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The old man said it would happen.  He said that Simon would forget the route to the bay.  Now, in the early morning dawn, Simon clambered across the rock-strewn shore straining his gaze into the bay for a glimpse of the isle; but it was too dim to discern anything through the thick fog.  All that he could see was the glass-like surface of the calm, dark water receding into the wispy mist.  He cared little for routes now.  The destination was the sole focus of his mind.

Simon looked like a figure from a by-gone era traversing this rugged shore in a long, woolen, white cloak.  He looked closer to an ancient druid than a well-to-do gentleman.  The old man was adamant about the cloak – going so far as to supply the garment himself.  He said it was the only attire that would ensure the meeting would take place.

Simon was beginning to wonder if he had discovered the wrong inlet when he spotted the boat mooring about fifty yards down the pebble-ridden shoreline.  He turned in its direction and picked up his pace in anticipation.  Arriving at the mooring, he quickly began to inspect its ancient structure.  The wood was aged, but timeless.  Not of any tree that had grown on this Earth for an unimaginable epoch of time, it appeared dark and shiny.  The metallic fastenings and accoutrements were of a metal no man could have identified.  They had a luster completely alien to anything Simon had ever seen.  He rubbed his hands over the wood and the metal fascinated by their texture and timelessness.

As he exercised his sense of touch, his gaze once again strained for the island.  Still concealed by the copious amounts of fog, it was useless to strain the eyes.  It was not like growing accustomed to a darkened environment.  No amount of re-focusing or iris adjustment would penetrate the cottony, ghost-like haze rising from the surface of the dark waters.  But it didn’t matter to Simon.  Oh no, he knew by the mooring, which his hands still caressed, that this was the destination he so longed for.  But now it was time to find a hiding place, for Death would be arriving soon to meet the Ferryman with another load of his precious passengers and this was the spot where the transfer of cargo would take place.

Simon picked his way up the eastward slope of the bay to find a place of concealment amongst the large boulders.  He wanted to find the perfect vantage point to witness both the island and the boat landing.  Finding a low spot behind a large rock outcropping, Simon squatted down into the cool shadows and tried to find a comfortable position to wait for the dawn’s events.

Simon turned his gaze from the misty bay towards the inland direction from which Death would be coming.  He tried to imagine in what form Death would appear.  Would it be as the Grim Reaper, with his black, hooded cloak and harvest sickle poised above his head like the antithesis of a halo, walking slowly in front of the dead as a shepherd leading its doomed flock?  Or would he be riding some nightmare steed and come with the long line of the dead, shackled in tow?  And then it struck Simon that he had never asked the old man in what form that ghastly apparition called Death would appear.  How very odd this seemed to him now.

Simon had more-or-less stumbled across the eccentric old man while in transit aboard The Juleinder from America to Scotland.  That particular night was a pleasant night – neither too cold nor too muggy.  A cool breeze was blowing out of the North Atlantic.  Simon went out onto the promontory bow for a cigar to complement his cognac after dinner.  He was enjoying the cool, night air when the old man joined him uninvited.  Rather than being put off by the intrusion, Simon was more than welcome for the company. “Delightful night is it not?”  The old man announced in a Scottish accent as he looked out across the sea.  He could have been talking to anyone, but Simon was the only one within earshot.

“Yes, sir, it is that.  Would you care for a cigar my good man?”  Simon offered out of politeness.  “They are from my farm in Winston-Salem.”

“That would be magnificent,” the old man replied.  Simon produced another cigar and assisted the old man with the lighting.  The old man took a long draw on the cigar, smacked his tongue and lips as if tasting a piece of cake then he exhaled the smoke and nodded in approval to Simon.

“Excellent cigar, lad.  So, you own a tobacco farm you say?”

“Yes, sir, it is a family business my father started, and I am now the chief executor of the estate and the family business.  The name is Simon Bancroft,” Simon said offering his hand in formal greeting.

“Pleased to make your acquaintance.  I am the Earl Roland McDermott.”

“Ah, a nobleman.  I am honored by your company,” Simon said in surprise.  He didn’t expect this elderly gentleman to be more than common folk.  Simon leaned his back against the railing of the ship and regarded the old man.

“Yes, but I am afraid it is little more than a title in this day and age.  I was out of my homeland for quite some time on business and upon my return I was saddened to discover that my family had mismanaged my estate and land holdings.  But, I am happy to announce that I have made great strides in the recovery of my estate and am just now returning from a very productive business venture in the United States.”

“Well,” said Simon growing more intrigued by this mysterious old man of royal blood, “I am pleased to hear of your recovering good fortune.  As I said, my business is the tobacco business, but my pleasure is something entirely different; and, while it is your business that brings you to my homeland, it is my pleasure that brings me to yours.  I should very much like to talk to you about my hobby so that maybe you can assist me on my trip.  I am quite a bibliophile, and I am going to Scotland in search of some antiquarian books.”

“Oh, you are a collector of classical texts then?” the old man said, his eyes lighting up with interest. 

“Well, in a sense, yes; but, to be more precise – books that are of an occult nature,” Simon said cautiously, not sure exactly how the elder gentleman would receive this.

The old man’s face broke into a broad grin and he said, “My son, I believe now it is me who must congratulate you on your good fortune.”

The two men talked through the night until the first tentative rays of light topped the distant, unobstructed horizon.  They did not even pause to enjoy the beautiful sunrise, so enthralled in tales of the arcane and forbidden.  The Earl told stories of ancient and forgotten locales that so intrigued Simon that Simon could swear the man had actually been there.  It wasn’t until late into the night, and several cognacs later, that the old man finally told of his intimate knowledge of the Isle of the Dead.  While at first Simon was skeptical of this tale, he was more than impressed with the Earl’s knowledge of the occult and especially rare books.

After making landfall the Earl invited Simon to his estate just north of Perth.  He promised him that it would be worth his time and promised fine hospitality.  Simon had several appointments in Edinburgh with book dealers but promised to rendezvous with the Earl at his estate in four days’ time.

Any doubts Simon had about the Earl’s integrity were quickly abolished upon beholding the Earl McDermott’s impressive library.  At first, he was thinking of avoiding the estate altogether but something in the old man’s mannerisms had arrested his intrigue.  The old man seemed to be a man out of place in the current day even more so than the average elderly person who is not “with the times” – almost as if the old man were from a bygone era of time.  Fortunately for Simon he decided at last to visit the estate, partly out of disappointment in his book hunting in Edinburgh and partly out of a peaked interest in the vague timelessness of the old man.

Upon beholding the rare and well-preserved texts in the library at the McDermott Estate the two men once again descended into conversations of the occult and arcane.  It was on this evening that the Earl McDermott swayed the conviction of Simon in regards to the existence of the Isle of the Dead.  The old man had been there himself!  Not only did the old man discover the location and visit the exact spot where Simon now waited amongst the rocks, he had met with Charon!  Yes, the old man had met with Charon, the Ferryman of the River Styx; and the Earl promised Simon that he too could make that same journey!

Simon was, of course, skeptical in the fashion of any man with sound reason.  That was when the Earl escorted Simon into the underground tunnels that led through secret, subterranean passageways, which appeared to have been carved from the rocks under the Scottish soil in ancient and mythical days.  Through twisting labyrinths of lichen and niter covered stone they progressed until they arrived at the Earl’s hidden prize – a small, circular room lined with ancient tomes.

“Here you will find the most forbidden and ancient works, dating back through the epoch of the human soul into the distant and remote infancy of our race.  There have existed many dark and secretive societies throughout time.  From the most sinister tribes of the darkest jungles to the most horrific and power mad dynasties.  What is represented here very few men would believe and even fewer have seen,” the old man spoke in a delicate whisper as if speaking his words too loud would invite the presence of ill forces.

Simon browsed the books without touching them in an awe he had never felt in his life.  The old man said, “It’s all right, go ahead and touch them.  I encourage you to read them.  Many are in languages that this Earth has not heard for eons of time; but these here are in Arabic, Sanskrit, Latin, and Greek.  These here are the ones that have been translated into English.”  Simon reverently touched the thirty or so books the old man had indicated.

