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The Drakenswode Correspondence: 2
From: Doug Ormsham [email address withheld by request] • 19 May 2005, 6:25

Skepticism does not dismay me. Nor does it sway me from my purpose. If everything I tell you, and every item I present, must be subjected to close scrutiny in order to satisfy the dubious, so be it. I accept the inevitable condescension with an easy conscience.

Less easily accepted is my own inability to fully re-live the feelings that accompany even my most vivid memory of that time. As I sit here trying to recreate in myself a sense of what I felt during my first night in Hugo Drakenswode's house, I find that it cannot be done, that the experience remains clear in general terms, but distant and mysterious in respect to my emotions. I am not a superstitious man, nor have I ever been susceptible to expectations of numinous terror. Yet that night I felt that the atmosphere was ominous and pregnant with supernatural menace. I could not sleep easily, what dreams that came full of vast and horrific images. These are emotions I cannot, now, relate to. I do not believe in ghosts.

"Cryptonia" -- the name my great-grandfather gave his house in Hampshire, at least in his writings -- was neither particularly gothic nor overly mysterious, despite suggestions to the contrary contained in its nom de plume. It was two-storeyed and bigger than an ordinary domicile, but it was not a manor house nor was it particularly grand. The interior was typical of the 18th century -- narrow, confined and often dark, a hodge-podge of hallways, doors and rooms that seemed to be scattered with little design across its length and breadth. Most of the furniture had been removed -- legally or illegally, I don't know -- and what remained was battered and dusty.

It was still light outside when I arrived. I let myself in with the key provided by my estate agent, tested the first light switch I found in order to confirm that the power was off (I had arranged for it to be connected, but was told there might be a delay), and dumped my bags at the foot of a wide set of stairs leading, I did not doubt, to the bedrooms and closets of the upper landing. I had remembered to purchase a lantern on my way through the village -- one powered by a battery so that it didn't gutter and waver and send unsettling phantoms across the walls. It was fortuitous that I'd done so, because it would have been impossible for me to see much at all otherwise. Only a dim remnant of daylight made it further than a few metres in from the windows, so as the sun descended, the night thickened speedily in those cheerless interior spaces.

Taking a deep breath, I surveyed my new inheritance.

At that moment I felt very alone. I was alone, yes, but the feeling I experienced then went beyond the fact that I was the only person in attendance. Instead, irrationally, it evoked a world where nothing was familiar, nothing was right. I don't understand this emotion either. There were no weird paintings on the walls, or evil gargoyle shapes decorating the ceilings, no bizarre antique ornaments scattered around the rooms -- but I felt an overwhelming sensation of alien monstrosities looming just out of sight, beyond the walls, pushing hard against the doors and wanting in. The feeling was straight out of Lovecraft, a premonition of vast ancient beings eager to reclaim a world that had once been theirs. I shuddered, caught myself doing so, and demanded aloud that I curb my fears. "You're letting your imagination run away with itself," I said. "Imagining horror clichés will do no one any good."

Then I laughed at my own absurdity, and at once my anxiety died down. It would return on and off, but I would not let it control me.

After a cursory examination of the house, I came upon an upstairs room for which I didn't seem to have a key. The agent had warned me that there was one room that the rental contracts specified was not to be used by tenants -- or even entered. No key had been provided for it. This condition had been written into my great-grandfather's will. I doubt that the order would have been obeyed for all this time if it wasn't for the fact that the door was phenomenally strong. Moreover, closer inspection revealed that there wasn't even a keyhole! In effect the room was sealed and, at least ostensibly, had been thus since Drakenswode's death. I rapped against the door's central panel; it wasn't wood, but metal -- as were the walls to either side, I discovered. What was going on here? Was the entire room a large metal container?

I held the lamp closer and noticed a panel to one side of the door, at about chest height. It too was made of metal, about 15 cm square and 1 cm thick. It seemed to have raised, irregular lines and dots, like some arcane calligraphy, across its surface. What was it? Some sort of magical patterning? Had my great-grandfather harboured leanings toward protective symbology? I couldn't determine a pattern then and still can't, though now -- after reading some of his papers -- I have a better idea of how it worked. Then, it was an enigma; I reached out, as one does, to trace the lines. My finger pressed against a central nexus of lines. Immediately I felt a tingle, as though from an electrical current, shimmer into my hand and race up my arm. At the same time, a spark that I barely saw shot out along the lines that radiated from the central point and I heard a mechanism in the cavity of the wall clunk dully and slide, as though withdrawing. The door edged open a fraction.

I was, as you might imagine, quite flabbergasted.

It took me a few moments to gather enough courage to push open the door and enter the room...

I will continue the narrative anon. It's early in the morning now -- I was unable to sleep last night and in the end retreated to my study to compose this email. But it has exhausted me quickly.

One last thing: I was re-examining the notebook I found in my great-grandfather's room and discovered an old photograph that must have fallen out at some point and been re-inserted at random. It was loose between pages bent together, with no nearby writing. Drakenswode would have annotated it, I'm sure, so I looked through the notebook and found a scrawled message on the page following the one that had contained the cutting I sent you a few days ago. It read: "Mailed to me anonymously. No information provided. But the postmark is Caracas, so one must assume a connection. Unclear what it is but intriguing. Check for source."

