Gretchen knew there were spells for getting rid of haunting demons but she didn’t know them. She had avoided such areas of study. She had learned some spells on her own and others her father forced her to learn. But demonology hadn’t been high on their list of priorities.
She was walking back from Beth’s apartment late at night. It was fun to “hang out” which involved conversation and watching movies. She had heard the term before in high school and always thought it was a code for something more complex or clandestine.
But Beth needed those spirits gone. They were powerful and they were hungry. If they stayed they’d eventually cause Beth harm. Unfortunately there was only one place where she knew where to possibly find the spell to cleanse her of these haunting demons.
The forbidden collection at the library.
She was not going there. She knew a few little beginner spells that could keep the demons at bay for a short while. That would do for now. Better a few shadow demons than open the wrong book and attract unwanted attention.
As she walked back to her dorm she saw a girl walking across the green toward her. As the girl came closer she saw that it was someone from her swim team: an annoying girl named Debby who looked at her like everyone did back in high school.
“I thought it was you. I could see that tangled mop of white hair from across the campus,” Debby said.
She ignored her like she learned to do with bullies in high school. It wasn’t like the films they watched in health class where the bullies were merely crying for attention and love or would retreat if stood up to. No indeed. They would simply come back and bring their friends and make a bad situation worse. They always had like minded friends and they were always capable of making the situation worse.
“Got nothing to say, weirdo?”
Gretchen kept walking away but then Debby started following her.
“I earned a scholarship to come here. I was the best swimmer in the state. Who the hell do you think you are? I heard rumors about you. I heard you’re from some creepy little cult town. You sit at home all day reading nothing but the Bible and think TV is the devil’s invention and music makes you into sinners?”
Gretchen walked on.
“I’m going to tell everyone about you. Soon, they won’t care how good a swimmer you. You’ll never be team captain because no one will want a creepy cultist for the captain. I’m going to make sure everyone knows!”
Finally the girl gave up and began walking the other way.
This girl wasn’t blustering. She was out to ensure that Gretchen would never succeed and that was the one thing she absolutely had to do.
Gretchen turned and began following Debby.
She stayed far back, but still close enough to see where she was going. Debby never looked around her, supremely confident in her place in the universe. Her arrogance proved her ignorance.
Gretchen herself was an insignificant speck, but she had her place as well and Debby was determined to ruin that place. Gretchen was going to stop her.
She watched as Debby came to an apartment building and unlocked a door on the bottom floor. She had a room to herself or her roommate was out.
Gretchen was already forming her plan in her head. She knew how to stop her.
She stayed outside the apartment until the lights went out and then she waited a little longer. When she was reasonably sure Debby was asleep, she went to the door. It was locked.
Quietly chanting the spell of ‘opening’ she waved her hand and heard the lock ‘click.’ Then the door opened.
She hated resorting to dark magic but she had been raised with it and father made sure she knew enough of it. A vile tool, but right now it was a useful one.
Gretchen walked in and closed the door behind her. For a while she stood there, silent and still. She let her eyes adjust and listened. She heard nothing except the gentle humming of the fridge.
Then she walked into the first bedroom and found someone sleeping there, but it wasn’t Debby. She looked around the cluttered room and its pink decorations. One wall was covered in paper stars sloppily taped to the wall in a rainbow shape. Useless tripe.
She then crept into the next room and there she found Debby sleeping. She closed the door behind her.
Her plan had two parts.
First she began chanting a ‘sickness’ spell called “Sanguine Occulas.” It would make Debby run a very high fever, loose all strength and appetite until she was a wraith of herself and eventually bleed from the eyes. It wasn’t lethal but Debby would soon wish it were.
As she quietly chanted she felt the air in the room grow colder and thicker. She took out her curved, golden knife and cut her palm. She let the blood drip down onto Debby’s forehead.
Gretchen said the final lines, a petition to Yog Sothoth. She felt her skin crawl just mentioning that terrible deity’s name.
Once the spell was finished she knew it had worked. She could feel the dark energy sinking into Debby’s body. By morning she wouldn’t be able to get out of bed.
