Darkness on Cold

Part Five

Boston Occult Society: Field Operative's Journal

(Fall, 1929)

Recorded by Walter Ashleigh

October 12th, 1929

    With that out of the way, my next project will be to clear out the others' belongings from their rooms, and store it in mine.
    Oddly enough, all of Dr. Barrow's possessions were gone.

October 13th, 1929

    Fred Warren came back into town today, accompanied by Carter McBain and Sam Quickhand.  Now they say that when they left, Barrow's stuff was still there.

    Warren announced he's disbanding the expedition.  He claimed it was very successful, in that they found a Gnoph-Keh skeleton in their trip to the south.  His plan is to make a brief conference for the Alaskan papers, and then give a full announcement in Seattle or Los Angeles. He did indicate that the report was to be just on the skeleton, not on any of the activities I've been investigating.

    Apparently the rest of the expedition went to interview locals for evidence of recent GK's; they are expected to return in four or five days.

    Warren then left for alternate accomodation.

    I suspect there was a lot unsaid.  It sounds much too straightforward compared with our other experiences.  I will have dinner with McBain tomorrow and pump him for details.

October 14th, 1929

    Dinner with McBain proved interesting.  Although the trip itself was apparently as boring as Warren implied -- and I was sure Carter wasn't concealing anything -- the Cult picked back up on them when they returned here to Anchorage.  He said the Cult was following him, and probably watching Warren in the hotel, too.  He was of the opinion that he should get Warren and the bones onto a boat and out of town immediately.

    I tried to reassure him about the Cult.  I told him that they were watching, but that watching was all they were likely to do.  They were unlikely to confront him.  I strongly suggested that they should all remain in town, at least until the others return in a few days.

October 18th, 1929

    A noteworthy story in the paper today -- a fishing boat burned up in the harbor.  Most unusual, I would have thought.

October 19th, 1929

    Clearly Warren had performed his press conference -- without inviting me, I might add, which I found most offensive and rude.  Yankee slob.  The morning paper contained the announcement from the expedition -- it did not mention any of the troubles, but did say that they will return to insert name here University and will release more news then.

    I decided it was time to take the initiative.  In the afternoon I found that McBain had taken up lodging in a low-class dive, and I contacted him there.  He said that Warren was being put up in the home of someone from the Department of the Interior, and that he did not know where Sam Quickhand was staying.

    When I asked Carter about the fire -- for surely it was related to our other problems -- he opened up somewhat.  He said that he'd warned Warren, but he wouldn't do anything.  So he loaded empty boxes onto a boat and chartered it to go to the US.  That was the boat that burnt that very same evening.  Annoyingly enough, Warren left town the next morning, presumably taking the bones with him.  In conclusion, McBain said he was thinking about going home to Canada, but that he wasn't ready to leave yet.  He said that if the rest of the party returned, to let him know.

Friday, October 25th, 1929

    In the evening, the rest of the group finally returned.  Decker, Poo Yet Tah, Bo, Larry, Gary, Jason, and so on.    At dinner they made little excuse for their very late arrival -- Larry just said that a wise man told him a long story for a few days.  I invited him to a walk along the river tomorrow to discuss matters.

Saturday, October 26th, 1929

    Larry and I took our walk along the river.  As I had expected, we were followed by the usual two Cultists.

    Larry said he had found nothing about GK, and everyone was afraid of the un-named one.  The old man taught him some protective magic.  I asked him to teach it to me, but he said I needed to speak Inuit to learn it.  I didn't tell him that I could summon Ithaqua without knowing Inuit.

    I did tell him that I now knew more about the Cult.  They think they can summon Silla, I said.  I also told him about the incident with the fishing boat.

    I decided I needed to meet with the gun-toting members of the expedition and see what they think.  Larry is too much of a wuss.  So that afternoon I took another walk along the river, this time with Bo.

    Now Bo was more forthcoming.  He said that he and Larry had dreams, and it was telling the Shamen about those dreams that prompted the native to teach Larry the spell.  Bo told me he was planning to send a telegram to Mama Labombia asking for advice, and to his younger brother telling him that he'll be here for a while.  Bo certainly seems to think there's still some serious investigation work that needs to be done here.

Sunday, October 27th, 1929

    A lot of events took place this evening, certainly some unexpected developments.

    It started out normal enough.  I had dinner with Bo and Gary, and during the course of the meal received the usual message.  Near the end of the meal, though, Carter McBain came in.  He sat down, ordered coffee, and told us that Sam Quickhand had followed our "friends" (the ones who tailed us) back to a house.  McBain said he planned to break in tonight, and invited us along.  We were to meet outside in half an hour.

    I was rather concerned at this turn of events, but considered it important to observe.  So I went along, armed as usual with my Luger.

    McBain lead us to a poor part of the town, and briefly left us while he checked with Sam Quickhand, who confirmed that the person was still in the house.

    Unfortunately time passed all too quickly, and I had to leave for my appointment at the bar.  As I did so, Quickhand gave the signal to McBain, and the three of them headed off to break the law.  I went on to my assignation.

    At the bar, the usual procedure yielded questions for me to answer.  Where was the Shamen?  Where did Warren go?  Whose home was being burgled?

    When I returned to the hotel, Bo and Gary were still up.  They reported that the owner of the house was Walter Armstead, who runs a general supply store.  He had letters showing that he corresponded frequently with friends in Endurance.  He also had -- quite remarkable for this town, let alone the poor part -- a solid gold statue of the Mexican Aztec god Quetzcoatl -- like Silla, a wind god.

