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Timothy Johnson, 23 Jun '12

In an instant my life changed forever.

Had I known at the outcome of returning that email I might never have responded, but then again, I feel the unquenchable curiosity within me would not have let me neglect such an offer. No action on my part could have prevented a Mr. Martin Burkett from reaching out to me and nothing short of a miracle would have stopped me from reading my emails that morning after breakfast. For if I had not read them that morn, undoubtedly would I have checked up on the building backlog of circulars, newsletters and professional inquiries the following day.

The form of the email in question was nothing out of the ordinary, the aforementioned Mr. Burkett wrote in formal and immaculate English and, as was often the case with hopefuls wishing to acquire my services, had attached several images. I have the good fortune of being able to choose my clientèle, I read no email proposals that do not have an abundance of photographs. They provide a healthy exercise for the mind, even when I have not time for new clients I still enjoy ruminating on the varied proposals I am sent each day. Mr. Burkett's photographs were of a particularly curious object he had discovered whilst on an expedition in the Urals. A huge sculpture of a man's head made of Malachite with beautiful copper swirls and dark contours from the crystallisation. Only the scalp of the statue was visible, the rest remained completely buried within the icy soil.

Instantly I knew this would be a case I would investigate personally, I did not even pay any regard to Mr. Burkett's offer of "Whatever it takes, all expenses will be covered with handsome compensation"

Within the week I had flown to the Komi Republic and met Mr. Burkett at the base of Mt Karpinsky, not ten miles from where he reported the statue lie. He was an amiable man though clearly troubled by the statue. We spent the next few days assembling a small excavation team and setting up a camp around the exposed scalp of the statue. The crystal had an ethereal sparkle to it that could not be seen in any of the photographs Mr. Burkett had sent me or that I had taken for myself. The statue appeared larger than his photographs had suggested, I measured the exposed diameter of the scalp to be 1.64 metres.

After excavating to the depth I estimated a bust would be the team were noticeably concerned about what we were digging out. Mr. Birkett could only pace for hours as the men dug carefully around the face. The statue branched out below the ears, there were actually three heads, two bowed and one raised skywards, with a vacant yet malevolent expression. I suspected that from the proximity of the bowed heads to the skyward one that they were part of the same creature. When I suggested this to Mr. Burkett he broke out in a sweat, for a moment he instructed me to cancel the expedition but had a speedy change of heart and demanded that no matter what he said from then on that I only conclude the expedition when I myself see good and fit.

The next days were troubling for all of us, the pained expressions of the bowed heads became visible and the creature's shoulders were angled such that the rest of the body, if human in form, must have been sprawled out on all four limbs beneath where the diggers' tent was stationed. Needless to say it was moved and excavation continued. The body of the beast wasn't muscular as statues of Greek Gods are, or in fact even remotely hominid in form. I am not sure my descriptive powers could accurately describe the scaled form. There were many limbs, four at least appeared as if arms from the front of the bulbous body, with twice as many appearing as legs beneath where the diggers' tent had been. The posterior of the beast culminated in a thick tail at least twice as long as the body, though the distinction between tail and body was not obviously clear.

Once the whole beast was visible the diggers, Mr.Burkett and myself stood atop the unexpurgated ground a few meters from the front, the assurgent eyes staring directly at us, as we collectively marvelled at what we had uncovered. I arranged for the digging team to stay a few days more in case there was call to dig further, though they were unhappy about remaining longer in the statue's presence. I myself now had the same uneasiness as Mr. Burkett.

I spent that evening discussing the local Komi mythologies with Martin, there was nothing of this nature in any of they're primitive cultures. I estimated from the depth the statue was buried to and the presence of large boulders at the present day surface that the beast be at least seven thousand years old. The notion that this beast predates any other large monument of it's kind by thousands of years chilled both of us. Mr. Burkett left that evening, saying he wanted to stare into it's face for a few hours. I did not think standing outside in the cold, alone, was a good idea but I did not fancy the thought of a confrontation with him.

There were no more discoveries to be made that week. I spent much of my time sat in front the beast gazing into it's eyes. Though they stared straight back, they seemed to be also staring inwards. The effects of the Malachite crystals?

Contemplating which group of the five million global inhabitants at the time were deranged and skilled enough to construct such a statue, and where they found such a large, flawless and beautiful lump of Malachite to carve it from was getting me nowhere. Once again I found myself staring into the deep eyes late in the night. I awoke the following morning sitting exactly where I had been the night before, in front of the beast. Horrors came to me that night. The mares haunt me still. Endless agony, torture and sadness filled my unconscious mind as I saw vivid images of creatures I could not describe all worshipping the three headed serpent. My auditory senses were also assaulted, howls and piercing droning scrapes remain as a loud tinnitus even today.

More horrors greeted me as I entered my tent. I walked into a wall of stench, bloody and faecal. What I saw I feel queasy now recalling, the bodies of all six digging crew, dismembered and spread across every surface of the tent. Mr. Burkett must have spent all night chopping, the pieces were so small.

I found his body, naked and bloody, in his own tent, he had slit both of his wrists and sat in his camp chair to bleed out.

I could not face remaining in the presence of the nightmarish beast and Mr. Burkett's atrocities a moment longer. I fled to the nearby village and arranged transport home. I have not been able to sleep for a single minute without re-entering that horrid, anguish filled place. The grating screeches I hear constantly now only grow louder and the dreams more vivid. I am terrified that I will repeat Martin's evils if I do not succumb to insanity sooner and put an end to my own life first.

Perhaps that is not an insane course of action at all? Perhaps.

-Arthur Stanley

Comments · 4

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  • Anthony Blackshaw said...

    Hey @Timothy Johnson - really love the journal style of the piece, it reminds me a bit of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (not the story itself but the style). Can't wait to read more, great debut.

    On a different note; it's always the authors choice to mark their work as containing adult content, the option is there to ensure authors feel comfortable with the audience their posting to. Personally I think this is a great burst and though it has adult themes the content itself (for me personally) is not adult in nature, and so I would be just as happy to see it not marked as containing adult content - more people would get to read it then too.

    However this is always the authors choice, I just wanted to make sure that people aren't overly cautious because perhaps I have been too ambiguos on the matter in the writer's guidelines.

    • Posted 5 years ago
  • Robert Sweeney said...

    The sheer brilliance in this Burrst is your attention to detail when describing the statue, you made me Google Malachite just so that I could see this stagerringly collosal piece as how I believe you imagined it. I'll definetly be following you and await your next Burrst with a childish glee.

    • Posted 5 years ago
  • Timothy Johnson said...

    Cheers, I'm reading lots of Lovecraft at the moment, his first person accounts are what I'm drawing on here.

    I've removed the adult flag, wasn't sure how sensitive the site aims to be.

    • Posted 5 years ago
  • Mairead O'Neill said...

    Timothy, I enjoyed this so much! The intrigue of the foreign location, the ambiguity at the start as to what Arthur's job actually was... and the unfamiliar form of the statue made it really unsettling, I was actually quite scared. I really enjoyed the style too - I agree with Anthony that it's reminiscent of Jules Verne, or maybe Joseph Conrad (who wrote Heart of Darkness). It doesn't sound like Arthur's going to escape the madness, but if you ever wrote up any of his earlier adventures, I'd certainly be interested in reading them!

    • Posted 5 years ago