The Drakenswode Correspondence: 3
From: Doug Ormsham [email address withheld by request] • 28 May 2005, 8:21

Though happy that Ms Destrode has been able to verify both the prior existence of Hugo Drakenswode and his association with Hampshire, I find myself made discontent by the ongoing doubts that my story seems to provoke. I am not a fool; I know that what I am revealing stretches credibility -- not to mention the fact that the internet is a notoriously deceptive medium and that "facts" offered on it are not to be assumed reliable by the wise. Indeed, all so-called facts, quite apart from those found online, should not be given the benefit of unquestioned veracity. They are by nature slippery and evasive, as is the world itself. Pin it down and as likely as not it will transmogrify into something utterly different and frighteningly unfamiliar.

Nevertheless I had hoped that a bond had begun to form between us, one that would grant me some leeway to challenge conventional knowledge. Still, perhaps such a bond does exist; I am moved by your concern for my safety and your desire to help. However, I fear there is nothing anyone can do. This burden has been passed to me, like it or not. It is, I believe, in the blood, the very genetic makeup of my being, and from the time I was born I have been doomed to arrive here, at this spot.

That I could open the door of Drakenswode's study is itself indicative of this. I have since discovered in his journals statements that suggest the mechanism by which the touch of my flesh against the key-plate was enough to activate a recognition sequence programmed into the metal. It read my DNA, acknowledged that I was me, of Drakenswode's line and his heir, and therefore opened the door. I have had visitors attempt the same thing -- that is, touch the plate -- but to no effect. To me, it will open, and only me. Various passages in Drakenswode's journals have led me to believe that sometime in the 1940s he serendipitously came upon a substance capable of being thus programmed. The passages have hinted at this and the method, giving little detail. One day, I feel sure, I will stumble upon Drakenswode's account of how he found the substance and learnt what it could do. I assume it is some sort of alien technology. For such a thing to exist in 1945 (which is when his study was constructed) does not allow for a normal human origin.

Such thoughts as these have also caused me to change my mind about leaving "Cryptonia". I admit that I over-reacted to the incident of the 25th. Reading over my missive to you, I now accept that it was a dream -- a strange and surreal dream provoked no doubt by my obsessive focus on Drakenswode's strange and surreal life, and also by a storm that passed over the area that night. That there was such a storm has been confirmed by neighbours. Clearly the house was struck by lightning and it is this that caused the singeing of the outer wall and knocked down assorted trees and bushes. That, and nothing more.

It is, as you say, "a tad" hysterical to attribute the disturbance to anything else. Even so, I now plan to remain here to continue the work. I believe that here, in Drakenswode's safehouse, is the best place for me to pursue my quest for knowledge. If there is danger, then my great grandfather's study is the safest place to be, protected as it seems to be by his own arcane sciences.

One other thing: when I read Ms Destrode's email and examined the clipping from 1891, it rang a bell. I'm sure I have seen something about this incident in Drakenswode's papers. I'll try to find it again. Clearly it was a significant event and closer examination might yield important insights into his life.

Yours, etc.

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From: • 27 May 2005, 15:47

Taking a measured and "philosophical" approach to this is the only way you'll see it through, Doug. People are going to be skeptical. I'm skeptical, in the sense that I don't unquestioningly believe in stories of monsters or malign supernatural powers and therefore will look for "proof" of your claims, however genuine I believe your intentions to be.

Meanwhile, I made a search of the Web, seeking further information regarding the "electric monster" referred to in Alison Destrode's clipping. Well, I found plenty. It's a rather well-known event, by all accounts, that has been often cited in books on strange phenomena. Below I have reproduced an article that appeared in the Tacoma Daily Ledger of 3 July, 1893. [Ms Destrode gives the date as 1891, but that was a guess, based on I don't know what. It must be the same event; it would be too much of coincidence for this to be a different incident altogether.] This is sourced from the Magonia Exchange Archive and was posted to the Archive by Chris Aubeck on 4 September 2003.

