I looked around the room and noticed a fireplace, unused recently due to the summer heat. I noticed a poker and decided to move it over by my chair. More comfortable, once again I waited.
About 20 long minutes passed. I was just about to get up and go looking for someone, anyone, when the door opened. An aristocratic man walked in. He looked very drawn and ragged – as if he had not had a good night’s sleep in ages. He leaned on a walking stick with a brass handle. I suspected he looked older than his actual age.
“Ye…” his voice cracked. He cleared his throat, “yes, erm, I am Sir Emery Drake. My staff informs you you have information regarding our lost housekeeper…and my work. Would you be so kind as to tell me who you are and what this information is?” He seemed to have trouble maintaining eye contact.
I stood up and brushed at myself in some sort of meaningless attempt to look less scruffy than I actually was.
“Good evening, Doctor and thank you for taking precious time away from your work.” I tried to ooze sincerity to cover up the stain my coat may have left on his antique chair. “I may be just a retired doughboy, but my father dabbled in star-gazing. Let me just say that it is an honor to meet the man who brought us the Drake Comet.”
“Yes, yes. We all know about me. Although most fail to understand the importance of my work. But that is neither here nor there. Who are you?”
“Oh, I’m sorry. Douglass Gamble, sir,” I said extending my hand toward his scrawny one. I watched his eyes to see if he flinched.
He did not flinch. Instead, he cocked his head to one side and looked at my hand as if he did not recognize the gesture. After a couple of awkward moments, he extended his and we shook. His hand was cold, clammy, and limp. He quickly withdrew his hand and said, “well met, Mr. Gamble. Welcome to Drake Manor. What is it that I can do for you this evening?”
Drake said his greeting in an almost mechanical tone. It sounded as one who had said it many times and was just now repeating it without thought or meaning. As before, he did not maintain eye contact for long. He tended to look up and a drifting look would come over his face, as if he was thinking of other things.
“Well, sir, I’ll admit that my original purpose for meeting with you was the disappearance of Miss Silvers. A disturbing event to be sure. Did you know anything of where she might have gone or why she might have left?”
Drake looked at me as if I was talking a foreign language. Finally, he responded in a measured voice. “The thoughts of the staff are not my concern. She stopped showing up one day. It was rather inconvenient. I believe my son Jonathon and my groundskeeper Samson gave statements to the police.”
His eyes narrowed, boring into me. “I was under the impression that you had information for me. Otherwise I would not have left my work to talk about things that are well documented. You also just stated that your original purpose was to inquire about Ms. Silvers. What is your current purpose for interrupting me?”
He held my gaze for the first time in the conversation, never blinking his eyes.
“Sir, I felt it was my duty to warn you that some men in town have foul schemes afoot. I am only recently arrived and I overheard them at Mabelle’s Diner. They spoke of you, sir, and of a hidden fortune. They also mentioned Samson by name though I couldn’t hear why. I’m not proud for eavesdropping, but I’m glad I did… so I could warn you.”
I did my best to look sincere with a dash of ‘hoping for a reward’ in my eyes.
I was hoping my lie would shake him up, get him to reveal something or put him off guard. It seemed to work as he offered me an insight to his work.
“Well, you certainly are a clever one, Mr. Gamble. I presume you did not get a good look at these individuals that were plotting to uncover the famed and wholy spent Drake Fortune. If you would indulge me, Mr. Gamble, I would like to show you some of my latest discoveries. Perhaps if you have some understanding of my work then you would see that while your information is interesting, it really has little meaning here. Would you accompany me up to the Observatory?”
“Jackpot!” I thought to myself. “I’d be honored, sir. I’ll do my best to understand what scientific breakthroughs you are no doubt making.”
“Excellent. Follow me, Mister Gamble.”
Sir Drake exits the room and turns to the right, then right again towards the front of the house. I follow. We go up a spiral stair up to the observatory, undoubtedly the tower attached to the house that I noticed from the outside. He turns on a small lamp which barely provides enough light to see.
Sir Drake has placed the finest telescope his family fortune could acquire in the observatory. Next to the equipment is a ham radio that is tuned to static. He turns it down as we enter. There are also books, skycharts and an unfinished meal on a small table.
Sir Drake steps over to the telescope and turns down the lamp to almost no light. My eyes adjust and I can see that he making small adjustments to the telescope. “Yes, there we are.” He steps back. “Mr. Gamble, are you ready to be enlightened? If so, please look into the scope. Be careful not to bump it. We are looking at something very far away.”
I took an extra look around to ensure that the old man was not looking to whack me while I peered into the scope. On the contrary, he seemed genuinely enthused to show me his work. I cautiously looked into the the scope…”I see a circle, kinda dark…”
“Yes, that is it. It is Yuggoth, a yet to be acknowledged planet by the rest of the scientific community in the far reaches of our solar system. Let me adjust the scope just a touch…what do you see now?”
The focus in the scope sharpened. “I see…flecks…moving across the planet. What is it? A comet?” I remember Haley’s Comet was all anyone talked about back in ‘10.
