El Lizard Birth
London – February 11th 1887
Winter has fallen late upon the streets of Westminster. Tiny snowflakes attached themselves to twirling parts of soot ascending from the chimneys, majestically rising above the roofs of Horseferry Road. The flakes landed as a molten, grey squash of mud upon the deserted Vincent Square. Despite the lack of snow and ice, the world still felt cold. It is not the freezing veil of winter itself that had caused this miserable aura around the people of Great-Britain, for it is only since the most recent events that a collective uncertainty had slowly begun to creep into their daily affairs…
On the corner of the street lives Martin Cook, a fifty-four-year-old salesman, by himself. Horseferry Road is inhabited mostly by men of greater wealth. Lawyers, politicians, and other treasured men. Martin never considered himself one of them. He had earned his fair share by working hard and living meagerly. He always saved as much as he could throughout his entire adult life so one day he could buy himself the house he so desired. Ever since he started making money, it had been like an obsession to him. So much so that his wife divorced him over it, over twelve years ago. But his approach did pay off, and it had been five years already since Martin moved to London. At first he couldn’t quite decide whether to live amidst the bustle of the city or the calming silence of the countryside. He was raised in Washbrook, just outside of Ipswich, so that typical scent of the meadows there did have a great nostalgic feel to it. But on the other hand, he just couldn’t resist the convenience of being in the dead center of a rumbling city, something he’d already become completely accustomed to after living in Cambridge for over twenty years. So even though it had been a tough decision, London had proven to be a satisfying choice. Now, most of the time, Martin enjoyed his life, with the lively sound of the city ever present in the background. To Martin, especially the Friday nights in London were often rather exuberant, or pleasant at least. But not this one.
Six long days had gone by since Prime Minister Robert Cecil announced the death of Queen Victoria in a five minute speech. No elucidation, nor encouraging plans to provide the anxious citizens with a glimmer of hope. Just the hard facts, a reminder of their consequences and a not too friendly reminder to keep calm. Needless to say, the people experienced a collective mixture of grief and panic over the loss of their queen, but somehow it also seemed that – ever since that day – the people of London had disconnected. The only conversations publically taking place consisted of nothing but vague rumors, unfounded accusations and strange theories on what could have caused all this. In all this uncertainty, people’s imaginations were running wild. People even claimed to have seen tall unearthly beings entering the borders of the city, cloaked in medieval mantles, slowly wandering the streets like monks during a sacred ceremony.
Martin hadn’t spoken to his friends or relatives for a week now. That’s not that much of a rarity, although he usually kept up a regular correspondence with his nephew Arthur, from Ipswich. At this moment Martin was sitting comfortably in his green velvet armchair, facing the bookcase in his study. Not staring at one particular point or thinking about one particular subject, he let out an intense sigh, feeling quite tired. Inhaling the dusty air he tasted the cigarette he smoked half an hour ago. Raising his right hand, he rediscovers the glass of bourbon in it that by now had adopted the temperature of his sweaty palm. Martin finished the drink, rose from his chair and reached for his journal, quill and ink. Taking place behind his desk he glanced at the clock, dipped his quill into the ink and started writing:
“Friday, February 11th 8:30pm
…Another quiet day. I’ve had…”
Martin stopped writing. He had noticed an unusual sound coming from the front side of the street. He dropped his quill, got up from his chair, and started walking toward the window to take a look outside. At first, the dim lights of the lanterns didn’t offer him much of a view in the foggy décor of Horseferry Road. But he kept watching, patiently. Suddenly, at the entrance to Marsham Street, he discovered three slowly moving figures. Immediately, Martin started feeling nauseated, as if he had eaten bricks for dinner. The figures kept moving closer, and he noticed their ragged cloaks as they seemed to be approaching the front doors on his street. “Damn beggars”, he mutters, and moves away from the window. Martin didn’t understand why, but he did not feel quite well, still somewhat nauseous and very noticeably lightheaded. “That’s enough booze for a Friday night,” he continued mumbling to himself. He returned to his desk to continue writing in his journal. Once again, Martin checked the time before starting to write, more out of habit than necessity. It takes some time before he understands what he sees. For a brief moment, it seemed like he has forgotten how to read a clock. He tightened his eyes and tried to focus his mind, until the arms on his clock started to makes sense to him again. 9:30 p.m., it said. He tried to continue writing, but stopped directly as he saw what he had just written at the top of the page – in his mind no more than two minutes ago: “8:30 p.m..” ‘That’s impossible’, he thought. He couldn’t have just casually skipped an hour… Confused, he looked at his clock again. A rising sensation of intoxication started to take a hold of him. Martin tried to focus on the arms of the clock again — a clock he knew all too well, one he had owned and trusted for decades — he saw that the device now appeared to somehow have many more than just two arms, all turning in different directions at changing speeds. Martin’s hands started shaking badly as he reached to find his handkerchief. He was clearly not thinking straight, and tried to comfort himself with something familiar. He finally felt the soft satin handkerchief, and as he touched it he noticed that it was softer, or maybe thinner than usual. It didn’t matter. He pushed the satin fabric against his sweaty forehead. At first it felt good, or at least just as he expected it to feel. But after a few seconds, Martin lost the handkerchief, as if his sweat has dissolved the thing and made it disappear completely.
