Pete Rawlik was first exposed to Lovecraft when his father read him “The Rats in the Walls” as a bedtime story. He has been collecting Lovecraftian fiction ever since. In 1985 he drove four hours in a “borrowed” Buick Skylark to see Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator. Since 1991 he has been active in issues related to Everglades restoration and monitoring, and has published extensively on the subject. For more than two decades he has run Dead Ink, selling rare and unusual books. His fiction has appeared in the magazines Talebones, Crypt of Cthulhu, Morpheus Tales, Innsmouth and the Lovecraft Ezine, as well as the anthologies Tales of the Shadowmen: Femme Fatales, Dead But Dreaming 2, Future Lovecraft, Horror for the Holidays, and Urban Cthulhu.
His fascination with pulp fiction, secret histories, Arkham, its lesser known residents, and occasional visitors, inspired the creation of Reanimators, his first novel which is scheduled to be released by Night Shade Books later this year. The book follows Dr. Stuart Hartwell, a contermpory of Herbert West, in his quest to destroy the mad scientist. But, as is expected, things don't go as planned.
Today we bring you Rawlik's short story "The Issue of Dr. Jekyll", which you'll only find here on HorrorTalk as it is an exclusive provided by Rawlik and the fine people at Night Shade Books. I'm not going to tell you what it's about, because you should read it for yourself, it's damn good. I will say, fans of the classics Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Herbert West: Reanimator, The Island of Dr Moreau, and more will love the the nods and surprises found within. Hell, I even noticed a sweet Stephen King reference.
So without further ado, get yourself a nice beverage, make yourself comfortable and enjoy "The Issue of Dr. Jekyll".
The Issue of Dr. Jekyll
Written by Peter Rawlik
As requested I have met with Doctor George Edward Rutherford concerning the issue of Doctor Jekyll and his estate. This meeting took place on the Fourth of November, 1888 in my London office. Present as witnesses were representatives of the Bank of England, Mr. Banks and Mr. Darling.
Dr. Rutherford is an unusual man, quite large, loud and condescending; with a huge black beard covering his face and extending well down his chest. He was particularly annoyed at being summoned to meet with me, and bristled when I noted that any failure to keep our conversation completely confidential might besmirch the reputation of our client, or his family, and might therefore require us to pursue legal action. Rutherford took that as an affront and suggested that, given the behavior of our client, his former mentor, he doubted the ability to successfully litigate any such action including libel or slander. Once the unpleasantness of our position was clearly outlined I asked Rutherford for an account of the events of the summer of 1882. Rutherford’s narrative of that summer is reproduced below for your files. The transcription is from my own notes as well as those of Mr. Banks and Mr. Darling.
“The summer of 1882 you say? That was the summer my employers and I traveled to the American state of Massachusetts, a small college was hosting a summer series of lectures by visiting professors, and I had been hired to act as assistant to three of them: the medical researcher Doctor Henry Jekyll, philologist Professor Henry Higgins, and the vivisectionist Doctor Jean-Paul Moreau, who still being notorious amongst the general public for his experiments on animals, joined us incognito. I as something of a polymath and polyglot seemed extremely well suited in serving the needs of these three distinct and distinguished researchers.”
“Our voyage to New York on board the SS Arctic was uneventful and pleasant. Professor Higgins entertained himself by talking with the crew and other passengers and making notes on their dialects. Monsieur Moreau spent much time in the kitchens examining the anatomical structure of whatever things the deckhands brought up out of the sea. Henry, Dr. Jekyll that is, spent the days reading and outlining a series of experiments in which he planned to expose animals, particularly primates, to a compound of his own design, one he said should have a radical effect on the baser instincts of the animal. It was a relaxing trip and I must say that the staff of the ship was most accommodating.”
“We were met in New York by our host, a fussy little man, an engineer of some sort, by the name of Perry. It took us a little more than an hour to clear customs and lay claim to our luggage. The Port of New York is an amazing place, massive cosmopolitan, ferociously busy, and I fear it may one day overshadow the great transportation hubs of Europe. Our bags followed us from the port to the station where we boarded a railcar. This final leg of our trip took us north through Boston and then into the countryside beyond. The beauty of Massachusetts rivals that of Wales and Scotland, and the small town that we finally disembarked at was quaint, picturesque, and reminded me of similar places in our own country such as Denton and Causton. The station in Arkham, for that was the name of the place we finally came to, is old as American cities go, and the architecture reflects the influence of the British settlers. The streets were lined with beautiful elm trees, and in the early June winds they swayed back and forth creating a lyrical, rustling sound.”
“Our quarters were but a short walk from the station, and just blocks away from the campus where the trio of scholars would be lecturing. Doctor Perry had arranged for us an assistant of sorts, someone who would make sure that we could find our way around, make our appointments, and our meals. Evangeline West was surprisingly charming, a lithe woman in her mid-twenties with blonde hair and stunning green eyes. She was well educated, and well versed in all manner of issues and subjects. She was a fabulous conversationalist, and on more than one occasion regaled us with tales concerning her uncle who, if I understand things, was a hero of the civil war, and afterwards served as an agent reporting directly to the President. Her tales of egomaniacal dwarfs, giant mechanical spiders, and armored steam engines were as fanciful as they were beguiling. Many an evening we four spent enchanted by her tales. Had I known where such things would lead I would have done my best to discourage Miss West, perhaps even asked Perry to find someone else.”
