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Reading Ellsworth Holtgrefe's Journal
You should never read The Private Journal of Ellsworth Holtgrefe. It’s a wonderful book that will lead you to your demise.
A brisk winter morning, about two weeks ago, I walked into my favourite bookstore, needing something to read desperately. The door gently tinkled open as the chimes on the door clinked together in a merry little way. The man behind the up at the counter, who knew me since I had been coming here for quite some time, waved. I waved back, and then started on my quest for the perfect book.
I looked everywhere, on every shelf, but couldn’t find a single thing that interested me. I was going up to the counter to ask the man if he had any recommendations when I saw a book that had escaped my notice.
The black leather was a bit beat up, and the pages were rough, but the silver letters of the title still flared as the light hit it. They read The Private Journal of Ellsworth Holtgrefe. I opened it up, and scanned through it, and found that it had been printed in a spidery script, as if it had truly been hand-written, on old fashioned parchment. It was a beautiful work, and I knew that I wanted to read it.
I took it up to the counter, and handed it to the man. As soon as he saw it, he said “That is such a good book! I’ve read it 3 times and still loved it! Hope you like it as much as I have.” He rang it up, I gave him the money, and I took my newly bought treasure home.
I walked in the door, put my coat on its hook, and plopped into my easy chair. Cracking open the cover, I let the smell of the book wash over me, the smell of leather and paper making me fall even further in love with the tome. After the ecstatic moment had passed, I started to read. The first page had a sketch of a man’s face; one that I assumed belonged to Mr Holtgrefe himself. It was skilfully executed, every stroke a world of beauty, all coming together to form a universe of excellence.
The portrait showed a man with a long face, with prominent cheeks, but not painfully so, a nose that was only slightly turned up, hinting at a rich upbringing, but not toward being stuck up. His hair was well kept, brushed neatly. It seemed to fall into place as easily as a domino falling to the ground. It was a lovely face, a leader’s face, one that you could follow to the gates of Hell if asked. But the words were so much more exquisite.
It started off with the heading of the first page. The Fourth Day of January, As the Moon is Waxing, 1956. They were simple words, but there was a spice within them that made them so much more appealing than normal. It was very bizarre, but I thought little of it, as I was so engrossed in what I was seeing.
Mr Holtgrefe’s party started in Africa, having just flown into Alexandria from various places around the world, Mr Holtgrefe himself flying in from London. They were to dive into the Mediterranean with top of the line equipment, searching for a rumoured civilization under the sun lit waves.
Perhaps this is the Atlantis of old… To discover it would be one of the greatest scientific achievements since the Wright Brothers. I shall take you with me Journal, so that I may chronicle the expedition, in hopes that there will be something to share to the future.
The adventures depicted in the journal were astounding. Each new disappointment for the party was a disappointment for me, each triumph the same. I felt like I was a part of the expedition, joining the long dead men through the ink on those pages. They faced many challenges, but managed to overcome them all.
Today, we have reached a snag in the road. It has been many days since we first surfaced in a cave where the air was breathable, and in that time, we have passed a chasm, several places where we met water again, and even a nest of particularly nasty bats. But now, I fear that all hope is lost, for we have come upon the greatest challenge yet. An insurmountable cliff that must be 30 feet tall made of solid, immobile rock. We have nothing that could drill through it, and no proper climbing equipment. I believe that we may have to make impromptu gear if we wish to continue our journey, and I am afraid that what we make will not allow us to climb the cliff. If that is the case, then those of us that survive will have to turn back, our search ending in nothing but failure. God grant us His strength.
But by far, the most enticing part of the entire narrative was when, at long last, they reached the city ruins.
Oh the things my eyes have seen, this God blessed day! We have finally come upon the city. Despite the age of the site, I can hardly call this place “ruins”, as the title would not be befitting at all. I have filled at least 4 pages with sketches, and will fill several more tomorrow, because the sites are simply breath-taking. Had I not known the ancient origins, I could have sworn that this was a glimpse into the future of human ingenuity. There is a building that towers over us, seemingly carved out of a single block of gold metres high. Not a single crack is evident, creating a flawless façade. There was little ornamentation, as there was little need for it. The building itself was a testament to the artist architect’s ability.
Most of the houses are a little less astounding, made of silver bricks, mortared by nothing. In these I tread carefully, for I have an irrational fear of knocking one over, though they are of similar construction to the Grand Pyramids of Giza; all the pieces are fit together so well, there is no need for any kind of mortar. Good night my little notebook. I shall fill you with further wonders in the morning.
I had to force myself to put the book down at this point, since I had work in the morning, and needed to get to sleep. So, putting the wondrous work on my nightstand, I turned out the lights, and went to bed.
The next morning, I woke up exhausted, as if I hadn’t slept at all. And worse, I smelled horrible, and was in desperate need of a shower.
So, groggily moving to the bathroom, I made for the shower to de-stink myself. Passing by the mirror, I caught my reflection, and nearly gave myself a heart attack.
There were scrapes across my face, as if something with very large, very sharp claws had decided to play patty-cake with it. I was absolutely covered in dried blood and dirt, and a great many other things that I will not go through.
After cleansing myself of the many awful things on me, I turned on the morning news, and proceeded to get dressed. I was really only half paying attention until I heard something I recognized: Ellsworth Holtgrefe. Popping up from putting on my trousers, I turned the volume up.
On screen, there was a grainy film that showed many people crowded around a building. There was a tinny sound of screaming and howling, as the crowd rushed forward, and attacked the people fleeing the building, which now identified as an apartment building. Suddenly, the camera zoomed in on something in the hand of one of the mob members, and in bright flashing letters, it read
The Private Journal of Ellsworth Holtgrefe
There was a copy in the hands of the entire mob, and in the middle of the fray, I saw myself, tearing into a woman savagely, ripping her apart with claws had never been there before.
Before that, or any other thought, could register, my front door was beat in, and I was assaulted by a group of police men.
They brought me here, to a top security facility, where I await an anonymous fate. It’s a miracle that they let me even write this as a warning to everyone else.
They let me keep my copy of The Private Journal, so I searched through it for any mention of madness or savagery. The closest thing that I got to was this.
The Twelfth Day of January, 1956
There is a massive palace at the heart of the city, made of jewelled brick. Today, we explore it, looking for something we may take home with us, as all the buildings so far have been, regrettably empty.
Looking though the palace, we have seen many decorations of strange materials, but everything has been much too massive for us to carry out with us. There is a door leading into the very bowels of the castle. Perhaps we shall find something there.
It was the last entry, with almost a fourth of the book blank. Looking at the inside cover, I saw a stamp in the leather that read “Published in 2011.” The book had been left in that God-forsaken city for years. Who knows what had happened to it in the half century it had been laying down there/ In my rage, I threw it against the ground, and stomped on it, kicked it, stabbed it with a pencil, damning the city, damning the “people” who had lived there, damning Holtgrefe for bringing this journal with him.
They are taking me somewhere. I will finish as soon as I get back. Please remember: never pick up The Private Jour