The Diary of Harry Harrison: Mystic
20th October 1922
It has been many days since I last put pen to paper, and it is only now that I can bear to write about our final day in Clio, MI.
After discovering our belongings and a mysterious book in the office of Ms. Volker, we were determined to confront her. However we decided to do some research first and so, after tidying up the office somewhat, we headed back to the hotel to flick through the book: most notably the supposed spell to rid us of the infection.
If the book was to be believed, the spell entailed us drawing a complex maze-like pattern on the ground, chopping off the tip of our fingers and allowing the blood to drip into the pattern whilst we chanted some strange incantation. Supposedly this would draw the ‘young of Eihort’ out of us and into the drawing.
We decided to try the spell out straight away and were soon pulling up in an isolated stretch of woodland, where we could perform the ritual uninterrupted. I went first, drawing the pattern in the soil and gritting my teeth as Monty sawed off the tip of my left little finger with his bowie knife. I uttered the strange syllables, but, despite some strange wriggling in my arm, nothing happened.
Undaunted, we decided on a group effort, cutting each other’s little fingers and letting the blood drip onto the pattern together. With our collective support and willpower, and to our horror and amazement, the spell began to work! As our hands glowed with unearthly blue light, a stream of white goo poured out of our wounds, turning into the sickeningly familiar white spider-maggot things before disappearing into the soil. By now I was faint with loss of blood, and lost consciousness just as a horrified Monty pulled his hand away in terror and began to swell up with the creatures!
When I came to, I learned that the others had repeated the ritual in a bid to rid Monty of the infection. After some first aid courtesy of Ossian we slept in the truck, each beset by horrific nightmares. Indeed Reginald suffered so much that he awoke to find himself naked – his clothes torn and his leg covered in bite marks – presumably his own!
Despite our ordeal, and the collective feeling that we had used up what little magical ability we might have had, we all felt much better. We each ate a hearty breakfast back at the hotel, unheeding of the frightened stares from the proprietors. We then headed for Doc Cowey’s, who, mindful of our condition, discreetly cleaned up our severed finger wounds and took more X-rays. It was Friday, so we would only be sure that we were free of infection when they were developed on Monday. For our own peace of mind we would have to stay in Clio over the weekend (if nothing else Reginald would have time to buy a new suit of clothes)…
We resolved to continue our plan to confront Volker and waited until she shut up her office for lunch before pushing our way in. She seemed confused by our accusations at first, but this soon changed when we mentioned Eihort…
If we expected her to be terrified of us, we were sorely mistaken! Instead, she drew the blinds, locked the door and weaved strange motions in the air. Suddenly we were all blasted by the collective memory of what actually happened in the pit below the Cooper House.
Volker had lured us into the secret chamber – a candle-lit place with an elaborately-decorated tile floor that was strewn with corpses! Suddenly from a pit at the other side of the room a hideous creature emerged! Even now I shudder at the recollection. It was huge – a terrifying assemblage of gigantic spider’s legs. One such appendage snatched up Lyn Cartwright as it spoke “WILL YOU BE MINE?” When the poor panic-stricken girl refused, she was squeezed by the thing until she popped!
The rest of us were seized in turn. Oh would that we craven madmen had refused like Lyn and at least suffered a quick death! Alas we insanely agreed to the creature’s ultimatum and were rewarded by having some hideous proboscis forced down our throats as thing pumped it’s brood into our bodies. The full story of why we ran screaming from the house, drove our truck off the road and found our nightmare-ridden selves physically degenerating was laid bare!
Realising the full horror of what befell us, we turned from conquering heroes to gibbering wrecks, running around Volker’s office shrieking like mad men! Thankfully Ossian quickly recovered his nerve and leapt at the witch as she drew out a pistol.
As we shook ourselves free of the madness, we all tried to overpower the woman despite our lack of fighting prowess, but she was unnaturally fast and strong (or maybe we were just too shook up). Shaking herself free of our attacks, she bent over Reginald and, horror of horrors, vomited a tide of the spider things into his face! Soon the poor chap was gasping for breath as they began to burrow into every orifice!
Once again we all went mad at this sight, with Ossian’s arachnophobia pushing him screaming into a corner while Monty suddenly took Reginald for his deceased father. Being a poor fighter I desperately sought for another way of gaining the advantage. Suddenly it hit me: what if I threatened to burn her precious book?
The act of thrusting the tome towards a gas light on the wall was enough to distract her, buying enough time for Monty to come to his senses and make a lunge for her gun. He succeeded in grabbing her, but with uncanny strength she turned the pistol on him and shot him at point blank range!
“Burn the book and your friend dies!” she sneered, as Monty lay with a gaping gunshot wound to the abdomen and Reginald fought for breath as the creatures burrowed into him, sapping his strength.
I’m afraid I may have sworn at this point, and recklessly shoved the book into the naked flame of the now uncovered lamp. Volker screamed with rage and once more shot poor Monty as he vainly tried to lash out at her. The chap’s number was now definitely up…
This did however give me an opening, so, drawing the cosh that I keep for self-defence, I whacked her across the midriff. Reginald was also able to act, having momentarily drawn breath. Grabbing hold of his rifle (which he had luckily brought with him), he shot the evil woman (in the derriere no less), causing her to collapse unmoving to the floor.
Ossian brought his medical skills once more into play as he treated Monty’s wounds, while I frantically wracked my brains about how to rescue Reginald. After nearly drowning the fellow, I hit upon the idea of jamming his head in the toilet and flushing the creatures off. I duly dragged him into the bathroom and did just that. Thankfully it only took a couple of flushes to rid him of the beasts.
But what now? Our struggle with Volker was sure to have been heard and the burning book had set alight a number of other documents. How could we get out of the office with a badly wounded man without being spotted by the authorities (who surely would not believe our story)?
In the end it was Ossian who stepped into the breach. Unlike myself, he had believed strongly in things rational and scientific his whole life. To have his world shattered and the veil pulled so cruelly from his eyes was more than he could bear. Volunteering to take the blame, he waited for us to flee the office before following us, blasting into the air with Volker’s pistol.
As he was subdued by the police, Reginald and I drove Monty to Doc Coweys to be stabilised. He was then taken to hospital for emergency surgery. In the meantime we were interviewed by the police, telling them how we had been visiting Ms. Volker when Ossian went berserk, wrestling the gun off her when she tried to protect herself and inadvertently setting fire to her office.
Volker’s office burned to the ground, as did a neighbouring building, but her body was not discovered in the wreckage. I can only hope that the evil sorceress perished in the flames, but it is maddening that I cannot be sure. As for our X-rays, well they showed us free from infection! I for one can breathe a great sigh of relief, although I cannot say the same for Reginald…
As I reflect on these terrible events, I now sit in a comfortable room not far from the Miskatonic University as a guest of Professor Armitage, whose links to Lyn Cartwright and her Second Sight Co-operative led us to contact him. He viewed the charred remains of the mysterious book (I estimate that just under half of it was not consumed by flames when I grabbed it as we fled the office) with great interest and listened gravely as Reginald and I recounted the horrors of the Cooper House and what lies beneath it. I can only hope that he has enough clout to send men with machine guns and dynamite to that accursed place.
As for what led us to the house in the first place we still cannot recall. The last two years are a mystery to us, despite the occasional flashback. Monty is recovering in hospital while Ossian awaits a cell of one sort or other. On my part, I am not the man I once was and cannot shake the feeling that I have run out of luck. However, I must now look to the future and promise myself that I will never, ever, set foot in Clio, MI, again!