The Journal of Professor Arnold Guthridge, St Aidan’s College
Thursday August 16th 1900.
I have a tale to relate that affects me deeply as it concerns a dear colleague of mine, Victor Henry Torrence was an antiquarian of great enthusiasm and zeal with an income to match. I had first become acquainted with the man while at university, our mutual fascination with all things arcane made us firm friends from the beginning and while I followed the path of academia Victor used his not inconsiderable inheritance to roam the world seeking knowledge, often bringing curiosities and ephemera back from his travels, several of which were proudly displayed in the library at St Aidan’s.
Upon returning from a walking holiday in the Alps with my beloved Evelyn I discovered a pair of letters waiting for me from my esteemed friend who had been on an expedition to Patagonia, the first described in great detail his encounters with shamans of the indigenous tribes, who by use of potions containing coca leaves could astrally project to a realm of spirits and rainbow light. He wrote of the large quantities of the mineral pitchblende (or uranite as it is sometimes known) that literally lay upon the forest floor and also waxed lyrical at great length regarding a large crystal he had discovered while searching a ruined temple which seemed to glow with a blue light. The native shaman, becoming agitated upon seeing it, urged Victor to cast it down a deep cave but realising his determination to take it back to England warned him to keep it in a sturdy container at all times. Victor was occasionally a foolhardy man but sensing their concern to be genuine, had a lockable box of metal made by a craftsman before leaving the continent and suggested that I should come and see this marvel for myself. The bulk of the letter was composed of such trivial stuff as shared by old friends and he gave his best wishes to Evelyn, complimenting me on my good fortune in meeting such a remarkable woman.
In the second letter he wrote that he had at first wondered why I had not replied then realised we were away in Switzerland at the time of writing, he had been studying the crystal at great length using scientific method and discovered during his time with it that the light gave him a great sense of well-being and several large moles he had on his body since birth had disappeared. I became uneasy at this for I had heard reports of pitchblende causing sickness and lesions upon the skin, since he had discovered the crystal where the mineral was plentiful might it be tainted somehow?
I was writing an urgent telegram warning Victor against further exposure when a message arrived insisting that I come to his house as soon as possible and I was to come alone and under no circumstances tell anyone, I caught a train the very next morning and upon arrival a swift carriage trip from the local station brought me to Victor’s large country house to find his butler greatly concerned, my friend had locked himself in the small outhouse he used for his research after sending the telegram and had not emerged since. The man, Soames, informed me that his master had recently begun to take on an unpleasant pallor with a blue glow seeming to emanate from within his very body when in shadow, the staff had begun to fear for his health while also worried that this malaise may be some form of contagion. Notwithstanding this I immediately went to his place of retreat and hammered on the door that I may be admitted and on convincing him I was by myself he unlocked it and bade me enter.
My friend had always been a hale and hearty man but what stood before me was a shadow of his former self, his emaciated frame wrapped in a loose robe I remembered from our college days, his cheeks sunken. But that was not what shocked me, his skin and flesh and bone had become translucent and worse still he was lit from within with a blue glow, I could see into and through his skull, then Victor threw off the robe, his skeleton and internal organs were clearly visible through his skin as if he was made of pale blue glass. Horrified I asked what I could do to help him but he calmly assured me he had never felt so well in his life and that he merely wanted me to here to witness the final stage of his transition to something remarkable. I beseeched him to return to St Aidan’s so that our medical research faculty could perhaps help him but he merely smiled again and bid me watch as he became even more transparent fading to just an outline, his last words were that he would now live forever on an astral plane, then he was gone without a trace. To my shame I fled from the place giving the briefest of explanations to Soames before returning on the soonest train, once at the college I collapsed in my quarters in shock causing Evelyn great concern upon finding me.
I took the crystal before I ran from Victor’s home and sealed the metal box in which it resided before burying it in a lead container deep in the ground and its whereabouts will go to the grave with me, I hope it is never found
A. Guthridge (Emeritus, St Aidan’s)