“Our lecture schedule at Miskatonic University was light, and it allowed for much socializing and independent work. Professor Higgins became fast friends with a local historian, a Professor Everet L. Watkins, and the two would take daytrips to the various villages in the area including Witch’s Hollow, Bolton, Kingsport and Innsmouth. I even accompanied them on a weekend trip to the neighboring state of Maine to visit a dreadfully sad place called Derrie.”
“Most of my time however, was spent assisting Moreau and Jekyll. The two had found a way to merge their studies. Jekyll had not been able to obtain the primates he had wanted to experiment on, Arkham being more provincial and less well supplied than London. Instead, Jekyll was using rabbits of which there was a regular supply. His experiments involved exposing the animals to a chemical reagent delivered via syringe to various organs and structures including the brain. Jekyll would then watch for any observable reaction. Afterward the subjects would be turned over to Moreau for dissection and measurement of induced changes.”
“It was my responsibility to prepare the reagents and the animals and under the supervision of my seniors administer the dosages. Evangeline, Miss West recorded notes during each experiment and later transcribed them. Her fortitude in this process was quite surprising. Most individuals of the fairer sex are somewhat squeamish when it comes to the vivisection, but Miss West was not only capable and level-headed, but singularly unemotional, at least in the laboratory. Gentlemen, I will not muddle about. Miss West was quite unlike any other woman I have ever met. That summer she was vivacious, beautiful, and frankly forward about her desires. When we were not in the labs she would take us dancing. We all went even though it was only Moreau who was really capable of matching her. Even Jekyll was seduced by her charms and took to the floor to join her.”
“I had at that time been in Jekyll’s employ for less than a year, though I did have occasion to take some coursework with him prior. In that time, I knew that he had occasional liaisons, but he was always discrete, and the exact nature and extent of his interactions with the fairer sex were always ambiguous. The same can be said of Jekyll’s relationship with Evangeline West. I can make no comment on the nature or extent of their interaction, for as I have said I was a hired man, paid by all three men. If you wish exact details of the nights that Jekyll and Moreau spent with West, I suggest you contact Doctor Moreau.”
“What I can provide are recollections of my direct observations through June and into late August when we returned to Britain. There was a particularly memorable day in late June, both Moreau and Jekyll were in high spirits, as was Miss West and there was an inordinate amount of frivolity in the laboratory. This unprofessional atmosphere made working difficult, and by late morning it was clear that no significant amount of work was going to be accomplished. Thus when Miss West suggested an afternoon picnic, I saw no good reason to oppose the idea. The day was warm but not unbearable and the four of us took our repast in a small field to the west of the college.”
“It was at the height of the day that we began to hear a strange and faint resonance, coming from the east. The hum grew louder with each passing second until finally it resolved into a reverberating roar not unlike that of a large freight train. Evangeline, who grew up in the mid-western portion of the continent, took this sign to indicate a tornado, but as we scanned the sky for signs of the devastating twister, we discovered something wholly else. Plummeting in a linear trajectory across the sky was a fireball that was leaving a trail of thick black smoke in its wake. It was as if some omnipotent deity was using a massive and invisible pen to bisect the sky. Its course took it directly over Arkham, Miskatonic University, and our own locale, and as it did so droves of people came out to look at it. The angle of descent was steep, and as it passed behind the trees I was already making estimates as to its impact location. I was only a few seconds into my calculations when we all felt a low but definite wave of ultrasonic sound moving through the earth. Not long after, we observed a pillar of smoke that rose up in the distance to mark the location of the meteor’s impact.”
“Motivated by the event we quickly tracked down Professor Perry and convinced him to allow us to locate the fallen object and collect samples of the thing for study. He agreed, but he was entirely uncomfortable allowing Miss West to travel into the field, and given that we were only visiting scholars, a member of the faculty would have to travel with us. Moreover, Moreau fully admitted that he had little interest in actually collecting the sample, but was more than eager to aid in the experiments. In the end, Perry found a senior member of the Geology Department who shared our desire, a gregarious man by the name of Axel Lidenbrock. With his assistance we spent the afternoon laying out a search grid, arranging for travel and gathering up supplies we might need for this local expedition. Lidenbrock and I estimated a probable impact zone and what local farmers and residents might be able to provide us guidance. These plans were quickly disposed of as word came to us of a farmer from the area had come to town announcing the impact of the meteorite just yards from his home. Noting the man’s name we located his homestead on county maps and determined the shortest route that we could take to the area, fully planning to arrive there before the Nine O’clock hour the next morning.”
