I, Sir John DeMott, do hereby pen this deposition regarding the matter of Sir Theopolis Foebold, his Device, the Incident relating thereof, and the final and Bizarre incidents relating to his demise and the time shortly thereafter. I do hereby swear the incidents related in this deposition are the full and compete Truth as I understand it. I do so swear to this under the pain of dismissal from the one, almighty God.
I leave this deposition in the hands of my Nephew, with the instructions that it is to be opened and read only after my demise, and only after a time of one full year has passed from that gloomy event. I leave such instructions because this deposition is quite capable of tarnishing the reputation of my Friend, Sir Foebold, and that of myself. Cowardly, I wish to delay the truth until I am past the reach of its claws, however the Events here related will not allow themselves to go untold.
Sir Foebold was always a odd man. That is not to say he was in any way outside the social norm. Far from it, Sir Foebold was in fact a social butterfly of legendary dimensions. No, it is better said that, like Sir Foebold the elder, the young Sir Foebold lusted for more than what normal existence could provide.
Handsome, dashing, with full title and considerable wealth, Sir Foebold was well equipped for a life of leisure and privilege. His soul, however, was made of Adventure, burning and pure. Unlike his father, who ventured in to the unknown via academia, the young Foebold sought out the full, living truth in the flesh. He would vanish for months, with a vague statement of “I think I'll go on Safari for a bit, be back before Thanksgiving or thereabouts”, then return with the bones and heads of beasts so terrible and strange he'd be howled down as a charlatan. He'd then vanish again, in a red rage, and return to deposit the living specimen in the homes of his detractors. One man, awaking to the throaty roar of the Arctic White Bear in his dining room, almost perished from shock.
What's more, he was a man of Science in its purest form. Unfettered by the new, closed-minded school of Logic, he nurtured the new Euclid and Galileo of his time, and sought out the newest Inventions and Discoveries with bright, open eyes. Where his father had dabbled and delved in to spheres forbidden by the Church, the young Foebold was a pure, unfettered Realist. When he announced the creation of a Device, based from the formula and symbols of his father's work, it was met with no small amount of surprise.
It was mid September, and he had gathered everyone at the club to see the device. The young Sir Foebold had placed a cloth over a lumpy shape on the center table, and had forbidden any prying eyes. Or hands, as Doctor Calgary had found out. He was still nursing his reddened hand when I arrived, and took my accustomed chair. Foebold surged in to a rather flowery speech on the subject of science and the unknown. His major tenant was that Science and what we deem the Occult were in fact more similar then some would say. Much like two men of different nations reciting a poem, each was saying the same thing, but in different language and terms. Calgary and Fox attempted to leave twice in a huff, but were stopped more by curiosity then our half-hearted pleading.
Seeing that he'd strained the somewhat limited imaginations of some of the audience, he lifted the cloth off with a flourish. Below was a contraption spawned from the heart of Big Ben, a steam engine, and some would say the very Bowels of Hell. It was a mass of pipes, gears, belts, rings, and other mechanical devices. At the fore and aft ends, however, were two large, polished gold rings, large enough to admit the intrusion of a human arm in to their circumference. Touching a plate on the side, Foebold started the machine in to a flurry of motion, every inch of it seeming to spin and clank.
Sir Theopolis Foebold then stated that the device on the table before us would allow his intrusion in to times long past. That with a simple insertion of the arm, he could reach through the veil of the Past, and pluck forth such items that could be transported by hand. A flurry of questions rose from the assembly, which he batted about for a moment, before stating he would put them to rest with a example. He set both golden rings spinning, then asked Fox what he would like retrieved. Fox thought a moment, then stated he would like a coin from the day of Christ's Crucifixion, fresh from the Mint. Foebold smiled, and commented on Fox's legendary ambition, before thrusting his arm in to the device.
His arm stayed inside for several moments, before Foebold winced, then pulled his hand free, tossing a small object to Fox. Fox captured it, before dropping it with a yelp. It struck the floor with a small puff of smoke as it singed the carpet, and there, for all to see, sat a silver Roman coin. It still had a soft glow at its heart from the now ancient forge that had spawned it. Fox sat, dumbfounded, even as the assembly surged to investigate the device.
In truth, I remember little of the details after that initial demonstration. Try as they may, his detractors could find no fault or artifice anywhere during the proceedings. The “Fishing”, as he called it, proceeded without fail, retrieving items and documents to astound even the most jaded. Myself, I refrained from asking anything, even when the young Foebold implored me to test him. He spoke to me then of his new ambition. The past is a cold stone, he said, and time a well-worn path made by Man and his eternal march. He, having found himself the master of Time, now wished to become lord of Space.
