The next half of the long-in-development Doc Valiant story, "Cannot Be Unseen
", where the Herculean Superscientist is trying to investigate a series of brutal murders... and ends up smack dab in the middle of unimaginable horror.
Hope you enjoy.
Previously: <da:thumb id="363802221"> Story: Cannot Be Unseen, pt 1
Takes place in the past of the world of
Cannot Be Unseen (Part 2)
Friday, May 13th 2:15 PM
"BLASTED IDIOT!" thought Doc as he got knocked out. He really should have foreseen some of this.Barely an Hour Previously...
It had taken a while, but Valiant and his two companions (Inspector David Greenworth and Eileen Kryss) had finally tracked down Xavier Pendergast, a disgraced scientist and studier of the esoteric. Doc had to use some of his contacts in the government and associates in academia to find the man, but soon had his address and phone number. The Herculean Superscientist hadn't seen Pendergast since a decided debacle at a conference they both had been present at. It was at this 'gathering' that Xavier made public his supposed findings.
It didn't go over too well.
Talk of other-worldly beings from beyond the veil of time and space, that may have had a hand in the development of not only Earth's prehistory... but possibly also in the creation of humanity. The way that Xavier talked of them, they sounded like living, breathing (and horrifying) physical GODS.
Even amongst many like-minded individuals, what he presented sounded impossible. While men like Doc and Patrick Noir kept an open-mind, such a view wasn't shared with a majority of the assembled 'experts'. Ridiculed, mocked, and eventually driven out of the convention center... Pendergast seemed to disappear into the background. The only other time the Big Man had had contact with him was through the phone. Each conversation with Xavier seemed to be further and further along in his apparent descent into madness.
So when the man answered the phone, Valiant was quite shocked to hear his voice.
Sounding excited at what his old colleague found, Pendergast invited them to come visit his house in Southeastern Oregon. Even then, Doc had a funny feeling in his stomach, a knotted feeling... that twisted at his insides. Something about this didn't seem right to him. The last time he had conversed with this man, Xavier seemed to be two steps away from being committed. But the person Valiant had talked to sounded calmer... more rational.
But Pendergast never hit him as a physical threat, he was fit enough for traipsing around a jungle or some god-forsaken desert... but not what you would call intimidating by any regard. Xavier was the perpetual bookworm; with shaggy unkempt hair, and glasses adorning his narrow nose atop his thin (boney) face. Yet from the directions given to him, Doc noticed that his house wasn't TOO far away from Parkway. Less than a hundred miles, give or take. Then there was the fact that the killer carved into the womens' bodies symbols... runes... that as far as the Supscientist was concerned.... VERY few knew of besides Pendergast. He just couldn't shake this feeling, the coincidences practically screaming at him.
Not being able to reconcile himself with these conflicting facts, Doc decided it would be best to be on guard. If his colleague turned out to be the killer, he'd apprehend him. If not, the degree of knowledge on the subject provided by him could be invaluable to the case. Valiant would, only later, wish he had listened more to this 'gut feeling' and prepared a bit more.
After a three hour drive, with pit-stops along the way, the trio of investigators came upon an old octagon-shaped house out in the middle of a forested countryside located somewhere in Harney County. It looked practically archaic by modern standards, the architectural design having not been utilized since the tail end of the 19th Century. From of the looks of it, the lodging hadn't experienced much upkeep for about a decade or two. The wood and lumber was in the midst of rotting, the roof was practically BARE of shingles, the surrounding vegetation was successfully encroaching upon the house, and what remained of an iron fence had rusted and fallen apart long ago.
If Pendergast was here, Valiant though, he certainly picked the prime spot to become a recluse.Or a Serial Killer.
The only other thing the Big Man noticed was that there didn't seem to be much in the way of a telephone wire. Then... how did he get ahold of Xavier? "Greenworth... get behind me. In front of Eileen." whispered Doc as he slowed down in his approach to the front door. If something didn't feel right before... now it just felt downright ominous.
"I don't like the look of this place Doc." murmured Greenworth, gun now drawn. "This doesn't feel right."
"Duly noted David, and you're not the only one who feels this way. But if this can shed some light on those murders, maybe even prevent the next one. Then... well, I say we should look into it." replied the Herculean Superscientist.
"Do you notice how quiet it is?" interjected Eileen, having noticed some oddities herself. Valiant soon realized it as well. Maybe it was the morbid nature of the case, or the twisted nature of the translated symbols, but even he was getting steadily unnerved by this. It was an odd feeling for one such as he, a man who had taken part in the War, had participated in covert operations, and had faced things seemingly unimaginable. But every time he was able to keep going, keep fighting, having complete confidence in his actions. His purpose.