“We took a wagon, driven by Lidenbrock, with Jekyll seated beside him and I in the rear with all of our equipment. It was a warm summer day, the road was well maintained and the slow journey into the countryside was a welcome change of pace. Lulled by the blue sky, a cool breeze and the tune that Lidenbrock was constantly whistling, I quickly dozed off only awakening occasionally when we encountered a rough patch in the road or encountered another wagon. We had been travelling for two hours when we finally came to the farm owned by Ammi Pierce. It was not his land that the fireball had impacted on, but his house marked the path that led to the farm which was our destination. After surveying the way forward, an overgrown and rocky foot path, it became clear that the wagon we had come in was too delicate to proceed. We made arrangements for the horse and soon, accompanied by Pierce and his wife, were traversing the trail on foot.”
“The three mile walk over rugged terrain led us to a set of ramshackle buildings, weathered gray with age. We were greeted by Nahum Gardner, a simple but amiable man, and his wife Abigail which he called Nabby. The couple had three boys, strapping young lads who were quickly dismissed, along with both women, while the professors and Nahum examined the strange object that had embedded itself in the yard near the well.”
“It was oblong, one could even say that it was crudely lozenge shaped, rust-colored and seven feet long by five feet wide, and three to four feet thick. This matched the description reported the previous day, though as with such reports from layman the size had been exaggerated. Gardner denied this saying that it had noticeably shrunk overnight. He pointed to the crater and noted where a gap between the object and the surrounding edge had developed. Gardner also reported that over night the thing generated a soft greenish glow. This luminescence excited Lidenbrock, who attempted to isolate a section and observe the phenomenon himself by cupping his hands over the surface. He pulled back almost immediately for the extra-terrene substance was strangely, even uncomfortably warm. Intrigued, Lidenbrock called for the geologists hammer and with a single swift blow gouged a chunk of the material away from the main body. The six inch long sample was oddly soft, pliable but tough, like rubber, plastic or tar. Lidenbrock declared it wholly unlike any other meteoric compound he had ever heard tell of.”
“Borrowing an old pail from the kitchen to carry it, Doctor Jekyll slipped Gardner a dollar, an outrageous sum, or so I thought at the time, and the five of us, three learned men and the Pierce’s tramped back over the countryside. At the Pierce’s farmhouse, while Ammi tended to the horses and wagon, Mrs. Pierce made us some simple cheese sandwiches and fresh cool water from Chapman’s Brook, which ran the length of both the Gardner and Pierce properties. As we were biding our farewells and Mrs. Pierce was tidying up, she accidently took hold of the pail which held our sample. It took her only a moment to realize her mistake but instead of setting the bucket back down, she instead peered at it with a most puzzled expression and called for us to join her. The specimen, she claimed, had decreased in size, shrunk since we first obtained it. I could not validate her observation, having little recall of the exact original measurements. Lidenbrock snorted and scoffed at the idea, politely but forcefully asked for the bucket, and then marched out of the house. Jekyll followed without a word, leaving me to apologize for my seniors and thank Mrs. Pierce for the meal.”
“Our journey home was uneventful, and with some delay for the return of the cart and supplies we were soon in the laboratory and experimenting on our acquisition. Dr. Moreau and Miss West had set up a series of experiments, and frankly the five of us, including Lidenbrock, were like children with a new toy. Even Higgins, whom had expressed no interest in the whole ordeal, joined us briefly and even organized a brigade of sandwiches and drinks as we toiled away into the night.”
“As for the specimen itself, it was still uncomfortably warm, and despite liberal applications of refrigerated air, ice, and dry ice showed no tendency to cool. On the anvil it was highly malleable and showed an unusual elasticity. As Gardner had noted, it was indeed luminescent, and when heated before a spectroscope displayed bands with unfamiliar colors which brought to mind the recent work on the detection of infra-red through photography by William de Wiveleslie Abney. Under heat we detected no volatilization, even when we introduced the oxy-hydrogen blowpipe. Taking our lead from Walter Flight we heated the sample on charcoal but were unable to detect any occluded gasses. The sample was magnetic, and therefore clearly metallic in nature, but application of the borax bead test produced wholly negative results, which suggested a range of possible candidate metals. Placing the sample in a crucible we subjected it to a variety of solvents including water, alcohol, ammonia, ether, caustic soda, carbon disulfide, hydrochloric acid, and nitric acid to no effect. Only when we immersed the thing in aqua regia did we observe three reactions. The most noticeable reaction was the production of something similar to a Widmannstatten pattern, which is normally produced when applying nitric acid to octahedrite iron meteorites that such a reaction did not occur during the direct application of nitric acid was in itself a conundrum. The second reaction was a detectable change in mass, which as we watched the sample on the balance, seemed to be slowly but definitely growing steadily less. Finally, the application of aqua regia seemed to engender a change in temperature to the sample which now seemed to be more tolerable. Fearing that we had initiated some kind of catalytic reaction, we placed the sample within a sealed glass beaker and evacuated the gaseous contents. This seemed to stabilize the sample, and as it was well after midnight, we all retired for the evening.”
