The Grave Robber’s Diary

9th July, 1822 –

    Spent a pleasantly cool evening exploring the southeastern section of Greyfriar’s Kirkyard. A single bottle of gin was sufficient to acquire the silence of the mendicant on duty, and with but five hours toil I was able to retrieve five specimens—two male, three female—for my contact at the university. All had been interred less than a week and were in excellent condition. If Dr. M— is a man of his word, I can expect up to 10 shillings each for such excellent produce. The rumors of the profitability of this resurrection business appear to be well founded indeed.

14th July, 1822 –

    Today marked my return to Greyfriar’s, and despite it being only my second attempt to harvest specimens therein, I have already suffered the misfortune of finding a mortsafe. The device proved devilishly confounding, being both well designed and marvelously constructed. Its planks were hewn from dense, black oak, and their edges bound in heavy brass. Iron bands secured the lid, and the combination of iron and brass thwarted my humble wooden spade at every turn. Fortunately I happened to have brought a stout steel bar along with me, and after much struggle I was able to stave in one side of the accursed contraption. The specimen it contained was quite disappointing however, being almost completely putrefied despite the freshly turned earth. The skin of the occupant—male—was rent with great gashes that wept viscous red fluid, most probably a combination of humors produced by the liquefaction of the organs. From the looks of the remains, I suspect the poor chap met a brutal end. I did not present the specimen to Dr. M— for payment, for fear of damaging my arrangement with low quality merchandise.

    The evening’s toils did not go entirely unrewarded, however, as I did manage to recover a curious and valuable-looking trinket from inside the casket. It is a small sphere, approximately the size of a robin’s egg, made of a curious gemstone with a gold cap at the top and bottom. I do not recognize the type of stone, but it possesses a luster like that of opal or mother of pearl, and the entire surface is inscribed with tiny, delicate blue runes. Ordinarily I would avoid such treasure, so as not to jeopardize my freedom with a felonious crime, but once I beheld the egg I simply could not bear to leave it in a hole filled with filth and rot. I have instead secured it in the strongbox beneath my bed with my cash and other valuables.

22nd July, 1822 –

    Another restless night. I am haunted by a strange dream in which I walk along a path through a forest of alien trees. A dense mist surrounds me and unseen creatures whisper at me from all sides, calling for me to join them. I have yet to succumb to their calls and leave the path, but I find my thoughts turning to them constantly—even while awake.

    I feel as though the trinket is somehow responsible for this madness, but I do not yet know how. I have taken to keeping it upon my person at all times, lest it be lost or stolen.

26th July, 1822 –

    I once again made foray into the Kirkyard at Greyfriar’s. Tonight the mendicant demanded two bottles to turn a blind eye to my activities, which is a trend that I certainly hope does not continue. My excavations proved rewarding however, and I was able to retrieve three specimens—two males and a female. The ground was fresh over several other plots, but I left them unexplored, for as I dug my mind reeled with images from my dream. So strong was their grip on my faculties that I began seeing phantoms lurking among the gravestones. They taunted me in sepulchral voices dire with portents and warnings, and by the time I had unearthed my third specimen, I could bear listening no longer.

    I try and sleep, but rest eludes me. The dream now haunts my every hour.

27th July, 1822 –

    I am lost.

    Bereft of hope and unable to resist the dream’s seduction, I strayed from the path. In the mists I found wonders and horrors beyond description and creatures of vast and terrible knowledge. The mist’s inhabitants have shown me sights that I cannot unsee and shared secrets that I cannot unlearn. My mind feels like a broken mirror, but at last I know the trinket’s purpose.

    It is a key.

    The dream is a prison, and the trinket the key.

31st July, 1822 –

    It has been four days since I slept. The creatures in my mind howl constantly for release, a bedlam of whispers following me wherever I go. I am forced to scream to hear my own voice above the din.

    I tried to hurl the pale trinket into the North Sea, but when I arrived at the sea wall I could not bring myself to part with it. Instead I collapsed and wept for an hour while the shadows mocked me for my weakness.

2nd August, 1822 –

    The trinket is missing.

    In my exhaustion I dosed myself with an entire bottle of laudanum, and when I awoke from my stupor, the trinket was gone.

    What little hold I had on reality seems to have vanished with it. Now I sit upon the gallows and hold court with the wraiths of a thousand hanged men. They tell me that I have swallowed the trinket, and their nooses flap wildly as they laugh at my stupidity.

    I laugh along with them, though I don’t know why.

5th August, 1822 –

    An abomination grows inside me.

    The trinket was not a key, it was an egg. Or perhaps it was both—I no longer know the difference: dream and reality are merely different facets of the same flawed gem. But real or imagined, I can feel the horror crawling beneath my skin. I carve at my flesh, but the nightmare scampers away from my knife even as I make the cuts.

    It must not be born.

7th August, 1822 –

    I know now what I must do. It is the only solution: the creature that chews at my guts must be contained at any cost.

    My predecessor knew this as well.

8th August, 1822 –

    When I returned to Greyfriar’s to fetch the mortsafe, the mendicant stopped me at the gate and demanded his bottles of gin. I bit his face until his screams faded to damp gurgles.

    The mortsafe is mine.

10th August, 1822 –

    No light penetrates my cocoon of iron and brass, yet I can read these words perfectly. The inside of my new home smells of freshly-sawn oak, and while I do not precisely recall how the repairs to the mortsafe were effected, an image of myself screaming at a carpenter while weeping blood drifts across my mind’s eye. I do, however, recall stopping at Dr. M—‘s to barter the chewed mendicant for enough coins to purchase my burial.

    The thumping of spadeful after spadeful of earth landing atop me is the most soothing lullaby I have ever heard.

    I shall rest now.

    And woe to the poor soul that disturbs my slumber…

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