1893 07 03 Tacoma Daily Ledger (WA)


Flashes of Light and Terrible Sounds Emitted by One in the Bay.

W.L. McDonald Struck Senseless in Attempting to Rescue a Shocked Comrade.

Nearly 150 Feet Long and Covered With Coarse Hair -- A Fishing Party's Trip Cut Short.

A party of Tacoma gentlemen have good reason to remember the morning of the 2d of July as long as life remains in their bodies -- and to quote the exact words of one of the party, "There are denizens of the ocean that man never, in his most horrible and fantastic nightmare, even saw the likes of."

On Saturday morning a party, composed of the following well known gentlemen, set sail on the sloop "Marion" from the boat house at the end of the wharf for a three days' fishing and hunting excursion on the Sound. The party consisted of Auctioneer William Fitzhenry, H.L. Seal, W.L. McDonald, J.K. Bell, Henry Blackwood and two eastern gentlemen who are visiting the coast, and it is from the lips of one of these gentlemen, who declines to allow his name to be used, as he says that shortly before he left the east he took the Keeley cure, and he fears that if his name was used in connection with this article his eastern friends might think he had "gone back" and got 'em again.

The party were well supplied with all the necessaries of life, as well as an abundance of its luxuries, though it must not be inferred from this fact that the luxuries played any part in creating the sights seen on that memorable morning. Of course, as a person having much respect for truth, I merely chronicle the story as told me, and leave each reader of this remarkable yarn to judge for themselves the necessary amount of credence to give it.

"We left Tacoma," said the eastern man, "about 4:30 p.m. Saturday, July 1st, and as the wind was from the southeast we shaped our course for Point Defiance, intending to anchor off that point and try our luck with rod and line. We cast anchor about 6 o'clock, the wind having died out, and had fair success fishing. The wind coming up again pretty strong Mr. McDonald suggested getting under way for Black Fish bay, Henderson island, as he knew of a fine trout stream running into the bay, and also an excellent camping place near the fishing ground. So about 8 o'clock we weighed anchor and shaped our course for Black Fish bay, which place we reached about 9:30. We landed and made everything snug about the boat and made a nice camp on shore, and as it was by this time 11 o'clock we all turned in to get a little sleep as it was agreed upon that at the first streak of daylight we should all get up. About 100 yards from our camp was the camp of a surveying party, but as it was so late we decided that we would not disturb them but that we would call upon them the following morning, and would probably get some valuable pointers as to the best places to fish and hunt on the island. After a few jokes had been cracked the boys laid down and in short time everything about camp became as still as death. It was, I guess, about midnight before I fell asleep, but exactly how long I slept I cannot say, for when I woke it was with such startling suddenness that it never entered my mind to look at my watch, and when after a while I did look at my watch, as well as every watch belonging to the party, it was stopped.

"I am afraid, sir, that you will fail to comprehend how suddenly that camp was awoke.

"Since the creation of the world I doubt if sounds and sights more horrible were ever seen or heard by mortal man. I was in the midst of a pleasant dream, when in an instant a most horrible noise rang out in the clear morning air, and instantly the whole air was filled with a strong current of electricity that caused every nerve in the body to sting with pain, and a light as bright as that created by the concentration of many arc lights kept constantly flashing. At first I thought it was a thunder storm, but as no rain accompanied it, and as both light and sound came from off the bay, I turned my head in that direction, and if it is possible for fright to turn one's hair white, then mine ought to be snow white, for right before my eyes was a most horrible looking monster. By this time every man in our camp, as well as the men from the camp of the surveyors, were gathered on the bank of the stream; and as soon as we could gather our wits together we began to question if what we were looking at was not the creation of the mind, but we were soon disburdened of this idea, for the monster slowly drew in toward the shore, and as it approached from its head poured out a stream of water that looked like blue fire. All the while the air seemed to be filled with electricity, and the sensation experienced was as if each man had on a suit of clothes formed of the fine points of needles. One of the men from the surveyor's camp incautiously took a few steps in the direction of the water, and so he did so the monster darted towards the shore and threw a stream of water that reached the man, and he instantly fell to the ground and lay as though dead.