“Much to our chagrin and surprise the isolation of the sample in the glass beaker did not prevent the slow decay of the sample. Indeed not only had the entire mass vanished, the beaker itself was gone as well. The only physical evidence that remained was a small charred spot on the wooden table. Flabbergasted as we were, the five of us were also intrigued and were quickly theorizing possible explanations for the sample’s strange affinity for silicon, bizarre optical properties, and reactions to aqua regia. Lidenbrock suggested that the meteor might be comprised of an element, or compound of an element, previously unknown to science. As Jekyll and Moreau debated the possibility I noticed Miss West slowly rise up and cross over to the chalkboard. There she began to make a list of all the properties that we had attributed to the sample. Once she was finished, she stepped back and seemed to be thinking intently. This went on for a few moments, and then she once more went back to the board and carefully wrote the name Selwyn Cavor.”
“Moreau and I both knew of Pr. Cavor by his reputation as a genius in the realm of physics, but what Miss West could be referring to was lost to us. Cavor, at least according to Miss West, had consulted certain volumes in the Miskatonic Library on a project that seemed relevant to our current situation. In trying to resolve certain discrepancies in the vortex theory of gravity Cavor theorized that there must exist a type of matter that exhibited behavior antagonistic to that of normal matter, and instead of being attracted to a mass, was instead repelled by it. He referred to such a tendency as anti-gravity. West was proposing an advancement of Cavor’s theory, a form of matter that was almost entirely antagonistic to normal matter. This so called anti-matter when in contact with normal matter would induce a reaction that released energy, perhaps as both light and heat, but because it represented a complete annihilation of both components would leave no waste products.”
“As West touched on this last point I realized what she was driving at. She believed that the meteorite we had sampled, the one that still sat in a field outside Arkham, was made of her theoretical anti-matter. Lidenbrock scoffed, but Jekyll and Moreau came to her defense, and soon we were all convinced that Miss West was if not entirely correct, then at least taking a step in the right direction. However, so intent were we on trying to explain the behavior of our missing sample, we had nearly forgotten all about the source itself. Realizing that time was of the essence we once more divided into two groups. Lidenbrock, Jekyll and I would return to the Gardner Farm and obtain another sample, and begin negotiations for acquiring the entire meteorite. In the meanwhile, Moreau and West would attempt to develop a method for isolating the material, and preventing its spontaneous decay.”
“Sooner than I would have thought probable we were once more boarding the horses at the Pierce Farm, and accompanied by Ammi Pierce on our way by foot to the Gardner Farm. As we walked we explained to Pierce how we had tested the sample, and how it had or had not responded. I could tell that much of this was lost on the man, but his lack of comprehension did not derail us. We trooped down the path carrying our equipment, our pace quickened by our excitement.”
“Nahum Gardner met us as we came upon the house and joined us at the impact site. At the sight of the thing he was as much taken aback as we were. In a day it had shrunk significantly, being now only about five feet long and the earth much caved in around it. It was still uncomfortably hot and Lidenbrock suggested that it might even be warmer than it had been the day before. While Jekyll spoke to Gardner, I handed Lidenbrock a hammer and chisel. With a single blow a large gouge appeared in the mass penetrating five to six inches into the rock. A large chunk perhaps two feet across detached and tumbled to the ground. With gloved hands I recovered it and placed it into a large ceramic jar which I then sealed with paraffin.”
“As I was finishing the bead, Lidenbrock let out a cry of discovery and called us all to his side. In the area exposed by our efforts there was embedded a glossy globule about three inches across. As the sun played across the surface of the newly exposed sphere a brilliant display of color played out which reminded me of the spectrum we had seen the previous night while testing the now vanished sample. We all watched as Lidenbrock gently tapped the thing and were surprised from the sound that echoed back which suggested hollowness and a thin perhaps even brittle shell. Before anyone could act to stop him, Lidenbrock gave the globule a quick, smart blow of the hammer. There was an audible pop as the spherical jewel burst and I watched for the pieces of shell to rain to the ground. Instead they simply vanished. Whatever material the object had been made of, it was apparently only stable when in that particular shape, in this I draw parallels to bubbles of soap and other such thin liquid shells.”
“The discovery and loss of that globule, spurred us to search for others, and within the hour we had drilled a number of exploratory holes with no results. Disheartened by our lack of discovery, our spirits were lifted when Jekyll revealed that he and Gardner had worked out an agreement that allowed us to return the next day and remove the entire specimen. We left with our new sample and hurried back to Miskatonic University in order to make arrangements for equipment and a heavy truck. As we trundled back onto campus a summer storm was blowing in from the east bringing rain, wind and lightning with it.”
“That night we divided into three teams, each with a substantial portion of meteorite to work with. Lidenbrock was to repeat many of the tests from the previous night and assure that the sample behaved homogeneously. Jekyll and Moreau were to pursue a study in which animals were exposed to minute quantities of the material either intravenously, or orally. In the meanwhile, West and I were to subdivide our sample and subject them to multiple treatments in an attempt to retard or cease its slow decay. After some consultation we decided to divide the sample into five pieces and attempt five different preservation techniques. The simplest of our designs involved a casement made out of lead, while our most complicated design involved containers made out of low-grade sapphires wrapped in magnetized wires which would then suspend the material in such a manner that it would not come in contact with any other solid.”
