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The Gray Cove

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January 21, 2015

This diary was found in the estate of Arthur R. McCullogh, a prominent doctor from Cincinnati. Most of the journal is routine medical notes and passages about Dr. McCullogh’s life. He had a wife, although it appears he married her after this passage was written because there is no mention of her until September 1942. He was also in a car accident in 1926 and subsequently walked with a slight limp, but not enough to warrant a cane. This series of passages is the only mention of his ordeal in Wisconsin, and it appears he never told anyone what happened. To date, the location of “Potawatomi” has never been discovered, and it is unknown whether the beings discussed in this journal still exist. I pray they do not. -Robert Edelweiss, Curator of the Cincinnati Historical Society

December 13th, 1936

The year was 1919, although I remember it like it was yesterday. The memory brings me pain for I hate to recall the terrors I went through, but I must. The unknown, inhuman horror I witnessed I pray no wholesome man ever again must encounter. That is the reason I write this memoir, so that others may avoid the same mistakes I made and those nameless creatures may remain undisturbed to practice their dark rites on the banks of Lake Michigan, away from the light of civilization.

I had received a letter in the mail from one of my acquaintances from my time on the Harvard rowing team asking me to come visit him at his new home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, He was a big, burly man. The kind who always had on a checkered shirt and suspenders no matter what the weather was. When I knew him, he had worn a large red beard although I did not, and still do not, know whether he still has it or is clean-shaven nowadays. He had heard of my getting a medical degree and hoped that I could come check on his wife’s pregnancy, at a friend’s-and-family discount of course. He gave his address as 1629 Eastmont Street and warned that there were quite a few pickpockets so I should use caution. He also listed his wife’s symptoms as a persistent stomach ache and pale skin.

I agreed to come out and visit because I had been meaning to take a short vacation, and catching up with my college buddy sounded nice. Veterans of the Great War had been coming home and they brought with them a wealth of ailments and injuries. While it may be a betrayal to my profession to say so, I had grown quite ill of treating years-old bullet wounds and limbs stolen by war. War changes men. The people I was treating were hardly 20, but they were as gaunt and haggard as a man of 60. One look at their gray, dead eyes spoke volumes of the terror they had seen, and I needed a break from their sorrow. I fear for the coming years, with that man gaining power in Europe, that the world may again be flung into war and another generation of young men will be lost to violence. I can only hope that by the time this new crop of boys has been sown down, I will be retired and able to avoid another lifetime of pain.

It hadn't occurred to me at the time, but it was strange that my college friend seemed to have avoided the draft and had been able to start a family. Now I know the reason. I myself had stayed home because my poor eyesight, corrected by thick spectacles, had made me ineligible for military service.

This talk of war, and thoughts of the lake creatures tire me. I shall continue writing on another date.

December 16th, 1936

Today an especially disfigured young man came in for a check-up. I discovered a piece of shrapnel lodged behind his knee, which had been causing so much pain that he could not walk. I was successfully able to remove it and he was able to walk for the first time in a decade and a half. It is days like today that inspire me to continue medicine.

To continue my dreadful tale, since I was living in Indiana at the time, I decided to take the new rail line to Chicago and then up to Milwaukee. It should have been an easy two day journey, with scenic lake views. Perhaps I would even take a day or two to view the famed architecture of Chicago. Or visit the stockyards, where I had heard that in some places, cows are packed so tightly and numerously that it appears that the earth itself is wrapped in cowhide, horizon to horizon. I packed enough clothes and toiletries to last two weeks and hailed a taxi to take me to the train station. However, once I arrived there, the ticket salesman had bad news for me.

“I’m sorry, sir, but the rail line from Chicago to Milwaukee has been closed. For the last few weeks there have been heavy rains, and sections of the tracks have washed out. Once in Chicago I suggest you hire a carriage, since the roads may be washed out also and a horse will be more capable than a car.” the salesman told me.

“Do you have the name for a reputable carriage service?” I asked.

“Yes. Once you arrive in Chicago, leave the train station and go right. One block down the street will be a red building. That is the carriage service. Ask for Alexander Czesky, he is my cousin. Tell him Gregori sent you and he will give you good rates.”

There was a sickly odor around the ticket counter, one I knew quite well from my time in medical school, the scent of formaldehyde. But I brushed it off as either being my imagination or coming from my medical bag.

The salesman had the same eyes as the veterans I had worked with, seeming to have had the light taken from them. I thanked him, while pitying what he had gone through, and boarded the train.

That is a good stopping point for today, my hand is growing sore and I am getting hungry. Perhaps I’ll go out for a steak to celebrate my successful surgery on that poor lad with the shrapnel in his knee. That sounds delightful.