“No, not comets. Mr. Gamble, if you permit me. I will put something in your hand. Please do not look away from the scope. I know is sounds odd, but it will help you see Yuggoth much better. It serves to focus the eyesight and the mind. I hardly believed it myself when it first happened, but it is true.”
With my peripheral vision, I sensed Sir Drake pick up a small item and slowly reach toward my left hand. He stop, waiting for me to open my hand.
I was hoping it was a shot of scotch as that was the only thing that helped me “focus” better but I was still puzzling how to down it without moving my face from his contraption when I opened my hand.
Unfortunately, it was not scotch. It was a statue of some sort. It feels exceedingly cold in my hand. Then my mind is filled with a buzzing sound and I feel as if I am trapped in a snowstorm. I hear through the storm “relax, the storm will fade.” I take a deep breathe, and things get much better. My eye remains rooted to the telescope.
Suddenly, I see so much more. I…understand so much more. Yuggoth… is a strange dark orb at the very rim of our solar system… There are mighty cities on Yuggoth—great tiers of terraced towers built of black stone… The sun shines there no brighter than a star, but the beings need no light. They have other subtler senses, and put no windows in their great houses and temples… The black rivers of pitch that flow under those mysterious cyclopean bridges—things built by some elder race extinct and forgotten before the beings came to Yuggoth from the ultimate voids—ought to be enough to make any man a Dante or Poe if he can keep sane long enough to tell what he has seen…
It took a few minutes to come to terms with what I have seen. I looked up at Sir Drake and put down the object. He was overjoyed at sharing his discovery. I looked down at the object. It was a statue of some sort. It resembled one of the creatures I had seen through the telescope. The soft lighting made the material of the statue a complete mystery. I was glad to be rid of it.
“Feeling enlightened are we, Mr Gamble? Good. You seem strong enough to handle one more truth. Would you endulge me to look at the moon? I am sure you have looked at it many times over the years. Perhaps tonight you can learn something new about our nightly companion.” Sir Drake quickly adjusted the telescope and stepped back, gesturing me to look.
I didn’t know if I could handle more of this enlightenment. Frankly, I was not an enlightenment kind of guy. I’m the kind of guy who waits at a stake-out all night, spends more time seeing gorgeous dames in magazines than real-life, wears out shoes doing legwork rich guys don’t want to do, and buys donuts for the boys in blue to keep them from freezing me out.
What had I got myself into? This Drake was a loon of the first order, but I couldn’t deny what I’d just seen. Everyone knows there are only eight planets around the Sun so what had I just seen? Another world? Was it getting closer or staying far away? My hands felt clammier than they’d been since the Somme.
Strangely, I felt compelled to learn more instead of punching my way out of the house and never looking back. I’d handled it so far. I just hope the moon wasn’t worse.
I nodded to Drake and took a look in the moved telescope.
I look into the scope. In comparison to Yuggoth the moon is a bright and cheerful place. There are craters everywhere, but thankfully no buildings or…creatures. Perhaps this will not be so bad.
“You ever wonder why we only see one face of the moon? Lessor astronomers will tell you that the earth’s gravitation pull keeps the moon from rotating. However, that is only if the moon really is made out of cheese, as the saying goes. It is far too massive for the earth to stop its rotation.” Sir Drake’s voice picks up, clearly he is excited. “Let me adjust it just a touch…there! Now, you see the mount range on the edge of the light side of the moon?”
“Yes” I replied. There were craters nearby and a rapidly rising ridge.
“Well, that is not a mountain nor a ridge. Watch for a moment…”
It moved! I swear to God, the mount range moved!
Sir Drake spoked excitedly, “Yes, there is something on the dark side of the moon! It appears to have interest in us and has watched silently for a long time. It must be unbelivably massive to keep the moon from its proper rotation!”
I looked away and held my head. I tell myself I just did not see that! It must be some warping in the lense I tell myself.
Sir Drake calmly said. “Now, I hope you understand why your concerns are unwarranted. While there might be a few scoundrels looking for lost treasure, but there are even greater things lurking about with an eye on us!”
“Fascinating…” I breathed slowly, still trying to quell my rampaging wits. “Why doesn’t the world know of this? Surely the press would…” I continued, trying to coax more from him. What were his intentions with this shocking and terrifying knowledge??
“I am sure you have walked through a woods. You would be surprised at what you would see if you truly looked—the squirrel lurking on the side of a tree, a deer that froze when you entered the area, and the German Sniper that lurks in the trees. All missed by those not knowing what to look for. The point is that most see what they expect to see. If they see something else, it is rationalized away.”
“Let us go back downstairs.” Sir Drake led me down the stairs.He led me to his study. The room is lined with books, most them dealing with astronomy and astrology. A large ebony desk dominates the eastern side of the room, while along the western wall roars a great fire in a garish fireplace. Upon the mantle are various items of Drake’s past accomplishments: statues, awards, and framed certificates.
“Now that you understand the importance of my work, I should hope that you understand that these constant interruptions are intolerable. Therefore, I have a proposal for you. It concerns Ms. Silvers. Yes, she is still alive, I assure you. I would like for you to take her from here and stop these constant interruptions from the police, old boyfriends, and people such as yourself. I care not what you say, just rid me of this problem so that I may continue my research in peace.”