An Unfortunate Assignment Part 2
Mr. Brooks had finished up his work when I arrived. I could see that a considerable portion of documents had been moved from the disorganized heap of boxes and folders to the neat and accounted for collection on the other side of the room. I asked him if there was anything to note from the days delving, and I was surprised to hear that he had found some odd expenditures which were of no concern but left some questions in his mind. He began with the fact that the company took a sharp downward trend once Colton McGinley inherited it after his father died. He was a student at Harvard and couldn't be expected to maintain a company of that size, which was understandable. However, Mr. Brooks noted that it was more from disinterest and extravagant spending of his own than any mismanagement. The house was the first major purchase that the young McGinley had made, which was not the end of it. There were several trips abroad for himself and Mr. Penkin. Extravagant accommodations and the procurement of guides for excursions into uncharted regions had been frequent. There was even a large sum paid out for excavating equipment in some remote area of Denmark. It was unclear what this excavation was for or what the result had been. He also noted that Colton's son had not done much better. However, he, for a time, kept the company afloat. Like his father, he descended into excessive spending on travel and soliciting the services of specific experts in history, anthropology, mythology, folklore, and even physics. None of which had ever produced any gains for the company or the family. It seems as though these were just personal interests that the men were feeding money. Before leaving for the night, Mr. Brooks inquired about the journal which he had examined. He was excited to find its partner. I told him about the new journals we had discovered and assured him that if one of these were a presumed match, he would have the first crack at deciphering their contents.
After seeing Mr. Brooks to the door, I eagerly returned to my office and began to dig into the journals we had found. I tackled the oldest first, attempting to start whatever narrative I would find there from the beginning.
As I suspected, the first journal was that of Colton McGinley. The entries began in 1849 in his fourth year at Harvard. Initially, the entries were fairly mundane and typical for a student describing day-to-day life at university. In September of that year, Mr. McGinley met Abram Penkin, and it seemed that the two became fast friends. Both men had an interest in an idea, held by some occult circles that one could travel alternate dimensions than our own or look into the future or past by using magical principles and techniques. In the beginning, it seemed to be a flight of fancy for both men, some strange and exciting phenomenon, which they discussed and theorized about but at that point, did not believe to be achievable. They began researching the occult in earnest, as well as other broader topics in physics and mathematics. It seemed innocent at first, just wild speculation. It was not until they returned to school after the summer holiday in 1850 that things took a dramatic turn. Colton's father had died and left the entirety of the family fortune and business to him. He had never had a strong relationship with his father, and so was not grieving long before getting back into the swing of day-to-day life at Harvard. It was during the first semester that Mr. Penkin came to McGinley with some rather exciting news.
Penkin spent the summer researching various occult volumes, focusing on dimensional travel. He found the specific mention of a book entitled Cabala of Saboth written in 1686 by an unknown author. He had spent a significant amount of time trying to locate a copy of the text. He had finally found one in the restricted section of the Oren Library at the Miskatonic University. Penkin managed to convince the head librarian to allow him to view the accursed book. He had taken down some information, which he believed was the break they had been looking for in uncovering the universe's mysteries. The book hinted at some malevolent entity worshiped by witches and sorcerers that could grant supplicants, through certain rituals, passage through dimensional rifts referred to as gates by the author. One such sorcerer was Maxim Utkin, who, as the story told, had perfected rituals or spells which could allow him to travel through dimensions and even time itself. His powerful grimoire was said to be buried with him in an infamous graveyard in Denmark. The cemetery, De Beulen Huis, roughly translated from its native Danish as "The Executioners House.", was considered in occult circles a powerful and dangerous location.
The two men launched into extensive research of this man and his fabled book of shadows. They also located the horrible doom-shadowed cemetery, which held what both believed to be the key to extra-dimensional travel. Utkin was a bit of a legendary figure in Russian mythology, according to Penkin, who was himself, Russian. The stories say that he was over two hundred years old and was the object of many tales told to children who did not behave. Penkin remembered his grandmother telling him stories of the evil sorcerer Utkin who would come for children who did not obey their elders. According to some of the research the men had done, Utkin was a real man who was buried with, as the stories called it, his evil book, in De Beulen Huis cemetery. During winter break that year, the two young men traveled to Denmark in search of their prize. They found De Beulen Huis, and indeed they found the grave of the foul Mr. Utkin. They managed to extract the book from its vile resting place and returned home as the winter session began again. The book they extracted from that god-forsaken graveyard, which McGinley referred to as "akin to hell on earth," was written in Old East Slavic. Penkin immediately began the arduous process of translating the text. He, being a Russian speaker, had an advantage. However, the old dialect was challenging to decipher into modern Russian and then further into English. It was at this time that Penkin began a transformation and not for the better. He became more withdrawn and paranoid. He would lock himself away with the book for days on end, working into the night with reckless disregard for his health. Rarely eating or sleeping, he had lost weight and began to display dark circles under the eyes and a sickly pale tone to his skin.
