I just stared around the room for a while, taking some time to adjust. I had not expected my search for my family history to be easy, exactly. I had expected to find family photos, journals, letters, that sort of thing. I was quite sure that I had some seriously repressed emotions around the whole issue of my father, what with him leaving my mom and never being a part of my life, so I had expected anything having to do with that side of my family to be difficult, emotionally. I had expected to find some photos with my father in them, and that it would bring up all sorts of emotions that a psychiatrist would really love to talk with me about. I had expected a weekend of pensive catharsis, looking at pictures of my father as a child.
I had also hoped that perhaps there would be some information about where my father was now, and maybe some explanation of where he had been for the last thirty years. Letters, or something. I knew that would probably be even harder than seeing pictures of him as a child. Did he have another family? It seemed kind of likely at this point. I hardly expected for him to have spent the last thirty years celibate. Did I have siblings somewhere that I had never met?
I had even thought that maybe there would be something that might point me in the direction of what happened to my great-uncle, and if there was some link to the weird gunman last night. I knew I was no detective, but at this point I was not even sure if he had been killed, or just died of a heart attack or something. In retrospect, I probably should have asked that attorney, Mr. Johnson, to see a death certificate or something else that listed cause of death. Oh well. I could always call him later.
I sighed out loud and looked around the room again. All that annoying emotional stuff I had been prepared for, but this was a little overwhelming. He wasn’t a regular guy with a heart condition. He wasn’t a high rolling gambler who had gotten mixed up with the mob or something. Well, maybe he was that too.
But one thing was for sure. Michael Cooper was mixed up in some weird shit. Really, really weird shit. I thought about last night, about zombie-face and his crumbling nose. About the weird echoing words he’d said like they would do something to me. About the big crow that kept following me around. And now this room. I felt like I was in the twilight zone.
How was I even going to make sense of all this? Ever time I looked around, it seemed like there was more weird shit. Was that a barbie doll with an octopus for a head? I closed my eyes.
I took a deep breath and opened my eyes again. “Come on, Ben, stop being a pussy. It’s just a bunch of stuff. Very, very weird stuff, but just stuff. Yeah, it’s messy, but start small and it will work itself out.”
As I talked to myself I looked around for a good place to start. Well, there was a desk…it had a bunch of old books all over it, but it was somewhere to start.
I walked over, shoved a Cthulhu plushy off of the deck chair, and sat down. What the hell? All the books were in some Asian language. At least, it looked Asian. A bunch of characters I did not recognize. And pictures of statues.
I closed the books one at a time, and put them on the shelf. On the third one, I stopped. All two of them had been open to a page with a picture, and the pictures were the same. Huh. I pulled another one from the pile. Same picture. Or rather, a different picture, but of the same thing.
I looked closer. It was a picture of a statue, kind of like a Buddha statue. But where Buddha was usually a short, fat, happy guy, this was of a skinny old man, with the ribs showing. He was sitting cross-legged, with his hands in his lap, but he had a whole other set of arms as well, weirdly jointed and reaching over his shoulders and out in front of him. The second set of arms ended in hands that were longer than they should be, with long fingernails that looked almost like claws. It looked like they were reaching out to grab something.
And his face…well, it looked mostly human, but his eyes were much to big, wide and slitted like a reptile. And he was grinning, but his mouth was too big for his face, and full of sharp teeth.
And then the picture moved.
I shouted, and dropped the book, standing up and knocking over the chair. What the fuck??
I looked at the picture again, but it wasn’t moving. Clearly it had been my imagination. I mean, of course it had been. I was in a creepy room, looking at a creepy picture in a creepy book. Underground, no less. Of course it was just my mind playing tricks on me.
Still, I closed the book with my foot, from where it lay on the floor, before I picked it up and put it on the shelf. I closed the other books on the desk quickly. They did not have pictures, and were all in that same language, so I just put them on the shelf next to the others. I had to move some kind of clockwork fountain thing from the shelf to the table to make room, but it seemed to make sense to have books on a shelf and clockwork thingies on the table.
The last book, however, was in English. Interesting.