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Five years ago, my former colleague at the University of History in Platinum, Indiana, dropped out of college in favor of stranger studies. Following his slow months-long descent from his scholarly work in order to make time for increasingly archaic and frankly worthless pastimes, Kelton Haven (my colleague) made the personal announcement to myself alone that he was leaving Platinum and returning to his hometown in Nanatuska, someplace far north of Platinum but well within the bounds of Indiana nonetheless. Having much concern for his well being at large, I questioned his motivations — furtively, thoroughly, he explained that he was pursuing the opportunities that awaited him in his town of old. More specifically, he ascertained to me that his motivation did indeed lie in the secrets that were inexplicably buried in the rural Midwestern town of Nanatuska.
He left with his dubiously acquired books (a meager collection at best, each book of which was exceedingly thin with rare knowledge) on a rainy day, and as he departed — I stood at the foot of the university's impressive front spire, able to easily see the vast concrete parking space — there came a brilliantly effulgent flash of lightning brighter than any I had ever seen. Presently I was blinded only for a moment, but when my eyesight returned to me, I could have sworn that Kelton's navy blue car was thrice farther away from my vantage point than it should have been. This, though, I passed off as a mere hallucination of a worried mind.
I gave little thought to Kelton Haven in the proceeding months, but soon enough my attention was drawn back to his strange behavior. One day I sternly remembered one of his most capricious peculiarities — it had appeared unexpectedly, catching me off guard and shocking me to the core. In our shared dorm, not everything could be kept secret at all times, which occasionally included badly timed glimpses at the other's lack of clothing. In one such circumstance, when I had arrived back at the dormitory after an extended day of grocery shopping as well as acquiring specific textbooks, I'd stepped back into our own dorm, where immediately I saw at the end of the hall, in the joined living room-and-kitchen, Kelton standing bare-chested over a table, looking over one of his denser books. At my sudden intrusion, he spun around quickly, allowing me an unobstructed view of the simple yet all-consuming black tattoo spanning from his lower chest to his upper belly. Its form I can hardly describe, as it was composed of such unusual patterns which somehow could not be accurately categorized as simple or complex. It was an enigma, out of place, and shockingly out of character for Kelton.
Why would he blemish his body with such a blasphemous thing? This question burned in my mind for close to three years (after two years following Kelton's departure) until, finally, I received an unexpected letter from an old friend in the mail. As expected, the sender had been Kelton Haven — this strange medium of communication fit with his recent eccentric demeanor, as there were many easier means available, including the lightning-fast utilization of any computer easily obtainable from nigh every modern store in the world — and he wrote in such a bizarrely foreign script barely intelligible as English that I admit that I had to reread his letter several times simply to make sense of it. Additionally, there were numerous inconsistencies in the spelling and grammar of his letter, as if the grammatical rules and dialect of another language were instinctually rooted in his brain and actively interfering with his comprehension of English. This letter is, word for word, mistakes included, as follows:
Dessember 10, 20-14
My friend Daer, Bryce Cunning, bringing to you i Givv invitations for Yuu to come to my old toun Nana-tuska (alu-kum, ganju eal'jeol) — discussions hevy will Follo for uss to reLearn thoz thinngs i qwit For Whoom my formle egucation yaers aggo fife. To come Yuu my Nana-tuska residential.
Aside from the most unusual English (if it can be labeled as such), I took notice that the date of the letter was several weeks late. The day of its receipt was January seventh, nearly a month delayed. If anything, this lateness inspired me with more passion to pay a visit to my old colleague, especially considering that his hopelessly broken English shined light on his growing instability, possibly even hinting at his future inability to care for himself. Additionally, I knew that the nearest place of care for the mentally insane in Nanatuska was dozens of miles west at Helensville Asylum, a place with an especially bad reputation when it comes to crucial details such as sanitation and overall health of its patients. I settled on the decision to make the hours-long drive to Nanatuska (I had been there before on rare visits in years past before I had met Kelton), if only to check up on my former colleague's collapsing mental state.
The day that I departed from my recently-acquired, modest, residential home, a storm was brewing on the horizon — offering threats of blizzard, and relentlessly to boot. Weather forecasts had already predicted snowfall possibly reaching up to two feet or more, and I cared not to be caught in such a catastrophe before beginning my upstate journey to Nanatuska. Unfortunately, I was not faced with much fortune; the longer I drove, as hours passed, it became clear that the storm front was scattered very far north, originating from someplace in mid-Michigan (probably as lake effect snow from colossal Lake Michigan) and forming a swell in the sky that would not likely disperse until it had released its load (and its fury) upon a fair portion of northern Indiana. Giving me a figurative jolt now and then were occasional uncannily bright flashes of lightning toward Nanatuska, though the storm was not to fall until much later.
