03 January 2010

Curse of the Other World, part ten

The majority of the recording was either the high-pitched chitter-chatter whistling of digitised white noise, or Sarah and Peter talking to James Pearlman about what they saw in Coxton Hall. After an initial listen-through, Sarah spent a while selecting key portions of the recording and splicing them together into a new file, while Peter made another pot of tea. 
The new recording contained five segments from the original. Spliced together, they lasted no more than a minute.
'Here we go,' said Sarah. She sipped her tea and tapped the mouse button, to play the new recording.
'GET … OuT … noW,' the harsh voice demanded.
Chatter played next. At first it had sounded like mere white noise, but Sarah had upped the volume on this segment before she pasted it in, and now it was clear there was a conversation here. Two people were talking, but what they were saying was unclear.
One of the the speakers howled in terror. The chatter stopped abruptly.
'Where was that from?' asked Peter.
Sarah tapped the mouse again and the recording paused. 'I can't tell you for certain but, based on where it shows up in our conversation, it would have been recorded as we were walking into the main dining room.'
'So that wail could have been whoever made this seeing us come in?'
Sarah shook her head. 'It's unlikely. Most of the time, what we hear isn't directed at us. It's more likely that we've picked up something that was going on in there anyway, or even just an echo of something that's happened in the past.'
'That first one certainly sounded like it was directed at us.'
Sarah nodded. 'Yeah. That one's the exception that proves the rule, as they say.'
She tapped the mouse again.
'TsoTH... NeMoRRah,' a husky voice cried. A stronger burst of static followed. 'The hoUSe... withOUT... WAlls!'
A drumbeat followed, with chanting. Although it sounded like Latin, Sarah could not make out what was being said.
'He COMES! HE CoMEs!' chanted a clearly female voice, filled with what sounded like religious fervour.
The recording ended. The room filled with silence.
Sarah sipped her tea, tapping her fingers on the side of the mug and considering what she had heard. Run together, it almost felt like the message would make sense, were she able to put the pieces together.
Tsoth Nemorrah”, she thought. I've heard that before.
Peter took her hand, instantly derailing her train of thought.
'Can you not do that, please?' he asked. 'It's very annoying.'
She looked at him blankly. 'Do what?'
'That tap-tapping on your cup. It's stopping me thinking.'
'Oh,' she said, looking at the cloudy mix of colours that passed for her hands and mug of tea. 'I hadn't realised I was doing it. Sorry.'
'It's okay,' he said, his hand lingering on hers.
She turned back to the computer. 'So, any idea what these sounds mean?'
'No. The chanting was a bit odd. It sounded like some kind of ceremony, although the drums were a little odd.'
'Yeah. Any idea who or what Tsoth Nemmorah is?'
'Is that what they said? I couldn't work any of that bit out.'
Sarah shot him a quizzical look. 'I think so, yes. This isn't exactly an exact science but I'm getting pretty good at deciphering static voices.'
'I'll take your word for it. Listening to static isn't my thing, you know?'
She turned back to the computer and tried her best to keep a straight face as she brought up her web browser and ran a quick search for this mysterious name.
'Okay. I've got sixty-eight thousand hits for this thing. The first three reference a set of horror stories from the 1930s, and the fourth is about a heavy metal band.' She looked up at Peter, who was staring at the screen over her shoulder. 'This is going to take a while.'
He seemed to nod, although it could just as easily have been a trick of the light, and patted her on the shoulder. 'I'll grab some bedding and make up the sofa.'


Research was never Sarah's strong point. Focussing on one topic for any length of time inevitably lead to her mind wandering to other topics, and by the time she realised what was going on; she would have read two or three pages of whatever text she was supposed to be studying without actually taking in any of the information.
Looking up information on Tsoth Nemmorah was as bad as researching her doctoral thesis, if not worse. She could feel her back stiffening as she sat at her desk, her arms feeling like lead weights had replaced her bones. Each page was taking longer and longer to read as time went on; her mind becoming clouded and less able to concentrate on identifying the words on her screen amongst the other swirls of murky colour.
She rubbed her aching eyes, ignoring the pain in her fingers and her shoulder, and clicked on the next link.
Five minutes later, she called Peter out of the kitchen.
'Good grief, woman,' said Peter. 'You look haggard. Let me take over for a while.'
'I'm fine, stop worrying,' Sarah snapped. 'Anyway, I think I've found what we need.'
'What is it?'
'Remember those horror stories I mentioned?'
'Not exactly, no.'
Sarah shrugged. 'Well, that doesn't matter. It seems they were based on older texts. This site here talks about a collection of clay tablets unearthed at Cheddar Gorge in 1957. There's controversy over what they actually say but one of them is a bas relief that seems to match the description of someone called “Sothnemra the Demon King of Nightmares” in Robbins' Encyclopaedia of Witchcraft and Demonology; which explains why I thought I recognised the name. I've got a copy of that book around here somewhere.'
'Any idea where?'
'Most of my books are in boxes in the bottom of my wardrobe. You could try there.'

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