Wednesday, 25 April 2012

The Horror at Gladly Cove

If I am quiet they may think that I have escaped. However, I fear the only escape left to me is my own death. If you are reading these words, I want you to know that I am truly sorry for my part in what has come to pass. If I had listened to my sister perhaps this disaster could have been averted. If you are reading this, then perhaps it has been. There may still be time. But as the rain beats harder and harder against the walls of this lighthouse, and the ones outside beat harder and harder against the door, I find it hard to believe that there is any salvation to be had.

And to my sister, my dear Beatrice, I can only tell you how sorry I am. I did not believe you, and through my inaction I have doomed us all.

I have included in these pages her diary which gives perhaps the fullest possible account of what has happened here. There is much that I do not understand, but I do not think that what has entered this world today allows much understanding.

I must extinguish this lamp. But I cannot tear myself away from the window. And this storm grows worse. The words below are my poor sister’s. I hope that she can forgive me.

The Diary of Beatrice Webster

November 2nd

I am writing these pages while looking at the sea from my window. How funny to think that yesterday the view would have shown me the tiled roof of the tannery. A new start was what my brother said I needed, and a new start is what I have.

I am determined to get better. I want this bracing sea air to clear the cobwebs from my mind. I cannot thank my brother George enough for bringing me here. He knew how vehemently opposed I was to another stay in the Dunwich sanatorium, and it was he who heard about this independent “house of mental restoration” on the coast. I am told that it was built two years ago for the very purpose of assisting those with a similar condition to mine. It is too early to tell, I have been here for two hours only, and only one of those without my brother by my side, but I have a good feeling about this place. Even the name, Gladly Cove, inspires such a feeling of warmth in my soul that is quite at odds with the wind outside!

George accompanied me here, and we were both met by the married couple who act as both doctors and innkeepers. Their names are Sebastian and Lilly Duchamp. As they escorted us to my room they told us a little of how they had spent much of their lives travelling together, treating men and women suffering illnesses of the mind throughout the world. Having seen how poorly these lost souls had been treated in the further reaches of civilisation, they decided that they would settle here and create a safe haven where those in need could convalesce. There are paintings and sculptures all over the home that they have collected on the travels. Some are really quite extraordinary, with several paintings of what I can only assume to be a pagan god. At some point I hope they will tell me the stories behind them, I am sure that there are some fascinating tales.

My clothes and my books are the only things I have brought with me from London. I felt no need for other keepsakes or memories of the terrible last few years. A new start, Beatrice. A new start.

I must put down my pen as I am expected to take my evening meal with the other residents. George tells me that they are at full capacity so I am sure to find somebody to talk to. I am determined to make a good friend here. I believe that things will be much better from now on.

November 2nd, later

I can barely keep my eyes open but I had to write this down. I have made a friend. Her name is Lucy and she is a year younger than I am. We talked all through dinner and have agreed to go for a walk tomorrow morning, weather permitting. How my heart swells with happiness!

November 3rd

I woke early, with the sun shining through my window. I dressed quickly for breakfast and sat next to Lucy at the same table as last night, but she seems in worse humour than yesterday. She snapped at me when I asked why she looked so downcast, but apologised quickly. She had slept badly, she said. She said that she could hear raised voices in the night but when she went to find the source she could not locate it. However, she told me that she would still very much like to join me for a walk, which was a great relief. I put on my walking shoes and watched as she tied her laces laboriously. Poor girl, her exhaustion was plain.

We set off along the cliffs. I had imagined that Lucy would lead our walk as she had been here for a couple of days longer than I but she moved without any sort of enthusiasm or sense of direction. I didn’t much mind; it gave me the chance to explore. However, as the clouds loomed on the horizon I asked her gently to walk a little quicker so as to make the most of our time outside before the rain started. She made no answer but she matched my pace.

“How long have you been here?” I asked her. She shrugged. “Come now, Lucy. Surely your sleepless night has not deprived you of your memory as well as your energy?”

“I lose track,” she said.

I was about to ask exactly what she meant by that but before I could she looked up and began to walk with great purpose down the path that led to the beach. I struggled to keep up and told her so. She gave no indication of having heard me. I decided to take things at my own pace and picked my way carefully down towards the sand. The path was not without obstacles but they did not seem to present any problem to Lucy. Before very long she was on the beach and still moving quickly.

Then she stopped abruptly, and made a left turn towards the sea. I called out to her to be careful; she would get her dress wet. Evidently this did not concern her. She waded into the waves until the water came up to her waist. The she plunged her hand under. I watched, at a loss as to what to do, but after a moment she pulled her hand out, clenched around an object that I could not make out.

