Glory leaned her head back on her chair, cradling the books in her lap but having more on her mind that instant gratification. She didn’t need sleep, but it seemed increasingly important to take a moment to order her thoughts before embarking in a new direction. Phoenix shifted around in her head, well aware that she was still angry with him.
She is old and feeble. Soon she will die. You do not need to concern yourself with her, Phoenix announced defensively. Or your father, he added.
What gives you the right to decide who I should worry about? she demanded. Why should it matter to you how soon someone will die, and how does that justify not caring about their comfort?
Humans are strange, he sulked. In the natural order of things, the strong thrive by preying upon the weak. Many species eat their weak offspring or their offspring eat them in order to survive. Your world is fortunate that the Elder Gods and their offspring are so few and mostly sleeping. Maybe some of you will survive when they wake.
What does that have to do with how I choose to treat my grandmother? Or if I want to look for my father? she asked, to which he did not respond. In fact, he scurried away like a rat in a wall.
Glory stood and dropped the bundled books onto her bed. She snatched up her laptop instead and quickly found the number for the Arkham Sanitarium. It was too late to call, but she resolved to do so first thing in the morning and felt Phoenix withdraw in horror. It really didn’t matter why he was horrified, just that he was. She threw herself back into the chair in smug satisfaction. She’d set up an appointment to visit on Monday, drop off the gloves and apron she’d altered for Dr Blackwood while she was in Arkham and hopefully avoid Professor Scott since she wouldn’t be calling ahead. Then on her way home, she’d drive back through Pennsylvania and drop off some supplies for her grandmother.
With a smile, she picked the books back up from the bed and tore into the newspaper like a kid at Christmas. Phoenix had withdrawn completely, and she did not miss the sensation of him psychically looking over her shoulder at all. Whatever weird alien ideas he had about her grandmother and father, he could keep them to himself. Maybe his issues even stemmed from what he had shown her about Aaron and his mother. Well, she had no intention of leaving her grandmother and father to quietly fade away, no matter what Phoenix‘s biases might be. Senile or mad, she had the money to make sure they were at least comfortable.
She gently spread the books out over the foot of her bed, indifferent to their crusty, flaking covers. The Long Lost Friend she only recognized because it lacked a cover, if it had ever had one, and the title page, stained and yellowed though it was, was still easily identifiable. She regretted throwing the package onto the bed as she had. The paper was old and brittle and had broken into yellowed shards along the edges. Generations of her family had left their mark on the book in homemade ink of varying colors. Their signatures graced the page, some so crabbed they were barely legible, and other so full of loops and frills, their crabbed counterparts were almost easier to decipher.
Glory disentangled the battered edges of the pages and opened the book to find more handwritten notes inside. It was a true family heirloom, and she smiled to think that she had anything in common with any of her ancestors. All her life she’d felt odd and alienated from her mother and sister, when apparently she’d just taken after her father’s side of the family. She closed the book, already considering how she might keep it from deteriorating further and turned her attention to the other three volumes.
All had seen better days. Their covers had been wood once or perhaps wood wrapped in leather, but all three we rotting away from their ill-treatment. She picked up one with a reddish cover that left her hands feeling oily. It left a smudge of red-black residue on her comforter, but it wasn’t as if she ever used the bed. The pages inside were little better. The odor of mildew filled the room as she turned the pages, and she could see that mold had attacked the binding, marching across some of the pages like an invading army. Portions were barely legible. Here too, someone had written in the margins, but the style was more modern. She suspected her father, in which case, the book she held might shed some light on what he’d summoned and how to send it back. Unfortunately, he seemed to have made his notes in code, and she didn’t have the cipher. Maybe when she visited him she’d get some insight into how to break it.
The third book was an old copy of the Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses. Along with the Long Lost Friend, it was a staple of Pennsylvanian Dutch folk magic. Up until High School, she’d assumed she was French. Lewin sounded like a French name, but she’d done research and discovered it actually came from Middle English. Now apparently she was also German, or her family had spent enough time in Pennsylvania to pick up the habits of the Deutsch.
The final book was black and crusty like the others, but it seemed to be black by design. Though gritty under her hand, the cover had a soft texture not unlike suede, talc, or fine soil. Inside, the pages were a dazzling and surprising white. She was almost afraid to touch it. The book was clearly unnaturally preserved, but unlike the Necronomicons she’d had access to at Miskatonic, there wasn’t even the vague hint of a tingle in her hands. Glory was just about to turn the first blank page when the cat chose that exact instant to butt her in the leg with its head and let out a loud yowl.
With a startled squeal, she dropped the book back onto the bed and looked down. She’d honestly forgotten all about the cat. He hadn’t been around when they came home, and it had slipped her mind to feed him or put out any water, not that he seemed to have difficulty coming and going as he pleased. She was sure wherever he went, he probably had access to food there. He seemed unsatisfied with that arrangement however.
Glory got up with a sigh. “So I suppose you want me to feed you?” she said, to which the response was a low purr, bordering on a growl. “Fine. I’m coming.”
to Book 6, part 2, page 14