Archive for October, 2011

045: The Waterlogged Coffin (or, The Unmarked Grave)

Posted in Gideon Keys with tags , on October 31, 2011 by glasganon

There is a strange tradition that was passed on in the pubs on Paisley Road West, specifically in the Cardonald area. This tradition was only ever discussed in those wee hours of the morning, when the shadows outside the hazy, rain-lashed windows seemed too dense and too dark to ever allow safe travel back home, when half-lidded, drunken conversation began to drift towards the strange and the supernatural. Supposedly, the tradition began in Buchanan’s bar earlier in the century, then passed on to Howden’s Bar, then Parkway. It seems as though the tradition has died out – but the acolyte may be able to resurrect it.

On the first rainy night after the new moon, in any of the aforementioned bars when the bar staff call for last orders, the acolyte could order a “Waterlogged Coffin” (although in Howden’s Bar, it was referred to as an “Unmarked Grave”). The bartender would then serve the acolyte a cocktail – a dirty-brown mixture with a number of white lumps floating in it – and underneath the glass would be a scrap of paper. The acolyte would drink the cocktail and leave, headed for the Craigton Cemetery just across the street. The scrap of paper would indicate a grave, and this grave would have a particular significance on that night.

Unfortunately, the bars on Paisley Road West have since closed down or discontinued serving “Waterlogged Coffins”, so nowadays the acolyte must perform their own due diligence. On rainy nights, one grave in the cemetery will be marked with a small glass bottle, sitting atop the headstone and collecting rainwater: the grave will always be dedicated to a soldier who was killed in the First World War – but their headstone will be completely blank – and it is not necessarily a different grave every rainy night, though it is unheard of for the same grave to be indicated within the same three-hundred and thirty-three days. The bottle of rainwater will be important later – do not empty it out.

Dig up the grave where the bottle is situated, and do your absolute utmost to ignore the objects that may appear in the grave as you dig. Your paranoia is likely to increase as you dig, from hearing phantom voices inamongst the torrent of rain and the froth of splashing water to the odd vibrations deep under your feet, so even when you unearth a lost childhood toy with broken bones sticking out of it, even when you dig up a familiar photograph of your younger self seemingly suffering from harlequin ichthyosis, you must cast these aside. Only when your shovel hits the wood of the coffin six feet down can you focus your attention.

Smash open the coffin’s lid – it is easier than trying to move enough dirt to open it – and stick your arm into the hole. Your fingers will clasp around a cold, hard object, which, when you pull it out, will reveal itself to be a small rusted metal box that rattles as you move it.

Inside the box is a selection of teeth, of various sizes and stages of decay, containing exactly eight incisors, eight premolars, four canines, and twelve molars. If you wash these teeth using the water from inside the bottle atop the grave, the teeth can be used as a method of divination to gain answers to any question when they are thrown on the ground of the city of Glasgow. It is pivotal, however, to replace a tooth as soon as it breaks – otherwise, the teeth will no longer read the future – they will only read you.

Announcement: Update Schedule

Posted in Meta on October 31, 2011 by glasganon

As per the recent poll, I’d like you guys to know that I’ll be updating on Sundays from now on. I’m going to try to keep the announcements to a minimum as well – however, if you’d like to get extra information on the Keys and additional news about what’s currently going on in Glasgow’s occult underground, I invite you to follow my Twitter account, glasganon.

As a little Hallowe’en bonus, I’m also going to post up another Gideon Key tonight, as well as this Sunday. Have a safe Samhain, folks.

163: The Disharmony Gospel

Posted in Gideon Keys on October 24, 2011 by glasganon

In the northeast of Glasgow, there is a factory that, while not abandoned, has certainly seen far better days. Over the past few years, the staff have quartered, halved, halved again, and so on until only two dozen workers occupy the building – which is rapidly shrinking, as the management has begun to close off parts of the factory that will not see use again. Rusted iron grilles lock away empty brick-and-steel corridors, huge metal doors are welded shut, entrances to shafts in the ground are bolted down.

