Santa Monica, Angel City
Sunday, December 22, 2013
David Zabloski’s cell phone’s ringtone played the X-Files theme song indicating he had an incoming call.
He was busy making copies after deciding to stop by his office on a rainy Sunday evening, and by the time he snatched his iPhone off of his paper-strewn desk, the call had gone to his voice message. He hoped it was Debra, the attractive blonde he met at the shooting range two weeks ago. She found his job as an investigative reporter for The National Inquisitor interesting, while he found her interest in firearms equally alluring. They had gone on one date so far and she had promised to give him a call right before the holidays.
If the call was from Debra, the holidays would be looking pretty merry after all, David thought.
But as he looked at the message on his iPhone’s screen, the call was not from Debra as he had hoped. It was from someone he had not seen or spoken to in ages.
The screen text read…
Dr. James Lindon
Dr. James Lindon was David’s undergrad psychology professor at USC. It was Professor Lindon’s interest in the occult and in the paranormal which peaked David’s interest as well. David remembered how he, along with five other students, approached Dr. Lindon late one afternoon during the fall semester to ask their professor if he would help sponsor the Paranormal Psychology Club they wanted to form on campus.
It wasn’t surprising that Dr. Lindon was more than willing to sponsor the eager students. He even went as far as to host their monthly meetings at his Victorian style home in Pasadena.
After grad school and landing a job at the Inquisitor, Dr. Lindon would often call or email David, usually to praise or question David about his most recent article or blog. David didn’t mind the professor’s call. In fact, Lindon’s expertise in demonology, tribal sacrificial practices, and Victorian occultism, proved to be an invaluable source for some of David’s assignments.
David listened to the voice message.
Dr. Lindon’s voice sounded frantic. He said something about an important discovery he had made. He added that David would be definitely interested and should drop by to see him at Carthage College immediately.
David wasn’t able to make out much of anything else after the last part of Dr. Lindon’s message. It sounded like the professor had been distracted by something else and was then cut off in mid-sentence.
Curious, David tried calling back but it went straight to the professor’s voice message center. David left a message and grabbed his car keys. On the way out, he extended a holiday greeting to the front desk security guard before making his way to the parking structure.
By the time he turned onto Pico Boulevard, the sky had suddenly opened up in a downpour that forced David to turn his BMW’s wiper blades on high speed.
Carthage Community College, better known for its Liberal Arts program, was closed for winter break. But apparently, his former college professor was working overtime.
Clearly, Dr. Lindon hadn’t changed much.
David had just enrolled in Dr. Lindon’s course on Parapsychology in the Age of Enlightenment, at USC when he learned about the tragic and mysterious events surrounding the death of Dr. Lindon’s wife and only daughter.
As the news reported, Dr. Lindon’s wife and daughter were both found dead one night in their home. The coroner’s report indicated that both had been brutally killed after an apparent home-invasion robbery went terribly wrong. Dr. Lindon wasn’t home at the time of the tragedy. He had been on a sabbatical to continue his research on a lost Aztec tribe thought to have assimilated long ago with the local population.
For a while the police considered the professor as a suspect since there were no prints or evidence of a break-in found at the Lindons’ home. Fortunately, his colleagues and students vouched for his whereabouts as well proof from the Mexican government that he was in their country at the time of the murders.
Dr. Lindon was naturally devastated by what had happened. Despite going over the police report, Dr. Lindon knew that something else had gotten to his family. His own research showed that the attack on his wife and daughter may have been connected to any one of his own investigations into the paranormal, especially because of the way his wife and daughter’s body were found. Dr. Lindon knew that both had been ritualistically sacrificed. The evidence was clear despite how the coroner’s report failed to mention a crucial piece of evidence.
Both his wife and daughter’s hearts had been ripped out…while they were still alive! No traces of their hearts were ever found.
After the funeral, Dr. Lindon began investigating his family’s murders. Eventually his investigation ran cold. After a year, he lost his teaching position at USC. He began teaching Psychology at Carthage College in Santa Monica, while he quietly continued his lifelong quest to find out who—or what—was behind the deaths of his beloved wife and daughter.
David pulled up to an empty parking spot right next to the Psychology Department. The rain continued to come down hard as David stepped out of his car and ran into the nearby building. He was soaked to the bone by the time he found out where Dr. Lindon’ s office was located on the second floor.
Above him, the long hallway lights flickered as he walked up to the nearby elevator and pushed the button. The elevator’s doors opened just as the lights flickered again. David quickly reconsidered taking the elevator.
After going up a flight of stairs, David walked towards Dr. Lindon’s office. He knocked and found that the door was slightly ajar.
David took out his iPhone and tried calling the professor again. From inside the office, he heard a cell phone ringing.
He pushed open the door and found a typical professor’s office in size. What was different about Dr. Lindon’s office was how it was decorated—or rather, how it used to be decorated. The office was dimly lit by a flickering corner lamp and a small desk lamp.
