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I dreamt of a vast stairwell hewn into a steep, black mountain of a rock. I was stumbling down it. I was being pursued by something high above me on the stairs. I chanced a glance back and could see several of the ghouls coming down the mountain, their dark, hunched forms silhouetted against a roiling, gray sky. Panic swept through me as I tried to run and leap down several stairs at a time. Ahead of me the stairs ended in a large, iron gate. I struggled to open it but it was locked. Through the gate I could see that the stairs ended abruptly and beyond the end was an infinite, yawning, black chasm. Somehow I knew that I possessed the key – I just needed to find it on my person before the ghouls reached me. Frantically I searched my clothing and realized the key was hanging from a cord around my neck. I fumbled with the lock as I heard the motion of the ghouls behind me, their claws clicking on the rocks and their low, guttural moans growing ever closer. Finally the lock slid home and I turned the key and heard the clack of the lock releasing. I tugged with all of my strength to pull the massive gate open enough to squeeze through. I slid through, reached back to retrieve the key and felt the searing pain of a clawed hand rake my arm. I pulled hard and turned the lock as several ghouls slammed into the gate, their long, slender arms groping through the bars for me as I backed towards the chasm out of their reach. I regarded their horrible faces gnashing at me for a moment and then I turned to face the chasm. It was limitless as the empty void of space itself. The sounds of the ghouls were lost behind as the silence of the void engulfed me. A wave of vertigo overcame me and I began to sway. Steadying myself on a nearby rock a sense of peace settled over me like nothing I had ever felt before. Standing there staring into the void I thought that it must be what death would feel like. Empty and peaceful. But then a noise disturbed the void. At first it was faint and eons away. But it grew louder. It was an alien sound full of low rumblings and clickings and moisture. And in the far distance of the void I beheld a shape darker than the blackness of empty space churning and writhing and speeding towards me and I awoke.

*

All of the pieces of this mad puzzle fell into place the night I followed Hall, Billingsley and their two surly companions to the desolate cemetery off of County Road 17. I secretly watched them from my bedroom window and for some inexplicable reason, decided to follow them. I suppose that I had gathered enough information that I sensed that they were going on another lurid trip involving the acquisition of a body. Without over thinking any plan, I grabbed my camera, rushed to my car and covertly followed the men.

When I saw them pull into the cemetery I then realized that they were engaged in grave robbing; but they weren’t robbing graves for the mundane purpose of stealing jewelry from corpses, their intentions were far more sinister. I parked some ways back down the road out of sight and went carefully by foot so as not to make my presence known. I was nervous and felt electrified because I knew that if they saw, Billingsley would most likely send his two thugs to ensure their dark secret remained underground. I cursed myself for not having the small .38 I kept locked in my safe, but I would surely have not been able to tail them to their destination if I’d have taken the time to grab it. So I merely hid in the edge of the woods a good distance from them and watched for the time being.

The two large thugs carried shovels and I could see that they had chosen a grave that was fresh because the dirt was still in a mound. While the two goons began digging, Hall and Billingsley appeared to be consulting over a book – probably one of the occult grimoires I had photographed and been researching. Soon they began to perform an incantation of some sort; they lit what appeared to be incense, crooned a strange language and circled the grave. I remember being surprised at how quickly the two henchmen dug the grave. Apparently the digging goes much faster on ground that has already been broken than it does on earth that is packed.

While my nerves were on edge from the danger of secretly watching them knowing full well that if they caught me I would likely be murdered, the horror of their revolting endeavor didn’t hit me until the two men lifted the corpse out of the ground. The body just flopped over the edge of the grave and I could hear Billingsley castigate the two for how rough they were handling the body. Hall and Billingsley proceeded to place the body in a better position and perform another incantation over it while their two lackeys filled back in the grave.

I vacillated on whether or not to attempt to take a photo of them at this point but finally decided that it was too risky. For one thing, I wasn’t exactly an expert with the digital camera I had and wasn’t confident enough to ensure that I could turn the flash off – that would’ve given me away in an instant. Maybe just turning the thing on would have cast enough light to advertise my presence. I also thought I was too far away for the picture to show anything that would be conclusive proof. I decided to wait and follow them. I felt pretty sure they would repeat what they did last time and go back to the cellar at Hall’s house to perform whatever mad ritual they intended to perform. I figured I could get home and call the police so that Hall and Billingsley could be caught in the act.