She walked back towards me. As she approached, I saw her eyes were unfocused, she was staring into the middle distance. I was afraid that this was some part of her condition and that perhaps, by bringing her outside, I had triggered some sort of relapse. I reached out to take arm. She cried out and recoiled. The sound startled me and instinctively I took a step away from her, but her expression softened and it was as if she only now recognised me.

“Beatrice?” she asked. I nodded, at a loss for words. “I’m so cold.”

I got her back to the house as quickly as I could. I didn’t ask any questions, and I never got a clear look at what she had pulled from the water. All I could see was that it was a rock of some kind, truly pitch black.

The rain started soon after we returned to the house. There was not much prelude to it, it was as if someone had upturned a bucket of water over Gladly Cove. I found Mrs Duchamp making lunch and told her what had happened. When she had found Mr Duchamp the two of them took Lucy to her room. I was told to wait outside, which I agreed to reluctantly. They came out a few minutes later and closed the door behind them before I could get a look at my friend. They told me that she was resting and that she had a mild fever. I hope that is all it is.

The rain has not stopped.

November 4th

I had a terrible dream last night.

I dreamt I was on the beach again with Lucy, watching her go towards the sea. I called out to her to stop. I knew that something was wrong, that something was different this time. The wind took my words or perhaps I did not speak them at all. Lucy stepped into the waves, and the water came forward to greet her. The sky grew darker and the noise of the waves almost deafening. Then as Lucy plunged her hand into the water, the noise stopped. I waited with bated breath to see what she what pull out this time.

But she did not take her hand out of the water. Instead, a dark shape broke the surface and wrapped itself around her arm, moving slowly up towards her shoulder. I could hear the sound it made as it pushed itself over her skin, the wet smacking sound as it lifted part of itself free to propel the whole upwards.

I saw that the water further out was growing darker too. The ground beneath me began to shake. I turned to shout to Lucy but she was gone. All I saw was the tip of the shape drop beneath the water and at that moment I knew that it was part of a larger whole beneath the waves. I was terrified that whatever it was would soon reveal itself and as I opened my mouth to scream I awoke.

When I went downstairs for breakfast I asked Mrs Duchamp if Lucy was feeling any better. I was told that she was still resting, and that a doctor had been sent for. It was good to hear that they were taking her condition seriously but I am afraid for her. Perhaps I should have stopped her yesterday. I am guilty of letting her risk her physical health, which will almost certainly have an effect on her mental health.

I spent the rest of the day inside reading my books and watching the rain through my window. It hasn’t stopped yet. The only consolation is that my brother will be visiting tomorrow to say goodbye before he returns to London. It will be good to see a friendly face, if only to bid farewell to it.

November 4th, later

Thank God my brother is coming tomorrow. I fear it may already be too late. Something terrible is happening here that I do not fully understand.

After I went to bed I heard a terrible moan. I recognised the voice as Lucy’s. Her room is on the floor above mine, somehow it was loud enough to get through the thick stone from which the house is built. I rose quickly and put on my robe but leaving my room I somehow knew that it was important to proceed quietly. I wrapped my robe tightly around my shoulders and crept up the stairs. I could see Lucy’s room ahead of me, and a flickering light from inside it told me that a candle had been lit.

She moaned again and I was about to rush into the room when I heard a man speaking, muttering in a language that I didn’t understand. I didn’t recognise the voice at first but when I heard a woman’s voice answer I realised that the Duchamps were inside.

I crept closer to the door. By an incredible stroke of luck it had been left open a crack, and I brought myself as close as I dared. I was desperate to see what was going on inside.

The Duchamps stood by Lucy’s bed. She lay on her back, her face slick with sweat. Her eyes were closed. Mr Duchamp bowed his head and held out his hand over her face. It took me a moment to realise what he was holding. It was the black piece of rock that Lucy had pulled from the sea. As the candle flickered it illuminated it briefly, and I saw that it was covered in elaborate carvings that I had not noticed before.

As I watched, Lucy arched her back and opened her mouth. At first I thought that her tongue had turned black. But as it curled and arched towards the rock I saw that it was more a tentacle than tongue. It reached for the black rock, caressing it lovingly. A deep cooing sound of pleasure issued from Lucy. I gasped and the thing retracted into Lucy’s mouth as all three turned towards the door, Lucy’s eyes still firmly shut.

