I’m unable to pinpoint the exact time I’m writing this, but one thing for sure was that it’s the thirty-first of July. We are trapped on the nearest island from the mouth of Miskatonic River; one with an abandoned church on the centre. A rainstorm is outside, showing no signs of stopping, and calling the police only resulted in a staticky promise of delayed rescue.
It was fortunate (or unfortunate, depending on the viewpoint) that we didn’t bring much with us, as our trip was supposed to last only half a day. The sea was already tumultuous by the time we brought our things from the boat, and the instant we were done, we headed straight to the church.
If we were any slower, Marwin would’ve suffered a worse fate. A puncture on his back left shoulder rendered him unconscious. Any closer to an artery would kill him. The worst thing that could happen was that he might not be able to use his arm again.
As much as I would like to ask Marwin some questions, Penny said no. I’d only cause more trouble, she said. I never understood why people always think we hate each other. It was clear we don’t, and I am as concerned about Marwin as everyone else.
Unable to contain my restlessness, I asked her again the second I found her. 'Not good,' she told me. 'Even though he said he was.'
‘Oh, well. It’s human nature to reassure. I bet he talks about me as well.’
‘That’s none of your business.’
‘No one in the topic’s in the gossipers’ business. Anyway,' I snapped my fingers before continuing, ‘Did Marwin tell anything useful?’
She told me the usual paranormal story: he got in the chapel, heard something on the door, tried to open it only to find it locked, and suddenly he was attacked from behind. 'He’s sure he didn’t lock the doors, too. Which is...suspicious. He’s completely clueless—'
'—and we’re trapped. Great.'
We looked at the pane of stained glass–the frame of Lady Mason herself. Her hand was holding the Necronomicon, leading my mind to Marwin. Perhaps it was because he had held the cursed book in front of the witch, or the island had recognised its presence the moment he stepped down the boat.
As I stated my opinion, Penny became wide-eyed. ‘Makes sense, but why?’
‘I’m not too sure about that, but I see some…connections. Remember the book Lady Mason had confessed about? She didn’t say what book it was, but it’s obvious, right?’
‘What would happen, then?’
‘I’m afraid I don’t know.’
Penny clicked. ‘What about Marwin? Sevrin told us he might not be able to use arm again, right? And what the hell’s going on? Why is there a Necro…thingey there? The Necronomicon...it must have something to with it, right?’
‘It can’t be.’
Someone interrupted. By the riser of the stairs stood Sawney, his black jacket unworn but hung upon his right shoulder. Lucius was beside him, his back leant on the newel and arms crossed. From their sophisticated postures, I could sense great contempt.
‘Why “it can’t be”?’ said Penny.
‘The Necronomicon...Marwin’s got it even before he came here. If the Necro is really cursed–or sacred or whatever–why’d it curse us just now?’
‘Maybe it isn’t even the Necro,’ Lucius joined. 'It’s nothing but a children’s book–’
‘What did you say–’
‘Okay, I’m sorry, alright? But still. It can’t be the book. Not only that.’
'But why, though? Why us? Is there a curse going on here? Most sacrifices...involve young people, right? How many of us are here?'
‘Twelve,’ answered Lucius. ‘But I’m sure it won’t happen.’
'You keep telling yourself that! Magic is real, and if anything we’re probably in some kind of sick game right now! They’re gonna kill us, and you say it’s not gonna happen?’
‘Shut up,’ Sawney reprimanded. ‘You left Marwin’s room for the same reason, and now you’re freaking out again.’
‘Whaaa? I have every right to freak out. Don’t judge me by my beliefs, okay? Not if you can’t disprove it.’
‘Not every belief has to be proven to know it’s stupid.’
Penny tried to hide her gritting teeth behind her handheld fan. Of course, it was futile when her eyes express more than half of her bitterness. ‘By the way, what’s the deal with you and Marwin? What did you do to him?’
Sawney seemed struck; but he replied, ‘We just talked. About his dad.’
‘That’s it? That’s why you stayed?’
‘Think I don’t know what else? Hmph. Just spit it out. You want to gain trust from Marwin, so that you can get away with trying to shoot him. Believe me, I have evidence.’
‘What evidence?’ Lucius retorted. ‘What kind of person accuses random people and claims they have evidence?’
'Tell me, Lucius Berezin.' She emphasized his name a little too much. 'Do you think I have any respect for someone who can’t think to save their lives? The only thing you ever do is follow your adopted brother like a dog. Have you even thought of questioning him? Hm? No? I guess you’re no different from a braindead slave.' She fanned herself and looked away. 'Honestly, I don’t even know why I’m bothering to talk to one right now.'
