JONATHAN HARKER’S JOURNAL
Summer, Year of the UnHalfliving
Excerpts of journal entries made by Jonathan Harker, law clerk in the employ of civil litigants and personal injury law firm Cerrino & Baines.
9:13 AM–Departed by train from Auditorium Station. It was running late, as the conductor seemed unable to ascertain in which direction from him lay the opposite end of the train line. Arrived at the Allen Street station about 9:18 AM. Many strange people at the sub-terranean depot. Nothing like the usual sorts gadding about the confines of my beloved student common area back at the Amherst campus. Must write Mina. Anyway, these unusual people were dressed in immeasurably oversized garments that ostensibly bore no relevance to a particular trade or artisanic endeavor. Two or perhaps three of them attempted, quite bluntly, to converse with me but I was able to dissuade their efforts by gesturing sternly with my hands that I would show no quarter. Upon making the ground’s surface again I chanced upon a man cloaked in a cumbersomely heavy overcoat made of cashmere wool. It was not unlike a smaller coat of the very same fabric under which I took shelter against the harsh gales scything in from the Erie Lake back at my Lewistown home. But this day it was quite, so very hot. How could he bear to remain blanketed in that bodyoven in this unmitigated swelter? At first he withdrew from me as I approached him to enlist his assistance. Reluctant as he was to indulge me I persevered and he eventually capitulated. I asked him if he could aid me in arriving in the center of a place called Allentown. He turned away from me to indicate an area behind himself and I saw that the backside of his coat was gravely tattered, even rotting and grotesquely soiled. And then, as if by will of The Almighty himself, a breeze blew across the withered and fetid body of this timeless soul and I caught, full-olfactory, the overwhelming stench of death-ages-gone-by. I nearly fell ill at the whiff of this and could scarcely find purchase in my stance. I staggered away from him, but he was now, more than yet, much eager to perpetuate our fellowship. As I reeled backways from him he seemed to gain momentum in his pursuit of our closeness, momentum eerily fueled by his delight in my disorientation. I fell backwards in the street, nearly being crushed by the otherworldly rush of a fantastic traveling machine. A vehicle greater in size than any I have seen apart from the docksides of the Erie basin where great journeys and seagoing cargo ships launch and land. He let out a madcap burst of hysterical laughter at my dismay. I turned to run across this hard-paved avenue, but just then a wave, nay an army, of those un-Godly land vessels rushed on me. I withdrew from their path and they stayed their course, leaving a berth of only a few feet between they and myself. When they had passed I was able to elude the maniacal, soiled man.
I wandered along the sidewalk of a street called “Allen”. Some of the land vessels moved along the middle of this street as well, but much more slowly, affording me some easement of mind. I looked into shop windows and bade “good day’” to habitants perched in chairs upon their porches and passersby on the avenue, but received, in return, only perplexed and sometimes disdainful glances.
I came upon a place that looked civilized. A place that reminded me of the comforts of familiarity back in Amherst. It was called, by their sign the very curious appellation of Frizzy’s, and I went inside to take repose and imbibe.
I asked the proprietor if he knew the precise location of the place from whence emanated the doings of a man called Moses, who concealed his personal deeds behind the faade of an endeavor called “Artvoice”. The name of his manor may well be titled “Artvoice”, I told him. He regarded me with one vacant eye and made reference to my removal from his establishment if I did not have enough money to buy a drink. I assured him, on the honor of the crown itself (as my employers fancied themselves regal) that I was endowed well and could pay at once for any goods or services rendered me by him.
I explained that I was in the employ of said firm of legal practicing and had been sent ahead to investigate circumstances surrounding a class-action suit on behalf of Allentown’s business community being brought upon Moses and his Artvoicians claiming recompense for the damages suffered by merchants, restaurateurs and residents of Allentown resulting from an alfresco fete within their environs. The contention of this good man’s neighbors, I explained to him, was that the Artvoice Manor had presented an event involving gaiety, revelry, the trading of sub-standard crafts (some of an occult nature) and loud, agro-rock, cover band and “extended jam” musics, all of which left a great deal of paper and food trash, debris of an un-comely origin (which decorum prohibits me from describing) and the lingering stench of “death-ages-gone-by”. As was the assertion of the “Allentown Consensus”, Moses and his faction made no attempt, nor did they take into their hire any party to make right the gruesome and revolting mess that their “festival” left behind.
I can assure you that the proprietor was rightly aghast and so taken aback at my depiction of this that he commanded me to find exit of his inn and as he suggested “take it down the street”.
Amid the confusion surrounding my egression from Frizzy’s I was able to inquire as to where I might find His Heinousness and was told to “go east till you smell him and north till you step in him. Now hit the fucking [not certain of etymology] road weirdo”.