Luckily I arrived at Kelton's Nanatuska residence shortly before the storm commenced — unluckily, I found the place vacant of all signs of life. Snow outside of his home, piled a mere few inches in depth, revealed no recent passage of human footsteps (in fact, the only prints present were those of myriad squirrels and birds), and all lights inside were dimmed dishearteningly. This evident vacancy sparked my concern, as anything could have happened in the weeks during which the letter was on its way to my own home. I powered up the creaky front steps and knocked first on the door, praying for a second that perhaps Kelton was only asleep and unharmed. No response came, however, and I found it prudent to try the knob — the door swung open effortlessly, and immediately I was greeted with a pungent odor of paper and leather. Stepping inside, I groped around on the wall for a light switch and flipped it, bathing the room in light. My jaw was agape instantly.
Scattered around the room haphazardly were hundreds of moth-eaten papers torn directly from Kelton's ancient books, displaying writings in unintelligible scripts and drawings of eerie beings with lanky bodies, slim legs, and wide skulls with no obvious facial orifices, or of lights in a black expanse passing for the sky, or (more despairingly) of unnatural shapes descending from the skies whilst engulfed by a brilliant glow of orange, cyan, or white. The longer I explored this papery labyrinth, the more I felt a growing sense of unease, as it slowly dawned upon me with the chills running up and down my spine that I did not belong there. Looking extensively upon the intricately detailed drawings (early historic in origin, assumedly dating from at latest the third century, BCE, judging by the style used, the quality of the leather pages, and the wornness of the paint) and seeing the increasingly unearthly monstrosities painted upon them, I became increasingly aware of a mentally gnawing sensation, almost as if my mind were being violated by a vile sort of energy. Then, with one fateful glance, I recognized a recent handwritten note on the back of the door I had just opened to make my entry:
Januwarry 5, 20-15
Nauw leevv — Thay ar nat oure Frends.
The moment that my mind finished dreadfully processing that petrifying message, blinding light swallowed me from all windows, accompanied by an intense mechanical warmth and a deafening roar of machinery. The room pulsed rhythmically as if shaken by colossal engines, and every single thing present in the room shook violently or toppled about, if it wasn't flung inexplicably across the room or launched to the ceiling as if by reversed gravity. My heart began to race immediately, and even with my blinded eyesight, I managed to race through the open doorway and over the ground wet with flash-melted snow, and climbed into my car, slamming the door with enough force to form a minuscule crack in the window. Light still engulfed everything, and I became astoundedly aware of vaguely humanoid shapes descending from the sky — in the sheer madness of the situation, with unnatural vigor I rapidly pulled out of the driveway and hurdled onto the backroad, racing determinedly to escape from the aerial nightmare. As soon as I hit the roads, the light diminished completely, but I was still blinded — this time by the blustering snow falling at an undeniably blizzardy rate.
I could not see even as I guided my car through the empty backroads, but I realized that I must have made a wrong turn when I mistakenly arrived at a dead end surrounded on all sides by dense forest trees curiously lacking layered snow. Moments before I was capable of swerving the car around and continuing my escape, the ominously effulgent light returned and swallowed me whole. The car rumbled as it abandoned the damp ground in favor of greeting the hot air, and even the trees surrounding me reacted by painstakingly leaning away from the intruding alien light. My mind was wracked horrified as hands tipped with six wiry things clamped to every window of the car, numbering in the dozens until, finally, they parted ways in the middle of the windshield to reveal a single disturbing culmination of everything deemed unholy by mankind and certainly a portion of the animal kingdom.
The voices I heard from unexplained sources in that fading moment — they spoke a horrid creole of English and something not belonging to our Earth. What can possibly communicate in such a grueling manner?
What occurred between that and my awakening in my car in the driveway of my disturbingly snowless Platinum home is a mystery to me. I woke with the feeling that a minimal period of time had passed, perhaps only a number of minutes or even seconds, yet the surroundings suggested otherwise. Now, it was dawn, and the sun was shining weak warmth upon the cold environment. As I said, my home was lacking in snow — the premises of the neighboring homes were not, and in fact snow was piled three feet high at the very least. That, though, is not the most jarring factor. Strangest of all is the fact that I woke shirtless, lying in the back seat of my car, with a stinging sensation ranging from my lower chest to upper belly. Looking down, I glimpsed with the greatest horror I have ever felt in my life a black tattoo identical to the one which Kelton Haven had received five years prior.
In addition to that, though to a lesser extent, was a quiet, dim desire to look more into the things that Kelton had studied so profusely — of course, that was shrouded by my innate horror. As for this documentation, I write it for the sole purpose of marking my story before it is too late, for I fear that my own mind might be commencing to slip. At the same time, one can only wonder what lies beyond our atmosphere, who may be observing from the heavens above, and where those who go missing but are never found disappear to. That pondering is what leads me to believe that my stability is limited in the near future, and that those things that I met not be provoked any further.