll actually hurt anyone.”
“Well he certainly wouldn’t hurt … couldn’t hurt anyone right now.”
“Hm. So … we know we can’t let the preacher get the basalt pillars.”
“Yes. Is there any way we can destroy them?”
Dr. Leighlin knew he did not have enough chemicals to destroy the pillars.
“If we can’t destroy the pillars, we must destroy …” he said.
“The city!” Ackworth said.
“Oh! Yes. Of course. Diego.”
“We must destroy Father Diego.”
* * *
“Can I help you gentlemen?” Dr. Heath said when the others went to visit him.
He looked at Fowler and Jeagar.
“I believe I talked with you before?” he said.
“Yes,” Jeagar said. “Well, new things have come up. Have you seen what’s going on outside?”
“I’ve heard rumors about some mirage that appeared over the harbor,” Dr. Heath said. “Apparently the governor sent some men to talk to Mr. Swettmann, who has a house on Pelican Point. He didn’t see anything. I would say it was an illusion of some kind. It was only there for half an hour.”
“Then there was something …” Jeagar said.
“There were strange statues,” Fowler said. “I don’t know what they were. Do you know anything about that?”
“I’ve heard some rumors to that affect,” Dr. Heath said. “Those have always been there, haven’t they?”
“No, they haven’t!”
“I thought the Spanish built them or some rubbish. There are many rumors going around Port Royal right now, but many of them seem to be the blathering of a madman.”
“You seem pretty confident about that.”
“Well, with faith in God and science, the things that we cannot prove exist obviously don’t. It was obviously a mirage or an illusion of some kind.”
“What about this whole nonsense of Sodom and Gomorrah?”
“Are you talking about that priest that’s been going around preaching? He’s obviously a dissident. He’s Spanish. They are … inferiors.”
“Right. Of course they are.”
“But obviously he’s taking advantage of the situation, trying to stir up some money or get some kind of cult started of some kind in some way. Soldiers are looking for him. Of course, they’ll arrest him when they find him.”
While watching Dr. Heath’s face, Jeagar said “Hastur.” The man didn’t seem familiar with the term.
“Thank you for your time, sir,” Fowler said.
“Very good,” Dr. Heath said. “I always have time for my flock. I will see you Sunday.”
He would not see them Sunday, nor ever again, actually.
* * *
“What do you want us to do about the man?” Gregory asked Dr. Leighlin sometime later. “The man that you have strapped down?”
“See to him in whatever he needs,” Dr. Leighlin said.
“He will not be released!”
It was later on Wednesday night when Dr. Leighlin released the badly injured madman, who went in search of 10 righteous men.
* * *
Fowler asked Jeagar where Father Diego had been preaching. When Jeagar told him it had been on High Street, he went there. He was disappointed to see more statues on the road, some in place of the stocks that were usually there. He turned and walked away, avoiding them altogether.
He went home to get some sleep.
* * *
Ackworth, out and about to find the others and tell them not to kill the priest, also saw the strange statues. He didn’t think they had been there the day before and he had spent most of the night on the streets, so he knew they must have appeared within the last hour or so that morning.
* * *
Theo, Flint, and Jeagar wandered the town, looking for Father Diego. They noticed the strange statues that hadn’t been there the day before. Flint felt terribly ill upon seeing the strange statues and fled, going back to his room and going to bed.
The other two spent the day searching for the priest in vain.
Ackworth eventually found them and told them finding the priest would be good, but also advised they didn’t kill the man as the events were already set into motion and he had nothing to do with what was going on anymore. He thought they should keep him for questioning as he told them about the strange things the madman in Dr. Leighlin’s surgery had said.
“We have to kill someone in the spire city?” Jeagar said.
“Well, the madman said we had to find 10 righteous men and go into the spire city,” Ackworth said.
“Do we have to be righteous?”
“According to him. Once again, what is a righteous man?”
They decided to all go their own ways and get some sleep, planning on rising early the next day to go to the city.
* * *
They rose early on Thursday in the hopes of seeing and entering the strange city. Rumors were rife in Port Royal about things that flew out of the sky and snatched people off the street the night before. The horrible things either took their victims away or dropped them from a great height where they were smashed to the ground below.