The office was in shambles. The window had been shattered from the outside. Ancient texts and artifacts from Dr. Lindon’s numerous travels had been pulled from their shelves and lay scattered across the floor.
David carefully moved through the office, careful not to disturb anything he didn’t have to. He saw the black Android phone on the desk. He carefully picked it up and pushed the power button. A message across the screen showed three recent missed calls from David’s iPhone.
Looking down at the desk, David noticed a white sheet of paper with hastily scribbled words on it. The words on the bottom of the paper caught David’s attention first. He then read the rest of it.
All the deaths are related!
Hanging = Air!
Accident = Earth!
Drowning = Water!
??? = Fire. Kiln Fire?
Summoning the Howler of Truth!?!
Howler of Truth? He couldn’t place it, but he remembered reading about it somewhere.
A quick Google search on his iPhone—which he noticed was losing the normally strong signal—showed that the Howler of Truth was another name given to Jjrikillimsg, one of the Dark Gods; beings who according to most legends may be either super aliens, avatars of gods, or even infernal demon lords.
Skimming Spookipedia, a popular site for people like David, Jjrikillimsg was known as a god who had gone completely mad in a way no mortal can ever hope to understand or emulate. His titles include such epithets as the Insane, One Without True Form, Revealer of Secrets, and Enlightener of Closed Minds. If it has a true form, no one has ever recorded it. Jjrikillimsg flits between many forms, changing so rapidly that the human eye cannot keep up. Every now and then, however, he pauses in one form just long enough for the brain to analyze what it had seen. According to Spookipedia, madness usually follows shortly after anyone catches even a glimpse of this being.
David decided to keep looking around in hopes of finding some clue as what had happened to the professor, or who could have done it.
Several newspaper clippings from the Angel City Herald caught David’s attention. One was about a student named William Jefferson who had hung himself from the college’s flag pole. Apparently he gained access to the flagpole from a window in the art department.
Another article, dated after the first clipping, was about a student named Jane Hellmsbrook, an art major, who suffocated when a pit she was excavating at a local archaeological dig outside of Angel City collapsed in on her. The incident was reported as an apparent accident.
Another article was about Professor Helen Jacobson, of the college’s art department, who late one evening slipped and fell into the college swimming pool, and drowned. The next morning, her body was found by fellow art professor Ellis Fairchild.
David noticed that Dr. Lindon had written down, highlighted, or underscored Professor’s Ellis Fairchild’s name. Did Dr. Lindon suspected the art professor as being involved somehow? David wondered.
The sound of something shuffling behind him nearly caused David to jump out of his skin.
Turning around, David was surprised to see someone standing just outside Dr. Lindon’s office. At first he thought it was one of the college campus police officer, but the person looked more like a female college student.
Except that the female student’s body was terribly deformed!
Her back was badly curved into almost forming the letter S. Both of her arms were bent in awkward angles. Her long disheveled blond hair was draped across her face.
David tried to say something to the woman but she shuffled into the room, raised her right arm to reveal a knife held tightly in a gnarled grip, and moved towards David.
David considered reaching for the gun he kept on him, but thought better of it. Instead he tried to reason with the young woman who clearly was not interested in anything he had to say.
She let out a stifled groan and lashed at David with her knife. He dodged the attack then grabbed both of the woman’s arms and tried to pin her against the wall.
With a groan that reminded David of a scene straight out of the film, The Exorcist, the young woman easily broke free of his grip.
This woman is strong! David thought.
Stepping back, David grabbed a nearby chair and swung it at the woman. She easily slapped the chair to the side.
She tried to slash at David with the knife again. David barely managed to bring the chair up just as her knife cleanly sliced one of the chair’s leg off.
David raised the chair and brought it straight down on the deformed young woman. It struck the woman so hard that it splintered into several pieces. But fortunately, the impact also knocked the woman down to the floor.
David held on to what was left of the chair expecting the crazed woman to stand up and continue the fight. If she gets up again, I’m definitely using my gun! David thought in frustration.
But the young woman wasn’t moving anymore.
David bent down to check on her but just as he was about to check for a pulse, her skin began to bubble in spots across her entire body. Suddenly, a thick,, oily tar-like substance began oozing out of every one of the woman’s orifice. Before David could do anything, the tar-like ooze had entirely covered the woman’s body and had dissolved it.
Within seconds, nothing was left of the college student but a thin black stain where her body once was.
David didn’t know what to make of what he just saw but he knew enough from experience to know that whoever—or whatever—was behind Dr. James Lindon’s disappearance meant that his old professor was in grave danger.
Standing back up, David had a lot of questions running through his investigative mind.
And he knew exactly where he should begin looking for clues to what happened to his old friend, Dr. Lindon.
It was time to visit the Art Department!
To be continued in Winter Break: Act 2
David Zabloski (Investigative Reporter for The National Inquisitor)