I didn’t exactly understand what they meant at first when they said the Council of Venice housed its headquarters in a sunken library. My mental landscapes had always been a bit off, which made reading books as a child rather painful: I’d be imagining something much different from what everyone else had in their heads. When the library thus turned out to not be a life-sized aquarium filled with dictionaries and telephone books, I thanked reality for being a far more sensible and reasonable alternative to the strange way my mind had interpreted the Nightwatch dealers’ descriptions.
Despite being much more realistic than I had expected, I wasn’t any less impressed by the atmosphere of the place. It was a thoughtful blend of antiquity and organic growth cleft by the intrusion of futuristic technology. Representatives of the secret societies mingled amiably – or at least amicably – under the watchful eye of their Venetian hosts. There’s a long and complicated history involving Venice and the cabals which, despite repeated impromptu history lessons, I haven’t bothered to internalize beyond “neutral peacekeepers.” I felt bad about automatically assuming that they were as corrupt as anyone else until I found out that this was pretty much par for the course in the subterranean world in which I’ve placed myself.
On a lark, I decided to make conversation with one of the visiting Templar representatives. The fact that he happened to be attractive and well-dressed had nothing to do with it. We got to discussing fashion and styles and I mentioned in what I thought was an off-hand sort of way that I couldn’t figure out what to do with my hair. My conversation partner seemed more than happy to recommend one Doctor Caligari of the Modern Prometheus in New York, a man whom he described as a “master craftsman” when it came to the human form. I thanked my temporary acquaintance and headed off to the bowels of the concrete jungle.
Surprise, surprise. It turns out “Doctor” Caligari is actually Dr. Frankenstein in pseudo-exile from Sweden for being way too fucked up for his own good. He rearranges people’s faces, not their hair, and also creates murderous animated creatures who leave corpses in the sewers. I traveled around the world searching for clues as to the whereabouts of one of his more obnoxious homicide machines only to find that it inhabited an underground warehouse filled with strategically placed crates beneath a sidewalk grate across the goddamned street from Doctor Caligari’s morgue.
Thanks, Templar buddy. I guess I let your good looks get in the way of Bong Cha’s advice: if you’re ever in dire need of direction, seek counsel from the nearest Templar and do the opposite.
I’ll skip a description of the body part extraction procedures I employed on the undead nurses and a giant mass of flesh in the “meat locker” below Caligari’s chop shop. Apparently he creates his nurses the same way he creates his creatures but with an emphasis on attractiveness and having absolutely no soul. At the very least that makes them more reliable conversationalists than handsome Templar gentlemen despite having identical characteristics.
So, having gone off to get a haircut and instead becoming proficient in the use of a chainsaw, I decided to head back to the windswept sands of Egypt to see whether I couldn’t do something more productive with my time. I still have no idea whether I accomplished this. I discovered the heretofore hidden-for-ages entrance to the City of the Sun God, a domain inhabited by all manner of foul creatures who presaged the reappearance of the local historical bad guy, Aten the Sun God. His eternal prison watchman, a sun-weathered man by the named of Ptahmose who must have been as ancient as Khalid and Saïd, sent me off to visit his children and do their bidding. On a voluntary basis, of course.
His children appeared to me in the form of snakes and statues and asked me to “prithee go to yon crypt and vanquish four-and-twenty demons.” Well, not exactly like that, but I did find myself venturing down into the innards of the earth once again.
The atmosphere was quite inviting, if somewhat lethal. Spirits abound in this place, none of them at peace. I laid them to rest and returned to the surface where I found things ever so slightly less pained than they had been below. That’s when I came to the conclusion that things would be a lot easier on the dearly departed if they’d just move their final resting places above ground. Then I remembered Kingsmouth and the Wabanaki and decided that that hypothesis would have to go straight in the trash bin.
I guess I’d better get used to being in the bowels of things. I just have to keep myself from being ejected out the back end into the abyss.