January 4th, 1937

To start where I last left off, the only available seat was next to an old woman dressed in a long black dress and a veil the same shade. I sat down next to her and assumed a dignified air, to respect her and her loss. One saw many women dressed in mourning over lost sons or husbands since the War, so this was not an uncommon situation. The old woman glanced over at me and started laughing.

“Oh sweetie, no need to be so solemn. I’ve been wearing these clothes for thirty years. Please, just be yourself. We’ll be sitting here next to each other for a while, so why don’t we just keep at ease. Tell me about yourself!”

I told the woman my name, and that I was headed to Milwaukee to examine the wife of a friend of mine. I asked her why she was going to Chicago, and she replied that she was actually also going to Milwaukee although for a much different reason.

“Many years ago, my son got a job as a brew master in Milwaukee. He had always loved beer and other alcohols” the woman chuckled “and it was like a dream come true for him to work for that brewery. After my husband died, I used to visit him at every holiday and sometimes even just to surprise him. We were constantly exchanging letters. He talked about how much he loved his new job and what he was doing. He once even invented a new flavor of beer by adding blueberries to the hops. The letter with that good news also included this locket, because he had gotten a bonus.” The woman pulled on a thin gold chain around her neck and an ornate locket engraved with the intials CWK surrounded by olive branches appeared. Inside was a small photo of a mother and father holding a young boy.

“That’s me and my son and my late husband the month we went to the Capital. Anyways,” the woman put the locket away, “one weekend he told me about how he was going to visit the lake with a couple of his friends. They were planning on going to a small village called Potawatomi, named after the natives who used to live there, and swim in the cove there.” The old woman now had a tear running down her cheek which she dabbed at with a black handkerchief.

“After that weekend, he never wrote back to me. One of his coworkers sent me a telegraph that my son had drowned, and his body had not been recovered. Every June since then, I go visit his old home and leave a bouquet of flowers. The new family that lives there is very kind and understanding of my situation. I would visit this Potawatomi village, but no one seems to know where it is. The only mention of it I can find anywhere is in my son’s letter.”

I gave the woman my condolences, which she dismissed with a wave of her hand.

“Enough reminiscing! Let’s try to enjoy this train ride!”

And so we did. As the miles passed, we played cards and shared humorous stories and watched the Indiana lakefront fly past us. Within a few hours we could see the Chicago skyline and knew our destination was soon at hand. I told the woman my plan of doing some sightseeing around the city before continuing on the next leg of my journey, and she thought that sounded enjoyable and asked if she could join me. Being the gentleman I am, I could only agree. That’s enough for one night’s writing. In my next entry, I will write of my experiences in Chicago.

January 10th, 1937

Our train arrived at the Chicago station and I, with my new companion, went to make arrangements at the carriage company Gregori the ticket salesman had suggested. We walked through the throng in the train station. Chicago was many times larger than my home in Indiana, and it was already obvious how much more populous it was. The stench of unwashed humanity mingled with the aroma of horse manure from the carriages on the street as well as the faraway odor leaking from the countless cattle at the stockyards across the city. Despite my medical background giving me what I felt was a strong stomach, I could barely contain the bile that rose up in my throat at the miasma that I found myself in.

The old woman and I trudged onwards to follow the ticket salesman directions to the carriage company. We left the station and started walking right. However, we could not see the red building I had been told to find. We walked for a few blocks before turning around to look again, in case we had been distracted by the foulness of the city and had missed it. Walking through the cty, I again smelled the sickly formaldehyde scent and felt embarrassed to be carrying such an odorous medical bag. But I was confused, why had I not smelled formaldehyde on the train, where my bag had been sitting next to me for hours? I again ignored my unease and kept looking for the red storefront.

After another fifteen minutes of searching, the old woman suggested we ask the Chicago ticket salesman where the carriage company was, so we once again waded into the sea of humanity inside the train station and approached the ticket counter.

“Hello sir,” I said politely, “we are looking for a red carriage service suggested to us by your counterpart in Indiana.”

“R-r-red? A red carriage service?” the ticket salesman stuttered. His eyes had grown wide. “Not the service run by that despicable Czesky fellow?!”With the word Czesky the ticket salesman crossed himself and spat on the ground.

“Why yes, exactly that service.” I replied, puzzled at the man’s actions “We were sent there by Czesky’s cousin, the ticket salesman at the train station in my home town. Where is his company?” at this point I had become exasperated by the smell of Chicago and the ticket salesman’s unprofessional attitude.

“His cousin!?! Oh god, oh dear god no they’ve left Chicago?! Sir, you must NOT do business with Czesky or his kin. They are evil folk. They are dead folk. I fear for all of us if they have learned to travel further away from their home than here in Chicago.” The salesman was at this point hysterical.

