I discovered her name was Rebecca—the state trooper, that is—as we had a quick breakfast at a diner. Normally, I have no appetite in the mornings and confine myself to caffeinated drinks but this particular morning I was simply ravenous. As we ate, we discussed our plan for the day. I would follow her truck out to the cabin and the lake, once there she would conduct her business and I would collect the belongings of poor dead Young and send them back east to Miskatonic.
As we neared the lake, the state patrol truck suddenly dropped from my vision. I madly stomped on my brakes, but the gravel road slid along with me and after a slight period of near weightlessness, my car slammed into the ground, burying the front end in mud and my teeth clicked together and I tasted blood.
"Be lucky your airbags didn't deploy," said Rebecca as I stumbled out of my car, "they cost more to replace than your car is worth."
"Thanks," I said, and spat a wad of blood and spit onto the mud at my feet.
After a brief investigation, I noted that the road had dropped about five feet, and she concluded that there must have been a subsidence, like a miniature sinkhole, underneath the road. It was as good an explanation as I could have found, and I turned my attention to my car.
"You're gonna need a tow, we can get one out later. Why don't you grab your stuff, lock up your car and let's get going."
Accepting her dominance over the situation, and her truck which was no worse for the wear, I did as she suggested. And soon we had reached the cabin.
It was a modest affair, a single level, a main room with two small rooms divided on the center of the cabin. One was a bedroom and the other had kitchen appliances. Nothing in either of those rooms was of even the most remote of interest. What drew both of our attention was the work space spread out over a desk and a dining table in the main room.
Young had certainly been working.
Spread out were notebooks, filled with rapid scrawling, cross-referenced to other notebooks he had kept. I opened a cardboard file box to reveal a series of binders, I pulled one from the middle and opened it. It appeared to be photocopies of an ancient book. "Cultes des Goules" was the title on the cover, written by a Comte d'Erlette. I pulled another "Unaussprechlichen Kulten" by von Jutzt. Another, the "Book of Iod", Latin translation by Johann Negus. A fourth "Necronomicon", this one was specifically defined as being a Latin edition by an Olaus Wormius. The box had a dozen more binders, no doubt filled with many more arcane volumes.
I flipped open the Necronomicon binder. The photocopies weren't of the best quality, but it was apparently good enough for Young, who had made himself busy annotating Latin passages. I could not read Latin, so I concentrated on the notes; which were mostly two sets of numbers. They corresponded to numbers on the notebooks, and then pages within the notebook.
I found the first notebook in number order and opened it.
Young had apparently been studying Native American rituals, ones which had been carried out at this very lake. The notes didn't always make sense, but I read on. Young had sketched out a rough synopsis here in this first notebook. It appeared as if he was writing a book, and this was his introduction; from which he would continue on to the more esoteric items, obscure chants and symbolism which were contained within later numbered notebooks. I turned to mention this to Rebecca, but she had left to do her business so I continued to read.
I was unaware of passage of time, the subject was simply fascinating. The rituals practiced by the natives around this region were apparently nearly identical to recorded rituals carried out elsewhere in the world. In South America—which was explainable due to geographic connection—but he also cited rituals in Ireland, the Basque portions of Spain, pre-Bantu settlements in Africa, Siberian tribal rituals and Australian Aboriginal religion. Apparently, there were nearly identical religious rituals across the planet; as if they were the final vestiges of an ancient universal faith.
And this entire thesis culminates in Young revealing the existence of an artifact which links them all together. A rock, he wrote, of peculiar qualities. It was apparently an inky black; unidentifiable by science, nothing quite like it existed anywhere else on the planet except at these key spots—which is exactly how Young described it, a key. I assumed this meant a key to fitting together his thesis. And this artifact, Young recorded, was located on a bluff overlooking the lake.
When I had finished the first notebook and looked at my watch, it was already afternoon. I decided to further survey my surroundings, so I walked outside. And in front of me was Rebecca talking with an old Indian man. The man waved to me, seemed to know me.
"He calls himself 'Old Jim'," Rebecca spoke as if he weren't standing a foot away, "He's some kind of local spiritualist. I've heard talk that he wanders around." Then she whispered "Alzheimer's."
"Old Jim can hear you," Old Jim said, a dazed look in his eyes, "Old Jim hears everything." He spoke in a surprisingly clear voice. "Old Jim's no fool. He heard the wind. He heard the noises. He knows what's happening, what's happened before. Poor young Young didn't listen to Old Jim."