“I will leave you to read now,” he said preparing to return to the main part of the mansion above ground.  “I shall return to retrieve you when dinner is ready and we shall discuss the things you have read.”  The old man left, the light of his lantern creating a flickering orb of light on the stone walls that slowly disappeared into the darkness of the tunnel.  Simon watched the old man go and then he began to devour the books like a stray dog on scraps.

It was in these forbidden and ancient texts that Simon discovered the most shrouded and clandestine knowledge ever uncovered by the human species.  Forces of such magnitude and mystery that most men would laugh in disbelief should they be touted in a public forum.  But here, here in these books, Simon found indisputable reason, logic, explanation, and even proof of things many cultures had only hinted at and few had directly encountered.  The ramifications of these things were mind-boggling, terrorizing, and even maddening.  When the old man returned to announce that dinner was ready, Simon was swarming with questions.  His entire outlook on reality had altered and he viewed the world in a new and radically alien comprehension.  The Earl smiled as one being “in the know” of some inside joke.

“You have plenty of time to read to your heart’s content.  Come now and let us eat and talk about the things you have read thus far.”

It was over dinner that the Earl offered to arrange the meeting between Simon and Charon.  “It was many years ago that I learned the name of Charon – his real name I mean.  It is essential to the task of meeting him to obey certain rites.  Charon used to be a mortal just like you or I and he has a mortal’s name.  It is imperative to speak his name when the time is right or else he will not heed you.  Charon is descended from the Germanic tribes and his name is Wilhelm Fruehling.  You must call to him his full name in order for him to be lured back to the shore,” the old man said pausing to take a long sip from his wineglass.  Simon had never had such exquisite wine pass his lips before.

“What do you mean, lure him back to the shore?”  

“You must wait till Death has delivered his cargo and departed,” the old man explained.  “Charon will come from the isle to the shore to meet Death when Death comes.  You must wait till Death has departed.  Death must not see you.  Must not.  As soon as Death leaves, you must hurry to call to Charon.  He has to prepare his cargo, but it doesn’t take long.  He will push back out into the waters, and you must call to him before he gets too far.”

“Will I be able to ride with him into the Underworld?” Simon asked.

“Yes,” said the old man.  “You must also wear a cloak like the one Charon wears on this journey.  You must be as inconspicuous as possible in the Underworld or else suspicions will be raised.  If you’re discovered, you may not ever return to this world.”  Simon leaned back heavily in the ornate and high-backed chair.  The thought of actually taking such a journey had his head spinning.  This on top of the knowledge gleaned from the books in the Earl’s secret repository was too much for one evening.  The Earl recognized this and saved the trouble of an excusal.  “My servants have prepared a room for you.  You have had quite an eventful day.  Get some sleep and we will have plenty of time to continue talking tomorrow.”  Then, just as the Earl was about to ring a bell sitting on the tabletop, he paused and said, “One more thing you must promise.  Never, ever, mention one word of the passages below my manor to anyone.  There are very few people in the world that know of their contents.  Do you swear to never tell a soul about it?”

“I promise.  On my word as a scholar and a gentleman, I promise,” Simon said looking the old man straight in the eyes.  “I thank you for allowing me into your confidence.  You are a most gracious host.”

“You’re quite welcome Mr. Bancroft.  I see something in you that I haven’t seen in anyone for quite some time. A trait that is very rare and very unique.  I think it is a combination of curiosity, fortitude, and a desperate need to know the truth.  Now I bid you goodnight and sleep well.”  Then the old man rang the bell and a servant arrived to escort Simon to his room.

“Goodnight, Earl McDermott.”

It seemed like an eternity but was really only about fifteen minutes before Simon realized that the sun was beginning to burn through the fog.  Instead of a roiling mass of fog above the water there were now thick columns of fog.  It was still very dark since the sun was just rising and was still obstructed by the overcast skies.  

Then Simon thought he heard the sound of water.  Could it be?  Yes! There again was the unmistakable sound of water being disturbed!  Very faint but it was there.  It was the rhythm of an oar dipping into the water.  Simon strained once again to locate the origin of the sound.

It continued for several minutes, slowly getting closer and closer, louder and louder.  And then, finally, the ferryboat emerged from the fog far out in the bay – a ghostly figure standing in the boat.  Its gaunt body draped in a white cloak just like the one Simon wore.  A long pole was in its thin hands, and it rowed with the slow precision of a dead leaf falling from a tree in autumn.   Charon’s face wasn’t visible.  The cowl of the hood hid any trace of a form beneath.  Simon’s heart was racing.  He beheld the boat and its occupant the way an old woman would behold an apparition in the night.  He forced himself to swallow hard and tried to regain his composure.  He was shaking and his breathing was labored and irregular.

Could he still go through with it?  Did he possess the will to rise from his haven amongst the rocks and approach this being that radiated such gloom and utter despair?  He seriously doubted if he could.  He could not tear his gaze from this figure.  He watched for many minutes as Charon made slow but deliberate progress to the boat mooring.

Simon was completely oblivious to the gradual increase in the brightness of the morning.  As Charon continued to get closer to the boat mooring Simon suddenly realized that the day had dawned and that the fog had lifted.  He turned his gaze back into the bay and beheld the awesome sight of the Isle of the Dead.  It was the most enigmatic and majestic terrestrial object he had ever beheld.  Most of the isle was a U-shaped, granite cliff.  The height and sheer vertical surface was staggering.  Simon estimated that these cliffs must be about forty or fifty feet high, but it was difficult to gauge such dimensions due to the distance and with no reference for measurement.  The inside of the “U” formed a small lagoon that was enclosed by a wall.  This wall was made of large rocks stacked in such a way as to form a barrier that extended from the tips of both arms of the “U” and met in the middle in two pillars of stacked rock that formed an entrance, or doorway into the lagoon.  In the very middle of the isle grew gigantic Cypress trees that towered over the lagoon.  These large Cypress trees cloaked the lagoon in an ominous darkness and prevented the eyes from penetrating that which the lagoon contained.  The most mysterious and strangest aspect of the isle was the queer doorways in the cliff walls at infrequent intervals.  No two doorways were at the same height and there appeared to be no steps or ladders with which to access these openings.  Each one looked as if it were designed with a different architecture from a different epoch of time.  One appeared to be in the Greek fashion with large, ornate columns flanking the arched aperture while another was little more than a hole in the cliff face.  Simon could not determine the purpose of these openings, but he knew that the isle was the gateway into the Underworld.

A noise of rattling chains aroused Simon from his hypnotic inspection of the isle.  Turning to determine the source of this sound his eyes found Charon reaching the boat mooring.  Simon thought that the sound was coming from Charon and the small boat, but this was not the case.  The sound was coming from further up the shore.  The squeaking, jangling sound was coming from the crest of the hill.  It was a wagon.  The wagon was black and square.  Simon had seen a similar looking wagon one time when a huckster had come through his town selling some kind of magical elixir.  But this wagon looked far more disturbing than the huckster’s flashy wagon.  Two thunderous black steeds with long flowing manes hauled this wagon; and the driver of the wagon was none other than Thanatos, Prince of the Dead.

Charon reached the boat mooring before the wagon of Thanatos but did not exit the boat.  The figure of Charon began to prepare a large burial shroud upon a platform inside the boat.  Meanwhile, the ebony wagon of Thanatos continued its rattling descent from the hill until it halted before the ancient pier.  The horses shook their massive heads and snorted steam into the clammy dawn.  Thanatos sprung off the wagon surprisingly quick – his black cloak swirling about but not revealing his form beneath.  He went around the back of the wagon and just as he was about to be lost from Simon’s point of view he stopped and turned.  Simon’s heart twisted in his chest as he froze in fear.  His breathing halted and his skin crawled with a million chemical needles of terror.  The eyes of Thanatos could clearly be seen beneath the cloak cowl, red and searching.  The moment lasted for only a brief second but to Simon it was the end of all perceived time – an eternity of doubts and fears in one agonizing second.  Then Thanatos disappeared behind the wagon to retrieve his cargo.