I asked what on earth he meant, and he said that his device, properly calibrated, could allow his reach to extend to any place in the world. He could draw forth the Crown Jewels if he wished. Or, and at this his eyes glinted, he could reach out to the far stars. He could hold in his hand a stone from the moon. Posses, himself, a portion of stone that no man, living or dead, had ever seen, possessed, or touched. Seeing the light in his eyes, the animation in his face…I quailed. Unlike a good, Christian friend, I fled under the veil of a feigned fatigue, and let him to his devices.
Of the Event itself, I know little. My fright and cowardice continued, and I was not present when he attempted to reach the stony face of the Moon. I was told he was in high spirit, and that, up until the Event, was in total confidence of his success. His arm entered the device, and he reached about for several moments. Then, he suddenly lurched against the device, as if he was pulled from within, and he started to shriek. Several men went to try and extract him, but Foebold was stuck fast, as if affixed in iron bands. His screams continued for a time, before finally quieting. He calmed himself and the others, then sent for Doctor Calgary.
I know what happened next only from Calgary, and the truth of it is not assured. I met Calgary in the club days after the Event, and found him well in to his cups. He was distressed, and I prodded him as to the cause. He told me that he had been summoned by Foebold, and dismissed the assembly to evaluate the patient. He was told that Foebold had become trapped in the device, and was prepared to do whatever in his power to stop the bleeding, and extract what flesh he could. He was shocked when, now in private, Foebold told him that his arm was not trapped, but that Calgary must swear to amputate anyway. Calgary told me that Foebold threated him with a ruin so total that he swore to the operation without question.
Foebold withdrew his arm, and Calgary said he screamed like a woman as he looked at what emerged. Foebold refused to look at it, but Calgary said he saw more then he would ever wish on the Devil Himself. The arm had vanished at the shoulder, replaced with a horror the equal of and torment of the Pit. Blubbery, sagging, the limb was a blobby horror of gray, flabby flesh. Tiny nubs dotted the end in a sick mockery of digits, all twelve of them tipped with glossy black nails. The whole mass jiggled and writhed, bending at angles unnatural to both man and beast. Calgary stated that, when it was cut, the flesh recoiled and bled a blue-red fluid as cold as the grave and thick as mud. He disposed of it, dressed the stump, then retched on the floor. The flesh started to rot instantly, even the tiny nub of human bone that rested at the tip of the cut, the gray tissue connected seamlessly to it.
Foebold swore him to secrecy, but it was unnecessary. Calgary told only me, then lept from his sixth story window the next day. The world was told that Foebold had lost his arm in the device, and had it disassembled quietly. The sensation died down in time, and the young Sir Foebold continued the life of adventure as if there had been no interruption. Even with the loss of his arm, he proceeded with more vigor and skill then men with both extremities. His exploits are a matter of very open and public record, so I will not touch on them here.
In his declining years, he was set upon by a nervous condition. Withdrawing from the public eye, he remained a force in both politics and the social climate, but not as a direct player. He carried with him the air of the Fugitive, of one hunted. He spoke to me little, but when he did, he spoke of poor sleep, bad dreams, and sounds in the dark. I worried for his mind, but he seemed sound, if troubled. He was visiting my home when he passed. The world knows that he passed, in his sleep, a peaceful end to a well-lived life. What I would not give for that to be the truth of it.
I was awoken by the sound of a crash, and shouting. The darkness was total, and the bedlam so vocal that I rose and dashed down the hall in my nightshirt, unshod, in a terror that my friend was having a fit, or was trapped in the grips of a walking dream. The door was bolted, and as I attempted to force the entry, there arose such a wail from the bedroom that I recoiled, staring. The sound was unlike anything I have ever heard, before or since. Undulating, it was bass and sharp in the same moment, the sound of evil so profound it could cause the Enemy to cower. With it rose the scream of my friend, until both ended with a sudden, sharp yelp. I forced the door with the aid of a candlestick, and swung wide the door.
Foebold was dead. Torn over his face and arms, he lay in a pool of his life's blood, already cooling. Locked over him, dead but clutching, was the Thing. Blobby, sagging under the weight of its own putrescence, his face was a vague lump of tissue at the end of its wormy body. Jaws as wide as a carriage door, the flesh around it was torn and stripped, as if it had been forced to chew through its own flesh to breathe. The limbs seemed to be placed randomly, and oozed its fowl life freely as it rotted. This did not send me out, screaming, to faint in the hall. Its horror was not was caused me to lie to God and the Law, and bribe their silence. No, the horror that sent me reeling was what was on the Thing's right side.
Stuck in the flesh, as if welded to it, was a pure, clean human arm. The hand of which was crowned with the Foebold family ring.
I do not presume to speak on what may or may not have happened. I leave here only the truth as I know it. I wish to end this, and be quit of the memory with this document, but I doubt my freedom. I will offer only this comment, in place of lurid speculation. If one steals, even in error, one should be ready to return the item. If he is no longer in possession of the item, he should ready himself for the wrath of the wronged party.