I ran back down the stairs to my room and locked the door. I put my back against it, sure that they would hurry after me and punish me for what I had seen. But nothing happened. There were no footsteps. There were no sounds at all.

So I have sat awake. I thought of running, but in this storm I am as likely to run off the edge of the cliff as I am to find rescue. I must stay awake and wait for George to arrive, and then I will tell him everything. I only hope that he will believe me.

November 5th

How did I come to be in my bed? I fell asleep in the chair by the window.

The door is unlocked. My God, what have they done to me? This nausea…

I hear my brother downstairs. I must reach him before they do.

November 5th, later

I should not have expected him to believe me. The tale is too bizarre; I can scarcely believe it myself. But I had hoped that he would have enough faith in me to….But I know now that I cannot count on his help in this.

I told him what I had seen, and he spent a moment or two in silence. He turned his hat in his hands and looked at me carefully.

“Beatrice,” he said, “I thought we agreed that these fantasies of yours were to stop. That you would put them from your mind. I have paid a great deal of money to install you here, and yet I find you more distressed than ever.”

“George, these are no fantasies. I saw last night, with my own eyes, something is…inside Lucy. Some animal, some monster. And these two in whom you have invested so much money and trust, are party to it. Whatever ungodliness is going on here, they are helping to bring it forth.”

He rose from his seat  and I was afraid of his temper. I didn’t want to drive him away; I only wanted him to help me. At that moment there was a knocking on my door and Mrs Duchamp entered holding a steaming cup.

“Forgive my intrusion, Mr Webster, but I have brought Beatrice something to soothe her.”

“I have no desire to be soothed, Mrs Duchamp,” I spat, but George shushed me. The woman smiled and placed the cup in his hands.

“I believe that I can shed some light on what Beatrice thinks she may have seen last night. In our travels, my husband and I were witness to several shamanic rituals designed to help those convinced that they were possessed by an unclean spirit or demon. Of course, such belief is nonsense, but there is a great deal to be said for the willingness of the patient to believe the absurd. We set up an elaborate show to convince poor Miss Lucy that she was having an evil creature pulled out of her. We even used a weathered rock she found in the sea as part of the illusion.”

I did not believe her for a moment. I knew what I had seen. But George was stroking his chin and muttering “Fascinating.” I wanted to scream but I did not want to offer further proof of my instability. Then, to my horror, George handed me the steaming cup. “You will drink this,” he said. “And you will stop this nonsense about monsters.”

I drank it. God help me, I drank it.

The drowsiness started. I was vaguely aware of George leaving. I fell asleep before I realised that I was tired.

I dreamt I was on the beach again. But this time I was much closer to the water. The sun was going down over the horizon, shining through the clouds and turning the sky a sickly shade of yellow. I waded into the waves without knowing why. I plunged my hand into the cold water because I knew that there was no choice. I was not in control here. And when the tentacle slithered its way around my wrist and up my arm I was not unduly alarmed because I knew that was what happened. As it did so the great dark shape further out in the sea seemed to grow closer, and I felt my legs grow weak.

When I woke the Duchamps were standing over my bed. I wanted to scream but a gag had been placed in my mouth.

“Not long now, child, and your job will be done,” she said.

“You’ve done so well. We’re so proud of you and Lucy,” he said.

“She carries the body, you carry the blood,” she said.

“And tomorrow night, we will all go down to the beach to call him together,” he said. They turned to look out of the window. I could hear the rain hammering against the glass. I knew that they were looking at the sea. Then he turned and grabbed my mouth, pulling it open. Before I had time to struggle, Mrs Duchamp was pouring a liquid down my throat from a china cup. I recognised it as the same tea they had given to subdue me earlier that day.

“Carry the blood, Beatrice,” she said.

The blood of what?

They turned and removed my restraints. They locked the door behind them, but it was a pointless act, I am too weak to go anywhere. Writing this down has taken all the energy I have. I am afraid to sleep but I cannot keep my eyes open.

November 6th

I must be quick. I have to hide this once I have finished. They are coming to take me to the beach, and poor Lucy as well.

I know what will happen, I saw it last night. I dreamt that we four stood waist deep in the water. The Duchamps were chanting in unison, holding hands and calling to the sea. Lucy stood, eyes still shut, her whole body convulsing.

As for me, my skin felt as though it were on fire. I wanted desperately to sink under the water to extinguish this burning but I knew what waited for me underneath. As I watched my companions I suddenly realised what was expected of me. I walked over to Lucy and took her shaking hand. I led her through the water towards the dark shape that waited for us there. She shook harder and harder, and holding onto her hand took nearly all of my strength. The sky darkened as the water reached our shoulders. I knew that we would not return.