At this time, Mr. McGinley stepped back from the feverish and obsessive research the two had been engaged in and began to focus on his studies. It was then that he met Stewart Billings and his close friend Bernard Lafayette. The two men were a welcome change of pace from the oppressive darkness of Abram Penkin, Colton's social life began to renew with vigor. It did not take long for McGinley to fall back into his old ways, asking the two law students if they had any interest in the occult or the unexplained. Much to his surprise, both men had an interest in the bizarre and fantastic. He then began a slow process of introducing the men to some of the things that he and Penkin had discovered. The two were apprehensive and dismissive at first. Still, once McGinley had shown them some of the less exotic things they had uncovered, they were eager for more.
It was near the end of the school year when Mr. McGinley purchased the house outside of Boston. With a base in which to operate, McGinley introduced Penkin to the other men. They all began meeting at the house on weekends. The group started to engage in what McGinley called experiments, trying out various rituals found in old dusty tomes from the Miskatonic and Harvard libraries alike. Deeper, they went into the shadowed realms to understand and hone their craft. They began referring to their group as Tenebris Circuli, Latin for the dark circle. When school renewed, they were in full swing, reveling in the idea that they would discover mysteries of the unknown that their peers could not fathom. Mr. Wesley Lawton, a student of medicine and a dyed in the wool skeptic, then approached them. He challenged all of their claims and demanded proof. That endeared Mr. Lawton to the group. They agreed that a skeptic would keep them balanced, and keep them from seeing success where there was none. It didn't take much time for Lawton to become a full member of Tenebris Circuli and an integral piece for the group.
It was just before graduation when Mr. Penkin came to McGinley with the complete translation of the book. He said he had written the translation in a code to keep it safe, which required a key to decode. He was concerned that others might try to steal their work and take credit for the discoveries they were so close to obtaining. He gave the key portion to Mr. McGinley and kept the encoded portion for himself. McGinley notes at this time, a marked change in Penkin. Something behind the eyes, a colder tone, and humorless presence. It was as if the old Penkin was gone. It was replaced by a cold and calculating doppelganger whose only drive was to unlock the mysteries of that book.
Penkin had been studying the text and had finally come upon the rituals he had been looking for. It was to be performed by multiple participants. If appropriately done, it would deliver one of the group across the veil to other dimensions for a short time. Then bring them back into our dimension when the ritual was completed. Penkin was ecstatic about the discovery and wanted to attempt the ritual straight away. It was a few weeks after graduation. The group was to assemble at the house outside of Boston to attempt to send Mr. Penkin through a gate and into another dimension. Penkin, now with the key complete, gave it to McGinley for safekeeping. The men told their close relations that they were taking a camping trip that weekend in northern Massachusetts.
The next section, which ends the first journal, is too incredible to be believed. I was taken totally off guard by the statements put forth, and I was remiss in acknowledging any of it. It must be some elaborate hoax, but how could it be, the journal was verified authentic by Ms. Waterford. The final entries in the journal catalog what happened the night of the ritual that was to send Mr. Penkin to the other side. The group met at the house on a Friday evening and had what seemed to be a great night discussing the coming ritual's specifics. All seemed in order, and the next day they set about getting things ready for the night's festivities. From all accounts, the ritual was a complete success. A gate was drawn on the floor in the great room of the house. The proper incantations were performed, and finally, Mr. Penkin stepped into the circular symbol they had created as the gate. If the journal is to be believed, he then vanished. They were astonished and could not believe what they had seen. The remaining men stood before the gate, gazing in wonder when an abomination crossed back over the threshold. The thing that came back through the gate was not Abram Penkin though it bore his face. It was a figure standing on two legs, which were bent in awkward places. From its torso extended several writhing pseudo-pods that undulated with some unheard rhythm. The skin of the thing was dark and wet with mucus, which continuously ran down it. Atop that blasphemous torso was the visage of their friend Penkin but bloated with pus-filled tumors bulging from random locations around the head. It turned to the three men who could only stare frozen in fear and exhibited what McGinley described as a victorious smile.
