Monday, March 19 1928
After a particularly annoying intermezzo on the roads outside Birmingham, after which I had to have my car towed to a local garage, I came to the town of Helmsdon. Though I was set on not tarry any more than necessary in any of the rural areas of West Midlands, I happened to see a familiar car outside the quaint hotel of the town. It was the Blacks’ car, and of course I stopped. I didn’t even get inside the hotel before I saw my friends come out, clearly agitated and upset about something, already at this early time of the morning.
It did not take long before I was served a peculiar tall tale, involving 400 year old witch curses and deformed murder monkeys, or something along those bizarre lines. It certainly was hard to believe what they told me, but I had no cause to mistrust my friends. Clearly they were agitated, and something had happened that had made them this. Maybe they had had a bout of hysteria. But one fact was undeniable, Mr Black had gone missing, apparently after having had some awfully cruel things done to him and his teeth. Not surprising then, that the usually so delightful Mrs Black was particularly distraught.
As I am not a man to leave friends in need blowing, I readily agreed to help them look for Mr Black. I might have had a slightly calming effect on some of the group, since they seemed ready to rush headlong into a forest, intent on burning a fourhundred year old witch, who they were insistent on had kidnapped Mr Black. But after some discussion we decided to let the police in on the disappearance, and let them handle their part of the search for Mr Black, who apparently had been quite confused by strong medications at the time. At that time, I was quite certain that the confused man had just walked off in the night, without knowing what he was doing.
After some hasty preparations, we headed out to some place north of the aforementioned forest. As a help to find the witch, my friends had found a strange instrument, which they called a witch finder. They had places some strands, supposedly from the witch’s grave, which they had found in another part of the forest, in a non existent church (by Jove, don’t ask me about that! They were quite incoherent when they told me about it). Come to think of it, I recall that hair burns quite lively, and if that whitch had been burned, which the old stories said, there wouldn’t have been neither a grave nor any hair left, would it?
Anyway, after a speedy drive we were on a small road just north of the forest, and the strange witch finder contraption indicated that whatever it was designed to find, was in the south, inside the forest. After having heard about some strange time phenomenon in the forest I made sure to keep careful track of time, and also made note of the time on the clock in my car.
Then we made way into the wild grown, probably quite old oak forest. At the edge of the forest we found a felled tree, with crude cross carved into it. I did not comment on my friends insisting on carving a new cross in the mushroom overgrown stump of the tree.
Our forest guide, Leopold led us into the forest, guided by the witch finder in Herbert’s hands. And surely, for the first time I had some indications that something inexplicably strange was going on. It was getting dark, far too quickly, and when I made careful note of the minute-hand, there were no doubts that it was moving at a considerably slower pace than it should!
I have never heard of such a strange phenomenon. Even though I seem to recall some writings from that strange German physician, about time moving slower in certain circumstances, I can’t see any of those circumstances being the case here. We were actually moving along in a dreadfully slow pace, as the forest clearly wasn’t made for any form of recreational walks.
Luckily enough, though, we did find an old, paved road. It was in a dreadful condition, of course, but it lead almost exactly in the direction in which the witch finder directed us. Not long after we had found the road, something even more strange happened.
On each side of the road were sticks in the ground, about three or four feet high, topped with the heads of dead poultry! Not only was that a gruesome decoration, but as we got closer, the heads of the dead hens started cackle. I have heard stories of heads of newly beheaded poultry cackling for a while after being separated from their body, but this couldn’t be the case here, since the heads had begun decomposing! Along the road ahead, were more of those sticks, with dead hen heads starting to cackle. We feared it was some sort of strange, and disgusting alarm system. But I have no idea how it could even work.
There wasn’t much we could do, but follow the paved road deeper into the forest. All this time it was getting darker at an alarming rate, and the light was that of dusk, when we arrived to an old, dilapidated stone house, next to a seemingly ancient oak. Judging from the architecture of the house, I’d say a 16th century rural abode. Poor Esther saw something hanging from the oak, and rushed straight ahead, through the swamp surrounding the road, calling out her husband’s name.
I and Leopold had spotted light coming out from the door, and had our firearms at the ready. That quickly turned out to be a good decision, as we saw some strange disturbances in the air behind Esther as she tried to help her poor husband who was hanging upside down in the tree. Seconds later a strange and foul creature appeared, seemingly out of thin air! (I later learned that my friends called it a dimensional shambler, what in God’s name that can be.)
A fire fight started, but that was just the beginning! The door to the house opened, and an old, horrid, crone appeared. At the same time, foot high clay creatures with fangs and claws came rushing to attack us. While Herbert and Esther tries to help Mr Black, Leopold and I defeats the shambler creature, and wounds the witch (turns out that the crone was some sort of witch, since she seemed to cast strange and confounding spells, on Leopold’s arm, for example).
In the havoc, Esther and Herbert manage to get Mr Black down, and then promptly set the roof of the house on fire. The witch retreat into the house, supposedly to do some eve more nefarious deeds, and in a joint action, Leopold, still unable to use his right arm, opens the door, and shoot the evil creature in the head, ending her wicked incantations before fruition.
What happened next is so gruesome I hesitate to tell the details in this journal. I’ll just say that Leopold and Esther makes sure that the decidedly dead witch will not rest in peace, but in pieces spread out in the swamp!
Herbert examined the book from which the witch had been reading, and found strange writings in Latin, describing all sorts of strange spells and incantations. I don’t even want to start to try and understand what that was about, but I guess one could call it a grimoire of sorts. Apart from the book, we also found a ceremonial dagger, used in wicked and dark rituals, described in the book.
After that gruesome adventure, we hurried back to the car, though it took its time, considering we once again had to navigate through brambles, and bushes from centuries ago. But in a strange way it felt a bit good. We had defeated a clearly evil creature, and saved Mr Black. Even if he was in a dreadful condition, he was at least alive.
When we arrive at my car, in full daylight I might add, we were attacked by a dreadful hunger, and exhaustion. And true to what my friends had told me, the time and date outside of the forest was Tuesday, 20th of March, noon! We had been gone for more than 24 hours, but as long as us were concerned, it had taken but a couple of hours.
Once back, Dr Winthrope sees to Mr Black, who is in a worse condition than I first thought. His physical injuries will heal, but his mental health will take longer I’m afraid. He’s catatonic, and need an undetermined time of rest at a sanatorium in London.
It sure was an unexpected, and exceedingly strange, adventure. Leaving me with some questions about the strange creatures that attacked us, the dimensional shambler, and those clay creatures, apparently called homunculi, not to mention a real witch!
March the last
Leopold had invited us to the premier show of Anthony Carmichael’s new play, Sodom. To be honest, not the most well spent hours. It was a dreadful play, disastrous script, deficient acting, and a preposterous and pointless attempt at shocking the audience. Naturally, the show was cancelled after just two nights.
I have long suspected that Mr Carmichael was a bit overrated. Turns out that he was quite a bit overrated.
If one should find anything positive about the play, it was the young man, Adrain Reston, playing the main character. Sad for such a promising artist, to have his career dented by such a hideous play.
Tonight we’re going to see a new play, Carcosa – the Queen and the Stranger. It is an amateur show, but have some interesting actor and actresses in it. One of them is aforementioned Mr Reston. Let us hope that he has recuperated from the dreaful experience it must have been to have played the main character in Sodom.