Into the Gloaming
Bound in plain black leather, the journal entries date from June 1875 to March 1876. The ink is faded but still legible. The following tidbits of information can be gleaned from reading it:
- Merriweather and five others, playfully calling themselves the “Dark Brotherhood”, held their first meeting in the early spring of ’75. Merriweather became the recording secretary. The other members were Marion Allen, Robert Menkin, Harold Copley, Crawford Harris, and Sean Farrell.
- In June of ‘75 they purchased an old farmhouse outside Ross’s Corners, where they could conduct their experiments. The represented themselves as a student literary fraternity, they cleaned and furnished the house while Marion Allen carved warding signs over the wooden doors and windows. At the time, others were amused at such precautions.
- A series of experiments, apparently ineffective attempts to contact spirits, are detailed.
- An entry dated Feb ‘76 notes Allen’s acquisition of an artifact, purported Egyptian, described as a small sarcophagus of gold with a hinged lid. Inside was a large piece of amber entrapping a specimen of some unknown species of arthropod. Allen is excited. The box corresponds to a description he found in a reference volume in the M.U. library.
- Allen says that in another book, a thick Latin tome titled De Vermiis Mysteriis, is an explanation of some purported powers of the box. The small animal trapped in the amber is said to contain a friendly spirit and guide to the spirit world.
- A date is set to conduct the ceremony to summon the spirit — a Saturday night in the middle of March.
- The next entry is reproduced below (in Backstory).
- A brief account describes Allen attempting to bind Farrell’s wounds by means of a chant after the previous night’s misadventure, after which Allen collapsed out of pain or exhaustion and Farrell seems much relieved. Merriweather copies the spell on the following page, but makes no mention of where Allen obtained it.
- A list of the members appears again, with dates next to each man’s name except for Merriweather’s. The dates are written in the same handwriting but are in varied inks.
- Robert Menkin, March 1876
- Harold Copley, August 1876
- Marion Allen, August 1877
- Crawford Harris, January 1909
- Sean Farrell, March 1920
- Rupert Merriweather —
- A newspaper clipping is pasted on the page:
- A Murder at the Docks (New Orleans) – The body of a Mr. Marion Allen, late of Arkham, Mass., was discovered early this morning near the Gulf & Panama docks. A victim of foul play, the man was identified by local witnesses who said that Mr. Allen had been seen in the locale the evening before. Although robbery was the apparent motive, police report that the victim’s tongue had been cut out. Marion Allen had reportedly gone to police earlier this week claiming that he was being followed and that he feared for his life. He said his shadowy pursuers were after an Egyptian artifact which he no longer possessed.
- The final entry is written in a noticeably weaker hand, and the ink is quite fresh.
- I gravely fear that which I and my colleagues have loosed upon this countryside. Nothing of consequence has yet taken place but with my death the bonds will be broken and the thing then freed to come and go as it pleases. Lives and souls not yet taken already lie heavy on my conscience. The method of delivering the thing out of this world is still in that accursed house, the translation made by Marion Allen from the horrid De Vermiis Mysteriis. I am not strong enough to take on the task, but I know of those who perhaps are. Should they fail me, may God have mercy on my soul!
We begin the ceremony as Marion instructed, according to that described in his book, De Vermiis Mysteriis. A fire is set in the fireplace and a pentagram chalked on the floor, marked with appropriate symbols and illuminated by two black tapers placed near the center flanking the piece of amber with its entrapped spirit. The others sit in a circle while I, the designated “watcher” who guards for malevolent spirits, sit in the far corner of the room.
Marion throws a handful of powder in the fire, producing an evil-smelling smoke and dampening the flames, which now burn a sputtering green and brown. Those seated begin the Latin chant Marion Allen has transcribed from his book.
After nearly two hours I see a trail of smoke circling up from the piece of amber. Its surface seems to be bubbling, melting. Could this be it? Have we finally achieved success? I can see a form…
It is the following day. We have finished with our plans and have sworn a pact to never speak of what happened last night. We have satisfactorily explained the death of Robert, and in some manner the madness of Harold. The sheriff accepts the explanation of a carriage accident – we planned it well. Robert’s neck was broken in the fall, we told him. Harold struck his head on a rock when the horse’s leg broke and the carriage rolled. Would it be that it was only that. For the rest of us, we will be forever changed by what we experienced last night.
The thing formed in the center of the pentagram, shapeless, nearly invisible. Its terrible voice should have given us a clue but we were foolish. It spoke, then Marion cast that damned powder on the spirit, the Dust of Ibn-Ghazi he calls it, and that’s when we could see it.
Words cannot describe the faceless thing with a thousand maws. It roiled and bubbled, never fully revealing itself. So terrifying was its aspect that I sat as though frozen to the floor, the pen falling fro my nerveless fingers. Sean and Marion seemed as lifeless as I, while a short, sharp cry issued from Crawford’s mouth. Robert, however, rose to his feet and before anyone could stop him stepped forward as though to embrace our horrible guest. With its arms, or those appendages that seemed most like arms, it took hold of poor Robert and twisted his head around as though it was a doll’s head. The lifeless corpse was then thrown back in Harold’s lap and that’s when he began that damnable shrieking – the shrieking that hadn’t stopped even after we handed him over to the sheriff’s men.
We still had a chance, apparently. Marion now believes that if we had kept our wits, we could have reversed the chant and eventually forced back the creature to wherever it came from. But Sean panicked and, mistakenly believing that it would dispel the creature, reached forward and destroyed part of the pentagram, breaking its effectiveness. Released from the binding symbol, the thing — with a screech that could only have been unholy satisfaction – struck Sean down and fled the house, disappearing out the window as a roaring, screaming wind of boiling colors.
Marion believes the thing could still be destroyed, or at least dispelled, but none of us who remain have the stomach for such an undertaking. It is believed that the spell we cast inextricably binds the thing to the house and it is true that when we went back a few days later to retrieve our things, we heard it bumping about in the attic over our heads. The warding signs so cheerfully carved by Marion during better times – times that seem so long ago – apparently are effective and bar the thing entry except into the attic of the house.