Dr. Doran is back in his third Serialized story. If you’re new to Andrew Doran, he’s an Adventurer who fights the minions and monsters of the Cthulhu Mythos. The first two novels came out as serials before being published as novels. There are a few ways that you can catch up. You can get the first story, The Statement of Andrew Doran, for free by reading it on Wattpad. Or you can purchase it on Amazon for only $0.99. Book 2 is called Andrew Doran at the Mountains of Madness, and you can find it on Amazon as well. Both are also on Audible and iTunes as audio books.
This time around, Dr. Doran is forced to face the return of an enemy he thought long gone as they race to get their hands on the dreaded Book of Eibon.
To read episode 1, click here.
Nancy didn’t slow her jeep down until they were on the campus at the American University in Cairo. Founded back in the early twenties, the University had been the idea of American Missionaries and had been accused of using religious propaganda more than once in the decade after it opened. By the mid-thirties, the University abandoned its missionary goals and brought more of a focus on academics.
In our search for the Book of Eibon, I had promised to teach a class on Anthropology. Egypt was ripe with history and I could hardly pass up a chance to educate the students on everything that was around them. Given the history of the school, my curriculum avoided introducing esoteric realms or eldritch terrors. With that being said, a lot of the projects that I assigned were focused on helping me and my teaching assistant, Nancy, locate the Book of Eibon.
Nancy continued to question me as she drove, like a madwoman, all the way to Cairo, the University, and then our shared faculty dormitory on the campus. She wanted answers to questions that I couldn’t provide. Not until I had examined them myself.
When we got to our adjoined rooms, I finally gave her an answer. “I don’t know. Not entirely. I have to check my books before I can be sure.” Nancy threw up her hands in exasperation as I went straight into the shared office.
I wasn’t in there long, at least not by my standards. Normally, when I’m conducting any sort of research, I’ve been known to disappear for days as I try to solve a new mystery or problem. With the German Army hot on our trail, we couldn’t afford that luxury. Besides, I only had one book to check.
I knocked on Nancy’s bedroom door and didn’t wait to come in. I could tell from the sounds that she was checking her pistols. I walked to her dresser where her flask was sitting and took a swig. It was the bourbon from my office at Miskatonic University.
“Are you going to tell me what’s going on, or just keep drinking my booze?”
I shook the flask, “You mean my booze.”
Nancy rolled her eyes. “Well?”
I held up the book that I had retrieved from the shared office and then tossed it onto the bed next to her bags. Nancy didn’t move to touch it. Instead, she stared at it while she slid the pistols into her underarm holsters and slid her jacket on.
“Our Nazi friends think they’ve found the Book of Eibon,” I said. “I don’t think they have.”
“What do you think they’ve found?” Nancy asked.
I shrugged, “I don’t know, yet, but I’m putting a theory together.” My answer was vague, but while I could see that Nancy was getting frustrated with me, I knew how frustrated she was going to get when she heard my theory.
“What did you mean when you said that you were the one who wrote the slab?”
I let out a sigh, knowing that I couldn’t avoid this topic much longer. The Nazis were still on their way, and we were running out of time.
“There’s a reason that only I could read it,” I pointed at the book that still rested on her unmade bed. “I wrote it.”
Nancy picked up the book, a journal that I had been keeping since my freshman year at Miskatonic University.
She began flipping through the pages and her frustration turned into a frown. “What language is this in?”
I smiled, “Doran-ese?” I shrugged. “When I first became aware of what the world really held and exactly how many people wanted that knowledge, I decided that I would never be responsible for that knowledge getting in the wrong hands.” I pointed at my journal. “Those are all of my notes on everything that the veil has brought to this world. I wrote it in a language that I made up so that I would be the only one to decipher it and, until now, no one in the world has ever been aware of that.”
“And that’s the writing on the stone slab?” Nancy pieced the puzzle together but hadn’t grasped the biggest part yet.
“Then you didn’t invent the language first. Someone else did, and…what? You saw it somewhere and forgot?”
I shook my head, “No, the message that it spelled out was very specific. Without a doubt in my mind, I am the one who carved that message into the stone.”