There was a terrible crack as the ground opened beneath us. But instead of sinking we were propelled upwards into the sky. I couldn’t believe how high we flew. I could see the house below us, perched on the cliff, it was so small. As I started to fall I closed my eyes. Not because I feared the ground that rushed to meet me. But because I feared to even glimpse whatever had thrown me to the heavens.
When I woke the door was locked. There is no escape.

I close this journal now. I can hear them coming up the stairs. I can hear Lucy’s moans. I do not know about the other residents here. I do not know if they are aware of what has been happening, if they have all played a part in this. If they have, I hope that whatever comes out of the sea tonight is punishment enough.

I pray God’s forgiveness for whatever part I have played in this. And to my brother George, I forgive you. How could you have known? I can hear them at the door. The key is in the lock. I must hide this.

Poor Lucy! How foolish and heartless I was to dismiss her so!

I returned to Gladly Cove tonight, I felt that something was terribly wrong. My heart told me that I should have paid more attention to what Beatrice was saying. Since the accident took our parents I have been all she has left to hold on to.

I had brought me Doctor Clarence Myeern, an acquaintance from my club and an expert on tribal medicine. I thought he would be very interested in talking to the Duchamps, and might be able to shed a bit more light on those paintings hanging around the house. When I had described them to him he had grown very excited and had almost insisted on coming along.

When we arrived at the house I went to Beatrice’s room. I cannot tell you why, but I was somehow drawn to open the drawer of the desk by the window. There was a thick envelope with my name on it, written in Beatrice’s hand. I had barely picked it up when a twitching red-headed woman appeared to tell me that the Duchamps had taken Beatrice and her friend Lucy to the beach for some fresh air. Doctor Myeern agreed to accompany me, telling me that he would welcome the opportunity to stretch his legs after the long journey.

We retrieved our sticks from the coach and walked out along the cliff top to meet my sister and her physicians. We had begun to discuss the importance of misdirection in shamanic ceremonies when I saw something that could have been no magic trick.

Beatrice’s dream was...accurate. I cannot begin to describe the thing that rose from the water. The stench of death rushed towards us like a tidal wave. I could not bear to face it; I turned my head, clenched my eyes shut, and screamed. Some minutes had passed before I was able to open my eyes again. Doctor Myeern sat next to me. I attempted to ask for his help, his opinion on what should be done.

But Doctor Myeern merely rocked back and forth, repeating the same word over and over again. I cannot spell it, but it was not of any language that I recognised. I realised with the slow stupidity that comes with shock that his hair had turned white. The fright had clearly driven him out of his mind. I am ashamed to say that when I realised that I could not get through to the poor man, I ran.

I found the lighthouse and entered, seeking only the safety of a door I could lock behind me. I opened the envelope and found the diary you have just read. I don’t know what would have happened if I had simply taken Beatrice away with me, or if I had never brought her here in the first place.

I can hear something moving outside. Whatever it is, there are more than one of them. They hammer at the door, making a sort of squelching noise as they do so. After the first blow to the door I let out a cry of alarm, which was followed by a low gurgling noise from outside. I can only describe it as laughter.

I don’t know how long the door will hold. Forgive me, Beatrice.

My God, they are inside.


Hello there,

Right, so this is my attempt at a Lovecraft-type story. It's a bit silly and it doesn't really make any sense, but then that was sort of what I was going for. There's a bit of Cthulu, a bit of Dagon, and it ended up being a bit more of a Poe rip-off in places as well, but then H.P. was guilty of a bit of that in his time.

I wrote this for David Hayes, who has been a consistent supporter of the blog (Hello, David). I hope he enjoyed it.

Here a couple of songs that have been in my head recently!

1 comment:

  1. Hey Jonny,

    Very well done! I was a bit worried in the opening paragraphs that you were going to go too far into trying to provide a slightly clunky Victorian style of writing to fit the presumable time period, but you allayed that when we got into Beatrice's diary.

    I agree with you that it's as much Poe as it is H. P. (Lovecraft would have probably had a whole lot more of people chanting and saying "IƤ!"), but I think you did what pastiche is meant to do: capture the essential feeling of the original. I really thought you conveyed the growing sense of horror well, and I found myself getting impatient for the tentacly God-monster to put in an appearance, which is surely a good sign that something went right!