A Friend in NeedbyEdge23©
To: Mr. Kelvin Peterman
4922 Preston View Road
Macon, Colorado 8----
Dear Mr. Peterman,
I hope this letter finds you and yours well and hale, and enjoying our fine Colorado summer, such as it is. This weather is odd, even for us, at this time of year. Certainly the coming fall will be more to the standards to which Colorado has become accustomed.
I must admit that your letter regarding the untimely death of my friend, Mr. Wilford Pimm. You were correct in your missive that he was, indeed, a man who studied those things that 'normal' people might find a touch obscure, and maybe even obscene to some eyes. Hopefully, as I describe the circumstances of his undoing and the events leading up to that point, you will discover the information you are looking for. As you did not provide the details that you wanted, I will endevour to be as informative as possible.
Wilford was a working man, blue collar to the core, and proud of it. Though he could have moved up in the ranks of the company he worked for, he was a hands on kind of fellow, more accustomed to being in the field and working instead of sitting behind a desk. Such a thing would not suit him. He worked for a company that specialized in removing unwanted items from a persons home or office. It was not a glorious job, but it was a good fit for Wilford's personality. He was a good and decent man, and good at what he did, even under the worst of circumstances. This job made him quite a physical specimen, despite his lack of height. At barely over five feet and eight inches, he was not a large man, but his work added layer upon layer of rock solid muscle. It did not, however, slow his mind.
Several years ago, he took to studying the works of certain authors that dealt in the macabre. Edgar Allan Poe. Howard Philips Lovecraft. Brian Lumley. August Dearth. Clark Ashton Smith. The non-Conan adventures of Robert E. Howard. It was through his reading and dissection of these works that he came to join our reading and literature group. He was very sharp and insightful man, and with any book that we discussed, he could find a superstitious or dark meaning to. It unnerved some of our members, though I was not one of them, and when I took him aside to discuss this fact, he told me that he would leave the group, but that he wished to visit upon me personally in order to continue our discussions. Seeing as how his predilection did not bring fear or repulsion on me, as it did some of our more prudish members, I agreed. He thanked me heartily and, announcing his apologies to the rest of the group, took his leave. A week later, he stopped by my home and was very grateful that I had agreed to allow him into my home for further discussions.
For well over three hours, over tea and biscuits, we discussed meaning and definitions, as well as not a few religious discussions, which, I'm sad to say, is not my strong point to debate. Wilford, however, was quite capable of furnishing both sides of an argument, allowing me to interject my own thoughts without necessarily having to take one side or the other. He was insightful, as I said, finding hidden meanings in almost everything he read. This continued for several weeks, when four weeks ago, he told me of a trip he was planning to take.
"Justin," he told me, a great smile upon his face. "It was supposedly all a myth, but I have found a man on the Arabian peninsula who claims to have a copy of the dreaded Necronomicon, written by the Mad Arab, Abdul Al Hazred. He also says that he can get access to a copy of the original Book of Eibon. I am leaving the day after tomorrow, but I shall call upon you on my return." He shook my hand and vanished before I could even reply.
Once he had departed my doorstep, I availed upon the Internet to research these books, which I had heard of only tangently during our previous discussions. I worked long into the night to garner enough information about these tomes to understand why Wilford would be searching for them. I tried to phone him before he left, but he did not answer. Knocking upon his door accomplished the same. I waited for his return, but because he had not divulged his itinerary to me, I had no idea of when he would arrive at my door. I received no communication from him while he was away, not even a single email.
I was in my study, looking over a manuscript that a friend had given to me, when there was a thunderous pounding upon my front door. Dropping my red pen, I hurried to the door, and throwing it open, found Wilford there, soaked to the bone from the heavy rain that was falling. I pulled him inside before he spoke and took his coat and a heavily shoulder bag that he carried, asking the maid to bring warm tea and biscuits for the both of us. He thanked me with chattering teeth and took the seat opposite mine, his arms wrapped around his shivering frame. I convinced him to come upstairs with me to find dry clothing. Since I am a bachelor and thus have no children, my clothes were the only things available to us. I, however, am almost a full foot taller than my friend, so I gave him my smallest nightshirt and lounge pants, and led him to my shower to warm up.
As I sat with my head down over my manuscript again, my gaze went to his shoulder bag. It was the bag that Wilford normally carried, a battered leather bag with gold clasps, but my eyes were drawn to it as if it contained a magnet and my eyes were made of metal. Tilting my head, I heard the shower upstairs still running. I made my way to his shoulder bag and opened the clasp, pulling the flap free. Inside sat two books, both older than any book I had ever seen. I did not need to be able to read their faded spines to deduce what tomes they were.
"What do you think of them, Justin?"
My head snapped up, having not heard the shower shut off. Wilford stood on the stairs in my clothes, looking like a child wearing his older brother's clothes. Both the sleeves of the shirt and the cuffs of the pants were rolled several times to keep them out of the way. At the same time, I could see that the shirt was pulled tight across his shoulders, which, despite our difference in size, were larger than mind, due completely to muscle.
"Wil," I said, using the name he preferred. "How did you get these accursed things?" He laughed and walked down the rest of the stairs, stopping by my side
"It was easy, my dear friend. Booksellers seldom expect their buyers to be carrying handguns, and therefore are not prepared for them. That is not important, however. Come. We have much to discuss."