*

The chaklah’i are just outside of this sphere. Why they taunt me, I don’t know, but I feel my time is slipping away. When they first came I thought it was the end; and when they failed to take me that first time I thought it was because they couldn’t. Now I believe that they are just waiting for the right conditions to slip through and take me. I have exhausted all resources on how to stop them. I’ve written to Brecklin for assistance, but there has been no indication that he has received my pleas. Even if I got out of this godforsaken asylum, I doubt that would matter to them. There is nowhere that I could go that those fiendish beasts wouldn’t be able to stalk me. The physical limitations of this realm are inconsequential to them. Now I must finish my tale and send it to Arthur Grosche in the hopes that he believes me and will attempt to destroy those mad tomes that unlock the creatures of Hell.

I can’t stress enough how the perfidy of the police had filled me with a loathing and distrust of their competence. But I knew that I needed to call them as soon as this mad charade of black magic arrived at Hall’s house. I waited until the quorum of men had left the cemetery and then I crept back through the woods emerging at my vehicle. I crouched low and waited for them to pass by before cranking my car and following. Sure enough, the route led right back to our neighborhood.

I waited a safe distance down the street and watched them unload the body. I sat there several minutes weighing whether or not I should drive my car into my own driveway. I didn’t want to for fear that they might hear my car pulling in and suspect that I was on to them; so instead, I jogged down the street keeping to the shadows as much as possible. I fully intended on going directly into my house and calling the police – God! If I had done that I wouldn’t be in this hellish ordeal I’m in. Like the proverbial cat, I couldn’t resist slipping up to the low cellar window and peeking in. Of course they had blacked out the window, but there was just enough of a scratch of paint missing for me to look through and see a tiny restricted part of their ritual. I watched for a minute or two while it appeared that Billingsley was donning a black cloak. He was standing with his back to me and was thus blocking the view of the table. After that, he began waving his arms in a rhythmic pattern while I heard a chanting from within. I distinctly heard petitions to the Nameless God. Suddenly there was a flash of fire and Billingsley moved out of my field of vision. What I saw at that moment sent me spiraling into madness. I was overwhelmed with the absurdity of what I was seeing. To begin with, there were more than four men and a corpse in that tiny cellar. It appeared as if a throng of people was huddled around the body. I say people, some were people, but others were debatable on that. I recognized them from the description given in the occult literature. They were short with blackish skin – not the brown that we erroneously call black, but their skin was literally black. Their faces were sunken and cadaver-like. Their arms and legs were scrawny and knotty but their bellies were swollen. They were ghouls. Summoned to this plane by dark sorcery before my very eyes. This was enough in and of itself, but that wasn’t the only thing that short-circuited my brain. Lying on the table was a female corpse and the resemblance to my dear Lizzy was shocking. It was too uncanny for my poor brain to ignore. When I saw what these foul creatures were intending to do to that helpless woman, it was as if they were about to do it to my Lizzy!

After that it was all a blur. I found myself in an instant berserker rage. I sprinted to my house and grabbed the copy of The Gates of the Necronomicon, found the page of spells to summon the chaklah’i and ripped it out. I then went to my safe and retrieved my .38. I also procured an ax I had in the utility room at the rear of my house. Returning to the yard I began to read from the page while I made my way to Hall’s back door. I must have gone through the incantation several times until I decided to burst through the door. It was locked but I employed the ax to splinter it and charged for the stairs.

The sound from the door being hacked in must have caused one of the thugs to come investigate because I met him on the stairwell and proceeded to deliver a couple of rounds into him. He toppled backwards and I barreled down the rest of the way. The throng was thrown into disarray as I leapt into the room. It was all chaos after that. The last clear thing I remember seeing was one ghoul with a large piece of meat in its maw and Bilingsley leaning down over the corpse as if he too were taking a bite. At that moment there was another flash of fiery light and the chaklah’i were bounding towards the ghouls. Their howls were otherworldly and were returned with cries from human and ghoul alike. As for me, I just stood there firing willy nilly into the melee until all of the rounds were spent and then I began hacking at anything that moved with the ax. And then I blacked out.

Of course, the police were summoned by someone – likely a nearby neighbor – and arrived to find me lying unconscious with the ax still clutched in my hand. The four men were lying dead with more than just bullet holes and ax marks littering their lifeless bodies. As for the ghouls and chaklah’i, they were nowhere to be found. Most distressing of all, though, was that the corpse was gone as well.

No doubt it was devoured. I implored the detectives and psychiatrists to find the cemetery on County Road 17 and find the fresh grave. But they refused to attempt to exhume the grave – especially since I could not provide a name. It was futile for me to convince them or prove my innocence in any way.

I have no idea what terms I was beholden to for summoning those wretched demons, but obviously I owe them more and they’re getting closer to collecting each night.

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