The Return Of the Cult, Part Three

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 Part Three

 I was noticeably rattled by the headline. The elderly gentleman running the newsstand asked me “are you alright?” I responded in a dazed way, “yeah, it’s just…” I trailed off. He tried to make small talk “I know it’s just terrible that the police can’t catch this guy.” I put two quarters on the counter and put the newspaper under my arm, continuing towards the university.

I came in so shaken by the events that were unfolding under everyone’s nose that I didn’t even give notice to any of the students or other faculty members. I’m sure I received a few befuddled looks, but I was disturbed by the correlation of events leading me to this point I just kept walking. I entered my office and place my coat and hat on the rack just inside the door. I turned on the overhead light and shut the door.

Pouring myself a glass of water from last night’s pitcher, I began to collect my thoughts. All the events were getting difficult to piece together, so I grabbed the cork board by the book shelf and began pinning up all the information I have gathered so far. I pinned notes from the night of the murder, including the knife drawing. Photos and research papers were next, I had brought all of the papers from the house, in my briefcase, this morning. Finally, I clipped the headline and photos from today’s newspaper and pinned it, cautiously, on the board.

I spent the rest of my morning calling area libraries and universities. I asked everyone of them if they had, in their possession, any works by either Professor Logan or Professor Angell. My search was turning up nothing most of the morning, calls to Philadelphia and calls to Portland, Maine. It wasn’t until I called closer to home that I got an odd response.

I called the Arkham Public Library, a building of old architecture, it was one a colonial church. Built when only a few french trappers resided near by, they called the area Sombreaux, meaning dark water. After the revolution it was expanded upon and became Arkham City Hall. Later the city hall was moved and the old building became the local library.

The librarian that answered my call was hesitant to answer my questions. He insisted on asking me the reason for my inquiry. To avoid looking crazy I explained that I was doing a study on local history for the university. After nagging him into at least looking through the catalog, I finally heard the rustle of cards being thumbed. However, the rate of each “fwip” of a card was far too fast for anyone to actually gain the data written on the card. The librarian answered “No Logan or Angell in our inventory.” I knew this man was just trying to get me off the phone. I thanked him for his time and received an abrupt scoff before I hung up the phone

My suspicions were simply that this person was so loathe of their lot in life, sitting in a quite building, stamping the occasional card, and sorting book returns, that they just didn’t feel like performing their duties to the fullest. I grabbed my coat and left at once for the library.

I had been there before as a child, it was only a few blocks north of the campus. I remember it to be a fairly benign building, with mostly colonial and early American architecture. The front steps were wide with large columns at the top of the stairs. The front doors were big enough to accommodate many people ready to perform their civic duties. These days it was quieter, and today it appeared that no one was coming or going. The lights were off, but the door was unlocked.

I entered, cautious of the silence, but there was no one at the front desk. In fact, there was no one to be found in the library. I approached the front desk which was situated in the center of the room, directly above was a large domed skylight comprised of various pieces of stained glass. Light shined in from above, and revealed no one behind the counter. I looked around, verifying my initial observation, even in the mezzanine, that overlooked the center of the ground floor, this place of learning was deserted.

Since I was left to my own devices, I walked over to the card catalog to have a look for the either of the professors. First I looked for Angell, but nothing turned up. Then I looked for Logan. There was a small piece of a card, ripped as if the previous person to find the card removed it in haste. At the bottom of the ripped piece was one legible word, “cultists.” I immediately thought to go search the non-fiction section in the hopes of finding this book when I heard a sound.

It was the dry thud of a closed book hitting the floor. The sound came from the mezzanine over my shoulder. As I turned to look I glimpsed a shadow heading around to the back of the library. I was scared, excited, and angry as I gave chase, at first heading for the stairs at the front of the library, left of the entryway. Thinking better of it, I stopped, turned around and notice someone heading down the staircase at the back of the building.

Running as fast as my legs could take me, I headed for the back of the library. Just before I made it to the back I was startled by the slamming of a large metal door. It bounced off the jamb and puttered out like an echo. I approached the shut door that was barely illuminated by a dim red bulb, mounted on the wall just above it, I noticed the sign to the right of the door. It had that recognizable skewed chevron that indicated stairs and in big, white letters read the word “BASEMENT.”

I, having come this far, was not ready to give up my search. I reached my shaking hand out to give the door a push, it opened. In his haste, the scurrying little mouse, had forgot to bolt the door shut. As I swung the door open, looking into the abyss, I wondered what nightmarish rituals might be going on under the collective nose of Arkham while we went about our days and slept away our nights.

