gone_byebye: (more doom)
Ray was no physician, not by a long shot, but you don't spend forty years in the alchemy labs of the University of Melcene without learning how to deal with traumatic impact injuries of all kinds on a very low budget and at a very low tech level. The storm had been hell on men and equipment alike, and there were several students who had been badly hurt by the Old Ones themselves, most to the point of unconsciousness. He kept himself busy with tending to their needs as best he could, since Lake was in no condition to do it. There was no sense in saving them all from the Elder Things' awakened wrath only to have the continent's mute hostility and their own injuries finish the job.

He really didn't want to think about that. The saving part. That had been-

He closed his eyes and fumbled for the lump Garion's amulet made under his furs. It had worked, somehow. On things too old to be believed, from worlds and universes so far beyond this one that no one here could even begin to imagine, the translator amulet had worked. They'd heard him, they'd answered. They'd-

"We never meant you any harm! We never knew what we found was still alive!"

They'd listened.

"I know we look like your lab animals but I swear to you we're full sapients now- it's been millions of years since you last saw daylight. Please, stop, and I swear to you we'll back off and let you go."

And after they'd listened, they'd spoken...

"What your kind have become is unknown to us. We were betrayed by that which we brought forth once, and we knew the Shoggoths then. We do not know you."

He let go of the amulet-lump and went back to work, checking two of the unconscious students' pulses. They felt erratic, but unlikely to falter much any time soon.

"No. No, you're right, you don't know us at all. You have every right to fear us, considering what's already happened."

From there he went on to slicing the remains of one particularly wrecked tent into viable slings of various sizes; they would probably have to carry several of the other men to safety, if there was any safety to be had anywhere in this blasted continent. That meant rigging seats between poles and immobilizing body parts beyond what they'd been able to manage already.

"Strong words, from one of the apes... but even so..."

The wireless rig, reported one of the still-ambulatory students, had mostly been destroyed by the storm. There was a shortwave in each airplane. They'd do their best to get one working despite the fact that most of the planes no longer had enough structural integrity to hold their fuel.

"Listen to me. Please. I'm begging you, as one scientist to another-"

Ray nodded and stepped away from the cluster of the injured. If they could raise Dyer and the rest of the expedition at all, they'd better do so quickly.

"We are listening."

"My people've been hurt. I have to see to their care. Please. Put Gedney down and go back to your city, or wherever it is you came from, and once I've done that, I'll make it up to you. I'll come down there myself and answer your questions, tell you how the world's changed, anything you want- anything at all. We won't come after you again. Just don't kill any more of our people. Please."

". . . Do that. And bring another with you when you come, to guide this one back. We will be taking him with us, to ensure that you behave as you have said you will. If you come against us in any kind of force, or fail in your promise, you will not see this young one alive again."

Ray shivered, looking out over the landscape as the wind began to howl again down from the mountains. Then, very deliberately, he slammed those memories down and out of his mind and went back to the business of summoning Professor Dyer. They didn't have much time.
gone_byebye: (Arkham)
The events of the night of January the twenty-fourth, 1931, would be graven upon the tables of Lake's memory for the remainder of his mortal days. There was nothing at first that particularly suggested this would be the case. It was true that the winds were pouring down out of the titanic mountains at a rate unlike anything he had ever seen before, and true as well that their dogs, even behind the highest and stoutest wall of snow the men could manage, were in a state of frenzy unlike anything he had ever known of them. But such matters were ordinary concerns, under the circumstances. The question at hand was one of immediate survival. There were snow walls to raise and tent cloth to weight down with the heaviest snow that could be found. Nature was about to do her worst, and under the circumstances he could well have been excused for failing to give thought to his future beyond the moment. In fact, he had but one brief glimmer of perspective as he and the brilliant young Gedney laboured valiantly to turn that terrible climate's own material- the snow- against itself. It occurred to him that the sole survivor of the Scott expedition, Apsley Cherry-Garrard, had referred to his time in Antarctica as 'the worst journey in the world'. That, too, had been in the name of science, and portended great things; perhaps-

But there was no time for perhaps, and no room for further thought. The winds had grown too terrible for thought, and there was nothing to be done but struggle. To stop moving now, even only long enough to think, was madness or death. It was not until Lake felt his eyelids nearly frozen shut that he realized the noise of the dogs, ever-present since the retrieval of the 'Elder Ones' from the cave, had grown so great as to be heard over the wind. In the next moment he caught sight of what remained of the snow wall. The dogs had breached the wall of their enclosure and were pouring out in a stream of terrible furred rage, intent on the annihilation of the samples to the last. With a great shout of his own he started forward, thinking somehow to stop them before they could reach the spare tent.

His thought died a-borning before he could take so much as a third step. For out of the white and terrible wind that cut through everything in its path there arose a great dark shape- no, two, three- "Great God!" he whispered involuntarily. The realization had come upon him in the moment that he completed his count. What he was seeing was the Old Ones themselves, no longer frozen fossils but very much alive and awake. The dreaded things of times so far before the dawning days of Man had revived; and their revival was not a good one, but one of immediate and terrible struggle for existence. The dogs, he knew, meant to tear them apart. By the look of things, not a few of his own men did too- but they should have to wait their turn, if they meant not to harm the dogs. The animals were too eager to defend their camp against those palaeogaean horrors. They surged forward everywhere that Lake could see even as he himself was frozen to the spot with cosmic awe, too simple to know that the wrongness they felt with every fiber of their being was a thing of which to be much afraid.

A particularly awful gust of wind caught Lake at unawares and sent him tumbling to the ground. By the time he propped himself up enough to breathe again, he could see that several of the tents had been torn apart by now, lost to the storm. He struggled to rise, to find some shelter, but a knife of agony seared its way up from his left ankle. Wincing, he subsided to all fours; as he did so, he became aware that greater chaos was having its way with the camp. Not only was the wind ruining every precaution they had taken, but the belling of the dog-pack now sounded horribly thinner, and desperate. As he became aware of the change something furred flew past him, thudding into the remains of a snow embankment with a sickening sound. It was the biggest lead dog, the one Stantz had had to pin down to keep it from leading an attack on the frozen Old Ones. It would not need to be restrained ever again. Neither, he knew with a gut-knotting feeling of dread, would the other dogs. For all that they were only newly awake, the Old Ones had regained much of their strength, and were winning their battle. When they were done with the dogs, Lake knew, they would turn to the men. The dissection had been such a tough bit of business that no lesser knife stood a chance of penetrating their hides. There were no guns in the camp, either, though he doubted they would have done much more good. All these thoughts flashed through his head in an instant; he closed his eyes, frantically willing the storm to kill him before these monsters could.

It was a scream of primal terror wrung from a single human throat that opened Lake's eyes at last- Gedney, perhaps- yes, yes, he could see the younger man even now, hanging in midair at the mercy of one of those barrel-shaped monsters! That was enough to spur him to his feet in spite of his ankle. At the first step his vision fairly went white with pain. Ever after he could never be entirely sure of what he saw next; but-

He confided to Pabodie later that he thought he heard Stantz shouting "Stop! STOP!", and then that the man's words changed to something weirdly high-pitched and musical, though still wild with frantic urgency even in its wordlessness. It almost seemed as if the Old Ones stopped in their tracks, perhaps to answer in kind; but there was a terrible green light between the engineer and the huge, looming things out of times long gone, and so Lake was not so sure he could trust the evidence of his senses. The inhuman musical piping went on and on, seeming to cut through every other sound, even as the blood pulsed and roared in Lake's own ears. He closed his eyes and clenched his jaw against that weird vocalizing, and a wave of blessed darkness rolled over him at last.

