I came out from the post office, with head filled with numerous fears, grasping that telegraph from my uncle Marvin. Having such a relative in my family made all my other kin felt shameful and wanted to keep him away as far as possible. Aunt Lucy would always tell weird tales about him to us every time we dropped by her.
“I tell you, boy,” as she sat near the kitchen table, peeling potatoes for lunch, “Your Marvin is somehow peculiar in occultism. I really don’t know why he spend his enthusiasm on alchemy or astronomy, that sort of thing. I tell you, right now he might be collecting skulls and trying to ask them about stars or history. Who knows? If you paid a visit to him at holidays, I mean if you had to, he would gossip those poppycock with you all day long.”
Not like adults, as a child my curiosity kept raising up and always wanted to hear more about him, but every time when I just about to raise my ears…
“Don’t you ever want to participate in that devil’s deal, my boy. Next time after your visit to him, you’ll know.”
I was young back in those days. Young, innocent yet curious in anything that is happened to be exciting and mysterious. Just like all children who shared my age were fond of hearing those adventure stories, imagined themselves as those sailors who fight against krakens or pirates who find the forgotten treasures.
That time came up very soon. Elementary school’s semester ended up rapidly after 1929. Most people, including our neighborhood were forced to became wanderers or put up small family business for a living. But not us. Although my parents’ salaries didn’t show up either, we had a farmyard in the countryside in which filled with clumps of corns and wheats. Such materials were wasted and burned by other peasants in order to made them worth during the Depression. However, it’s been a long time since we last lived there or treated there as our settlement. It was supposed to be the gift of my father’s side for his marriage ,or should I say our family. But after I was born ,due to the obvious education problem, we moved to Baltimore and rent an apartment downtown. Aunt Lucy was the only relative who lived in that city. She helped us a lot when we tried to cope with city lifestyle.
But the problem was, that farmyard right now, was under the name of Marvin Monroe. Moreover, where that farm located , where my father and my uncle had grown up in as well as my aunt, was in the suburban of Akam.
After the Great Depression, aunt Lucy lost her job as the assistant in the local Department Store. Meanwhile, Akam didn’t seem to be influenced too much in this financial crisis. So, she was about to go back to her hometown that time, waiting for the fading of Hoover Village, subsequently going back to Baltimore again for another job. To us, a similar situation occurred–The landlord raised our rent, my father lost his job, mom couldn’t get her paycheck because all banks were bankrupted…Couldn’t been worse, so it shall be. We became the companions of my aunt.
After 2 days’ journey on railways and carriages, we reached our destination. In my first glance, Akam was a town more dazzling than I ever had imagined before. So misty was my memories here when I was in my childhood. At that time, I praised this wonderful rural garden, expecting the pastoral life.
But I was wrong, totally wrong.
We paid a common visit to uncle Marvin a week after we moved into the farmyard. Furniture was all standby already. My parents thought about such a thing can give my uncle a thrust to make the conclusion that we still own that farmyard, eventually made the right decision.
My uncle’s apartment building lies in the riverbank of Miskatonic River. To be honest ,this “Sunset Tranquil” wasn’t special, without even the slightest features a modern living building has, except its history. According to elders’ chittering-chattering, before Washington’s arrival, even before the concept of “federal colonies”, it was here. Its name changed a lot. Sadly, no matter how glorious its history might be, dim appearance and rotten staircases protested its existence and tried to take their advantages.
Climbing up those squeaking stairs, knocking the oldest door at the end of the top floor’s corridor, a faint voice came into our ears:
“It’s me, Motson! We came to meet you!”
“Oh, spear my memories such dreadful! Come in, come in! The door is open.”
Uncle Marvin’s room was full of vintages and old books from God-know-where-they-come-from. The smell of chemist occupied every corner of his room. The floor, covered in thick dust, made my mother very uncomfortable, I could see in her face. Yet we still need to show my uncle our ardor as he was our kin after all.
“Hi, Marvin. It’s a great pleasure to come by. ”
“Yes, yes. I was expecting your arrival. I just about to reach some results for ancient potion research, oh, and psychic connection, some huge progress there for sure. Anyway, yes, it’s also a pleasure to see you all.”
“Right.” My dad gave out a smile to hide his embarrassment, so was my mom.
“I’ve heard about something from Lucy. Suppose…you know, my dear, situations didn’t go on so well outside, did it?”
“I’m afraid yes. Me and Mary all became jobless when banks couldn’t give back our money. That’s why we thought about coming back and rest for a little while…in that farmyard.”
“Is that so?” My uncle’s eyebrows uplifted a lot. I wonder whether he was deciding the words to let us outta here but in euphemism, or just simply a bit surprised when hearing such decisions.
