Some of my more dedicated readers may recall that in October of 2017 I wrote an account of a mysterious document I found that had been written by a former member of the faculty. I referred to this mysterious person as “The Librarian.”
The Librarian had come to our university from Miskatonic University in Arkham, Massachusetts. He was a refined man of much learning with interests ranging throughout the arts and sciences. What I hadn’t realized at that time was that there was a group of faculty on campus who’d migrated here from that very same institution around the same time as him. They were an important part of a circle on campus who met for study and fellowship.
One of the group was a scientist of some renown. In my research on this, I’ve not been able to discern whether he was a biologist, chemist, or a physicist. The documents that have come into my hands suggest that he was all three, much like the scientists one finds in a certain type of literature.
In going through his papers, I came upon a reference to a device of his construction. He referred to it as a “chronoport.” It had been originally in a building on campus that had been demolished before my time. The purpose of the device wasn’t clear, but it was very expensive. I know this because among his papers this man — let’s call him “The Scientist” — had kept the receipts for its components. I converted the dollars from his age to ours to account for inflation and came up with a ridiculous number. He somehow had access to a lot of money. A lot.
I was about to go on to other matters, when I came upon one of his old notebooks. He dated the entries in it as one does in a journal. It was from exactly one hundred years ago. One entry read as follows: “Saturday, October 16, 1920. Work on the chronoport is finished. Tested it on a cat this morning. It went through with no ill effects. Had to use a can of tuna to lure her back through because I didn’t want to follow without knowing it was possible to return. Being satisfied that it is safe, I will try it on myself.”
The next entry is rather more mysterious and confusing. It reads: “Saturday, October 17, 2020. I’ve gone through the chronoport and I find myself in a different place. It is rather disorienting. I am in a cluttered room on an upper floor of what appears to be an entirely different building. While I can see the street, there is very little traffic; I attribute this to the day of the week. Looking across at the football stadium, I see it is larger than the one I am used to. I would like to go exploring, but all of the doors are locked. I am afraid that if I propped the doors open behind me, they would be closed by an alert custodian.”
The date on the entry was ridiculous. I might’ve taken it to be a typo, but it was hand written in a very clear, steady hand. The paper in the notebook was old so as to be consistent with the 1920s. I did a google search and found out that October 16 did fall on Saturday in 1920.
The October 17 entry goes on at length to describe landmarks he can see through the window. By his description, I was able to discern approximately where on campus the room he had to be. By luck I have keys to the building, so I decided to have a look, but not before I read the next entry.
“Monday, October 18, 1920. I will wait until tomorrow to use the chronoport again. If I did today, I would be there on Sunday and find all of the doors locked as they were before, so I wouldn’t be able to explore.”
Needless to say, I was very curious. I found time on Monday, October 19 (2020 of course) to go to the building I believed the Scientist described and made my way to the 4th floor which is out of the way even during the best of times and should’ve been completely deserted now.
But it wasn’t.
That day when I came out of the elevator on the 4th floor, I saw a man with a beard and a tweed jacket come out of one the old labs we use to store surplus scientific equipment. He then disappeared down the stairs.
I went into the lab whence he had emerged and found a door frame there that had a glow within it. I reached out to touch it. This was a mistake because I received a shock from it. It caused me to reflexively jerk and knock a piece off, which fell to the floor and shattered.
After that, the door frame went dark with a smell of ozone in the air.
I returned to my office to examine the Scientist’s notebook and saw that the entry for October 18, 1920 had been his last.
So if you see a man with a beard and a tweed jacket who appears to be lost — and I know this doesn’t narrow it down much — you might direct him my way. We need to talk.
Bobby Winters, a native of Harden City, Oklahoma, blogs at redneckmath.blogspot.com and okieinexile.blogspot.com. He invites you to “like” the National Association of Lawn Mowers on Facebook.