When Lake opened his eyes again, it was inside the remains of the sub-expedition's lone remaining tent. The others, he was told, had been wrecked beyond repair. All their dogs were dead, and much of their equipment wrecked, but the men themselves were for the most part better off. There were injuries, some very terrible, but no deaths- save, perhaps, one. It seemed that whatever it was that turned the Old Ones from their intended course had not been entirely successful. Gedney was missing. As for Stantz, he was too busy struggling to raise Dyer on the wireless and shouting at the rig's failures in languages Lake had never before heard spoken aloud outside a Classics department to say anything at all one way or the other.
gone_byebye: (Arkham)
Given how much fuss Stantz had put up about coming on the Antarctic expedition in the first place, it came as something of a surprise, once they set foot on Antarctic soil, to find that the man was genuinely helpful. His insistence on seeing to the health and well-being of not only the expedition's machinery but all fifty-five of the sledge dogs was an unlooked-for blessing; Dyer had half expected, given Pabodie's reports, to have to order the engineer's every action personally. It seemed that once there was no other choice, he set about his business with a will. The aeroplanes benefitted greatly by it, that was certain. More surprising, to Dyer and Pabodie both, was the fact that not a one of the expedition's dogs seemed to be without its moments of attention and care from him. Dyer had meant to leave the animals in the hands of several of the students, but given how well they responded to Stantz's attention and presence, he saw no reason not to change his plans and make their care his duty as much as the care of the expedition's equipment.

He was greatly sorry to see the man leave with Lake and the rest of the sub-expedition into the heretofore untouched, unexplored regions. Still, he had to admit that that had been the reason behind bringing Stantz along in the first place: to ensure that in just such an occasion, there would be someone in both the main party and the smaller who could take care of vital logistical matters and free the rest of the group for scientific pursuits.

January 22, 1931
10:30 PM

"Moulton's plane forced down on plateau in foothills, but nobody hurt and Stantz already working on repair. Shall transfer essentials to other three for return or further moves if necessary, but no more heavy plane travel needed just now. Mountains surpass anything in imagination. Am going up scouting in Carroll's plane, with all weight out. You can't imagine anything like this. Highest peaks must go over thirty-five thousand feet..."

January 23, 1931
4:00 PM

"We've struck a cave..."

8:00 PM

"Fowler makes discovery of highest importance in sandstone and limestone fragments from blasts. Several distinct triangular striated prints like those in Archaean slate, proving that source survived from over six hundred million years ago to Comanchian times without more than moderate morphological changes and decrease in average size. Comanchian prints apparently more primitive or decadent, if anything, than older ones. Emphasize importance of discovery in press. Will mean to biology what Einstein has meant to mathematics and physics..."

10:15 PM

"-all greatly damaged but one, which gives almost seven-foot wing spread. Arrangement reminds one of certain monsters of primal myth, especially fabled Elder Things in Necronomicon-"

"You know," said Stantz, without looking up from pinning the sledge-team's lead dog to the ground, "the last time anything to do with the Necronomicon intersected with an unhappy dog, it was Wilbur Whateley. Remember him? The kid who dissolved after the library mastiff tore out his throat?"

"Nonsense, Stantz. It's only a resemblance. Besides, these are just fossils," said Lake, and resumed his broadcast back to Dyer and the rest of the expedition.

11:15 PM

"Complete specimens have such uncanny resemblance to certain creatures of primal myth that suggestion of ancient existence outside antarctic becomes inevitable. Dyer and Pabodie have read Necronomicon and seen Clark Ashton Smith's nightmare paintings based on text, and will understand when I speak of Elder Things supposed to have created all earth life as jest or mistake. Students have always thought conception formed from morbid imaginative treatment of very ancient tropical radiata. Also like prehistoric folklore things Wilmarth has spoken of - Cthulhu cult appendages, etc.

"Vast field of study opened. Deposits probably of late Cretaceous or early Eocene period, judging from associated specimens. Massive stalagmites deposited above them. Hard work hewing out, but toughness prevented damage. State of preservation miraculous, evidently owing to limestone action. No more found so far, but will resume search later. Job now to get fourteen huge specimens to camp without dogs, which bark furiously and can't be trusted near them. Even Stantz can't quiet the dogs, but Stantz reluctant even to try. Says the dogs have better sense than any of us. With nine men - three left to guard the dogs - we ought to manage the three sledges fairly well, though wind is bad. Must establish plane communication with McMurdo Sound and begin shipping material. But I've got to dissect one of these things before we take any rest. Wish I had a real laboratory here. Dyer better kick himself for having tried to stop my westward trip. First the world's greatest mountains, and then this. If this last isn't the high spot of the expedition, I don't know what is. We're made scientifically. Congrats, Pabodie, on the drill that opened up the cave. Now will Arkham please repeat description?"

January 24, 1931
4:30 AM

"Stantz and several of the other men have built the wall around the dog pen as high as they can get it. The winds rising in the mountains are beginning to be too much of a hazard. We'll resume communications tomorrow at ten- for now, all hands are working on building the rest of the shelters. Lake out."

As Lake set the microphone aside and strode out into the howling Antarctic gale, it occurred to him that they were really going to have to do something about the dogs come morning. He could hear them barking at the specimens even over the rising wind.
gone_byebye: (reach)
Dear Romana,

I have no idea if this letter's ever going to reach you. I sincerely hope I can just hand it to you, because the alternatives are all on the seriously nasty side. This isn't the kind of universe I ever want to think about your TARDIS accidentally sliding sideways into, and the possibility of you getting pulled in here by something on purpose is just too distressing to contemplate. Suzi Darley was bad enough and I barely know her. You really, really, really don't want to be here.

The expedition Frank Pabodie dragooned me into is well within striking range of the Antarctic continent by now. We should be crossing the Antarctic Circle sometime today, in fact. Under ordinary circumstances I'd be kind of impressed, especially since we're making our way through a bunch of field ice and all, but all I'm really feeling is this big old lump of dread in my stomach that won't go away. Antarctica isn't the relatively pristine place here that it is in a lot of other worlds. If I remember right- and I honestly can't say if I do or not, because it's literally been close to seventy years since I last read the story in question- there were cities here over a hundred and fifty million years ago, and some of the inhabitants might still be in hibernation somewhere under all the ice. If we're very, very, very lucky, all that's going to happen is that we'll find some of their artifacts in the course of drilling.

I wish I could say I felt that lucky.

I wish I remembered more of that story. I wish I was nearly anywhere but here.

Anyway, this being 1930, we're bundled up in the finest cold-weather gear money can currently buy. I've been wearing my watch cap as often as I can, despite it being summer in the southern hemisphere. I had to leave my theatrical makeup and hair dye behind in Arkham- they would've caused way too many questions- and Pabodie's exactly the kind of guy to notice that my hair's not all shot through with grey any more. As it stands he thinks the sea air's doing me good because it looks like it's taking the lines out of my face. What I wouldn't give for some latex and rubber cement! If we get through this alive and not gibbering somehow, I plan on retiring from the University as soon as we submit our final reports. Laszlo suggested I consider taking up with Tesla- the man's mostly retired now himself, but you never know...

I should go. Captain Douglas just sent word that we're about to cross the Circle and we'd better all come on deck for the appropriate ceremonies. Sailors' superstition, I know, but at least anthropologically interesting superstition. And it's not like I can really talk, given that I've knitted at least three versions of the Elder Sign into every single piece of clothing I've produced since I got stuck on board this stupid ship. Nobody's noticed yet, or if they have, they haven't said anything. We'll see what happens.

More tomorrow, if all goes well.



[translated, as all Ray's letters to Romana are, from the Sumerian]
gone_byebye: (are you crazy? is that your problem?)
"I'm not going, Pabodie," Ray said firmly. "The University can mount a perfectly good expedition to Antarctica without me."

"On the contrary," said Pabodie, just as firmly. "You're already a part of this expedition. All the work you put in on the drill-"

"Your invention, Frank," Ray pointed out. "It's got your name all over it, not mine."

