The year was 1879 in Hendricksburg, January 12th, and I had just finished giving a lecture to Professor Attenborough’s students about the commonalities between poltergeists and magnetic resonance that can be found in many of our common factories. The two seemingly connected, but rarely the case.
The hour had become quite late and I retired to my office at the university for a brief respite. The weather outside was muddlingly bleak, and one could scarce see the end of the block through the driving snows; all the more reason to stay inside and procrastinate the long walk back to my apartment. Besides, there was a small crystal bottle of rye I kept hidden in an unassuming desk drawer for such occasions. Pardoning the mess, though: there was often a crate of mismatched papers stacked before the drawer, and slidling it off to the side with a foot was actually something of a balancing act.
Stopper very nearly in hand, I was interrupted by a knock at my door. Peculiar to say the least, but I hazarded a polite acknowledgement of the interloper. It was another professor from two doors down, McKinley. The haggardly old woman scarcely more than thrust a wizened old arm though the door and aggressively shook a thick envelope at me; her alarmingly strong voice griping to me about the local mail services that couldn’t get the door numbers right.
I implored her to just throw it anywhere. I had no desire to get out of my rather sadly-worn chair, and she clearly had no desire to set foot in my musty little closet of an office. She obliged me by callously dropping the envelope upon the floor with a little “chink”, very nearly slamming the door upon her departure. A good day to you as well madam.
McKinley and I were not quite on the best of terms. At least, not since I insisted that her particular field of studies was about as outdated as her eighteenth-century wardrobe. It seemed that every step she took, more dust shook from her dresses than from my office shelves on those rare occasions when I had a sudden brain aneurysm and creaked open a window. Perhaps it could be said that the only thing I disliked more than McKinley was the outdoors.
I spent perhaps an hour pouring through rye and rhymes; distracting myself with some light poetry and a warming drink was enough to qualm my sour mood a smidge. Having dealt with not only a dimwitted class but the eternally bitter McKinley was enough to dampen even the most optimistic person’s mood. After the drink, I had bundled myself in my wool overcoat and wrapped the goat-hair scarf around my throat some seven or so times before I remembered that there was a foreign object upon the floor. I stooped low to pick it up, grumbling most of the way up. It was a curious little package: the envelope looked to have been made out of some recycled parchment, and the ink had the unmistakable smack of cheap quality production.
Most curiously was that it was addressed to “He of the University of Apparitions”, a nickname I had earned myself during my first tenure as a teaching aide here. Rumours had persisted that I had allegedly banished an infamous ghost on this property, a rumour that I had been in no hurry to dismiss. In actuality, I had dispelled a couple of pigeons that had been roosting in the ventilation pipes beneath the fourth floor’s boards.
At first, I intended to tuck the envelope into a pocket, but were it not for the sudden flump of an object sliding about inside, I’d have just went home and likely forgotten about the matter entirely. There was no mistaking it: a key had been sealed within this packet. To what ends I would soon find out.
There was only a small folded article of paper along with the aged-looking iron key; “Beware Dentonn’s Abbey, Mr. Whyte” it read. What a crock! Dentonn’s Abbey? What on Earth could that even mean? Why should I even care?
But for some peculiar reason, I did care. I was not prone to such interest in inflammatory letters, though I consider it some charity to refer to this scribble as a letter. But I was intrigued none the less. Considering this had come to me from someone who had heard of my “reputation” and warned me of this so called Dentonn’s Abbey, a strange feeling began to bubble within.
My name is Azimyth J Whyte; scholar, cynic and writer. The following are articles I have written to capture the bizarre tales that followed this curious letter, the odd people I have encountered and the less than plausible realities I have faced since.