Not now, not in this little reclusive spot out in the middle of a seemingly desolate rural area. Chasing a killer of young women, a merciless butcher who carved them up like jack-o-lanterns. There was just this growing feeling of dread that clung to him as he slowly approached the house. It was like one of those pending 'big reveals' he'd seen in movies, well... when he used to watch movies more. Only instead of Dracula, or the Mummy, he couldn't shake the feeling that it'll be more like waltzing through Ed Gein's house. Just worse... somehow.
Doc was about to concede to this 'bad feeling' and suggest a withdrawl when suddenly the door swung open. Out stepped the man Xavier Pendergast. "Doctor Alexander Valiant!" he announced, a big smile on his face. "As I live and breath! Been a long time since last we met face to face." arms outstretched as he walked down the small set of steps leading up to the door. His sudden presence seemed to temper the group's fears, for the most part.
The Herculean Superscientist couldn't help but smile a bit upon seeing his old colleague as he approached him. "Xavier! You're looking well." said Valiant, giving the man a strong handshake. Though something was still bothering him about this, he just couldn't pinpoint it.
"Well that's not hard to believe, since I finally gave up on my Esoteric Studies a few years ago." replied the Scholar, smiling slightly as he turned to his other guests. Greenworth copied Doc's example as he greeted their host and introduced himself.
"Nice to meet you Officer Greenworth." said Pendergast before turning to Eileen. His smile grew as he took her hand and kissed it, taking her a bit by surprise, her face blushing at this. "And this must be the fellow Occultist, Miss Eileen Kryss." said Xavier as he practically beamed with delight.
"Her help in this case has led us to you." spoke up Doc, quietly examining the scene before him, taking note of his environment. Pendergast's smile shrank a bit as he turned back to his old colleague.
"So, someone's been using my work in this brutal slayings?" he asked, looking a bit more stern. The Scholar sighed a bit, looking a bit reluctant to discuss such things.
"Afraid so Xavier. Carving senseless gibberish into their bodies like some kind of twisted calling card." replied the Big Man. "Eileen here managed to identify the type of runes cut into their corpses, but... afraid we can't make much sense of it. Nor what it has to do with the murders in general besides possible gloating. You know how such types are."
"Yes indeed." answered Pendergast, his eyes squinting a bit. "Well Doc, as I said, I'm not really into that stuff anymore. It almost destroyed my life, my very sanity."
"Be as that may be, but my options here are very limited here my friend." countered the Herculean Superscientist. "You're the only person I know whose an expert in this... arcane lunacy."
"Lunacy..." came his colleague, facial expression slightly grim at the suggestion.
"Sorry." replied Doc. "I've just been knee deep in corpses, chasing a mad killer, and am almost at my wit's end here."
Pendergast nodded. "Understood. Come... let's discuss this more inside. All I can promise you are my old notes on the subject. I've found the less I partake in such matters, the better." as he led them inside. The lodge was musty-smelling, Valiant himself could detect a distinct mold-like odor along with that of water-damaged wood. The main room in this small house was lined completely with bookcases. A decently thick little layer of dust on some shelves suggested to the Big Man a lack of use for a long time. The rug on the floor was worn and moth-bitten, and the sole piece of furniture (a large reading chair) didn't look much better.
A large ornate globe sat on the lone study desk, with what looked like red marks dotted along various parts of it. Perhaps from his previous studies? Papers were scattered about the desk and it's surrounding area. Doc's curiosity was piqued as he took in every little detail of this living space. It barely appeared to be lived in, but wasn't quite the 'murderer's hovel' Valiant was expecting to find. Regardless, he kept Xavier within his field of vision at all times.
"Pardon the mess." spoke up Pendergast as he made his way through his living room. "Don't get much opportunity to clean up around here I'm afraid. A lack of transportation also hinders such endeavors. A friend of mine, a sort of assistant, comes up here twice a week to take me into the nearby town for food and supplies."
"So... what do you study now that you abandoned the Esoteric and Eldritch?" asked his muscular guest as he continued to observe his new surroundings.
All present noticed a distinct pause in Xavier's movement at the question. "Cosmology, Astronomy and Astrology." he replied, before chuckling. "Can you imagine that? I guess my studies into these chaotic matters sparked an interest in such things." as he turned to a door, presumably where his notes were located.
"Then why live out here?" asked Eileen, confused by this response. "Surely your studies would be best supported by living further down from here. Right?"
Their host sighed uneasily, and turned back towards his guests. "You are right. But my... previous research sapped me of much of my funds and personal property." he answered. "A trip to the shores of Spain to read some random dustworn tome from the 16th Century. A pricey excursion to Siberia to investigate supposed ruins... almost died of Hypothermia by the way. A side-trip to an island off the coast of Massachusetts to consult some books and notes belonging to a fellow... enthusiast. All this accomplished in the end was wasted years and insurmountable debt. This little ramshackle... hut is all I have left. Inheritances have their upsides at times, and this is it. So does that answer your question?"