"And on the fuel warmers for the aeroplanes-"

"Again, your invention. All I did was pass the screwdrivers."

"Nonsense, Stantz, you should've had your name on the patents right alongside mine. What about the quickstarters? Why, you gave me the idea for the copper coil ice melting scheme."

"And not a day goes by that I don't regret planting that thought in your head," Ray muttered. "If only because you keep trying to thank me for it."

Pabodie threw up his hands. "Stantz, you can't spend your whole life here! A man of your talent deserves to make a mark on the world before he retires. You'll be sixty soon. This is your chance!"

Ray eyed the other engineer sourly. You have no idea, he thought, but what he said instead was, "All things considered, I have to say that I'm pretty sure Antarctica is more likely to make its mark on me. I'm not going."

"We need you on this expedition, Stantz," Pabodie said.

"I don't see why. You're going."

"I can't be everywhere at once," Pabodie said. "Dyer or Lake's likely to want to split off a sub-expedition if we make any really interesting finds. Doesn't the group deserve someone who knows the equipment in each party?"

"Splitting up to look for the unknown is a fast route to everybody getting killed," Ray pointed out. "Trust me. They're more likely to stay alive if everyone hangs together. I'm not going."


"Look, Frank, I know I helped you with all of those inventions of yours. If you want me to contribute more to the expedition, fine. I'll help you with last-minute design work. I'll do whatever logistical support you want. I'll learn to knit and make all of you extra hats, socks, gloves, balaclavas- whatever. But I'm. Not. Going."

September 2nd, 1930

"Well, crap," said Ray to himself as he leaned on the rail of the brig Arkham and watched the Massachusetts shoreline receding in the distance. "Guess I'd better go find my yarn after all."
gone_byebye: (reach)
When Henry Armitage returned to Arkham after that dreadful Dunwich night, he did not quite have it in him to go directly back to his home. The things that he and Rice and Morgan had seen were more than even the most rational of men could put behind him at a single go. Better to return to the world of everyday men in steps, rather than bring the full hideousness of memory crashing down at the wrong time. He therefore took his leave of his colleagues when they reached the university campus, making instead for the place where such things could best be put behind him. It was no very great surprise to him to see the light burning in the third-floor window of Stantz's office. A sudden urge for some form of companionship seized him at the familiar sight.

His assistant did not seem very surprised at all to see Armitage back, nor did he take any particular startlement at the older man's state of mind. Stantz indicated that Armitage should settle himself in one of the office chairs and set about the business of making Turkish coffee in a small copper ewer over a purloined Bunsen burner. Only once the whole business was underway did he seat himself to listen to the tale, excusing himself only to pour the stuff out when it was done. He showed no sign of disbelief at Armitage's words, nor any trepidation or revulsion, though some resigned weariness touched his features more than once. It was perhaps that which drove Armitage to describe the events at Sentinel Hill in their fullest detail, as he hoped on some level to provoke a greater response than that, but the only response was a kind of recognition. At last, irrationally provoked beyond endurance, Armitage broke out: "Damn it, Stantz, what is it with you? What happened out there drove good men to- to-"

"I know, Dr. Armitage," said Stantz quietly. "I know, believe me."

"You look as if you expected this to happen," Armitage said. "I don't believe you were even surprised when Nero brought Whateley down last month, either."

"I wasn't," said Stantz. "A little disgusted, maybe, since that was really a mess, but-"

"I suppose you'll tell me next that this was all the sort of thing you read about in your leisure time." Armitage's tone was a little dry, perhaps more than he'd intended, but Stantz seemed not to notice.

"No, leisure time's for science books. The stuff in the Restricted Section's for on-the-job reading."

Armitage considered this, his drink all but forgotten. "I'd wondered," he said, "how you knew not to let Wilbur in there, back in January. You didn't sound at all as if it were only a matter of precaution."

"Nope, it wasn't." Stantz sipped at his coffee, seeming not to notice that he'd got some of its foam on the end of his nose. "I knew the part of the book he was after, and it wasn't the kind of thing that anybody who wanted to know that stuff ought to be allowed to know."

"Except yourself?"

"That's different. I wanted to know what the book contained, not how to go about using those contents. Not to mention that I knew the dangers inherent in the act of reading that kind of material to begin with."

"And yet," said Armitage thoughtfully, "you seem to have gone ahead with it anyway; not to mention your other reading. I wonder, Stantz, just how much of the works in that section you've read by now."

The silence that followed was disquieting, not so much for its length as for the look of consideration on Stantz's face. "Nearly all of them," he said at last. "Although I can't honestly claim to have gotten very far with the one we got in about two weeks ago, from the Copeland estate- what? Why are you looking at me like that?"

"No man with so much as an ounce of sense ought to treat such books so casually," said Armitage, who didn't know the look on his face and in truth didn't much care. "As if the things they speak of- Stantz, I've read barely enough pages in the Necronomicon to do a translator's work on the cipher the Whateley boy left, and what I've learned's been enough to give me nightmares the rest of my days. What's wrong with you, man?"

Again a silence followed that stretched out over the moments, but this time, consideration was replaced by that old, tired recognition. Eventually Stantz put down his coffee and spoke.

"Dr. Armitage, there is in every human being a certain facility that most never use, and are almost never aware of," he said at last. "A capacity, however latent, for the perception and influence of things unseen, of the marvels and horrors of the hidden world. It's a subtle, almost undetectable thing, but it's very much present and very much real, as much so as the lateral line of fishes and the earthquake-sense of dogs and birds. In the vast majority of human beings it's never developed any further than the sense of cold, nameless dread or the prickling of the hairs at the back of the neck when something inexplicable passes nearby. In some it's more developed. The knacks that spirit mediums pretend to are its natural outgrowth. The prophecies of the sibyls of Rome and the oracle at Delphi were nothing more than an extension of that capacity into the realm of sight, so that they might see in time what you and I see only in space. The human brain has this capacity simply by virtue of being alive."

"Many years ago, when I was a much younger man, I was present at an event whose consequences would have been as catastrophic as the failure to destroy that horror at Sentinel Hill had things not been averted. You had your texts and the powder of Ibn Ghazi to work with tonight. We had only a single artifact among the five of us- an object I won't describe, except to say that it wouldn't be amiss to call it the key to Armageddon. In the wrong hands, obviously, it could be used to bring about the unmaking of everything that you and I hold dear, but in the right hands, like any other key, it could lock a door to that unmaking away. That use required something from each of us, a measure of strength or health or life- it's hard to say, since the sacrifice was different for each one of us. I was the third of the five to take up the key."

Stantz leaned back in his chair; his gaze drifted to some unknowable point in the darkness beyond the library walls.

"It reached into every particle of my being in a single instant and took what it needed from me, and what it needed was that nameless capacity- all of it. Past, present, and future. The inexplicable ability is that place where the things of worlds and powers beyond mankind's understanding can come closest to our own everyday realm, for good or ill- and in the instant that I laid my hands on the Key it took that from me, and all potential for ever achieving it. That natural faculty for the inexplicable of all human beings hasn't been a part of me in decades. I could read any of the books in the Restricted Section aloud, at the top of my lungs, on the darkest night of the year in the queerest and most sinister places on Earth, and nothing more would come of it than a touch of laryngitis."

