Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Enigma of Dr. Edward Gray (II of III)


The Cemetery

(From the journal of Alan Stafford)

“… The gothic gates of the London Cemetery curled into the heavens, as if praying for the wicked souls it held in its sanctum. Its black outline was like a deformed tree against a wispy moon. It was through these that I made my way through, the night prior.

I had been accompanying Inspector Morgan to find out what we could on the case of Dr. Edward Gray. It was the first time I’d been to the Cemetery past midnight. We had to make sure we were not seen. As the Inspector put it, no one likes the sight of a gentleman prying graves.

The night was icy cold. The scrunching of dead leaves under our shoes was the only sound to ring out in the dry air. Otherwise, it was eerily quiet. I held my lamp at an arm’s length; so did Morgan; it only helped me see ahead, casting a small glow on the tombstone in front of me as I walked while everything else was pitch dark. The tombstones made me nervous, scared even. I could not understand how that could be, being the rational man I thought I was.

Morgan believed he had made a breakthrough in the case; and that Dr. Gray’s letter held a lead to the graveyard. I did not know how he had arrived to this conclusion, but I reckoned he knew better than I did.

I, however, wasn’t entirely sure of what, or Heaven forbid, whom we were looking for.

We stopped at a particular headstone. “I think this is it,” Said Morgan. He bent down, and diligently began wiping off the layer of grime on the headstone, seeking to reveal the name engraved whereupon.

A few trees rustled in the background.

“Makes you wonder, doesn’t it-The graveyard?” The Inspector began. “How short our lives are, and the end we all have to face.”

A strong wind blew suddenly, extinguishing our weak lamps. My eyes struggled for a while to accustom to the complete darkness. Morgan stopped his work and looked around.

An unearthly moan emanated across the field. I turned and glanced at the direction of its possessor.

There it floated over the graveyard, bleeding colour from the world. I could not take my eyes away from it, for it possessed a beauty of such ethereal quality. And yet, its very presence struck raw fear into my heart.

A daemon; a cursed soul trapped within body of Elder Gods’ spawn, forced to wander our realm seeking rest from its eternal pain.

I had never seen one before. It was like a living void, straining the fabric of the reality we were in. I could not see any one distinct shape associated with the being, but instead saw a variety of images through a glowing haze in it.

Two distinct eyes burned at me. It spread its bony, twisted wings and with a wail, set out for us. I stood transfixed to it, unable to break my gaze.

Then the Inspector shook me out of my trance in time, and shouted for us to run.

I knew I was in mortal danger, but like a bloody fool I wasted a round of my Adams’ bullets on the beast. And then, realizing the obvious, I turned and fled. Morgan was already way ahead of me. He, of course, had not bothered using firearms on something from the netherworld.

So I ran; I remember the sky slowly deepening into crimson as I felt the daemon closer approaching. I could feel its heavy breath hanging over me, tinged with the smell of dark abysses and emptiness and lost minds. I quickened my pace, sucking in the chilly night air. Faster and faster I scampered, leaping over headstones, wayward crosses and fallen boughs alike, until at the last moment, my leg caught something and I stumbled and fell onto the damp mud.

I rolled over and faced skyward at once, fearing the hellborn creature would slash me from behind, but then I looked up and saw…Nothing. The daemon was nowhere to be seen.

I realized I was panting heavily. I closed my eyes for a while.

The sky was inky black, as it always had been, and I could smell the wetness of the ground once more.

But I knew I had not imagined the whole thing. I did not know what to make of what had happened; I picked myself up and ran out of the gates of the cemetery. Morgan was outside, waiting for me. He was unusually muted.

The carriage ride back to our residences had been in uncomfortable silence. We had the air of two strangers who were witness to something incredible, but on the conclusion of the episode, wished not to speak to each other about it.

I’d rather not say this, but I worry that my superior is just as stumped as I am about tonight’s happening…”


The Disappearance

Despite my past encounters with them, I find that I am chilled, and in a mystifying way, intrigued by every daemon I see. Each one special, their appearances and contours characterized by the souls they once were.

Yesterday’s events were…unforeseen. It is extraordinary that both myself and Stafford were able to escape with our lives.

We had said nothing to each other on our way home, Stafford quite obviously shaken by his experience, and I perplexed by the appearance of the beast. I gathered it could not be a coincidence.

I mentioned nothing of this matter to the Chief, but I brought up another revelation in my visit to him that morning.

“What? Everything gone, you say?” His voice cut through.

Someone had ransacked my apartment and had left with all of the files and papers associated with the case of Dr. Edward Gray. All evidence from the scene of murder, all of Stafford’s notes on the case, and the books Dr. Gray had in his study.

“Exactly; I arose this morning to find everything gone,” I explained. “I do not know how I shall further this examination of the murder. Those volumes of Dr. Gray were- invaluable.” Yet another turn of events I could not have expected.

 “It is curious,” I continued. “It confirms that there is a human element involved in this affair, the only difficulty being, of course, finding exactly how it fits.”

“It all looks fishy to me,” The Chief agreed. “Make of it what you will, but I think you should get more officers involved. This seems far bigger than it had looked originally.”

It was fairly obvious that someone did not want this investigation to be carried out.

*   *   *   *   *

I heard from his neighbour that Stafford had gone to the countryside to visit his mother and would be back only by evening. He had, however, asked specifically for me to leave a message for him.

I scratched out a line on paper before affixing it on Stafford’s door:

*   *   *   *   *

I strolled through Cowley for the rest of the afternoon, thinking what my further plan of action would be.

The perpetrator had left me nothing to work with at all. But his act had not rendered me completely helpless; thankfully I had managed to extract a crucial bit of information from the Doctor’s notes before the theft. Hopefully it would be enough.

Dr. Gray was not who we all thought him to be. There is much more there needs to be uncovered.

Stafford contacted me late in the evening, and I told him my intentions.

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