Thursday, October 29, 2015

Cosmic Horror Part One

Looking up from his book, Herbert smiled at his uncle as he paced back and forth, wearing the threadbare rug thin. The older man, dressed in black slacks and a white button-down dress shirt ending in soft leather gloves, looked like your typical southern gentlemen with his long white beard and mustache and balding head though his demeanor quickly soured that opinion almost as soon as it was formed.

“Will you just relax Uncle? I’m sure Jackie was able to get the fragment; he hasn’t failed us yet, you know?” Herbert said, placing a thin strip of faded leather in the pages of his book to mark his place before tugging on his cotton gloves to loosen the material. “Just sit, try and relax. All we need is the writing on the back of the tablet, so we can compare it to the others.”
“Don’t you think I know that?” Herbert’s uncle snapped, growling softly as he clenched a fist in Herbert’s direction. Herbert calmly slid his right hand down to the gun holstered at his hip, a firm reminder to his uncle that physical abuse was out of the question now.
Frustrated, Herbert’s uncle moved to lean against the exquisite bookshelf of the private library they were both resting in. The occupants, the Richardson’s, were dead in the next room over; two gunshot wounds apiece, one to the heart and one to the head. The Richardson children were fortunately away for the weekend, and so were not forced to share their late parents fate.
“What is taking him so long?” Herbert’s uncle grumbled, pulling back his sleeve to check his watch for the third time in the last ten minutes.
Herbert looked at him incredulously as he poured himself a glass of bourbon. “He’s breaking into a bank and accessing a safety deposit box; it might take him a bit of time!”
“Time is not on our side I’m afraid,” Herbert’s uncle glowered, crossing his arms. “The stars will be in alignment soon, and if we are to learn where the cultists are to meet, we will most definitely need that tablet as soon as possible.”
“I’ve been studying the Sumerian just like you asked me to do, and the other tablets have all been easy enough to read.” Herbert assured him, pouring a snifter of bourbon into a small crystal glass. “All we need now is a location, and we’ll be ready to go off and stop the cultists from doing something they really ought not to do.”
“What cultists?” Jackie asked as he hopped up on the window sill, the drapes billowing inward thanks to the warm Georgia air blowing in. Clutched in his gloved hand was a rectangular object, wrapped in dark linens. The rest of the short Hispanic man was swathed in black, from his slippers to his cowl, which was pulled down to reveal his face. A multi-boxed tool belt hung loosely from his hips.
“Is that the tablet?” Herbert asked from his seat, sipping the smooth liquor slowly.
“That damn well better be the tablet!” Herbert’s uncle growled, moving forward and stalking towards Jackie. Jackie merely smiled, holding out the wrapped parcel before looking at the half full snifter on the desk.
“Oh, mind if I…?” He began to ask, pointing at the drink.
Herbert waved magnanimously. “Help yourself…”
Jackie hopped down from the window sill, pressing the wrapped tablet into Herbert’s uncle’s greedy hands. The old man quickly began unraveling the ancient bit of stonework as the two younger men enjoyed the fine drink that the wealthy family liked to store in the library/study.
“Aha!” Herbert’s uncle cried, holding the crumbling stone tablet high above his head, looking at the ancient writings as if he understood them. “This is it!”
“Are you sure?” Herbert asked, pouring himself another glass. “I don’t want to waste my time on another false alarm.”
“Of course I’m sure, I’ve seen drawings of it amongst the Order’s archives.” Herbert’s uncle spat, bringing the tablet over to the mahogany table, twisting on the desk lamp for added light. “Look right here, it has the symbol of their God…”
“Why so it does…” Herbert remarked, drinking deeply from his glass. “And you’re certain the Freemasons will cover our asses should we get arrested doing whatever it is you need us to do?”
“For the last time yes! For pity’s sake, you murdered two people in their sleep tonight just to get the key to their lockbox, and now you’re worried if we’ll cover your ass?”
“Listen Manspark,” Jackie said, drawing Herbert’s uncle away from Herbert, “we just want to make certain we have back up, is all.”