He pulled his attention back to the here and now and smiled a little, but it wasn't a very convincing look. Had the events in Dunwich not left him half-numbed inside, Armitage would have almost felt pity for the man. As it stood he could only shake his head in wonder, and pass him a napkin for the foam that still clung to the end of his nose; but after that he did not feel any particular need to bother Stantz again about his reading habits.
gone_byebye: (meet the press)
It was seldom that Henry Armitage (A.M. Miskatonic, Ph.D. Princeton, Litt.D. Johns Hopkins) received requests for the loan of books int he Restricted Section, and on the rare occasion that they were given any sort of serious consideration, it was because such requests had come from this or that representative of some other institution of higher learning. Had the request come from the Widener LIbrary at Harvard, the University of Buenos Ayres, or even the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, Armitage might have considered permitting the loan of Miskatonic's copy of the Necronomicon to take place- but it had not. The letter he had received begging to be permitted the loan of the book had arrived from a part of Massachusetts that Armitage knew all too well, having visited the region of Dunwich a bare three years before. As the university was not in the habit of dispensing its rarest volumes to private collectors, particularly not collectors of such habits and tendencies as the Whateley clan had proven to be, he ordered his assistant to send back a letter of refusal, and thought no more of the matter for some time.

Indeed, the prospect would have sunk from his mind entirely had Armitage not come upon a scene of confrontation at the door to the Restricted Section. The shabby, dirty, bearded visitor was that Wilbur Whateley whom Armitage had sought out after hearing tales of the lad's bizarre and uncouth development. His passage was blocked by a man he nearly dwarfed. Wilbur had been but six and three-quarters feet tall in 1925, but had clearly spent the interval growing, outstripping Dr. Stantz's height by nearly two feet. Dr. Armitage shuddered at the sight as much as at the thought of those brutish, coarse-skinned hands pawing over the rare volumes behind the door, for Wilbur's face was twisted in a sneer that robbed him of all but the last trace of human seeming. As for Stantz, Armitage had never seen the man so resolute, not even twenty years ago in his vigil over Nathaniel Peaslee.

The tableau hung frozen before him, and Armitage knew himself unseen by either party. It occurred to him that he ought to speak, but before he could do so, Stantz spoke.

"Don't make me set the dog on you, Mr. Whateley." He lifted his chin a little, an almost inevitable gesture in the face of the goatish Wilbur's giant-like stature. "The book goes nowhere. Not out of the library with you, not to one of the desks in the library with you- not anywhere. Bad enough you have the Dee with you-"

"I'll take good keer of it," Wilbur said, his voice strangely resonant. "It wan't me that put this Dee copy in the shape it is."

"Mr. Whateley, I honestly do not care. The condition of the book has nothing whatsoever to do with the situation, the contents do. You don't get to touch the Necronomicon. You don't get to look at the Necronomicon. Take your copy and go back to Dunwich with it, right now, if you know what's good for you."

The bent, goatish giant before Armitage seemed for a moment like the spawn of another planet or dimension; like something only partly of mankind, and he felt a wave of fright wash over him despite the wretched man's glare being directed at someone else entirely. "It 'ud be a mortal sin to let a red-tape rule hold me up," said Wilbur, his eyes narrowing, growing dangerous. "Ye don't know what yer fooling with."

"On the contrary, Mr. Whateley, I know all too well what's in those pages, and as long as I'm alive you don't get to get at it. You're dealing with a librarian, sir, and we are the secret masters of the universe. We control the information. Don't piss us off."

The moment that followed was long, silent, and terrible, but at last Wilbur turned and left, muttering about how maybe Harvard wouldn't be so fussy. Stantz watched him go before putting his face in his hands and sagging back against the locked door, and Armitage made a note to himself that one of these days, he was going to need to talk to his assistant- at great length.
gone_byebye: (Arkham)
In Memoriam

Summer 1925 Obituaries

IVO SHANDOR, MD, AIA, class of 1912, died July 2 in New York City following a months-long illness. He was forty-one. A man of many talents, he earned his undergraduate degree from Miskatonic in 1906 and stayed on there to achieve his MD and a degree in architecture simultaneously before completing an internship and residency at Tufts.

He served as a medical officer in the Canadian Army during the Great War, making many striking advances in the realm of battlefield surgery. Upon retirement from military service, he turned to a peacetime career in architecture, winning great renown for his design of several revolutionary New York City apartment buildings. His fascination with Theosophy and his discussions in philosophical circles were unrivalled in New York City. His tragic collapse on March 22nd resulted in his admittance to Manhattan State Hospital, where he remained until his passing. Shandor was a lifelong bachelor, but leaves behind a significant circle of friends and acquaintances in the Theosophist movement.
gone_byebye: (Arkham)
For all that he never left Arkham's city limits- or, indeed, the territory that could most easily be claimed as the immediate environs of Miskatonic's campus if he could help it- Ray found that he was all too easily made aware of the events and discoveries of the greater New England region. It was likely an artifact of the position he had chosen for himself. Universities tended to bring people in, then send them away, and in a time before serious instantaneous communication those who had made contact with one another during their campus days made greater efforts to stay in touch afterward. What was rare, it seemed, was valued; when communication over distance became simpler and more common in the years to come, its allure would fade, at least in part. Those people whom Ray had come to know during their time at Miskatonic were of the curious, searching sort, with good memories, and whether telephones were available or not they cared very little. The Post Office existed for a reason, as did the telegram companies.

Laszlo Spengler, who had come to America with his parents at the age of six from his native Ostrov, Poland, was a very great patron of both the Post Office and the Western Union people. It was through his agency that Ray was made aware of the house at 135 Benefit Street, in Providence. There was little enough to be said about it in terms of its appearance from without, it being purely of average New England colonial lines of the middle eighteenth century, but it was not the house's appearance that caught Laszlo's attention. His antiquarian uncle, a physician by the name of Dr. Cyrus Spengler, had once been consulted regarding the ill-health of some of its inhabitants. Upon examination of their peculiar illnesses, Cyrus asked after the history of the place, and uncovered the sort of undercurrent of folk-lore that made Ray wish for a PKE meter and a proton pack- and possibly a good-quality flammenwurfer. Even in the most mundane of worlds, a house in which so many people had had their lives shortened by a terrible drain on their native vitality could not mean anything good, and the deaths on record of the house's inhabitants were the sort of thing that called not for a physician but the best alternative of the time, an exorcist. Too, Cyrus Spengler's description of the dank, humid cellar and its grotesquely peculiar white fungi set the hairs at the back of Ray's neck on end. Though he dug through every book on botany and mycology that the Orme Library possessed, he found no species matching their description; and in a place as well-established and well-known as Providence, the prospect of a purely natural species escaping description for so long was hardly to be borne.

It was not until the early summer of 1919 that the letter arrived at Franklin Place bearing Laszlo's most excited writing yet (insofar as anything that the younger man wrote could be called excited; Laszlo, like every other Spengler that Ray knew, was a man prone to keeping his own emotional counsel). He had, the letter said, come to the cellar by night with a flashlight, and seen a particularly sharp definition of an almost human huddled form among the distorted, half-phosphorescent fungi. When it had given off a subtle, sickish, almost luminous vapor that shimmered as it exhaled its way into the great chimney, Laszlo knew that there was no other course of action available to him but to summon those that he knew who would be of the greatest assistance in breaking the house's horror. Did Ray wish to accompany him and his uncle on a night-long vigil in that musty and fungous-cursed cellar?

Now, Ray had by dint of staying safely ensconced within Arkham thus far avoided all further notice by the powers of the peculiar and dangerous so far as he knew. To venture out into the legend-haunted world beyond was a prospect which he scarcely relished; who knew what might be waiting to burst forth at him when he least expected it? The prudent course, it seemed, was to stay just where he was and let others handle the situation. But he thought that only for a few moments. The years in Melcene, Nyissa, and Arkham had taught him prudence, it was true, but prudence is a poor thin thing in the face of friendship. Ray had not seen Laszlo Spengler in person since the day both of them had acquired their doctorates, but the ensuing communication via written word alone awakened powerful memories. He'd known Egon for many years through nothing but letters and postcards, after all. Ray could no more deny Laszlo's request than he could have done the same to the Spengler of his own time, and so he set out for Providence on the twenty-fifth of June, 1919. Laszlo had said that he and Uncle Cyrus would be visiting the house's basement that night, and it was not so far a trip from Arkham to Providence that it could not be made in a day.

