Axel Valentine-Baroque Truitt
Archivists Note on Document #3849
The following letter was found by a young woman in 1922 and turned in to the Bristol Police not long after its discovery. She could give no insight into the letter, stating only that she had found it in her train booth and that it was “unsettling and possibly incriminating.”
The signature at the end, Robert Quincy Davis ii, cannot be found as a registered citizen of London (or any other place in England) at the time. It’s also notable that the train this was found on had not stopped in London for two weeks. No one seemed to have had any recollection of any man by this name working at a London train station in November of 1922 either, according to police questioning. Many theorize that this is a work of fiction that the young woman who reported it mistook as real, but that doesn’t explain how, oddly enough, this is the only document dated to this exact date in all of London that has been found. Reasoning for this is still unknown, though we do have a few other cases of similar situations in which no documents are found in one area for a full day. It’s a strange phenomenon, one we here at the museum like to dub “Dark Days”.
Updates may be made, but as of June first, 1997, this odd document has had no clear explanation or continuation of any kind. The events detailed here have not been recorded anywhere else, although technically speaking they cannot be disproven, either.
To whomever finds themselves unfortunate enough to read the following, I would like to begin with an apology. I am sorry. I am sorry that you were curious enough to open this envelope I have left so absentmindedly next to my seat on the train. Perhaps you are a conductor or a train worker, strolling through the aisles on a hunt for forgotten luggage or lost children. Perhaps you are a curious passenger unnerved by the quaint little message seemingly left here just for you. Or, perhaps, you are someone who I will never know in a situation I could never possibly describe reading this story under circumstances far beyond my knowledge of the world. In any case, I am sorry. I am sorry that due to your flawed human mind, you will continue to read this because you just cannot help yourself from unraveling the juicy details and grotesque information left so gracefully on these very pages. I am sorry I will not be here to answer your questions or soothe your concerns, because wherever I am, hopefully, I am long dead; rotting away in a ditch somewhere far away from this train as the worms desecrate my fragile human form. I am sorry I cannot ask you to leave now, for if you have opened this letter it is already too late. I am sorry. I am so, so very sorry.
I suppose we shall start at the beginning, shall we? That is where one is meant to find the tip of the snake’s nose to follow its body as it leads through a long, treacherous story? Well then, I suppose we should start with myself and my family.
My father was a man I never knew, having left my mother long before my birth and leaving her with no more than me and a note that read “Don’t look, you won’t find me”. Any questions I had of him were quickly shut down, and all I’ve ever known of the man is that he was horrible and rude and useless and my mother wished she’d never met him. I do, on occasion, wonder what he was or is like. Whether I got my hooked nose from him, or if the dramatically straight black hair that runs from my scalp was a gift from that man too, but I will never know, so I suppose it is best not to dwell on it.
My mother is about the same story. Although she never left me, and in fact, I left her, she was always closed off from me in a way that could not be explained. There was something viscerally private about her, as if she spent my whole life hiding some grandiose secret. Perhaps she was. Perhaps that’s what I saw that day. Anyways, my mother. I cannot say she was gentle or kind or loving as so many others would describe their own. I cannot tell you of how she bandaged my scraped knees or cooked me warm meals on cold evenings. I cannot tell you she tucked me into bed at night with a kiss and a song, or that her hugs were warm and comforting in a way only a mothers could be. No, my mother was none of those things. She was- or is, perhaps, though I’m unsure- a sour, bitter woman, who although did not hate me or treat me with disregard, did not treat me as I’ve been told a mother is supposed to. We lived together in that tiny house in downtown London for twenty years, and yet I don’t think either of us saw the other as anything more than some sort of vague acquaintance for whom we were both expected to get along with on the basis of blood. She kept me alive until I was old enough to do it myself, I’ll give her that. However, in the realm of affection and love and motherly prowess she severely lacked.
I suppose that’s what led me here. Perhaps if I’d been a better son, or if she had been a better mother, if the two of us had been closer or kinder or more open with each other than perhaps I would not be in this situation, but once again, I find it best not to dwell on the past. I find no use in it. I am here now, running from something I do not know toward a place I know even less.
I cannot tell you what had happened the day before the inciting incident of my departure from my childhood home and the only life I’ve ever known, for I do not remember, and even if I did it would be of no use to either of us. I cannot tell you there was some subtle lead to a grandeur horror like some picture at the movies. I cannot tell you that I was threatened or that I fought or that there was some incredible action that left me on the run. No, I cannot tell you any of that.
What I can tell you, though, is that something happened on early Sunday morning of November twelfth, 1922. Something I do not understand in any possible way I could. Something that has twisted my mind and forced me to resort back to the primal urges of some barely human creature that does not belong in a modern society. Something that has ruined everything, and soon, I suspect, will ruin you too.