Jeagar, Ackworth, Theo, and Dr. Leighlin went to the North Docks. They were not alone. Hundreds of people waited on the docks and, just before dawn, a great cry went up from many of them. Fowler had stayed at home and Flint was bedridden with a fever.
The strange city appeared on Pelican Point again, across the harbor. It was a amazing and terrible as it had been the day before. A few people screamed, others fainted or cried. A few jumped into the water. A small riot broke out on the docks but there were numerous soldiers stationed there and it was quickly dealt with.
Dr. Leighlin shrieked and then started babbling incoherently. The other three simply headed to a nearby rowboat Ackworth had rented.
“Why don’t you wait at the shore?” Ackworth said to the babbling man. “Good.”
Dr. Leighlin didn’t even look at the man though he realized they were going. He didn’t watch them go but just fell to his knees and then to his side in a fit.
Two pinnaces sent out with four squads of red-coated soldiers, all of them heavily armed, which headed for the city. It was not the only boat in the water as a few other citizens of Port Royal also set off in small boats. Jeagar, Ackworth, and Theo boarded their own boat though the pinnaces soon outraced the smaller craft in crossing the bay.
As they crossed the harbor, they noticed the smell of brine vanished. They crossed the wide bay and , as they got closer, saw impossibly high towers and strange domes. The odd construction was both beautiful and horrifically alien. It was unlike anything they had ever seen before. They saw the pinnaces beach and the red-coated soldiers disembark and head into the city.
It got darker as they approached the city as if night were falling. The closer they got, the darker it got until, by the time they beached their boat, it was somehow night. Another man who had rowed to the city looked up into the sky and the towers in awe and amazement before he took out his knife and stabbed himself repeatedly in the stomach and chest, eventually falling to the ground as blood spewed from him.
The stars were wrong. Strange constellations unlike any they had ever seen before filled the sky. It was especially jarring to Theo, who had studied the stars and knew how the night sky should look. The other two were also disturbed by it but not as much as Theo, who was rooted to the spot for a minute or so, just staring at the terrible wrong stars and constellations.
They entered the city. The buildings were strangely decorated and oddly smooth. At the same time, they seemed to be shabby and sometimes almost in ruins. The towers and buildings were built of various materials though the dark domes and monolithic towers were everywhere. Many of the structures were made of a black and pitted stone and towered over the streets that either felt too wide or two narrow.
Twin moons could be seen near the horizon and figures seemed to be flying high above. There were no sounds, not even the sounds of the others who had entered the place. It was dark, dreary, and apparently desolate and abandoned. The streets wound confusedly. Open doorways into darkness were common though sometimes a pale glow emerged. Tall towers and buildings loomed above them: grotesque, strange, and inhuman. They saw stairways that were too narrow, too shallow, or too steep for comfort.
The buildings and the rooms they sometimes peered into made their eyes water and their brains ache as the angles were strange and wrong. Sometimes there were dry canals without boats: deep, stone-lined and watermarked channels filled with naught but shadows.
Statues abounded in the horrible city. Some seemed familiar while others were completely alien or sometimes uncomfortably realistic. They recognized some from those they had seen in Port Royal the day before. There were fountains with clear, clean water scattered throughout the city. Dust and dirt were everywhere though, as if the city were long-deserted. Sometimes strange footprints could be seen in the dust and they left their own footprints behind as they walked.
They soon came across an obvious churchyard filled with dozens of open graves. They didn’t approach closer, fearful of what they might find on the headstones.
At another point, they saw movement in a tower door. It looked like a woman in a short, black dress. She fled up the steps in the tower. Jeagar headed into the tower alone as the other two waited below.
He heard footsteps echoing ahead of him, clacking like metal on stone. When he finally reached the top of the tower, only a strange black dress lay on the ground next to odd-looking high-heeled shoes. No one was on the tower top at all. He looked over the edge and, far down below, he saw Theo and Ackworth, the former waving up at him.
As Jeagar went back down the steps, he could swear he heard the someone walking ahead of him, the metal footsteps clacking down the steps. When he reached the bottom and exited, he found the others had not seen anyone enter or exit the building. Nothing had been there but the sound.
They continued to wander through the city, soon finding a great clock, the face lit by flames. It stood at 11:43 and it felt terribly important, though they could not say why.
