Finale – Now Available!
My one, calls the voice. My only one.
Dr. Blood snorts. “Not the only one, diabolus. Your dalliances are numerous beyond reckoning.”
None of any consequence, it purrs.
“What of the Machinist, then? Von Mundo, in his tower of sorcerous steel.”
Okay, well, yeah, it coos. I guess there was The Machinist.
“There was also an entire cult.”
I get lonely sometimes, replies the voice, its tone matter-of-fact.
Dr. Blood’s fist tightens twice, without apparent effect. The third such maneuver is different: in this last squeeze, it is as though something roars to life in his palm: deep violet, and searing, but above all quiet. He exhales, slow and shuddering, as this phenomenon engulfs him.
The knob turns slow and then opens, a chik followed by a creeee, but wisps of hot smoke bite these sounds and they are devoured.
He sees The Scholar first, slumbering soundlessly. Nearly entombed in books, black Omnibus is laid over his crossed legs. Fixed in its grimoire-mount is a volume on Attenuation Theory, compiled by Professor Tycho Emeritus Brahe. The Scholar’s mouth curves ever so slightly upward, no doubt at some wholly illusory victory taking place deep some useless dream.
Face down on his chest is a volume of poetry by Samantha Whiting. Dr. Blood manages to suppress his vomit.
From within a leaning sarcophagus, snoring of a profound and dedicated sort bursts in a staccato rhythm. The Brute, then. Good. He did not sense things as others did, and a cage of gold and iron suited the Doctor’s purpose.
The “Vault” - which could just as easily and just as truthfully be called the “Closet” - held all manner of items which would ordinarily have been of tremendous interest to Doctor Blood. An evil comb, most likely mephit in origin. A grim calendar, whose kittens belied its hideous catalogue of alien observances and subterranean festivals. To his left, a chalk-white skull bobs in a great jar. That’s great as in “large,” as opposed to great as in “truly amazing.” The jar wasn’t anything to write home about. Unless your mother had specifically asked you to find a big jar, and then write immediately home.
To the right,
Here I am, said the voice. And it was.
Take me up, said the Necrowombicon, the ancient wombus on the cover gaping in its perpetual rictus. Seize me, and we will claim your Hesti—
“I will assemble your accursed collection, diabolus,” spits Dr. Blood, incisor touching incisor, his jaw hanging like a dog’s, gripping the volume with a rough hand, turning quickly on his heel. “But you will hide that name in your spine, secret beneath the binding, and speak it never.”
Hestia, says the book.