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A Pretend Terror

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Forget Me Not (1920s style) Part 2



WARNING: Spoilers!


The Diary of Harry Harrison: Mystic


20th? September 1922


I write this hurriedly as we prepare for our final showdown – at least, considering the day we’ve had, I fervently hope it is!


Today started well enough. I actually slept well, with no repeat of my ‘bowel problem’. In fact the only disturbance during the night was the night-terrors of two of my companions. One fellow, Ossian, emerged the next day having torn patches of his hair out, whilst Monty had bitten off part of his tongue!


We all felt in a bad way – much worse than the day before, and the townsfolk of Clio were becoming very wary of us as evidenced by the startled look of the boy who gave us a telegram for the mysterious Lyn (Lyn Cartwright, it transpires). The message was from a professor at some university in Arkham, MA, telling Lyn to expect a parcel from a credulous chap named ‘Doyle’.


This turned out to be none other than Arthur Conan Doyle! He had sent Lyn a copy of his book ‘The Coming of the Fairies’, which supposedly contained photographs of young girls with actual fairy folk. In his telegram the professor intimated that the whole thing was a hoax – possibly hinting that Lyn fake some photographs? Whatever the case, it seems our studies of the Cooper House are in some way related to the university.


Despite our unsavoury appearances, the locals were still happy to take money off us and we spent a pretty penny at the local store, stocking up on weapons, paraffin lamps, photography gear, rope and the like. Having made an appointment with the realtor Ms. Volker yesterday, we then met her at her office and followed her to the ill-famed Cooper House.


What a decrepit heap the place is! Set on a rocky rise above boggy fields, it has obviously been the haunt of vagrants and vandals for many years. The nearby barn looked like it would fall down at any moment, so we decided to focus on the house itself.


Not, however, before I noticed the tyre tracks around the yard. Some of them matched our truck, confirming that we had visited the place before. I could tell that we had pulled in to the yard straight enough, but the tracks leading back out showed that we had left erratically and at great speed!


Other tracks matched those of Volker’s Model-T. It looked like she had visited the place many times – not unusual considering it was on her books perhaps, but then she did say that there had been little interest in the place. Whatever her excuse, I could tell that she was hiding something. She left us to our exploring at unseemly speed I thought.


And so we entered this accursed pile. Searches of the ground and first floor uncovered nothing but disturbing graffiti, empty beer bottles and the like. However our prodding also disturbed nests of unnatural, white spiders – more maggot than arachnid. These things seemed to have differing numbers of legs and eyes and were… well, just weird. Ossian was particularly afraid of these beasts, while Reginald learned to respect them after one particularly large brute bit his hand following an abortive attempt to capture it.


Finding nothing else, we fearfully descended bloodstained steps into the cellar… Immediately I was assailed by some sort of psychic phenomena! I fell to the ground, clutching my head as voices echoed all around me – our voices! It seems I was remembering some recent psychic echo of us vainly trying to get through a locked door. Our panic was cut short by some terrible voice shouting “DO YOU WANT TO LIVE?”


Once I recovered and recounted my experience, we proceeded to search the cellar, but again found nothing of interest. We began to ascend the rickety steps, led by Monty, when a crazed vagrant appeared at the top, demanding to know what we had done to him! Before we could calm the man, he bashed Monty on the head with a broken table leg, sending him sprawling off the side of the staircase and back down the cellar.


Next in line was Reginald, who with one bitten hand and one good one, struggled with his rifle and lantern as the tramp raged before him. I did not want to see the poor man shot down, but before I could try to work my magic, the vagrant split open like a rotten fruit!


Yes, that’s correct – his entire body split bloodily open to reveal a swarm of the spider/maggot creatures! With needle-like teeth and mismatched eyes, this evil tide issued forth from his body and spilled into the cellar, luckily causing us no physical damage but sending an already nervous Ossian into paroxysms of terror! As the shredded remains of the tramp fell to the floor, Ossian retreated, screaming back into the far corners of the cellar.


Reginald was determined to take a photo of this horrible sight, but, with rifle in one hand and lamp in the bitten and swollen other, fumbled as he juggled his load in an effort to reach his camera. The lamp dropped, smashing on the very steps on which we stood and setting them on fire!


He continued to mess around with his camera, forcing me to practically to shove the man out of the way as the flames licked our legs. Three of us managed to get out unscathed, but Ossian, gibbering in the far corner, badly burnt his legs as he eventually summoned the courage to race past the spiders and get out.


After some deliberation we decided to head back into Clio and seek medical attention for Ossian’s burns and the gash on Monty’s head. We duly headed back to Dr. Cowey’s for treatment. As he patched up the wounded, I asked to see my X-rays again. My suspicions were confirmed, for the fuzzy white blobs on the X-ray were the same size and shape as the maggot/spider creatures we had just witnessed.


Pressing the good doctor, he admitted that he had seen a similar thing happen before when performing an autopsy on a dead vagrant. The photo of the things bursting out of the cadaver he showed us was the final piece of evidence – we were indeed infected by these creatures and would soon suffer the same fate as the tramp!


Then we staggered our separate ways to learn anything else we could about the house. We learned that McCumsey had hired German labourers, supposedly to dig a secret vault below the ill-famed house (and that later three local treasure hunters all suffered a grim fate after trying to find this chamber). We also learned that McCumsey and most of his family had supposedly died, but no death certificates were ever found. His surviving wife and daughter had apparently returned to England.


We were at a loss for what to do next, until we remembered Ms. Volker’s suspicious behaviour. Volker! Wasn’t that a German name? Reginald’s charm failed to win her over; not surprising considering the condition he (and indeed all of us) was in. So we waited for her to close her office and head home, before breaking in. A furtive search of the rooms revealed that she used to be an academic back east. We also uncovered a strange grimoire purporting to be 'Revelations of Glaaki, Vol. IV’. A quick glance ascertained that this volume concerned something called Eihort: a being apparently associated with labyrinths.


More importantly, one page was marked, and contained an incantation for the banishing of the ‘Young of Eihort’. Had we found a way of ridding ourselves of this infection? With our health deteriorating, will we have the time to study the passage to find out?


Added further fuel to the fire, in another room we discovered a box full of our belongings! We had assumed these had been lost when our truck crashed, but instead they had been taken by Ms. Volker prior to this event – perhaps during our previous visit to the Cooper House.


That we have visited the house is certain, for finding our belongings triggered a memory in Reginald. Volker had indeed showed us, including Lyn, the Cooper House and lured us into the vault under the cellar. We were locked in, and something terrible must have happened to us before the four of us fled in panic, eventually crashing our truck.


Stunned by these revelations, we have resolved to confront Ms. Volker at her home. I write this as we prepare to make the short journey to her address. Should we not return and anyone finds this diary, take it to Dr. Cowey.


To Dr. Cowey, I ask you to put aside your professional reputation and contact the university at Arkham – you know what has befallen us! Make sure that accursed house is raised to the ground, and that the chamber under the cellar and anything lurking within it is dynamited into oblivion!

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