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Chapter 12

“Scott?” I asked my phone, staring blankly at the tray of drinks that Nolan had just set on the table.“Yeah, it’s me. I’ve got Dr. Quillan here with me. Can you hear me all right?”“Yes. So it looks like we’re going to go in tonight and try to do this thing in, before they can unearth the Shoggoth. Nolan found some things out about it.”“What did he find?”

“Well, he found out that if you are three sheets to the wind, the Old One can’t really get a good grip on your mind. He found this out the old fashioned way, experimentally.”

“So you guys are going to get a little plastered and then go tackle this thing?”

“That’s the plan, so far. I just talked to Ned, who is stuck in the biological sciences building, and he has a variation on that plan, except that he’s a little squiffed, too.”

“What’s Ned thinking, then?”

“He is thinking of blowing up the anthro building where this thing is, or at least all four of the anthro buildings. A bit of overkill, but if there are no people around it, it might be the best way to go, better than tackling this thing in person. So, question for you, do you think this thing has people around it, helping it out, feeding it, guarding it, or whatever?”

“Hang on.” I hear some mumbling in the background as Scott discusses it. I seize the opportunity to slam down the brown volatile liquid that Nolan has placed in front of me. It was apparently Bourbon, which makes me gag a little bit. I never cared for the flavor of Bourbon. I chase it with the beer. “Quillan says that he doesn’t know. There’s nothing about this in any of the books he was able to read. But that doesn’t mean much, because a lot of this stuff isn’t really covered.”

“I guess that we should at least take a look, then. Maybe we can use Ned’s plan as sort of a backup, blow it up if we can’t seem to succeed in any other way.”

“Might be best.”

“Scott, did you find anything else out about this thing. Is there anything else Quillan has that we might be able to use?”

“Yeah, actually. I mentioned something to him about the squid, and what Ned and Marisa have been up to in the lab. Maybe I should let him tell you.”

“Fine with me.”

I down the rest of the beer as Scott puts Quillan on the line.

“Hello, is this Neal?” asks a grandfatherly voice distorted by digital signals making their way independently across an entire continent.

“Yes, Dr. Quillan?”

“Nice to meet you. This is rather sketchy, I’m afraid, but here’s what I remember from my notes. The squid apparently experienced a spectacular evolutionary punctuation right about the time these creatures are said to have first appeared on earth. Most of the records from the University’s polar expedition in the 1920s, where there was some attempt to translate pictorial murals in the city of the old ones, seem to show that the Old Ones primarily lived under the ocean, at a considerable depth. They fed upon squids of a number of different types. This led to a near total extinction of squid several times, of course, which fossil records are unfortunately mum about.”

“Doctor, I’m afraid I just don’t see where you are going with this and . . .”

“Patience, young man. I do have a point, here. It was during this time that the squids evolved their ink sacs, you see.”

“Okay.”

“Neal, their ink sacs evolved in response to the hunting, over a couple of millions of years.”

“So the ink is some sort of defense mechanism against the Old Ones?”

“No, no, not the Old Ones. The Old Ones don’t really go in for physical labor, you see. It would have been a defense against the Shoggoths. In fact, it appears to have been an excellent defense. You see, it is from the development of the ink sacs that we can date the time when the Old Ones and the Shoggoths both went into hibernation. The Old Ones constructed crypts, or maybe cocoons is a better word, for themselves and for the remaining Shoggoths. They constructed both out of materials that the Shoggoths could not penetrate. In this case, of course, they did not construct these out of ink. I believe that they did not have the ability to do this, but I really don’t know. There is a possibility that they constructed these crypts out of lead, which was another one of the findings of the polar expedition. But some of the murals from that expedition, in any case, seem to be showing that the ink actually destroyed the Shoggoths, at least the ones under the water. Pictures seem to show them actually dissolving.”

“But the ink doesn’t work on the Old Ones?”

“I’m afraid we just don’t know.”

“Then why would the Old Ones have made their cocoons out of lead? Maybe they are affected by the same materials the Shoggoths are.”

“They would have had to insulate themselves against the Shoggoths, which unchecked would have simply run out of control and destroyed them while they slept.”

“Great.”

Continued

“Well, I’m glad you think that that is great.  I’m glad to be of help, Neal.”

 

I was being sarcastic, a little, but not in an appropriate way, but there are some people, and elderly history professors are prominent among them, who are impervious to irony or sarcasm.  And, like I say, it was inappropriate.  It wasn’t his fault if we are all doomed.  I look over at Nolan and Travis, who seem to be enjoying their drinks, but with somber visages. 

 

“Thank you, Professor.  I hope you will keep your fingers crossed for us.”

 

“I will do no such thing, young man.  I hope that you do what needs to be done, but I won’t resort to superstitious nonsense.  One does well in these matters to maintain a level head, I find.”

 

I refrain from any comment about how we are stoking up with Bourbon and beer and reply “yes, of course, Professor.  Is there anything else that we ought to know before we get on with this?  Any insight from the books on this mystical religion, anything at all they wrote down that might help us do this Old One in?”

 

“You mean some ancient incantation, something like that?”

 

“Sure, anything you think might help.”  I’m thinking to myself that if he says the people here used to rub themselves with blue mud or dance around naked or whatever, I’m willing to give it a try at this point. 