"Quite." replied Eileen, blushing with anxiety and embarrassment.
"Now. To get you my notes." announced Xavier as he finally opened the door. Doc peered inside as his friend's back was turned, getting brief glimpses into what appeared to be the man's personal dwelling. From what the Big Man could see, it looked about as simple and harmless as the living room. Just an old bed in the corner across from the door, with an old decaying trunk chest beside it.
With Pendergast occupied, Doc chose this time to look over the pieces of paper on the study desk. They were as his colleague had alluded to. Handwritten notes and diagrams about the stars, and their alignments. This didn't give Valiant anymore information than he already knew about such matters, but he couldn't help but notice certain smaller details. These papers read more like instructions, rules... or guidelines. But for what? Whom?It looks like something is about to occur... but I don't recognize this formation... this pattern. What could it... huh?
"Greenworth... get Eileen and get behind me." said Doc at a voice above a whisper.
"What? Something up?" asked David, calmly moving the young woman as advised.
"Yes Valiant." came Xavier's voice from behind his bedroom door. "IS something up?" as he slowly re-entered the study. The Herculean Superscientist steadfastly put himself between Pendergast and his companions.
"You figured something out didn't you? You always were a clever creature." continued their host, his face devoid of emotion. If the Big Man was hoping that his large stature would intimidate his former colleague, it evidently wasn't working.
"What's he talkin' about Doc?" asked Greenworth, trying to catch up to the train of thought that was suddenly present before him.
"I don't know how, precisely, but he's apart of it." answered the stern superhuman, not taking his eyes off Xavier. "The runes carved into the bodies... it matches the writing style on those papers. It took me a moment to realize it, longer than it should have. But I've stared at those damn markings long enough to have them ingrained in my mind. Each shape, each loop, each curvature."
Pendergast simply clapped his hands in applause. "Bravo. Bravo! Truly you never fail to amaze." that placid, relaxed expression on his face as he walked closer to the group. "So that only leaves the question, what happens next?" he asked aloud.
"You know damn well what's going to happ-"
"I wasn't speaking to you!" interupted their host as noises outside could be heard. Rustling of grass, loud... wet footsteps. Doc's mind began to race as he tried to put all the pieces together, trying to understand what had happened as the noises grew more numerous.
"Xavier... there's still time to stop all of this. You need help, my friend. I know I wasn't there before, but I'm here. I'm here now." assured Valiant, raising his hands in a non-threatening gesture. "Let me help you Xavier." A deep guttural grumble, like the noise a demonic frog would make, reverberated through the room.
"I'm sorry Alexander. But Xavier isn't here anymore.
" came the man who stood before the trio, his voice suddenly changing. Deeper, with a bizarre garbling echo. "Hasn't been for... oh seven years now. So hard to keep track of such concepts at times. So... backward.
"What the hell do you mean?" asked the Big Man, stunned at the rapidly escalating situation. That grumble echoed through their ears again. Pendergast smiled, yet somehow it looked unnatural... wrong. As if someone had carved a smile from one ear to the next like some twisted Dr. Seuss drawing.
"What do I mean?
" repeated the... thing before them before he grabbed a hold of a cheek and began to pull. The flesh began to stretch like a rubber band, the sound of squishy raw meat being pulled apart accompanying the motion as he pulled it about a half-foot from where his face should be. Underneath, behind this skin was nothing but a formless writhing mass. Like bubbling, quivering gelatin. "I mean your friend is dead, Alexander Valiant! But I've been putting his body to good
use." hissed the monstrous entity before letting the 'skin' slap back onto it's body. Eileen screamed while Greenworth fought back bile in his throat. Even Doc was feeling a bit queasy at this macabre show.
"What the HELL are you?!" the Superscientist asked, feeling his stomach sink as the hairs on his neck stood up. A dark mocking laughter, or something that could easily pass for such a thing, emanated from this creature as the sound of windows breaking in the back could be heard.
Then came the weird chanting from outside.
"Xavier Pendergast wanted to find out the truth behind his theories... and he got just that. But as is often said by you things... be careful what you wish for.
Ohhh but I know hooowww much mannerssss mean to humans. Alas, my true name is unpronounceable in your primitive degenerate tongues. So the closest approximation will have to do.
" with that, the man formerly known as Xavier Pendergast mock-bowed before them.