“It was in the course of subdividing our sample that West and I discovered a second globule, smaller than the first, only two inches across, but still as dynamic and beautiful as the first. Knowing that this sphere was likely to be as brittle as the last we extracted it from its matrix using fine tools borrowed from the archeology department. Once it was clean we transferred it to a porcelain crucible which we then set into a cabinet for safe keeping. It was only after we had completed our evening of work trying to preserve the meteoric matrix that we considered going back to research the multi-spectral sphere. Unfortunately, by this time we were all too tired to carry out any formal examination and after braving the thunderstorm we all retired well after midnight.”
“The next morning, for the third day in a row, a familiar trio of scientists once more made the trip to the Gardner Farm, this time accompanied by a heavy truck full of equipment and supplies. To our great disappointment the great meteorite was gone, only a ragged pit remained to mark its existence. I suggested that the rain had acted to accelerate the dissolution, but this seemed contrary to our laboratory experiments. When asked if he had seen anything odd the previous night Gardner was reluctant to speak at first, but eventually revealed that the storm may indeed had some effect on the object. The stone it seems had a tendency to draw the lightning from the storm for he had seen tremendous bolts rain down on the thing six times in the first hour of the storm. After that, Gardner lost track though he admitted the strikes continued throughout the night. Half-heartedly, I dug around in the pit but found nothing. We took lunch with the Gardners, a rabbit stew, and then bid them goodbye. Our return to Miskatonic University was solemn, the loss weighing heavy on our minds. Only the knowledge that some samples remained in our laboratory, including an intact globule provided any relief to our disappointment.”
“Back at our laboratory, we found ourselves beset by the most boorish little man. Karel Colceag, Higgins identified the man as Romanian in origin, identified himself as a reporter for the local weekly newspaper the Arkham Gazette. His questions concerning the meteorite were at first straight forward and we were happy to supply him with answers. However, as the questioning continued it seemed plain that Colceag was more interested in exploiting the Gardner family, characterizing them as uneducated and superstitious folk, and trying to manipulate us into making such statements. I cannot stand such men who seek to profit in the documentation of the failings of the less fortunate. It is rare that I use my own stature to dominate others, but in this case I was provoked, and rising to my full height I made it clear to Mr. Colceag that he was unwelcome in our facility and that he should neither write about us nor return for a further interview. This encounter spurred a discussion of how to proceed with publicizing our work. All agreed that we should only publish our findings in respectable scientific journals, and that communication with the press should be avoided at all costs.”
“To accomplish this we devised a simple plan in which we provided to the public announcements that were designed to purposefully misinform. We made no mention of the surviving globule, nor that we had subdivided the sample, and neither did we discuss the act of animal testing. We did describe how we had sealed a sample in a lead casement, and after a week when the fragment within had ceased to exist, we announced that event publicly. As planned, the stories written by reporters, including Colceag detailed the strange properties of the material and lamented our inability to preserve any bit of the outré visitor. By the second week in July all inquiries into our work had ceased. We did not let it be known that some of our other preservation methods were slightly more successful, and allowed us to formulate a new concept for preserving the globule.”
“As I have said, our research into the nature of the alien material took many paths, and while West and I pursued the preservation of samples, and Lidenbrock explored its chemical and physical nature, the path chosen by Jekyll and Moreau was on the possible effects such material would have on the organs and structures of living creatures. These were in a single word astounding. The material had a profound effect on the tissues of the subjects, regardless of dosage. At extremely low oral dosages the substance acted as a desiccant, drawing water out of the tissues and cells to such a point that the tissues eventually became dry and grey before becoming exceedingly brittle. It was both astounding and horrible to watch vibrant creatures succumb to forces that in a matter of hours turned them slowly into masses of little more than grey dust. More concerning was that the lost water itself remained unaccountable, as if whatever process was occurring was also acting to destroy the water itself. Attempts to determine the final fate of the missing mass proved fruitless.”
“Strangely enough, while the samples of the meteoric matrix were slowly disintegrating, the strange globule was noticeably expanding, albeit slowly. By the end of the third week of July all of the meteoric material had dissolved, while the strange globule had swelled to slightly more than four inches in diameter. We treated the globule with care and examined it in the most passive and benign of methods. Unlike the matrix from which it was recovered, it was cold to the touch, and was not luminous. Indeed tests of reflectivity suggested that the thing actually absorbed light but only in select wavelengths. Experiments with direct heat produced no measurable change in temperature. This did not mean that there were no measurable changes in the object itself. Indeed I have already commented on the fact that the object was growing in size, but it was also gaining mass as well. The surface area of a sphere is a function of the square of its diameter, while the volume of a sphere is a function of the cube of its diameter. The sphere was gaining mass at a rate that was proportional to neither of these, but rather at a rate somewhere between the two. This perplexed us for a bit, but eventually I realized that the rate of mass gain might be properly explained if the mass of the shell were held constant, while the quantity of whatever was held inside was increasing proportionately to volume. Essentially what we were watching was a balloon made of extra-terrene material being filled with a substance the source and nature of which was unknown. Moreau thought perhaps that the surface material was porous and was drawing gaseous matter from our atmosphere to the interior, but we found no evidence of any currents or vortices around the object to support such an idea.”
