CASE LOG #75. FILED UNDER: “ERROR; ERROR.”
CALL TO ACTION: “Gilmore Old Sport STOP I Write To You From My Observatory STOP I Need You To Come Take A Look At Something For Me STOP It Seems To Me There Are Strange Lights Coming From The Woods STOP I Fear It Is Them Again STOP You Owe Me One Old Sport STOP Don’t Forget STOP Emolument FULL STOP. Signed: Your Amelia.”
BEGIN LOG TRANSCRIPT.
I do not know, nor have I ever met, a person called Amelia, and am certainly certain I don’t owe her anything (let alone “One”). Yet, somehow, her name stirs something in me like a misremembered word on the tip of the tongue. Like I know what it means, just not well enough to repeat it. The address she left gave the same uneasiness, and I’ll admit, the thought of going there—even now, after the fact—makes my palms sweat.
As most of you know, I’m not in the habit of postponing logs, preferring, as is only proper, to lay out the facts of the case while they’re fresh in my mind. That said, it’s been two days since Case #75, and I’d like to give it another four, five, maybe ten before I think about it again. But I know that if I don’t do this now, I’ll never do it. So here goes.
Two days ago, I arrived at the address this “Amelia" attached to her message to me. The tagline, “Emolument”—an old telegraph code meaning “Don’t delay”—spurred me to swallow my suspicion and get to this case post-haste. After the long drive, I arrived at a Tall stone house in the middle of a field, with a woods stretching out behind. It was nearly evening. As I gathered my briefcase and shut the car door, the orange sun disappeared behind the house, and the monolith’s shadow cast me and my car in darkness.
I walked up and knocked on the door.
Immediately, it burst open, and a frazzled woman about my age emerged like Charybdis from the whirlpool; her brown curls a-scatter, her wide, darting eyes widened further by thick, round glasses, adorned in many bright scarves despite the warm evening. She carried a carpetbag in one arm, and seemed surprised to see me despite my knocking and the fact she’d invited me.
“Ah, Gilmore, Old Sport!” she said. She spoke with a familiarity that baffled me. “Thank Everything You Made it. I Was Just Leaving. I’m Sorry I Can’t Stay, I Really Must Get Out of Here For a While—You Know How it is. You’ll Let me Know When You Find Out About The Lights? They’re Just—” She gestured towards the woods, gliding past me so suddenly that she was halfway to her car before I had time to register she wasn’t in the door anymore. “—Just There. You Know the Way.”
I frowned, and called out, “I don’t—” But the car rattled to life, and she careened down the easement and out of sight.
Having never been to this place before in my life, I did Not know the way. Except, as soon as I took the first step, it was as though my feet knew where to go without me, and before I could stop to think what I was doing, I found myself and my briefcase deep within the woods behind the house. When I noticed this, I froze, looked around, and blinked. It was dark there. The sun was set, yet I doubted its light would penetrate the heavy canopy of leaves even if it was high noon. Trees surrounded me. Tall, Old trees, older than they had any right to be in this part of the country. They seemed to watch me, waiting for something. I watched back, and waited with them.
And, in the distant darkness, a blue light flickered on, seemed to stare at me, then went out again.
“Hello?” I called. The forest absorbed the sound of my voice. It was quiet for a forest; no rustling leaves, no growing plants. Another minute of waiting yielded no response except my own, which was one of unease.
I decided to leave, and try again some other time, preferably during the day.
As soon as I turned around, light blinded me from all directions. Millions of colored lights, the rainbow and beyond, flickering and swirling and surrounding me, darting in and out of the trees, and then—
Stillness. Light. A voice, from the trees, the lights, the sky, or my own imagination, to this date despite my deduction skills, I could not say. The voice was brief, and sounded like this:
GILMORE. YOU HAVE STEPPED OFF THE PATH. THIS IS YOUR ONLY WARNING. RETURN FRANK TO US AND THE DEAL WILL BE UNBROKEN. FAIL TO DO SO, AND KNOW THAT YOU BROUGHT IT ON YOURSELF. YOU KNEW THE RULES. RETURN FRANK TO US. THIS IS YOUR ONLY WARNING.
I looked around in disbelief, shielding my eyes against the light. “Frank?” I said. “You can have him!” I said. “I’ve been trying to get rid of him for weeks! I don’t understand, what deal? Who are you? What—”
RETURN THE CHILD. DO NOT INDULGE HIM. YOU SHOULD NOT HAVE LET HIM OUT. HE IS NOT FOR THIS WORLD. YOU KNOW THIS, GILMORE. THIS IS YOUR ONLY WARNING.
It was impossible not to laugh. These lights must have the wrong man. But when I opened my mouth to tell them so, I found that the lights were gone, and everything was black. The next thing I remember, I was in my car, driving home. And here I am, and here I have puzzled for the last two days.
Who was this stranger Amelia, who spoke to me like we were old friends? And the lights? And that voice—that booming voice? And of course the old mystery of “Frank.”
What did they mean, not for this world?
I just don’t understand. [Gilmore takes a DEEP BREATH]
But. As you all know, I am a detective at heart. And that means, starting today, I’m going to get to the bottom of this, no matter [STATIC].
END OF LOG TRANSCRIPT.
Gilmore will return, Fall 2018.