I interrupted him, "What do you know of Adam Young?"
Old Jim turned to me, his dazed look becoming cloudy and haunted. "Young Young thought it was myth, summoned the black goat. Young Young didn't read his books. Didn't heed the warnings. Old Jim tried to tell him. Old Jim tried to help. The black goat came with her young. And the screams came too. You've seen, Mister. I saw you in your dreams. Teeth shining in the black."
Suddenly, Old Jim turned and walked away.
"Alzheimer's." said Rebecca dismissively.
I filed away this exchange in my mind. Perhaps it would make sense with more reading. Telling her what I had already read, digesting it into some key points, I suggested that we climb the bluff which overlooked the lake to try and find the stone and that perhaps its periphery contained some clues. It was not a tall bluff, perhaps a hundred feet. You could not see the cabin from its height, as the cabin was sunk into a pine forest—nor could you even see the lake from the cabin, the only evidence of it being the occasional sloshing of water at the shore. And sure enough the rock was readily identifiable.
It was on a flat outcropping which projected from the bluff itself. It had the appearance of being thrust into the very living rock. A black spike, about six feet tall, fairly square with sides about a foot wide, stuck out in a field of grey limestone. I walked up to it and gingerly placed my hand on it and quickly pulled it back. The rock was far too cold. The surrounding limestone was fairly warm to the touch due to the sun beating down upon it. But the rock, the "key" as Young had put it, was as cold as winter.
Rebecca called to me, and pointed out concentric sets of holes in the limestone. She suggested that it was some kind of calendar, like Stonehenge. But I shook my head, filled with a sudden realization.
I had seen this before. I had been here before. I just had to orient my perspective to match it perfectly. I had been here in my dream.
"We have to find Old Jim." I told Rebecca.
She asked why, and I told her.
She said, "You're as insane as he is. But, OK. We'll have to do it tomorrow, though. It's a good ways walk for him to get back to the Rez."
So we made our way back to the cabin, which had been opened in our absence.
I ran inside and saw that nothing appeared to be missing, just rearranged. A different notebook was open. As I began to page through he, I heard an anguished cry from outside.
The tires of Rebecca's truck were flat, they had been ripped to shreds. "A bear or mountain lion", she guessed. It took her a while on her radio to find out that no one could be out here until morning—we were to spend the night in the cabin.
I was not particularly happy about this, but I took it in stride. I returned to reading, and was satisfied to allow Rebecca to use the bedroom.
I settled down to read, it appeared to be a description of and the text to a series of incantations. And sketches of a South American cryptid identified as "ya-te-veo", which appeared to be a man-eating tree, or a land-dwelling sea anemone. I wasn't nearly as drawn into this volume as I had the first notebook and I rapidly became bored and began having trouble concentrating. At some point, I nodded off.
I couldn't have been sleeping very long or very deeply, because I regained consciousness almost instantly when Rebecca began shaking my shoulder. She motioned to me to be quiet and listen.
Wind. A strong wind appeared to be buffeting the cabin. It faded away slowly, and then the sound returned. And then it faded. And then it came back.
"I looked outside," Rebecca said, "Cracked the door open, and looked. The trees aren't moving. How can there be wind without the trees moving?"
"I know what's happening." I said, and stood and began walking toward the door.
"Wait," she said, "I'll come with you."
"I don't think that's a good idea." I replied.
"You need someone who can shoot, can you shoot?" She challenged me.
"As a matter of fact, I can shoot. Very well."
"But do you have a gun?"
I sighed in defeat. "No, no I don't. Let's go quietly."
I slowly pulled the door open a crack, looked outside. There was nothing but the sound of wind. I slowly looked back to see Rebecca holding her pistol at the ready.
I stepped outside, she followed.
There was nothing to be seen. The sky was quite clear and the moon and stars illuminated the land even despite the pine trees all around.
I told her where we were heading, and she nodded her assent.
The rock. The rock was the key to this. Young had said it in his notebook.
As we left the tree line, our eyes were assailed by the bright green aurora, it appeared to be perfectly equidistant on all sides.
"This is what you saw last night?" Rebecca asked, fighting against the sound of the wind, to which I could only nod.
As suddenly as it started, the wind ended. And the aurora faded. We reached the rock as the last of the green left the sky, and saw nothing.
"We have to find Old Jim," I told Rebecca.