A large, amorphous mass of undulating souls was herded from the wagon.  Distinct body parts could occasionally be seen emerging from the main body of the mass as Thanatos, the Reaper of Souls, nipped around them as sprightly as a dog about sheep.  They were driven onto the pier and then aboard the ship.  Once onboard the boat they were wrapped in the shroud that Charon had prepared, at which point they became as still as the bodies which they had so recently vacated.  Upon completing the placement of the shroud the souls took on the form of one, single dead body lying on the platform in the boat – still and lifeless.  Thus they were set for their final journey into the Underworld.

Thanatos, having delivered his cargo, bounded back across the mooring, swung into the driver’s seat, and set his steeds in motion.  The wagon lurched and began to climb the hill.  Charon, having settled the souls, untied the boat, picked up a long pole, and pushed away from the pier.  Simon watched the wagon receding, his heart thundering in his chest as he waited for the right moment to emerge from his concealment.  The boat was drifting further out into the bay, and it seemed as if the wagon would never disappear.  Simon feared that his window of opportunity would be lost and that he would never have this chance again.  The moments were tense, and his gaze kept flitting back and forth between the wagon and the boat, trying to determine the right moment.  Finally, he could not endure another second, so he cautiously rose and began a low run towards the boat mooring.  The wagon was just cresting the hill.  He reached the mooring and ran to the edge.  He looked back to see the wagon disappear, and then he turned, raised his hands to his mouth and began to call out, “Wilhelm!  Wait!  Wilhelm Fruehling, come back!”

He kept calling, not knowing if his cries were reaching the vessel when finally, the figure turned and looked back.  He heard!  Charon heard his real name!  The boat began to slowly turn under the guidance of the mysterious figure.  Simon tried with all of the ocular intensity he could muster to penetrate the darkness of Charon’s cowl, but to no avail.  Slowly the boat made its way back to the pier and Simon grew more and more uncomfortable.  The morning fog had now completely lifted but the sky remained overcast and gloomy.  The sunlight only served to provide a sickly, yellow glow giving a surreal aura to the day.

The boat reached the mooring for the second time with a soft thump.  Simon still could not see the face of Charon.  An awkward moment passed as the two figures stood in silence and then Simon began to speak.

“My name is Simon Bancroft, and I am an acquaintance of the Earl McDermott.  He told me how to get here and that you could take me to the Underworld.  He said that I should call your real name and wear this cloak and that I…”

Simon trailed off into silence as Charon lifted one skeletal hand in a gesture of silence.  Then Charon extended his hand and motioned for Simon to board the vessel.  This was it!  Simon’s mind was flooded with conflicting impressions. Excitement, trepidation, and bewilderment all fought for superiority of Simon’s emotions.  He went to lift one foot towards the boat and was suddenly struck as if he were embedded in a thick viscous fluid.  His foot was sluggish and felt as if it weighed a hundred pounds.  This physical feeling was accompanied by a similar psychological feeling of weightiness.  It was as if this decision to climb aboard carried with it great ramifications and a strong will to continue was required.  There was no doubt for Simon though.  His mind resolved long ago to attend this journey.

The feeling passed as quickly as it arrived, and Simon’s foot reached its destination in the boat.  Once aboard, Simon stood just a few short feet from Charon – the body of the dead souls lying between them.  Charon leaned forward as if studying Simon’s face then he raised his hands to his hood and pulled it back to reveal his skull.  Simon stared transfixed into the dark orbits of Charon’s eyes – so vacant yet, so full of life.  The two regarded each other for several moments.  Simon couldn’t help but feel a sense of the macabre as he gazed upon the grinning visage of the Ferryman to the Underworld.  But, strangely, he felt in no danger from this deathly form.

Charon straightened back up and offered Simon one of his skeletal hands.  Simon looked at the hand.  Did Charon intend to shake his hand in greeting?  Simon found this normal gesture so out-of-place in this fantastic setting that he hesitated in confusion for a second.  Then he lifted his hand and wrapped it gently around the frail hand of Charon and said, “Nice to meet you Wilhelm.”  But the hand of Charon was not as frail at it appeared.  The bones of the hand locked around Simon’s hand in a grip that was inescapable.  Simon at first winced and then he tried to pull away, but it was useless.  What was happening?  Simon’s eyes darted back and forth between Charon’s face and their locked hands.

“What is the meaning of this?  Let go!  Let go of me you beast!”  Simon shouted and pleaded trying to free himself desperately from the clutch of Charon.  His struggle was met only with the demonic grin on the skull of Charon.  Simon continued to scream and fight until something altogether unexpected occurred.

Simon fell into a shocked silence as the transformation began.  The tissue of Charon began to reform around the bones.  Tendons, ligaments, vessels, and muscles all weaving and knitting together at an incredibly fast rate.  Simon was so transfixed by the regenerating man in front of him that he didn’t notice the opposite happening to himself.  By the time he realized, his hand was nothing more than exposed muscle and veins.  The air was filled with the wet, sticky sound of tissue and blood churning and roiling along the two men’s bodies.  The horror of the situation struck Simon as he realized what was happening.  But now he was helpless to do anything.  He couldn’t even speak now that his mouth was no more than a bony smile.

The transformation ended and Wilhelm stood before Simon as he looked before he became Charon.

“Vell Mr. Bancroft,” Wilhelm said with a thick German accent, “I bet you are regretting coming to zis place now.  No?”  Simon looked at his skeletal hands, turning them back and forth.  “It vas a long time ago that I vas in your place and your Earl McDermott vas here vhere I am now,” Wilhelm continued massaging his newly formed face.  “Don’t vorry zough, one day I shall find you a suitable replacement and send zem here.  But, until zen, enjoy your living hell in ze Undervorld.”

With this he began to laugh uproariously as he climbed out of the boat.  Simon tried to follow him, but he was overcome with the same feeling of extreme heaviness that gripped him before.  This time, however, he didn’t possess the strength to fight it.  Wilhelm saw him struggle and turned to say, “Don’t bozer trying to get out Mr. Bancroft.  It is a fruitless effort.  Believe me I tried for years; and now I must be gone but not before I have zanked you for freeing me from zat God forsaken damnation.”

He danced down the pier and began to jog up the hill.  Simon watched him go, helpless to do anything about it.  All Simon could think about was the brewing hatred he felt for the Earl McDermott.  When he got out of this accursed state, he would murder that deceitful bastard!  That was a promise he intended to carry out and all of the legions of Hell could not stop him!

Wilhelm halted part-way up the hill and called back, “In case you are vondering how long I vas in your current state I must tell you I lost count after about twenty years!  But, if I vas to guess, I vould say fifty years is about right!  Oh, and don’t vurry about Earl McDermott!  After I find him and kill him myself, you vill get your revenge vhen Thanatos brings him back here!  Goodbye Mr. Bancroft!”

Simon watched him until he crested the hill and was lost from sight.  How would he recognize the Earl in that amorphous conglomeration of souls?  Simon looked at the sheet covering the communal body in the boat and wondered.  He reached down and slowly raised the corner to peer at what was underneath.  The sight he beheld would come to be a common sight for him over the years that followed.  But the first time a person beholds a sight so disturbing there can be no words to describe the torment and disgust.  Simon recoiled from the body in shock.  It was a writhing mass of contorted faces groaning and pleading for mercy.  Some were gaping open, and others were twisted in grief and pain.  It was their eyes!  The utter hopelessness of their damnation was reflected in their eyes!  But every day in the years that followed Simon would force himself to take inventory of everyone, looking each one in the face until he found the man who had sentenced him to this demented prison.

When Wilhelm got out of sight of Simon, he began to talk to himself.  After all, it had been quite a long time since he had exercised his vocal cords – or had any for that matter.