There is one area in the factory has not been locked away, however, that holds a peculiar significance to acolytes. To gain entry, the acolyte must enter the building after 9 p.m, when the workers leave and only two area security officers remain on site. One of the exterior doors of the factory is marked with a piece of red electrical tape – this door is not monitored by cameras, and the security officers check it infrequently. The lock on the door has been partially broken, such that applying some force to the door will cause it to swing open, revealing a corridor inside. Remember to close the door behind you – the security staff already know something strange is happening inside the factory, but they can only remain in ignorance for as long as acolytes are careful.

The corridors behind the door are loud – a colossal rumbling permeates every corner, accompanied by staccatoes of steam being released from pressurised valves in some far-off room; it is impossible to hear your own footsteps on the bare concrete floors. Dead rats tend to accumulate under the many electrical boxes and wires that bulge from the walls, but whatever has ailed them is difficult to tell in the stark orange light of the corridors, thrown by dim, flickering wall-lamps webbed with dust. The corridors are labyrinthine, and it is easy to get lost – however, there are pieces of red electrical tape marking certain paths at junctions throughout the hazy, blinking maze – take the corridors with red tape over ones without every time.

The acolyte may see other humanoid figures making their way through the dusky corridors out of the corner of their eyes; these are known as the “Gospel Wardens”, and it is imperative that the acolyte never cross their paths – otherwise, all the lights blink out, and the Wardens use the cover of darkness to do whatever it is they do to their captives. The lamps in the corridors immediately surrounding the acolyte will give an indication as to how close the Gospel Wardens are – when a Warden is nearby and out of sight, the lights in the corridors around it grow brighter, buzz louder, and seem to flicker in a rhythmic breathing pattern. When the Warden passes, the lights dim again, and the acolyte can continue moving.

The acolyte’s final step in their journey is a ladder fastened onto the wall of a dead end in the labyrinth, leading up to a hole with unsettling red light occasionally spilling from it. The acolyte must ascend the ladder, and they will find themselves standing in the central room – the Chapel of Disharmony.

The metal room is swathed in stark, bright-red light, its source impossible to define other than it coming from outside the room itself. Red strobes of light pulse through gaps in the steel plates stacked and welded together to make ersatz walls; wire meshes break up the light into tendrils slipping through holes in the rusted ceiling; aged but functional extraction fans built into nondescript steel chop up the beams of luminescence into bursts of red with their grinding, groaning blades, flooding the room with the taste of dust and iron; red gushes out of the drilled holes in the steel floor, splashing over the walls, the ceiling – everything. The light never remains still, alternately illuminating the room in its harrowing bleed before throwing it back into darkness, all the while accompanied by the sound of the grating fan and murmurs of vibrating metal from every wall, the ceiling and the floor. Even touching one of these surfaces produces a tingling throughout your body, its humming and buzzing somehow weakening the parts of your self beyond your flesh. Spending a few minutes in the room can induce dull aches and pains throughout your body – especially noticable in teeth with fillings, or any metal joints inside you. A few more, and the sickening vibration of the metal inside your flesh becomes nauseating. After a half-hour, and the feeling of steel trying to rip itself out of you becomes intolerable.

Propped up against one wall, however, is the acolyte’s prize – the Disharmony Gospel, a stack of six-by-five feet rusted iron plates, each embossed with raised letters that list all the things that the acolyte has misremembered because it was just too strange, too bizarre, didn’t fit, or they didn’t want to deal with. The mysterious words whispered to them from in the dark space under the bridge by the river before they ran away in fright. The mental image of the bird with a human face that looked in their window at night.. Their father’s secret twin that lived in the cupboard. The woman that was running down Main Street one evening, before falling into her shadow and screaming all the way down, before the car headlights destroyed the shadow-hole. Each event storms back into the acolyte’s memory like a revelation, spurring them on to lift the huge, heavy plates so they can uncover the next metal page and use the intermittent strobes of red light to read the next set of forgotten apocrypha from their lives. The head made of soil they found in the garden which cried when their brother smashed it with a brick. The time they lifted up a sewer cover and found a man inside, who smiled back at them before trying to grab them. The view from the neighbours house into the nearby restaurant’s kitchen, holding rows and rows of small bodies in huge basins of dull-grey water.

