“Excuse me?” Al said raising an eyebrow and taking a sip of his drink. He thought maybe he had misheard him, or maybe he was too tired to comprehend what Sylvanus just said. He also started to notice a strange odor overtaking the room. He couldn’t quite place what it smelled like or where it was coming from, but it was starting to mess with his senses. This trip to Salem was getting more bizarre by the minute! “Esoteric Order…of what now?” he asked trying to politely cover his nose.
"Oh, I forgot about the smell up here! This building is so old and musty that some people just can’t handle it. I guess I’ve grown rather accustomed to it over the years.” Sylvanus replied pulling an incense burner out of his desk drawer and lighting a stick. “Now back to business, Mr. Cunningham. Our name isn't important as such, however our work is and it is in that arena that we require someone of your talents."
“What talents do you think I have, Mr. Wade? I’m just an office drone, and a sub-par writer on the side.”
“But you’re far more than you realize, Aloysius! You’re a budding Lovecraft historian, which is what we need for this organization.”
“What exactly do you need me for?”
“We here at the Order are part of an ongoing project to preserve what Lovecraft gave us, and protect the world from the nightmares of his stories.” Al sighed and buried his head in his hands. There was an entire group of people who believed that Cthulhu and the Elder Gods were real.
“What exactly is there to preserve? How do you know it’s all real?”
“Each member of the Order came to the conclusion in their own way. I believe you’ve had your own experiences that would alter how you feel, am I right?” Sylvanus inquired while raising an eyebrow. Aloysius got an uneasy feeling in his stomach. He knew what Sylvanus was talking about. The past few nights of horrible sleep had been plagued by some nightmarish monster that he would almost swear was real. Beads of sweat formed on his forehead just thinking about it.
“I’m not expecting you to believe any of what I’m about to tell you, Aloysius. I simply need a fresh mind and sharp eye to help our cause.”
“Keep talking, I’m listening.”
“The many works of Lovecraft have been interpreted and misinterpreted over the years since his death. Most feel that the monsters and the horrific environment he created are mere reflections of how he felt about the world he lived in. For example, it is believed that ‘The Horror At Red Hook” is a reflection of Howard’s feelings of prejudice and racism towards the large wave of immigrants coming to the United States at the time. The literary scholars and critics of the world call him the greatest horror writer of the last 100 years. However, recent discoveries made by the Order have led us to believe that the stories and ‘weird tales’, so to speak, are not as far-fetched as they would seem. His nightmares that some believe “inspired” his stories, weren’t nightmares at all. They were visions, Mr. Cunningham.” Aloysius listened and simply sipped on his drink. It was the only thing he could do to keep from laughing.
“By now you’ve heard the phrase ‘When the stars are right’ I assume?”
“Yes sir, I have.”
“Mr. Cunningham, I’m afraid that day is rapidly approaching. The Ancient Mayans predicted a galactic alignment will occur on Dec 21st , 2012. Many believe there will be a magnetic pole shift that will bring about the apocalypse causing widespread destruction and chaos. We at the Order have discovered there will be something far more sinister at work.” Aloysius raised an eyebrow and scoffed.
“What could possibly be worse than the apocalypse?”
“The return of the Old Ones! The rising of Rl’ yeh from the depths! Yog-Sothoth opening the gate!!! Azathoth…”
“And that would be my cue to leave.” Al interrupted him before he could go any further. “I’m sorry Mr. Wade, I don’t think I can help you with this .” He stood and headed towards the office door. As he opened the door to leave, Charlotte practically fell into him. He helped her back to her feet and turned back to Sylvanus. “Does she ever go away?” he said.
“Not this time I’m afraid. She’s very excited to be a part of this project.”
“Are you going to help us, Aloysius? Oh please, say you will! We really need all the help we can get with this! I think you’d be perfect! ” She said enthusiastically.
“Well I don’t think so……”
“Mr. Cunningham before you decide, I feel the need to tell you once again that I don’t expect you to believe this. I just need your expertise. All you would have to do is find a few artifacts for me, nothing more, nothing less. ” Sylvanus pleaded with him. “I can pay you handsomely, and in any currency you like. How does $5000 to start sound?” Aloysius paused and thought it over. What’s the worst that could come from helping these people? A few more nightmares, maybe? Being forced to hang out with Charlotte? $5000 would be enough for him to take a leave of absence from work to focus on his “mission”. That alone should’ve been enough to convince him to do it, but there were still a few things he was unclear of.
“Well Mr. Wade, you almost had me with the $5000. But I do have one question for you: Why me? You keep saying you need my ‘expertise’, but I don’t understand why you don’t just use one of the members of the Order? Since they will obviously know what to look for.”
“That’s exactly part of the problem. To put it simply; the best way to describe the members of this Order is to compare them to somewhat overzealous Christians. As a Christian would see Jesus appear on a piece of toast, a dedicated Miskatonic will see Yog-Sothoth in the bubbles on a tube of toothpaste. They will have difficulty deciphering a Night Gaunt from a gargoyle atop a church. We need you to give us a fresh perspective. Actually, not believing will probably make it easier for you to finish this task. Keeping an open mind about it will be in your favor.” “What are you looking for?”
‘I’m afraid I can only tell you if you accept the job, Mr. Cunningham. I know I’ve already come off as somewhat of a lunatic to you, so I would rather keep the details to a minimum until I know you will take this seriously.” The old man sat back in his chair and folded his hands, Aloysius weighed his options. He could walk away right now, go back to his ho-hum life at C.D Ward and never be bothered by any of this again or accept the job Sylvanus was offering to him now. As much as he wanted to refuse, something inside of him wanted to know the truth. It was as if something had latched on to his mind and soul and wouldn’t let up until he knew what the Miskatonics were after.
“Make it $10,000 and we have a deal. ”Aloysius stood and offered his hand to Sylvanus.
“Done. 10,000 it is. ” Sylvanus shook his outstretched hand. The deal was done.
I usually have something fun or witty to add to the end of these posts, but I think I will just let the post and this photo do the talking. The stars are right, folks.