“Poor Mr. Bancroft.  His hell is only just beginning.  I haven’t the heart to tell him that Earl McDermott rode the boat vith me yesterday.”

________________________________________________________

The artwork that inspired this story was originally done by the Swiss artist Arnold Böcklin. He did several versions of the same image with slight variations. The following are three of his versions:

Several artists have creation their own versions of the picture. Here is a version done by H.R. Giger (of Alien artistry fame).

The artist Guang Yang did this variation that incorporates Cthulhu in it.

Finally, this next image is a panel from the graphic novel Dune done by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. The illustrators of this are Raúl Allén and Patricia Martín. Notice what picture is hanging on the wall.

The Russian artist Ksenia Svincova, who goes by the name Iren Horrors, created this image of the ferryman Charon.

These next images are results from the AI Artist program Wonder with prompts “The Isle of the Dead” and “Charon”.

Chapter 13: VIRTUTEM SUPERANDI MORTUIS

June 16th, 2013

Inspector Simpkins,

My name is Jonathan Spencer and I must first explain to you that it was not I who stole your case file on Milo Brecklin. The person who stole it was Tanner Wallace and I’m sorry to report that he is now dead. Every page is accounted for and you’ll notice that I’ve included one additional letter. It is the letter I received from Tanner Wallace requesting my help, dated March 24th, 2013. The reason I include this letter is so that you’ll see that Wallace was already close to uncovering the thing that you were no doubt trying to uncover yourself.  My only knowledge of Brecklin goes back to the original letter I wrote to him at Wallace’s and his behest. Brecklin responded with some vague response that said he may at some later point contact me depending on certain outcomes to information he was looking into. I never heard from either one until Wallace contacted me this past March. Oh that I had never responded to Wallace’s wild entreaties to help. But I was curious about the mad suggestions in his letter and thought that it couldn’t hurt to at least hear him out. How wrong I was.

I will set down here the events of what happened and maybe the holes will be filled, the questions answered, and the whole story explained. It is a mad tale to tell and, while I think we have incurred a major victory over those vile forces of ancient chaos, I believe that the war is ultimately a futile struggle. The reason I tell you this story is so you’ll understand and continue the work that Milo Brecklin went to his grave pursuing. I cannot do it. I have seen things that have shaken my soul and left me despondent, morose, and full of hopelessness. I have become a shell of man who wallows in depression and believes that the cosmos is a bleak and cold place where mankind will meet its inevitable doom. Our time will be brief, meaningless, and forgotten under the tread of forces much too great to comprehend fully. Once you have received this, I will be long gone so don’t even bother trying to find me.

After receiving the letter from Wallace, I replied back and told him I would be interested in meeting with him. We agreed to meet in Boulder at Brecklin’s estate. Of course I was skeptical about him saying I had this power he called Virtutem Superandi Mortuis. But what happened in Fiji was still an unanswered mystery that I had never fully come to grips with. The first thing that Tanner did to bring me around was to produce the case file that you and Division 212 were compiling. You have no doubt wracked your brain trying to figure out how someone broke into your high security facility and stole the files. Tanner said that it was actually easier than you might think. After all, he was in a Special Forces unit that specialized in going into places where they weren’t supposed to be and getting out undetected. After reading the case file and hearing him explain many other questions I had, I began to understand that this was something much more complicated than I had first thought. The fantastic nature of so many things made the talk of strange powers over the dead seem like just another element in a convoluted web of incredible and clandestine conspiracies of dark magic and paranormal phenomena. After talking for quite a while, he told me that he had exhumed Mr. Brecklin’s remains.

Tanner showed me to a room in the basement where Mr. Brecklin’s coffin was sitting on a large table. He asked me if I wanted to look inside and I gave him an emphatic “no”. I wanted to wait until the time was at hand before looking in there. We spent another day waiting on the Devon Schottenreich to arrive because we were clueless as to how to proceed. I had only used my so-called power once and that was completely by accident. Tanner apparently had a similar story. He didn’t even know if he really had the power for sure.

The next day Devon arrived and he and Tanner talked for quite some time while I mostly listened and asked questions. Maybe you expected to find out that Khalid al Fasid to be Brecklin’s murderer but I learned from them that Fasid had been dead for many years. Apparently, it was Devon and Tanner, with the orchestration of Brecklin, who had been Fasid’s downfall. This was all a part of the retribution from the Ain Hith incident and the end result was the death of Fasid, the then High Priest of Cthulhu. Tanner and Devon had also secured the metallic meteor taken from them on that expedition. Then who had killed Brecklin? Tanner and Devon had theories but didn’t know for sure.

I also learned why Tanner was in Antarctica and why he was so affected when Brecklin was killed. Tanner had gone to Antarctica to retrace the path of the Peabody Expedition[i] in order to discover those strange ruins that lay somewhere in the nether mountain ranges of that frozen wasteland. It was another attempt of Brecklin’s to discover answers to the metal and the Spawn of Cthulhu for purposes which none of us could completely figure out. The strangest part of the whole expedition was that Tanner and Brecklin were linked through some strange sorcery so that Brecklin’s mind inhabited Tanner’s body remotely. Brecklin could explore the ruins firsthand but still be back in Boulder. Apparently, whoever killed Brecklin knew that he was vulnerable and chose it as the right time to strike. The resulting sudden abandonment of Brecklin’s mind from Tanner’s body was a psychic shock to Tanner’s mind and that is why it took him so much time to recover.

Devon gave Tanner and I a crash course in magic that left me reeling from the inundation of knowledge I never dreamed existed. I made sure to copy down some of the names of the arcane tomes that he used to educate us in our task of raising Milo: The Book of Azathoth[ii]The NecronomiconGhorl Nigral[iii]Cultes des GoulesDe Vermis Mysteriis[iv], and Las Reglas de Ruina[v]. Inspector, you might be quite familiar with these abominable texts, but if you’re not, I would recommend approaching them with the utmost caution. Their forbidden knowledge holds the key to some of the most deeply disturbing mysteries of our place in the cosmos. To this day, I am still struggling to come to grips with just the limited amount of information that I was exposed to. Unfortunately, I don’t think I can square that knowledge with any worldview that doesn’t leave me wallowing in the depths of depression and I feel the only escape is of a final sort.

Once Devon felt that we were sufficiently prepared, he set about preparing the room where Milo reposed in his coffin. He explained that the use of our powers was augmented by certain signs, symbols, and other artifacts. Finally, the evening arrived when he declared that everything was in order and we adjourned to the basement. I must say that the candles, symbols adorning the walls and floor, and open tomes felt like we were going into the most blasphemous of black masses. What really gave me a shock was the body of Milo Brecklin laid out on the table. He was mottled with discolored splotches and bloated quite a bit. Rigor Mortis had set in and his arms were locked out at wholly unnatural angle. It was my first time beholding a corpse in such a condition and my mind immediately went back to Fiji. I thought of Tevita’s cousin George and thanked the Lord that I never beheld that shambling nightmare that I had unwittingly unleashed on that poor village. I only hoped that Devon and Tanner were right in their assessments of what this mysterious power of Virtutem Superandi Mortuis could achieve. What really left me worrying was the fact that Devon had taken the precaution of placing a loaded double-barrel shotgun near at hand just in case things didn’t go quite as planned.

Devon began by reciting from The Necronomicon and Tanner and I would echo certain phrases that Devon had coached us on – their alien pronunciations were barely expressible in many places and I wondered if the language was even invented by humans. The rhythm and pace of the incantation began to take hold of me and I drifted into some type of hypnotic state – partially aware and partially dream-like. Time took on a convoluted quality and I can’t really say how long this went on for, but at some point Devon gave me the nod to begin my portion. I placed my focus on Milo and began to recite the passage Devon had me memorize. Over and over I said it and a change began to occur with my vision. Everything became blurry and colors started to coalesce together. I reached out a hand and placed it on Milo and a faint light began to radiate from him. It slowly grew in intensity until it filled the room. There was a wobbling kind of shimmer in the light and a low moan escaped from his mouth. And then, suddenly, the moan turned into a great scream of anguish. I recoiled in surprise and my vision returned to normal. I felt weak; drained of all energy and thought I would collapse. Devon was beside me, helping me to remain standing as he yelled at Tanner, “Now, Tanner! Now! The spell!”