"Mr. McDonald attempted to reach the man's body to pull it back to a place of safety, but he was struck with some of the water that the monster was throwing, and fell senseless to the earth. By this time every man in both parties was panic-stricken, and we rushed to the woods for a place of safety, leaving the fallen men lying on the beach.

"As we reached the woods the 'demon of the deep' sent out flashes of light that illuminated the surrounding country for miles, and his roar -- which sounded like the roar of thunder -- became terrific. When we reached the woods we looked around and saw the monster making off in the direction of the Sound, and in an instant it disappeared beneath, the waters of the bay, but for some time we were able to trace its course by a bright luminous light that was on the surface of the water. As the fish disappeared total darkness surrounded us, and it took us some time to find our way back to the beach where our comrades lay, and we were unable to tell the time, as the powerful electric force had stopped our watches. We eventually found McDonald and the other man, and were greatly relieved to find that they were alive, though unconscious. So we sat down to await the coming of daylight. It came I should judge, in about half an hour, and by this time by constant work on the two men, both were able to stand, and both agree that the moment the water the monster threw touched them, they became immediately unconscious."

On being asked to give some description of the fish, for it was, he said, "an electrical fish," the eastern man said:

"This monster fish, or whatever you may call it, was fully 150 feet long, and at its thickest part I should judge about thirty feet in circumference. Its shape was somewhat out of the ordinary in so far that the body was neither round nor flat but oval, and from what we could see the upper part of the body was covered with a very coarse hair. The head was shaped very much like the head of a walrus, though, of course, very much larger. Its eyes, of which it apparently had six, were as large around as a dinner plate, and were exceedingly dull, and it was about the only spot on the monster that at one time or another was not illuminated. At intervals of about every eight feet from its head to its tail a substance that had the appearance of a copper band encircled its body, and it was from these many bands that the powerful electric current appeared to come. The bands nearest the head seemed to have the strongest electric force, and it was from the first six bands that the most brilliant lights were emitted. Near the center of its head were two large horn-like substances, though they could not have been horns for it was through them that the electrically charged water was thrown.

"Its tail from what I could see of it was shaped like a propeller, and seemed to revolve, and it may be possible that the strange monster pushes himself through the water by means of this propeller like tail.

"At will this strange monstrosity seemed to be able to emit strong waves of electric current, giving off an electromotive force which causes any person coming within the radius of this force to receive an electro tonus. This fish probably receives its power from some submarine cavern of volcanic origin, which owing to its peculiar construction, and having an extra large deposit of copper, it charges the fish that inhabit that region with a strong electric force that is displayed by this peculiar specimen. The peculiar shaped copper like bands may be caused by the strong magnetic force of the fish, and the copper deposits of the ocean, as the strong current would form the copper into a solution, whilst the strong attraction of the fish would naturally form an electric battery, drawing towards it this solution, thus forming deposits on the fish, so that in reality the electric fish is completely encompassed in copper, and its rapid movement through the water is constantly generating frictional electricity, which I should judge would in a measure account for the fish being so constantly and powerfully charged with electricity, though far from its original source of supply. One of the strange characteristics of this fish, and one by which it undoubtedly obtains its food, is its high electric control of dense and foggy atmosphere surrounding it, which amalgamates with the electrifactin [sic] of the fish, making a potential which causes any living creature, such as birds or insects, flying through the air to fall dead into the water. Of course, that is merely a theory. and I may be mistaken as to its origin or where it goes to, but one thing I do know, that I would not encounter the same monster again for the universe and you can ask the rest of the party and you will find that they all agree with me, that to be within so short a distance of such a terrible monster and yet live to tell the story is something that only happens once in 1000 years. I hardly need to tell you that we were not long in getting under way for Tacoma, and I can assure you that I have no further desire to fish any more in the waters of this bay. There are too many peculiar inhabitants in them. I am going to send a full account of our encounter to the Smithsonian institute, and I doubt not but what they will send out some scientific chaps to investigate.