From this point further, my friends, I must tell you, things became strange beyond my darkest imaginings. I walked the streets and avenues of Allentown only to become less and less certain of my mission. I gazed into eyes of people who were lost and would never find their way. Everyone I spoke to, innkeeper, denizen or merchant shuddered at the word “Artvoice” and became positively apoplexic at the mention of the man Moses. Nothing could quell the fear in these people when I attempted interrogation concerning the events of the “fest” and its resulting atrocities. They behaved as if they wished to have never heard of “Artvoice” or Moses, some claiming never have to. But anyone, even the un-trained, could see by the depth and realness of the horror in their souls and I caught the overwhelming stench of death-ages-gone-by.that Moses swung a broad sickle. He had touched and tainted nearly every life in the region.
After a few hours I grew despondent. A pall had fallen over the landscape of Allentown and I was dread my inquest had been in vain. But just then a strange, hunched man spoke to me from the shadows in a labored voice, his breath rife with rasping, saying, “If Mosferatu be the demon ye seek, when night doth fall pursue the reek.”
And now I realized that hints had been recurring and I had heretofore not taken heed. This was the third mention of a “stench” or “reek” (the first reference being in my own mind). I realized I would find these sorcerers by cover of night.
(Seven hours later)
I awoke in the narrow passage of a walking alley. The details of how I happened here are too disconcerting to recount, involving consortiums and precursors to consortium as I had never considered Christian. Nonetheless, as I gained conciousness I was drawn to a peculiar aroma. It was at first only unusual or curious but as I rose and ambled feebly towards its source I recognized it as the same malodorous wallop I had encountered in the cashmere-cloaked man. The same nefarious odor of death of which I had thought and others had spoken. I travailed along what I now believe to have been the same Allen Street from earlier that day but now it was fogged over and still as a Mass. Light rarely suggested itself through the thickness of firmament. I groped along the ground and, following the stench, turned. Yes, I turned onto Franklin St. heading…NORTH! Just as the man at Frizzy’s had told me to do. “…North ’til you step in him,” he left me with. I now felt that I was quite close, but by God above I felt so unprepared, so short of the necessary faith in the prevalence of righteousness. There was a cold glow ahead of me in the mist. As I neared this diffuse imbuement I trembled within. Every ounce of me fought to turn and run, even back into the dense fog. Surely whatever horror that may hold in store could be no more evil than what lay ahead of me. I crouched low, as I could see there was a window in an edifice. Now, the stench was sickeningly overwhelming. It smelled as though the souls and innards of a thousand devilish warlocks had been burned in an immense pyre of all things dark on this very spot. As I approached the glass looking into the ominous structure I noticed lettering above. What could it say? I knew full well what it may say and should have had some inner-bracing prepared for the utter terror I felt when I saw that the letters spelled “ARTVOICE!!!”. I mean, an ice-cold bolt of frozen-hard iron shot through my heart at the sight of this word. Moreover, as though compelled against its will, my body was still moving toward the window that looked in. I had no choice now. I may soon see the source of all the terror, spite and consumption of will I had beheld in the streets. And I did. When my head had crested the level of the sill, I saw before me the comings and goings of a great many women. One, two, maybe four, five, six, I can’t be sure. They talked on voice-telegraph transmitters. They were all wearyworn and painted with make-up from fine store counters. I was appalled yet allured by these anti-sirens, these minions apparent, but just as I relaxed to regard them a most awful and appalling beast appeared along the back wall in the room of this place. He was green and crawled vertically on all fours, making his way along the vertical boundries of the house. He was something like a small man, with arms, legs, eyes on the front of his head, brows and deadish grey hair atop him, but he could turn his body this way and that. He could go up, down, sideways and other. It was the most disturbing and ghastly vision I have ever seen. I could not be sure he was real. If he was real then there could be no God, I dared to think. He went along the back wall, perpendicular to my vantage and then came to the corner where his wall adjoined another and he changed on to that perpendicular plane as easily I could have soiled myself. But just then he stopped, as though he sensed something. He was still; perched high upon the wall and all at once his eyes shot up from his chest and speared out the window at me, into my eyes, searing me unto my soul. His ocularia were lit from within by a crimson flame and he sneer-grinned a painful visage. I fell back as he and all his aides began a huge commotion directed toward the place where I was. I stumbled back and felt the touch of a cold metal machine under me. As I fell, back-of-my-head-first, into it I noticed it was a two-wheeled vehicle-scooter of Bavarian manufacture. Then my cranium met hardened steel and I was unconscious.
Here ends the first journal entry of Jon Harker’s journey into Allentown.