Tanner rushed over and clutched Milo while he chanted a different incantation that he had memorized. The screaming subsided and slowly Milo began to change. His body morphed, undoing the process of decay in just mere moments. Devon had assisted me to a chair and I sat there in my enfeebled state staring in disbelief at the transformed Milo Brecklin. His eyes fluttered open, he gazed around the room in bewilderment for a few seconds and then a huge smile spread across his face followed by peals of deep, full laughter. The laughter was infectious and pretty soon Tanner and Devon were laughing too; I just stared with my mouth hanging open and wondered if I had just lost my mind.

Later, we sat around Milo’s large dining room table listening to him recount the last weeks of his life as he gorged himself on a dinner fit for a king. His resurrection had left him famished. Milo explained that it was Saul Lupov who had replaced Fasid as the new High Priest of Cthulhu and the two were in a battle to accumulate as many of the Star Spawn of Cthulhu as possible – Lupov wanted them to hasten the awakening of Cthulhu and Milo wanted them to prevent Lupov’s mad plans. From what I gathered, the Star Spawn of Cthulhu were artifacts which act as a gateway for consciousness of the ancient Deep Ones. These Star Spawn came from the deepest reaches of space in some long forgotten epoch of time with the Deep Ones. They appear in various guises but most people would mistake them for strange metals.

Milo thought he was winning the chess match with Lupov because he had managed to secure many of these artifacts, but Lupov was well aware of Milo’s location and chose the opportune moment to attack him and take the artifacts from his mansion. Tanner asked Milo if he had any idea where Lupov might be taking them. I don’t know how he knew it, but he replied, “The Wetumpka impact crater.” And within the hour Milo, Tanner, and I were driving to a local airstrip where Milo kept his private jet. Devon remained at Milo’s estate to pore over those accursed tomes in search of something Milo had instructed him to find. We flew to Alabama and landed at a small airport just outside of Coosada. On the way Milo laid out his plan to us. The plan seemed insane to me but the previous forty-eight hours of my life had been one madness piled atop another. I asked him what made him so sure that Lupov would be there. He explained that he had learned why the crater was so important to the Cthulhu cult. It was the location where the Great Cthulhu and his Star Spawn had landed on Earth in the dark, distance past. He further explained that if his assumptions about the moon phases were correct, Lupov would be active this night – it was the 25th of May; a full moon.

Milo had an SUV waiting for us at the airstrip. Before setting off to Wetumpka, Milo phoned Devon and the two conversed for nearly a half-hour. The entire time, Milo wrote copious notes filled with strange words, symbols, and diagrams. It took us less than thirty minutes to snake our way through the backwoods of Wetumpka that led to the caldera of the impact crater.  Tanner drove and we navigated by his GPS. Milo directed Tanner to pull over at the bend of a dark road and we all got out. Tanner rummaged through a backpack with God knows what gear in it and produced two flashlights. He also pulled out a machete and a pistol. Milo said, “We’re going to need a different sort of weapon tonight.” Tanner didn’t even acknowledge the comment as he shoved the pistol into the small of his back and thrust the backpack at me. With me carrying the backpack, Milo carrying his notes, and Tanner leading the way hacking the foliage with the machete, we set off into the thick woods.

After what seemed like an eternity of steady progress through the thick forest, we eventually saw a light emanating through the woods in the distance. Milo ordered us to quench our flashlights and we began to creep forward as quietly as possible. Painstakingly slow and stealthy we inched forward until we could finally behold a small fire burning atop a large stone altar. The flickering light from the fire illuminated what could only be the figure of Saul Lupov draped in a large cloak. He was kneeling before a large, ornate book reciting some foul spell of conjuring in the wispy, hissing syllables of a grotesque dead language. As he chanted, he rocked back and forth with his hands raised to the night sky.

Scattered about Lupov were numerous objects of various shapes and sizes. All of them appeared to be metallic and many of them reflected the firelight in shimmering dances of light which had me mesmerized; colors that no man had yet seen or named. These were, of course, the Star Spawn of Cthulhu. And, as I watched, I saw these strange metallic objects begin to change and morph and even move across the ground as if imbued with life!

We watched from the cover of the trees for several minutes and then Lupov reached up to the cowl covering his head and pulled back the hood. What I beheld sent a shock through my body and I reflexively gasped in horror nearly giving away our position. Where there should have been hair upon his head, there was a mass of writhing, churning tentacles. They were long and slimy and the skin was lumpy and venous. Each one ended in a sort of rudimentary mouth that seemed to suck or grope the air as if searching for something to latch onto. The effect was made all the more nightmarish by the flickering lights cast by the fire, the shimmering colors of the metallic objects and the sickly, yellow glow cast by the full moon high above.

I stared bewildered by the shock of what I beheld and tried to control my nerves, but things suddenly took a drastic turn for the worse. Suddenly, my attention was drawn to another figure entering the circle of firelight and I realized that it was Milo Brecklin. He had heard something in that alien babbling that had alerted him to the fact that it was now time to strike. The only recognizable words I could make out were “Cthulhu” and “R’lyeh” from Lupov. Milo held the notebook beneath the beam of one of the flashlights and began to chant a different but just as alien phrase while casting what appeared to be a fine powder before him. I felt a tugging at my back and spun around in fright swinging wildly. Tanner ducked the haymaker I had sent his way and grabbed me shaking me to my senses. He was merely trying to get the backpack from me. While removing the backpack Tanner and I were startled by a piercing shriek. It was Lupov howling in fury like some wild monster. He had finally seen Milo.

Lupov left off his chant for a moment as the rage spread across his deformed face. He started up another phrase that was thick and low, apparently trying to counter what Milo was conjuring. Then he broke into a full run and slammed into Milo, smoothly tackling him and driving him to the ground. Tanner leapt away towards them pulling something from the backpack that looked like a large, cruel dagger of some unknown substance.

It was at this moment that I first noticed the smoke. It was low to the ground and seemed to be forming a great circle around the stone altar. Dark and sinuous, it began to coalesce and swirl in an increasing counterclockwise motion. Lupov drove several strikes into Milo’s face but Milo continued to chant the weird phrase through the blows. Then Lupov lowered his face to Milo’s and the tentacles shot forth and latched onto Milo’s head. Milo howled in tormented pain. Tanner arrived just then and grabbed Lupov by the back of the head and raised the dagger high. The smoke had begun to thicken considerably and the last thing I saw of the three men before the smoke completely enveloped them was the Star Spawn of Cthulhu wash over them like a liquid, metal wave and Tanner driving home the dagger into Lupov’s back.

It’s hard to say whether it was Lupov or Milo who had succeeded in their respective spells because whatever demon that crawled forth from the abyss at that moment didn’t choose sides. All three men were taken indiscriminately back into the void from which it crawled. The smoke had formed a huge pillar that completely shut out the firelight and a loud rumble announced the arrival of the beast. It was as if the earth were violently heaving forth some massive behemoth. I wasted no time in hanging around to behold much more. I ran out of primitive, naked fear through the dark woods not even noticing the briars and branches that tore at my body. A cold wind rushed past me and I glanced back one last time to behold a malformed, giant appendage emerge from the smoke. It had to be nearly ten feet long and looked like the antennae of a giant insect. At the tip of it was a massive compound eye that scanned the darkened woods and I swear to God that it locked on me! But then I heard the final cry from Milo Brecklin through the chaos of the blackest insanity I have ever known. “Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!”[vi] And then I ran and never looked back again.

