Disclaimer in table of contents
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.