When Lucius stopped speaking, Penny went back to Sawney and continued. ‘Anyway, here’s the evidence. You and your dad…do some seriously shady business. Think I don’t know why you’re able to rule the marksmanship club?’
‘S–Shut up. Being head of a club and establishing one are two different things. Also, leave my dad out of this.’
'But foreigners can’t import firearms, no? How do you explain the bullets in your dorm, then?'
‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.’
She unlocked her phone and showed a photo in her gallery: a picture of bullets scattered on the floor. Grimy, mullioned light on the stone floors was no doubt the dormitory of Miskatonic High School.
'This is from my home. And we use air guns, not real bullets,’ said Sawney.
‘Wrong,’ Penny said with a sing-song voice. ‘I snuck into your room and took this photo a few weeks ago. If your club does use air guns, why do you have real bullets, let alone in your dorm? Are you planning to kill someone? Hm?’
‘Sneaking into our dorm? What the hell is wrong with you?!’ Lucius retorted.
Penny gave a cocky shrug. Sawney snapped.
‘Utterson?! Who do you believe?! This bitch or me?!’
'Hm, it’s amusing how you use words without taking a look at yourself.'
‘The fuck you mean?’
But he stopped. As I took a step forward, Sawney noticed I wasn’t directing at him. 'When you talked about those bullets, don’t you think it’s a perfect solution for your own magic theory? Isn’t it also possible that Marwin was shot?'
Penny’s eyes narrowed.
'You defend your own right to express your thoughts and beliefs. But when you deemed Lucius’s thoughts insignificant, you told him that he should learn to keep his own opinions to himself. Have you never thought the same with your own? Have you ever questioned your faith or think things through at all? Like you said, it’s no different from a braindead slave, except it’s even worse when the slave thinks of herself as a queen. Your own logic backfired, Miss Penny, and you’ve painted yourself into a hypocrite clown.'
Once again, Penny tried to hide her biting lip. Sawney held a faint smile of triumph, while Lucius’s eyes locked onto mine.
'As for you,’ I said to Sawney. 'Penny’s photo can mean you are the one shooting Marwin. And there’s no reason you should ridicule her fears and provoke this argument in the first place. At first I was about to ask you about Marwin as well, but turns out you’re nothing but a whiffer-whaffling maniac. I suggest you apologise to her.'
‘Tell her to apologise to Luce.’
‘I’m fine, brother. I can process emotions.’
Sawney glanced at Penny once again. ‘You. We’ll deal with you later.’
All of us made indifferent faces, but we all knew how to keep a poker face. I watched their tense eyes exchange, while mine kept switching between the two. Sawney took a sharp turn and gazed at me. I returned the same gaze. ‘Luce. You coming with me?’ he asked. Lucius replied with a faint nod.
'So be it,' said Penny; and into the shadows they faded.
Penny and I looked at each other, before the former spoke, ‘These two are insufferable. Even more than Normand.’
'Well, they’re brothers.'
'Adoptive brothers,' she reminded me. 'Honestly, I feel sorry for Luce that he had to deal with a criminal’s bastard son. But I’ll deal with them later. For now…' She took a deep breath. 'Sorry about earlier.'
’It’s alright. I suppose I have to apologise as well. I must put on a show in order to break the tension.′
‘I know. And it works. Kind of…’
‘As for Marwin,’ I said. ‘I’ll visit him now. Hopefully his shoulder’s recovered. Even the smallest sign conveys hope.’
Penny gave an awkward nod. I bid her farewell and wished her luck, before she walked away.
Now, I’m sitting alone and recording everything that happened and is happening. The night is chill, and the wind creeps into the single candlelight on a wooden pew. The storm continues to brew, bringing damp air to threaten our only shelter. Symbols are smeared onto the pitiful stone walls. The longer I look at it, the more my heart dances, and the more I want to stay away.
Violent coughs echoed from the distance, before Silvia’s voice followed. ‘You alright? Wait, no, you seriously gotta rest!’
I knew there was something fishy about Pierre. He is anaemic, and his impulsive obsession of tea didn’t help. That would explain his pale skin and his soft voice, when in truth it was his problematic breathing. Like what happened to Marwin, I’m also worried. Yet, the only thing I did was listen with blank concern.
I don’t know what will happen next. I’ve always been optimistic, but rainfall has left me bitter and sad. Something tells me tragedy is near. If things turn out as I hope, I won’t have to write more. We’ll have been pardoned.
Thunder crashed again.