Once I was out of that accursed forest, I entertained the idea of contacting the local authorities, but what would I tell them? So, I just drove. After a while I decided to call Devon and explain to him what had happened. After hearing my frantic retelling of the night’s events, he told me that there was no use contacting the police. He assured me that they would find no trace of the three men.

I suppose that there is nothing more to tell. My testimony, along with this box of documents, gives the entirety of the tale. I trust that you will have the fortitude and the resources to take this information and continue the work of Milo Brecklin, for now I see just how important his work was.

And finally, as for me, don’t bother trying to find me. The chaos and the fear have enveloped me to the point that I can longer escape their sway. By the time you read this, I will have ended this madness!

Good luck and Godspeed, Inspector!

Jonathan Spencer


[i] This is a reference to At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft.

[ii] This is a reference to The Book of Azathoth Tarot Deck created by Nemo.

[iii] A Cthulhu Mythos invention by Willis Conover and used by Lin Carter.

[iv] A Cthulhu Mythos invention by Robert Bloch that translates to “Mysteries of the Worm”.

[v] A Cthulhu Mythos creation by Joseph S. Pulver which translates to “The Laws of Ruin”.

[vi] A reference to The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket by Edgar Allan Poe and At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft.

Chapter 12: LETTER FROM TANNER WALLACE

24 Mar 2013

Jonathan,

You may not remember me but I sought you out on behalf of Milo Brecklin in order to encourage you to write him and tell him the details of your brush with the paranormal while in Fiji. I’m not sure whether or not you and Mr. Brecklin stayed in touch with each other but Mr. Brecklin passed away this past December. The things I’m about to tell you may or may not come as a surprise to you – depending on how much Mr. Brecklin has told you – but I believe that your help could be of the greatest importance to stopping something that could unleash untold horror upon the world.

To begin with, I believe your experience in Fiji was not the result of the old witch on Bat Island. I’ve come across information that suggests it was in fact you who caused (albeit unintentionally) the resurrection of that drowned Fijian. I also believe Brecklin suspected this and that is why he sent me to seek you out. I worked for him for many years and failed to realize that he was seeking out people like you (and now I see I’m one too). There were others he had recruited who knew of their power and I witnessed them use it. What is this power? It’s called Virtutem Superandi Mortuis, or The Power to Control the Dead. There were twins girls who had it and I knew them. They were murdered back in 1989.

I’m not completely sure what sort of power I possess but I believe it is similar to yours. There was an incident that happened to me back in the Army during the early 80’s. I was a part of a highly specialized Special Forces unit. On one particular mission a good friend in my squad accidentally caught our Captain selling valuable, Classified intelligence to a known terrorist. It was an elaborate mission in Yemen in an area where we weren’t supposed to officially be operating. The mission was supposed to be to assassinate this terrorist leader. Tuck burst in on the Captain to tell him that we had enemies closing in and witnessed the dirty deal going down. The Captain turned his pistol on Tuck and shot him. That’s when I came in and found Tuck bleeding and thought he was dead. I rushed to his side and, miraculously, he came to and was apparently completely healed. Not a scratch on his body, but still covered in blood. So he comes to and begins screaming about the Captain shooting him and that he was selling State secrets and all kinds of crazy stuff. I was confused and panicked because the enemy had begun to engage our guys outside. The Captain, meanwhile, is claiming that Tuck is out of his mind and that it was the terrorist leader that shot Tuck. We had to get the hell out of there right then and there and as we’re making it to our egress point, Tuck gets shot again. But this time I wasn’t able to get to him. We had to leave him. After that I was confused about what happened. I didn’t realize until just recently that Brecklin suspected that Tuck was telling the truth and the Captain really did kill Tuck only to have me cure him.

I don’t think I can heal anyone that’s been dead too long, though. Looking back on it, I think Brecklin suspected this too. If I am right, you can bring the dead back to life, but they still are in the condition they were in just prior to being resurrected. It’s like you can call their life force back into their body. I, on the other hand, can restore the dead, but only if a certain amount of their life force remains in them.

Jonathan, if I’m right, together we can bring Milo Brecklin back to life and he can finish what he started.

I NEED YOUR HELP!

Desperately,

Tanner Wallace

Chapter 11: NEWS OF THE BIZARRE

News of the Bizarre – July 27th, 1996

Priest Claims Meteors Cause of Demonic Possession

Father Jonathan Baldwin[i] is a priest with a hobby for stargazing. The amateur astronomer claims that his interest in the starry void began when he heard the story from a death row inmate of how the murder the condemned was accused of committing was really caused by an alien that had taken possession of his wife after a meteor strike in their backyard.

Father Baldwin admits that the story was a tough pill to swallow, but it spurred him to investigate the occurrence of reported possessions by demons that followed the occurrence of meteor sightings. The data was what was too compelling to ignore. After years of collecting data and building charts and tables of such possessions and meteor activity, the priest turned astronomer is convinced that some sort of alien intelligence is tampering with humans in an effort to study them.

Most interesting of all the discoveries was the fact that a meteor shower immediately preceded the outbreak of the Salem Witch Trials. Mere coincidence? One can only hope.


[i] This is a reference to the story entitled “The Juggernaut” I wrote in Tome of Horror.

Chapter 10: LETTER FROM JIMMY YELLOWBIRD

February 24th, 2006

Dear Mr. Brecklin,

You inquired about the brass plates used during the Green Corn Festival and whether or not they were still in the possession of the Creek Nation. Two of the brass plates are here at the reservation housed in the Creek Council House Museum[i]. Our history of these revered artifacts reaches far back into our tribe’s past. There are numerous legends about their origins, but the one most commonly believed to be the truth is that they were acquired from the Spanish Conquistadores when Hernando de Soto trekked through the Creek lands in what is today the state of Alabama during the 1500’s.

Plans were in the works to relocate one of the plates to the Creek exhibit in the museum at Coosada University in Coosada, Alabama, thus bringing them back to their home for the first time since the Trail of Tears brought them to Oklahoma in 1834. We were working with Professor Miller Hall in the Archaeology Department at Coosada University who was the one who initially began the project. Unfortunately, he has since passed away and the University has dropped the efforts to acquire it for their museum exhibit. This was some twenty years ago or so.

We no longer use the two brass plates for any ceremonies. Replicas have been created and they are the ones used in the ceremonies currently. If you would like to visit the museum I would be happy to show you the two plates; they are truly a marvel to behold.

Jimmy Yellowbird

Curator, Creek Council House Museum 

Muscogee (Creek) Nation

Okmulgee, Oklahoma


[i] While it is true that the brass plates were transported to Oklahoma during the Trail of Tears, it is not true that they reside at the Creek Council House Museum. The whereabouts of the plates are a mystery.

Chapter 9: LETTER FROM DR. NICOLAS STEIGER

12 August 1991

Gershom Asylum for the Criminally Insane

Wetumpka State Penitentiary

Dear Mr. Brecklin,

I have to say that when I received your first letter and read of your theory of a shared delusion amongst the inmates of Gershom Asylum, I was quite skeptical. I don’t think I have ever heard of a case of group delusion existing within a community of the insane. Most of the mentally deranged live in a world of their own fabrication or a warped sense of reality that prevents them from seeing beyond their own narrow perceptions, however distorted, of reality. In other words, they are withdrawn and lack empathy for the perspectives of others that they might adjust their perceptions to match societal norms. Even if one were to hypothesize that one influential member of the community had somehow infected their own ideas into all the other inmates, I wouldn’t think that it would have much effect beyond maybe one or two weak minded individuals. Now, however, I have to report to you that certain things witnessed by me and my staff have caused me to return to your letter of several months ago and reevaluate the situation.

It’s hard to say which patient was patient zero – and I know you adamantly contend that the cause cannot be traced to any one patient, but I refuse to believe that. I must maintain the view that there is one patient influencing all of the others because I cannot believe that the source is some manner of pseudoscientific or fringe belief such as ESP or channeling or some such nonsense. There must be a perfectly rational and natural explanation no matter how unlikely the outcome.