“Well, of course! Why, it’s fine for me. Yet I have to remind you something. There is a shed southwest the yard like 500 feet, mostly alongside the forest, you can live inside the yard surely, just…don’t go into that shed, leave there to me.”
Apparently, my parents misunderstood his meaning: “Don’t worry, we won’t break your belongings. That shed is not a problem.”
“No!” My uncle suddenly stood up and stared at my dad’s eye, made him a bit scared. That’s strange, I’ve never seen a person who could give out such a strong eye contact with others.
“That place is not under your consideration, do I make myself clear? Leave that to me. I guarantee I can handle that shed myself very properly, as long as you don’t raise up any thoughts and ideas to wonder what’s inside!”
“Very well then.” Mom came to my uncle and took his hand, trying to break the potential argument he had caught, “We just need a place to rest for a while, nothing else. Not to mention those adventurer’s odds and ends that makes you irritated, don’t we, sweetie?”
“Yes, quite right.” Dad tried his best to squeeze out a relax-looked smile. He wanted to pour himself a drink but stopped when seeing those bizarre bottles with lousy liquid on dusty shelves full of rat faeces.
“Please, Marvin. We won’t go into that teeny-tiny-no-matter-what’s-inside-that-what-you-may-call-it.”
The rest of a few minutes were muted. Only slight stepping sounds downstairs caused could be heard.
“Fine. Here is the key. You will find there no similarities at all when comparing to my place. As a matter of fact, everything was tidy and clean, without dust or differences ever since you moved out of here. Quite a long time , isn’t it? Enjoy you stay. Everywhere except the shed in that yard is waiting for you.”
That was how we got access from uncle Marvin. When we got out from “Sunset Tranquil” , both my parents breathed a sigh of relief.
Everything, as my uncle had said, was fine and comfortable. Yet those words he said about that shed disturbed my heart, as time went by, I found my parents’ mind was no difference than mine. Field’s grass was fresh and green, wheats and corns cultivated by my uncle was tall and strong, yet our topic within conversations weren’t beautiful sceneries, rather than the secret my uncle had hide in that shed. “He must hide his fortune inside.”, “Might be those precious antiques he bought from India, I knew it.”, “Could be gems from Africa?” Guessing games after every meal became a routine in our daily schedule.
Finally, that day had come for us to pay that mystery a discovery. Our Marvin paid us a visit just like we did him once few months earlier. We expressed our biggest hospitality to thank him, and treat him well on the banquet–with his cups filled with whisky and brandy every time after it was empty. My uncle was bibulous, he treated wines as golds, yet he seemed to resist our toast at first in that banquet, but soon started to empty cups after cups after my parents gave him strange looks. In the meantime, my parents’ cups were also full of “wine”–at least they tried to made my uncle to believe so. In fact, it was soda pop intermingled with sweet wine. Without doubt, he drunk, and felt sleepy. Of course, we offered him a nice bedroom. Within seconds he was asleep.
My mom found the key sets in his trouser pocket. Then we all aim to that shed. To describe our pace that time as “running through the open fields” isn’t exaggeration.
We found that shed exactly the direction my uncle had mentioned. In the edge of that forest, fog and haze fully taught us the meaning of “gloomy”–even the most experienced hunter will uncertain about the way to the pray and lost in the middle of nowhere in such a bad condition. There was something that let us even more puzzled–that forest didn’t have its position in our memories. Maybe the time is long enough for us to forget the surroundings of the farmyard, maybe we didn’t give it a care, maybe the power of nature could build up a large quantity of trees in decades. Goosebumps came across our bodies, but we gave ourselves such explanations above to comfort our nerves. None of which was right after I received that telegram.
Judging from the outside, the shed was shabby. As a combination of bear wood planks, such shed is common in farms elsewhere for placing tools like shovels or seeds. We unlocked the door, it squeaked to the strangers it encountered, suspecting our identification as I was thinking.
We found that door very hard to open, it was like inside was infused with lead ten times its original weight.
What happened next, however, soon made all above irrelevant even if those weird phenomena were unbearable to accept. Even if we could tolerate a heavy wooden door, what was been caught by 3 pairs of curious eyes, was so shock that no words could describe that horror. It was indescribable. Even the strongest mind could been tear apart after seen this.
There, we saw Marvin, or the one who we called him Marvin, tied up in a chair which was definitely made in some kind alloys that certainly couldn’t be found in anywhere around the globe. His head ,or should I say his skull, was cut off. His brain appeared to be contained in a glass vessel, with groups of tubes and cable wires pinned into the cortex and connected to a huge metallic cylinder. He was surrounded by meters and equipment you might see in autopsy.