At that, Billings crumpled to the floor in terror and began to shriek. Lawton, apparently mesmerized by the creature, stepped forward and was engulfed in the multiple appendages' undulating grasp. It pulled him closer, and the face that bore Penkin's visage bit deeply into his neck then began to devour the lifeless body. McGinley had prepared for trouble and had created a single silver disc bearing the symbol of a five-pointed star decorated with a flaming eye in its center. He rushed to the thing pressing the disk to its skin; it dropped the limp form of Lawton to the ground and shrank back, staring wildly at McGinley. He called for Lafayette to bring something to bind the foul beast. Lafayette rushed off, returning with a length of rope that they hastily tied around the abomination. The symbol subdued the thing. They quickly located a chain that was used to secure the outside basement doors and bound it affixing the disk to the chain. Then they dragged the thing and Mr. Lawton's body down into the basement. On through the night, until morning, they worked at bricking the creature and Lawton's corpse into the basement's northeastern wall. All the while they worked, the thing stared at them and made no sound. Once finished, they carved the same symbol on the freshly made brick wall and set about carving it into each of the home's entryways and windows. With their grisly work completed, both men sat on the couch in the great room before the large bay window and succumbed to exhaustion.
McGinley convinced the other two remaining men that it would be best to keep the incident quiet. They needed to create a story that could explain the absence of Lawton and Penkin without producing any bodies. They came up with a spelunking accident. The initial cover story was a camping trip, and Lawton knew of a cave system to the north that would easily befit the description. They told their tale to authorities and the families. An investigation was never pursued. The guilt at what they had done was almost too much to bear. Mr. McGinley, fearing the others would eventually crack and reveal the truth of that ill-fated weekend, approached Billings and Lafayette with the proposal of handling his estate. He gave them a large sum of money upfront that he told them could be seed money for their practice. The two lawyers could not pass up such an opportunity. They could open a firm before either had even passed the Barr, beginning with such a large estate in hand that they would not be struggling for clients within the early years. The firm was created with blood money given to them by Colton McGinley. The express purpose of which was keeping the horrible monstrosity they had walled into the basement of the house on Waverley Oaks road a secrete. I could not believe what I was reading. This firm, which I took so much pride in, which I was striving to become a partner of, was the front of a terrible, shocking and sinister event that left one man dead and another in God knows what state.
At this point, the entries in the journal stopped and didn't begin again for several years. Mr. McGinley wished to put the horrible incident behind him. He moved back into his family home and left the house outside of Boston to sit uninhabited for years. After some poorly managed business decisions, McGinley decided to sell off the large mansion, his family home, and move into the smaller house on Waverley Oaks. He believed that the Penkin thing in the basement must now have died of starvation trapped within its tomb in the basement. It was not long after that McGinley met and married his wife and subsequently had their first and second children. Life seemed to have turned to normal, and the dark past seemed to be behind him. The entries in the journal are happy and joyful, without mention of the terrible deeds of that night or the obsessed desire to travel dimensions and time. However, everything changed with the death of Mrs. McGinley.
Entries leading up to this time begin to have McGinley again thinking about the thing in the basement. He was having strange dreams of other nightmarish worlds where abominations walk freely. He writes of finding himself in the basement, staring at that brick wall only to realize that he did not remember coming down. He spoke of a voice in his head, calling to open the wall and set the thing free. It was apparent that McGinley was going through a mental break brought on by keeping his horrible secret for so many years. This portion of the journal led me to question the validity of the rest of the entries. Could it be that McGinley was mad all along, it certainly would be easier to believe that than the wild narrative he put forth thus far. Then an entry in the journal took the wind from me and left me completely stunned. Mr. McGinley describes coming to his senses, standing at the top of the stairs down to the basement, not realizing how he had come to be there. He came around only to notice his wife's body at the foot of the stairs with her neck broken. In that instant, the memories came rushing back. Due to an argument they had about his preoccupation with the basement, he pushed her in a fit of rage. He told the authorities that she had fallen down the stairs in the morning before he had come down for breakfast.