Tracing things back to patient zero has been fraught with problems but I think a likely candidate is one patient I will simply refer to as Percy. I’m probably skirting the lines of confidentiality just by writing you and describing the phenomenon; I certainly don’t want a complete breach of patient confidentiality. You should understand this, but I do think that you deserve a description of the circumstances since it was you who first brought it to my attention. How you first caught wind of this is still a mystery but I shall explain some of the things we have witnessed.

One of our staff recalled the earliest known incident between Percy and another inmate. The staff member couldn’t recall the specifics of the things Percy was saying, but they’re pretty sure that it was quotes from that abhorred book you sent me. This particular inmate was so distressed by the things Percy was saying that he attacked Percy. We were forced to move the patient to solitary confinement. Unfortunately, the patient died shortly thereafter so I can’t interview him at this time.

After we began monitoring the things the patients were saying more carefully, I had the staff write down specific phrases that possessed common themes. I collected these notes and compared them to the copy of the Necronomicon that you sent me. As I said, that book is an abomination and I can only surmise that Percy must have memorized the damned thing. The patients mentioned many of those devilish names: Yig, Yog-Sothoth, Azathoth, Shub-Niggurath, Nyarlathotep, Dagon and Cthulhu. They mentioned many of those strange places: Carcosa, R’lyeh, Leng, Irem, and The Nameless City. They would quote random snippets of lines, phrases, and passages from the book as well.

In response to your specific inquiry into mentions of Cthulhu and his Star Spawn, yes, these were the main gibberings and phrases being uttered by the inmates. There was much talk of the “Metallic Children of Cthulhu”, the “Multihued Seeds of Cthulhu”, the “Star Spawned Metalloid Ones” and other such phrases and references.

The most common phrases were the following three, which virtually every inmate had apparently memorized through sheer repetition:

“That is not dead which can eternal lie, And with strange aeons even death may die.”

“Eternal is the power of Evil, and infinite in its contagion! The Great Cthulhu yet hath sway o’er the minds and spirits of Men, yea, even tho’ He lieth chained and ensorcelled, bound in the fetters of The Elder Sign, His malignant and loathly mind spreadeth the dark seeds of madness and corruption into dreams and nightmares of sleeping men.”[i]

“In dark places we shall banish to the deepest recesses of strife, but their kind shall never vanish for even in death, there is still life.”[ii]

There were two incidents that struck me as the most bizarre and unsettling. The first occurred one night when Percy was found in his darkened cell, huddled in the corner. He was reciting the following passage over and over in a rapid whisper:

“Many and multiform are the dim horrors of Earth, infesting her ways from the prime. They sleep beneath the unturned stone they rise with the tree from its roots, they move beneath the sea and in subterranean places, they dwell in the inmost adyta, they emerge betimes from the shutten sepulcher of haughty bronze and the low grave that is sealed with clay. There be some that are long known to man, and others as yet unknown that abide the terrible latter days of their revealing. Those which are the most dreadful and the loathliest of all are haply still to be declared. But among those that have revealed themselves aforetime and have made manifest their veritable presence, there is one which may not openly be named for its exceeding foulness. It is that spawn which the hidden dweller in the vaults has begotten upon mortality.”[iii]

The last incident occurred one late night when the orderlies called me. I was on duty that night and they roused me from slumber in my office. When I entering the cellblock, I heard all of the inmates chanting in unison the following atrocious phrase:

“Ph’nglui Mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.”[iv]

I wouldn’t have known how to spell the horribly alien sounding words if not for the book you sent. I know not what it means, but I copied it just as it is written and there is no mistaking that this is what they were chanting.

And there you have it, Mr. Brecklin. I’ve reported it just as I’ve observed it and I await your response to explain how it is you knew about the mass delusion. More importantly, I hope the information you provide can help me further the research I’m conducting because frankly, I’m currently at a loss to explain just how it is that Percy can so thoroughly affect a community of people who should not be so easily corralled into participating in his mad delusions.

Looking forward to your response,

Dr. Nicolas Steiger


[i] Written by Lin Carter in “Dreams from R’lyeh: A Sonnet Cycle”.

[ii] This is another reference to “The Cave” in Tome of Horror. This epigraph actually has several references within it. The term “In dark places” is a reference to a song by Crimson Glory entitled “In Dark Places” that recounts the luring of a man to a watery death. The term “still life” is a reference to the song “Still Life” by Iron Maiden which is eerily similar to “In Dark Places” in that it also recounts the luring of a man to a watery death. The entire epigraph is very similar to Lovecraft’s famous Cthulhu couplet.

[iii] Written by Clark Ashton Smith from “The Nameless Offspring”.

[iv] From “The Call of Cthulhu” by H.P. Lovecraft. Translated as “In his house at R’lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming”.

Chapter 8: SEATTLE TIMES ARTICLE

The Seattle Times

Wednesday, August 16th, 1989

SLAIN TWINS IDENTIFIED

Investigators released more information regarding the slain bodies of twin females found savagely mutilated Saturday at Hicks Lake in the Shorewood area of southern Seattle. The bodies were those of identical twin sisters Jalenne and Janelle D’Amato, 27 years old. Investigators haven’t released any details about the conditions of the bodies, but reports of eye-witnesses claim that the bodies were mutilated and displayed in some bizarre, ritualistic manner. Authorities are working to quell fears that a serial killer might be on the loose in the Seattle area…

Chapter 7: TELEPHONE CONVERSATIONS BETWEEN MILO BRECKLIN AND JALENNE D’AMATO

The following recorded telephone conversations took place between Jalenne D’Amato and Milo Brecklin at various times between 1986 to 1989.

Milo: Hello?

Jalenne: Hi, Mr. Brecklin, this is Jalenne.

Milo: Jalenne, how are you? Did you find Tharpe?

Jalenne: Yes, sir. We found him just where you said he would be. Of course, Janelle helped pinpoint the exact location.

Milo: What was the condition of the body?

Jalenne: Pretty bad except for his head. It was the freakiest thing I’ve ever seen. Where his hair should’ve been he had a mass of tentacles. And the thing is, they were still moving and writhing. Wallace said he looked like Medusa. He was a bit shook up but Janelle calmed him down while I talked to Hamilton.

Milo: He’ll be just fine. He needed to see it. How was the conversation with Tharpe?

Jalenne: Very interesting. He’s serving some purpose for Cthulhu that he wouldn’t elaborate on. He said that our conversation must be important since there were three Virtutem Superandi Mortuis[i]’ that were sent for him. Was he wrong about Wallace being the third or is he one too?

Milo: Interesting. I suspected he was but this confirms it. Something happened during his service in the Army – a mission he was on that made me suspect he was. It’s part of the reason I recruited him. The problem is, I don’t know exactly what his power over the dead is. He certainly doesn’t even realize he’s VSM. What else?

Jalenne: Well, I asked him about Ain Hith and he said he knew that it was a place with special power. Again, he wouldn’t say why. He also said that those small towns in Alabama that used to be Indian villages were special too. He laughed and said that you were missing a key piece to the puzzle there, though. They aren’t too worried that you’ll solve the riddle before all of their preparations are made.

Milo: What was his response to the question about Cthulhu’s Star Spawn?

Jalenne: He said that the answer to that lies not in the Language of the Dead, but in the Language of the Mad. Oh, and that they are already calling to you. Does that mean anything to you?

Milo: [After a long pause.] Hmmm, I’m not completely sure, but it might be a reference to a certain lunatic or asylum.

****

Milo: Hello?

Jalenne: Uhm, Mr. Brecklin, it’s Jalenne. I have some bad news.

Milo: Bad news? What is it?

Jalenne: They took the meteorite. This morning we were held at gunpoint in our rooms while they took it. There was nothing we could do.

Milo: Who took it? Where in the hell was Wallace and St. Pierre? Why didn’t they stop them?

Jalenne: It was the Minister of Antiquities. That guy Khalid al Fasid and his men. There was nothing that anyone could do. The whole thing was a setup. They were in our rooms without a sound.