“By the end of July the sphere had grown to more than a foot in diameter. All attempts to halt its progression had failed, though we had achieved some success in slowing the expansion by placing it inside a lead chamber in which a vacuum had been created. Removing all light sources apparently helped as well. It was about this time that we began to detect a new property of the sphere that prompted us to ask Professor Higgins to join our research team. The sphere rested inside its chamber on a tripod of ceramic, which itself set on a slab of lead. At irregular intervals the slab would be subjected to a low frequency vibration, the source of which was obviously the sphere. As an expert in sounds and sound production we invited Higgins to apply himself to our literally growing issue. Of course he readily agreed.”
“The subsequent events cannot be laid solely on Higgins, or on any one of us. We all agreed to take the globule out of the isolation chamber so as to facilitate the detection and study of the strange harmonics being produced. That those studies lasted for days, and that all of us failed to realize that Higgins had neither slept nor eaten during the time period is a monumental failure that culminated on August 11th 1882 in what can only be termed a disaster. It was Evangeline West that first noticed the strain Higgins was under, for she had been assisting him non-stop for several hours and in a state of near exhaustion had suggested that they both break for food and a cup of tea. Higgins launched into a tirade demeaning the poor woman personally, and her gender as a whole, suggesting that her constant prattle was slowly driving him mad, and if she were simple to leave him alone, perhaps he could finally finish deciphering what the damned sphere was trying to tell him.”
“For her part, Evangeline was most professional, and immediately left the lab to fetch myself and the others. She returned with all of us in tow, perhaps no more than thirty minutes later. Higgins was standing next to the sphere with a large tuning fork raised up over his head with both hands. Jekyll shouted as he came through the door and then sprinted forward. He covered the distance between them in an instant while Higgins himself in response to the sudden ruckus, spun around to face us. I do not know what Higgins intention was, that point is moot. What I do know is that the collision between Jekyll and Higgins sent the philologist to the floor and deflected Jekyll onto the table top and crashing into the sphere. The great multi-colored ball was knocked into the air and seemed to hover there for a second before it suddenly shuddered violently and then with a tremendous, almost comical sound, popped.”
“The space once occupied by the sphere was now occupied by a brilliant green luminescence that quickly expanded in all directions to form a kind of thick blanket or dense fog. So bright was the light given off by this gaseous substance that I and the others had to shield our eyes while we fumbled for protective goggles. Jekyll who was prone on the table directly beneath the glowing mass brought his arm up over his face to hide his eyes. West, who had obviously retained more of her rationality than the rest of us donned a thick pair of protective gloves and then grabbed a large bucket. She dashed forward and using the handle swung the bucket through the odd gas scooping a large portion out and down. I heard her cry out as her hand passed through the substance but whatever had occurred, it failed to stop her. She kept the bucket moving, slid it and its contents beneath the lead chamber and sealed it shut.”
“Her actions were not without consequence. The main body turned from green to red and there was a sudden piercing sound that rapidly increased in frequency, like the sound of a train whistle moving toward you. The mass seemed to implode in on itself, condense, and then surged downward toward Jekyll. It enveloped the poor man and he screamed in pitiful agony, but only briefly. The open orifice was apparently too appealing to whatever force was motivating the strange mass, and it poured down his throat filling the man with a sickly glow that cycled through some strange alien analog of the spectrum. As it did so, the shrieking claxon subsided and was replaced with a low almost satisfied hum.”
“In addition to the droning hum there was still another sound, one not unlike the shrieking that had subsided but of a much lower volume and somewhat muffled. It took me a minute but I soon realized that the noise was originating from the lead chamber which Miss West was currently securing shut. Lidenbrock was first to act and fled out the door with a wild fearful look upon his face. I called after him but it had no effect. Moreau staggered over to Jekyll, while I went to attend to Higgins. The poor man had collapsed and was mumbling incoherently in a language I did not recognize. I did a quick examination of the man and finding no obvious injuries I made sure he was comfortable and then shuffled over to help Moreau.”
“Jekyll’s body was being wracked by arcs of blue electrical energy the movement of which in turn caused his body to spasm and jerk. Moreau reached out to hold Jekyll down but as his hand approached the body a spark of energy arced out from the body and threw Moreau several feet back. I moved to help him but he waved me off and directed me to a pair of insulated gloves. I stumbled over, secured them and then moved toward Jekyll’s energized body. The same manner of energy leapt toward my outstretched hand but the gloves performed as needed and I was able to grab him by the shoulders and pin him to the floor. Moreau obtained another pair of gloves and was quickly able to pin the poor man’s feet. By this time West had finished securing the chamber and had unraveled a roll of rubber hose. Together the three of us bound Jekyll’s arms and legs and created a crude stretcher. We cleared a low table at the far end of the laboratory and laid our friend out on it before covering him with a blanket. Once we were assured that he was secured we all collapsed in exhaustion.”
