Phobos

Subject: Pages from The Confession of Edward Phillips Harris, c. 1922.

Media: Pen on paper.

Containment: Pages individually encased in Lucite and locked in storage box.

Classification: Extremely Hazardous. Do not remove. Do not destroy.

***

The priest is insistent. He keeps asking if the story is true.

As if truth is the sole way by which the value of story should be measured.

He is shocked that a man of the cloth, even one so long without the frock, could commit the acts I am accused of. He seeks to believe that I am a monster; an aberration that can be discarded as a mistake made long ago that only now shows its true colors. He is so very young.

Youth was with me too, when it all started. I was in India, where I was seeking converts to the Anglican faith. I had the unquenchable fire that burns within young men. I was driven, immortal, invincible.

The region was in the hinterlands even for the British Empire, wild and mountainous, with life only clinging hold while fighting against disasters that threatened to remove it.

Cults abounded in the area, and the Bishop could not stand the thought that there were those out there not receiving God’s holy word. Surely, he thought, if they simply heard it, and saw the wonders that Her Majesty’s world could provide they would render the proper supplications and convert en masse.

Surely.

But the region’s beliefs were stubborn, and Captain Walker, whatever support he was willing to provide, lacked the troops to force the local inhabitants to come and listen to services.

The few converts we were able to get were of the roughest and poorest order, but after some lifting of the pitiable state, they were willing to tell us why there were so much resistance to our mission here.

The local Hindoo Fakir, whom the people in the area called the Adhvaryu, was said to be of an ancient and feared order, able to accomplish things that kept all but the most desperate from joining us.

Captain Walker offered that we should simply arrest the man and ship him away to rot in a cell far away.

I, at the time, knew better. I did not need to defeat the man. I needed to defeat his entire system of belief, so that none would continue to follow it and would seek a proper God instead.

And thus finding him we had him brought to us in the village square, and bade him to show that his Hindoo gods could challenge the might of our Lord Christ.

The fakir was a stooped, horribly ugly man. Even today, as old as I am, I think I would shirk from being around him out of a mix of fear and revulsion.

He spoke quickly to his people however, and evaded our challenges, biding us to act first and watch then what his gods would do.

Finally, exasperated, Captain Walker simply approached and struck the fakir across the face with his open hand, sending the little man tumbling to the ground.

He arose spitting curses at us and pointed to a nearby hill, screeching that we should join him there after dark and we would see the power of his gods.

We met him there as the sun was setting in the sky. Captain Walker suspected that the fakir might try to act against us in the darkness, so he sent with us a squad of his troops, solid Englishmen who had no belief of use for the Hindoo’s superstitions. The squad was led by Colour Sergeant Moore, as sturdy a man as has ever been born. If it was trouble the fakir had planned, we were well prepared to respond in kind.

The fakir had arranged torches around the hilltop. Scattered about the hill were an assortment of old-looking stones, which the fakir had apparently spent the day hacking out of the vines and bush that had overgrown them.

As the darkness set in the fakir piled some herbs and incense onto the center stone and began chanting what I can only assume to be an appeal to his gods. We were lucky that a storm was blowing in from the west and the winds worked to push the pungent smoke from the incense away.

However sold the soldiers we had with us might have been, patience was not one of their virtues, and it was not long before they began to mockingly comment on the fakir’s chants.

I stood firmly facing the little Hindoo and was able to see the look of hatred that spread across his face, and with a twisted look he redoubled his efforts appealing to whatever unholy powers he was calling upon.

We had taken along young Gari, an orphan we were training in the hopes that he might enter the priesthood himself. He was to provide translations if needed, as we did not trust any of the natives to properly pass along what the twisted Hindoo might say.

When the Fakir began screaming his appeals, Gari blanched and took a step backwards. I inquired as to what might be wrong, but he shook his head and continued to back up.

Concerned that the Fakir might be about to try something I took Gari by the arm and shook him, bidding him to talk to me. His eyes finally snapped to me, and they were filled with a fear I have not often seen.

“He prays to the wrong gods!” the boy yelled, and with that he broke away from me and fled down the hill. I was in no position to be able to pursue him given what was already going on, and I guessed that his panic would be less harmful away from here than if he remained in any case. I resolved to find him later and left him to flee.

I did not then attach the meaning to Gari’s words that I do now. Had I done so, that would have saved a great many people.

Turning back to the Fakir I found that he torn off most of his clothing and rent his hands. Blood was smeared on his arms and face, as still more dripped from them onto the ground. The scene had gone from ghastly into the perverse.

