michaelmas '96 - Session 21

21. The vanishing in the Steam

--            09.12.96            --

	Luckily the train system in the French protectorate is excellent
and it was easy to arrange transport upto the North coast. We planned on
getting a ship to Spain and then traveling up through France to England
(hopefully minimising the amount of time spent on board ships - having had
several bad experiences in the past.)
	We boarded the train and made ourselves comfortable, leaving the
cabin later to dine in the restaurant car (insert prolonged discussion
about whether the prof would have purchased a new suit before leaving, his
old one lost with the rest of our luggage.) Guppy didn't feel like eating
and couldn't even be tempted out for a tuna bagette; we turned on the tap
to keep him company and left.
	Dinner was average and having little else to do, we played poker
for the first time in several months. Unfortunately our little group was a
member short, bringing back tearfull memories of the Rev and his
unfortunate condition. As the evening dragged on, we eventually retired to
our cabin and slept, Guppy taking first watch since he didn't feel like
	Blue mist swirled around and through us, Guppy lay on the floor
sleeping as we looked round. We seemed to be floating in a huge glass
ball, gradually becoming aware of something outside. Something came
closer, slowly turning into a huge eye. We woke sweating, Guppy sitting on
watch. Apparently we'd all experienced the same dream, although Jarvis
seemed far more effected by it than William or Jeremiah.
	We had to change trains at the French / Spainish border, giving
our usual hunting excuse (and customary bribe) as to why we possessed a
rifle and numerous other offensive weapons. We followed the same routine
as the previous night, again dreaming of a strange glass sphere. Jeremiah
slowly drifted upto the top, hoping to catch a glance of the outside while
Jarvis examined the bottom surface - apparently flater than the rest and
composed of something with a texture not dissimilar to felt.
	A face appeared at the glass, Jeremiah could see a huge hand
holding the entire sphere upto an eye of similar proportions. The
Reverend! William was sat up rightin the bed, all three of us a woke
simultaneously, sweating and gasping. Guppy again on watch, looking
longingly at a cup of water.
	We arrived at the port early the following morning, having several
hour to loose before we embarked for Spain. Wandering through the streets,
looking for a cheap tailors, Guppy suddenly walked off in a trance-like
state, walking towards the coast in the salt ladden air. Dashing after
him, we quickly snapped him out of it. He was obviously ill, looking
extremely sick and pale. He vomited on the pavement, a thick white colour
unlike anything Jarvis had come across in his most deborched days at
university. William rushed to find a doctor as John was sat gently down on
a nearby bench.
	The doctor could offer little help, since John was obviously
suffering from a rare (possibly tropical) disease, so we decided it was
probably best to get him back to Cambridge (where the zoological, sorry
medical faculty have already carried out tests on him.) The vomit had
strange lumps inside - ball like which burst under sufficient pressure.
Jeremiah, following the prof's example took samples.
	We boarded the ship and experience our first night of unbroken
sleep for several nights (John been drugged before boarding, had a better
nights sleep than most - everyelse having extended watches.)
	Arriving in Spain, we caught a connection to France and travelled
up the country. We changed watches round, Jeremiah taking the first watch.
Again a similar dream, but this time Jeremiah was asleep on the floor and
Guppy was standing dazed with William and Jarvis.
/!! What happened here !!/
	Puft, puft. Jeremiah, just holding on his sanity, shook the
sleepers awake before lapsing into a mad panic. Jarvis looked around,
smoke coming from the corner of the door - opening it bang. Jeremiah
grapped John and ran through the train in blind fear. William and Jarvis
trapped in the room, climbing (arthritically?) out of the window and onto
the train roof. Moving along to the next carriage, screams flew through
the air as the windows of the train erupted in a strange red glow. An
almighty explosion rocked the train as the carriage disappeared and the
front of the train sped off. Jarvis pulled the brake cable, slowing the
remaining carriages down.
	Guppy and Jeremiah ended up near the engine itself - smoke
everywhere and a constant chush-chush. Jeremiah collapsed as Guppy tried
to calm him down. the train slowed and reversed to the scene of the
explosion - all trace of the carriage disappeared, no debris, mask or wand
to be seen. Luckily, we still have the pictures taken aboard Allerton's
ship and Jeremiah's book (since he wasn't sleeping at the time and
therefore still dressed.)
	Passing into France caused little trouble since the incident was
widely reported, but crossing to england took more trouble, waiting round
in Franch to get new passports. William and Guppy traveled to Cambridge,
while Jarvis and Jeremiah went to see the old man and pay a call on Father
Michael. Guppy's test came back strange and the old man was little direct
help, but certainly gave Jeremiah some clues on how to procede in his
translation. Our conversation ended with the phrase "The books back."
	Apparently the book was found in the possession of two Cambridge
don's - found severely burned  in their rooms, the book burned almost
beyond recognition. Apparently they'd agreed to transcribe it for some
stranger (offering a large amount of money) and then returning it to the
British Library. The stranger turned up as expected but demanded both the
copy and original. In the struggle, the room was set alight as the police
turned up and the stranger fled out of the window. It wasn't possible to
transcribe an entire book in the time required, but they'd recognised its
similarity to another in Eastern Europe and copied most of it from that,
correcting some mistakes etc.
	Arriving at the london hospital were Rev Peters was being treated,
we discovered he'd discharged himself the previous morning, leaving behind
a strange paperweight with swirls of blue inside.



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