Monstrous May

#MonstrousMay Day 3: Monstrous Bugs

Prompt Credits: Johannes T. Evans

It Came From the Amber


Part 1: Fragments


Discovered in the papers stuffed inside Sir Peter Sauvant’s collection of journals, in the attic of Fairwood House.

[HALF THE PAPER TORN AWAY, WORDS MISSING]

—third day of excavation. This wasn’t the best start, but [PAPER TORN, WORDS MISSING] 

—Conliffe. There should not have been fossils in the long barrow, but it might be supposed that the chieftains, wanting to be buried with something of rarity and beauty, found and polished these objects and brought them into the barrow to place in the walls. 

Edgar prised one free. It is a sizeable thing. Deep honey in colour. A coil, or spiral, in shape, suggesting mollusc. It is pitted all around with darker circles, slightly concave. From these, it appears insects of some forgotten age are embedded. In some places, veined wings are visible. This suggests the mollusc, or horn, or organic matter, was pitted at some stage with small holes, and the insects nested inside. The outer coating of resin has preserved them entering and exiting this nest, although the holes are not visible. 

[TOP OF THE NEXT PAGE TORN, WORDS MISSING]

—took some time, which was expected. Edgar has not been sleeping well and this is affecting his work. 

Field Notes from Trench 3

[PARTIAL NOTES, a fragment of archaeological drawing]

Edgar has a strange theory about the pitted circles on the fossil – he believes it to be a primitive instrument of some type, and the circles are finger marks or notation of some kind. As for the bowls, they seem to have some ceremonial purpose. There were also discovered some sherds in Trench 2, and [PAGE TORN, WORDS MISSING]

—bowls. Sherds from Trench 1: suggested Romano-British date. 

[DIFFERENT PAPER, SAME HANDWRITING, CRUMPLED UP, ASSUMED A DISCARDED DRAFT OF A LETTER]

[INKSTAIN]

—most concerned about Edgar. Between you and I, it would be better if he would have the doctor, but he will not go. We are all becoming concerned. I’m writing to you, not to worry you, but in the hopes that you might impress upon him the need for rest when he is home. A few days by the sea would be a tonic to his nerves. [NEXT PHRASES CROSSED OUT]


Part 2: Diary of Sir Peter Sauvant


03 May 1892

The archaeological dig continues in Barrow Field despite the latest tragedy. 

A few days ago, Edgar Halls unearthed a fossil, a kind of coiled spiral with fossilised insects in it, and it became something of a fixation for him. He tried to make sense of the thing as a primitive musical instrument, and then seemed plagued by strange sounds none of us could hear. He took it back to his lodgings without mine or Conliffe’s permission, and afterwards was most distracted.

Conliffe spoke to him on the morning it happened, and recalled Halls had a ‘faraway look’, and kept shaking his head, as if there was something bothering him. He kept humming a few notes, amelodic and strange, and complained of a terrible headache. We sent him home for some rest, and went to his lodgings at the White Horse to check on him later that day. 

We found Halls in his room, ghastly grey-green, his eyes rolled up into his head and gripping the blankets so tightly he had torn them. 

The only words we could make out were, “can’t control it” and “open the gate, open the gate,” which he repeated several times in increasing desperation. The doctor was called, and we held Halls down while he tried to assess him. Halls by then was raving. He could see things, he said, visions of some other world, things whispering to him in the fastness of space. 

Halls opened his eyes only once during this, and that was to grasp at Conliffe’s arm in a terrible way, fighting off myself and the doctor to seize hold of our companion and nearly wrench his arm from its socket. Conliffe was forced to bend close, and I thought I heard a buzzing from the vicinity of Halls’ head as the man opened his mouth, slack and frothing. 

He whispered something into Conliffe’s ear, then gave a terrible shriek, fell back onto the bed, and died. 

Conliffe said nothing for several days. Eventually I pressed him on the matter of what Halls had said to him, those final words, in case any comfort might come from them to his mother and sister who reside, I believe, in King’s Lynn. Conliffe gave me a queer look, as though I had asked something obscene. I thought for a moment he was not going to tell me. Then, to my surprise, his countenance cleared and he said, in the most casual way which chilled me to the marrow, “Oh, all he said was the host was weak, and another should be found.”

“What could he possibly have meant by that?” I asked, incredulous, for I shudder to think what such words might mean. 

“Well, I’m sure I don’t know,” Conliffe said with an easy shrug, but there was – there is – something about him now that I do not trust. “Some fancy or idea of his, I imagine.”

“Where could that have come from?” I mused, hoping to draw him out. 

Conliffe said nothing for a while, then simply smiled and tipped his hat to me. “It came from the amber,” he said, and departed. 

I have not seen that fossil since, and I am growing uneasy.

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