by J.N. Moore
A traveler wanders into a bleak yet tranquil town and discovers nothing is what it seems.
|It’s not uncommon to converge on a region of unsettling scrutiny whilst muttering a cornucopia of sentence fragments down the side of the highway, northbound towards Mishkatoshen - just southeast of Elkhart in the paramount of the state of Indiana. Unscrupulous isolation on the outskirts of a notable city in the northern part known for its unusual and curious future. A musky scent filled the inside of every orifice on the young man’s face; Jeff. Not known for its wide open spaces, the landscape seemed to tether on and on in rich, natural and queer fields of trees, seemingly endless at the time. Serene yet serpent-like in its visage of winding roads and thin retrogression which was so common in mostly unoccupied terrain. Slight hills, rustic willows and the spattering of local raptors gave way to the obsolete and persistently infantile hamlet, Mishkatoshen.
Jeff’s albinism whispered a hint of contrast to his dark, goatish-looking facial hair, draped with slightly windswept hair which hid the wizardry that were his thick, black-rimmed eye-glasses. Thin and dreary were the rags of day old body odor abundant on his lithe frame. Influences were drawn amidst stormy weather from hours past and a disjointed lore of autumn on the horizon. Crinkled and customary were the unwholesome cracking of his joints as the addiction of so-called popping was the only disembodied auditory stimulation arising as he trotted into Mishkatoshen; greeted with a sign which read:
“Tranquil oceans have nothing on Mishkatoshen!
Anathema sputtered throughout Jeff’s overcrowded mind, uncertain of a place to lay his hat. More trusting was the year, 1927. No footsteps of the lavish and obscene blights produced by years of debauchery and diseased night owls trotted though. Plots were simple, unassisted and conscious down the only main street in Mishkatoshen; aptly named. A disarrangement of four streets with dead ends connected to Main Street. Few stores - a church, market, post office and a library - deliberately and tightly defensive completed the town. No mention of any education system could be spotted in a self-sufficient and increasingly spacious hamlet. Jeff was aghast yet obliged to let out a sigh of relief as he neared the library for more information on this lonesome place.
The library wasn’t abundant in crafty masonry nor abnormal in its appearance; Carnegie had not touched this town, as he jest at its appearance from abroad. Jeff peered up at the two level work of art. “A town this young and diminutive produced all of this popularity with such tact that even I’m amazed.” The juxtaposition of the library with the local church must’ve taken some subterfuge to arbitrarily place them; to outsiders. It was uncanny, yet Jeff never let that stop his forward progress as the sun was breaching the storm clouds over head, fauna was abound and hominids plentiful, out for their early afternoon strolls.
Two unimposing solid wooden doors stood catatonic with intricate, lingering carvings on the front, blanketing them with their portentous declamation unsalted by the least trace of honesty.
Entertainingly, Jeff pulled open one of the wooden doors, slightly swinging it open with limitless effort. It was disquieting, totemic - seemingly diabolical in a reluctant way - yet uninterrupted as few people seemed to have rarely surged in in all of its years of living. Jeff was soon greeted by the librarian, Mrs. Houghy. She was robbed in what was an old and archaic gown made from yak wool; imported heavily. Her eye-glasses gently rested on the edge of the nose of the 70 something year old Mrs. Houghy. Chiefly disturbed by the crow’s feet and endless wheezing gasps, the frail man - Jeff - approached with much haste.
“There has to be a place where I can..” He managed to choke out a few words before being cut off mid-sentence. “We have cots in the basement of this fine establishment. As for toiletries, beverages and other sustenance, we’re unable to requisition it from local farms. Hunting grounds are just a few miles east of Elkhart.” Mrs. Houghy’s rhetoric was stoic and ambitious, giving subtle hints as to authority. Jeff swallowed his discrepancies with the lack of help regarding food, warranting retaliation via heavy verbal attacks. He swallowed his pride and decided to look around the library before bunking down on the Civil War style cots in the basement where few people were staying.
Flipping through row and column, Jeff headed to the second floor with determination and cunning to occupy the undiminished erudite feelings he felt. Leading him to a row simply titled “Portentum Abysses”. Unabashed, Jeff was anxious and had acute senses for the inward droning of his adventurous ways. The smell of centuries old tomes ran rampant around him as the familiar scent of unattended bindings, covers and volumes after volumes of text on paper wafted up and brought Jeff to notice a sporadic series, spread throughout the entire aisle.
“Book 3: Quernus” read the cover, embossed with a flat black cover and back. Opening the front cover uninhibited, Jeff generously peered at what was semi-anthropomorphic terrestrials in a sort of concentric shape, hovering over bipedal, prehistoric hominids. A main figure stood segmented from the rest: symmetries of infernal geometry completed with leathery, hinged wings; a reticulated hide as the guise of a monitor lizard, with a score of elongated and greyish-brown tentacles protruding from his serpentine-like maw; and terminated in ridgy-veined paws that were neither hooves nor claws. The tail of the central figure resembled that of a colossal eastern diamondback rattlesnake with such markings, meshing into the core figure’s torso.
Words were lost as Jeff closed the book and sat it randomly on the bookshelf. As he turned counterclockwise to go to the basement, the now exhausted man was staring at brown annular markings spread across a cosmic facade. Nothing was superficial, as Jeff recalled the intricate markings on the front of the library were no such artifice you would find in a fiction. Lucidity was abound as the man tried to turn and run away, but to no avail. His movement was halted as the cosmic facade drew closer. Sound was null as Jeff screamed for help. His voice was hampered by the deafening scream of the obscure and fear-inspiring figure he had seen in the tome before. A cryptic alphabet appeared before him, as Jeff was soon to feel a vestigial prick upon his frontal lobe, soon to be forgotten.
The man - Jeff - awoke to find himself staring outside of the library, with many others around him. Broadsided, a visitor from, what seemed, out of town had stopped by the library to gather information on their whereabouts. Straining, Jeff tried to stop the outsider from going in; yelling, screaming and trying to move to advance towards the person in front of him. Stiffened by the barricade put forth before him, Jeff noticed something unusual. He was neither living nor dead. In fact, Jeff had joined the rest of the collection of curious vegetables on the doors to the front of the library. Distorted, frantic and unrecognizable, the lithe man was to live out the rest of his days conversing with himself, performing feats of self-loathing and melancholia, driven by the excess morose glimpses of those before and after him.