Nancy was confused. “What did the message say?”
I cringed inwardly as I recalled what the message was. “Nancy is on her way. The Nazis can’t be allowed to breach this tomb. If they do, the war will become transdimensional. The Book of Eibon isn’t lost. You will find the answer in Pickman’s studio.” I stopped because that was all the message said, but also because I hated the last sentence. “Damned Pickman.”
Nancy’s expression was filled with doubt. “The slab said all of that?” She shook her head, and I could see in her eyes that she didn’t believe me. “How did it know that I was coming? None of this makes sense.”
I shrugged, “In a universe with the secrets that we’ve had a chance to witness, I’m not surprised that a stone in the middle of the desert might have your name on it.”
“Was that all it said?” Nancy ignored my dismissive reply.
Shaking my head, I answered, “I signed it, with a date.” I paused before continuing. Here it was, the final piece of the puzzle that would stop Nancy from denying what I was suspecting she had already pieced together. “2100 B.C.”
“The Book of Eibon is a joke? That’s it, right? We were never really trying to find this mystical book and you are leading us on some wild prank.” Nancy was getting angry.
“The Book of Eibon is anything but a joke. With the most complete version of the Necronomicon destroyed, the Book of Eibon is the only complete compendium of the ancient spells that helped to shape our world. It’s also the only book that details how to move between worlds and realities.” I frowned in response to Nancy’s incredulity. “I don’t joke about the void.”
Her anger turned to rage as Nancy allowed herself to say the words. “Time travel?”
The venom that dripped from her words was hard earned. Nancy’s father, Dr. William Dyer, was a geologist at Miskatonic University when his studies led to an expedition to the Antarctic. With a team of scientists, Dyer discovered an ancient alien city filled with horrors from the void. After the gruesome murders of almost all of his team, Dyer went understandable hysterical and tried to warn the world to the horrors that he had seen. While he was telling the truth, the world considered him a lunatic and his family left him. He only barely managed to keep his job at Miskatonic University.
As the years went by, Dyer found himself going on an excavation to Australia where he discovered a great library city. It had been built by an alien race that was notorious for transferring their consciousness through time and space to learn about other races. The library was in shambles, and humans still couldn’t read it, but what Dyer and his team could decipher led to his learning how to send his own consciousness through time.
When the Germans were seeking Dyer’s alien city in the Antarctic, I knew that I had to find Dyer so that he could take me there. When I finally found him, he had cast his mind into the past to stop anyone from getting his knowledge. His time travel was a tool that he had chosen to use to protect his mind, but not his life, and that fact tortured his daughter.
Nancy had just gotten her father back when he had been taken from her again. She wanted to save him, even though I had explained on many occasions how it just didn’t work that way.
To be fair, I wasn’t entirely sure how time travel worked, but if Nancy was going to travel back in time to the point of her father’s death, she would also be saving a monster that died at the same time Dyer had.
My mind had been fracturing from my constant use of the foreign magic from the void. In that fracturing, a childish and selfish personality named Olivia was created. Through my own attempts to rid myself of her, she became an independent spirit that could inhabit anyone’s mind while they slept. In Nancy’s rest, Olivia had used Nancy to kill William Dyer. I was able to kill Olivia only seconds after Dyer’s death.
If the Nancy of today were to use her father’s spell for traveling through time, it would result in her exchanging places with Olivia before I killed her, and that monster would be alive today. As much as I wanted Nancy to have her father back, it wasn’t worth losing Nancy and reviving Olivia.
I tried to alleviate her concerns by joking about it. “I don’t know what you’re worried about, I’m the one who ends up in Ancient Egypt.”
Nancy jabbed me with her finger, “Don’t get me killed, Doran.”
I flinched at the sentence. It was more than a playful warning because it hit on a personal concern of mine. William Dyer died because a creature that I made attacked him on a mission that I dragged him onto. He was dead because of me. A lot of people were, and I didn’t want Nancy to be another one.
In that moment, another thought hit me. Why didn’t I mention Nancy on the slab? Do I travel through time with or without her?