Milo: Al Fasid, huh? That sonuvabitch! Are you okay? Was anyone hurt?

Jalenne: No, he said to tell you that he was playing nice. He could’ve killed us but decided to let us go. He also said that if you try to get the meteor back, he won’t be so nice next time.

Milo: Did you see Devon?

Jalenne: No.

Milo: Get out of there and get back here as soon as possible. I’ll figure something out about dealing with that bastard Fasid.

****

Milo: This is Milo Brecklin.

Jalenne: Mr. Brecklin, this is Jalenne.

Milo: Jalenne, how are you and Janelle holding up?

Jalenne: Everything is going fine. We’re being very cautious and staying hidden. You know, it’s actually very easy for a female to hide in a Muslim country.

Milo: True. I suppose it is, but you can’t be too careful when you’re dealing with people like Fasid. Have you found out anything worth reporting?

Jalenne: Well, that’s why I’m calling. He’s definitely one of them; one of Cthulhu’s priests. He bears the sign on his ring. I got close enough to see it. I also had a chance to pilfer some of his mail. I only had time to take photos of the letters and wasn’t able to open them. I don’t want to risk taking any for fear that it’ll make him suspicious.

Milo: Good. Don’t get too risky and keep playing it smart. What did you find?

Jalenne: One letter was from a Saul Lupov. Now, that’s very telling.

Milo: Interesting.

****

Milo: Hello?

Jalenne: It’s me, Mr. Brecklin – Jalenne.

Milo: Jalenne, My Dear, what have you got for me?

Jalenne: Devon and Tanner have arrived. We’re ready to execute when you say it’s time. Fasid left Riyadh this morning.

Milo: It has to be tonight. Execute tonight.

Jalenne: Yes, Sir.

****

Milo: Hello? This is Milo Brecklin speaking.

Jalenne: [Crying] It’s me, Mr. Brecklin. He has us! Fasid has both of us! [More sobbing with sounds of deep laughter behind it. Sound of a sharp slap. Screaming and more sobbing.]

Milo: You dirty bastard, Fasid! If you hurt them I’ll kill you myself!

Fasid: You have something of mine, Brecklin. I warned you what would happen. I will have what is rightfully mine. [Dead line.]


[i] “Power over the dead”. An invention of mine.

Chapter 6: BIOGRAPHY OF MILO BRECKLIN

Biography Sheet of Milo Brecklin contained in case file of Agent Deborah Simpkins of F.B.I.’s Division 212.

Name: Miles Alexander Brecklin

Alias: Milo Brecklin

Born: 2 Dec 1948[i]

Died: 21 Dec 2012

Early Life: Oldest son of Dennis James Brecklin and Hannah Susan Brecklin nee Dodds. Milo Brecklin was born in Roaring Springs, Texas. In his early years he lived and worked on a ranch with his father. At the age of 18 he joined the Army and served in Vietnam with the 525th Military Intelligence Group as a battlefield intelligence collection specialist. He separated from the Army in 1973 and via contacts made in the DOD Intelligence community procured a job with DARPA.

DARPA years: His work with DARPA is believed to have been working in a Top Secret branch that investigated claims of Parapsychology, ESP, and other paranormal abilities and how they might be used as weapons or tools of intelligence gathering by the US government. During these years he began to amass a great collection of antiquarian, rare, and occult books as well as becoming a collector of rare artifacts that have links to paranormal claims.

Shortly before leaving DARPA in 1983, Brecklin was engaged as a consultant on an archaeological dig somewhere in the desert of Australia’s Outback[ii]. Virtually nothing is known about the nature or exact location of this dig. Whatever was found there is believed to have been a contributing factor to Brecklin’s breaking with DARPA and becoming a freelance entrepreneur.

One significant mystery about this period of Brecklin’s life is his sudden accumulation of significant wealth. There is no clear source for where this wealth came from. Some believe that it was his savvy in dealing with rare books, some say it came from a discovery (possibly the dig in Australia, and others say it was hush money given to cover up things learned at DARPA).

Post DARPA years: Whatever the case of how he gained his wealth, Brecklin took his fortune and started a couple of companies that have since been recognized as fronts for his continued interest in paranormal and occult investigations around the world. One company is Adventures Unlimited which claims to be an adventure vacation package for the wealthy. Trips include safaris, jungle river treks, high altitude mountain treks, deep sea explorations, etc. The other company is Aura’s Children. It is an outreach and support organization for children and young adults who are parentless or put out and who also possess rare gifts and psychic abilities.

From 1983 onward Brecklin continued to delve into the occult and paranormal all over the world. Apparently, he saw himself as a champion of Good trying to counter various plots, cults, and cabals.

Later years: Brecklin’s base of operation and home for the people in the Aura’s Children program was in Boulder, Colorado. In later years, from about 2000 onward, Brecklin seems to have become a bit of a recluse as he didn’t take in any more children but did retain a small staff of assistants. It was at his Boulder estate that he was found murdered on 21 Dec 2012. (Details are included in the Forensics Report Case #936729 attached.) Cause of death was determined to be strangulation but there were also many strange marks on the body. In numerous places there were circular patterns arranged in such a way as to suggest suction marks as if by tentacles. Bite marks were found encircling the neck and had no breaks where a hinged jaw might be. Investigators were baffled as to what manner of creature or device might inflict these types of marks. Suicide was ruled out.


[i] Brian Lumley was born December 2nd, 1937 and when he created his character Titus Crow he gave his birth as December 2nd, 1916. I was born December 2nd, 1969 and followed suit by giving my Crow-esque character Milo Brecklin’s birth as December 2nd, 1948 – a difference of 21 years in both cases.

[ii] This is a reference to the location of the ruins in “The Shadow Out of Time” by H.P. Lovecraft.

Chapter 5: CHEMICAL REPORT FROM MISKATONIC UNIVERSITY[i]

Miskatonic University

Chemistry Department

June 23rd, 1882

Description: Unknown specimen of probable metallic substance. Substance’s initial appearance is a hot, viscous globule approximately golf ball sized. Specimen was retrieved from the property of one Ammi Pierce. Mr. Pierce claims the object’s origin is a meteor that struck his property on or about the June 20th, 1882. The remarkable feature seems to be that the original specimen obtained from Mr. Pierce’s property was approximately baseball sized and was observed by no less than 5 people to have shrunk.

Temperature: 420 degrees F. 215 degrees C.

Texture: The metallic substance is a malleable, viscous substance of a soft, gooey texture lying part way between a solid and a liquid.

Color: Multiple colors; some colors defy categorization into known spectrum when heated before the spectroscope.

Testing Results:

1. Substance shows high affinity for silicon.

2. Substance produces no occluded gases when heated on charcoal.

3. Substance is wholly negative in borax bead.

4. Substance non-volatile at any producible temperature, including that of the oxy-hydrogen blowpipe.

5. On anvil substance appears highly malleable.

6. In darkroom substance’s luminosity is very marked.

7. Substance mysteriously loses mass while maintaining heat. Heat loss doesn’t appear through usual mechanisms of conduction, convection, and radiation. After 24 hours the sample had been reduced from a 1-inch diameter globule to a quarter inch diameter globule in a span of 22 hours. The temperature in that time went from 420 F to only 400 F.

8. Testing in crucible with reagents yielded marked invulnerability. The lab used the 16 reagents from von Fehling’s Reagent List but none produced any significant reaction beyond Nitric Acid, which yielded mild hissing and Nitro-Hydrochloric Acid, which yielded mild hissing and spattering.

9. Magnetic tests were positive at 7 gauss thus indicating the metallic nature of the substance.

10. Faint traces of the Widmanstatten patterns were found similar to those found on octahedrite iron meteorites and some pallasites on the specimen after immersion in acid bath.

11. Further tests were unable to be conducted due to the specimen’s complete dissipation.

Professor Charles R. Browne


[i] Everything in this chapter is a reference to “The Colour Out of Space” by H.P. Lovecraft.