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From: daikaiju@roberthood.net • 19 May 2005, 12:04

Thanks for being so understanding, Doug. There are bound to be questions asked -- and I have simply been trying to anticipate some of them.

We are all eager for you to continue your story. The cutting and the photo have definitely left us wanting more!

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From: Doug Ormsham [email address withheld by request] • 23 May 2005, 20:25

The past few days have been hectic -- and disturbing. I have been working my way through Drakenswode's vast library, sorting out material to send to you. The effort is tiring and, ultimately, dispiriting.

I guess I've never made explicit the fact that, over a year after coming to "Cryptonia", I am still living in Drakenswode's retreat, alone with his notes and diaries. My wife, who refused to move from New Zealand to join me, has grown understandably impatient with my obsession. We have fought about it, bitterly, yet still I find myself unable to sell great-grandfather's house and return home. I had accrued several years of long-service leave in my job as an academic -- but time is running out. Selena sees it as an incredible waste.

"I must complete the cataloguing of his materials," I explained, only last night.

"But why, Doug?" she said. "The delusions of a desperate, isolated man? Who will care? He died alone and mad. Don't become like him."

"Don't you become like his blind, hard-nosed enemies, Selena. There's truth in these volumes and I have to find it."

After a moment of controlled silence, she growled, "It's me, isn't it, Doug? You're looking for something more than I can offer."

"It's not about us, Selena," I assured her. "It's about my heritage."

Then the phone line clicked -- a dull, restive variation in its ambiant tone -- and I became convinced that someone was listening in. I quickly ended the conversation, assuring Selena that I would call again the following day.

She might be right, of course. More and more I am coming to my senses in regard to this exile. Hopefully, telling the story to you and your readers will aid me in my quest to find release from the need to follow Drakenswode into his personal hell.

Yet there is a shadow hanging over the place, or perhaps more accurately over me. I feel as though I am under surveillance; day and night invisible eyes watch me, evaluating my actions, weighing up what to do, when to act. While I am eager to tell the world this incredible story, I fear that there are those out there who don't want it to be known.

A few moments ago I thought I heard a sound outside, the crunch of surreptitious feet in the undergrowth. I went to the window that looks down on the main access road. Was that shape in the darkness that pools beneath the ancient oak a man? I couldn't tell, but neither could I convince myself to go down to investigate. The night was too dark and I am fearful for my life. I stared at the shadow, willing it to move, to reveal itself. But after five minutes it still hadn't clarified into threat or dissipated into illusion. I blinked, looked aside to fetch a glass of scotch I'd been drinking; when I looked back, I fancied the shape had gone.

But was it ever there?

I don't know what to do except continue. If someone truly is watching me this closely, it confirms my suspicion that there are important truths hidden in Drakenswode's personal archive. I must not be swayed from the path I have chosen to follow.

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From: daikaiju@roberthood.net • 23 May 2005, 21:16

A kaiju conspiracy of some kind? Really, Doug, don't you feel you might be getting a tad carried away? But take care. If there's any sign of real danger, contact the authorities straight away.

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From: Doug Ormsham [email address withheld by request] • 25 May 2005, 22:19

Carried away? Would that I could believe so. Alas, I fear my paranoia is justified. I don't know what it means, nor can I offer any proof beyond utter conviction, but I believe I have become the centre of a terrible nascent possibility that is on the verge of actualisation. That potential has existed, I believe, for many decades. What keeps it at bay is something I need to discover.

This morning I awoke to a low, bone-scratching rumble. It came up from the floor of Drakenswode's room, transmitted through the metal, wood and carpet with dull insistence. I had fallen asleep at his desk; though there is a bed in the room, I have never slept in it -- not since the events of my first night there. To do so would seem too like a violation. Besides, the place fills me with a discomfort of the soul that is hard to explain. This discomfort aids me in my study of his writings, filling me with an anxious intellectual alertness -- but it normally prevents me from relaxing into sleep. That I did so last night is a measure of my deep weariness.

Fully awake, I half expected the rumble to dissipate. But no! It continued unabated, if anything becoming more and more intense. Not louder, just more intense. As I listened the sound spread into the walls, until it seemed that the entire metal container that forms Drakenswode's study was being shaken, thrashed by something vast and malevolent. There is no window to the outside in Drakenswode's retreat, but I rose from the desk and approached what I knew was the outside wall. I reached forward with shaking fingers. Even before they touched the metal, I could feel the energies radiating from it, exponentially more powerful the closer I approached. What in god's name was out there? I pulled back, profoundly disturbed.

At once, the effect stopped. For a few moments I stood unbreathing, waiting for something to happen. When nothing did, I rushed to the door, touched the control panel to make it open, and leapt out onto the landing. From there, I turned right and entered my bedroom, which is next to Drakenswode's study. Through the bedroom window I gazed out at a world that had become alien. A vast shape moved through and over the trees -- tall trees, they are, ancient oaks and pines reaching higher than the pitched roof of the house. The shape, which I only saw for a second, rose over them, perhaps 150 feet high and darkly massive. It seemed to be moving away. In the moonless night, against a starless sky, details were not at all clear, but the thing had a reptilian appearance to it -- bipedal, like... well, like a Tyrannosaur, only hugely more vast than the largest dinosaur. I thought I saw a tail rise and curl down to the ground, striking it. At that moment, the house shook as though hit by an earth tremor. I staggered backward, blinked...