Colour Sergeant Moore had apparently had enough and stated that he was going to put a stop to these events.

As he stepped forward to do so the Fakir spun about, his hands apparently filled with his own blood, and hurled it at our assembled group. Droplets landed all about, likely on every person gathered there, with a considerable amount hitting the Colour Sergeant in the face and uniform.

Enraged the Colour Sergeant drew his Webley and fired two shots, the second of which sent the Fakir tumbling to the ground.

As the Fakir fell to the ground, a mist was seen to rise from his body.   Grey-blue in color, I almost took it to be gun smoke at first.

The Color Sergeant lowered his pistol and squinted, unsure of what he was seeing.

The smoke formed into a vortex for a moment. I raised my crucifix and commanded the unclean spirit to depart in the name of Our Lord.

The vortex hung in the air for another moment, and then riding on no wind that anybody felt it rushed towards Color Sergeant Moore, enveloping him.

He staggered backwards as if he had been struck a heavy blow. As it moved past him it seemed to dissolve the front of his body and pull it through his back. He spun briefly, showing a ghastly mix of muscle and bone which no longer looked human.

The men fired immediately, and the fog leapt in their direction. The faintest vapors passed by me on its way, pitting the metal cross I still held out in my right arm and leaving that those curious and discolored scars you have seen there. As it passed by I smelled a curious musky sweet smell that almost made me retch.

I glanced back at where Color Sergeant Moore had been, but saw nothing more than a wet smear on the ground to mark that he ever stood there.

My arm dropped tingling and insensate to my side, and I glanced over to the cluster of men. They were firing in vain at the mist, their bullets passing harmlessly through it. As each attracted its attention he was subjected to the same grotesque and pitiless death as Sergeant Moore.

I fled.

You can probably not blame me for running, though it meant leaving good men behind to die. I could not in all honesty have done anything further when both Her Majesty’s faith and industry had failed to stop the creature.

I departed the area, taking the next available train to the coast, intent on taking a ship as far away as I could get. Even from hundreds of miles away I just felt that the creature continued to pursue me.

Also, calling on what goodwill the Empire had in the more civilized parts of India, I inquired as to what it was that the Fakir had managed to call.

This eventually had me catch up with a scholar who extracted from me a very high price to even listen to my story. Upon hearing it he told me that I had meddled in things that would have been better allowed to die out.

The creature, he told me, tracked to kill all those whose blood it had tasted, smelling it no matter what the distance. The Fakir had marked all the Englishmen present with his own blood, hoping to kill us all despite his own death.  I asked if it could be washed off, and he shrugged, but suggested that regardless the creature had tasted my blood from when it brushed my arm, so I was now prey no matter what I may do.

The creature moved slowly in its hunt, but it never gave up, and would surely and eventually find me.

I was a marked man, and could do nothing about it.

How then, you may ask, did I come to the state I am now in, accused of and confessing to eight murders?

I had plenty of time to consider the Fakir’s words while on the ship back to England. It occurred to me just as the Fakir had done, I could mark others with my own blood. It would attack them first, following on the scent of the blood, giving me time to once again flee from the area.

I carried a pin with me, and by constantly pricking my self; I marked any person I could get close enough to do so. Their death, if it occurred would serve as a warning that the creature was close by.

I would find them smeared on the floor, a crimson warning to me, and I would flee the area. Sometimes I would not be fast enough to leave an area, and would have to quickly mark another person in the street and shoot or stab them so that they could not run. I did not care who saw me; I just needed to get away.

I have far more victims than the eight you know about. I may not have killed them directly, but it was my marking that did so.

I admit to this as I suspect the creature is nearby again, having smelled traces of the same musky sweet scent I am by now so familiar with.  I suspect I will be dead by morning, killed in the same way I have seen many times.

I do not know what happened to Gari, I hope he made it, but his utterance continues to resonate in my head to this day. “He prays to the wrong gods” he said.

This creature cannot be stopped. In that there is no salvation from it and it turns men as it has turned me, we all pray to the wrong gods.

You will no doubt judge me a monster. You may be right, but I do not think I acted unusually for my circumstances, and I think in time you will admit that I am right.

Upon this paper you are reading, smeared so as to be almost undetectable, are tiny droplets of my blood.

When the creature comes for me tonight in my tiny cell, he will then turn to each of you who read this, and you will have your own chance to discover the depth of depravity that reasonable men will sink to when faced with slow, inexorable, ruinous supernatural powers.

And you will learn something of monsters.

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