As those ideas ran through my mind, I made a decision. If Nancy ends up traveling with me to the past, I’ll add it to the message when I chisel the slab. In making that decision I was confident that Nancy would stay in the present. I hadn’t read it on the slab, so I probably wasn’t going to write it on the slab, and therefore Nancy wouldn’t be time traveling anytime soon.
Time travel could get annoying quickly.
“How did the Nazis know that you could read it?” Nancy asked. “Instead of time travel, wouldn’t it make more sense that someone stole your journal, deciphered your language, and are trying to manipulate you?”
“They said that an ‘old friend’ had told them that I could read it,” I answered her first question. “While we’re most definitely being manipulated, those words were written by me,” I was certain. “The…sentence structure of the message was mine and only mine.” I shrugged. “Before you, I haven’t told anyone about this. Not yet, anyway, so it’s very unlikely that the message was written by anyone else.” I was suddenly concerned again for Nancy’s safety. I dismissed the thought just as quickly as it had entered my mind. If Nancy was caught and interrogated, all she could tell them was that I had invented the language. I hadn’t taught her how to read it.
Nancy was struggling to accept any of what I was saying. “In all of the horrible stuff that’s out there, are you trying to tell me that something couldn’t have read your mind?”
“Not without my knowledge,” my answer wasn’t winning me any favors with Nancy. “I’m warded against tampering with and have been for over a decade.”
Nancy pinched the bridge of her nose and squeezed her eyes shut. I felt a little guilty about the stress I was laying on her, but at the same time, we’d faced worse and walked away from it. This was more or less on par with our lives.
“I suggest,” she began in a tone that was very obviously not a suggestion but more of a demand, “that now that we are aware of the potential of traveling through time, that we choose not to.”
“That won’t work and you know it,” I countered. “Time travel doesn’t work that way. I’ve already traveled through time and chiseled the stone, now I’m just trying to catch up to that moment.” Scoffing, I added, “Avoiding it might be the exact thing that makes it happen.”
Her eyes were pleading. “Can’t you just humor me? Your describing destiny, and I don’t believe in a world of destiny.” She waved her hand at me, “You’re living proof that destiny can be thwarted.”
She was referring to the vision of the future that I had a while back. It showed me, crackling with dark energy, summoning the demon beast, Cthulhu from the depths of the ocean. I was using the dreaded Necronomicon to summon him, and it was quite obvious that the world was going to end very soon.
It didn’t matter to me that I didn’t think myself capable of that kind of evil. I already had a morally-absent being riding around in my head who could easily have chosen to be the summoner. I wasn’t going to risk it. My response to the vision was to find the very book that I had been holding and destroy it. Thus thwarting the potential future.
Unfortunately, that didn’t mean that I had actually thwarted it. I definitely made the vision more difficult to realize, but I couldn’t predict the future any more than Nancy Dyer could.
Nancy mistook my hesitation to reply as denial and continued pleading with me. “Whatever happened to free will? Time travel destroys any illusion to that.”
I shook my head, “We still have free will, and it’s very likely that I’ll be using mine to go back in time, but everything before now has already happened.” I tried explaining, “Whatever choices or free will that I have, I already exercised them. Our minds don’t like it because it’s out of order and feels unnatural. Trying to suss out the how’s and why’s of time travel is like looking at a Shoggoth, but with a lot less fear.”
“Speak for yourself,” Nancy snapped.
Frowning, I continued, “I’m referring to it’s connection to the unnatural forces of the veil.” I grabbed my pistol from my bag and opened the chamber, it was empty so I began filling it. “They are still coming for us. Time travel or not, we need to get out of here.”
As I closed the chamber, I realized that Nancy must have just finished packing as I entered the room. Her brow was still furrowed, but I didn’t have time to help her feel better about our situation. She would have to deal with it and keep on moving.
As if reading my mind, Nancy asked, “What’s our next move?”
“It won’t take them long to figure out where we are,” I shrugged and slid the pistol into its holster on my side. “My reputation precedes me and it’s very likely they already have someone on campus. We need to get out of Cairo and get back to Arkham.”
