Call of Cthulhu: Horror on the Orient Express

Diary of Teddy Sermont

Huw's Blog from - The Coburn Display 1918

February 13th 1918

I am in two minds.

Nigh everything that lies within my heart and soul sullenly pleads
to forget my evening at the Coburn display. A parade of crass
grotesques and ill thought out “Showmanship” that rests upon my
chest like a familial passing.

But yet, there is another part of me. A part that craves. however
resentfully, answers. Richard and I were called to this gruesome
spectacle by a gentleman steeped in aloof mystery and somber
menace to- hasty but fastidious scrawling conceals the rest of the

For the purposes of organizing my thoughts and steeling my will
against the scattered nightmares that have haunted me since, I
shall commit my recollections of the evening to paper. I’m told
it aids in detachment and compartmentalization.

We shall see.

As fortune would have it, Richard and I arrived at much the same
moment. More embarrassingly, we had both mistaken the spirit
of the invitation we had received and arrived on time. In an effort
to avoid dawdling in plain sight, we quickly introduced ourselves to
the doorman and proceeded into the building (some sort of
appropriated dockworkers offices or some such, it appeared).

Upon entry, we had our invitations checked and were issued the
first curiousity of the evening. Lettered cards. This was swiftly
followed by the second curiousity though. I had not been assigned
a letter as my compatriot had. After a few moments wherein I was
actually grateful that we had arrived early enough to avoid such
a scene causing a stir, I was instead granted a sealed envelope and
told that I was not to reveal it’s contents until the appropriate time.

After passing the second gatekeeper, we arrived into a hive of bustling
activity. We had arrived so painfully early that the work was still being
completed on the exhibits. And while the workers paid us no mind,
we were left with precious little to do other than make small talk and
bemoan the lack of refreshments.

I shall skip over the fine details of the next few hours. The other guests
eventually filtered in as the labourers finished their tasks and we
ingratiated ourselves with them quickly. Once the exhibition was truly
revealed, we distracted ourselves with viewing the pieces on show.

Now, some of the things I have seen in my admittedly short career
in art had prepared me for the worst of the clumsy attempts at
scandalizing those in attendance. But still, the content of the
pieces on display turned the stomach and caused a slight sweat
upon the brow. The worst piece of all was featured underneath a
towering humanoid figure of worked steel and rivets. When we went
to inspect- The rest of this section is covered with far more erratic
and aggressively thorough scribbling.

While pausing for breath we were approached by a bear of a man. He
introduced himself and asked us to accompany him. Hardly in any mood
to stay in the exhibition hall and not detecting any sinister purpose in the
man’s tone, we followed him through to the fire escape and traveled
through a number of preparation rooms and corridors before finding
our way onto the roof of the establishment.

It was here, in the stout wind of London’s evening, that we met the
gentleman who had engineered our invitation to this glamoured
nightmare. Professor Smith, or so he was introduced. He, it turned
out, had a proposal for us. And as baffled as I was by my inclusion in
such a venture, there was a grim confidence about the man that I
feared to deny him his request.

I shan’t commit what happened next to paper, for fear of repercussion.
But let it be known that the distraction our task provided proved a
blissful release from parade of contemptible “genius” going on about
us. Mostly.

Once our work was done, we exited before the grand finale of the
exhibition. The cries we heard as we retreated from that room attached
themselves to me like a funereal shroud and to this day I sometimes
catch myself hustling far faster than is proper while traveling a long stretch
of corridor by my lonesome.

Professor Smith was pleased with us however, so at least we had satisfied
the gentleman whose cruelties have cost me so many hours of rest.

I still find myself in two minds.




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