Johannes Cabal: The Fear Institute

Johannes Cabal: The Fear Institute by Jonathan L. Howard Read Free Book Online

Book: Johannes Cabal: The Fear Institute by Jonathan L. Howard Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jonathan L. Howard
feared seeing something else in the cemetery, so when the knock came at his door late one night, it surprised him terribly and he cried, suddenly fearful, ‘Who is there? Who raps upon my chamber door at this late hour?’
    Beyond the portal, there came the muffled sound of a whispered conversation. Finally, a sepulchral voice intoned, ‘I . . .’ There was another pause, amid fierce muttering. ‘Which is to say, we . . .’
    Then Harwell heard a new voice murmur something that sounded exasperated and possibly defamatory in German before saying, ‘Oh, just open the door, Herr Harwell. We have business to discuss with you.’
    Reassured by the matter-of-fact tone, Harwell unlocked his door and slowly opened it to reveal four men whose identities must surely be apparent to all but the most inattentive reader. Johannes Cabal was the first in, impatient energy written into his every movement. He looked critically but silently around the room as Shadrach, Corde and Bose filed in behind him and stood uncomfortably with their hats in their hands as Cabal wandered about the place with long strides. At the window, he twitched the curtain back a crack and looked out over the crossroad for perhaps half a minute, before allowing the curtain to fall back into place. He stood in silent thought for a moment before saying, ‘We do not have a great deal of time, gentlemen. We are not the only party with an interest in Herr Harwell. We arrived barely in time.’
    ‘An – an interest?’ stammered Harwell. ‘Who has an interest in me? Who are you?’
    ‘Elucidation would be redundant,’ said Cabal. He snapped his fingers peremptorily at Shadrach. ‘The Key, sir! Quickly now.’
    ‘The key . . .’ It took a moment for Shadrach to take Cabal’s meaning. ‘The Silver Key?’
    ‘Of course the Silver Key,’ said Cabal, his patience burning away as quickly as a powder trail. ‘You do have it, do you not?If we have come all this way, and it is sitting on the dressing-table at home . . .’
    ‘Yes, of course I have the Silver Key, but it is useless without a gateway. Isn’t that true?’
    Harwell glanced around the group, now at least partially convinced that he was hallucinating this indecipherable gang of men cluttering up his room. He hadn’t realised it was possible to suffer absinthe flashbacks, but it seemed the most likely explanation.
    ‘Yes, it is true, and there is a gateway here. The Key, if you please?’
    ‘A gateway,’ said Harwell. ‘In my room?’
    ‘Yes, indeed,’ said Bose, as genial as Pickwick. ‘Your garret is home to a gateway to another world! Isn’t that wonderful? The land of dreams, no less.’ Shadrach shushed him, to no obvious effect.
    Harwell’s expression showed dawning comprehension. ‘The land of dreams . . . the land of . . . Of course! It explains so much! My dreams, my visions! I understand now!’ He looked frantically around, turning on the spot. ‘Where is it? Where is this gateway? It must be near – I can feel it.’
    Cabal meanwhile had accepted the Key from a reluctant Shadrach and was in the process of sliding it from the long chamois envelope in which it was kept. He let it lie in his hand for a long moment, feeling its weight wax and wane, watching the bittings ebb and flow, like crystals melting and re-forming. It was silver, certainly, but only in colour. What it was made of was an entirely different question.
    He tucked the envelope into his coat pocket while taking a firm grip of the Key. ‘Yes, Herr Harwell. The Gate of the Silver Key is very close indeed.’
    Harwell turned to him, his next question already forming on his lips, but he never had the chance to voice it. For Cabal raised the Silver Key to head height and, without hesitation, drove it between Eldon Harwell’s eyes.
    There was no crunching of bone, no spraying blood or cerebral fluid as the Key slid through skin, subcutaneous fat, flesh, skull and brain. There was no sound at all, but for the collective

Similar Books

Akira Rises

Robyn Wideman, Nonie Wideman

Frenzied Fiction

Stephen Leacock

The Temporary Gentleman

Sebastian Barry

Jewels of the Sun

Nora Roberts

The Songbird's Overture

Danielle L. Jensen