And the monster was gone. I ran forward again and, perhaps stupidly but in a fog of astonishment, flung open the window and leaned out. The air smelt burnt and acidic. Even without the obscuring effect of the glass window, the darkness hindered me from seeing any more clearly. But I could see further and there was no sign of the monster, not even in the medium distance, which was open space until, perhaps a mile on, the ground became uneven and more heavily wooded. It couldn't have disappeared so quickly.

An anaemic sunrise half an hour later encouraged me to go out into the yard. The thing had been so massive, it must have left some sign of its passing. But there was little of an unambiguous nature. Bushes had been torn apart and a rather large tree lay uprooted -- both could have been caused by high winds, or an electrical storm, a tempest that I had slept through, only to awaken with vague half-formed memories of its presence. I also found a large indent in the unmown grass -- a footprint? Perhaps, but why only one? There should have been a line of them. No, I had to face the fact that I had been dreaming and what had really swept past was a storm that had merely been manifest in my waking consciousness as a monster. No one would think otherwise.

Then I looked up at the windowless expanse that I knew was the outer wall of Drakenswode's study -- and gasped. It would take some time for my mind to begin putting forward rational explanations and theories, but even at a glance I knew that what I had just experienced had not been a mere imagining. The outer shingles covering the underlying metal had been burnt almost black. None of them were smoking and none had caught fire, yet it was clear that some radiant force had been splashed against the wall, long and hard and with malicious intent. That it had failed to achieve its objective seemed impossible. Yet it had not touched me. For how much longer would my luck hold?

I felt my knees weaken and once again glanced out over the surrounding fields for sign of the monster. Nothing. A hawk hovered some distance away. A rooster crowed. Shaking, I went back inside.

My mind is suddenly clear about one thing: I will not stay here any longer. Selena was right, though not for the reasons she gave. This place is not healthy and I should not be here. I will pack up Drakenswode's library and ship it to New Zealand. I will leave this place to whatever haunts it.

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From: deepseeker <destrali@yahoo.com.au> • 27 May 2005, 13:57
Dear sirs,

My name is Alison Destrode. I have just come across the Drakenswode correspondence on your Daikaiju! website while searching for information on sightings of giant reptiles (for an article I'm writing), and was more than curious to read Mr Ormsham's story. Though at first I reckoned it was all a joke or some sort of promotional gimmick, your discussion about the name Drakenswode got my professional interest going and I decided to look into it.

I should explain that I am a bit of an amateur "weird-shit" archivist. The UK, where I live, is of course the home of that great Charles Fort inspired journal the Fortean Times, and these isles are renowned for oddities, every second house is claimed to be haunted, every body of water above bath-size is said to have its own Nessie and there are so many ley lines and stone circles I sometimes think the country actually exists in another reality and what the rest of the world sees of it is merely a hastily knocked-up construct of BBC2.

Anyway, I've spent over a decade collecting newspaper cuttings and other "evidence" of weird shit. And as a librarian by profession I'm not averse to spending my weekends cataloguing it all. So it didn't take me long to search through the mess that clutters my house for the name Drakenswode, and, sure enough, there it was. Not a star-turn, I must say, but I did find one mention. It was in a little-known regional broadsheet published for five minutes some time in 1891 (or thereabouts). The newspaper was called "The Hornet" and seems to have harkened from up north, Durham county, I think, perhaps Darlington. King Canute's haunt. I don't know where I got the cutting from, it's from back when I confess I wasn't being very careful in my referencing, but I'm sure it's genuine. I've attached a copy. Clearly Mr Ormsham's great grandfather hasn't been completely wiped from history.

I'll be interested to read Drakenswode's diaries, so I hope we get some of them transcribed soon. I can smell a book in this. Perhaps Mr Ormsham would be interested in a collaboration?

Yours up to the neck in shit
Alison Destrode

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From: daikaiju@roberthood.net • 27 May 2005, 14:07
Thanks for that, Alison. I'm sure our readers will be more than intrigued to read the "Durham" clipping. If you come across any other relevant materials, we'd love to see them.

And I'm sure Doug is working around to the diaries. His own life seems to be becoming a little ... shall we say, difficult. I'd like to help him, but he's made himself pretty hard to track down -- this side of hiring a private dick anyway. I confess I sometimes wonder if the name "Ormsham" isn't a pseudonym. That might explain the parallel derivation to "Drakenswode".

I did a bit of a search of the records of Hampshire, online and through the local library, and wasn't able to track down any place owned by either a "Drakenswode" or an "Ormsham", nor any houses answering to the name "Cryptonia". As a result I was starting to think that maybe Ormsham had falsified this information to keep himself untraceable. But your newspaper clipping seems to confirm Drakenswode's association with Hampshire. Interesting.

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