As I stepped through the stone barricade into the courtyard for the first time, I recalled with some

loathing that fateful night just a week ago, when first I received the summons. I need not even have read the telegram to suss its purpose; if not the specifics, at least the general nature of it. My singular talents are in rather high demand and while I strive to maintain anonymity, these sorts of requests are not without some precedence. As a matter of principle I refuse them without exception. But when it's Scotland Yard asking, it becomes rather difficult to say no. Or perhaps it was the cold-eyed courier with the not so-well-hidden pistol that was the deciding factor? No matter, the end result was the same. Here I was in London again, that site of old misadventure I thought never to see again. Whatever this was about, it must certainly be serious for the Yard to forgive those trespasses of my youth. The building before me was a nondescript block of grey cinder and granite. In the benighted gloom I could make out but one door upon the frontward-facing facade, and no windows of any sort. A pair of constables kept watch over the courtyard and gate. No doubt there were others lurking about in the shadows. As my escort and I passed between the constables, the whispers began. Quite rudely, I might add, considering the nearness of my proximity. "So who's this wanker?" "Some Yank. Apparently he caused a bit of trouble back in '06." "Oh? What's he doing here now then?" "I dunno, but someone was impressed with him." Someone indeed, I thought to myself. But even I wasn't sure who. Beyond that their voices became indistinct. My chaperon - who'd been omnipresent since delivering that cryptic summons, but whose name I still did not know - led me through a series a darkened and intersecting corridors. But for my own acute sense of direction, honed among the byzantine passages of Miskatonic Hospital, I might have been disoriented. I have little doubt that was the intended impact upon my senses.

" I said. but something more mysterious. Her underling was Inspector Frost.draped in a white sheet. Take into account too that I bear no small amount of infamy in these parts. A blast of cold air swept across my face and we stepped into a plain. There were two others in the room…a tall black woman and a sturdily-built man with a broad chest and emotionless face." the woman stepped forward. I'm often more comfortable in the company of cadavers than I am among living. breathing humans. I have few friends. "You must be Doctor West. my companion knocked upon the steel door and a moment later it swung wide. Lina is fine though. square room.perhaps a child . . "Herbert. already understanding what no one else here could…that not everyone would survive this night. His absence of rank or other identifying characteristic suggested he wasn't Scotland Yard at all. startling me from my introspection. Of course I had known from the first there would be a body in the works. returning the courtesy. and extending a hand in my direction." I must confess. upon which lay a small corpse . and finally I had a name with which to refer to my erstwhile chaperon: Gill." She smiled a gracious smile as she took my hand. I immediately took stock of my surroundings. But there was none of that in Detective-Inspector Lina Walmsley's comportment. and I expected little more than an icy welcome. But just the four of us to do what needs to be done? I sighed. there were more pressing issues at hand. And in the very middle was a silver hospital gurney.Finally we arrived at our destination. and it was clear that me having even this small bit of information about him was discomfiting. She then made the rest of the introductions. so this was no surprise. And that is seldom lost upon those I meet for the first time. I immediately hoped she would not be among this night's casualties. "Herbert West. No matter. Her warmth was thoroughly disarming. there is a charnel pallor about me that most people find discomfiting. as attested to by the constables at the entryway. An introvert by nature. "Detective-Inspector Lina Walmsley.

Several peculiar furrows bisected the chest cavity laterally.the tiny frame and harsh angles that even the sheet couldn't blunt . I would have guessed this to be the son of some ancient pharaoh. Gill turned away…the first bit of vulnerability the stoic man had shown since arriving on my doorstep a week ago. leaving the jagged ends of the ulna and radius exposed.a Secret Service porter. raisinlike eyes lay at the bottoms of sunken sockets. and a man who just a week ago was hale and healthy and kicking about London. exposing his face and torso. torn completely from the arm several inches above the wrist. exposing sternum and ribs and shriveled lungs. There. Tell us what you think. not merely exsanguinated but entirely exsiccated. peeling skin lay upon bones like papyrus. was what I was looking for: A ragged puncture wound about three centimeters in diameter. Wrinkled." "Man?" I looked again at the covered body ."So how can I be of assistance?" Lina turned her attention to the body on the table.and my curiosity was piqued. A good man. Unfazed." I lifted the uppermost edge of the sheet and laid it across Larsh's waist. apparently out loud. His right hand was gone as well. was . . cracked and pulled back in a lurid grin by the fluid-deprived tissues." I said. I circled the gurney to get a better look at the origin of those peculiar wounds. "You know who he is then?" "Terrence Larsh. Had I not known otherwise. Lina stepped up to the table next to me. "Well that's weird." she gestured widely.I mean. "Take a look. "We need to know how he died. Fissured. And it was oozing a pale blue ichor. Most eerily though were its lips. I understood now the diminutive stature that I mistook for child-like. For the thing that had been Terrence Larsh was little more than a husk. But the curiousness did not end there. He is . directly under the right arm. I nodded.

