This entry to #SaturdayScenes is a true web exclusive. It’s something I was originally going to put in the appendices for The Dismal Tide, but never got around to. It concerns itself with the mysterious ‘Man in Black’, Mr. Gentry, the creepiest character that the East End Irregulars have encountered to date. Astute readers may notice a connection to the weird fiction of Manly Wade Wellman in his backstory.
Who is he? Where does he come from? What’s the deal with his non-matching eyeballs? You may find some answers below…
RECORD OF DEPOSIT
Anomalous Artifacts Collection
K.H. Pursuivant Memorial Library
Houdini Center for the Prevention of Paranormal Crime
Danbury, New England
Catalog #: 0018A4977GF02
Item: Tunnel Mystery Codex
Description: One (1) book, approximately 6.25″ wide by 9.5″ tall, 561 intact pages, at least five pages previously removed. Cover of tanned leather, origin unknown. Binding of hair and sinew, origin unknown. No visible text except for bottom right corner of first page, scrawled in human blood: ‘I, Oscar Felix Tychonius Gentry, Kadmoni, submit.”
Entered: April 8, 2007
Special Tags: Telepathic Hazard, Low Concern
Notes: Retrieved from The Tunnel Rare Books and Curiosities, East 59th Street, New York, on or about December 14th, 2006. The Center was contacted by a female store employee who believed the book was somehow dangerous and offered to turn it over. Employee couldn’t speak with certainty about where the book was originally obtained, but it was sold to the store by a homeless man who claimed to have found it in the basement of a building that had recently been demolished. The homeless man was originally turned away, but the shop owner intervened. Employee said he declared it “interesting” and thought it “might be a grimoire,” though there was no text. The employee remarked that she felt extremely unsettled when in the presence of the book, and that merely touching the cover was enough to provoke a panic attack. Initial investigation showed the book had a sympathetic intensity of 35 Rhine, just above the threshold of triggering a neurological response in non-talents. A psychometric survey was performed and analysts reported “rapid impression of disturbing, but indistinct images and sounds,” and so a Telepathic Hazard flag has been applied. Entered into secured storage pending further investigation.
From: Hogan, Gerry (ghogan@khp:houdini)
To: Rigdon, Dr. Joshua (jjrigdon@khp:houdini)
Subject: Mystery Codex Incident, Possible Contamination
This message was sent with a High Priority.
Boss, I know you said not to bother you, but I thought you’d want to know about this right away. There was an incident this morning when The Tunnel Mystery Codex was taken out of storage and sent to the labs. They were going to do a spectrographic analysis on the dark room, and since it was tagged as Low Concern, we sent it off with Julie and an intern. Nobody said anything about not reading it since there didn’t seem to be anything in it, but evidently the text became visible in the dark. A whole lot of text, allegedly.
The intern flipped out. Ran out of the room crying and screaming about “letters of cold fire.” We had to sedate him. He’s off for psychiatric observation, now. Julie seemed OK. She closed the book, locked it up, turned the lights back on, and went through a debriefing. A little stressed, but nothing obviously wrong with her, so I OKed her return to duty. Now, though, I’m not sure that was a good idea. She’s taciturn and, well, she’s a little scary. It’s hard to explain. She’s got this glazed, dead look in her eyes. Ten minutes ago, I heard her asking Conroy how long the firing range was open.
We put the book back in secure storage for now. Obviously, I was unprepared for this. I hope you give me some direction.
From: Rigdon, Dr. Joshua (jjrigdon@khp:houdini)
To: Hogan, Gerry (ghogan@khp:houdini)
Subject: Re: Mystery Codex Incident, Possible Contamination
1. PULL YOUR HEAD OUT OF YOUR ASS AND KEEP JULIE AWAY FROM THE ARMORY! Have her committed for observation IMMEDIATELY! I swear to Christ, if I read about a mass shooting in Danbury tonight and your name isn’t among the list of casualties, you’ll wish it was.
2. How long have you worked for me, now? 15, 16 years? How is it that, after all that time, you’re “unprepared” for a run-of-the-mill spookup like this? This is basic containment 101. If you don’t know the procedures by now, you’d damn well better get acquainted with them. While you were typing that email, I was out paddleboarding in the lagoon. What if I hadn’t gotten back to you for two hours? You’d still be sitting on your hands when Julie pumped your guts full of lead, probably.
I didn’t leave you in charge because I think you’re a swell guy, you know. You’re in charge because I thought you could handle it. If I have to start canceling my vacations because you’re incompetent, then you’ll be looking for a new job, and it won’t matter how closely you’re related to the director.
3. As for the ‘Tunnel Mystery Codex’, it sounds like what we have is a copy of a Deep School manual, the first we’ve ever gotten our mitts on. Keep it locked up and cancel all further analysis until I get back. Update the tags to ‘High Concern’ and ‘No Visual Inspection.’ And, above all, DO NOT LOSE TRACK OF THIS BOOK!
Now, I haven’t had a proper vacation in 18 months, so I’m going back to the beach. I won’t be back from Guardalavaca until next Thursday and, unless everyone starts scrawling Yellow Signs on the bathroom walls or admin wants me to move my office again, I expect not to be interrupted. If you bother me for anything less catastrophic than that, you’d better start dusting off that resume.
If you haven’t read The Dismal Tide yet, you can pick it up our illustrated ebook for $3.99 to find out more about Mr. Gentry. And if you have read, why not leave a review on Amazon, B&N, or Goodreads?