This incident set McGinley off on a quest to rid the home of the evil thing he now believed was controlling his mind. He took Penkin's portion of the horrid book and cast it into the unused well behind the house, hoping to keep anyone from discovering its vile secrets. He began to travel around the globe, searching for a way to cast the demon thing out back to the hell from which it came. He went back to the graveyard in Denmark to trace the lineage of Maxim Utkin in the hope that it would lead to a solution. He traced the man back to Russia and the town of Arkhangelsk, but the trail went cold there. He returned home and attempted to resist the evil thing that was forever calling him to release it from the precarious prison the men had created for it. Then McGinley's youngest son went missing.
Horrified by possible reasons, McGinley immediately put together a search party and set a reward for information on his son's whereabouts. Five days later, they found him in the well behind the house where he had deposited Penkin's portion of the horrid translation. He surmised that the eldritch entity trapped in the house must have compelled his son to search for the missing piece of the translation, and in doing so, the boy slipped and met his end in that cursed well. McGinley was inconsolable and resumed his search with hysterical vigor. Leaving his older son in the care of hired caretakers, he began more aggressively searching to lift the curse he had brought upon his kin.
Years passed, and the elder McGinley rarely came back to the house. He spent his time traveling the world, looking for the means to end the misery and tragedy that he brought onto his family. He returned home when his son left for college and remained. Once his son and all of the hired help had left that house, Colton was alone with the thing, and the constant taunting began with much more intensity. He wrote in his journal several times about the dreams and voices in his head. McGinley had gone mad at this point, and the loneliness and isolation pushed him to the brink. His last entry states that he built a secret compartment in the bedroom to conceal his part of the translation and his journal. He put the key to this secret compartment in a safe deposit box at the bank and gave the firm the number to add to the estate holdings. The day after, he took his own life.
I was visibly shaking at this point as I closed the journal and looked over to the second almost identical book on my desk. I was resolved to read all three, but I shuddered at what I might find in the journal that could only be Christopher McGinley's. I poured a large glass of brandy and drank deeply. So far, the tale seemed so unreal that it could only be an elaborate hoax. There were pieces of physical evidence; however, that spoke to the contrary.
Christopher's journal began much the way his fathers had, detailing daily life at Miskatonic University. His father had suggested the school though he could never understand why he respected his father's recommendation. However, it was a good fit for Christopher, and he enjoyed the mysterious, shadow shrouded town of Arkham in which the university was located. When he got word of his father's death, he was mortified. Even though his father had been absent for almost his entire childhood, he did remember the times when he was present and the love that he had for his mother. Somehow, he knew that his father's absence was not by choice but brought on by some unfulfilled duty to the family. He inherited the estate at that point but stayed in school and did not return to his childhood home. There were too many bad feelings in that place. He remembered the horrible dreams he had there and the tragic death of his mother and younger brother. After graduation, he took time to travel abroad and returned to the states with a renewed energy and a desire to put the family back on course. He began to take a hand in the company, which was slowly falling to ruin from neglect. In short order, he managed to pull it up from its downward spiral. After a time, Christopher took a wife and eventually had a daughter, Agatha, and a son, Peter. Things seemed to be going well for the family, and it looked like the shadow of tragedy and despair had been lifted.
It was not Christopher but his wife, Claudette, who looked into the estate holdings. Upon finding the safe deposit box, she extracted the single key that it contained. So confounded was she by this unique item that she began a complete search of the house to find a mate for this strange key. It had to have some importance, or it would not have been locked away at the bank. It became an obsession to which she was becoming increasingly irrational. Christopher tried to dissuade her from the preoccupation that was becoming a detriment to the children, but she would not relent. She began to speak of strange dreams that she was having and would find herself in the basement without realizing why she had come down there. He was worried about her health and safety. He tried to preoccupy her with other hobbies, but nothing seemed to break her focus on the basement and her search for the keyhole to match that key.
And so it went for months until late one night Christopher was awoken by a sound coming from the basement of the house. He noticed that his wife was not with him in bed and was concerned that she might be down in the basement. When he came down the basement stairs, he was confronted with a chilling scene. His wife was kneeling before a section of the brick wall on the east side. The wall had a strange symbol carved into it that had previously been obscured by dust, cobwebs, and old furniture. Mrs. McGinley had cleared an area before the wall in which she now knelt muttering quietly to herself. When Christopher called his wife, she turned her head in his direction, and he was shocked at the visage before him. Her face was contorted and strained, and her eyes were rolled back into the sockets revealing only the whites. In a grotesque baritone, guttural accented voice, she uttered three words then fell unconscious on the ground. The words ran over in his mind as he attempted to wake her to no avail. The three words, which sent him on a quest beginning where his father before him had left off, trying to rid the world of the evil in the McGinley home were simply, "set me free."
