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70 Years From Now

In the year 1853, the Ottoman Empire had been in power for 554 continuous years. Abdülmecid I was Sultan and, shortly into the year, the Albanian-descended Governor of Crete Giritli Mustafa Naili Pasha took the post of Grand Vizier.

Queen Victoria was the Monarch of the British Empire and Lord Aberdeen was her Prime Minister, though the Queen favored one of his rivals, Benjamin Disraeli, as an advisor.

In France, Napoleon III had been elected President of the Republic in 1848, and had dissolved the National Assembly two years previously in 1851. In December of 1852, the Second French Empire was established, with Louis-Napoleon becoming named "Napoléon III, Emperor of the French."

Across the Atlantic, Franklin Pierce was the President of the United States of America and Jefferson Davis was Secretary of War. There were 31 states at that time, and the American Civil War had not yet been fought.

In mid-1853, the Russian Empire started maneuvering troops to key places on the Baltic Sea near Ottoman territories. Hostilities were about to break out into the Crimean War. The primary forces were Ottoman, British, and French fighting the Russians. The war ended with a decisive British/French/Ottoman victory.

Tales from Miskatonic part 7

On Aesop

Professor Ellery wandered the halls in a daze, moving on autopilot the way that a non-lucid dreamer does while asleep. He somnambulated from one room to the next, moving purposefully, never rethinking, always in motion, until he came to the room he was searching for: his own office. There, on his desk, lying in a circle of moonlight framed by the parting clouds, was the vial he was looking for. He picked it up, opened a drawer and retrieved an empty syringe in a carrying case, checked to make sure he had all of the components necessary, and strode out of the room. As he was leaving it, a thunderous explosion boomed from nearby, and the window shattered inwards. He closed the door just in time to keep the pieces of broken glass from colliding with him, and strode forward purposefully, not looking back even for a moment. He was driven. He was a man with a plan, a man in love, a man with mad, intense purpose, and nothing would keep him from his mission.

Jim hobbled out of the room he formerly thought of as Professor Rice’s office, and now thought of as “the Glass Pit.” He held tight to his crutch in one hand, and had clutched in the other the scrap of paper. He found himself in a study hall, a long, empty table with chairs on all sides, used for review sessions. He sat down and finished reading the paper while he picked glass out of his hair.

Adam woke up with Molly standing over him, her hands on her hips. He had a not unpleasant view of her from this angle, and he was glad she wasn’t quite so “forward thinking” as to wear skirts. “Come on, up you get, doofus,” she said, reaching down and grabbing his hand. He looked down at the rubble in the hallway and let her help him up. “You’ll have to pay for what you did here,” she said. He was looking down and away from her face while he was standing up, but as she said that, he looked up and into a gaping, shattered head, her face completely destroyed, her brains leaking out of the front of her face and onto their clasped hands.

Jim sat, struggling with the translation of the paper. “A most ancient… sorry, no, elder, charm or sign, to use to stopper/prevent/block the movement through a passage/gate/portal by anything… not of the old world? No, that’s old and not of this world. That’s interesting. It almost looks like the Greek translator had trouble with the Arabic here. God I wish I knew Arabic, maybe I should take that next semester,” he muttered to himself as he pulled Adam’s gift from his pocket and laid it next to the parchment. The parchment clearly had a depiction of the amulet on it. It was very precisely the same, in all possible ways, down to what looked like scratches and dings in it. There were a few extra marks on Jim’s necklace, but it was also the case that every mark on the one the parchment showed was also on his necklace. The material looked like pewter. If that was the case, he should be able to squish it pretty easily. He pinched it between his fingernails, and no dent appeared. Okay, well, that means it has a low lead content, it could still be pewter. It certainly doesn’t look like steel or silver. And if the dates on this thing are accurate, it would have been a pretty big deal o make it out of steel. He put it between his molars and bit down on it until he felt like he was about to do damage to his teeth, and then took it out and wiped it on his sleeve to dry it off. No marks at all.

Why am I doing this? he thought. Sure, this thing is probably a (remarkably skillful) reproduction, but even if it is, why am I trying to damage it to prove that? And what if it’s not? This is probably a valuable artifact, and it might be of interest to the University. In fact, I know it is, Professor Rice had this paper on his desk! I could show it to him when the break is over, I’m sure he’d be fascinated. So why was I trying to destroy it? What was I afraid of?

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