A horror named Jimmy.
I am sure that the gentle men and women of this place will no doubt find and confiscate this journal before too much longer, however I feel it is my duty to try and record what I have witnessed before I end what miserable existence I have left. They may try to stop me, but I am determined to linger in this nightmarish world no longer. Hereafter follows an account of how I found myself in this untenable position.
I will never forget the fateful eve upon which I set foot across the threshold of that accursed place.
A soldier dressed in the red and brown garb of the Ministry of Extranormal Horrors waved me through an outer metal gateway, no doubt a detector for all manner of unsavoury things, and after a cursory glance at his screen pressed some concealed lever.
The wrought iron gates ahead of me swung wide, and at once I was filled with a sense of ill-being, a restless notion that I were listing, as though a ship taking on water. Beyond the gates were a series of tents surrounded by heavy looking equipment. Recording devices and computers, for the most part, but some items of unfathomable purpose were loathsome to look at, and so I averted my eyes.
General Hyatt stood just beyond the gate, his scant years not diminishing the almost indefinable aura of competence and power that surrounded him like a thick woolen cloak.
‘You’re the reporter?’ he asked in a surprisingly casual tone.
I replied in the affirmative, pulling my notebook and pen from the brim of my hat as I did so. The General merely snorted and turned on his heel, leading me by way of a small muddy track to a red canvas tent.
As we walked I observed, high upon the hill that we merely squatted at the base of, an old manor house. It was a thing of eerie countenance and remarkable disrepair, and though I found it an awful sight to look upon I found that I could not look away, as though it had some strange hold upon my eyes.
‘In here’ growled the General as a bolt of lightning tore across the sky, for a moment cutting a trail of fire through the stygian darkness around us. I entered the tent.
Inside were a simple metal desk and two chairs. The General sat, and I followed suit as thunder from the distant infernal bolt rumbled around us for several seconds.
‘Ask your questions.’ He said, his countenance betraying nothing but disdain for my profession and a second, strange emotion that I could almost believe was pity.
‘What is the business of the Ministry here?’
‘Containment of a class five extranormal breach.’
‘Why did the Ministry become involved?’
‘There were reports of strange behaviour in some of the locals. Any other agency would have passed it over as nothing but hicks being hicks, but we’re a little more.. thorough.’
‘When did the Ministry become involved?’
‘Three years ago.’
‘How many deaths since then?’
The General went quiet, his eyes narrowing.
‘I know what you said, dammit.’ he snarled ‘But just because I’ve been ordered to answer your questions doesn’t mean I have to like it. There have been one hundred and twenty three deaths to date, and a further ten people are currently under intense observation.’
The General’s attitude rankled with me somewhat, which I believe spurred me to ask the most idiotic question I have ever asked.
‘Why does the Ministry have such little regard for life?’
Thunder rumbled again as the General abruptly stood, his chair falling to the floor with a clatter. I have never before or since seen such a ferocious look on the face of any human being, though in my dreams I am sometimes haunted by faces worse still.
‘Little regard? Do you have any idea what we’re keeping at bay here? Any idea?’ His voice strained and his eyes widened a little, then with a visible effort of will the General composed himself, though I noticed that he started to hum a tune that I recognised from a recent film, as though distracting himself.
I remained silent, cowed by the sheer force of personality that I saw standing before me. Rain began to patter on the roof of the tent. For a moment the General’s evident rage seemed almost to dispel the disquieting aura that hung over this place. Then he continued.
‘Inside that house is something beyond the minds of normal men. We only know anything about it because of the people who go in and try to report back, and it only stays put if we send people in regularly. God alone knows what would happen if it got to a populated area. It’d be like Tokyo all over again.’
I shuddered at the thought, remembering some of the horrific images that had been recorded after the 2001 Extranormal Incursion in Japan.
‘So we send people in, and some come back out, babbling nonsense. We make sure they’re safe, make sure they haven’t been infected with anything, keep them confined in a nearby hospital. If they recover then we get information, if not then we do our best to keep them from killing themselves. Some people I’ve known have managed three, four trips.’
The general paused and shook himself, humming again, almost melancholy now.
‘The Ministry keeps the commanders out of there because we can’t afford to lose the knowledge we’ve gained. That knowledge is our only defence. Things like knowing not to look to long at the house. Not to take pictures, because the damn thing seems to come through them like they’re windows. Like thinking about not thinking about pink elephants if you start to think about what’s in there for too long.’
He looked at me, the strange pitying look starting to appear on his face again as he saw me scribbling notes.
‘Things like not writing too much about it…’
I looked down at my pad, where I had been taking notes in shorthand, and a sense of confusion overwhelmed me. What characters were these? What had I written in my small journal? As I stared at the bizarre writings and tried to understand them I could feel the rational parts of my mind pulling back even as my journalistic instincts were drawn in. I felt myself rise as though an automaton, watched my own limbs being dragged out of the tent and into the rainstorm beyond. Some piece of me somewhere had the presence of mind to turn up my collar against the wind and rain as I set my face to the house on the hill and began the long, lonely trudge. Behind me I could hear the General ordering an medical unit for if I were to return, not even attempting to stop me. I imagine his experience in such matters told him that such endeavours were useless. Heedless I walked on through the noisesome mud and increasingly foul atmosphere.
I remember little of that night in my waking hours, only vague recollections of music, and hallways that twisted and turned in impossible directions as I tried to find places to hide, or sought for things I knew I could never comprehend. Occasionally I remember the floor becoming hot and molten, forcing me to leap atop nearby furnishings and there sit and quiver until the heat subsided. Sometimes I picture a red sphere, pulsating like a droplet of water, but the crimson red of blood, held aloft by something from which even my subconscious mind flees. The sphere always has innumerable voices, crying out in intolerable anguish, though I cannot distinguish whether it was the sphere that was screaming or myself.
I awoke here, in this mental institution, cared for by gentle men and women dressed in red and brown. The General visits sometimes, but if he feels responsible for my state I suppose his training has lessened his remorse. I understand now why the Ministry sends people to die, for the death of even a hundred souls would be preferable to my current torment.
I must end now, for the orderlies are coming. I suspect they have found the missing item with which I intend to conclude all this. To silence the music. My God. That music!