For the second time that week, Inspector James Morgan and Alan Stafford found themselves in the study of Dr. Edward Gray.
Their lamp lights cast moving shadows in the room, creating what looked like some sort of macabre dance. The carpet was still stained. Stafford was at first astonished at the absence of the body of the Doctor, but then he realized this was a rather foolish thought on his part. It had so been burned into his memory, the picture of the room with the gruesome remains of the body, that he expected it to last that way physically as well.
Inspector Morgan had a look of determination on his face. He took a chair and placed it beneath the clock that hung on the wall. He then climbed on top of the chair and began fiddling with the clock, feeling its sides. Finally, to the surprise of Stafford, he smashed it.
“What are you doing?” Stafford hissed. But then he gasped as the Inspector reached into an alcove hidden behind where the clock was fixed and pulled out some dusty manuscripts.
He stepped down and put the volumes down on the desk. This is what he had gleaned from the now-stolen notes: the location of these additional texts. He was in the midst of wiping the cover of the top book, when he heard a gun cock behind him.
It was that of Alan Stafford.
“Give it up, Inspector. And don’t bother; I’d emptied your gun before we even got here.”
Morgan turned around. He did not know what to think. The terror was evident on his face.
“Alan! Have you gone mad?” He asked angrily.
“Inspector Morgan, in the name of the Queen, I arrest you for the murder of Dr. Edward Gray.”
Morgan opened his mouth to speak, but Stafford cut in. “Not a word from you. I know everything,” he said in a low voice. “It was you from the very start.
“Don't be stupid now-”
But then Stafford hit the Inspector on his head with his pistol and brought him down to his knees.
“I started at the beginning.” He explained. “Why had you been so keen to get involved, and ultimately head the Investigation? Everyone, of course, thought you were emotionally attached, being such a close friend of Dr, Gray.
“However, when I talked to Mrs. Moore the day after the murder, I learned that it had been ages since you had ever visited his residence, as opposed to what you told Wilkins. In fact, the only time he had mentioned you to her had been in cold stead. You were definitely no friend.
“That piqued my curiosity. So I thought again. Why would you be so interested in this case? The only direct consequence of you heading it would be you having possession of the documents which Dr. Gray had, in his study.
“I reckoned I had to do a bit of snooping on those papers myself, especially since you wouldn’t permit anyone else to see them. So after the night at the graveyard, I broke into your house and stole your case files. I was the thief.
“I took to the countryside, planning on being stationed for the whole day at my family home. I had another bout of reasoning on the way there as well. Why would you want Dr. Gray’s documents, when you were such an experienced investigator of the paranormal yourself? Surely you would have known more than some gentleman who had seemingly fallen into the Occult by accident.
“And that was when it struck me. You hadn’t taken his material to study it at all. It was to hide evidence. As I would discover, the hand in which the letter was written - incidentally, also in your possession - was different from every one of Dr. Gray’s notes.
“The letter was thus a fake, Inspector. You were the one who had written it, and your message on my door today confirmed that. I also understood why you went to such lengths to make sure I was the one to have written all your observational notes so far.”
His voice was raised now. “The letter scared off most of the policemen, and went a long way in ensuring the case being handled by you. Since you were the one to have penned it, even describing the false circumstances regarding the death, I can only assume that you had carried out Dr. Gray’s horrific murder yourself.
“I think I have most of the pieces in order. Dr. Gray was no crazy ritualist; you had him set up after killing him. Being in charge of the case, you would be above suspicion, and could even make the investigations go nowhere leading the Scotland Yard through false trails. That’s what your ‘lead’ to the cemetery was, wasn't it?
“You could have killed and buried me perhaps, reporting that I was taken by a ghast. And the Yard would have believed your every word. On hindsight, and with a tinge of irony, I say it was the appearance of the daemon that saved my life; it was unexpected and therefore confounded your scheme to get rid of me.
“But back to where we were: now that you led the case, you had access to the victim’s resources as and when you pleased.
“The only thing I have missing is the reason; your motive. Perhaps you really did want his texts for something. I’ll guess you wanted to study it so you could learn of the location of where he kept more of his…well, it looks like manuscripts. In his books, I’m guessing he had to have some sort of reference to where he had kept all of these. And that’s what you had come for tonight.”
“That leads us to the final Question. What is in those manuscripts?”
The Final Question
(From the Journal of Alan Stafford)
“…I held Morgan at gunpoint. I had figured out the mystery, he had retrieved the final piece of the puzzle, and so I had made my move.
“What was in those manuscripts?” I asked Morgan.
He sneered at me. “You must be daft, Stafford.”
Suddenly, I heard the floorboards creak from behind the door to the study, and footsteps outside. Who was at the door? My attention was directed there a slight moment; in a frantic burst of force, Morgan got up and, pushing my right arm, plunged something sharp into my left shoulder. I released a shot but having my hand shoved, it missed him. He brought me down to the ground, with all of his weight driving his knife into my flesh. I let out a roar of pain as I struggled to free myself from his hold, but the dagger kept me pinned down.