“Oh come now,” I replied, “you’re being ridiculous. Are you implying they are zombies? Impossible. I don’t know what these people have done to earn your scorn, but it must be unfounded.” However, despite knowing that he was wrong, the man’s conviction shook me. He seemed truly distraught to learn of the Czesky man living in Indiana.

“No, I am telling the truth! Please sir do not hire that monster’s carriage service. There is a nice company a few blocks that direc-"

“I demand to know where the red service is," I cut the salesman off.

“Fine! It is down that alley,” he pointed at a dark opening between to brick rowhouses. “But again I beg you not to visit that dark place.”

I grabbed the old woman’s hand and stormed away from the salesman’s desk. I could hear his pleas fading away behind me. Again, my hand tires. This entry seems especially long, but oh well. I had to relay my entire encounter with that salesman, because he is the only other living person I have encountered who knew of those dread lake creatures, and I only wish I had not been so pigheaded and had listened to him. Perhaps this woeful tale could have been brighter if I had.

January 11th, 1937

Once we had arrived at the carriage service, we encountered another war veteran, obviously Czesky’s cousin, with the same gray, dead eyes as Czesky. Beside that quirk, I thought nothing odd of the man. I was slightly embarrassed however as my medical bag again reeked of formaldehyde. We arranged easily for a carriage to take us to Milwaukee and went on our way.

The ride north of the city was mostly uneventful until the old woman began to feel ill.

“Why, I feel rather light headed. I must be getting a cold. Would you mind if we stopped here for a bit?” she asked.

Since I was driving the carriage (there were no available drivers in Chicago) I agreed and we stopped in a small clearing for lunch.

“The roads are surprisingly well kept,” I remarked, remember how Czesky had warned about the rain washing the roads out.

At that moment, a cloud passed in front of the sun leaving us shrouded in a daytime twilight. A chill breeze picked up and I could smell water. I stood up and walked a short ways and came upon a sight that will forever haunt me.

I stood at the top of a bluff and there below me was a cove. A lurid, ghastly, godforsaken cove. The water glowed a sickly gray, from what source I, to this day, dare not ponder. Huddled around the water like so many hungry cats were a group of shacks, all in shambles. Standing in the water were ranks of what appeared to be men moving their bodies in a grotesque dance. Waving their arms sharply with mechanical precision and synchronization. Their bodies seemed to melt into the water and I thought I could make out multiple extremities beneath each one. Their faces were emotionless masks and their eyes- dead. Dead like the soldiers I had treated. Dead like Czesky and his cousin. Dead like what the ticket salesman had tried to warn me about.

At their lead, facing towards them and leading them in their macabre dance, was an older man. Perhaps he heard me, or perhaps it was some other sense I have no knowledge of, but as I attempted to understand what I was seeing, he swung around and for a moment I thought I saw rows of razor sharp teeth below two black abysses but as I blinked his visage was that of a bearded grandfatherly gentleman. Unlike the denizens in the water, his eyes were lively and he smiled at me as he opened his arms.

“Welcome to Potawatomi!“ he shouted jovially.

I must stop writing for today, my blood pressure rises at these memories and I worry about my health.

14th January, 1937

To continue, at the sound of that hated village’s name, I released a bloodcurdling scream and ran back to the clearing where the old woman was waiting. When I arrived there, her hand was clutching her breast and her breathing was labored.

“Help,” she gasped, “my chest feels oh so heavy, and I cannot breathe.”

Knowing the signs of a heart attack, I ran to my medical bag, but none of the surgical instruments inside could help the old woman without killing her, she needed water and a bed to lay on. To save the life of my new friend, I decided to brave the village. My fear, I thought to myself, was completely unfounded. It was merely the chill shadow across the sun that made the people look so otherworldly in the water. Perhaps, I thought, once the old woman is better she can ask around to see if the villagers remembered her son or what happened to him.

I walked back to the edge of the bluff and called to the old man, “Help! My companion is not well! May we stay here the night until she is better?”

I do not remember seeing the old man move, but he was suddenly beside me. “Of course,” he murmured, “we will gladly help your friend.”

The old man turned and barked at the beings in the water a phrase I could not understand. It sent chills through my body as though ancient memories long forgotten by the conscious mind but still stored deep in the brain were stirred. Here I do my best to write down the guttural cacophony:

Gl’thral! Hll! Ur Raggn!

Immediately the ranks of creatures stood at attention. The old man then motioned to two of them and spoke to them in private. They rushed off and before I could register where they were heading, they returned carrying the old woman. The old man instructed me to follow him as they carried her into one of the shacks.

“She will be safe there. Here, I will show you to your room.”