Who is that person outside, whose flesh looked like the same as my uncle? He didn’t have any brothers, that was very obvious since my mom always keep some notes and records about our relatives in case of forgetting or causing embarrassment when they met us or when we met them.
The first few minutes, my mom shrieked. Then scream transferred into silence. Silence, as it always was, occupied the rest of the minutes, with the strange buzzing sound came out from that cylinder first became the discordant accompany then the jarring solo. Finally, my dad started to speak, yet his voice was trembling:
“No one, speaks or mentions about this ever after today. No one.”
We closed the door, locked it and left. To describe our pace as “running through the open fields” isn’t exaggeration, either.
When we came back, entered the bedroom that was prepared for my “uncle” to check whether he was sober, we found no one was in there. The bed was empty, the quilt was well folded just like no one had ever slept under it. We couldn’t find him in his apartment, either.
My uncle Marvin, had vanished.
After that day, we often had nightmares and dreadful moments. First the shed–it was magically disappeared when we finally had the gut to go back. Nothing was there, not even the track to prove the existence of a house was once been constructed and placed there. Then the field. Grains started to wilt in midsummer even though we watered them regularly, while cattle were ill and died. Vets in Akam couldn’t figure out the disease that took their lives , they only suggested us to burn them into ashes to prevent epidemic. Then, aunt Lucy–she couldn’t been reached since she wasn’t at her home or anywhere in Akam after that horrible experience. Eventually, we thought about it was the time for us to say farewell to this awful farmyard due to that shed poisoned the barn and disquieted us.
We moved back to Baltimore, left Akam without saying anything. We found a new inexpensive apartment to settle in. Mom and dad found some odd jobs to do, the salary is poor, but enough to feed all of us although the food wasn’t too good.
Monstrous things still happened from time to time. Mom couldn’t sleep well, while dad had frequently encountered incidents around him. Such as car crashes or careless cargo stacks that collapsed right after his passing-by. Both of them were Christians, they had come up with the curse of uncle Marvin, so they kept pray and clutched me to the church in Sundays.
Dangerous possibilities didn’t fade away as the honesty of my parents and I kept growing day by day. On the opposite, it increased, and finally caused tragedies. Mom passed away with psychological malfunction. The doctor said that she should have rested more and ought to received more relaxation. But she didn’t have any trouble dealing with time–she followed a normal schedule of works and rests, and mom wasn’t the woman who would waste her precious resting time on cards or gambling tables, instead, she loved books and music. My dad, along with that truck driver, crashed into a cab whose driver was nodding when they ran into each other.
Bad luck? After their funerals I always thought like they’ve just met bad luck after series of bad occasions happened on us, until I received that telegraph–a telegraph from Akam, more specifically ,from “Sunset Tranquil”, yet a stranger’s name on the “sender” box. I rushed into my apartment, opened the envelope after a deep breathe:
I believe you have already known who I am after seeing the address of the sender, don’t need to be panic or confuse when you see a different name.
I am him. I am them. I am forest. I am shed. I am everyone. I am everything.
I also believe that the experience of your living in that farmyard, along with here made you felt confused. Although I had been told that you were difficult to be dealt with after Marvin and Lucy White’s acquaintance had been made few weeks before you’re heading Akam. But to be honest, human’s curiosity did, as your saying goes, kills the cat. To avoid the risk of more innocent people accepting us without any preparations and knowledges and causing bad consequences, the decision of giving priority opportunities for you and your members a compulsory acceptance enforcement is necessary.
Do not panic. Your parents didn’t end up their lives as many other ordinary beings do, they were now part of a much higher civilization, enjoy our science and technologies that are far advance than yours. They are expecting your arrival.
We will come for you very soon. A visitation had been made for you, whereas you will find every answers to your questions about us and that visitation to the shed while this visitation is proceeding.
It is an honor to meet with you again.
Dec. 8th, 1931
From “Sunset Tranquil”, Akam
I wanted to run away, leave Baltimore, head to New Jersey or Delaware, anywhere but Baltimore. Yet my mind kept telling me that stranger is reliable, I started to feel about my mind isn’t my mind anymore. It was manipulated by someone or something. Two days after I received that stranger’s telegram, my apartment’s doorbell rang.
“Henry, dear, it’s me! I come to see you!” Aunt Lucy’s voice appeared to be so impatiently, so faint. I could even vaguely hear the sound of uncle Marvin and my parents.
“Coming…” I want to run away, but I can’t help answering the door.
I can’t help myself embracing the visitation of unearthly creatures…