"Now I must be going, as I have to leave on to-night's train, but if you need any further particulars you can obtain then from any of the party. No, I do not know who composed the survey party; all I know about then is that they are from Olympia and that they were on the island running farm lines on some disputed land."

In the discussion regarding this incident, Magonia Exchange correspondents provide other newspaper accounts of the encounter, though of course the other accounts are likely to be "re-tellings" of this one. At any rate none that I found mention a subsequent scientific investigating party that included Hugo Drakenswode.

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From: deepseeker <> • 29 May 2005, 19:35

Yes! You're right. The clipping must have dated from 1893 (or shortly after). My guess of 1891 was just that -- a guess. Thank you for reminding me of the Tacoma Daily Ledger item, too. I know it well, but completely failed to make the connection. That gives the whole thing about Drakenswode's supposed involvement added momentum, don't you agree? I wonder if he actually went there. If so, Mr Ormsham might find journal entries relating to it. [Addressing said Ormsham] If you do come upon any further references, sir, I'd be grateful to see them. Your relative may include the sort of detail that we're simply not used to finding from this period. Though I haven't been focusing on it up to this point, the Tacoma "electric monster" is directly related to an area of cryptozoology I'm researching. If Drakenswode happens to provide more extensive information re the case, I'd be obliged to give it a central position in my study. Exciting indeed!

Alison Destrode

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From: funkysean [email address withheld by request] • 29 May 2005, 20:21

Hey, this is all made up crap, ain't it. I like monsters and that stuff and watch all the movies but this sh** your crappin on about don't seem for real. The guy writes funny like he's from an old book or sumthing. He's gotta be off his head. Don't you print my email address cause I don't want no loony chasing me around.

I seen a monster once. Me and some mates was hangin round down the backa the school where theres all this bush, we was doing cones and stuff, and it got a bit dark, then CRASH. I nearly jumpt outa me skin. These 2 big eyes was starin at us from up over the bushes, the whatever the F*** it was made a roar so loud our ears started bleedin. and the air was sorta blue and sparkly so we ran like buggery. Two big horns and those eyes. It was like that electric monster in the story, a snake. Mighta been the same thing, wotta you reckon. Dunno where Tacoma is, but I'm in Adelaide.

I drew a picture. I was just a kid then (about 10) so its not real good but you can see wot it was like anyway. Cool, wot you reckon?


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From: Doug Ormsham [email address withheld by request] • 30 May 2005, 12:02

To Ms Destrode: I will certainly keep an eye out for anything in Drakenswode's papers relating to the Tacoma Electric Monster and let you know about it. If it proves more than mundane, Mr Hood will no doubt wish to post it in this forum for all his readers to appreciate.

To Sean of Adelaide: I can assure you that I am "for real". Your own story should indicate that the possibility of giant monsters really existing is not one that can be dismissed out of hand. Certainly the picture you drew as a 10-year-old smacks of the ludicrous, but if it represents a genuine experience then you at least should be willing to approach Drakenswode's journals -- and my involvement in their discovery -- with an open mind. Don't be put off by my literary form of writing. My academic training and predilections for certain scholarly styles instilled in me by my parents have given me a somewhat stilted manner. During early education, my father used to insist on me including at least one polysyllabic word in every sentence, as a form of vocabulary extension. I'm afraid it has become a habit, one from which I rarely escape. I hope that what I say is clear to my readers nevertheless.

Incidentally, Sean, Tacoma is in Washington in the United States of America. It is nowhere near Adelaide.

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From: Doug Ormsham [email address withheld by request] • 1 June 2005, 01:14

I apologise that it has taken me so long to recount the story of how I came by Drakenswode's personal archive. I have been kept busy, not to mention distracted, by my own paranoia. Never mind, I determined to push the fears aside and to an extent have succeeded. Tonight has been quiet and I was able to retain my equanimity long enough to pen these few paragraphs.

