The Post-Modern Masks of Nyarlathotep

Episode XVII: A Bunch Of Lonesome Heroes (Part 17)

Falling. Or am I flying? Floating?

The gravitational coefficient in the presence of an interdimensional gate of diameter N is…rho Z, I think.

Definitely falling.

I should learn how to fly. That would be a great idea! Noor, take a no—

Jimmy speaks the last syllable. There is a ringing, snapping sound, and the horrible green light suddenly fades away.

He turns around. “Katakatak! I think I did—”

The alien’s human body slumps forward, dead, the being animating him having fled. Jimmy looks around, at the dead or dying bodies of his friends and followers. Some are gibbering, minds damaged by the ritual.

With Dr. Seward’s help he begins taking them up into the courtyard.

The parts of the island not on the map begin to crumble into the sea almost immediately. Jimmy and Seward set up a triage center on the remaining beach, feeding the banked blood they took from the Germans before setting out into the bodies of those who survived the ritual. The ones they can’t save, or who didn’t survive, they start to bury in a long common grave.

The body of Jan Hardekker, who never woke up after the ceremony, falls next to that of Desmond Motombo. They lie side to side, their hands touching.

Jimmy starts dragging wood from the wreck of the Pagoda—most of it is washing into the Indian Ocean—to build a pyre for Jack Brady. As he stacks the wood, he sees something moving in the sky towards the island.

A large dirigible.

“Leutnant, es gibt hier ein Mann!”

The German crewman in the front of one of the Emden’s lifeboats points at a figure floating in the water.

The lieutenant stares into the now-dazzling water. “Der Amerikaner. Nimm ihn ins Boot.”

The crewman drags Charleston’s body into the lifeboat. “Er blutete aus … überall,” he says, staring at the blood leaking from countless wounds on his body. Charleston coughs up some salt water and groans faintly.

“Aber er lebt. Wir müssen ihn mit uns bringen, wenn wir unsere Zurückkehr nach Berlin machen.”

The dirigible lands near the shore. An ageless-looking woman in a prim white dress steps out.

Freddie groans from his stretcher. “Hello, Auntie Em. Are we going home now?”

“Yes, presently. We have an appointment with the King, and a man who can help you.” She turns to Francis, who is struggling into a standing position. “Mr. O’Donnell. I would offer you a position, but I fear my agency would not survive. You’re very efficient at your work.”

“This is my dear Auntie Em,” says Freddie. “She’s a very dangerous woman, and she helps run—what is it? The British Emp—”

“Museum,” says M with finality. “The British Museum. I am a docent.”

“Well. I have my wife back…”

“Yes—about that—” A stake suddenly appears in her hands.

“Auntie,” says Freddie, “I’d appreciate if you’d leave Mrs. O’Donnell alone and not—”

“—Stake that foul beast in the heart?” She looks at Freddie, then Francis. “Let’s call it a truce, Mr. O’Donnell. I’ll leave your wife alone, and you won’t interfere with me.”

“I’m happy to retire.”

“Mr. Wright.”

“Just doing my job. Mostly,” says Jimmy.

“I believe you have an appointment in New York with Miss Vanessa. Look to it, there’s a good chap. A Royal Navy hospital ship will be along presently and take you to Singapore. Now, come along, Freddie.”

“This man who can help,” says Freddie as he limps towards the dirigible, “What is he? A barrister? Some lord?”

“No. A beekeeper.”



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