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Tales from Miskatonic part 9

Jim was explaining what he had read to Adam and Molly. “You said you thought this thing was really old, right? Were you joking? I know you’re better at telling how old something is than I am,” he said, handing the necklace to Adam. “Yeah, just ask that Jewish girl we met that night we stayed in Innsmouth, how old was she? Fourteen?” he giggled, taking the necklace. Molly looked at Jim and cocked an eyebrow. Jim rolled his eyes. “Do you know how hard it is to find Jewish girls? If I find one in a small town, I’m going to try to take advantage of my luck. Not of her, of course,” he said, when Molly shot him an even more disapproving look. “I mean, it’s not taking advantage of her if she’s into it, right?” he asked. “Yeah, but whew, man, I would think that with that nose you would have noticed she smelled like fish!” Adam replied. This time it was his turn to get a disapproving stare from Molly. “I could smell it all the way from my, uh, separate hotel room, which I was staying in, separately” he lied unconvincingly. “If you two pigs are done swapping disgusting war stories and reminiscing about past conquests, what exactly is this thing?” she asked, taking the necklace from Adam.

“I don’t know,” said Jim. “That is, I don’t know what culture it’s from. It seems to clearly be a warding amulet of some kind. The paper,” he handed it to Molly, “is written originally in Arabic, but then translated to Greek. The Arabic looks like an old style that I’m not familiar with,” “Is there any style of Arabic you are familiar with?” interjected Adam. “No,” replied Jim, which sent Adam into a fit of giggles, “but still, it looks really old to me. I can’t read Arabic, but I have seen it, and this looks different. Similar, but different. It could just be a form of cursive I haven’t ever seen before, but still, it’s kinda weird. And who knows if the necklace itself is even Arabic originally? And the Greek, well, that’s from probably the 15th century, so not ancient, but certainly not made down the street by the lady running the antique shop as a promotional flyer. How old do you think the necklace is, Adam?” Adam straightened up and regained a semblance of seriousness. “I don’t know.” Jim stared at him, waiting for more explanation, then gestured for him to go on. “It’s weird, man. The casting method is practically primeval. If this were made out of bronze and you told me it was from the bronze age, I would believe you. But it’s not made out of bronze. It looks like, I dunno, weird steel or pewter or something, but it looks way too old to be steel, and it doesn’t feel like pewter. It looks a lot older than 15th century. If I knew where the lab was in here,” he gestured at the unnaturally arranged Miskatonic University, “then maybe I could analyze it, figure out what it’s made from, figure out when it was made. But without that, I dunno. It’s weird,” he stopped gesticulating with the nub of reefer and took a much-improved hit from it. “Do you want the rest of this? I think it’s almost done,” he said, offering it to Molly and Jim. Molly turned it down, but Jim accepted it, took another short puff, licked his fingers, put it out, reached over the broken bust of the current Dean, now crusted with Adam’s dried blood, and stuck it in between the statue’s lips. “You look like you could use that, Dean ol’ boy. You’ve got something there,” he said, rubbing his own forehead. Adam and Molly laughed and Jim smiled, appreciating the relative normalcy in the midst of the sea of violent weirdness they had been tossed into. All of a sudden, something occurred to him. “Hey,” he asked, turning back to the others. “Have either of you seen Professor Ellery lately?”

Professor James Montgomery Ellery, loyal husband to Marcia Jessica Ellery, pushed open the broad double doors leading into the observatory. His beloved Marcia lay where she had left him. Where he had left her. He had set her there, and then gone off to… find the vial, so he could correct his mistake. He checked a panel on the controls. Her internal temperature was ninety seven degrees and rising steadily. He took the vial and syringe out of his pocket, loaded the former into the latter, pushed all of the air out of it, and inserted it expertly into the large vein on her inner right thigh. He depressed the plunger, and the miracle fluid started its motion into her veins. By some weird mechanism of its own, which only Professor James Ellery and Doctor Herbert West understood, the liquid pulled and climbed, pushing itself through her veins. It was even now finding the other formula, rooting it out, and destroying it. James watched his beloved Marcia as her veins turned from a hideous green-black to a more natural blue, and her skin slowly regained its previous warm pink color, from the horrible green that it had been. Her eyes he did not yet dare look at. West’s formula had been incredibly useful, but come at such a psychological cost. To have Maria so close at hand-Marcia, not Maria, Marcia, Marcia-and yet to not be able to look on her as she was in life, but instead this hideous mockery. Her green eyes had been turned the darkest, solidest black he had ever seen. They were dry in death, and so they did not even reflect light shone upon them, they did not glisten as a living person’s eyes, of any color, do - they were a horrible, constant, matte black. And so he had shut her lids before freezing her, and so he did not yet dare to open them again. Still, one thing that he did appreciate about West’s formula, is that it had driven away every last trace of the horrible, puffy, pink redness that had choked her so. It would have driven James made if he had had to see Marcia that way. His beloved Marcia, done in in such a manner…. but now of all times was not the moment to dwell on the past. He leaned forward to kiss her. She was warm again. She had so hated being cold, and she was warm again, and soon she would be able to feel it. He did not know what space felt like, but his intuition told him that it must be a horrible, clawing cold, a thousand times worse than the highest mountaintop. And soon he would rescue her from that. He could almost swear he could feel her breath on his lips. He leaned ever closer, and was about to make contact, when a sudden, jarring ringing came from his pocket, at the same moment that a similar clanging came from the control panel. He jumped backwards, momentarily startled to the point of not remembering what that sound meant, when he remembered. He took the radio controlled alarm out of his pocket and pressed the button that stopped its ringing, then tossed it aside, and did the same thing with the main control panel. The radio controlled alarm did not actually stop ringing, though the main one did, and by now his attention was completely absorbed by what he had to do next. The machine, this wonderful, blessed machine, had found his Marcia’s soul.

Adam, Jim, and Molly all looked up at one another, then down the hall. A ringing not unlike a telephone was coming from the next room. They looked at each other again, looked back down the hall, and then got to their feet and started heading towards the door.

Paranoia - A short story

On The Grey Flag

The old lady was staring at her. She knew it.

Four months ago, Julia had married the love of her life. Her husband, Mike had just been named head curator at the art museum where he was working in. She was three months pregnant with a boy they would call Joey and after Joey is born she would quit that stressful writing job of hers to be a full-time housewife. Nothing could go wrong in her perfect life.

The day it arrived, Julia and Mike were busy unpacking their luggage from their trip to Venice when the doorbell rang. Julia ran out to get the door and when she opened it and looked down, there it was.

The package was encased by a bubble wrap, with an additional layer of plastic over it. At first glance it was about two feet tall and one foot wide. Julia carried it into the living room and unwrapped it. The rectangular wooden frame in the package was old, but kept in good condition. Flakes of the golden paint that coated it were coming off but it was still a beautiful frame, with very fine carvings of flowers at its corners. But Julia didn’t notice that, her eyes were fixed on the painting in the frame.

It was a portrait of an old lady who looked almost in her eighties. She had a sharp chin and high cheekbones and her pale skin was weathered and covered in wrinkles. The old lady’s graying hair was tied up in a bun and over it she wore a white bonnet. She had a hooked nose, almost too big for her face, with a sharp tip like the beak of a hawk. Below that nose she had very thin and dry lips. The edges of her mouth slanted slightly upward, giving her a smile that looked more like a smirk to Julia.

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