“What’s in Arkham?” Nancy asked.
“Pickman and his studio,” venom dripped from my voice as I answered. “The slab said that he had the answers, so we need to get to him.” I grabbed my sword and scabbard, attaching it to my hip.
The sword was a non-commissioned officer’s Cavalry sword from 1840. I knew very little about it but had found it in the armory at Miskatonic University. Runes had been carved into the all black blade. Whatever had created my sword had been connected to some very powerful magic. When the blade touched anything that had come from the void, it sizzled and ate away at their skin. I had seen the sword kill monsters that would otherwise have ignored any other weapon.
My other weapon was already strapped to my hip. It was a .38 Colt revolver. I knew less about this pistol than I did the sword, but Nancy seemed to know some of the history. Our whirlwind lives hadn’t given her a chance to reveal any of that to me, but I knew everything that I needed to know. Bullets fired from my pistol killed monsters when other bullets didn’t even bother them. These two weapons had become extensions of myself, and I didn’t go anywhere without them. Not in this world filled with monsters.
“The Germans will be here soon,” I added. “We still need to do research. Whatever the future, or the past, holds, I don’t want to be taken by surprise.” I nodded to her bag. “That means starting with your father’s journal. I need you to learn as much about time travel as you can. I’ll go to the University’s library and…”
Nancy was caught off guard by my sudden break in the conversation. “And what?”
I held a finger up to my lips and tilted my head to the side. Nancy caught on and drew her gun.
I quickly drew mine, and together we began firing at the door to our shared abode.
To the left of the door, the wall exploded, sending splinters of wood and plaster into the small apartment. Nazi soldiers came pouring in. We readjusted our aim and continued firing as I yelled, “Window!”
Nancy glanced at the window just as it shattered with more gunfire. “They have it covered.”
I nodded toward the nearby bathroom and we started moving toward it. We were a well-oiled machine, with each of us covering the other as they reloaded. That mainly meant that Nancy, with both of her pistols, was covering me whenever I had to reload.
Once we were in the bathroom, Nancy kicked the door shut and began reloading her guns. Bullets slammed into the door, and we both knew that it wouldn’t be long until they were slamming into us next.
I tore the curtain from the shower and jumped into the tub. Facing the wall, I began barking words that would gather the power of the void around me and channel it into the wall. Purple light began to course through the wall only inches from my hands like veins coming to the surface.
With a silent explosion, the wall blew out and into the hall. Nancy and I didn’t wait and jumped through the hole that I had made. We came out directly behind the Nazi soldiers and began firing into that crowd before they had fully noticed our arrival. As some of our bullets hit some of their soldiers we turned and ran down the hall and around the corner into the next hall.
We came to an abrupt halt as we noticed that this new hall had a stairway leading down and a balcony that overlooked the streets. The next nearest building was over ten feet away. If we went down there would likely be more soldiers waiting for us, but the window…
“Keep running,” I barked at Nancy. “Out the balcony. Jump when I say.”
Normal people would have balked at the suggestion or assumed that I was joking. Nancy had been traveling with me enough to know that I wasn’t kidding. She put her head down and charged toward the railing at the other end of the hall from us.
I gathered more of the void energies around me and shouted jump just as she reached the railing. With a shove of my hands, I released those energies in her direction, allowing them to hit her and carry Nancy over the railing the across the gap to the other rooftop. I was so focused on gathering my energies again for myself, that I didn’t even check to see if she landed well.
With a leap, I released that same power behind me, allowing it to propel me over the railing and across the same gap that Nancy had just traversed. As the rooftop came at me, I crouched and tried to roll with the landing.
It was the least graceful I had ever been in my life. My feet hit first but the gravel or sand on the roof did little to slow their momentum. My feet kept going as if I had just landed on ice. As my feet flew out from under me, I landed on my butt and then my back rolling until I finally came to a stop.
As I opened my eyes, Nancy was standing over me with a nasty looking raspberry on the side of her head. She helped me up just as more bullets began to pepper the rooftop around our feet. We began running toward the far edge of the roof when I glanced over my shoulder.
