Fragment of a Life

I was reading an old letter as a part of my genealogical research. In a dingy corner of an obscure library in ancient Fremantle, Western Australia’s first port at the mouth of the Swan River. As I unfolded yet another page, for our ancestors were a verbose lot, a folded sheet of paper fell to the floor.

I bent to pick it up and discovered it was a very old illustrated map.

One illustration caught my eye immediately and I picked up my digital camera and snapped that section of the eastern Pacific. The attention of the swarthy-faced and turbanned librarian was caught and he came over to see what I had found so interesting.

The moment he saw the map his demeanor changed and he became very aggressive. He, not quite snatched but very firmly, took hold of the paper and demanded I tell him where I had found it. Concerned at his attitude, I surreptitiously removed the memory card from my camera as I told him and while he was staring at the lines on the map.

The old curator demanded in his thick accent that I show him my camera. He looked at the buttons and asked how it worked. I explained that it was not working and I showed him that it would not turn on. Thank goodness for digital cameras which fail to work if the card is not inserted. He seemed satisfied that no pictures had been taken.

From his agitated muttering I gathered that he had lost this map years before and I heard a word “Shogga”. At least I think I heard it. Along with something about el azred and some mad arab but I think they were dead relatives because he was saying something about “necro” and “my”. As he collected the pages of my great great grandfather’s letter he kept muttering and his accent became thicker finally changing to an unintelligible foreign language and I understood no more.

It can’t have been the map itself for that was quite unremarkable, with compass roses and dragon illustrations around the edges. The only unusual feature I noticed was the part in the middle which I had photographed. It must have been the letter. He may not have realised just what was in that envelope when he gave it to me.

He demanded that I leave immediately and despite my protestations was firmly shown the door. As I left he slammed the door behind me and I heard the bolts being shot.

I have no idea what was disturbing him so much. I looked back at the door and noticed a rather strange inscription. I spent some time deciphering it and was quite puzzled at the end result. I have no idea what it was about.

That is not dead which canst eternal lie,
With strangest aeons even death mayst die.

Last night I saw a TV News report that that strange library I had visited earlier in the day had burned to the ground with the death of an unidentified person. There are also reports of a strange tide in Fremantle Harbour and a cray fishing boat has been found abandoned and drifting off the coast.

I am most upset because I had not finished taking notes from my ancestor’s letter. About his voyage to the new Colony from San Francisco and his adventures as he was swept south into seas full of ice bergs.

All I really have is that single photograph. Dragons are often seen on old maps. Giant squid are nowhere near as common.

I’ll post it here and then I’m off to go canoeing on the Swan River. I have an irresistable urge to get out onto the water.


Other Cthulhu related posts on this blog may be found here, here, here, here, here, here,
here and here.

6 responses to “Fragment of a Life

  1. A brilliant piece of writing, sir. The start of a novel, a short story, or something to stand on its own and intrigue us.
    Much more gripping (and far less griping!) than Harry McFry Investigates!

    Kind Regards



  2. Huhhhh?! Now … (counting on fingers to see if G.G.Grand-father was born in the right era … is a puzzlement!)… vivid imagination, M’lud!


  3. Cybe R. Wizard

    I wasn’t aware that my mother-in-law had ever visited the Pacific.


  4. Why, thank you Mr Hamburger. It is in fact a stand alone. Should you have read the Tales of HP Lovecraft you would know that I will not survive my canoe trip. Perhaps you may enjoy the tale unfolding on the “Travelling North” page.

    Buff, I did have a Danish GGGrandfather who was a ship’s master. The map was so much older than the letter!

    Cybe, you could get into severe trouble for that one! Even I never dared suggest something like that about my MiL!


  5. Gruess Gott, Herr Meister Hamburger

    Shocking !!!

    Le Baron AerChie is, I hope, not being entirely frank & straight=forward with us

    He calls himself a wRiter – Is there some deep reason why he is so SHOCKINGLY denying his so-many Admirers the enjoyment of the next episode/s ??!!?

    Have we penetrated his Dark Secret ?

    Tony Robinson (of Baldrick fame) has suggested that there is some mysterious Mature Antipodean who should be the King of Inglaterra – apparently, he has been exiled to the Antipodes, consequent upon a (formerly) rich Ancestor who lost all the Family-Money in Queen Victoria’s Time on a Huge Bet in the Races, so that his Descendant has had to make his fortune in the Colonies, concealing his gNoble Antecedents

    On the UK Tele, this Antipodean had shaved off his Beard and claimed to have no wish to be King of Inglaterra, now that it is no longer the envy of many less Happier Lands and he does not really kNow if he really believes in the Monarchy … and to have no desire to return to the Old Land of his Forebears because “he likes Australia” with its wonderful Fauna/Flora and Expansive Horizons

    ?? Now WHO does this remind us of (apart from the regrowable Beard)

    ???? What part is played in this strange hesitancy to return to the Land of his Forebears by a fear of flying and an apprehension of Giant Sea Bloggers who know where he lives (presumably from the omniscient Australian Internal Revenue or from the US Department of Homeland Security) and who are anxious to discuss a certain Map, as soon as he goes out to High Seas

    I would like to kNow, and le Baron’s divers supporters want to kNow, exactly what the relationship is between le Baron and this mysterious Elderly Antipodean

    I’m sure the Marchioness, Mlle la RegenCoaster will be able to find out – she is, after all, une Jounaliste – perhaps there is untaxed Treasure, including barrels of well-matured GIN – perhaps we should put the Future Frontier Editor on the case

    We demand more Episodes …. and more RainCoater Jokes …

    NOW, sofort, immediatement, jetzt

    Your obedient servant etc and

    Tot siens

    G Eagle


  6. Pingback: Quiz of the Day « Archies Archive

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