Some say it was delirium.
Others site my obvious lack of moral fortitude. They mutter their prudish objections and smile with tight lips. My former friends are the genteel circles of polite London society. Whispering and judging me behind my back. They spread noxious gossip like the black plague.
Alas, I cannot blame them. I find consolation in their betrayal. For it is far easier to speculate than believe the horrifying tale of what my life has become.
You must believe me! I swear on all that is sacred, the events I have written here are true!
It was less than a week ago that I visited a quaint little shop which had been recently situated to the High Street.
“Good morning, good sir, how may I assist you?” The proprietor chirped at me brightly.
“I am looking for a book…” I reply, “relating to and covering the history of magical incantations…for research. I am Darius Scott, the author.” I say, removing my gloves and extending my hand.
He takes my hand in both of his, pumping it vigorously,
“Welcome, welcome, Mr. Scott, it is indeed a pleasure to meet you. I have exactly what you need. Yes, exactly what you need.”
Evaporating like mist behind dusty stacks of books and random relics then reappearing just as quickly, he holds out a thin leather bound book. “Well, this is quite a bit smaller than I expected”, I remark casually, turning the book over in my hands, admiring the craftsmanship. “Dear Mr. Scott, I assure you this is what you are looking for. Five hundred pounds and I will wrap it for you.”
“That is much more than I intended to spend, and for such a small volume… pardon my manners sir; I didn’t get your name.”
“Flagg, Mr. Augustus Flagg. Owner and proprietor, at your service.
I guarantee satisfaction or your money back. If what you are seeking is not found within the pages of this book…” he points his bony finger, slowly tapping the cover of the book in my hands, “I will refund every penny! In full! No questions asked.”
“Well, then, that is an offer I cannot refuse, Mr. Flagg – I’ll take it.”
At home in my study, a generous snifter of warmed apricot brandy at my elbow, I carefully unwrap the book. Curiously there is a wax seal, stamped across the edges of the pages that I had not noticed in the shop. I break the seal and thumb through the pages. The paper is extraordinarily soft and translucent, veined with shimmering gold threads. The text is bright red and painstakingly neat, each letter perfectly shaped and aligned. And what’s even more astonishing is that as I examine the text closely I realize it is all written by hand.
The entire book, one hundred or so pages, without so much as a finger smudge, an errand drop of ink or a strike out as would be expected of words recorded by human hand.
Sprinting to my desk, I tear my pen and a fresh sheath of paper from the drawer. I fly into a frenzy of creativity, writing more than I had in ages. Words pour down from some unseen source, soaking my mind and flowing through me like water, out of my pen and onto the paper.
I dash to the windows, drawing the curtains to avoid being distracted by the turning of night into day. I become possessed by my work. I couldn’t eat or sleep, only drink and write.
Characters come to life in my mind. They talk to me as clearly as if they are standing in the room.
I had no control. I worked at a fever pitch while the veil between the real world and the world I was creating with my words began to blur. I could not discern, where I the author ended, and the story I was writing began.
As, the record shows in the testimony of Mrs. Garretson, my housekeeper. She was startled to near fainting when my voice, abrasive from days of silence, roared from the depths of my study the threat “Cease now, woman in making such ungodly racket in your cleaning or I shall cause you to be forever silent!” I do not know how many days I had been locked in my inner sanctum at the time of this uncharacteristic outburst. I am ashamed of the coarse manner in which I addressed poor Mrs. Garretson, God knows, she didn’t deserve it…but I wanted her gone immediately from my house. I needed solitude to continue writing!
The protagonist of my story was Charlamagne Lovejoy.
A man of fine breeding with piercing blue eyes, close to my own age of eligible mid-twenties with similar abilities and financial assets. We differed only in our preferences in women. He desired those with gentle qualities, quiet and demure. I was drawn to ample bosoms and wild eyes the color of angry sky. Bawdy women that would just as soon scratch your eyes out as look at you.
In the final scene I wrote the setting of a séance in the grand parlor. A spiritualist has been arranged to make contact with Charlamagne’s murdered mistress.
She appeared before those who summoned her, the slender apparition. Witnesses to her hellish presence, watched the pain of terror dance within her cloudy eyes. The delicate sensuality of her lace and satin night dress is soaked from collar to hem with blood. The attendees of the séance try to look away but cannot comprehend how it is possible that she stands before them.
For several more hours, I laboriously create the horrific details of my tale before finally completing my manuscript. Utterly exhausted, I finish the last of the brandy and retire for the evening.
Sleep comes upon me quickly and I slumber deeply from the combination of brandy and fatigue. A strange scratching sound at the door of my bed chamber provokes me from my rest. I bolt upright in bed, tangled in my bed sheets, simultaneously chilled and drenched in perspiration.
Floating before me on carpet of rancid mist is the mangled, bloody corpse of the dead girl as I had imagined her. Streaks of tears running from her sunken lifeless eyes, she speaks from the gaping hole of her mouth "Come to me my love, come to me my Charlemagne" …
I shudder, scream, and run wildly from my bed… then the lines of reality and fiction converge in a deafening cacophony of sound and blackness.
I awaken to find myself in the custody of the fine chaps at Scotland Yard. Having been discovered lying naked in the street covered in blood I am charged with the heinous crime of murder most foul!
There is no evidence against me, except there was so much blood and I have no wounds.
Even the brilliant detective of 221B Baker Street could not locate Mr. Augustus Flagg. There is no record of a shop owner with that name. Furthermore, there was no antiquities business on the High Street. The building where I bought the book had been vacant and shuttered for over twenty years. Having previously operated as a bakery, it was gutted by fire that trapped and burned the baker and his wife alive.
Suddenly, I remember, of course! The incantation that I mumbled out of arrogance and the ignorant belief that magic is not real…
What I create, will bring to life, the highest joy, the deepest strife
They must find the book!