They later found a strangely-shaped, domed building with a wide entrance that seemed to beckon them. Jeagar led them into the place and within, lights shined on the ceiling to form, on one side, recognizable constellations on half of the high roof above, and on the other side unrecognizable and strange constellations and stars. The floor was a model in tiny but perfect detail. One half was a painstaking model of Port Royal. The other a model of the high towers and strange domes of the city they stood in. A large lever stood near the door next to them.
Theo didn’t like it at all and turned, leaving the building.
Jeagar, unable to contain himself, tried to pull the lever just a little bit. As soon as he touched it, it pivoted down all the way. He tried to push the lever back as some kind of clockwork began to creak under the floor. It wouldn’t move. He turned to flee and then stopped and drew his pistol, aiming it at the model of the city of towers. Ackworth, watching the models carefully, pushed the man’s hand aside.
“I want to watch it,” he said.
The models on the floor moved towards each other and, in some impossible and inexplicable way, the cities moved into each other, Port Royal completely vanishing into the city, consumed and subsumed even as the stars shining from the ceiling above merged, the familiar constellations vanishing altogether to be replaced by the odd and unnerving stars over the towering city that remained.
The two men left the building, stunned.
They continued through the city and found a group of statues of naked men, all of them apparently in great pain or anguish, in a widened part of the street. They all reached upwards and their mouths were open in silent screams. They appeared to all be made of ivory. Ackworth was surprised they weren’t salt. Nearby, they found torn and shredded clothing: red military coats and red hats, and pants, all ripped to shreds. Muskets with bayonets, powder, and soldiers’ kits were also strewn around the square nearby. Theo took a rifle and ammunition, as did Jeagar.
Theo laughed hysterically at the sight not stopping for a minute or more.
They next found a building with a gallery in the front. Paintings hung on the walls portraying strange buildings and scantily-clad people. However, the flesh tones of the models were sallow and unhealthy with a sickly color. Their eyes were almost lifelike and seemed to follow them around the room. It was all very strange. As they looked around the odd room, a man entered from the darkness of an inner chamber.
“It must be the turpentine,” he said. “They always turn out like that.”
The man was very strangely dressed with a shirt buttoned up the front and a tall collar. He wore a high vest and a paint-stained jacket, over which was an artist’s smock. He had short, black hair, a thick mustache, and appeared to be in his 30s. He looked like nothing any of them had ever seen before. His accent was strange and unfamiliar.
“Hello,” the man said. “Are you new?”
“Yes,” Ackworth said.
“Jack Scott,” the man said, shaking his hand.
“Howdy, Jack Scott.”
“And you are?”
“I’m Dean Ackworth.”
“And you sir?”
Scott turned to Theo.
“Theo Dawson,” the sailing master said, shaking his hand.
“Yes … and you?” Scott said.
“Brün Jeagar,” the master gunner said, shaking his hand.
“Welcome to my gallery,” Scott said. “As you can see, I’m working constantly. It’s the turpentine. Perhaps it’s the canvas. I don’t know. They all turn out like this. Unfortunately. Ah, but I must keep trying. I must keep trying. It is a shame. I do, indeed, say ‘It is a shame.’”
“Where are we?” Ackworth asked.
“What?” Scott said. “You’re in Lost Carcosa. It is a terrible place. I don’t leave the studio or the gallery. I don’t like it out there. It’s always dark. They’re up there, flying around. It’s very … a very strange place. I’ve been too busy too. I’ve been painting constantly. Painting.”
“Are they the ones that turn people to ivory?”
“Uh … I don’t understand what you say sir. Turn people to ivory?”
“They’re not sculptors. I can tell you that. I’ve done some sculpting in my time. But the painting. The painting, of course is … I try. But nothing is right since I read it, you know. Nothing seems to come out the way it should. Poor Tessie. Poor Tessie. Who? And why … and who … I don’t have many visitors. Would you like to model for me. I do need models, you know. Who are you? You’re dressed …?”
“We’re from …” Jeagar said.
“Antique clothing,” Scott went on. “They are quite quaint.”
“We’re from Port Royal.”
“Port Royal. Port Royal. South Carolina?”
“In Jamaica. What is South Carolina?”