After this, Claudette slipped into what the doctor's diagnosed as a self-induced coma of some sort. She lay in bed and could not be roused in any way. Some nights she would stir in her bed, but that was the most interaction she would have. Christopher was beside himself with grief and was determined to find out what was causing this malady. He was convinced it had something to do with the obsession and that symbol on the basement wall.
While attempting to fix a floorboard that was coming loose in the master bedroom, Christopher found the curious lever that hung just out of sight inside the wall's heating vent. He pulled the lever as Ms. Waterford and myself had done. A shiver went down my spine as the entry described hearing the click as the secret compartment concealed in the wood paneling came open, just as we had earlier that day. Inside he found his father's journal and the detestable cipher key that, unknown to him, was the seed from which his family's misfortune had grown. After reading his father's journal, he again picked up the trail where his father had left off.
He was able to locate a tome in the library of his alma mater, which contained the ritual required to create the sign carved onto each window and door in the house, chiseled into the wall in the basement and according to his father's journal chained fast to the creature contained within. His journal entries also make mention of the white stone which Ms. Waterford now had in her possession.
Christopher was abroad in Russia when he received news of his wife's death. He had uncovered a pivotal piece to the puzzle, but unfortunately, he was too late to save his wife. He returned home to arrange the funeral and the subsequent commitment of his daughter to the Roxbury sanitarium. Broken severely by these events, this only bolstered his determination to send the thing back to the hell from which it came. The information that he found in Russia was integral to this end. The sorcerer Maxim Utkin carried the dark knowledge required to open a gate to the realm of his dark God. Christopher had identified this entity as one mentioned in many tomes of great evil. One of which he was able to locate, the German Unaussprechliche Kulte, that spoke of cults worshiping an entity associated with dimensional travel and time itself. The malevolent entity bore the name Yog-Sothoth and was by all accounts a being beyond human comprehension. Utkin's lineage propagated the worship of this dark deity through the years. In an old ship manifest, Christopher found that several generations after the sorcerer had been put in the ground at The Executioners House, his decedents had made the long journey to the new world. Upon arrival, they changed their name from the original Utkin to the present day Penkin. It was Abram Penkin, a direct descendant of Maxim Utkin. He had used them all to cross the threshold and become a faithful servitor of his dark God. He had become the horrible half-man, half-eldritch being that touched the minds of all who came into this house from its tomb in the basement walls.
He struggled against the will of the creature as it pecked at his mind daily. Like his wife, he found himself in the basement without recollection of how he had come to be there. He tried to stay away from the house as much as he could, taking his son away for months at a time, and finally, when Peter was of age, the boy left for college. Christopher was now alone in the house to confront the thing that Penkin had become. Day by day, it called to him repeatedly as he tried desperately to find the correct incantations, which would build a gate strong enough to send the thing back to the blackness. In the end, his resolve broke. He was not strong enough to resist. One night he found himself swinging a pick-ax against the basement wall, breaking large chunks of it away. He knew then that he would eventually bend to the will of the thing and release it upon the world. The servitor would then usher in the real power allowing the opener of ways to enter into our plane of existence and set about humanity's ruination. Christopher added the journal to the master bedroom's secret compartment. He then took the key, the stone bearing the symbol and the cipher key to the bank, and locked it away in the safe deposit box. He returned the key for the box to the firm to add to the estate's holdings, and then went home. The entries end there; it was two days after the last entry that Mr. Christopher McGinley was found dead in his home hanging in full view from the large bay window at the front of the house.
The night was getting late, and I was struggling to stay awake, The brandy, which had at first been calming my nerves, was now beckoning me to sleep. I looked at the last journal on the desk and picked it up. Upon opening it, an envelope fell from the pages onto my desk. There was writing on one side that read, "Peter." The envelope was open, and the contents still inside. I slid the letter out and opened it. It was a letter from Christopher McGinley to his son Peter. It spoke in a condensed form of all the things in the two journals I had just read. It explained that Peter should not go to the house unless he had plans to send the thing back. It begged him to stay away from the house. Finally, it put forth that the translation done by Penkin was incomplete. He had never intended to translate the full book, but only the portions that he needed to make his transformation. He then alluded that the book itself was required to send the thing back to its nightmarish world. Unfortunately, the only soul who knows where the original text ended up was entombed in the house's basement on Waverley Oaks. He apologized to his son for not being able to rid the family of this burden and tells him that he fears he cannot hold out against the constant beckoning from the thing in the basement. He would eventually succumb and set it free, and so he was resolved to take his own life.
