(Once again, the following is gathered from a journal found in a ruined town in North America.)
The sound of scraping footsteps filled the hallway. Molly supported me as we tried to make our way to safety but it was slow going. My ankle had twisted the wrong way in our rush to escape and now I felt guilty in addition to terrified. I was putting her in danger which was the last thing that I wanted to do.
“I’m sorry, Ms. Price. I have doomed you. Leave me and save yourself,” I said. The words made my heart beat harder with fear but I meant them.
“Don’t be silly, Mr. Newsome,” Molly said. She gave me a strained smile. “I wouldn’t leave you to those things. I wouldn’t leave my worst enemy to those things.”
“I don’t know, maybe Emily would get along with them,” I said.
Molly laughed and pushed me into an alcove and we hid. “Hush, you’ll ruin the surprise,” she said. She slipped the elephant gun off of her shoulder. My hands shook as I checked the ammunition in my revolvers. The skinless gray things shambled closer and I prayed our ambush would save our lives.
* * *
As I walked through the streets of Charming, I hoped that my limp was not too noticeable. Old wounds sometimes lingered the way old memories did. The actual proprietor of the hotel, the girl’s older sister, had been little help in locating Molly. She could not even recall which room Molly had stayed in. Molly’s journal mentioned the library repeatedly. It was as good a place to start as any. I pushed open the heavy oaken door and entered the small library. I did not think oak trees grew in the area.
The inside was darker than I imagined it would be but then I noticed it lacked windows. I was used to gloomy libraries but this one felt far more ominous somehow. I could not name the actual threat but I could almost feel it closing in. Perhaps it was my imagination, inspired by the horrors Professor Miles had unleashed. There could not be more of those things in the world, could there? Molly would know to steer clear of that sort of thing. She was a clever woman.
After five minutes, I had not yet ascertained whether the librarian actually spoke English. She mostly stared at me silently. Her eyes did not move with anything that resembled life or intelligence while I spoke at her. She only opened her mouth to wet her lips with her tongue. She looked young but the light was playing tricks on my eyes because it looked like she was also heavily wrinkled. I rubbed my eyes and the wrinkles were gone again. Regardless, she was less than helpful and more than unpleasant. I turned away from her as soon as it was polite to do so.
Again, I consulted the journal because it had been the only thing useful so far. In the flickering lamplight, it almost looked like the ink was bleeding but that was common with low-quality paper. I disregarded and moved on and pored over the journal. There was something there and I started to pick out part of a code. I knew how Molly thought so it was a little easier for me to pick it up. Numbers led to symbols and that led to marks carved into the actual shelves of the library. The correct path slowly became clear to me.
I became engrossed in my work as it drew on and on. I did not realize how late the hour had gotten until the clock chimed eight. A whole day had passed rather quickly in that library. As I blinked my eyes and looked around, I noticed the librarian was looming all too close. The lamplight did nothing to make her complexion look anywhere close to healthy. I was once again unnerved. A knot tightened in my stomach but I was resolved to be polite again.
“Can I help you, miss?” I asked. I stood and slipped the journal into my pack. I had a feeling that it must remain safe.
The librarian simply stared at me as she had done before. Something odd was there behind her eyes but I could not immediately tell what it was.
“Well, I have what I need now. I must be going on my way. You must be going home as well, I’m sure,” I said. I backed away a little bit as the librarian moved closer.
The librarian just grinned and I saw too many teeth in her mouth. Her smile just kept going and did not touch her eyes.
“I don’t know your intentions, madam, but I want no part in it. I came in peace and I will leave in peace.” I started to turn in order to make for the door. That is when I saw her raise a large butcher’s knife and advance.
“I warn you to put that down,” I called out. “I will not be responsible for my actions if you do not.” I continued to back up, knowing full well the grim situation I was in. I fumbled in my pack for the revolver I hoped was there.