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The Return Of the Cult, Part Two

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Part 2

Three days passed since I last thought about the murder outside my office. My work on the study of influential cults and how to spot them before any lives were put in danger was still on the verge of not receiving funding. I was stayed at the office for two nights now, sleeping on the brown leather sofa that sat by my book shelves. The plant I kept to remind me to open the blinds was withering from pouring cold coffee into the soil when I delved into the books and forgot about the rest of the world.

It was late, close to eleven, when I received a call at my office. Professor Ames felt it necessary to contact me right away. He said “can you come down here? I have some information on your knife.” I told him I would be there immediately. I grabbed my keys off the desk and made for the door. I locked my office as I left, I did not want my research to be tampered with while I was gone. I headed down to the Archaeology Department with haste.

When I arrived Professor Ames waved me over to the archaeological display room, where the university kept memento’s of dig sites that were funded by the university or donated by alumni. Ames showed me an open unmarked drawer that looked as if it had not been opened in ages. Inside the drawer was an unpublished research paper. At the top of the first page I noticed the words “Sleep Study.” I asked the good professor why this was in the archaeology department. He responded with a shrug and confused “I have no earthly idea.”

As I read through the papers I discovered that there was more than one author. From our very own Miskatonic was Professor Albert S. Logan and from Brown University, in Providence Rhode Island, a Professor George G. Angell. I remembered seeing some of Professor Logan’s work in my research into cults, I also remember learning of his demise. Though it was listed as natural causes, the media at the time could not piece together any logical answers as to what exactly was natural about it. I read the journal thoroughly but it did not result in much more than some nonsense and an old photograph.

The photo was fading at the edges, but I could still make out the details of the focal point. It was what appeared to be a stone or clay object with characters on it that looked similar to the what I remember of the knife. As I held the picture, Ames handed me the drawing I had scribbled together. The character were identical, the two items were the same, a knife that was used in a murder less than a week ago and photo from over 50 years ago. I was speechless, my jaw hung open as my mind pieced together the idea of a cult performing ritual killings for the past 50 years. Worst of all this had gone on unnoticed the entire time. I read the journal in it’s entirety and noticed that there appeared to be parts missing from Professor Angell’s work on this piece. I knew that there was more to this, but it was long past midnight and I needed to perform a lecture in the morning.

I cannot be sure if it was the fatigue or the curiosity, but against my better judgement I made a call to Brown University to see if I could find out more about the late Professor Angell. After getting to the point of my call it seems we were cut off. I called back again, and again after I mentioned the name George Angell I seemed to lose my connection with the administrator. This happened twice more; it was then that I was about ready to give up.

It was lunch time when I placed one more call to Brown. An administrator that was a former student of Angell’s answered. When I spoke of the late professor the gentleman began to reminisce about his time working with Professor Angell on research. However, he did remember over hearing a phone conversation the professor that had taken the professor’s attention. The thing he could remember most was not really words, but more like sounds. At the time he thought it was just Hebrew, but when he spoke it to me I knew it was not. The words that were heard made the sound “cthulhu fhtagn.” The professor proceeded to spelled it out for the recipient of the call.

I thanked the gentleman for his time and assistance with my “research” and he told me to be careful. Saying he never believed the reports that the late professor died of natural causes. I hung up the phone and looked at the letters that I had written down. “Cthulhu fhtagn.” I continued to search for any clues into what these strange assemblage of characters could mean, but found no further information in any of my books.

The next day I awoke in the armchair of my apartment. I fell asleep looking through old books and research notes from various professors on ancient texts. I got dressed and made some coffee to start my day. I looked at the clock and realized I was going to be late. I bolted out of my apartment and started walking at a steady pass towards the campus. I was passing by my local newsstand when a headline caught my eye. “Fifth Victim in Ritual Killing Spree, Police No Closer to Identifying the Suspect.” There were two pictures accompanying the headline. The first was a body covered by a sheet and the second was like knife I had found tagged as evidence.

Upon further reading, the article stated that the body was found around midnight on the campus of Brown University, the first of the ritual killings found to take place there. The police were not releasing the name of the victim, but the reported made the assumption that it was a faculty member at the university. My mind was already connecting dots that were not yet manifest. I already believed that this man was the very gentleman I spoke to on the phone. What kind of conspiracy was going on. I began to look over my shoulder, thinking to myself, would I be next?

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The Return of the Cult, Part One

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Part One.