Nevertheless Ray arrived at the house in Benefit Street too late. The streets of Providence were soaking with a storm the likes of which had not been seen in years, and Ray's directions to the shunned house relied upon a more thorough and native knowledge than he possessed; by the time he found the place it was so far after dark that he walked past it twice without knowing. It was only on the third pass that he found it, and then only because of the wild and haunted staggering of the figure lurching out from its door to the rain-drenched sidewalk- the figure of Laszlo Spengler.

His tale was shadowy and monstrous, and spoke of a yellow and diseased vaporous corpse-light that bubbled and lapped forth from the putrid earth of the cellar's floor. Its terrible nature was not that of its appearance alone, but lay most truly in its actions, for Laszlo spoke of its enveloping and dissolving his venerable uncle Cyrus, most evilly rendering him into some horror of dripping claws and blackened, decaying features beyond the reach of matter or material chemistry. The flamethrower which he had brought to the shunned house on Ray's own advice had been left untouched, but the specially fitted Crookes tube and its screens and reflectors, designed for the production of vigorously destructive ether radiations, had been tried- and failed, for even the most advanced possible radiations of the time proved powerlessness against that scene of immortal blasphemousness. All it had done was render visible the nauseous changes of Cyrus Spengler's form to that of the house's innumerable lost inhabitants; and in the moment that Cyrus' own face became visible once more, Laszlo had made such farewell as it was in him to make, and fled the scene.

All this was not unfolded in the course of mere moments, of course, but over the hours between that terrible time and the grey wet dawn. Ray knew better than to press too directly, but only walked beside his friend for so long as the younger man had it in him to talk. By the time that daylight's fingers streaked the sky Laszlo seemed almost in possession of himself again, and insisted upon returning to the house in Ray's company. There were no vestiges left of his uncle's physical form save only the man's hat, and Laszlo sat dazedly upon the nearest of the chairs which he and Cyrus had brought. Words seemed to fail him, but as he lifted apologetic eyes to the older man there passed between them an understanding that had no need for words. He had no need to speak further; Ray believed him, and more than that, he understood.

Come the next morning, which was bright and sunny, the two men took possession of two pick-axes, two spades, two military gas-masks, and six carboys of sulphuric acid at the door of the shunned house in Benefit Street. Their digging commenced at eleven in the stinking black earth in front of the fireplace, and Laszlo more than once trembled against his will at the sight of the viscous yellow ichor that oozed from the white fungi which his spade severed. Still, he and Ray delved on, despite the evil smell which increased the deeper and wider their combined hole made. By mutual silent agreement they donned their gas-masks and arranged the carboys of acid for rapid deployment when the pit grew nearly as deep as Ray was tall. It was a wise idea, for not long after Ray's spade stuck something softer than earth- a kind of nearly putrid congealed jelly, seemingly translucent in places. The older man hesitated as Laszlo scraped more of the dirt away, revealing a fold in the substance and then its huge, roughly cylindrical form- and then the realization struck them both: what they looked upon was the elbow-joint of some being far too vast to be anything natural. From there it was the work of mere moments for the both of them to scramble away from their discovery, a race to see who might unstop and tilt the corrosive acids into that unspeakable pit. Ray, for his part, gave silent thanks to the unknown distant makers of his gas-mask, because in the instant that the floods of acid descended a thunderous flood of vile greenish-yellow vapor erupted out of the pit, and a hideous roar broke forth. Still he poured, as did Laszlo, and when the younger man wobbled from the fumes that had begun to penetrate his own mask Ray caught him up before the fall could do him any harm.

By the end of it there was no further vapor, no awful fume or emanation, and it seemed safe enough to shovel the earth back into the pit. It was Laszlo that first noticed the withering of the weird white fungi, and pointed it out; a good omen, Ray thought, and he said as much. Laszlo laughed a little at that, for even now he had no belief in omens or luck. But in the days to come, when the house no longer stank of strangeness nor felt queer or wrong to those who crossed its threshold, he wondered a little; and in the spring, the barren old trees in the yard began at last to bear small sweet apples once again.
gone_byebye: (Arkham)
There are moments when even those without so much as a single psychically active cell remaining in their bodies can know things, and this was one of them. As Ray shivered a little at the sight of poor Gedney's body, its neck frozen stiffly at an unnatural angle, it became abundantly clear: something, he didn't know what, had happened here that was enough to end his obligation to the Old Ones. He gestured to Danforth quickly to pull the tarpaulin back over the corpse. Danforth didn't look right at all- not that anybody could be expected to under the circumstances, but Danforth had the look of a frog about to be pithed. The less he had to deal with, the better; he was only along because he was the only pilot of the three of them, and refused (quite sensibly) to be left all alone with the plane. "Well," Ray said carefully, "unless I'm... really mistaken, it was an accident, at least? I mean, it doesn't look like anything was deliberately-"

"Shut up, Stantz," said Dyer. The old professor's nerves were wound as tight as guitar strings, a side-effect of long listening for the bizarre musical piping mentioned in Lake's report. "We need, I think, to- what was that?"

"What was what?" Ray asked, looking up swiftly; but then he heard it too. Not the fabulous note of any buried blasphemy of elder earth from whose supernal toughness an age-denied polar sun had evoked a monstrous response, but a thing too mockingly normal to belong in this subterranean, frozen hell. It was nothing more and nothing less than the perfect, ordinary, everyday raucous squawking of a penguin.

The muffled sound floated from subglacial recesses nearly opposite to the corridor through which they had arrived. Either it led in some way to the surface and the outer world, or some fate too dreadful to believe had led the birds to the subterranean depths in times past; and either way, it was mutually agreed that they had to track it to its source through that world of age-long, uniform lifelessness. The Old Ones seemed unlikely to be of any assistance now. To judge by the art in the caverns above they were too careful, too deliberate, to have abandoned the body without some sign unless there were a very great reason to have done so.

As they picked their way towards what the map and compass seemed to indicate was the basement of a large pyramidal structure, a bulky white shape loomed up ahead of them. Danforth swore and flicked on the second electrical torch. The white, waddling thing was fully six feet high, and for a moment its incalculable appearance clutched at all three men with an unreasoned, primitive dread. Then it turned and sidled off to the left, joining two others of its kind, and all became clear: penguins, the lot of them. Man-sized, and albino and eyeless as many an ancient cave species had come to be, but penguins nonetheless.

Ray lay one arm against the tunnel wall before banging his head on his sleeve. This place was getting to him.
gone_byebye: (Arkham)
When the influenza of 1919 rolled over the county of Essex in the commonwealth of Massachusetts, it left unnumbered dead in its wake. That was no surprise; death traveled in the Spanish Lady's train as surely as night followed day. Indeed, it was a leveller the likes of which no-one had ever seen before, outdoing even the Great War in its equity of destruction. For a thing had come to pass during the time of the War, a thing which no-one gave much thought to before, and could not be bothered to pursue after. Of all the counties in the Commonwealth, Essex was the least touched by the Gold Star- and that was because, if one made the effort to search, of the fact that of all the counties in the Commonwealth, Essex sent forth the fewest sons to the War.

Not that the young men of that part of the state were lacking in patriotism. Far from it! No, many a lad went off to volunteer, some of them in the armies of other countries in the days before America would give them the chance. Their young men were as willing to go of their own accord as any other. But that was the thing, you see. They went of their own choosing. The hand of the draft board fell lightly indeed upon the county, young men's numbers scarcely ever being called; and in some towns that hand was not felt at all. Kingsport was one such. Dunwich, another. Innsmouth's queer clannish folk never so much as heard a recruiter's voice, and that was just the way they liked it. And as for Arkham town, well, they'd given volunteers, hadn't they? If the government didn't call on them to send more than they wished to give, they weren't about to object. Keep the lads at the university or by their parents' sides, that was just the way it ought to be.

