It was impossible to get any sleep. Even though Trent left to go do some snooping around the college. Even though Max was dog-snoring loudly next to me, normally a comforting sound. I was restless, and wired. I wasn’t sure if it was from the excitement of the impending investigation, or from my compulsion to try and look at the… stone. When my eyes were shut, I imagined it’s curves and edges. Tracing with imaginary fingers, I felt its cracks and grain. My back ached, and my shoulders were so tense that I tossed and turned. Tired as a 90-year old man, but wired like a child before Christmas.
Of course the whispers did not help. As I put one leg out from underneath the blanket – the perfect temperature finally achieved – I noticed them. Their syllables were guttural and foreign and yet… Familiar. I paid attention as best as I could, they grew quieter as I paid attention. They must sense I am listening.
It was all I could catch at the time. Later, I would hear more. But first, the dream that came while I could not sleep.
A darkness fell over the room as if the sun was suddenly covered by some great tapestry of storm clouds. But what happened next was more of a prophecy, or something. I don’t know. I was awake in bed, and abruptly a great ocean stretched out, tumultuous and awe-inspiring. Waves of titanic proportions crashed into each other, greater than any other waves this world had seen. Their collisions shattered the song of the rain with thunder. A city suddenly began to appear, with gargantuan stone blocks stacked irregularly to create strange structures that were nearly Escherian in geometry. A strange tone blew from beneath the waves as the city rose higher, water falling from sinister stones covered in algae and rumbling into the sky. The tone was a thousand screams blended into one voice, somehow. The cacophony grew so loud and impossible to block out, and then just as suddenly as the vision came, I was back on the bed, sitting upright and sweating. My legs shook from the fear that comes from a lack of understanding, and when my eyes finally focused, they found their own way to that bas-relief of the horrible being. A chill tingled its way down my spine, and shivering, I left the hotel to meet up with the detective.
We returned to the college, and the secretary had left for the day early apparently, as she was not in her usual spot at her desk. Trent brought a crowbar under his coat, and we awkwardly hid together in the leg space underneath the great desk that belonged to my late Uncle Clive. I couldn’t imagine what awaited us behind the secret door, what terrible dark secrets must be behind it! We sat in complete silence for hours, neither of us wanting to take the risk of being heard. Luckily we both remembered to wear our deodorant. We had fasted in preparation for this, so that we wouldn’t get the urgent calls of nature at the worst possible time. A granola bar each kept our stomachs from growling as darkness began to chase the light away from the day. Shadows spread around us, the already dark room becoming so black that we could scarcely see each other. Silence was pulsing into the room, waves and waves of it washing over the darkness. We thought that no one would show up, and just as Trent became restless, a slow creaking shot into the room. The heavy wooden door to Uncle Clive’s old office began to swing open, letting in a dim light from the hall and several long shadows that belonged to members of this strange cult.
The footsteps tentatively found their way into the office, so quiet and careful. A small crowd had bustled in judging from the sound, and the last in shut the oaken door behind them. Darkness again found its home. If we were discovered, my mind shuddered at the thought of the horrible tortures that would await us. Flayed skin, peeled back from each finger like a hangnail from hell, curling up my arm and my neck and finally to my eyes. My damned imagination made my heart pound with such force that I feared I would be heard by the anonymous crowd less than 20 feet from where the detective and I hid.
After an eternity, we heard the large picture of the sea monster attacking the old vessel swing to the side, revealing the doorway. The sound of brass on brass clanked and I knew that the keys were slid into their locks, tumblers turning and hinges creaking as the door swung open.
In silence, the group made their way into the doorway. Finally the door swung shut behind them, and their echoing footsteps down a stone corridor disappeared. A moment passed, and then another moment. Trent and I looked at each other and silently agreed to finally stand and stretch and complete our mission. It was nearly the appointed time.
Trent stood first, and I hesitated to stretch my own legs from the sitting position first. He stood, stretched his arms up, and a great cane with a large stone at the top cracked him across the face. Blood spurted from his nose and sprayed onto his shirt as he fell backward, tumbling over the chair. I quickly pulled my legs back and continued to hide, a cowardly move that saved my own life. From where I was, all I could see were his legs twitching with each repeated swing of the cane onto his skull. Each thick thud gave a spasm to his body, which finally went limp. Silence again, and then the hidden door creaked one last time, swinging open then closed.
