The Armitage Files
Tears Of Azazoth: I insist to the others that this dread volume is so much flim-flammery, a nonexistent thing. A feverish rumor in the greedy hearts of certain London booksellers. A risible whisper among the most corruptly sensualist dilettantes of the occult underground. A cover composed of an unknown substance, jet-inky and yet with the thinness and pliability of onion skin? The mesmerizing ensign on the cover? Surely it is a fictional imagining, found in the pages of Dunsany or Machen, regurgitated as half-remembered legend.
The Circus: May be one of several traveling carnivals traveling up and down the eastern seaboard. Not technically a circus, I suppose, without a big top and performing elephants, yet somehow the other term seems coarse, unseemly. At any rate, have placed discreet calls to law enforcement officials. Their view of all such entertainments is a dim one. This colors my attempt to narrow them down from the merely dissolute to the truly occultic.
I have two names for strongmen (is that the plural?), suggesting separate accounts of two itinerant shows: Vladimir Krotkin and Sergei Garkalin. First name may have been garbled; witness’ command of foreign names perhaps shaky. In each instance of the story the strongman was an intimidating force, violently preventing entry to the freak show tent, where the true secret was to be found.
New England League Of Amateur Astronomers: a.k.a (N.E.L.A.A.) — pronounced Neela, as in a woman’s name
- club for stargazers — members appeared drawn throughout greater Miskatonic river basin — meetings monthly — $2 full membership; $1 auxiliary — no doubt to Mrs. Pickman’s chagrin, showed the Inquiry’s utmost largess, paying full $2 — field trips include visits to isolated and craggy hilltops “so as better to see the stars” — heard a bizarre theory of a concept of “light pollution”, whereas the luminescences of cities would grow ever brighter, so that future generations would be able to see the heavens properly only from the deepest woods or hermitic mountaintops, the only places on earth where purest blackness would still rule — issue a newsletter (have so far read sixteen issues, all of them stultifying and devoid of esoteric import) — Christmas social held always on December 21st — questioned occult significance of this (obliquely) to organization president Thomas Ongine. Laughed and pointed out obvious appeal of solstice to astronomers. “Always darkest before the dawn.” Bit of a hayseed. Plays traditional music on old guitar. Says bad times leave people little appetite to gaze at the spheres celestial.
Peculiar incident the other day at home. Doorbell rang to find a man standing there carrying sample volume of home encyclopedia. Very young for the job. Late twenties, freckled. Yet something hard about him, around the eyes. As if he’d seen too much already. But my first glimpse of him was all smiles, as he sheepishly looked at my tweed jacket and pipe and general professorial demeanor and realized that I would not be a candidate to purchase his line of general interest educational volumes. I was about to politely dismiss him when the housekeeper spotted the fellow, noted his likely thirst in that damnable maternal manner of hers, and invited him into the kitchen for lemonade. Philip was his name, or perhaps his last name was Philips. The housekeeper drew him out on personal matters—his marriage, children. Seemed eager to change the subject. He eyed my bookshelves hungrily. The man turned out to be quite the auto-didact. There is no personality type more consistently wearisome to the professional man of letters. Insensible to my attempts to deflect and deflate him, his rambling discourse quickly encompassed such topics as Atlantis, eugenics, and (it goes without saying) Roosevelt’s secret socialist leanings. I waited for his tumbling words to reach their inevitable conclusion—the usual litany of vituperations against the Hebrew race. Instead his blurtings disembarked at the second most likely station: the threat represented by Freemasonry. As I subtly ushered him toward the door, his accusations took an odd turn. He claimed that most masonic groups were ordinary and harmless, but that a very few had been taken over by followers of Satan. He mentioned the Helping Hands service group (which, unlike Circle Rite Lodge is not in fact affiliated with the masonic movement.) At least two, perhaps three, local chapters had given themselves over to murder and sacrifice. The voluble salesman claimed to have peered accidentally into a meeting held in a barn, where he saw a hobo led in, shackled and bleeding. He ran away before he was seen, but was sure that the poor wretch was destined for the knife. Sensing my disbelief, the salesman became indignant. He heard an “inhuman chant”, he claimed, that he could not get out of his head. Then, to my evident startlement, he echoed the all-too-familiar summons to the black goat of the woods: “Iä! Shub- Niggurath!” At this point the young man seemed to take my shock for guilty knowledge, gasping that I was “One of them,” and that he had been “led into a trap.” Dropping the empty lemonade glass to the floor, he bolted for the door. Abandoned brochures fluttered in his wake. Though it may be possible to contact him through his company, we must first devise a means of approach to overcome his skittishness. Given our limited resources, I am inclined to allow this odd incident to lie momentarily fallow. There was something about the man that did not sit right. I cannot decide if he was sincere, sincere but deluded, or playing a curious game of some sort, meant to lure me down a dark alley.
A witness report says that two automobiles left for the aforementioned hospital on the night in question, one a black roadster, the other a battered pickup truck. They were last seen rounding Crown Hill. In the back of the truck were large unidentified objects covered with a large blanket, possibly of burlap. The informant indicated that something writhed beneath the blanket, but when pressed could not rule out the simple possibility that the wind blowing upon it made it look as if animated from below.