Tony finds more answers than he bargained for in the Asylum archives, and a creeping realization dawns on him as he escapes that small town beneath the shadows of Arkham Mountain. Meanwhile Amanda finds herself back at her old job with the constant distraction of the thing preying on her mind. She recalls an unpleasant appointment that same day which brings up more than just bad memories from her trip on the mountain, and she is confronted with a final choice that will change her life forever.
Tony was reeling from his finds, for he sat in the library for a good hour re-reading the final entry in Professor Ward’s journal. The only questions that remained were what had happened to the professor and if the same fate awaited everyone who came in physical contact with the creature. Unfortunately the latter couldn’t be answered until something did happen to Amanda and him. The former he had a chance of answering at the archives of the asylum.
Tony glanced around for the old librarian and, not seeing her, stuffed the journal into his bag. Such an ancient, thin tome would never be missed, and he had more need of it than any other patron of the library. Then Tony shouldered his bag and went outside. The dull day reflected his gloomy thoughts, for in his mind he kept going over the final words in the man’s entry.
I must go!
That phrase tugged at his thoughts, and he feared these were the stirrings of the creature inside of him.
He had a lot of trouble getting his heart to calm down and his hands to stop shaking when he gripped the wheel of his car. It was a short drive to the asylum on the outskirts of the small town, and he had no trouble spotting the short, dilapidated building which was once called the Archives office against the trees on the far side of the campus. He had a walk of a mile or so to the structure, and made sure to take his flashlight.
When Tony reached the building he wasn’t pleased to see the dark woods so close at hand. They reminded him too much of the area that surrounded the cabin, and flashes of terrifying memories sped through his mind. However, he shook off the thoughts, for the faster he did this snooping deed than the faster he could forever leave this entire town behind.
The squat Archives office had bars on the square windows and a metal door stood in the entrance, but vandals long ago opened up the place for some fun. Stepping into the doorway, Tony flashed his light into the dark corners of the multiple rooms housed in the Archives. In front of him was a hallway which led all the way to the back of the building, and on both sides were doorways leading to separate offices. Windows lined these offices and looked out onto the main passage, and through the cracked and dusty glass he glimpsed old, rusted filing cabinets.
Tony stepped over debris and dry leaves, and made his way to the first room on the right. There were rows of filing cabinets in there, and he was glad to see the letters on the front were still visible. The files inside were arranged alphabetically, though he wasn’t sure what kind of files were in these specific drawers. He searched until he found the W section, and then he gave a tug to pull open the drawer. A cloud of dust rose up out of the cabinet, and when the air cleared he was glad to see one of the first files had the name Ward, Alexander on the front.
The young man eagerly pulled out the file and flipped open to the first few pages. He was in luck, for the file contained all the personal information of their patient. Tony didn’t understand everything that was written on the papers, especially those in cursive handwriting and faded beyond recognition.
Then he froze. He thought he heard a noise.
Tony turned his head toward the entrance to the room. There were also glass panes between the rooms, so he could see all the way down the hall to the end of the building. Nothing moved that he could see, but he swore he heard something shuffling along those dry leaves and fallen ceiling plaster. That’s when he realized this place wasn’t the safest spot to read the folder, for more than one reason. The first was the instability of the building, and the second was its close proximity to the woods. He had no idea how far the creature’s reach extended, but he didn’t want to find out.
Tony tightly gripped the folder and shined the beam of the flashlight ahead of him. Every shadow was an enemy now and every creak beneath his own feet startled him. He covered the few yards to the room’s doorway and stuck his head out into the hall. He saw nothing for a moment until a slight movement at the end caught his attention. He directed the beam to that spot close to the other exterior door and squinted.
Then his eyes widened and he jerked back into the door frame. On the floor slithering its way in from the darkness of the woods close at hand were tendrils of the creature. In his eagerness to get to the opposite exit he stumbled over his own feet and fell to the floor. A cloud of dust puffed up all around him, but through the thick, choking fog he could see the black, oozing stretches of limbs meandering toward him. They crawled up onto the walls and cascaded through the cracks in the glass, covering everything that came within their path in their march toward him.