    We retired to bed, all exhausted from our adventures.

Monday, October 28th, 1929

    I asked Larry for a map of the area of their side expedition, especially showing the Shamen, so I could compare it with the DoI maps.

    Bo and I then left for Armstead's store.  First, though, we went to fetch McBain, but he was not at his hotel, and no-one had seen him leave, and he hadn't checked out.  We then spent a pointless hour looking for Quickhand, only to find that he wasn't staying at any hotel in Anchorage.  We therefore left a note for McBain, and continued to the store.  This time we were followed by different Cultists.

    Armstead's store turned out to be a typical outfitter's store.  Bo ordered a case of dynamite, which will take a week to be delivered -- goodness knows why, I don't want to be around him when he's playing with explosives.  There being nothing odd at the shop, we returned to the hotel.

    Larry of course did not have the map ready.  I should have known.  Likewise, McBain had not returned.

    That evening I went to the bar, spoke to the bartender, and spent a relaxing couple of hours there.  I returned to the hotel refreshed, but not in any better spirits.

Tuesday, October 29th, 1929

    Larry said the maps would be ready tonight.  Somehow I doubt it.  Bo, meanwhile, received a telegram from his brother Maurice in New Orleans; it said: "BE CAREFUL PACKAGE FOLLOWS", as if that was useful advice.

    Shortly after breakfast, Carter McBain came rushing into the hotel.  He told us that some people came into town and visited Armstead last night, and that they were leaving this morning.  He considered this significant because (he said) only Cultists go to that house -- the ones who've been following us -- except the two guys who arrived last night.  Quickhand was waiting and the two of them intend to follow the Cultists out of town.  We decide that Bo will remain in town, while Larry, Gary, and I accompany McBain and Quickhand.  Larry promises to finish the maps on the road.

    Before we leave, however, Gary goes to the library to look up information on Aztecs; he is not very successful, and has to recruit the librarian to help.  For my part, I went to the bar and left a message with the bartender, in an envelope with the sign of Ithaqua; in it I described what the group was now doing -- who goes and who stays -- and that Quickhand seems to be staking out Armstead's house; also I name the university to which Warren is heading.

    So Decker, McBain, Quickhand, Larry, Gary, and I head out after the Cultists.  The trip up was uneventful, but it soon became quite clear that our quarry were heading for Endurance.  Unfortunately they disappeared immediately on reaching the town.

    Uneventful is perhaps not a good way of describing the trip.  Larry, in a fit of stupidity the like of which I have come to expect, managed to get severe frostbite.  We therefore, on failing to keep track of the Cultists in Endurance, rented a shack from the gentleman at the General Store in order for Larry to recover.  The rest of us explored the town, but discovered little; the locals were taciturn but polite.

    After Larry had healed, we left town.  We initially headed North (towards the footprint clearing) rather than following any particular track, but then hooked back towards the trail going home.  As I have come to expect with this collection of fools, we soon were lost.  This may have been lucky, however, as at one point we reached the edge of a plateau, a cliff, and off in the distance we were able to see a huge building in a small village, located in a clearing in the woods.  In the middle of nowhere like this, it was surely related to the Cult of Ithaqua.  My mentors had not told me that the Cult was so extensive.

Monday, November 11th, 1929

    That night we camped at the bottom of the cliff.

Tuesday, November 12th, 1929

    McBain lead us off in the right direction for one, and we came to a small clearing, a good place to camp near the location of the village.  He suggested we split up and search.  I pointed out that we would do better to set up camp first, and for once they took my advice.  By then it was dark, and so we chose to rest tonight and scout tomorrow.  After I prompted him some, Decker announced that no-one should be scouting alone.  It constantly amazes me that this group achieves anything.

Wednesday, November 13th, 1929

    While Sam Quickhand made breakfast, McBain announced that our morning cook went out last night and located the village.  He would tell us nothing about it, other than that we had to see it ourselves.

    I am fed up with the constant put-downs that the so-called leaders of this expedition manage to perpetrate on us.  We are forever stumbling about trying to cover for their unilateral actions.

    So Quickhand leads us in a roundabout path to the village -- but not so roundabout we can't find our way back.

    I must concede that in this case, Quickhand and McBain were right.  We would have found it hard to believe if they had described it to us.  We had come across a huge clearing, more than a thousand yards across, somewhat oval-shaped.  A metal fence, topped with barbed wire, surrounded the facility, with perhaps another 100 to 150 feet of clear ground to the woods from which we watched.  In the compound is one enormous building -- a dirigible hangar, apparently, as we can see the airship from here -- with other smaller buildings scattered around.  Numerous people are working in the hangar.  Inside the fence is a single patrol, two men (Inuit or other native tribe) and a dog, who circle the perimeter in about half an hour.  They wear no uniform, but carry rifles.  The facility shows no symbols or flags, and the gate is at the other side from us.

    We sent Quickhand to look at the gate.  He returned to report that there was no sign, and just two guards, also Inuit.  A lightly-used road leaves the gate, heading back towards Endurance.

    I suggested we should move closer to the gate, and talk to the guards to try to discover more about the facility.  Larry, Quickhand, and McBain will remain with our gear some ways down the road, while Decker, "Charlie", Gary, and I go up to talk.  I was, of course, somewhat worried that Gary would do his usual trick of getting us in trouble with his mouth, but I was sure that us three more sensible folks would be able to talk us out of anything he started.  If necessary, we could always leave him to his fate.

The journal of Walter Ashleigh ends here.