No one noticed, or rather, if they did, they kept their own counsel. A young scientist of Polish extraction who nonetheless hung his shingle as an engineer in the city of Providence calculated the statistical likelihood of such a thing happening, and found the chances of its being accidental so far beyond the pale as to be effectively impossible; but he only told an old friend and fellow graduate of Miskatonic, and if Ray Stantz of the Orme Library thought there was anything to Laszlo Spengler's calculations, he never did say.
gone_byebye: (Arkham)
I have to be crazy to even be contemplating this, Ray thought as he slouched down in his seat at the back of one of Miskatonic's engineering classrooms. At least it's a good kind of crazy.

He couldn't remember the last time the first day of the school year meant anything to him from this side of the desk. Not that he had done any teaching at Melcene, since Senji was one of those professors who mostly did research rather than taught and Ray had been his assistant, but still. University life was the same for faculty the multiverse over. For students? Not so much. Ray was the oldest of the students in Ephi Nokes's Dynamics and Vibrations course, though having tested out of the introductory classes in Mechanical Engineering he was at least among students within striking distance of his own apparent age. It didn't spare him the odd looks, but at least the selection of sophomores and juinors were mostly mature enough to refrain from snickering at the figure they only knew as one of the Orne Library's staff.

As the last of the students filed in just shy of the official starting-time, Professor Nokes looked up. "Thank you all for coming," he said in his dry New Hampshire accent. "I do appreciate your promptness. Perhaps that might be improved upon in future. Now, let us begin..."

Nokes leapt straight into the sort of problem that Ray remembered all too well from his days at Columbia, starting with the case of a mis-tuned turbine engine's rotor vibrations. It took Ray a while to dig the specifics of the cases they'd worked on at Columbia out of his head; he hadn't been a mech. e. major, unfortunately. He'd have gone for the electrical engineering course of study if he hadn't been worried about what he might do to the time stream by trying to integrate the concepts he had from home into the class material. Pabodie had sworn up and down that the mechanical engineering courses here were the best to be found anywhere. Ray was pretty sure that was an exaggeration, but at least it meant he'd be in a less dangerous position if he let something advanced slip. He started covering his notebook's pages with notes on Nokes' lecture and did his best not to get looked at.

Somewhere around the introduction of a single cracked blade as an experimental variable, the words, "Excuse me, Professor, but you're wrong" jerked Ray out of his academic reverie. He knew that voice. He knew that voice-

No. No he didn't. The dark hair, yes, the nose, yes, but the jawline was all wrong and the young man was far too short even sitting down to be the man Ray remembered. And his accent was just a bit off, the sound of somewhere in eastern Europe intruding into his otherwise carefully cultivated American speech patterns. But oh, God, if it hadn't been for those little elements then the student arguing with Nokes about the possibility of applying an alternating frequency/time-domain method to the calculations instead of performing a traditional time integration computation could have passed for Egon Spengler in a heartbeat.

Ray scarcely got any notes taken for the rest of the class. When it was over he ran for the halls; the list of students registered for the course had been tacked to the wall outside, but Ray hadn't bothered to look at it. Now was another story. He ran his finger down the list swiftly, and stopped, and stared.

And had to bite his knuckle not to laugh, because directly above Stantz, R. was the name Spengler, L.

This was going to be an interesting semester. He could tell already.
gone_byebye: (woobie)
Ray waved to Peaslee, smiling, and waited a full thirty seconds after the man was out of sight to close his office door and sink down to the floor with his back against it. Oh, Primus, that was nerve-wracking. Yes, the Yithian had confessed, yes, the conversation had gone all right, but-

"Excuse me? I don't know what you mean, Mr. Stantz."
"Bull puckey. What's the weather like in the late Jurassic? I understand Australia's a lot drier and sandier than you must be used to these days."
"You're mad, I think. Or thinking of someone else-"
"I know two of the Lords of Time personally, thank you very much. I've met one of the Hounds of Tindalos and I'm still alive to talk about it. Don't think that just because I'm not one of your chronally-filched knowledge grubbing cultists I don't know what I'm talking to. Now, are we going to go back to my office and talk this over like civilized beings, or were you planning on making things difficult for yourself and your host?"

That was too close. That was much too close. At least the Yithian had been polite, once they got past the initial difficulties, but that was one more being of incalculable power and unknown motives that knew his name. The Deep Ones, the core Deep Ones, not the ones of his own world- knew that someone here was wise to them, even if they didn't necessarily know who Suzi was. (At least she was gone, and beyond any kind of reach!) And there had been the dream back in May.

"I do not understand your optimism. I will have plenty of time to figure you out."

The gateway back to Milliways had been based on philotic physics, which relied innately on connections at a level humanity couldn't ordinarily perceive. Once together, always together- the old arcane saying had been proven viable by the physics of Valentine Wiggin's world, and Ray had worked out how to make it work to his advantage. Nyarlathotep had destroyed the work in the blink of an eye to keep him here, but Ray knew more than enough by now to understand that that had been a mere warning shot. The next attempt would be a disaster beyond imagining, not necessarily for him but possibly for the people of Arkham. Maybe even of all of this world, because once a connection like that existed between two entities- oh, God, the Mythos was cosmic enough. The last thing human existence needed was for him to essentially build them a doorway to the fundamentally interconnected point of all things and kick it open for them. The last thing any of existence needed.

So there would be no philotic gateway built here, not ever again; but if that was the case how was he supposed to get home? It had been literally years since his arrival, since the Milliways door opened on the wrong universe and the wrong time, and in all that time Suzi was the first sign of anything like hope of getting back. Was he going to have to stick it out until 1986 and hitch a ride to New York with Alice Derleth? Assuming he lasted that long, of course. Assuming he didn't completely lose his marbles in the meantime, although from what the dream had said (You will not fall, only fear. I have no interest in seeing you broken.) that might not be a possibility for him. Assuming the Deep Ones didn't figure out who Suzi had been staying with and come after him with their knives. Assuming any number of a myriad of things, and around here assuming only ever made matters worse.

He covered his face in both hands, (I will not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little death which brings total obliteration) took a long breath, (Concentrate on your spark. Hear the hum. Feel the calm from it) and leaned his head back against the door.

All right. He would manage. He'd- yeah. He'd manage somehow. He just had to stay out of sight until then. Maybe there'd be an opening first, a door leading back somehow that he could take. It wouldn't be a shortcut, just-

There is only forward, Ray Stantz. There are no shortcuts here.

-if there was a door, and it-

plenty of time to figure you out

If it opened, he'd take it, and if he didn't, he'd find a way to find one. If nothing else, at least one universe existed in which Miskatonic University and the Ghostbusters coincided. He'd just have to hide at the University and stay as inobtrusive as possible, working at the library and not getting noticed, and manage to live until then. One way or another. Heck, if he was lucky he'd get thrown out of the continuum when his local self got born.

Ha. If. What a laugh.

Ray dropped his hands, got up, and went over to his desk. The rum flask, as usual since Suzi's departure, was left untouched, but he'd never get through the rest of the day to the night to the next dawn without his Mr. Stay-Puft.
gone_byebye: (Arkham)
It was well known by now that whatever terrible fate had befallen Professor Nathaniel Peaslee on the occasion of his collapse had also awakened a sort of 'secondary personality' in him. While his speech was somewhat closer to the norm than had previously been the case, his words still rang of a peculiar archaism, and the sense existed in everyone who spoke with him that some vast and terrible gulf of the unknown separated him from all his fellows. He was by no means the Nathaniel Peaslee that anyone had previously known, and it showed most in the strain that it placed upon all his family members and sometime colleagues.