We returned to the table in my study, both of us partaking of the biscuits and tea. Over the next few hours, Wil told me of his travels throughout the Arabian Peninsula and the people he had met. Once he has met the bookseller, one Ali Ben Abed, the seller had revealed that he was also a priest and that great adventures could await my friend. Of course, Wil was interested.
Using extremely rare herbs and certain incantations, Ben Abed walked Wil through a door in the basement of his shop, but it was unlike any door Wil had ever seen. Regular sized, but as thick as .a cinder block The stars swirled behind it, leading to, Ben Abed told him, 'to the utmost reaches of the cosmos...and beyond.' Wil walked through with no hesitation.
At this point, my friend was sitting at my table, eating my biscuits and drinking my tea, but it was obvious that his mind was a million light-years away as he told me of his adventures in the spaces between dimensions. He told me of a journey where he was almost captured by the agents of some unspeakably horrible 'space demon,' escaping only with the help of Ali Ben Abed, the bookseller. His eyes refocused on me a full hour after beginning the story, his cup of tea now cold in his hands. As I served him fresh, hot tea, shadows gathered around his face.
"Justin, they are still after me. I can't stay here long."
"Who are still after you? There is no one here but you and me."
"The minions of the space demon. They're after me. They're angry that I escaped and now they want me back."
At this time, he winced and reached into one of the side pockets on his bag and withdrew a bottle of prescription medicine. Opening the bottle, he bobbled the contents, spilling a few tablets onto the table. Hurriedly gathering them, he placed a small white pill in his mouth and followed that with a swallow of tea.
"Wil, what was that? What's wrong with you?"
"It's my hip, Justin. Sometime during my trip, I think I might have torn cartilage. My doctor prescribed these pills for the pain until I can get an magnetic resonance imaging scan. I haven't done it yet, because if I stop for too long, they'll catch up to me. In fact, I need to go now, Justin. Thank you for everything. I'll call you when I have a chance."
Ignoring my pleas for him to stay, Wil left quickly, slinging his bag over his shoulder and leaving almost before I was able to rise from my chair. As I gathered up the dishes, I saw that Wil's side of the tablecloth was wadded up, as if he had been wringing his hands on it. Whether or not there was actually anything after him, he certainly believed there was. I spotted one of his pills on the table and after referring to a dictionary of medication that I keep handy, I saw that they were powerful painkillers, with the side effect of putting the user to sleep, or at least making them drowsy. I hoped he would be safe.
It was almost three months before he called, saying that he needed my help due to the space demon's minions nearness. When I asked what he needed, he said that his hip, being untreated, had descended into immense agony and that he finally submitted to the magnetic resonance imaging scan his doctor had suggesting. He required me to be present during his MRI, so as to keep watch against the 'forces of evil.' I agreed, but I did not contradict him. I was afraid it would trigger some type of mental anxiety that he most certainly did not need.
I arrived at his home, but before I could leave my car, Wil raced out and jerked the passenger's door open, slamming it shut, and jerking his seatbelt on, telling me to drive. I drove to the hospital as quickly as I could, despite his urgings to go faster. Taking his upper arm in my hand to keep him from running, I led him to the Radiology department of the hospital complex and assisted him in completing his paperwork. His name was called and I went with him, explaining to the nurse that my friend had claustrophobia and having someone familiar nearby helped. She told me that it was fine as long as I did not interfere with the procedure. I promised to be a veritable angel. She didn't seem convinced, but allowed me in regardless. Wil changed his clothes and followed the nurse into the MRI chamber. He turned back to me at the door.
"Justin, remember what I said." I simply nodded back and patted his shoulder bag, which was now over my shoulder.
As he went in, I could see that he was tense, his eyes darting this way and that. The MRI technician, Marie, and I struck up a conversation as Wil was being prepared for his MRI. Finally, he lay down on the bed and was partially maneuvered into the tube, the top of his head barely sticking out. His chest was rising and falling rapidly, but soon slowed as he relaxed, at least as much as possible.
"So," I said to the technician, a nice young lady, rubbing my neck from where I had rested the strap. Wil's bag now lay at my feet. "This particular machine seems to be a bit out of date. Aren't there more recently made machines that could be used?"
"Well," she said, pushing a lock of her black hair behind her ear. "The two newest machines, K IV's, are being used at the same time and the K III is out of commission at the moment, so we have to use the K II. He's old, but he's reliable," she said with a soft smile.
"Yeah. We name all of our machines. The K IV's are 'Fred' and 'Ginger.' The K III is 'Maximilian.'"
"He was named after a giant robot in a Disney movie called 'The Black Hole.' I haven't seen it. I just know that's why he was named that. It was like that when I got here."
"And what about the K II," I asked. "What is his or her name?"
She laughed a little. "This is 'Lou.' Like your favorite uncle. He's old and cranky, but very dependable."
I nodded and began to respond, but then an alarm went off on her control board and she hit a large red button, immediately stopping the scan. Without another word, we both ran into the MRI chamber as Wil slid out. His body shook as the sled pulled him out, Marie putting her fingers to his neck and then his wrist, checking for a pulse. She looked up at me and shook her head. I nodded and left the room, letting the medical personnel do their job. I found the shoulder bag and was not at all surprised that it was empty. They found him and their books as well. He was buried two days later, at my own expense, none of which I will try to recoup.
Mr. Peterman, I hope this letter contains all of the information you require. If I may be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to write or call upon me.