The journal of Peter McGinley was sparse and uninformative for the most part. Much of it was from his childhood and spoke of terrible dreams and his mother's obsession with finding the lock to which the key would fit. He spoke of Agatha and how much he wished he could have helped her and the guilt he felt at visiting her less and less. He, too, saw the skulking specter of the beast in the home. Still, unlike Agatha, he realized it was only a shadow, not a physical manifestation. It was a projection of some horrible evil thing that Peter believed lived in the basement and that this is why his mother was so obsessed with that part of the house. He knew that it was also the subject of his father's many trips and long nights of study with old and dusty books. It was also the reason he chose Anthropology as his major in school. He hoped that he could study various peoples worldwide looking for signs in their legends and traditions that would somehow relate to the thing he had seen in the house. After school, his travels aimed at the same goal, and like his father and grandfather before him, he searched for a way to send the thing back. Returning home for the first time in many years, he accessed the estate records and found the letter his father had left for him. It confirmed all of his childhood speculations. Now Peter's determination was even stronger to rid the world of this terrible thing, which lies in waiting in the cold dark basement of the house on Waverley Oaks.
The final entries of his journal were focused on a plan which Peter was determined to execute, which, for better or worse, would end the family curse. He had found in a particular unspeakable tome under the strictest guard at the Oren Library, of which he spent years endearing himself to the head librarian to be allowed access to a specific ritual would create a dimensional passage or gate. Peter planned to use this gate to send the abomination in the McGinley home to some other plane and seal it there. God help the denizens of that alternate world, but he could no longer afford to be scrupulous. He must act before the thing found a way to escape its tenuous prison and open the way for its dark master. He attempted the gate ritual several times but could not create one large enough to send the thing through. The toll this was taking on his mind and body had been immense, and he believed he could not withstand the constant assault his mind was under from the thing below. There was no recourse, he could not resist it, and he feared that the longer he stayed in the house, the eventuality of him releasing it grew exponentially. Four days after the last entry in the journal, Peter McGinley was found dead in the house. His body was found hanging in front of the same bay window as his father and thus ending the McGinley line forever.
I realized then that the bay window, the location of so much dread through the years, was unremarkable but for one fact. This window that bore witness to four suicides, which was a constant reminder of the home's dark past, was in a position directly above the northeast wall of the basement. It was directly above the cramped, dark prison of the horror that Penkin had become.
I set the book down on my desk, unable to believe what I had read in the McGinley family journals. It seemed impossible, but there was an increasing amount of physical evidence to corroborate the story. If it was a hoax, it was a profoundly intricate and well-planned one. It would have been a hoax perpetrated from years in the past to this date. If there was even an inkling of truth to this terrible narrative, I must get to the house tomorrow and warn the others to stay away. I could not, in good faith, allow them to continue in such an unsafe environment.
I woke up with my head on the desk as I heard Mrs. Lampton unlocking the main office's doors. Quickly hiding the bottle of brandy and the glass, I attempted to put myself together. Mr. Brooks would soon be here, and I had overslept. With my hair a mess and three days of stubble on my face, I tried to greet Mrs. Lampton as if nothing was amiss. She inquired about my well-being and remarked that I shouldn't spend every night working late. Mr. Brooks arrived promptly as always and gave me an odd look as he entered the office and set about the day's work. He let me know that he should be finished with everything today and check in with me tomorrow if I did not return to the office before he was gone. I bid him a quick farewell and stumbled out of the office.
I drove as quickly as I could to try and intercept the others. I thought it best to tell them that something was amiss with the inheritance and call off the house's inspection until a later time. When I arrived, however, the work truck of Mr. Elliot was already in the driveway. Ms. Waterford was there as well in her car parked on the street. Mr. Stark's car was also, but he was not in it and must be helping Mr. Elliot with something inside. As I got out of the vehicle, Ms. Waterford intercepted me immediately. She began a quick and nervous dialog about the stone, which she had attempted to research the night prior. She told me that she had consulted a colleague who was a history professor at the Miskatonic University, Mr. Bernard Pembrook. The professor examined the stone and determined that the symbol was familiar to him; he said it was an old symbol and referred to as the elder sign. It was said to be repellent to entities associated with ancient deities and was used for warding or sealing. Ms. Waterford seemed nervous, as she mentioned that this symbol was depicted throughout the house. I attempted to assure her that there was nothing to worry about, but she could see that I did not believe that.