“Lidenbrock returned several hours later and apologized for his cowardly behavior. Despite this he remained fearful and was careful to avoid approaching Jekyll’s body. Higgins and Lidenbrock assisted West in transferring samples of the strange gas from the lead box and into sapphire containers wrapped in magnetized wire, while I and Moreau examined Jekyll. After several hours of testing and attempts to draw the substance out of Jekyll using passive or non-invasive methods, Moreau and I concluded that more serious methods might be needed. However, all of the ideas we came up with were dangerous, and likely to injure Jekyll if not singly, then successively. What we needed were subjects that were similarly infected by the same material on which we could experiment.”
“To this end we took the remainder of the sample in the lead box and placed it inside a glass cabinet with a dozen rabbits. West had prepared four containers with small subsamples of the gas which appeared to be stable, although both luminescent and energized. The rest of the green cloudy gas was pumped into the cabinet where it almost immediately flowed violently into the nasal passages of the small mammals. As with Jekyll the creatures were suddenly wracked with strange energies and suffered severe convulsions. After some consultation we agreed to allow our specimens to undergo at least twenty-four hours of exposure before any attempts to force the gas out of their bodies was made.”
“To our astonishment the exposed animals showed a wholly remarkable response. All twelve animals showed marked changes in morphology with changes to the head, spine, and all four legs and to the front paws. The overall effect in appearance was disturbing for the animals now seemed to be more comfortable in an upright bipedal position rather than as quadrupeds. It was obvious that the animals were in considerable pain, but they were also exhibiting unusual signs of aggressive behavior. Perhaps the most startling transformation was not the sudden restructuring of the front paws into grasping hands, but rather the speed at which the animals developed skill in their use. So adept had the creatures become that we found it prudent to add a lock to the cage latch and remove the key to a safe distance.”
“Despite the observed and strange changes in the rabbits, we were thankful that our friend Jekyll was showing no such metamorphosis, at least not outwardly. Our concern over other changes increased suddenly after Higgins joined Moreau in examining the rabbits and recording their measurements. Higgins has an unusual habit of singing while he works not any song in particular, but rather a spontaneous work created by his own mind concerning whatever is going on at the moment. In his style there was some semblance to the works of Gilbert and Sullivan such as HMS Pinafore and The Pirates of Penzance. So complex were his spontaneous productions that they often contained not only lyrics, but also repetitive sections for a chorus. Higgins had this day composed an amusing refrain concerning the life of a laboratory assistant and was now into the fourth or so verse of the thing when he was suddenly joined in the refrain by a chorus of tiny chirping voices. Voices that startled all of us for it was apparent that the source was none other than the animals upon which we were preparing to experiment on!”
“There, in that too small cage the poor creatures who had been subjected to an alien substance were swaying back and forth singing in perfect harmony about the menial tasks that must be carried out in a laboratory, in perfect imitation of Higgins lyrical presentation. West and I were stunned, as was Higgins, and we ceased whatever tasks we were undertaking to appreciate the pure beauty of the sight and sound of what was occurring. Higgins softly suggested that what we were looking at was a form of mimicry, similar to what can be accomplished by some birds. I cast a dissenting glance in West’s direction, for as I listened I noted several slight variations amongst the lyrics original sung by Higgins. It seemed to indicate some level of cognizance as well as a familiarity with the English language. Such things seemed improbable, but given that these very animals were now exhibiting bipedal motion, hand dexterity, and vocal repetition, how much of a stretch was the development of not only intelligence but language skills as well?”
“The question was never to be explored. Moreau was apparently unmoved by the entire display and continued with his work on trying to find a way to drive the gas out of the animals. While we were distracted, the eager vivisectionist had attached electrodes to the cage and with a flip of a single switch had sent hundreds of volts of electricity surging through the cage and its inhabitants. The poor rabbits grew rigid for a moment and then seemed to vibrate to some strange frequency. Electricity arced between their ears and between rabbits and I could see thin wisps of smoke trailing into the air. Evangeline turned away and buried her face in my shoulder. There was a macabre grin on Moreau’s face, and he seemed to take some horrid satisfaction in the process. I motioned for him to stop, not out of compassion for the animals, but rather for fear that the treatment did not appear to be having an effect, and I did not want to kill all of our test subjects. Instead of turning the power off, Moreau gleefully adjusted it higher causing the animals to vibrate even faster. The whole thing reached a fever pitched crescendo when the mouths of the animals suddenly opened and the thick yellow gas suddenly began to disgorge. The strangely luminescent vapor poured out of the rabbits and seeped upward out of the cage and into the space above it.”
“The miasma hung there in the air congealing but at the same time tendrils of the material spun out in several directions, curling through the air like the tentacles of some deep sea beast. After the last of it had left the cage Moreau turned off the power letting the now tortured animals collapse to the grown in agony. Several were breathing rapidly but all in all the beasts seemed to be relatively unharmed. Gently pulling Evangeline with me, I backed away from the strangely moving vapor and both Higgins and Moreau did the same. That the mass possessed some semblance of life and motor force seemed undeniable for it continued to probe and pull itself through the air in defiance of all obstacles or breezes that plied the laboratory. Slowly the thing drifted to a point above where poor Jekyll had been laid out. Thick ropy masses roiled down and enveloped the prone man’s head. At first I thought that the mass was going to flow down into Jekyll, but it soon became apparent that the opposite was occurring, the free floating vapor was actually drawing its other parts out of the infused man. Streamers of gas were flowing up through the air, and in response the mass was growing larger, nearly filling the space between the ceiling and the work area.”
