The sixth installment of Wyrdtails
I was well past my breaking point. The creeping madness I’d felt since Thaddeus’ funeral was, at long last, the victor. I surrendered to it, melting into a puddle of rage and tears, towered over by youthful arrogance personified. I reached out and grasped his cane and conjured up the courage to stare up into those contemptuous eyes, shadowed beneath his magical fedora of pretentiousness. Landon Connors blamed me and I felt the truth of it. I felt the weight of guilt upon my soul. This was my sin… my failure… somehow, but what had I done to bring these horrors to life? My beloved’s death? Thaddeus’? This shadow demon from some unknown Hell?
“What have I done?” I blathered.
“Honorius,” he said. “The well and true one.” Connors lit a cigarette and exhaled slowly, the imperious prick. His smug demeanor was grating, to say the least. “It leads back to that one, no?”
“I don’t understand,” I replied, working my way up off the ground. “I’ve owned several copies of various stripes over the years, but there is no true one. And I certainly never possessed one with a thirteenth century provenance.”
“Ah, but therein lies the rub, Murdock. You didn’t, but my father did.”
“Your father? But the last time I spoke to him was…”
“Yeah, I know,” Connors spat, cutting me off, “… it’s been donkey’s ears.” He sauntered over to his Elan and leaned against it, lighting a fresh smoke off the death of the other. I am not a prescient, but I’d wager good odds on how the young Dr. Connors will shuffle off this mortal coil, presuming something preternatural doesn’t do the snuffing.
Age does funny things to a man’s mind. We remember what we choose to remember, often filtered, censored, and reimagined. It’s a coping mechanism, but then every so often, something comes along and slaps us with true remembrance, and seeing Connors, leaning there so cock-sure of himself… it was something in the eyes, a glimmer of entitlement and superiority, the same glint that had shone in his father’s eyes, it ripped my mind awake and I had a moment of lucid recall, violent and inciting.
I was no longer standing beneath the shadow of Taleisyn, but instead within the confines of another house… one that could have very easily been its dark sibling.
Thaddeus and I were at Ashton Connors’ Second Empire on West Hill Street. He had been trying to recruit us into the Sacred Hart. He was called away on some pressing business by… a woman. She was a cypher to me, but the conversation between Thaddeus and myself was vivid. We mocked Connors. We mocked his Order. We… my god… I tore a page from an ancient text, the Sworn Book itself, and rolled a joint with it. Thaddeus and I smoked it. How could I have forgotten that? How we’d laughed and then, when Connors returned, his grim visage… and the woman, she was there, down the hall, by the door. She looked so sad. She… she…
And then I had collapsed again.
I was staring up into the black sky, a sea of stars above me, and Ashton’s son…
“My wife,” I muttered. “My beloved…”
“…was a Sworn Sister of the Order of the Sacred Hart and she was my aunt,” Connors said.
“But…” I stammered, shell-shocked and broken, “… she never… in the name of all that’s holy, why?”
“Because your childish prank woke a dragon,” Connors said, leaning down to me. “My aunt was the shield, my father the sword. Once they’d both passed, it was only a matter of time before the demon was loosed.” He offered me his hand, and we rose together.
“In which of you it would manifest was always a mystery, but they’d gambled, wrongly, that it would be you, given your proclivities,” he continued. “It was obvious to me, once I stumbled upon all this in my father’s journals, that Sexton was the one, however. It was all over his fiction, like a bloody calling card.”
“This is all… insane,” I said. “We were not much more than children. How could we have known?”
“How could you not? You were… you are… more than a student of esoterica. To be so flippant, so arrogant, so damned irresponsible… One immature act, and look what you’ve wrought!” He limped away from me and began addressing something unseen, this mysterious Mitchell.
“How do I make this right?” I pleaded.
“Well, I was all set to thrash you within inches of your life, but Greg has a better idea.”
“Don’t sweat it, professor,” Connors said, walking toward my car and opening the passenger door, “you’ll be seeing him soon enough.”
“Are we going somewhere?” I asked, joining him at my decrepit Oldsmobile.
“We sure are,” he replied, climbing in. I opened the driver’s door and sat down beside him. “You do know the way to Arkham Cemetery, no?”
to be continued
Thursday, December 18