 

“Neal, the religion of which you speak was not really well documented, I’m afraid.  The books, of which I have made copies that reside now in my home in Kellogg, are a hodgepodge of old Sumerian stories and testimony, mixed with accounts of the settlers who first came to that area of Massachusetts.  I suspect that you might just get into more trouble attempting to use any of it.  Trust in a high-powered rifle.  And I always preferred a good cognac—helps you relax with a clear head, I always found.”

 

“I can’t thank you enough, Professor.”

 

“Nonsense.  Sometimes I wish I had stayed there to help in a crisis like this.  I am probably going to come out and stay for a little bit, assuming you resolve the immediate problem.  Maybe if I had stayed none of this would have happened.”

 

Well, know way to know for sure.  We don’t blame you a bit.”

 

“I’m going to put Scott back on the phone now.  Keep alert, young man.”

 

“Thanks.”

 

Scott comes back on the line and wishes us luck and Nolan trots over to the bar for another round.  I hang up.

 

I stare into space for just a second and then get up, walking to the bar.  “I’d like a double cognac,” I say, “or brandy if you don’t have that.”

 

When we get back to the table I fill the other two in on the conversations I had with Marisa, Ned, Scott and Quillan.  The two of them are mostly silent throughout, but when I get to the part about the ink and the Shoggoth I can tell that Travis has something he wants to say.  So when I stop I look over at him.

 

“So the ink kills these Shoggoth things, permanently?”

 

“That’s what Quillan says.  Not sure it matters, cause we’re not under water or anything.  I feel like if we let this thing out at all it will be the end.”

 

“May be.  But maybe we could do something as a backup.”

 

“Like . . .”

 

“Well, you said that this Ned guy and that Marisa were making up some synthetic ink, right?”

 

“Right.”

 

“Well, I told you I worked on a drilling crew.  So I know how these things work.  Somewhere on campus they have to have a pool of drill mud.”

 

“Drill mud?”

 

“Yeah.  When they drill down they need some viscous sort of liquid to pump down that will bring the little bits of rock to the surface.  Otherwise the whole process gets clogged up and they don’t make any headway.  So there’s got to be a pool of mud somewhere.  If we put a bunch of ink in it, just in case, then it will go down into the whole with the drill bit.  As soon as they break through into this thing’s cocoon, or chamber, or whatever, the bit is going to enter it, and it’s going to be covered in this inky mud.  So is the hole itself, and the shaft.  This thing won’t be able to get out without touching the mud, the ink.  And maybe a bunch gets poured in.”

 

“And that will seal the deal permanently!” Nolan blurts out and jumps to his feet.  “So here’s the plan, mah friend.  We go rescue your friends in the biosci building.  Then we pack up some of this mud.  We throw it into the pond.  I know where it is.  I do!  Then we take care of this Old One the best we can.”

 

“Alright,” I say, kinda getting into the spirit of the thing after four drinks.  “Sounds like a plan.”  And I hold up my rather large wineglass full of brandy and toast.”

Nolan and Travis clink their glasses together with mine and I look down at the bag Nolan had brought. 

“Have you got one of these for me?”

 

“I have an old one, sorry, no pun wanted, there, that I don’t use anymore.  It is pretty powerful, more than the one Travis has, anyway.”

 

“Don’t you want it, Travis?  I’m not much of a shot, I think.”

 

Travis shakes his head.  “No, Mine’s full auto, like Nolan’s.”

 

“Automatic?”

 

“Yeah, I can lay down a steady stream of about 15 per second.  Nolan’s is a little better, maybe.”

 

Nolan nods his head and pulls out a smaller paintball gun, but still much bigger than a regular gun and with additional appendages sticking out all over the place.  “Best thing about this one though,” he says, “is that it has a laser sight.  So you keep calm and steady and you can’t really miss either.”

 

I heft the thing and he clicks a switch that turns on a bright green laser.  “Aren’t these things usually red?”

 

“Usually, but the green is brighter.  And after all, we aren’t trying to paint the place.  Maybe just putting the green dot on somebody will keep them from doing anything to us.”

 

“Okay.”

 

“But if you have to shoot, make sure you go for someplace vulnerable,” he says, pointing to his crotch. 

 

“You got it.  And Nolan, you’ve got something more powerful for the Old One?”

 

“Yeahup,” he belches, “I couldn’t bring it in, though.  It’s in Travis’ station wagon.”

 

Travis seemed a little more animated at this point. “It’s an old eight-bore,” he laughs, “you should see the mess it makes.”  Nolan just smiles proudly.  I have no idea what they are talking about, but I assume it will do the job.

 

“Well, I guess we’re all set, then.”  I look at the paintball gun Nolan handed me.  It seems pretty straightforward.  “You just pull the trigger, right?”

 

“Well, you take off the safety here, with your finger.  Then, you pull the trigger.  But you will destroy some of my priceless works of modern art if you pull that trigger in here.”

 

I look at some of the paintings on the wall and think about the modern art we are about to make of the campus flora and fauna.  “I guess we should get going.  I’ll call Ned and Marisa while we are driving and tell them we are on our way.”

 

Take me to Chapter XIII

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Comments»

1. Chapter 12 begins « Sure as a Blog Returns to its Vomit - November 25, 2006

[…] I made a start on Chapter 12 of my novel for NaNoWriMo last night.  It isn’t much of a start, but I wanted desperately to reach the 45,000 word mark.   By the time I had finished I was too tired to post the thing.  Anyway, for those following along, Chapter 12 starts here. […]


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