My name is James Webster, I used to be a professor at Miskatonic University. Three weeks ago my life unraveled into a state of hallucinations and delirium. From professor of philosophy to a rambling lunatic screaming about monsters the likes of which have only been dreamed in the heads of the soft minded, the artistic, and those with apparent psychic connections to such great and malevolent beasts. During this period of general lucidity I am able to collect my memories for a short period in this imaginative chronological space that we call time.

Let’s go to the beginning of my journey into the depths of insanity, before I ventured into the dark secluded underground dens of people who have long since given up there ability to rationalize the surreal with clear reasoning. It was the 13th day in March, I was grading papers for a lesson on religious leaders and their charismatic presence, when I heard a scream coming from the hall outside my office.

I proceeded to investigate the scream. Opening my office door, I found a young woman across the hall laying on the floor in a pool of what my best guess was blood, which must be seeping out of the body from a spot on the individuals abdomen. I made this deduction when I noticed the student’s hand grasping the wound. While my brain made sense of the situation I rushed over to the aid of the victim. I asked how badly she was hurt, but she did not speak.

With her available hand she pointed down the hallway. I turned my head in the hopes of spotting the suspect responsible for this atrocity. I only caught a glimpse of the despicable culprit’s hooded cloak and muddied shoe. As they turned the corner of the hall I yelled out “STOP” but it made no resonance with them. I turned back to the scene of the crime and the young woman was not moving, so I reached down to check her pulse, she was now a murder victim.

In my panic, I looked around the hallway trying to decide the next logical course of action. During this moment of anxiety I discovered a small blade of about nine inches with a serpent like pattern, etched into the blade were symbols. As a professor of philosophy and religious studies I’ve seen many dead languages, but nothing like these. The characters looked a little like pictogrammes, but none that matched any from the far east, past or present. On the hand guard was some sort of creature, if you could call it that. There was something anatomically incorrect about the creature, parts from different biological classes of animals. It was unidentifiable with the knowledge I possessed. I came to my senses with a snap and telephoned the police from my office.

The police arrived within ten minutes of call. During my wait, as I tried to cope with the cruel reality that I witnessed, I drew a copy of the knife in one of my journal. As well I made note of what I had only just observed, from the audible scream to the suspected culprit fleeing the scene. I wrote down as many details as I could pry from my mind because, I did not want my fallable human memory to recollect any incorrect information when explaining my account to the police. As the officers took my statement, one of them, he will remain unnamed so as not to implicate him, told me in confidence that there have been a string of murders over the last four nights that fit the same modus operandi. Until tonight they had no found a single clue leading to the person responsible. They said it was probably my quick reaction that caused the killer to drop the knife in panic at being caught.

After the police left I went back to my home, a one bedroom apartment downtown. It was only a couple of blocks from the university, but I decided it best to take a cab tonight. I paid the cab driver and made my way up three flights of stairs to my apartment. I got in and placed my coat on the rack, then placed my notebook on the coffee table and prepared dinner.

As I ate, so too did my thoughts eat at me; the sight of a murder, the cryptic language on the knife, the creature that should not even exist in the minds of man. I began to lose my appetite but became insatiable for answers. I started looking through my books for any resemblance to the characters I had seen on that knife. There were many books of various breakout versions of Judaism that used pictographic letters in their rituals, but none matched. Neither did the blood rituals of ancient Mayan and Inca cultures. The symbols were nothing like those of ancient Egypt and far from the characters found at the Jiahu site in China.

I fell asleep in my chair with books all over my small living room. As I got up I knocked over a glass of wine hidden underneath various papers on dead languages. I scrambled to clean it up, grabbing towels from the kitchen. When I finished cleaning up I noticed one paper, I must have overlooked it the previous night. It was a study on a language that has never been pin pointed to a single location or period of history. The only information on it was from a case of mass hysteria that ended in the mysterious death of a professor at Miskatonic more than 40 years ago. The death was officially ruled as natural causes and the case was closed, and the study was kept from the public by the professor’s sole inheritor.

I went to the school that morning with the intention of letting the police do their job and dropping the entire subject. Sleepless nights were something I could not afford with my own study getting close to approval for grants. However, I failed to uphold my intention when I handed the drawing of the knife to one of the archaeology professors. Professor Thomas Ames has studied ancient artifacts for the better part of 20 years. After looking at the drawing with an inquisitive expression he responded with “let me get back to you.”

After the rest of the day went by with no response from Professor Ames, I had hoped, at the time, that might mean the end of my obsession. Little did I know, I was sorely mistaken.

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