It would be some time before Dr. Peaslee's strangeness truly bore fruit in terms of the damage it would do to his relations with those around him. For the moment it meant little more than a certain extra solitude as he made his way about the Orne Library. That, at least, seemed to please him. No one much cares to be interrupted during reading, after all- and oh, how he read, as if every book were the last book in the world and he had to commit it to memory straightaway! No volume was too simplistic or too obscure, no text too unimportant. All that he could read, he did read. And that was where the trouble began. Henry Armitage had not been particularly close comrades with the man before his collapse, but he knew this much: there was no reason at all that he ought to have such an interest in the contents of the Restricted Section. He half-wondered if Peaslee and Stantz weren't in cahoots somehow, given that peculiar evening in early June. But then he chanced to step out of his office at a moment when both the other men were present. Peaslee was making some show of idly leafing through a volume from the time of John Dee on the true nature of alchemical symbolism. Stantz sat some distance away, his own book all but forgotten as he watched Peaslee with the intensity of a hawk after a mouse.

There was a quality of determination to that look so very much unlike anything Armitage had seen before that he was taken aback. It was scarcely to be credited as the look of a man, though surely there were some guards of places too dangerous to name who might have appeared so. No, this was beyond any such expression, though it seemed familiar to Armitage somehow. It took him some little while to realise that Napoleon, the great mastiff who patrolled the library's grounds at night, assumed such a look towards certain misliked students (chiefly of Innsmouth and Kingsport extraction). Stantz's look was not so hostile as the mastiff's, but it was nothing at all like one of trust or cooperation. Armitage relaxed as the realisation came to him, and returned to his office.

It would have done his nerves no good to see what followed after. Peaslee, upon judging that Armitage was no longer taking an interest in the scene, set his text aside and made for the entrance to the Restricted Section. That had been what Stantz had been waiting for; he got up and followed the man, and caught up with Peaslee as his hand descended upon the doorknob. "Is there a problem?" he inquired.

Peaslee blinked back at him amiably enough, for all that it was an artificial sort of friendliness, and said, "There were some matters in my last book which I wished to confirm. By some chance, might you be willing to assist me in this?"

"Maybe," said Stantz, crossing his arms over his chest. "It depends on whether you come clean with me in the next sixty seconds or not."

"I don't believe I take your meaning," said Peaslee carefully. "Come clean? How do you mean?"

"I know what you are..."

Stantz leaned in close and lowered his voice; Armitage would have had to strain very hard indeed to hear the word that blanched Nathaniel Wingate Peaslee's face.

gone_byebye: (dammit...)
It had taken Dr. Henry Armitage some time to come to terms with the thought of hiring an unknown as his first assistant when he was given charge of the Orne Library back in nineteen-aught-six, but he had to admit that Mr. Stantz had proven himself time and again since that day. His knowledge of cataloging systems was excellent, as was his translation skill for several of the languages in which Armitage himself was sorely lacking (most notably his German and Sumerian; the man could read Greek fairly well too, and Latin better, but that was more a case of Armitage having little time rather than little skill). After his first week of work on organising what Armitage would consider the volumes worthy of being restricted to request-only status, it became apparent that the man held a very real reverence for even the most obscure forms of the printed word, and the chief librarian of Miskatonic University grew more willing to relax about the prospect.

There were, of course, incidents now and again where some issue or problem arose, but for the most part they were few and far between. For the most part they were matters of Stantz over-reaching some goal that Armitage had set, assuming too much about the University's willingness to tolerate specialised requests by the Library. After the third or fourth such inquiry on the man's part, Armitage simply sighed and shuffled a bit of the Library's allocations around so that there were better funds for the upkeep and maintenance of all the rare books. It was enough to quiet him, and Armitage rested easy in that knowledge.

Nevertheless, there was a night in the summer of 1908 which stuck rather firmly in Dr. Armitage's mind. Stantz's pursuit of a proper engineering degree was a matter of some amusement to the students, but one that Armitage tolerated with a smile. It kept his assistant happy, and such things made for improved performance in his time at the library; what more could Armitage ask for? If it meant that the man stayed at his post further into the night than anyone save the watchmen and the Library's guardian mastiff, there was no great harm in that. Studying over the summer was laudable enough, and set a fine example for the students, both those who lingered during the summer months and those who only toured the campus in anticipation of the coming term. Armitage himself found it easier to justify working late hours with the knowledge that someone else was close at hand, even among the more disturbing of the library's admittedly priceless texts, and it was on one such jaunt into the darker hours that he discovered their copy of the Liber Ivonis appeared to be missing. As he could not recall it being sent for repairs, Armitage quietly locked the door to the Restricted Section and went to his assistant's office.

What struck him ever after was the utter simplicity and normality of the scene. Stantz's office was stacked with books, as usual- those in the process of being assimilated into the library's collection, and those of his own reading. The engineering texts in English and German alike were as familiar a sight as any, these days; Armitage scarcely saw them. What struck him most was that Stantz was settled far back in his chair, feet propped up on his desk as casually as any first-year student, thumbing through the Liber Ivonis with the same air of curious concentration that he gave to working out particularly puzzling Russian translations. No more, no less; and every now and again he reached out for the coffee-cup resting on his desk without so much as glancing away. There was little more than bemused inquiry to the man's expression as he examined the volume of what Armitage knew full well to be blasphemous ancient lore. Certainly he showed no sign of the unease which the translated Latin had inspired in any of the previous would-be translators Armitage had ever met.

Henry Armitage stepped away from the office door before Stantz could see him. In the morning, the volume was back in its place as if it had never left. When he spoke to his assistant upon his morning arrival, Stantz showed no indication of having consumed anything unwholesome at all, answering questions with his usual cheer and good humour. Armitage did not bother to press him about the book, but resolved to keep an eye on him from that night onward, no matter how fruitless his vigil might prove.
gone_byebye: (Arkham)
Dr. Frank Pabodie was a big, boisterous fellow, a hearty sort from good New England stock. Like many an engineer, he had an affable sort of demeanor that nonetheless ubtly lacked in the social graces of finer society. His comparative youth- for there were no younger engineers at Miskatonic- only contributed a skin of callowness to his heavior. If he wanted to know a thing, he asked after it, and damn the possible social consequences.

Still and all, he had a little tact to him. It was this small measure that kept him from asking after Stantz's experimental apparatus at the table that night. Mrs. Franklin, after all, was more concerned about the man's sister, who had vanished as suddenly as she came. It seemed the Arkham atmosphere disagreed with her, and she'd been forced to take the first train possible back to Boston for the sake of her health. It all smacked a bit of fish to Pabodie, but he reckoned he knew the real story. He'd seen enough of Stantz by now to know the man's habits, and how little a woman like that fit into them.

When supper was cleared away and Stantz retired to his room, Pabodie followed him at a decent distance. Judging that a count of twenty was quite enough to avoid seeming too much of a busybody, he rapped at the other man's door. "Who is it?" Stantz's muffled voice called from within.

"It's me, Pabodie. Open up."

"Oh- right..." Stantz opened the door to a room not unlike Pabodie's own, save that it was crammed much more tightly with books, a feat Pabodie would have thought impossible. "Sorry, Pabodie. I was busy reading."

"And here I thought you'd be working on that machine of yours," said Pabodie. "I was going to offer to help, as a matter of fact. Your sister wrecked it, didn't she."

A momentary look of bafflement and anguish swept over Stantz's face. "What- I-"

"Say no more, Stantz. You've been up to your elbows in that thing for as long as I've known you, right up to last night. I've seen all the mail you've had, all the packages from Europe, everything you've put into it- why, half of the engineering department doesn't even think to look that far afield for quality equipment. You, my friend, were experimenting with everything you had." Pabodie poked one meaty finger (his hands, alas, were too thick and too stubby for his liking) at the other man's chest. "And then along comes a woman, an untrained one at that, and in the space of a week it all comes to a halt. I'm sure your sister was clever enough in her own way, but women're nothing but death to scientific equipment."