“Oh, it’s unimportant. Jamaica. Jamaica. I’ve never been to Jamaica. At all in my life. Mostly … mostly other places, you know. What are you doing in my gallery?”
“This city appeared out of nowhere across the bay.”
“From your Port Royal?”
“That’s a town, I take it. Yes. And you came here, why?”
“Something about if we were to stop somebody here, it wouldn’t destroy our town.”
“Interesting. Carcosa is a strange place. Yes. Well, tell me your story. Tell me your story.”
They told him their story. He seemed to find their use of the year 1692 amusing.
“Oh my,” he said with a smile. Then he stopped smiling. “Oh … my. That’s disturbing. No matter. No matter. Go on.”
They told him everything. The man often questioned them or made interjections so telling him everything took upwards of an hour.
“I seem to understand something about this place,” he said after they had told all. “Though I do not know how or why. Perhaps reading ‘The King in Yellow’ so long ago. It was so long ago, wasn’t it?”
“There was something about him,” Jeagar said.
“The King in Yellow?” Ackworth said.
“It’s a play,” Scott said. “A play. You shouldn’t read it. I shouldn’t have read it. It … uh … was quite disturbing.”
He looked uncomfortable for a moment before going on.
“The … uh … from what I understand, the more wicked, corrupt, and mad … the more there is of the wickedness that Carcosa … Carcosa,” Scott said, gesturing around himself, “craves it. So to speak. The more likely it will take away that place for its own. Perhaps you should destroy all the things you can that bind Carcosa to your Port Royal for a start. Perhaps acting against your own darkest impulses might help as well. Or against your own nature, who you actually are, and, instead, be who you think you need to be. But that’s a guess, that’s just a mere guess, of course.
“But, if any of your would like to sit for me … I do need new models. Tessie’s gone … she’s long gone. The … watchman … came. If there’s … yes.”
“That clock,” Jeagar said. “That we saw. Does that mean anything?”
“I don’t know of any clocks,” Scott said. “In Carcosa.”
“11:43?” Ackworth said.
“It means nothing to me,” Scott said.
“I’d be happy to model for you,” Jeagar said.
“Come this way. Come this way.”
“But, if we could touch upon the items that were taken from Carcosa to there. Would that be basalt columns by chance?”
“I … don’t know. We talked about your basalt columns. Perhaps they’re connected? Perhaps that would help? I don’t know. You will sit for me?”
“It will take an hour or so. I’m a painter. Jack Scott, Artist.”
He led Jeagar alone into the next room, the other two staying in the gallery. After an hour, Jeagar and Scott returned. The painting was quite good, though obviously hastily done, and looked jaundiced and yellowed like the rest.
“It must be the turpentine!” Scott said, terribly disappointed. “I’m so disappointed. Everything turns out like that.”
“You don’t want to keep that one,” Jeagar said.
“We keep them all,” Scott said.
The three of them left of the gallery and eventually found their way back to their boat on the beach of what appeared to be a lake. In fact, they couldn’t see Port Royal at all, but a palace across the water. When they rowed towards it, it vanished and Port Royal slowly appeared, as did sunshine and the smell of the sea. Rain was coming down by the time they reached the familiar docks.
It was late morning in Port Royal when the city across the bay disappeared once more. Only their boat had returned from all those went to it.
* * *
Fowler was done with the madness that day. Careful to look at nothing but the ground and trying his best to ignore everything in Port Royal, he went to the North Docks and talked to several ship captains about leaving Port Royal. He wasn’t the only one with the idea and soon learned the few captains who were ready to leave were asking in excess of 40 pounds for a berth on their ships. That would cost all of his own life savings and his parents’ life savings as well. One captain wanted 50 pounds.
“Fifty pounds for one person!?!” Fowler said.
“That’s right,” the man he talked to said. “Fifty pounds. Look at this line I’ve got! These people are all willing to pay.”
Fowler found he could not get much better of a deal for a single person. He tried to make a deal for working his passage across but the few ships that were abandoning Port Royal had captains who merely wanted money.
He spent the rest of the day trying to get passage for a price he could afford.