“Especially since I already know where we’re going to be going this Red Moon,” Herbert said, pressing his lips to the glass and downing the last of the bourbon in one go.
“Where? And how? It took you weeks to translate the last tablet!” Manspark asked, shocked at his nephews claim.
Herbert placed a finger on a particular line of symbols. “Those, in conjunction, mean ‘The Place of the Gods’, while this section here,” he said, pointing lower on the tablet, “mentions the ‘feathered serpent’.” Only one place in the world that existed around the time a Sumerian tablet was carved that fits that bill.”
“Teotihuacan…” Jackie whispered, earning a questioning glance from both Herbert and Manspark. “What? Just because I’m a thief doesn’t mean I can know about my own heritage?”
“Well technically, your heritage would be Aztec, which was after the civilization that lived in Teotihuacan, but yes it is sort of surprising.” Herbert assented, inclining his empty glass towards the glaring thief. “Don’t look at me like that, most thieves we’ve employed don’t know anything other than how to robs someone blind.”
“So what’s this mean then?” Jackie asked, leaning over to look more closely at the tablet, sipping his drink slowly.
Herbert shifted in his chair, crossing his legs. “It means we have two weeks to get to Teotihuacan and stop whatever the cultists plan to do.”
“Well you can count me out of that,” Jackie said, downing the last of his drink and placing it back upon the mahogany desk, “I’m not one to get involved in religious conflicts. Just pay me and I’ll get out of your hair.”
“Actually we’ve changed the deal a tad bit,” Herbert said, his Uncle Manspark walking to scoop the tablet up in its shroud, carefully wrapping it closed, “so sorry amigo, but we can’t have loose ends. I hope you understand…”
Jackie pulled a small gun from his hip, backing away from the two men slowly. “So that’s it then, eh? Planned to kill old Jackie instead of pay him? Thought you two fuckers might have tried something like this, so I came with a little warranty.”
“Your little gun? I’m petrified…” Herbert chuckled as Jackie stumbled a bit as he walked backward, one hand coming to rest on the bookshelf. “And there it is. I was wondering when the poison was going to kick in.”
“Poison?” Jackie asked, blinking his eyes blearily to try and get them to focus. “What poison.”
“You have such an eye for detail but didn’t notice the snifter was out of place, did you? Brought it ourselves, laced with a cocktail of poisons that are admittedly sour tasting… but then again, so is bourbon.”
Jackie fell to the ground, the gun slipping from his grip. “Y-you’ll never get away with this…” He rasped.
“We already have. I know you shot the night watchmen with that toy gun of yours, and the one I use is the same model; they won’t check to see if the bullets came from the exact same gun. You have the residue on your gloves, the stolen tablet here and a snifter laced with poison in the study of two murdered socialites. This will go down as an unsolved mystery, at best.”
Jackie could only listen at this point as the poison in his system had rendered him numb in his limbs, making his skin feel heavy and hot. All he could do was lay there, drooling as he felt the poisons carve him from the inside, out.
“Uncle, please wipe everything down for me while I place the last bit of evidence that will be needed to cover tonight’s escapade.”
“Got it,” Manspark agreed, pulling a silken cloth from his pocket, running it over the edges of the table, “We’ll just take the glass you were drinking from.”
“Easy enough,” Herbert agreed as he laid the tablet down once more on the desk, unfurling its covering, before taking several pictures of it with a digital camera. After his fifth snapshot, he tugged on his gloves once more. “Done over here, how are you doing with the cleanup?”
“Wiped everything down at least once, no way they’ll pick anything up that’ll lead them to us.”
“Very good. I know you say the Freemasons will bail us out should we need it, but I’d rather not test that theory.” Herbert said, scooping up his book from the desk and moving towards the studies door. “Now let’s go: never wise to linger near a murder scene.”
“So we’re off to this Teotihuacan? Can we even get there?” Manspark asked, following closely behind.

“Of course. It’s a tourist spot near Mexico City. We’ll have to pay some local muscle to join up with us, but that shouldn’t be a problem.”

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