“With a tremendous gasp Jekyll’s body arched up as the last of the alien creature vacated his system, and then collapsed back to the makeshift bed. From a distance we could see that his breathing was labored, but he seemed to be regaining consciousness. The gaseous entity continued to probe about, and I realized that it was looking for the pieces of itself that we had sealed in sapphire containers. Moreau called for me to open a window and I made my way to the far side of the room with my back against the wall. I struggled with the mechanism which was stuck from years of disuse, but eventually the rust and grime came loose and the upper pane swung open with a wrenching creak.”
“Moreau had attached his electrodes to two metal rods and using a pair of insulated gloves was carrying the charged poles raised in the air. He plunged one then the other rod toward the alien fog and then brought them closer to each other. The things sparked violently and the gaseous entity recoiled out of either fear or surprise. Moreau took a step forward and shifted the position of his rods herding the radiant vapor toward he open window. The thing tried to move in another direction but Moreau anticipated each feint and countered it expertly. There was something graceful in his movements and attacks, something that reminded me of an expert with a rapier. He was so lithe on his feet, so sure of his movements, so daring in his attacks. Inevitably the extraterrestrial cloud had no choice but to ooze out the open window and into the open air outside.”
“All of us were outside and we watched as the thing floated above the university moving slowly like a cloud or a rather thick puff of smoke. Whatever it was, it seemed confused to be out in the open and soon the only motion it made was to move further and further into the sky. We watched it, watched as it slowly receded from the confines of the earth. It became small, miniscule, and then at last a single solitary pinprick that was swallowed up by the sky.”
“We thought the matter closed. Jekyll showed no indication that the intrusion or the removal of the strange gas had caused any permanent damage. He was however weak, and required the rest of the month to recover. The recovery process consumed most of Miss West’s time, for she spent all of her waking hours attending to his every need. Of the three remaining samples that we had encased in sapphire containers, we drew lots for their dispersal. Jekyll, Moreau and Higgins each received one of the wire wrapped stones. By the end of August it was clear that there was an intense bond between the two, and we were all quite sure that Jekyll would make some change in his plans, either one way or another. Despite our confidence none of us mentioned a word of it, and when we departed in early September Evangeline West was not with us.”
“It was on the fourth day out of port that a ruckus brought us to the forward deck. The passengers and many of the crew were looking skyward, shielding their eyes from the sun, for there in the sky was an object of significant magnitude. Of course it was not in the sky, but rather beyond our planet in the space between our atmosphere and the sun. Her Majesty’s astronomer has called it a comet, and the press christened it the Great Comet of 1882. In Cape Town the Chief Assistant applied a wide variety of filters to his instruments and photographed the thing as it passed in front of the sun and then beyond it before fading into the depths of the void. His observations, duly recorded testify that the thing was radiant with a light unlike any he had ever seen before. But I, George Edward Rutherford know that spectrum, and so do my colleagues Henry Higgins, John-Paul Moreau and Evangeline West, for it was the same strange spectrum that had belonged to the radiant vapor that had issued forth from the mouth of Doctor Henry Jekyll so many days earlier.”
When it became clear that Rutherford had finished his account, I consulted with Misters Banks and Darling and we agreed that we needed to be direct. We thanked Dr. Rutherford for his time, and apologized for our brashness but requested that he be forthcoming concerning Jekyll’s relationship with Miss West. Was it possible that Jekyll had consummated the relationship, and that Evangeline West had given birth to Jekyll’s child?”
At this Rutherford rose up out of his seat. Donned his coat and hat and made his way to the door, pausing only long enough to answer my question. “Evangeline West is the finest, smartest and most outstanding woman I have ever met. If she has told you that she gave birth to the son of Henry Jekyll, there is no reason to doubt her.” He slammed the door as he left, and it was clear that his participation in our investigation was at an end.
Despite the rather circuital response, I do believe that Rutherford has provided us with an answer, or at least one that would holdfast in a court of law. With your approval, I shall draw up papers legally recognizing the son of Evangeline West, born in Arkham, Massachusetts in 1883, as the issue of Doctor Henry Jekyll, and therefore an heir to his estate. Based on my estimates there are sufficient funds to maintain both the mother and child in a comfortable state, and if carefully marshaled it is likely that the child will be able to attend university, perhaps even becoming as skilled a physician as his father.
As for Jekyll’s pocket watch, the one with the sapphire fob, I shall place it in the firm’s vault at the Bank of England with instructions that it be released to the child when he reaches the age of majority, but not before. We may have been engaged by Dr. Henry Jekyll, but we must also serve his heir, and be sure that our young charge, Herbert West reaches his full potential.
Gabriel Utterson, Solicitor
17 Tower Hill
5 November 1888
So what did you think? If you dug it as much as I did, you are going to want to pre-order Reanimators now. I'm a little over halfway through and I'm thoroughly enjoying it.
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