At this point Martin started to really lose it. The bells from Saint John’s church began to chime loudly. ‘A beacon of sanity’, Martin immediately thought, as he tried to count the times he heard the deep bells chime. Be he quickly lost track of the count, being far too confused to stay focused. One thing he did still notice very clearly: the bells did not stop. The sound persevered and incisively penetrated his conscious thoughts. Its repetitive, monotone strikes took over his mind and from that point Martin was completely unable to think in the way he usually did. Trapped in a daze, he realized the bells did not sound anything like bells anymore. The sound had transformed into that of a pounding on thick wood, heavy and loud. Slowly he understood it was the sound of someone knocking on his door.
In his right mind Martin would never open the door for beggars or any other unexpected guests, especially at this late hour. But in his current psychotic state he had no choice but to stand up and slowly move towards the door of his study. As he walked through the doorway, he saw disturbing geometric patterns moving and breathing on the walls, which disoriented him even more. Even though he saw what was happening, Martin was in no position to take control over his actions. He entered the upstairs hallway. This hallway and the connecting stairs it led to were among the most beautifully decorated areas in Martin’s house. A small girandole illuminated the long corridor just enough to expose the bleak and static faces displayed on the paintings on the wall. Step by step Martin went down the creaking stairs, still accompanied by the everlasting pounding on the front door in the rhythm of the bells of Saint John’s church. When he reached the downstairs hallway, he was only three feet removed from his front door. Standing there, motionless, Martin had a brief moment of clarity, as all of a sudden the intense pounding stopped only to be replaced by an ear-splitting silence. Martin was breathing heavily and his entire body was shaking. He heard a clicking sound coming from within the door itself. Slowly, the door started opening. A soft but freezing wind slowly crept into the house and struck Martin’s pale face. A large scaled hand grabbed the door and pushed it open further…
As the door hit the wall with a loud bang, Martin was confronted by three cloaked beings stepping into his house. They were unimaginably tall, seven feet at least. In the scarce light it was hard to see much detail, but Martin still was fairly sure he caught a glimpse of amphibious faces hiding under their mantles. The figure in the middle carried an ancient looking book. Parchment bound in battered leather. Then, holding the book out with both hands, it spoke out in a screeching voice:
“Can you spare a minute to talk about our lord and savior?!”
Martin kept staring at the imposing creatures. Before he had a chance to respond to the utterly strange request, the creature opened the book and presented the first page to him. It showed wonderful artwork depicting a colorful symbol mounted by very steady hands. Winding tentacles appeared from the outside edges of the symbol of the all-seeing eye. Fully mesmerized, Martin gazed into the pitch black pupil of the eye. Suddenly, the creature grabbed Martin and pushed its long scaly thumb firmly into the middle of Martin’s forehead. He immediately felt a force pulling from behind, and with that overwhelming feeling the whole world around him disappeared as he fell into a deep and profound state of trance. In this elusive state, Martin started receiving odd visions. It began with Queen Elizabeth, walking down a stairway in the middle of a cemetery. She was clad in a gracious fifteenth century dress, eagerly being welcomed by many twisting tentacles, followed by an intense flash of light. A gloomy scene of vast meadows appeared. Between the wisps of fog, on the edge of the gaping entrance to a cave, there was an enormous stone monolith. A deep dark voice whispered: “We come from deep below…” The fog slowly dissolved. “We are summoned by the old ones to serve Her Awful Majesty!” From the depths of the cave a colony of reptile-like creatures marched in slow motion, fanning outwards. “We are many…” the voice continued. Another flash of light occurred, and now queen Victoria was sitting behind her mirror, brushing her hair. A reptilian creature appeared behind her, grabbing her hair, as another one slashed the queen’s throat with an ancient looking dagger made of black metal. Blood flowed abundantly from the queens’ incurable wounds, coloring her perfectly white dress in an intense deep red shade. The queen and the room disappeared into the void. Now, a wooden cradle appeared. “El Lizard Birth is born!”, the voice whispered with a deep intensity. Laying in the cradle, the vision showed Martin a monstrously misshapen newborn lizard creature with slimy tentacles and a most vicious grin.
As the visions came to a sudden halt, Martin found himself staring at the last page in the book, which was blank. He now realized, there was only one thing left to do. He filled his lungs with air, and in a shrieking voice he proclaimed: “All hail El Lizard Birth!!”.