“You shouldn’t have got involved in this,
Stafford,” He muttered. I was certain I could see a glint of madness in his eyes.
I knew I couldn’t keep relenting for much longer; I thought I was losing consciousness as he twisted the blade, making it enter fresh depths of my shoulder.
And then the door to the study opened.
I wasn't able to see clearly at the time, with my head feeling dizzy and my eyes swimming, but I remember Morgan turning to the direction of the door.
The effect it had on him was colossal. His face turned white, and his eyes - He began shaking his head. “No, No…” He repeated.
He scrambled along the floor, away from whatever had come through the door.
I regained a slight bit of my bearings, and looked up at the source of Morgan’s horror.
My blood turned cold.
Surely, it couldn’t be - the same man I had seen with my own eyes, his heart torn out of his body, in this very room. And yet, here he was living, breathing. Walking.
Dr. Edward Gray.
He had a majestic air to him, and he was taller than I’d expected him to be in real life. His body radiated a strange aura.
His eyes glanced around the study. I was certain he was looking for Morgan. His slow footsteps, deliberately ignoring me all the while, took him to Morgan.
The Inspector sat cowering in the darkest corner of the room, terrorized by the sight of the spectre. Gray uttered a bestial growl and lunged for the Inspector’s neck. I heard a sickening crack of Morgan’s bones as both men rolled onto the ground. As they wrestled each other, a flash struck the room, and both disappeared down into the ground with a green flame.
The room was still a little hazy to me, and I stayed on the ground for a while watching the eerie flame burn. I blinked my eyes.
I reckon it was ages before I started breathing. And then I sat up and excruciatingly removed the dagger from my body. My mind raced back to what had happened over the last few minutes.
The place soon became extremely smoky; I realized the fire had still been burning, and had spread to the curtains and drapery. It would only take moments for the house to go down.
Drawing my last reserves of energy, I heaved myself up, picked the manuscripts from the desk - the only evidence I had now of the whole uncanny affair - and crashed out of the window. I watched the house go up in flames as I sat on the pavement.
On the other side of the street, I saw the spectre standing, silently observing his old residence.
I could have sworn he gave me a grim smile, before turning around and walking into an alleyway. I knew better than to follow him…”
(From the Journal of Alan Stafford)
“…And that was the last I saw of Dr. Edward Gray.
I would later find out that Gray, though the victim of a frame-up, was not completely detached from occult practices. The final question I had put forth to James Morgan gave me a jolting answer. The texts of the Doctor which had been hidden in the alcove of the study contain detailed notes regarding alchemy.
Alchemy! It had never struck me that Dr. Gray was in pursuit of the ultimate transformation from imperfect to everlasting; the quest for the only two absolutes: Gold and Immortality.
The manuscripts of Dr. Edward Gray are impressively concise. They have been passed down the centuries, which each practitioner enhancing the prior’s knowledge. Even as I write now, I feel myself being drawn to the archaic world it opens up to me.
It is not hard to see its lust which would have driven any person. It was for this that the respectable Inspector Morgan had built the elaborate ploy and committed such a vicious murder. At this point, however, I can only assume.
Perhaps they had been old friends whose acquaintance had gone sour. Perhaps the Inspector, through his dealings, had got wind of the doctor’s activities, and required a cover up to obtain the other’s research for himself./Or perhaps it might have even been the case where the Doctor might have pushed Morgan over the edge in some way, with the latter responding in the most cold-blooded of ways.
I made a full report of all the things that had come to pass, and submitted my account of this whole affair to The Chief of Operations the following day. No doubt, he had been stunned when I told him my experiences; the reappearances of the Doctor, the death of my superior, and even more so, his involvement.
17 Moreau Street became, once again, the subject of Scotland Yard’s close Inspection. But I doubt there is anything left there to find. The spectre of Doctor Edward Gray has ensured we will never unearth any more of his secrets.
The next day, the Chief called me in to his office. I walked in hesitantly.
“Well young man”, I recall him saying, “You’ve done quite a fair bit on this case, haven’t you?”
I remember not having said anything to this, though.
“Recent events have opened our eyes. And now - how can I put it? - I believe we need a new Chief of the Division of Extraordinary and Paranormal Investigations. You seem to be the right man.”
If I had been pleasantly surprised (as indeed I was) I did not show it.
“I - I’ll think about it, Sir” I told him and made my way out.
The next day, however, my resignation letter was on his desk. This case has shaken me up quite a bit, and I dare say my thrill-seeking days have come to a self-imposed end.
As for my shoulder, my doctor tells me it should heal in a few months. The coming weeks shall be quite uneventful for me…”