Tony cried out in fear and scrambled to his feet. He ran through the same door of the building he’d come in and out into the depressing but wonderful air of the open space. He didn’t stop running until he was a good hundred yards from the building, and then, out of breath from the sprint, he ventured a glance over his shoulder. There was no sign of the creature, not even an errant shadow. He breathed a sigh of relief and then looked down at the faded folder in his hand. Maybe reading it in the park would be a safer place than in the confines of an abandoned building.
Tony went back to the area around the library and seated himself on one of the park tables. He was fortunate all the papers were clipped to the top of the folder because a slight wind was blowing, warning him the storm in the sky was threatening to come due within a few hours. He flipped through the medical reports regarding the patient, though some of the comments by the doctors showed what an extraordinary case they had on their hands. Most of the notes concerned the wounds on his legs which had healed at an impossible rate.
July 17th, 13:10 hours
The patient is responsive but difficult to deal with. He insists on rambling about his story with some creature up where the incident occurred, a notoriously dangerous cabin atop Arkham Mountain. The other doctors and myself have decided to humor him, for none of us have ever seen wounds such as his heal in such a short amount of time. The Allen family brought him in a week ago and already the wounds we noted have disappeared. The only remaining pieces of evidence for their existence are the pink color of the skin, the flexibility of the spots, and the patient’s own complaints of pain in the area as though the wounds were old bruises.
Tony lifted his shaking hand and glanced over his own pink skin. His palm was still sore from his accident, so all that had occurred to him was the same as what happened to the professor. With this further confirmation of their similar incidents, Tony now only wanted to know what happened to the professor. His journal entry ended with his proclamation of escape, but not the outcome. The young man flipped through the notes tot he last page, where a long note was written.
August 12, 23:10 hours
This same report was filed with the police, but to complete the file a record of the happenings is herein placed.
The patient escaped our facilities a night ago and has not been seen since. None of us can fathom how he was able to break from his room except to say that the broken bars are a testament to a madman’s strength. He left behind nothing save his journal we allowed him to keep in the hopes the past entries would revive his intelligent, sensible mind. There was a final entry which repeated the same insanity and told us where we could find him. The locals and many of the staff wouldn’t venture to the mountain during the night, so only the grounds were covered.
We found his footprints leading passed the Archives and into the woods in the direction of the mountain, but from there his trail was lost in the dense foliage. The entire town was alerted to his escape and instructed to remain indoors. Though he wasn’t known to be violet, we believed him desperate enough to reach the mountain that he may have been willing to commit a crime or crimes in order to achieve his goal.
Fortunately the night passed without incident and the next morning the search was resumed. The hunting dogs we keep in case of such trouble found his scent and tracked him a great many miles until we reached the bottom of the mountain where began the trail to the cabin. The dogs refused to go any farther, but the dust was thick enough we were able to find his trail with our eyes. We followed the footprints to the cabin, where we fully expected to find the gentleman cowering in a corner mumbling to himself as he did in his room at the asylum.
However, while his tracks led inside the building there was no sign of the patient. The area had been cleared during the investigation a month ago, so no footsteps were visible along the boards. There was something of the unusual, though, which us as students of science but which caused the locals of the party some irrational fear. In the center of the room and seemingly from no place sat a piles of dirt which one first glance appeared to be pushed out from the ground beneath the cabin. However, we were firmly informed by the locals that there was only a large hole beneath the cabin, and the only way the dirt could have gotten pushed out from between the boards was if something burrowed its way up from the depths of the earth and spilled out into the cabin.
Thereafter the men retreated from the cabin and no amount of shaming or coaxing could get them inside to assists us with looking for the patient. After many hours and a scouring of the mountaintop, we gave up and returned to the asylum. Professor Ward has still not been found, and many of us believe he has run off for good. Thus with a heavy heart do I close this file and pray for his diseased mind.