I was in Ottawa for another of my visits to the one guy interested in magic in a city full of civil servants. Charles and I were taking a stroll through Lower Town. We’d already been to the Library of the University of Ottawa checking up on some stuff of John Dee‘s. We weren’t paying much attention to where we were going. We were just chatting about the books in Dee’s library, and then the Great Library at Alexandria and the Hermetic texts, and not paying much attention to where we were going, though from time to time I’d stop and look at interesting structures from the old nunnery to Pezzalozi Collegi.
“Hey,” said Charles. “So you feel anything? I think something’s happening in the park up ahead.”
“Yes,” I agreed.
For some reason I looked up. The sky seemed strangely wrong; sort of brittle. We picked up our pace. This was interesting. Maybe somebody else in this city did know something.
When we came to the park it was clear that something funny was going on.
“Pretty dark,” said Charles.
That it was, for the time of day, without a cloud in the sky.
“Yes, and look at those guys.”
“A coven,” he said. Through that unnatural darkness we could dimly make out a group of guys, one of whom was holding a large book. There were about a dozen of them arrayed in black cloaks and they were swirling and gyrating, howling and ululating while one of them screamed syllables from the massive tome he held, syllables surely not intended for any human throat and vocal cords.
“That’s THE NECRONOMICON!” shouted Charles, though his voice seemed strangely muted in the psychic storm raging before us.
“I think you’re right,” I said, and I could barely hear my own voice. This was the real thing. Here we were in downtown Ottawa and it was preternaturally dark and the sky felt like something was trying to claw its way in from another dimension.
“Maybe we should try to stop this,” I said.
“Man, I don’t like the thought of just strolling in spontaneous-like and messing with those guys.”
“I don’t like the thought of them pulling off whatever it is they’re up to.”
And then a figure just appeared, as if by magic, to confront that cacophonous crew. A glittering emerald sword was suddenly in his hand and a melodious singing seemed to stream from his lips in a language I didn’t recognize.
Around us dogs howled, sirens roared, distant voices screamed. Above our heads it honestly seemed that tentacles were pushing open a door into this physical universe and that they were having help from this side.
Then the lone figure with the shimmering verdant sword pointed it at the sorcerers and uttered the words, “Hehyar I Hehyar Ni!” so loudly and forcefully that I took a pace backwards and noticed that Charles did likewise.
Before our gaze the gazebo-like structure behind the sorcerers exploded and…
“They’re gone!” whispered Charles in astonishment.
“Wow!” I said. This was impressive. I could feel something blocking that interdimensional door above our heads.
“It’s not closed,” said Charles.
“What the blazes! Where did they go!” That came from another throat not too far away. I looked to the side and saw two policemen coming up. Not far off, sirens were howling. Almost at once the guy with the sword vanished. The darkness dissipated and even the psychic ether was now clear, though as Charles had said, that door was only blocked, not closed.
The only evidence of the occult confrontation was the shattered gazebo.
“Time to make ourselves scarce,” I whispered to Charles as the police came closer. He nodded. We were too close to the scene of the crime, whatever the crime was. We began to edge away. However, we were not so lucky.
“Hey, you two! Hold on! We’d like a word with you.”
“Oh, no!” said Charles, but not loudly enough for them to hear.
We turned towards the policeman who had called to us. The other one was warily approaching the destroyed gazebo. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted another police car pulling up.
“Alright,” he said, giving us a sweep with his eyes, and I could tell that he was none too pleased. You didn’t have to be an adept to read his thought that here were two long-haired youth, who even if they had nothing to do with this bizarre scene, were probably up to their hair-covered ears in a dozen dubious activities, including, no doubt, drugs.
“Now, perhaps you can tell me just what you were doing here.”
“Uh,” I started. “We were just walking along Rideau Street when we spotted something unusual going on in the park and came a little closer to get a better look.” I could see from the look in his eyes that he didn’t want to believe me on principle.
At that moment two more policemen came up, and the one talking to us greeted them and got them to take Charles aside, no doubt to see if our stories would match if they took us apart. Another pair of cops from a third car were going up to join the one at the gazebo.
“What did you see here?” he asked with a firm tone of command in his voice. Yet despite that outward show, I could sense that he was more than a little uneasy. He had seen the last few seconds of that occult battle and the effective vanishing act of the sorcerers and their single adversary.
I kept my description as brief and straightforward as I could.
“So,” he repeated. “You were taking a stroll. You saw something unusual. You came closer. You noticed a group of people in black cloaks, one of whom held a large book from which he was reading. Another guy appeared, pointed a sword at them. They all disappeared. The gazebo blew up. The guy with the sword disappeared too.”
“Yes,” I said.
“Did you notice how many there were?”
“I didn’t count them, but thirteen would be a good guess, plus the guy with the sword.”
“More likely a bazooka, considering the damage it caused, but we’ll get that guy. If he thinks he can cause that kind of havoc and get away with it, he’s going to be very surprised.”
“Uh, maybe he’s the good guy. After all, he interfered with that conjuring.”
“How do you know these guys were bad? All they were doing was reading a book and dancing. It seems to me the guy who blows them away is likely the criminal, but we’ll leave that for the courts to decide. Our job is to catch him.”
I just stared at him. He really didn’t get it. Even if he wasn’t psychic, you’d think he’d realize that the guys with the black robes and THE NECRONOMICON who were causing the bloody sky to crack open were doing something a bit more destructive than reading and dancing.
“Now I’ll need your name and address.”
And there’s no way you’re going to get it, I thought. Aloud I said, “Henry Barrett, 430 Lyon Street.”
“And your friend’s name?”
“And his address?”
Our answers would match. We had long planned for this possibility, and didn’t credit the cops with the knowledge that would spot the reference. By the time they checked it out we hoped to be long gone.
“Now I’ll need some ID,” he said.
I turned the nearly empty pockets of my jeans inside out. All that was there was a two-dollar bill, three quarters and a few pieces of paper with the titles of books on them.
“Wait here,” he said, and went over to compare notes with his buddy. He came back. “Okay, your stories match. So we’re going to let you go. Just don’t let us catch you near any other crimes for a long time.”
“Okay,” I said, thinking I’d certainly try hard not to be caught near any.
Then Charles and I were heading back in the direction of Ottawa U.
“I say that door is still open,” said Charles in a tone that implied that he thought we should do something about it.
“I know,” I said, “but what can we do about it? I mean, we don’t even know what magic system those sorcerers were using, and that guy with the sword, or even if it was the same one.”
“We have the knowledge of the correspondence of the Qabalah. What use is there in studying all those if we can’t figure this out!”
“Well, one thing is that we probably can’t go back to the Rideau Street Park. The police will have that under surveillance for weeks, unless they catch the guy with the sword first, which somehow, I don’t think very likely.”
“No,” said Charles, “I don’t think they’re going to catch him. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if he came from another world or era to confront them.”
“But then his magic system might not even be Terran, nor of this age.”
“No, it would be superior.”
“And it could be inferior,” I said. “For example, the way he left the door blocked but not locked.”
“Possible because the coven that was using THE NECRONOMICON was from Earth.”
“You know,” I said as a thought came to me, “he could have hurled the life force of those sorcerers into the opening of the door in such a way as to block it.”
“Which means,” said Charles, “that as soon a the ultradimensional entities have absorbed enough of that life force, they’ll be able to pry the door open. We’ve got to stop them even if it means bringing that coven back to the here and now!”
…End of PART-I
“Closing the Door”
by Michael McKenny