It is wise that the acolyte leave as soon as they have read their Gospel, if not sooner. The flashes of red that illuminate the room occasionally cast light upon the holes in the walls, revealing oddly-proportioned humanoid shapes, occasionally reflecting red light off of marred, black eyes that peer through as they pace around. Though the Gospel Wardens seem to be unable to get through the gaps between the steel plates that make up the walls, they have no trouble reaching the labyrinth of dimly-lit corridors that seperates the room and the exit of the factory, and they make it their mission not to have the acolyte escape with any knowledge gleaned from their Gospel.

Announcement: Updates

Posted in Meta on October 24, 2011 by glasganon

I don’t usually make posts that aren’t about Keys themselves, but a meta-post now and again can’t hurt. I’ve had a couple of people suggest that they’d prefer it if posts were made more regularly on certain days of the week, rather than the haphazard updates they are just now. As such, I’d like to ask you all what days you’d prefer seeing updates on – that is, what days you normally check the blog on, or when you have more free time to browse the web in general. If you could vote on the following poll, you’d be helping me out a whole bunch. Comments are welcome as always, as are other suggestions.

047: The Coercion School

Posted in Gideon Keys with tags on October 12, 2011 by glasganon

In Govan, there were three schools all situated very close to one another – St. Saviour’s Primary School in Dunsmuir Street, Cartvale School in Vicarfield Street, and Copeland Primary, in Burndyke Court. Each of these schools served the children of various ages throughout Govan – up until they were demolished (in the case of St. Saviours and Cartvale) or converted (in the case of Copeland Primary), and replaced with the Govan Road Campus, a huge building that houses several schools’ worth of children.

Interestingly, there was a fourth school that was demolished around the same time as the other three: the former St. Gerard’s R C School, which had closed in 1998 and was situated adjacent to Cartvale School, and behind what is now the Govan Road Campus. During the demolition of St. Gerard’s, however, the construction company discovered a tunnel that ran underneath the foundations of the school, almost completely caved-in with mud and stone due to the demolition work above. The construction company filled it in and built over it, writing it off as an old maintenance tunnel – which is true, but it didn’t explain the bloodstains splattered across the dirty, broken floor.

The teenagers in Govan knew the tunnel as what it was – the entrance to the Coercion School. It was accessible from a handful of tunnels throughout the streets of Govan, but the principal entrance was located in Cartvale School. The boiler room of the school held a hatch in the floor which, when hoisted up with a nearby metal bar, granted access to the “maintenance tunnel”.

According to the teenagers that used the Coercion School, the tunnel was decaying and decrepit even before the demolition of St. Gerard’s blocked it up. The only illumination came from decades-old lamps on the dusty walls, and even then most of them shed only dim yellow light that flickered, like the blink of eyes staring and assessing the visitors as they walked from bright-spot to bright-spot in an otherwise pitch-black corridor. Bloodspatters from past visitors stained the dirty floor, marking a red path to the end of the tunnel, to the main hall of the School; their Tutor would already be waiting.

The Tutor’s physical appearance can only be guessed at; he apparently confined himself to teaching the teenagers from behind a large pane of steel-grid reinforced broken glas , riddled with cracks, splinters, and twisted wire, that spanned the entirety of one of the walls of the room; the Tutor was visible only as a faint silhouette on the glass, backlit by pallid illumination. The only characteristic that witnesses could describe him by was his voice – a scraping, ragged trill. His words never sounded like they were spoken – they felt as though they were whistling through the cracks of a broken pipe.

The Tutor’s lessons were exercises in barbarism – a school of magick the teenagers called “Coercomancy” or “Coerceomancy”, magick through domninance, bullying and oppression. “Students” would take turns humiliating one another in ways redolent of military detainment camps, ripping apart one another’s egos so that they can scar over and harden – or else so that the weak would be permanently imprinted with their abusers’ immovable authority. They would practise physical violence upon one another, finding the most efficient ways to cause pain without leaving lasting marks, performing the simplest fractures that could be explained away with ease. They would experiment with threats and intimidation tactics, develop new ways of psychological torture, and engineer new states of fear and subjugation in each other until only the strongest would remain. And then, when the Tutor told them they had done enough – speaking in his dry, ragged voice that sounded like gasps of air being ripped apart by the broken glass seperating him from his students – they would leave, and he would step away from the glass pane.