The old man led me to the shack next to the one where the old woman was resting. I could feel a chill as I glanced out at that gray cove again. I still cannot place it, but I felt a deep primordial fear at the sight of that water. I felt that if I were to touch that water, I would never recover. Just looking at it stirred things deep in my mind, horrible things, unstable things, insane things.

“Thank you sir, for your hospitality, but I need to head back to the carriage to bring my bags and such,” I stammered, just trying to find an excuse to leave sight of the cove.

“I have taken care of your bags,” he replied with a smile. Except now, in the light of that cove, his friendliness seemed to have taken on a predatory tone.

The cloud finally passed the sun and again daylight shone down on us. For some reason, in the sunlight, the old man in front of me seemed somehow harder to see. My eyes just could not keep a hold of him, they kept sliding onto trees and rocks and things around us. Also, I noticed a sudden absence of sound. I looked around to find that the old man’s fellow villagers had all disappeared.

“Why don’t you go lay down.” The old man said, “You look tired.”

I coalesced, but only because I suddenly did feel truly exhausted.

17th January, 1937

I have begun to fear for my life. I saw one of them today. I have feared for years that they might one day find me and now I am certain they have. Those dead-eyed creatures are hunting me. I must finish writing my tale before it is too late.

I must have fallen asleep once I entered my shack, because the next thing remember is being woken by a rhythmic noise coming from the cove.

Raggn... Raggn… Ur Raggn

Over and over I heard this horrible chant arising like a chill wind from the night sky. Every muscle in my body tensed from an instinctual urge to flee, to run as far and fast away as I could from this cursed place and its cursed inhabitants. Despite my best reason, I stepped out of my shack to the most horrific sight man has yet to see.

The cove was awash in the sickly gray light, but this time it was thousands of times brighter than during the day. I could see each detail of my surroundings, picked out in that gray luminosity. The chanting was nearly deafening now. It seemed to be all around me. It reverberated around the bluffs of the cove and reverberated inside me. Even the Earth itself seemed to groan in time with incantation. Before me were the same creatures, although this time they made no pretense of humanity. Each monster was clothed in its true form, a crazed confusion of fins and scales, with thousands of teeth and eyes that seemed to lead into an eternity of darkness. Insanity and loathing leaked of the creatures like dew leaks off a leaf in the morning, and as the chant continued, the water they stood in grew brighter and brighter.

Raggn! Raggn! Ur Raggn!

The creatures were again performing their hideous dance, this time with even more urgency and devotion. As their chorus grew louder, I saw a star above me begin to pulsate in time with their howls and t seemed almost as if that distant star could have been reached by the water of the cove.

The chant grew to fever pitch.

RaggnRaggnUrRaggn! RaggnRaggnUrRaggn!

The old man, now transformed fully into the monstrosity that I had glimpsed earlier walked towards the crowd. In his arms lay the prone body of the old woman I had been traveling with. I was rooted to my place in terror, and it seemed the creatures were to too focused on their ghastly ritual to notice they were not alone.

The leader, I can no longer call him an old man, lay the old woman down on the water. It almost seemed to stretch up to hold her, and she did not sink or drift despite the churning of the cove caused by the creatures’ feverish motions.

UR RAGGN FL’THAWEH RAGGN

With that final verse of the creatures’ terrible song, the leader reached up with a clawed hand and brought it slashing down on the old woman’s throat. The gray cove was stained red.

February 20th, 1937

Every day I see more of their dead eyes. Those monsters are coming. I have ran from them city to city, but still they chase. I fear my days are numbered. I cannot spare the time to write much, but I must finish my tale.

As the old woman bled into the water to join her son, my mind went blank. I do not remember if I screamed, or if the creatures noticed me. All I remember is seeing the horrible gray light of the cove reach up and connect with the star pulsating above, and a vision of a dark and terrible city in that light. A city in the stars that I have concluded those monsters came from eons ago, for what reason I doubt humanity can fathom. But now they must be trapped here, in that village of Potawatomi on the banks of Lake Michigan with only glimpses of their lost city brought to them through ritual sacrifice. I do not know how I escaped their clutches, I only remember arriving in Chicago to buy my ticket home.

June 19th, 1937

It has been months since my last entry and my time has come. They are here. I have seen too much. I only hope that one day this journal will be found so that those creatures may be exterminated.

January 21, 2015

Here the journal entries concerning the creatures, aliens we would call them now, from Potawatomi end. Arthur R. McCullugh apparently escaped the aliens somehow, seeing as his journal entries start again two years later, but with no mention of his ordeal. He took whatever secrets he learned from that experience with him to his grave. -Robert Edelweiss, Curator of the Cincinnati Historical Society

Although most are assumed to be boating accidents, there continue to be reports of mysterious disappearances around Southeastern Wisconsin

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