My entire body felt weak as I pulled myself up. Trent’s face was completely caved in. The copper smell of fresh blood was blended with brain and marrow. Barely able to contain my nausea, I took the crowbar he had smuggled in. I would have closed his eyes if there were eyes to close. I would make sure he got a proper burial… But first there was business.
The crowbar worked well on the hinges, and I pried the door open with a surprisingly quiet splintering. The vestibule was a wooden frame of decent design, remarkably clean. I took out a small flashlight that I had brought with me, and I carried the crowbar in my other hand. A smell rode on a small wind out from the darkness in front of me, and it grew stronger with each step down the old stairs. The wooden structure gave way to stone, and I did not notice when that change occurred because of the sounds I heard. The damp, musty air blended with strange incantations, and trills. Drums. Almost human sounds. Sounds no person should make. Each step into the tunnel brought them deeper into my mind, the echoes giving the impression that the sounds came from all around me. Finally, a flickering light could be seen around the corner and up ahead, where the tunnel curved suddenly to the right. Turning my flashlight off, I crept up to the edge and peeked around into the heart of madness. The light that flickered was from a great fire.
The earthen hall had opened into a great cavern, who knows how deep beneath the school grounds. The ceiling was so high up it gave me vertigo to look, with strange Byzantine patterns carved into the wall all around escalating the sensation. The center of the room drew my eye, as the dark chanting grew more frantic and hurried, words echoing with fanatical glee. A monolith of black-green blended stone towered in the center of the room, fires burning around it in a shallow pit. Countless skeletons hung upside-down above the pyre, just beyond the reach of the flames. I focused on the cultists, silhouetted and nude. They danced and swayed erratically, each moving to the strange rhythm of the incantation that I will try to write again. It is so clear in my mind… and yet difficult to write:
“Ft’ngluii…. maglwf’nafh…. Kuthluun…. Reh’lyeh… wvagah-najl… phutadjnn!”
As I heard the words from the disgusting lips of the raving cultists, I knew that they were the words that I have been hearing in my mind. It makes me shiver to try and think of how it was possible. Some stones are best left un-turned. The flames leaped and I caught one face: A man I recognized from the funeral. A colleague of my late Uncle’s. And another. And another. This was the secret for which he was ashamed. A scream broke through the maddening tempos of beating drums and foul syllables. The drums became more frantic as a woman was dragged out from the other side of the cavern, naked. Feet and hands bound. My heart pounded and I watched helplessly as they brought her to the center, before the swaying nude crowd and the monolith. The chanting grew louder as one man stepped forward, and raised an object high into the air. The gold glistened from the strange blade that I was so fond of — the tentacled blade. It was a sacrificial knife. They broke in and made a mess to hide that they took just that. The woman looked frantically around, crying for help, and as the man grabbed her hair to pull her head back I saw it was the secretary from before. Blood squirted out onto the stone floor as the blade cut into her throat, and almost immediately she was hoisted up over the monolith and the flames, and I watched the blood drip down onto the black-green stone and I saw the familiar being from the bas-relief carved into the top of the stone, staring at me. The chanting was frantic as she twitched and hung above the monolith, dying and flames licking at her skin, and catching her on fire. Must have been doused in gasoline. I could not help but vomit, and I felt powerless and I weakly made my way back the way I came.
The police did not believe me. They nearly arrested me when I tried to get them to follow me to the school. They knew of no Detective Trent. His body was gone when I went back up to the room. No blood. I have done the best I can to write this clearly, and I fear I have used all the strength I have had just to stay sane. The whispers still come to me. The dreams come as well, repeated over and over again exactly the same during the darkest hours of the night. A horrible conspiracy at this university, going on for generations. I went back to my burnt shell of a house to salvage anything, and there was nothing. I took Max from the hotel, and upon checking out the manager gave me a note that had been left from someone, though he could not remember who. The camera’s footage from the night it was left was just static. I am moving on, and fear I will continue to have to move around. The note was on very nice paper, in a thick envelope. The typed words stood harshly in contrast with the white paper:
“We know that you know. We are watching. We are everywhere.”
As I read it, the whispers began again. At first they could have been a soft wind through the trees. But now they are constant. I have found a good home for Max, a safe place. I won’t be around much longer. The whispers won’t stop, and I know of only one way to stop them.