The mountain door is open again, and I cannot sleep.
How do they stand it? The locals, I mean. How can they bear lying in bed, night after night, that obscene white light flooding their windows, keeping them awake? They must see it. They have to see it. How could they not see it? Are they blind? Are they cowards? Are they its acolytes?
No. No, that’s not it. They must be mad. Driven out of their minds by the endless light and lack of sleep. Edna with her deadly biscuits, the snake-kissed Melmoths, bold gruff kind Sheriff Patton, John Cheveyo with his bland acceptance of the strange and his cryptic owl notes. Mad, all of them, mad, and I’ll soon be mad, too, if I don’t do something about that door.
So out again, out into the dark of the Opa Lodge, where the horrible low squeal screeches in my ears, and the kitchen door fairly vibrates with the noise. There’s a chopping, too, the chopping of a monstrous blade severing bone and flesh, thunk thunk thunk into the wood of the cutting board, that carnivorous evergreen altar. The Continental Breakfast is in progress, and suddenly I am filled with a desire to see how the sausages are made.
I kick open the door and am reminded again that knowledge can be dangerous. On the counter is some thing, a writhing shape on which my eyes can find no purchase. They slide off its unctuous slimy body, and the more I try to look the slipperier it becomes, my retinas coated with it, my eyes filling with its substance but not its form. The one thing that does take root in my mind is its mouth, its open mouth, wet and round and screaming, the source of that dreadful noise.
It’s too much. So I look up at the thing’s tormentor, a squat heavily-muscled man of ruddy complexion, naked save for a white apron stained green and black, a huge hacking blade in his upraised hand. Similar instruments of hand-hewn brutality hang on the wall behind him, and his head is the head of an owl. He looks at me and lets loose a soul-chilling shriek, his beak-mouth never moving but his arm swinging as he throws the blade at me, green trails of the thing’s inner fluids spiraling behind it.
I duck to one side, pulling my sidearm and firing a single shot into the center of his forehead. Blood stains the feathers, his face cracks down the middle, and he collapses in a heap as the thing on the counter expires, its terrible cry dying in a gurgling wheeze. I burst back out of the kitchen, expecting trouble but finding none. Then the light again, filling my head and drawing me out into the cold air and the door, gaping, cavernous, repellant, inviting.
It yawns high in the side of Mount Pannawau, white light spilling out down the slope. I follow the light, if only to spare me the obscenity of the door’s exposure, and eventually my gaze falls upon the smooth, placid surface of Lake Mammedaty. The door is mirrored on the water, but here it is black. Black and soothing as the void. The infinite void, in the face of which I am but a speck. I want to surrender to its embrace, but the phone is ringing. The phone is ringing. The phone is ringing.
It’s the Sheriff, telling me that another murder victim has been found on the side of Mount Pannawau. I begrudgingly look back up the mountain and think I see a figure, broad-chested and bullet-headed, loping through the door in silhouette. It pauses, crouching, head raised on an impossibly long, thick neck, as if sniffing the air. Then it throws that bullet head back and lets loose a howl fit to split the sky.
It is as I feared. Something has come through.
I’ve just awakened in my room at the Opa Lodge to a phone call from the Sheriff, who tells me that another body has been found on Mount Pannawau. John Cheveyo is en route to the Opa Lodge as I type, to take me out to the site.
As I rose to dress, I found my intra-web device turned on, with the above dream written out, the cursor blinking patiently at me, and the pointer poised over the “submit” button, awaiting my touch. It seems that my nocturnal biographer has learned not to set off the alarms back at the Agency.
One troubling detail: as I checked my gun just now, I smelled gunpowder. It has been fired very recently. Perhaps Captain Cheveyo and I will have a look at the kitchen before we leave.
I assume that you will be able to read this post normally. Your silence after the last troubled me, especially considering my surroundings amongst the Owls. Assuming that you are reading, however, I hope this finds you well. I’ll get you an update at my first available opportunity.
Agent X-23, signing off.