The second part of her plan was the unnecessary part. But it was the part that would give her the most satisfaction. She was no mindless automaton without feelings. For years she had to put up with people like Debby and now that she had finally found a place she belonged, she wasn’t going to put up with it any longer.
“May your dreams turn to nightmares,” she said in the ancient, corrupted language of what men would later call “Atlantis.” She pronounced the spell and made sure that all Debby would dream about this night were horrible, eldritch creatures lurking in the shadows and tentacled horrors seeping into the world from the seams between dimensions.
Her work finished, Gretchen slowly walked out of the apartment and continued on her way home. One thing that father taught her that she actually agreed with was that she should never let anyone or anything stop her from accomplishing her goals. Debby got in the way so she had been removed from her path.
Once home she took a shower and lay down to sleep.
However, her dreams were filled with nightmares as well. Only it wasn’t due to some vengeful spell, it was something else. Something was clawing away at the back of her mind like a siren in the distance.
She had dreams of a storm tossed ocean with white capped waves crashing violently over each other. As the storm grows worse dark shapes begin to rise from the ocean.
She knew at once what the dream was. She could hear the inhuman chanting and mad piping as the corpse city rose from the waters. Within that city she knew the Dreadful Cthulhu lay, waiting to rise again when the stars were right.
She had dreamed this dream before but never so vividly. This time she could feel the waves and see the after glow of the lighting that tore the sky apart.
Something was different this time.
Gretchen woke in the morning not feeling well rested. She felt drained. Perhaps it was from using magic she was not used to or the terrible dreams that made her toss and turn all night.
She dressed and laced up her black boots. She met Beth in the cafeteria for breakfast and found that Beth also looked ill rested.
“Did you not sleep well?” Gretchen asked.
Beth looked up with bags under her eyes.
“No, not at all. I kept having these weird nightmares all night.”
“Nightmares? What manner of nightmares?”
“I don’t remember a lot of it, but I remember a huge storm and a sunken city.”
“What else did you see?” Gretchen asked, afraid of the answer.
“The city was ancient and I mean ancient as in older than cavemen. I don’t know how I know. It’s a dream and all. I heard this crazy chanting and saw a huge doorway. In my dream I walked toward the doorway which was like the size of a baseball field, but it was all this weird stone. I knew something horrible was behind the door and I was afraid to open it but I kept walking towards it. I don’t remember anything after that.”
She had had this dream and her father had had it, but she had never known anyone else to have it. What did it mean if Beth dreamed it as well? She was surely no relative to the people of Innsmouth.
“I had the same dream last night,” Gretchen said.
Beth was about to laugh but stopped herself.
“If anyone else would have said that, I would have thought they were pulling my leg. But you’re odd enough that I believe you.”
“Please don’t call me odd.”
“So, what does this mean? We got a psychic bond with each other?”
“A psychic bond, perhaps, but not with each other.”
She opened up her laptop and connected to the school’s wi-fi. She was going to look up if there had been any strange occurrences in the news. It took her much less time than she would have guessed. As she opened up her homepage, Yahoo mail, she saw a big news article about an earthquake and huge storm in the pacific.
She knew that it had to be connected. A similar thing had happened in the 20,s and everyone in Innsmouth had celebrated thinking the day of Cthulhu’s awakening had arrived. But then R’leyh slipped back into the waters.
Had it risen again? If it has, has it risen to stay? The worry began to knot in her gut. If Cthulhu awakes then there wasn’t a force in the world that could stop him.
After classes she met David in the library. Gretchen was looking through old books about demonic hauntings. So far they had all been utterly useless and the knowledge that it contained was often wrong or woefully incomplete. Any book in her father’s library would contain ten times the amount of useful information than these books.
Also, none of these really said how to get rid of a demonic enemy.
“What are you looking up?” David asked as he sat down next to her.
“Beth is having trouble with demonic entities. I’m researching how to rid her apartment of them but the search has proved fruitless.
“Wait…she’d being haunted by demons? That crap is real?”