Towards the evening, he thought of leaving the town by the isthmus that connect Port Royal to Jamaica. He went home, packed what few valuables he had, and left the city by land. As he crossed the rugged terrain, horrible things flew down out of the sky at him. The things flapped rhythmically: hybrid winged things. They were not crows nor moles nor buzzards nor ants nor decomposed men but some strange and horrific combination of all.
The terrible things tried to grab Fowler but he managed flee from them. As he ran away from Port Royal, they tried to snatch him up off the ground, tearing at his clothes and gear until he finally turned back in despair and frustration.
* * *
It was pouring rain again on Friday, June 6, 1692. Ackworth, Jeagar, and Theo had moved the small basalt pillars to a rowboat along with half a dozen paid men and a small cart and paddled towards Carcosa.
The HMS Swann, a 10-gun fire ship, got underway almost as soon as the terrible city across the bay appeared. The ship ran out her guns as she approached the city, turning and giving the towers a broadside to the cheers and wails of those watching from the North Docks. The cannon fire seemed to do damage to some of the high towers but, as the Swann turned to make another run, several dozen things flew up from Carcosa and descended upon the ship. A vigorous and terrible melee ensued with gunfire, shouts, and screams. A fire broke out on board as the Swann passed up the coast and out of the harbor, finally limping back to Port Royal, sails in tatters and blood along her deck.
The three paddled to Carcosa and ordered their men to remove the pillars from the rowboat, transporting them into the city. Ackworth wanted to find the building with the models in it once again to try to figure out where the streets of Carcosa lined up with where they had found the pillars in Port Royal.
They entered Carcosa but soon realized the streets were all different from the ones they had traversed the day before. It was as if the streets themselves had changed in the course of a night somehow. They searched for some hours but could not find the gallery or the strange room with the models. They continued wandering the city, pulling the heavy cart filled with pillars.
“We stay here,” Jeagar suggested. “And then, tomorrow, when the other town is eaten, we just leave this town.”
As they wandered the city, one by one the men they had brought wandered away or abandoned them. One man, who seemed to be losing his mind, lagged behind at one point. Several dozen scarecrows flocked up to him and then vanished along with him.
* * *
Fowler took his life savings and the life savings of his parents and got passage on a ship for himself alone. He paid the captain and found a place on deck, which was filled with people. The ship left the dock but had not traveled far when Fowler saw more of the terrible things come down out of the sky. He fled below decks and heard the shrieks and screams of people above, as well as gunfire and even some cannon fire. Blood dripped down through the hatchways and the ship eventually stopped moving. Men came below decks, most of them injured or with wide-open eyes. The captain, his left arm in shreds, forced Fowler to get out of the hold, flinging a few coins at him. He went up and was disappointed to find himself back at the docks of Port Royal. The deck of the ship was awash with blood and bodies were being heaved overboard. Only a people disembarked. Some of the crew, armed with pistols, clubs and knives, headed below decks where Fowler had last seen the ship’s captain. He soon heard screams below.
He looked across the bay. The city was still there. He stole a rowboat and rowed across to the city, going into Carcosa. He found the other three as he wandered the city, lost and terrified.
“What the heck!?!” he said to them. “I can’t get out of here! This is insane! I should’ve left a long time ago!”
Jeagar told them his idea to spend the night in the city.
It was a terrible night. It seemed like it lasted months. At one point, Fowler started laughing and laughing and laughing and then just sank into the ground and vanished.
That night did, indeed last forever for them. They were never seen again.
* * *
Saturday, June 7, 1692, was sunny and, unlike the last three days, no strange city appeared on Pelican Point across the harbor. The strangeness of the past week all seemed like more of dream though many people still crept around Royal, looking over their shoulders or with eyes blank with madness.
Dr. Leighlin was having a late breakfast on the balcony overlooking the North Docks. He was feeling quite calm. He had punched Giovanni in the face until he had stopped moving the night before and was amazed at how many blows it took to knock the youth unconscious. The Italian youth was up and about that morning, though obviously in a great deal of pain.
It was nearly quarter until 12 when the skies suddenly an inexplicably darkened to be filled with unknown constellations and the horrible city appeared on Pelican Point in all its glory. A palace appeared in the midst of Port Royal. The ground began to tremble and then rolled like waves on the ocean. Though there had been tremors before that did nothing, this time the shaking was much worse and went on for much longer.