Perhaps you assumed that the archive I have spoken of was in his study, my entrance to which formed the most recent chapter of my narrative account. If you so assumed, you were wrong. The study did not prove to be large; it contained a spacious oak desk -- one of those solid, well-carved items that we rarely see these days outside period dramas about presidents and ministers of state -- and a large, worn, leather swivel-chair. On the desk was a brass lamp, several neatly stacked piles of paper, a thick and well-used notebook, a small rack of nibbed pens and a few pencils, and a dried-up bottle of ink. The room also contained a leather single lounge chair beneath a standing lamp, next to which was a small table, and a Queen-size bed, neatly made. Nearby was a liquor cabinet. Three of the four walls were almost completely covered by glass-fronted book shelves -- with the exception of a metre-wide space that housed a low cabinet -- and in these were assorted encyclopaedias, almanacs, bound collections of journals (including a huge number of Fortean Times volumes) and the most extensive collection of standard monographs on anomalous phenomena and cryptobiology-related topics that I have ever come across. The most recent dates from 1974: Peter Costello's Searching for Lake Monsters. Only the furthest wall, facing outward at the front of the house (though it was windowless) was free of these shelves; that wall seemed to be entirely covered in strange unfamiliar glyphs. There was barely any dust or cobweb in evidence anywhere in the room, despite the years it had sat there unattended.

Remember it was night when I entered Drakenswode's study and the only illumination came from the battery-powered lantern I was carrying. It lit the room poorly enough, but gave it a warm atmosphere, the light being sepia in tone, tinged by all the red polished wood. Though the lantern's lambency was unable to penetrate every corner, so that shadows hunkered thickly under and behind the furniture, the ambiance of the room made me feel safe.

After a quick glance at the contents of the shelves, I sat at the desk to contemplate where I was and what it might mean. I shan't burden you with the subsequent flood of introspection that these questions provoke even now; my doubts and anxieties are ongoing and entirely predictable. Suffice it to say that time passed and after a while I drifted into sleep, exhausted from my long journey and the thrill of my discoveries, head resting on my outstretched arms, flat on the desk.

The sense of a presence aroused me. I sat up abruptly, body tense and head pounding with the shock of it. My lantern was still sending out its illumination, though somehow the result seemed dimmer and more limited. A tall, darkly silhouetted figure stood near the door, staring at me. I willed my heart to settle down. "Who's there?" I said stupidly, after a moment.

The figure did not reply. I grabbed the lantern and held it higher, hoping to spread its light even more widely, and as the shadows retreated somewhat from the figure's face, I felt a strong jolt of recognition. I had only seen him as an old, withered man, but it was my great-grandfather's face -- younger and more robust -- that stared impassively back at me. An old black-and-white portrait of Drakenswode had turned up in my mother's effects after her death -- a clear, strong image that emphasised the gaunt solidity of his bone structure, the piercing intelligence of his eyes, the independent mockery that played across his full lips. He wore a moustache and the sort of mutton-chop sideburns that had been fashionable at the time, when they had not seemed so much of a cliché, I suppose. His shoulders were broad in a bony rather than muscular fashion; his stance spoke of a certain arrogance and great physical strength. All these characteristics I saw in the spectre before me now, though overlaid by an ethereal weariness that, by all reports, had not existed in him during his life. He wore an old-fashioned, dark-toned suit.

Drakenswode's ghost?

As the idea skirted through my fevered brain, the figure turned and drifted across the room. At first I imagined it was coming for me, and tried to leap up, to defend myself. I couldn't move; my muscles felt atrophied, enervated by an invisible supernatural aura that flowed from the spectre's impossible existence and drained me of energy. Numinous dread held me firmly in its grip.

"Stay back!" I managed, my voice emerging as a groan.