“Of course it is. Why would you say otherwise?”
Now she was confused. She thought outsiders at least knew about ghosts and demons. She had heard talk of reality shows that chased ghosts.
“I didn’t know they were real.”
“Of course they are. Do you not watch the television shows where they hunt for ghosts?”
“I have, but that doesn’t mean it’s real.”
“They’re ignorant and amateurish, but they do stumble across the real thing on occasion. I’ll never understand what you outsiders know and don’t know. Even when presented with the truth you ignore it or don’t see it at all.”
“It’s what the people of my town call everyone else.”
She closed her book in frustration and leaned back in her chair.
“This library is dreadfully inadequate,” Gretchen said.
“I bet they have the right books in there,” David said pointing to the forbidden section.
“No. We won’t go in there.”
“Just a suggestion.”
“Then don’t suggest it.”
They met at David’s apartment where they watched a strange cartoon called “Samurai Champloo.” It was a cartoon about feudal Japan, yet it was rife with cultural and historical inconsistencies, but it seemed to do it on purpose. She tried to understand all the humor but sometimes she simply didn’t “get it” as Beth called it.
David pored her a the green drink called “Mountain Dew” that she loved from the cafeteria.
“I love this beverage,” Gretchen said.
“Of course you do. You have good taste,” David said.
They drank copious amounts of Mountain Dew and watched “anime” all night.
When she finally returned to her dorm she found a letter from home had been slid under her door. It was from father. He must have had someone take the letter to the neighboring town where the post office was.
She opened the letter and read:
To my daughter, Gretchen Marsh. As I hope you well remember, I sent you to Miskatonic University with certain guidelines, rules and orders. I trust you are not associating with outsiders nor revealing what you may know. Now, however is the time to carry out an order. I need you to go to the Forbidden Collection in the library and retrieve or copy a page from the book of Eibon. It is in an incomplete state, but it has the page that I require.
She quit reading and tossed the letter on her table.
He clearly didn’t know what he was asking. She did not have access to the forbidden section. But she couldn’t refuse an order. Refusal would mean he would withdraw her from school and that was something she could not allow to happen. She needed to stay in school. It was her only way out of Innsmouth.
There was no choice. She had to obey. She picked the letter back up and read the description of the page. From the symbol drawn on it she saw that it was some manner of spell and an ancient one at that.
Very well, she would retrieve this page.
She waited till three in the morning and went to the library. She knew it had electric alarms if she so much as touched the door. Father had taught her a spell for such cases. She chanted the spell and a sphere of stasis enveloped the door. That would keep any alarm from sounding. Next she opened the lock with a spell and entered the dark library. She couldn’t risk a flashlight so she stumbled through the dark with her hands out until she came to the door that led to the forbidden section.
This was the last place she wanted to be and she hated her father all the more for making her come here. This was a part of her life she wanted to get away from. But like the situation with Debby, she would have to use the dark tools she had been given. There wasn’t a choice.
She would do this and go back to being a normal student and pretend it never happened.
Gretchen used a spell to open the locked door and she walked into the room where the forbidden collection was. It wasn’t just books, though there were plenty of those. There were also artifacts. In one glass case was the fossilized impression of an Old One. In a glass case on the far side was the English language version of the Necronomicon. And next to that was the rarer and more accurate Latin translation. To have two such books would make any Believer a force of terrible evil.
Then she found the book of Eibon. She had seen drawings of it. It was a tattered codex of Late Roman times and it was missing about half of its pages.
She cast another spell to freeze time inside a bubble and she removed the glass. She put on her white gloves and carefully looked through the pages until she came to the right one.
It was a long process of casting spells to avoid setting off the alarms but she eventually made it to the copier machine and made a copy. Then she carefully put the page back, returned the glass lid and left the forbidden collection.
When she stepped outside and didn’t see policemen she knew she had succeeded. She hurried back to her room and sealed the hideous page in an envelope.
With that done she breathed a sigh of relief and went to sleep. At least she would be swimming tomorrow. That would take her mind off of things.