We entered the house and found no one in the great room, so we began to call out. Our calls were returned from the basement, where Mr. Elliot was presumably working. We went down to see what the man was doing down there, and I was half expecting to see him enthralled by the thing I had been reading about the night before. So apprehensive was I as I descended the stairs, that Ms. Waterford gave me an odd look and asked if I was all right. Shaking my head as we reached the bottom of the stairs, I inquired what Mr. Elliot was doing. He let me know that he was working on setting up jacks to bear the house's load so that he could work on repairing the section of the basement wall that was damaged by the falling tree the day before. As we spoke, my eyes could not help but dart over to the wall on the east side of the basement. The wall which the journals told concealed the horrible, vile abomination which was once Abram Penkin.
After discussing the work Mr. Elliot was doing, I asked if he had seen Mr. Stark. He related that he had not since the day before. I left Elliot to continue his work and set about moving some of the boxes and furniture that obscured a clear view of the northeastern wall. Once I did, I was horrified at what I had uncovered. The claims I had read in the McGinley's journals were substantiated as on the wall was a chiseled representation of the elder sign of which Ms. Waterford had spoken. She audibly gasped as she saw the making. She must have had horrible assumptions at what it could mean. To my horror, I also spied the marks in the brick where the pick-ax of Christopher McGinley had struck. It was almost too much to take in, and my knees began to weaken.
At that instant, the tree outside shifted again, causing breakage in the north wall where Mr. Elliot was working. In turn, this caused cracking of the bricks on the east wall, and much to the horror of everyone in the room, a portion of the eastern wall fell away to reveal what none of us could believe. In the dark recess of the exposed section, barely visible through the hole revealed by the crumbling brick, we saw what looked to be a man's face. A horrible stench came from inside, and Mr. Elliot being the closest gaged as the noxious odor engulfed him. Ms. Waterford exclaimed that we should not go near it as Elliot stepped closer to the thing in the wall. We could see it was a human face though it had strange deformities on either side, which looked like large tumors or growths. Before I could move to turn Mr. Elliot away from the thing, we were all struck by a feeling of heinous dread and fear as the thing in the wall opened its eyes. Elliot bellowed out a curse as Ms. Waterford covered her eyes in shock and terror. I sprang into action with fear coursing through my veins, moving toward Elliot to pull him away from the thing, but I was a moment too late. Several sickly slender and writhing appendages squirmed out from the broken section of the wall and wrapped themselves around the unsuspecting contractor. It pulled him quickly into the open section of the wall, which obscured the grotesque face that lurked within. I could hear a sickly sucking sound as Mr. Elliot's legs began to shake and kick wildly. Waterford screamed but even so moved past me with a revolver in her hand. In a moment, the thing released Mr. Elliot, and his lifeless body crumpled to the floor. Ms. Waterford fired all five of her rounds into the thing to no effect. It only stared at us with an evil malignant calm that spoke of unearthly patience. It was then that Mr. Stark scrambled down the stairs holding a mud-smeared book in one hand and a large hunting knife in the other.
I backed away from the deranged looking man and asked what he thought he was doing. The wild look in his eyes told me what he was about before his words confirmed it.
"Give me the key," he said in a throaty voice.
"It isn't here Mr. Stark, please calm down, and we can talk about this" I attempted to persuade the man.
"Stand aside. We must release it. It must be free," the man bellowed as he lunged towards me.
I leaped to the side and fell as I did, but I narrowly escaped the thrusting blade. Ms. Waterford stepped forward with the gun now pointed at Stark and demanded he relent. It was a bold bluff since the gun was empty. Stark was not intimidated and lunged at Waterford, plunging the knife deeply into her chest, both falling to the floor with the blow. Stark rolled off her, and I could see the large knife protruding from Ms. Waterford's chest. She was not moving. I saw her lifeless eyes as she stared vacantly in my direction. Stark then stood and moved toward the wall's opening and began pulling bricks from it widening the breach. I got quickly to my feet, pulling the knife from the lifeless body of Ms. Waterford and driving it into Mr. Stark's back. He gasped as a sudden rush of air released from his lungs then slowly slumped to the floor, leaving me face to face with the Penkin thing trapped in the wall.