The main access tunnel to the School has been closed off, but it is rumoured that access is still possible through other tunnels spread throughout Govan. Meanwhile, the School’s students are putting their teachings into practice: the boss who continually beats you down? The doctor who humiliates you every time you visit the surgery? The friend who is blatantly trying to steal your partner? Students, every one of them.

Rumour has it, though, that these students are looking to become Tutors themselves – and, at the cost of your ego, your pride, and your integrity, you too can become a student of the school of coercion magick.

061: The Lab

Posted in Gideon Keys with tags on October 9, 2011 by glasganon

There is a building in Possilpark that often goes unnoticed by everyone who passes it by; it’s tucked away at the end of a street of industrial buildings that continually pump clouds of chemical gases into the air – which is fortunate for the people that work in the hidden-away building, as it helps mask the odour of the things that they are producing through clandestine chemistry. If you have a particular need for substances that are harder or more innovative than the heroin that is rife throughout Glasgow, you need to visit the building at the end of the row on a Sunday, either between four and five in the morning, or eleven and twelve at night. If you knock on the door and hand over a full bottle or packet of any prescription medicine when requested, you’ll be led into the lab.

The lab is operated by three people. A woman named Rachel Marshall handles all the business enquiries, and it is she that allows you into the lab when you arrive – she’s playful but assertive in asking for your details, straight-talking but eloquent in describing her business, and powerful but relaxed in her neatly-pressed blouse and skirt. If it’s your first time there, she’ll give you a brief tour around the large, single room that she and her team work in. The low stone ceiling makes the place seem quite cramped, but the use of partitions to cordon off certain areas does do wonders to give each section of the room its own unique personality. Rachel provides introductions to the other two members of her team: Mark Lawson, a man in his forties with an unusual taste in anabolics, and Harpreet Singh, a twenty-two year old Religious Studies student. They do most of the cooking and manufacturing in their own corners of the lab.

Mark – a bald man with bulky, unnatural muscles interwoven with ridges of veins –  spends most of his time at a desk cluttered with racks of hypodermic needles. If you are present during the morning, you may find him gripping one of the filled needles in between quivering fingers, pressing it in only a few inches of flesh above his nipple, and plunging a thin, milky liquid into his chest. Occasionally, lashes of blood squirt across the floor of the dingy building – a failure to aspirate with the needle – but otherwise, his experiments seem to progress quietly. At night, he is seen taking empty needles and drawing another, darker liquid from his pectorals. If asked, he will explain that during his wife’s pregnancy and his child’s birth, he experienced some of the biological and emotional processes that his wife was undergoing – a medical anomaly known as Couvade syndrome – and he is attempting to metabolize a formula in his own body that replicates the hormonal glow he experienced, using a strange milk taken from an undying, unseeding plant locked away in a museum somewhere in the city.

Harpreet – a young woman in a lab-coat, with her hair tied back in a net – works at a number of small tables with neatly organised equipment and paraphenalia lined up along the sides. She is most often seen experimenting with an off-white powder – sometimes using the flame from a brass candle-shaped object to heat it up inside a foil cradle. Apparently she is synthesizing a new form of heroin that allows the user to see hidden pathways, roads that never existed, and imaginary anti-spaces in the mesh of city streets.

After the tour and introductions, Rachel will take you to her office near the front of the lab, and ask what it is you’re looking for. It is best to turn down the offers of meta-amphetamine, a drug that accelerates and intensifies the effects of almost all other chemicals, or Code, an Oxycodene variant that allows the user to see the messages written on the walls of the ancient city. No, the piece de resistance of Rachel Marshall’s lab is “Gideon’s Key” – brittle brown crystals packaged inside pages from a Bible, which, when ingested, will cause the user to experience a heavily altered state of consciousness that they will summarily never remember – but when they awake, they will find themselves in the approximate location of the most recent thing they wanted to find, provided it is still within the region of Glasgow.

Rachel will never tell you the price of the drug, nor will she demand anything from you as she hands over the neatly-folded square of Bible pages. In fact, she seems to suggest that the price is always paid during the amnesiac trip after taking Gideon’s Key – what it is is anyone’s guess, but given that the lab always seems to get a lot more equipment, stock and resources immediately after someone takes away Gideon’s Key, it would seem that it’s what keeps Rachel Marshall in business.