The tower and church of St. Paul’s fell into the sea, collapsing like many other buildings. The northern and western sections of town, including the North Docks, also fell into the sea. Forts James and Charles sank into the water, taking many men with them. Fort Rupert, Fort Carlisle, and Fort Walker likewise disappeared with a terrible noise.
The sand under Port Royal liquefied and flowed out into the harbor. People were sucked down into the now-flooded and liquefied sand and, like some kind of terrible sludge-like quicksand, vanishing beneath the surface, never to be seen again, literally sucked into the earth. Entire buildings slid into the water and some sank straight down into the sludge. Many more collapsed. The older buildings fared better as they are wooden and low, compared to the tall, brick English houses.
Even as the residents were reeling from this catastrophe, a tidal wave crashed into the town from the south, putting half of the town under 40 feet of water. People partially buried by the earthquake were drowned. The HMS Swann was carried from the harbor and deposited on top of a building on the island.
By the end, only a few minutes later, nearly every building in the city was uninhabitable. Most of the corpses from the graveyards floated into the harbor among the victims of the disaster. Even the Palisadoes Spit, which connected the town to the rest of Jamaica, was smashed and collapsed, putting the town on a true island once again. Only Fort Charles and it’s tower still stood.
Then Carcosa and the palace vanished, along with hundreds of people, who looked towards the high city and simply ceased to exist.
* * *
Dr. Leighlin survived the terrible disaster. His entire house had slid down into the sea upright, leaving him on his third floor balcony, now at sea level, somehow intact and finishing his breakfast. His house did not survive the tidal wave that washed over from the south but he managed to cling to a large piece of timber, probably a broken ship’s mast, until he was rescued.
He found his assistant Gregory alive some short time after that.
“My boy!” he said when he found the youth. “My sweet child! I thought you had perished!”
When he asked about Giovanni, his other assistant and Gregory’s brother, the Italian youth told him the sad tale.
“Yes, master!” he said. “My dear brother, Giovanni, pushed me upwards and saved my life. I’m so happy to see you, master. He was sucked down by the sand though, master.”
“Oh, my dear boy!” Dr. Leighlin said. “Such a tragedy. I shall take care of you here. I am your family.”
He thought about trying to find Giovanni’s body but there were simply so many corpses floating in the bay and the sea around Port Royal, he figured the effort would be fruitless.
* * *
Flint had been looking for his brother Theo that morning when the earthquake hit but managed to get to safety somehow. In the terrible aftermath, he found Dr. Leighlin and his remaining assistant, Gregory.
“Such a curious specimen,” Dr. Leighlin said when Flint found him and asked about Theo. “If I’d had the chance to … pick his brain … I would’ve. Sadly, he has not visited me.”
“Are you in need of care?” Flint said.
“Dear boy?” Dr. Leighlin said. “Personal Care? Are you asking to become one of my specimens? I know of Theo’s whereabouts …”
“I take care of you!” Flint said.
Dr. Leighlin smiled.
Dr. Leighlin and his two assistants, Gregory and Flint, stayed on in Jamaica for some time, moving to tent town in Kingston for a while. There was a great need of doctors and many people who survived the earthquake sickened and died after, either of injuries or of diseases that seemed rife in the camp. Some died while under Dr. Leighlin’s tender care. He saw that their bodies were put to good use.
They stayed on until Dr. Leighlin got bored of the life there and moved on.
* * *
Some 3,000 people were reported killed in Port Royal that terrible day in June, though some claimed many had just vanished. Another 2,000 died of disease and from their wounds over the following month.
Dr. Leighlin’s rival Dr. Anthony Horton was killed in the earthquake, as was Peter Litton, the barkeep at the Catt and Fiddle. Theo’s woman, Lily Campbell, reportedly screamed and vanished as she sat in front of the mirror at her vanity that terrible morning, just before her house sank into the sea. Both Sam Fowler’s friend Timothy Dalton and Brün Jeagar’s expensive harlot Alice survived the earthquake but died some weeks later, Dalton of disease and Alice of her infected wounds.
Flint’s 6-year-old friend, William, survived though the rest of his family was wiped out. His vision continued to worsen quickly and he was completely blind by the time he was 20.