I staggered back as the rope-like appendages reached toward me, falling over the body of Ms. Waterford. As I did, I saw the smooth white stone we had found in the safe deposit box half-exposed in her sweater's pocket. I grabbed it, hoping that it would afford some protection from the beast now beginning to excrete more of itself from the ever-widening opening. I raised the stone in my fist as I struggled to get to my feet. As if sourced by fire, it shrunk back into its walled tomb's safety, and I could see that the stone was indeed a talisman with the power to repel the ghastly monstrosity. It called to me then, a voice in my head that I felt compelled to comply with, telling me to release it. I fought back the desire to do so. I searched the basement for the materials I needed to repair the broken section of the wall. I fought with every ounce of my being to resist the voice in my head.
"Release me." it beckoned.
With the stone in my hand, I went about replacing the bricks in the wall with the cold, calculating eyes of the thing staring at my every movement. I was able to resist long enough that I walled the creature back into its prison. Those eyes were staring back at me all the while until the last brick was in place. Still, in my mind, the voice was tormenting me.
I managed to get upstairs though it was difficult to resist the temptation to return to the basement and take down that wall. I replaced the journals to the secret compartment in the master bedroom and left the house. The further from the cursed place I got, the weaker the compulsion became.
It was dark now as I drove back to my small office on Washington Street and set about writing this testament. It will be difficult to believe the words put down in this confession. It may be tempting to look into the matter yourself to see if what I say is true. Please do not. Leave that house to decay and be forgotten, do not attempt to find the journals, and do not speak with poor Agatha for the love of God.
Boston Police Department A-1 Downtown February 17th, 1922: The above document is submitted as evidence in the case of Mr. Jonathon Crown's suicide. Mr. Crown jumped from the window of his office and fell seven stories to his death. The document above was on his desk, freshly written. The only other object on the desk was an old key that was part of the McGinley estate. The man was unstable, which the document clearly shows. The house on Waverley Oaks was searched. The bodies of Nathanial Elliot, Agnes Waterford, and Carl Stark were found in the condition described in the document. However, the fingerprints on the knife were Mr. Crowns. It is the opinion of this department that Mr. Crown had suffered a mental break under pressure of his job and his desire to become a partner in the firm of Billings and Lafayette and in a delusional state murdered the three individuals mentioned above then committed suicide.
Upon investigation of the home, the master bedroom's secret compartment was discovered, but it was empty. The books referred to in Mr. Crown's confession, as the cipher key and the translated text, were also not present in the house or Mr. Crown's office. Mr. Stewart Brooks, the accountant mentioned in the confession, reported the suicide after returning to Mr. Crown's office on Friday the 17th 1922, to find the window open and Crown's body below in the alley. Mr. Brooks confirmed his part in the processing of the McGinley estate but denied the claims that Mr. Crown had shown him a journal identified as a cipher key. The other mentions of his involvement were confirmed as correct.
It was a horrible and unfortunate incident. Billings and Lafayette's firm denied all claims of any involvement in the wildly fanciful testimony of Mr. Crown. The McGinley estate has appropriately been transferred to the Lawton family. It is no longer part of the firm's open clients. Though the circumstances were horrible, the Lawton family has moved into the house on Waverley Oaks road and is free from any suspicion. It is clear that Crown was the sole perpetrator of this crime and has ended his own life as a result. This case is considered closed.
Boston Daily Globe March 10th, 1922 Police arrived at the apartment of Mr. Stewart Brooks Thursday evening when neighbors complained incessant wailing for several hours. When police arrived at the scene, they found the man huddled in the corner of his small one-bedroom apartment, scratching his face and arms viciously. Weak from blood loss and apparent lack of food, water, and sleep, Mr. Brooks was taken to Boston Memorial Hospital for evaluation.
The police found no drugs or alcohol in the apartment, and nothing seemed to be out of order. One curious note, the police reported finding two books at Mr. Brooks' desk, both written in no language they could determine. Officers said it looked to be gibberish.
Mr. Brooks was committed to the Roxbury Sanitarium after full evaluation from the medical staff at Boston Memorial. Brooks had no immediate family and is considered a ward of the state.