"Excuse me," Stantz began indignantly, but Pabodie was on a roll and would not be denied.

"I don't see any parts, I don't see any tools-" He craned his head to peer into the room, just to be certain. "And even those batteries you built are gone. Damned impressive things, by the way."

"Thank you. They were absolute murder to get up to full efficiency, I might note."

"Yes, you've said," said Pabodie vaguely. "I'd wanted to ask you about those at some point, but if they're all ruined. . ." He let it trail off, brows rising expectantly.

"Oh, they are," said Stantz, "but I've got the schematics, and the ingredients list. Honestly, they're the simplest components of the whole philotic assessment apparatus to make. They're just batteries."

"Just," repeated Pabodie with a snort. "Stantz, they were incredible. Are you sure you want to work for Armitage? You've missed your calling if all you're ever going to be is a librarian."

Stantz hesitated a moment, then sighed. "It's all I'm qualified for," he said.

"Hogwash. With a knack for chemistry like yours- with a knack for engineering like yours-"

"No, you don't understand- it's all I'm qualified for. You know I went to Columbia, don't you?" Pabodie nodded. Armitage had said as much. "Well, I studied at the School of Mines, Engineering, and Chemistry, and I was going for my doctorate young-"

"Must've been quite the scholar, then," said Pabodie, who would know.

"I was at the time," said Stantz. "But then came the accident. One of my experiments towards my doctorate exploded, and... well, it nearly killed one of my fellow experimenters."

"Aaah," said Pabodie. "Much, I think, becomes clear. . ."

Stantz shrugged. "I guess. But that was the end of my time as a student there. Hence, the office next to Armitage's and the desk loaded with obscure books and Greek and Sumerian translations to be done. Those I can handle without having a doctorate to show for it."

"Suppose that makes sense," said Pabodie, but a thoughtful gleam had come into his eye that any sensible man would be well warned to fear. "Are you just going to leave it like that, though?"

"How do you mean?"

"Well-" Pabodie waved a hand at the space behind Stantz, on the other side of the still-mostly-closed door. "You can't tell me that was the site of an explosion. Mrs. Franklin would've said something about that, I'd think, or the help would've. You've learned that lesson, at least."

"So what if I have? Columbia doesn't even have any records of me these days."

"Irrelevant," said Pabodie. "If only because you've got status at another university altogether now."


"Which, I believe, is enough to let you audit classes gratis- or am I wrong?"

"No," said Stantz carefully, "no, Dr. Armitage did say that-"

"Right, then. You've got that, at least. What if I were to tell you that your application for admission as, oh, an undergraduate student would have at least one sponsor in the engineering department? Sit a few classes, take a few tests, get slotted into the classes you're really fit for, and who knows how soon you could be defending your thesis. . ."

There was a long moment of silent thought before Stantz finally stepped back and opened the door all the way. "Your ideas intrigue me, and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter," he said.

"Beg pardon?"

"It means 'come in and tell me more about this plan'."
gone_byebye: (pencil woobie)
The machine went to pieces so thoroughly that Ray couldn't possibly reassemble them without the aid of the kind of computer that wouldn't be built for very literally a hundred years or more. There wasn't a piece remaining larger than his pinky-nail. He'd have a better chance reassembling the machine by sweeping it up and shaking the pieces in a bucket in the hopes that they'd adhere to one another in the right order than by trying to ascertain which part went where. He ran both hands through his hair; two of the companies that he'd ordered the parts from were in Europe, and one of the American firms had gone out of business six months ago. Unless he planned on beating Shockley to the punch and inventing the transistor now, he was sort of screwed.

He flopped back on his bed- the beds in Franklin Place were really quite excellent- and closed his eyes, trying to think. In somewhere like Garion's world he wouldn't have hesitated for an instant to try and cobble together a few dozen primitive transistors, but around here there were very definite hazards to fooling around with time in this particular 'verse. Inventing something that far out of sequence could easily attract the attention of powers he didn't like to name. On the other hand, it was entirely possible that Shockley wasn't going to invent the thing here- he had no clue whether the state of electronics development was anything at all like that of his home timeline, come 2007. Heck, if anything, there was a good chance the Mi-Go had already invented the thing millennia ago and passed so far beyond it that-

It occurred to him that generally, breathing was a fairly easy process. In fact, generally, he didn't feel as if there were some unspeakably vast weight bearing down on his chest, pinning him to the mattress. Oh, God, flitted through his head. The stress, the world, and the machine breaking down got to me. I'm having a heart attack. He swallowed-


Oh, that wasn't good.

That wasn't just the feeling of a weight. That was the actual weight. He'd felt the way his ribcage moved when he'd swallowed. Someone, or something, was sitting right on top of him, perched squarely on the center of his sternum-

Someone. Definitely someone. Anything that qualified as something probably couldn't exhale right in his face, the stream of chill, dank air stalely winding its way around his nose and down the side of his face. Or make the skin of his nose prickle and cringe that way, the eerie sense of someone is immediately present crawling through every last fiber of nerves and sinking down into his skull.

If I'm very, very lucky, he thought, it's just one of the Deep Ones. If I'm really, really, really lucky, I'm just going to get my throat slit for the greater glory of Dagon, and that'll be the end of it. It'll just be a nice simple revenge murder and I won't wind up in the clutches of the Lord of Spiders or anything like that. The Elder Sister's going to show up any second now and I'll just take her hand and leave and WHY ARE THEY NOT TRYING TO KILL ME ALREADY?

The answer came to him in the next second: whatever it was, whatever was going to happen, could not happen until and unless he opened his eyes. In that instant, it would happen. And hot on the heels of that revelation came the sure and dreadful knowledge that he absolutely, positively, had to open his eyes right now-
gone_byebye: (Arkham)
There's been a wild flurry of activity at Franklin Place, the boarding house Ray took up residence in back in 1906. Nearly all of it's been on Ray's part. The Franklins, a couple in their fifties, have taken it all in stride. It's not as if the University's engineering professor, Dr. Pabodie, hasn't done equally strange things in his time- and he lives in the same house. In fact, he's assisted Ray in his experiments once or twice before Suzi's arrival.

Suzi's been the topic of discussion between the two men once or twice, if only because Dr. Pabodie was mildly surprised at first that a household that could turn out an engineering mind like Ray's could produce someone as distinctly un-scientific as Suzi. Then he found out about her knack for distance and spatial calculations, and promptly things were much better. (Dr. Pabodie has some odd ideas about genetics.) As for the other residents of the house, Dante Helcimer, the Frenchman down the hall, has never really been anything like well since Suzi's arrival. He's a jumpy sort of fellow who insists on vegetarian meals and leaves the table when the Franklins' cook produces a large roast or other visible, undeniable meat. For some reason, he tends to avoid Ray; Ray hasn't really objected.

All of this takes place when Ray isn't at work at the Library, of course. During those hours Ray's usually found a way to set Suzi up with books from the Library's standard collection. History, English, Languages and the like are on the first floor, but the Law Library's on the third, separated from Ray's office only by a room full of old charts and maps. It's amazing how many of the older books in any of those sections have been in need of repair, so Ray's been getting them for Suzi to read and fix at her leisure while he works.

Today the repairs are finished early, and the books that were done yesterday are ready to be re-shelved. Ray, however, is more or less up to his elbows in an extremely strange Greek illuminated manuscript full of forgotten Orthodox saints and highly unorthodox commentary on the New Testament.
gone_byebye: (Default)
Spring in Massachusetts can be a time of chaotic weather for those who have lived long in New England's climes, but there are worse days by far than today. The air is buzzing with the work of bees, and birds are winging lazily overhead. A handful of scattered trees dot the grassy, well-kept landscape in all directions, but buildings rise taller than the majority of the trees in the distance.

Somewhere, a not-very-well-tuned carillon is ringing.


gone_byebye: (Default)
Raymond Stantz

February 2014

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