It ignored me. I followed its progress across the room toward the area of blank wall between two of the bookshelves, into which space had been slotted a small bureau that I assumed contained papers. I confess, even then, I expected the spectre to conform to normal physical limitations and halt at the bureau -- but it didn't hesitate. Instead, it melted into the bureau, and then the wall, and at once was gone.

Recounting this story now, I am more convinced than ever that the monstrous attack of the other night must have been a dream. Clearly the room makes me susceptible to such vivid imaginings. This one of Drakenswode's ghost had been so powerfully real that for some time I was unable to separate it from waking reality. I shook uncontrollably, my heart a pounding flurry. Perhaps ten minutes passed before I could think to do anything.

Realising that the experience must have been a dream -- yet intrigued and frightened by its vividness -- I rose from the desk and, holding the lantern before me like a weapon, moved toward the gap into which the vision had disappeared. As light spilled over the wall there, I realised that the glyphs that covered the front wall must have continued around all the walls, for they were there, too. One I recognised; it was the same formation as appeared on the panel outside the study, the one I had touched in order to open the entry door. Without thinking, I reached with my free hand and rubbed my forefinger over the corresponding pattern. As before, an electric charge shot along the spiralling arms of the glyph, machinery sounded from within the wall cavity and a door-sized section of the wall, behind the low cabinet, groaned open. Behind it lay impenetrable darkness.

Why, you may ask, would anyone in their right mind enter such a dark, dubious space? Well, perhaps I was not in my right mind. Why would I be? At any rate, I dragged the cabinet out of the way, held the lantern through the hidden doorway and stepped into the space it revealed.

What it also revealed was the top of a downward spiralling stairwell, made of hewn stone, very narrow and confined. Leaning slightly to allow the light to uncover more of the steps, I could see no end to it. Clearly the wall-cavity here -- and downward past the ground-level storey -- was inordinately wide in order to accommodate the stairwell, and consequently to hide its existence from casual inspection. But to what did it lead?

Needless to say, perhaps, I immediately determined to find out. The discovery -- though provoked by my vision of Drakenswode -- had totally driven the fear of just a few moments before from my mind and heart. Down I went, cautiously and tentatively, concerned not to stumble over breakages or splits in the steps, for a fall down this confined incline could be deadly. If I were injured beyond my ability to save myself, it was unlikely that anyone would ever find me. After all, how would they open the study door in order to do so?

But I need not have worried. The stairs were in excellent shape and I made it to the bottom without incident, estimating that I had descended well past the ground-floor level, indeed below the level of any normal basement area. What was revealed was a vast chamber, one I later calculated to be 100 paces in length and some fifty in width. The space was filled with free-standing shelves, and on them was an unthinkable collection of cuttings, notebooks and journals. A quick check revealed that these latter were invariably hand-written -- and by the same hand, my great-grandfather's. It was the repository of his detailed account of a long and adventurous life's work.

Thus, my own researches began. Since then I have made but little headway with my determined systematic examination of these records, which I intend to prepare for eventual publication -- the first positive step of which was my somewhat unexpected discovery of your website and the impromptu decision to let you and your readers in on his secrets. This at least has spurred me on to greater and more focussed effort.

The next time I write to you will be to send you some of Drakenswode's remarkable journal entries. I plan to begin with his account of the Venezuelan investigation, which was prompted by the newspaper report that I sent earlier.

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From: deepseeker <> • 20 June 2005, 20:04

Here it is more than halfway through June and there hasn't been a peep out of Mr Ormsham since the 1st. I hope we haven't scared him off -- or worse, I hope he hasn't met with an "accident". Any news?

Alison Destrode

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From: • 20 June 2005, 20.32

No clear word from the man, I'm afraid. I received a rather enigmatic note just over a week ago -- by snail mail -- which seemed to indicate that he had been called away on business. However, it wasn't signed, and the writing was so bad as to be largely indecipherable. It was postmarked "Glasgow". I've been keeping an eye out for reports of suspicious, or at least related, news in UK papers, but nothing has cropped up. I guess we simply have to wait.

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