I was attempting to gauge how many people had been shooting at us from the windows. It was impossible to tell. As I turned my face forward, there was suddenly a man about the same size as myself standing directly in front of me.
I was moving too fast to slow my momentum in time and crashed into the Nazi. Nancy was immediately at my side, but the man hadn’t come alone. As Nancy pulled her pistols around to bring on the soldier that I had collided with, a smaller man jumped in front of her and used his arm to sweep the guns aside. He followed it up with a punch to her solar plexus that left her gasping as she dropped the guns. She wasn’t down long, though, and came up with a punch aimed directly at the Nazi’s chin.
I jumped to my feet and began calling the power of the void to my hands. Throwing both of my fists forward, I propelled the energy toward my assailant. Instead of knocking him a hundred yards away, the power washed over and around him like a stone in a stream.
He was warded and my magic wouldn’t touch him.
As the power washed over him, he smiled and twisted a ring on his knuckle. I would be willing to place a bet that the ring was what was protecting him. Even from a few steps away, I could tell that it was a symbol of the disciples of the King in Yellow. I could almost make out the Yellow Sign that was pressed into the gold band. The King readily provided protective rings to his disciples. To block my channeling of the void, that ring had to be more powerful than I previously assumed the King in Yellow’s protections to be. I didn’t like it being in a Nazi’s possession.
I stepped forward, bringing my fist up at the same time that this loyal supporter of the King in Yellow did the same. I abandoned my attack and tilted my head to the side. The blow glanced off of my temple and was more annoying than damaging.
This man was fast and was already swinging his follow up punch. I blocked it with my left arm and began punching him as hard as I could in the abdomen. The Nazi pushed me back and brought up another punch, but I slapped it aside and bent forward for a headbutt. He sidestepped my move and slapped the back of my head.
I used the distance that my momentum gave me to snatch my pistol from its holster and bring it around. As quickly as I did the maneuver, the Nazi had brought up the heel of his boot and kicked at the back of my hand. The gun went sliding through the gravel on the rooftop and well out of my reach.
I tried to spare a glance in Nancy’s direction. From what I could tell she was doing just about as well as I was. We could keep them from killing us, but we weren’t gaining any ground. Even if Nancy and I could finish the battles with our respective combatants, there were still Nazi soldiers with guns coming from the building next door. I needed to change the situation before we became worn out and dead.
While I couldn’t use my magic on the disciple of the Yellow King, I could still use magic on the rest of the world.
He came at me in a rush, and I ducked his two high swings and came up behind him. Gathering my will, I dropped to a crouch and pushed the void energies into the rooftop.
My goal was to do the same trick I had used on the bathroom wall but on a slightly bigger scale. I didn’t need to just make a hole, I needed to make a big hole. I only hoped that I wouldn’t be killing anyone in the floor below us.
I kick to the center of my back pressed me to the roof, but didn’t stop my power from being released. A wave of energy fled my body and flowed over the rooftop creating bright veins of purple light as the very structure of the roof disintegrated under the alien power.
I was only conscious for some of the collapse.
When I came to, I was being dragged from the wreckage of the building. When I say wreckage, I mean it in the most literal of senses. My spell to only destroy the roof had somehow amplified and destroyed the entire building.
Looking up at my rescuers, I cringed in both pain and annoyance. It was a Nazi soldier. I looked around the immediate area to see if I could see Nancy anywhere, but she was nowhere to be seen.
Giving a quick yank, I pulled my arms from the soldier’s hands and leapt to my feet. I ignored the dizziness that came to me as a result of some probable concussion and took off at a run back toward the building.
Only a few steps into my escape attempt, an invisible hand grabbed me from behind and lifted me into the air.
“Wonderful,” Sarah Davies said before walking in front of me. “You’re still alive. I’d hate for you to die before you were able to help us.”
While an editor at Shoggoth.net, Matthew Davenport is also an author. You can find his works on Amazon here. His newest novel, Broken Nights, follows a man fed up with the crime in his city.