At your service." he said, that sickening stretched-smile leering up at the trio. Suddenly his bedroom door shattered into splinters, followed soon after by the front door and a door that Doc could only assume led to the kitchen. Emerging from these fresh openings were these... deformed, mutated... horrors. Pale shadows, mockeries of humanity that shambled and shuffled forth into the study.
"Oh my god..." gasped Greenworth as he unholstered his side-arm, moving Eileen further behind him as he faced these new arrivals... these... monsters.
Some body parts looked like they belonged to fish, other parts looked only vaguely human. Emaciated bodies, covered in scales and fins. There was a uniformity to it all, yet some were more further along than others. Ragged clothes and pieces of fabric hung upon their abhorrent frames. But it was the noises they made that perhaps disturbed the Superscientist the most. It resembled the sounds made by drowning animals, like a bleating gazelle being dragged underwater by a crocodile. All mixed with violent croaking 'squawks'. On top of it all, these... things... were somehow forming words from their gaping toothless mouths.
The entity calling itself Sogg'lolothu'l held up his arm, silencing the gibbering horde filling up his room. "I wasn't expecting company for what I have in mind
, at least not THIS company. But regardless... take them. Alive. Iak Iak... sulu Rshotha...
" ordered the fiend as he lowered his arm. In unison, the shambling creatures began to move towards the trio.
"If you have any plans now Doc... I'm all ears!" spat Greenworth, taking aim at the nearest monstrosity.
"I'm working on it David!" replied Doc, trying to focus his mind and process all the information. All the latest revelations. "Until then, short term... fight like hell!" as he threw his fist into the bulbous slimy face of the nearest enemy. He sent the squawking abomination flying into it's nearest compatriots. The sound of gunfire filled the room as the Inspector fought back, protecting Ms. Kryss. But their attackers just kept coming, any of them that fell were soon replaced by two others in it's place.Think Valiant... think DAMMIT!
The deformed horde converged upon the Big Man, nearly overwhelming him in the process. He thrashed his left arm, sending a few sprawling into the bookcases. Black ichor and slime oozed from their lidless faces as various tomes and journals rained down upon them. Clammy cold hands immediately grasped onto him, trying to hold Valiant down through sheer numbers. Bellowing a battle cry, the Herculean Superscientist merely dragged the assembled monstrosities along with each punch. Growling, he kicked some off of him, but more kept coming. Any progress made was quickly undone, every gap made in their line was filled by the next squawking humanoid.
All this time, Doc racked his brain, trying to make sense of all this new input. The gibbering chanting these creatures were doing wasn't making this any easier, the droning noise filling his mind... making it harder to think straight. A scream cut through the clamor, the cacopohony. It was Eileen, the webbed-handed horrors had managed to overtake his companions. Thrashing and squirming, they were being pulled out of the house.
"No... NO!" roared Valiant as he barreled through the disgusting throng of mutated aberrations, trying to reach Greenworth and Kryss. He made it halfway through the room before his half-fish assailants pushed their numbers advantage again. Without having to worry about the Inspector anymore, this freed up even more of their blasphemous kin to focus on the superhuman in the room. The chanting, clamoring horde of slimy, scaley flesh flooded towards Doc in greater quantity. Despite the disadvantage, the Big Man wasn't going down easily.
His massive fists punched into these babbling monstrosities with all the grace of a hammer smashing into a watermelon, as he put more and more of his incredible strength into each blow. Yet still they pushed forward, squawking and croaking as their claws tore into his clothes and slashed at his face. Any that fell were promptly trodden upon by it's brethren. So caught up in the heat of battle, Valiant didn't notice what was coming up behind him until it was too late.
Xavier Pendergast, or the thing that was WEARING Xavier Pendergast, grabbed the Herculean Superscientist into a headlock that belied the seeming frail frame of it's costume. "It's pointless to resist Valiant.
" it chuckled as Doc grabbed ahold of his assailant's arm and tried to free himself. All this accomplished was ripping the human flesh off the monster beneath. Sickly green skin writhed like a worm, but it's strength held.
"I must admit I'm intrigued by you, Valiant
." intoned the being named Sogg'lolothu'l. "Maybe more of a passing interest to be honest
. A small pitiful subject worthy of further analysis
." hissed the beast as his arms seemed to stretch, and expand as they enveloped the Big Man's face, cutting off his oxygen. Alexander Valiant had quite the resume of powers, skills and abilities... but he still needed air like almost everyone else he knew. He punched, he kicked, he thrashed at the unspeakable horror that had him in it's clutches, but it felt like he was punching foamy gelatin each time an attack made contact with his mysterious opponent's body.
Sogg'lolothu'l kept talking, mocking his efforts, but Valiant was having a hard time hearing it as he went further into unconsciousness.Blasted Idiot!
TO BE CONTINUED...