You see, I work at the train station, ironically the same one I took to leave London on this very train. Thus I’m required to wake up quite early in the morning. Specifically, I usually awaken at about four.
Normally, my mother wakes me up at the appropriate time with a loud call of my name and an announcement that I need to get out of bed. I am, afterall, the sole provider for our household since my mother can no longer work. I rise before the sun, and I do so without complaint. I always have.
On November twelfth of 1922, however, I was not awoken by a call of my name. In fact, I wasn’t even awoken by the sound of cars or horses not far outside my minuscule window that sat just above my bed. No, instead, I was awoken by a horrible sense of pure dread- which, for the record, is a terrible way to begin one’s morning, but I digress.
It was a heavy feeling, like I’d had a plate of lead pressed against every part of my body and mind. My stomach felt small and low in my body and my heart was beating slowly as if it was worried that making too much noise would alert something nearby. My body seemed to have become that of a prey animal. Slowly, my mind began to catch up with my body and my senses came to me. I kept my eyes closed for a little while longer assuming I had simply woken in the night and I could return to sleep. In fact, I nearly did fall back asleep, but something stopped me.
There was a noise very close by, subtle and delicate. It sounded somewhat… unnatural. Just a bit off kilter from what makes a sound normal, turning it sinister and sickly sounding. It carried the same unnerving slimy feeling of a grown man imitating the voice of a little girl, or of a human barking like a dog. Even without seeing or feeling it, every part of my body was still screaming that this sound was not correct in some way… what was it anyways? I listened harder, straining my ears to label the sound, and after a moment, it hit me.
Not my own, mind you, I could tell that much. No, it was the soft, gentle, careful breath of someone else in the room. Slowly, hesitantly, my eyelids forced themselves open, fighting the urge to return to sleep in favor of satisfying that same primal curiosity you attempt to satisfy now by reading this very letter.
For a moment, I thought I may have gone blind in the night because all I could see in front of me was pure, unadulterated darkness. I stared into the black depths for a long moment before slowly looking up toward what seemed like the source of the noise.
My own breath hitched in my throat.
It was my mother- but not. To any passerby or vaguely close relative this may seem to be her but to me it so, so clearly was not.
No, this was some disgusting, false masquerade of my mother. Something else wearing her skin like a cloak. Some horrible wrongness coated the very presence of the thing that stood above me like a predator watching its prey, and it seemed so obvious that it wasn’t right in such subtle, undefinable ways it made me want to vomit.
Her eyes weren’t right. They were the right color and shape, sure, but they were just slightly… bigger. Longer. Just the most slight change. It was barely noticeable, but as my eyes adjusted to the dark it was so glaringly obvious I could barely contain myself.
Her limbs were just slightly too long, too spindly. Again, it was a subtle difference, but the longer I stared the more disgustingly clear it seemed to become that this thing, whatever it was, was not my mother. In fact, I honestly doubt it was human at all.
The worst part, though, was its mouth.
That wretched creature was smiling at me. Smiling. Or, at least attempting at what it must have thought a smile was. I cannot tell you I’d ever seen my mother smile before this, but I am certain this was not what her smile truly looked like, because no creature of God could ever produce that expression.
Its mouth was just slightly too wide, straining the skin of her cheeks to the point that it looked as if the flesh and tendons and nerves could all snap suddenly at any moment and leave her as nothing more than loose flesh. Its lips were thin and chapped looking, layered carefully just above the teeth in a horrible arch that I knew for a fact was not the way a mouth was meant to look or function by any means- Oh, and its teeth. Oh, God, it’s teeth… There were far too many of them, all crammed inside the beast’s face in some heinous display of its grotesque form. They were not sharp or inherently menacing like some boogie man or monster under a child’s bed, they were simply human teeth, yet there were far too many in number to be taken as anything other than horrific.
It did not say anything as it saw I had awoken. It only stared. Watching. Breathing. Its wide eyes seemed to twinkle slightly, its pupils shaking and shivering in such odd ways I couldn’t help but stare back. Each movement of its chest was forced, as if some immature puppeteer was pulling a string from its lungs to imitate the intake of air that it did not need. It mimicked the human form with near accuracy, but just off enough to make it… something else.
I cannot tell you how long the creature and I stayed like that, locked in some horrific form of eye contact that neither of us seemed willing to break. I could not speak. Even if I had wanted to, I don’t think I could have produced any sound in that moment, my throat had dried over and my tongue felt shriveled and useless.
Eventually, I forced myself out of bed and I ran. I ran faster than I have ever run in my life. I didn’t bother changing out of my sleepwear or even putting on shoes; I simply ran through the freezing streets almost naked like some haphazard animal loose in the city. That’s how I felt, really. Like a spooked horse running rampant through a crowd, destructive and terrified.
