Steven Pinley and I were studying biology at Kingsham University back then. We, especially Pinley, excelled in every aspect. Our attendance was perfect, our understanding of the matter discussed in lectures was impeccable and our performance was very notable. We had decided to take our theoretical discussions and hypotheses a step further and conduct practical experiments. We had learned much about general practices and felt that we were advanced enough to start research of our own.
After hypothesising and daydreaming for god knows how long, we decided we’d acquire a location to decorate with various laboratorial objects to start our very own research. We managed to locate and obtain an old abandoned logger’s shack in the dense forest neighbouring Westhorpe and bought a surplus surgery table anonymously from the university. With several pieces of tools and some electrical lamps we had a remote laboratory where we could work undisturbed.
We were doing research on mushrooms and their effects on dead specimens of various types of wood. We discovered that the nutritional network created between the mushrooms had regenerating effects on the deceased wood, and were thoroughly excited by the discoveries made, Though we wanted to refine our discoveries more before publishing.
One day, I had caught influenza which made me decide that I shouldn’t join Pinley in the research of the day. I went to the bottom floor to phone Pinley with the apartment complex’ central phone. Pinley answered the phone quickly and seemed very considerate, and seemed almost happy that I wasn’t able to come. He explained that he had an idea he wanted to work on privately.
Oh God how I wish I didn’t ever return to that damned laboratory.
It took me around three weeks to recover from my illness, and be in a state where I felt capable once again. The day I decided I would go again next week, the phone rang down stairs. The concierge ringed my door and called me downstairs. He mentioned that the person called for me, and that he seemed very excited about something. I took over the phone and heard what Pinley had to say.
Pinley told me that he had made some amazing progress concerning our mushroom related research and that we were on a fantastic track together. The absence of me, he explained, allowed him to concentrate so thoroughly that he had reached something incredible, and urged me to come by as soon as possible. But, he stressed, he wanted me not to come before next week, as “Preparations would be complete by then.” And so I waited.
That next week, during a windy evening as I had to work during the day, I went on my way over that familiar road, but now by myself without Pinley. Through Westhorpe and through the forest towards the house. The walk felt like it took hours and hours, and an inexplicable feeling of panic kept coming over me. The road felt harrowing, the evening sky had an ominous colour and the air felt foreboding. I approached our laboratory and noticed quickly that there was no light coming out of the windows, even though they were covered by curtains and some boards, some light used to shine through, and there was an unsettling silence around the small building.
I slowly approached the firmly closed door in the darkness, wondering why the house could be closed while Pinley and I had arranged a rendezvous. The closer and closer I came to the door the more every nerve sprawling through my body told me to turn around and never return. But I opened the door. The door swung easily open, it hadn’t even closed all the way. I turned the lights on and waited for them to warm up, during which my mind was still puzzled with confusion. As the lights went on, shock overcame me.
Our laboratory was a disorderly chaos, tools broken and one of the three lights had been smashed. Cupboards were opened, their insides were littered over the floor. Not one glass beaker had been left unbroken. Yet all this paled in comparison to the new objects in the space. Spread along the walls were boxes with specimens I had not seen before, nor had any say in the creation of them. I examined one of the specimens, and to my horror, Pinley had taken our research to new, dark extremes. In the bins were various pieces of flesh, labelled with their species; bovine and pig, covered with mushrooms we declared best fit for the rejuvenation of wood. All pieces of meat had a white hue, radiating a sense of death.
But the worst of all, the most ungodly of all, was the rear left corner of the room. It was the corner furthest from the entrance, so I had not seen it immediately. Usually it was lit, but the fixture responsible for the luminance in that area was unfortunately the one with the smashed lamp. In my recollection the walk to that damnable corner felt like it took hours, as the container stored in that corner was the worst thing I have ever seen. After my eyes had finally adapted to the darkness, I discovered a long, sturdy, iron rimmed glass container holding a long mushroom covered piece of meat. The object seemed to pulsate, coloured a ghastly green with deep purplish veins running through. It radiated an intense horror and instilled fear, yet I did then not know why. Yet.
I went to take the piece out of the container, only to be mortified by a hand returning my grasp. The piece of revived meat was a humanoid arm! The arm fell onto the wooden ground, flopping around spastically in a way no healthily thinking human would. The frantically flexing muscles bulged greatly, obviously nourished well by the mushrooms which had mostly fallen off following the fall. Suddenly, all muscles tensed strongly, making the arm unable to move any more, followed by the sudden final death of the limb which had now gone a greyish white colour.
I walked back slowly, still confused and scared from the preceding incident, and bumped into the great, central ornament. I had somehow missed the cold steel surgery table in the centre of the room during my initial inspection of the chaotic space. The table was covered in green filth, surrounded by the very same mushrooms found on the arm. We kept a strict routine on cleaning the table, so the dirt covering it disturbed me greatly. Especially Pinley would not have left it this way voluntarily.
All there was left on the table, besides the grime and debris, was a scribbled note:
“Close the door, leave this place and NEVER return.
I have made mistakes.
I followed the simple orders without question, and the walk home is lost to my memory. I just remember being home, shocked from the horror I had experienced. Where Pinley is now, even if he still lives, which I do not even have hope for, is lost to the ages. He is a man never to be found again, a great mind lost to madness. Intelligence lost forever. Oh what greatness Pinley would have achieved if we had just stuck to daydreaming.
Yet I still wonder, what was the final mistake Pinley made? One can only wonder, yet the recent headlines feed the imagination. “Amputated limbs missing.” seems to connect with Pinley clearly in my mind, yet one headline seems too horrid to believe the implications thereof.
I don’t want to accept it.
Body dug up from graveyard near Westhorpe, evidence missing.
Visit me on my blog