My Holiday in the Peak District, day 21

Dark-clouds-over-Chrome-landscapeDay 1234am4pm711, 17.

It is now ten days since we last ate. Even the honey with which I rendered the bitter tea palatable has run out. I suspect Charteris of stealing tiny amounts each day, and whenever I am now forced to drink such amaroidal stuff I must quell a rage that swells in my chest and throat. I fear it is not part of me but that thing within me that was summoned here, and that as I grow weaker it grows stronger.

Trapped in this Cimmerian gloom, I struggle to recall what daylight looks like. All there is is lethargy and a sense of inevitable withering.

The thin and desperate cries of Dyson and MacReady have fallen silent now.

Something is moving around out there.

Charteris shambled fitfully around the cottage, regressing into the very likeness of a villager, his hands becoming awkward appendages, capable only of clenching and clutching. Occasional moments of lucidity interrupted his constant mumbling occasionally, but it was clear his sentience was fading. He slept a lot, but restlessly. He tossed and turned as if animated by some idiot cosmic puppeteer, his strings badly tangled. He would, with persistent dull regularity, awake screaming in terror. When I tried to quiet him, he muttered over and over that ‘It is gone, it is gone’. After several days of such obscure maunderings, I realised that he had been dreaming about the crypt, about the stone face in the wall. He has infected my imagination. Even now, when I try to recall that strange grotto, I can visualise it perfectly, but the face is no longer there.

The odd thing about going so long without food is that I am too exhausted to do anything, yet too exhausted to sleep. My face is the colour of bruises. There is a rash spreading on my left arm. I found a patch of that fungus there and scrubbed at it too hard with a toothbrush. Cleansing my flesh, I broke the skin and gave it a way inside me. I scratch at it without realising until blood coats my arm.

Each day I press on slowly with my work on the printout of the writing on the tablets. My head is too blurry. The script remains elusive, dancing just outside the reach of my stumbling intellect. It taunts me.

I would not have done it.

It was not me that did it. It was that thing that he brought here inside me.

Several days ago, Charteris started wandering up to me at random moments and shaking me violently, interrupting my concentration. He kept claiming I was in a trance, incanting the ancient words on the sheets before me. He would not understand that it was impossible for me to do so, that there was no way for me to pronounce a language that had not been uttered on this world in millennia.

He will never understand now.

But as I sit here, alone at last, I cannot help but wonder whether he was speaking some kind of truth. My mind has not always been as focused as I claimed. With my disrupted sleep, it is no wonder I sometimes drift off a little while poring over these archaic texts. Perhaps in a state of hypnagogic liminality my consciousness slips, and whatever it is inside me that was summoned here gains egress from the realm in which it has been confined and some tendril of its dreadful being possesses me.

That would explain it.

That would explain how Charteris came to be lying at my feet, his head not merely bludgeoned but crushed – caved in, as if by the exertion of some monstrous pressure on skull.

It would explain how his blood came to be mingled with mine on my hands and arms.

At least I need no longer go hungry.

Final day

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