When he looked up the color had left his face. "All of this and that's the weird part? That little hole?" "That. no?" Gill came at me then. For my part. Just like Terry would have done. I've made a living mucking through pools of gore and viscera . "Stand down agent.indeed. and preferably in one piece. but even this could not escape my limited talent for human observation: Clearly there was more here than mere friendship. "You know what he did! And I'm supposed to just stand here and let him do that to Terry?" "You're supposed to follow orders."That?" Gill was suddenly agitated. His fists remained clenched though. he'll be delirious with pain as his brain tries to leech nutrients from fluids that aren't there any more. I withdrew my hand from my bag. we were going to need him.but this was not a fight I welcomed." I drew myself up to my full height and pointed at the oozing hole. and then his eyes dropped away from mine and towards the floor.is dead. In the last few moments Gill's value had asserted itself." "That man is a monster!" Spittle flecked Gill's lips. And we won't have long…the first few moments at best. his face flush with blood. It is true that I am not good with people. You may not fear me. If he cared about you at all." That stopped his forward motion. Beyond that.your friend . Lina intercepted him. you're our best chance to find out what did this to him. but did not let go of the syringe. I am not without my means when violence presents itself . Just like the rest of us. never shifting my gaze from Gill. I was not surprised…he had been awaiting this moment for days. but do I need to remind you whose invitation he came here upon. "You're going to have to talk to him. He was your friend. and his lip was trembling." . with a sigh I reached into my bag. Instead I stepped towards Terrence Larsh's corpse. Fortunately. fingers closing around one of several syringes contained therein. "is why this man . And I had been waiting for it as well. The agent shifted uncomfortably.

I inserted the syringe into the base of the skull and depressed the plunger. A quiet. The phosphorescent green reagent vanished from the slim glass tube. "Not long. those raisin-like eyes bored into my own. GIll was across the table from me. He was pale. And then it lunged at me. and he held Terry's hand with a delicacy I could not have imagined just an hour ago. "Mister Larsh. And Lina stood nearby. For a moment. Its jaw worked up and down. by now all pretense had lapsed." Gill asked. A few moments later. impossible as it seemed. "How long. this was going to be up to me. I looked at Gill. whisper of a scream. As usual. "Terrence Larsh!" It paused and turned its skull-like head towards me. Frost wrapped Larsher in a ferocious bear hug. pistol at ready. but even then the thrashing reanimated corpse was nearly more than he could handle. raspy. we were all in position. ready to restrain Larsh if necessary. Just then Terry sat bolt upright and screamed. "Mister Larsh! Can you tell me who killed you?" Still no response. most likely in shock.Gill was visibly pained. the tendons visibly pulling and shifting beneath the papyrus-flesh. Frost stood at the head of the table." I replied. can you hear me? Something terrible has happened to you…can you tell me who did it?" There was no response. . but he nodded his acquiescence.

meanwhile. which itself capsized under the weight. given the lack of muscular elasticity . and I wasn't entirely sure it wasn't my own. looking for a clear field of vision into which to take her shot. But with it came a few words audible to all of us." Gill's voice was soft. a looping arc of blood issued from a gaping wound there…best I could discern.still inflating and deflating like tiny grey bellows. his body bent and broken as if with spondylitis. Suddenly the floor around me was awash in blood. and grasping futilely at his throat. "Terry. With each beat of his heart.and turned to face Gill.with such ferocity and strength that Frost came up off the floor and onto the gurney with it. Larsh stood over the dying man. "Who did this to you Terry?" There was a wheezing pause then. producing a baleful wheeze the like of which even I hope never to hear again. and for a moment my vision was occluded by its contorted frame. Frost was gagging. as Larsh inhaled deeply. and then released their contents. the desiccated lungs dangling from the vicious rent in its chest . I lunged awkwardly to me feet. Lina. "The angles. sidestepped along the far side of the room. though whether this was an act of folly or murderous intent I could not say." Gill said before putting a slug between Larsh's blasted eyes. momentarily glad to find them both functioning. Larsh's face grew slack .as slack as physically possible. it was the splintered stub of Larsh's ulna that had pierced poor Frost's carotid artery. but strong." "I love you. and immediately took in the scene. ***** I spent the next several nights locked in a room pouring over what manuscripts and . The three of us crashed to the floor amid the broken gurney. Its pendulous lungs expanded like bladders near to bursting. It came from the angles. pushing air across brittle vocal cords.

So many times I wished myself back in Arkham. And I will need to know I can trust you. trust me." ***** She entered her office. i immediately closed the book an went to the constables stationed outside my room. She nodded to the men who stood watch over me in her absence. with full access to the Miskatonic archives! But on the fourth night I found what I was looking for in a tiny passage in the back of poorly translated copy of De Vermis Mysteriis. As soon as the door was shut she turned to me. and they exited with nary a word. there can be no games between us." "There isn't much to tell. But for even that. and most certainly not morning." "Terrence Larsh was killed by a Hound of Tindalos…creatures that dwell in the angles of time and relentlessly hunt those who trespass too egregiously in the timestream." "You have my promise. And your country's forays into deep time travel is a not-so-well-kept secret." "Something very bad. "Do you know about the Hounds of Tindalos?" "No. Herbert. Whether you know the details or not. this city is in a great deal of danger and from this point forward. "I need you to take me to Detective-Inspector Lina Walmsley. you will have to trust me. obviously weary." I paused for dramatic effect. "What have you found." . Do tell." "Doctor West.tomes I was able to bring with me. Surely this can wait 'til morning." "No. or was able to have brought to me on consignment from local collections. it's well past midnight. This can not wait for anything.

you have a greater problem than just the Hound?" She turned to me. in the crack of any sidewalk. Herbert." . but he was close to someone who was. still nodding. Terrence Larsh was no time-traveller. And they and everyone they know are being hunted right this very moment by a creature that can appear in the corner of any room. in the space of any doorway. Someone in Pnakotus has figured out our program. A thing well nigh impervious to harm. and that never ever ends a hunt before its quarry is dead. "Yes. its bulk casting us into shadow. A dirigible passed by." "Perhaps not. its hum filling our ears. "You do realize though."I can promise you. the slight nodding of her head the only indication she had heard my words at all." Lina looked out the window at her city.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful