The City at the Two Magnetic Poles: Glynn Owen Barrass

3rd August 1928, Miskatonic University, Arkham, Mass.

In the small hours of the early morning, Dr Henry Armitage awoke from a phantasm-haunted slumber to the sound of fierce barking, issuing from the university’s campus watchdog. The savage and relentless noise increased in pitch until it transformed into a frantic and frightened yelp before a sudden retort of gunfire cut the dog off mid-howl. For some reason, the nullifying silence succeeding the gunshot chilled Armitage to the very pit of his soul, leaving him too frozen with fear to move till the increasing shouts and commotion on campus roused him enough to investigate the events unfolding beyond his window.

After quickly dressing, Armitage rushed through the grounds towards the college buildings and found a large crowd of students, staff, and faculty gathered at the foot of the library steps. As he approached he noted that the burglar alarm had been activated, its klaxon sounding low and erratic through the cool night air. Sensing that an event far greater than a mere break-in had occurred, the chill inside his chest intensified a hundred fold as he veered towards the small group that stood before the open window to the building’s side.

To his fear-filled eyes the gaping window resembled the wailing mouth of a doomed soul, as Armitage pushed past the crowd of onlookers to climb in through the open aperture, closely followed by two members of the group, his colleagues Professor Warren Rice and Dr. Francis Morgan. He had spoken to them only recently about his apprehensions regarding the Whateley boy’s insistence in examining the Necronomicon, the tome Armitage knew was the source of this insidious late night break-in.

The alarm having abated moments earlier, the interior of the library lay dark, deathly silent. Like a man hypnotized by fate, Armitage led the other men across the hall towards the genealogical reading room, which led in turn to the smaller, locked room where the restricted books were stored. He knew what he would find before getting there—had known this would happen since the time he had last witnessed the Whateley boy’s crafty, goat-like countenance.

Flicking on the light switch, Armitage gasped in horror. The campus watchdog lay panting on the carpet, thick crimson pumping from the bullet wound to its chest. Beyond it the door to the restricted room stood on bent hinges, its lock smashed asunder. In hindsight, none of this surprised Armitage in the slightest, and, as his companions stepped with caution towards the door, he knew in all certainty which book they would find missing. He understood also what the sinking feeling in his chest finally meant. The end of the world was near.

22nd January 1931, Somewhere in the Antarctic.

A solitary form dragged a wooden sled through the world of snow the Antarctic called summer, a figure barely discernable through the shimmering haze of icy mist. A normal man would have long ago succumbed to the treacherous conditions of this frozen hell, but Wilbur Whateley was no normal man. Nine feet tall, his white-bearded face surrounded by a shock of long white hair, he was a blasphemous Moses in a desert of death. Dressed from head to toe in thick black furs, his meager protection concealed something more alien than human.

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