By David Tubb
The flooring from the above room was partially skewed and bent downwards, but the ceiling was too high for me to reach the boards, and I saw no way of constructing any ladder or platform from the various new objects around me — they were in too poor a condition to elevate my full body weight. I was in a room of greater darkness than that of the previous, so there was hardly much I could make out, but it seemed oddly disused for one so grand, and in so suitable a position at the top front of the house. It contained much of the same objects I had seen in the attic — a few worn armchairs, broken bookcases, wardrobes, wine bottles, upholstery, and clockwork items, all covered in that infinite and undisturbed dust — and I could only suppose that Cranfeld was a furniture dealer of some kind, which was how he came across the dark artefact I sought.
I was temporarily and partially restored to some enthusiasm when the enlarged, nightish pebble rolled from the silent attic above to land heavily next to my shoe, as if my thoughts had beckoned it to me. I have carried that accursed object with me all this time; pressed my fingers into the unknown inscriptions on its lightless shape and ran my palms over its blackened surface that oozes a chill sometimes sharper than that of ice. I have never seen an artefact such as this before, one with such an impossible darkness across its form — I have come to think it must be inscribed with the writing of some blind, unseeing corner of humanity long ago eradicated or lost; but there is something about this formidable object that has led me to believe it is unknown to human hands, and instead belongs to some aeon-lost, eyeless thing, the image of which I cannot possibly bear to conjure in my mind. I would venture to wish I had never picked it up at all, but I have come to suspect that as much as I have carried it as far as I am now, it has been carrying me.
The window shutters had been long ago closed, so only a slim arrow of light pierced between the centre join and illuminated a thin string of settling dust. There were two doors in the room: one behind me that led, presumably, to a now neglected servant back stairwell, and the other in front and to the left, which I concluded led to a corridor that ran along the front of the house. I was about to light a match, as supplied, to aid me in a further survey of the room, when I became aware of a slight noise. Of course, it would not have been surprising to hear any noises following the repercussions of having fallen through an entire floor, but this was an unknowable kind of sound; certainly not, that is, one easily identifiable as coming from a disturbed rat or other such creature. This was a sort of slowed dragging — it flowed, almost silently, in such an unrhythmic grating that I knew it must have come from some form of organic matter.
The door in my leftward glance stood only partially ajar and yet, upon crouching down, I could see lurking, shadowy movements through the broken panelling at the bottom; laboured, waking movements, as if an unknown eldritch shape was forming, mistily, behind that haunted door. I turned away into the silence for a moment as I often find greater simplicity in listening without the distraction of sight. It was such a near-silent noise that it implied, oddly, no accompaniment of movement, as if I was somehow hearing a thing that had not yet entered into my present time. I returned my gaze to the crack in the door and saw, through the dust and decay, a tangle of moonlight and shadow which stirred together to form that spectral shape beyond.
The motions behind the door increased to a level of obvious audibility and so I felt simply, yet overwhelmingly, that some unknowable thing sought for my immediate removal from that room — the feeling came to me almost as secretly as the new, shifting stench emanating from the door. Although totally unaware of the reason, I knew I was unquestioningly to leave.
I do not view myself as a man unfamiliar with bravery, but I must confess that in the moments that followed I did not look back. I ran ahead and beyond with such stinging fear in my lungs that my heart began to beat far in succession of normal limits. It was, as I lifted upon my legs, that the door on the leftward wall swung into the room; its tentative creak did not go unheeded, for it signalled to me the advance of that dark, writhing shape of the shadows. The last objects I saw in that room were two glistening, white marbles suspended in an unseeable shape, for they were, to my horror, a pair of wild, wide eyes.
Text Copyright (C) - David Tubb, 2014
Image Copyright (C) - Laura Tubb, 2013