In spite of my odd appearance, I received no strange looks or questioning words. No, in fact, for some reason, not a single person I passed seemed to find my lack of clothes or shoes odd. No one seemed to think that the screaming, crying man bolting down the street, pushing past pedestrians and forcing his way into the train station with nothing on his person at all was queer in any way. For some time, I considered this to be a blessing. I did not have the energy nor time nor words to explain what I had seen that I swear had nearly ripped my mind from my skull, and I was grateful I did not have to.
Once I got to the train station, I stopped to catch my breath, leaning against a wall to keep from toppling over completely. My knees shook from the pressure and my head was pounding with a splitting headache. I shut my eyes as tightly as I could and let my legs give out. I fell to the cold, merciful floor with a soft thud, and that’s when it hit me.
The train station was almost completely silent.
I work here every day and I can promise that normally the station is absolutely buzzing with noise and activity. The trains scream and screech as they enter and leave the station, whistling a shrill, torturous noise. The people argue and complain and chatter and laugh and walk and hum and they are not quiet. Nothing about a train station is meant to be as silent as it was then, and yet it was- save for one sound. A careful, gentle, subtle noise that seemed to reverberate around the entire area, echoing its disgusting song throughout the terminal and sinking its claws into my ear drums.
My head shot up and I looked around frantically, only to find that I was surrounded by those… things. Everywhere. Every single person in that station was false. That same sense of wrongness that my “mother” had held in my room that morning was now swarming around the terminal like a plague. The old man with the suitcase. The sickly-looking woman with the little boy gripping her hand. The young couple embracing by the benches. None of them were real. All of them held that same horrible smile and those disgusting eyes and those limbs that stretched and contorted and the horrible fake inhaling motions. All of them were in perfect sync, and all of them had their beady, fake eyes pinned right on me.
A long, choking sob escaped my throat. It was far too late for me to preserve any of my dignity anymore, and under the circumstances I was, I almost found it difficult to find shame in sobbing on the floor of the public train station half naked. So, there I sat, crying like a child under the long glare of those horrible creatures. I cannot tell you how long I sat there and cried, but eventually I managed to speak. No- not speak. I screamed.
“What are you?!”
In perfect unison, the creatures laughed in exact harmony. The sound echoed through the terminal like some cursed church choir, the sound ringing in my ears so loud that I swear I felt my eardrums burst. Their laughter felt just as fake, just as forced and incorrect, as if someone had described the idea of laughing to them but none had ever seen it with their own eyes. In their laughter, though, there was something else. Some layer of knowledge resided in the sound, and the longer it continued the more this odd message began to infiltrate my brain like a thousand parasites digging through my skull. The more I heard, the more I began to understand. To understand things no human man could be capable of holding naturally within their brain. I felt my mind begin to unravel, ripping itself apart at the seams as if it was attempting to choose death over hearing any more of this ancient tongue of gods that was slipping its way through my soul and teaching me things that men were not made to learn.
And now I’m here. On this train. Writing this letter. I cannot tell you how I got here, but suddenly that’s where I was, and I felt in my bones that if I did not write down what I had seen today there would be dire, sickening consequences.
I do not know to whom I am writing to, but I ask that you listen to me. They are still out there. They have to be. They have always been here, they are as old as the universe itself- in fact they may have created it with their own faulty hands- and they will be here long after it collapses in on itself like a child’s block tower falling in under its own weight, and they will feel nothing as it does. Be wary. Watch those around you. Look for the signs that they are not who they seem to be. When you see it, you will know, and I implore you to run. Do not ask questions. Do not look for too long. Do not wait until you’re certain. Leave. Do not look back.
By telling you this, I understand that I am dooming you to madness like mine, hence my profuse apologies. Knowing what we know, there is no way for a man to stay truly sound of mind. Still, again, I am sorry. I could not be alone in this. I could not die the only man to ever truly know what happened today. Believe me when I say that this will happen again, though.
What you are hearing now is the dying plea of a demented man who will no longer know anything but pure agony, and in his final act before death he chose to damn another to Hell just as he was. I am selfish. I know that. I am sorry. Perhaps you will find a way to help others like us, but I doubt it. Good luck to you, really, but I doubt anything can be done now.
With my kindest regard and deepest apologies,
Robert Quincy Davis ii.
Born in Seattle, Washington, Axel Valentine-Baroque Truitt is a young author first beginning to publish his own work. His biggest inspirations include Anne Rice and Stephen King. He adores theatre and art history, his passions for the arts often seeping their way into his work. Currently, he lives in Los Angeles with his parents and is in his junior year of high school. Find him on Instagram as @axelthebard and on TikTok as @ameinias.irl.