Did a little better this morning and only set off two flash bangs the whole time we were out – The Monkey says I would probably have just lost part of a leg and my balls. Yay me…
We have just had a call from the old lady who auctioned the monkey pendant (I forgot I had given her a business card). Seems that last week some strange shit happened in her mansion – stuff flew off shelves, ornaments exploded, and there was a lot of weird screaming. While they were cleaning up the mess, they found a document case stuck to the wall at about head height. When the old lady opened it she realised it contained one of her husband’s journals and she spent the next few days debating whether to burn it or to give us a call. In the end she decided to call and so we are going to see her tomorrow to pick up the journal. The Monkey is most pleased and excited and consequently we are having a celebratory drink – again…
Back to the mansion we went. Once again, the mousy niece answered the door and led us without comment to the drawing room where the old lady waited for us. When we entered she was standing with her back to us gazing out of the French doors at the sweep of garden beyond. It has been a cold day today and she had a thick shawl pulled tight around her thin shoulders, the room was not very warm at all despite the fire blazing away in the huge fireplace. She continued to stare out at the garden and after a couple of minutes The Monkey, with his customary impatience, coughed loudly. The old lady jumped slightly as if she really had been unaware of our presence and as she turned towards us we saw that she was hugging a rather worn leather document case to her chest along with the shawl. I felt The Monkey start to move forward and I put my hand on his shoulder to keep him calm. The old lady stared at him and I am sure that she shivered, then very slowly she held the case out for him to take. He shrugged my hand off his shoulder and moved forward to take it. The old lady drew her hand back quickly to avoid touching him and pulled her shawl tighter around her shoulders. The Monkey began to open the ties on the case immediately and it was left to me to say thank you. I asked why she had decided to give us the journal rather than burn it as she had the others and she said that she had really wanted to but for some reason she couldn’t and her dreams had become full of The Monkey’s face with burning eyes. I thanked her but she said that she didn’t want our thanks just to never see us again. The Monkey gave her a sidelong look and we made our exit, and as we drove away I could see the two women in the rear view mirror as they watched us from a window until we turned along the drive and the house was obscured by trees.
We stopped at a pub to get some lunch and over a pint had a look at the journal. Lots of hand drawn maps and sketches along with copious notes but as we got further into the journal the writing became an unintelligible foreign script. I glanced at The Monkey and it was obvious that he was capable of making some sense of it. He looked back at me and said that it would take some time, but he thought he could work out what it said. As the food arrived he unfolded a larger map that had been glued in to the book and we looked at it as we ate. The map seemed to be an area of the border between Cambodia and Vietnam and was marked with various symbols and more foreign script in the same small, neat hand as the rest of the journal. As he traced his finger along the lines of the map I looked through the leather case, and in a pocket I found an old, tatty manila envelope, inside there was a small wad of photographs. They were dog eared and faded but I could make out various shots of a group of men, obviously in South East Asia. A few were relaxed, almost touristy type pictures, but most were in jungle clearings with overgrown temple buildings and featured a few local bearers. On the back of each photo was a date and note as to where it was taken along with the initials obviously of those in the photo, in the same neat hand as the notebook. In one group photo a tall man in military gear, a cigar in the corner of his mouth, stood at the back gazing off into the trees, while at the other end of the row was a figure with a smooth, out of focus face, except for the weird grin that seemed to split his lower face in two. I felt my stomach lurch as if I had just gone over the edge on a roller coaster. I put the photo on the table and quickly went through the others. The same man was in several of them and in each shot he was slightly out of focus as if he was moving quickly. Then I got to the last photo. This one was larger and had been folded down the middle. I couldn’t make sense of it at first because I was no longer looking at jungle photos, this one was quite obviously of the American Civil War. A group of men who looked like cavalry officers, sat on folding chairs in front of a tent, a Confederate flag flying in the background. Someone had drawn a circle in ink, now almost invisible, around one of the heads – a smooth, slightly out of focus head, split by an insane grin. I turned the photo over and in a different hand was written ‘Shiloh, April 6th, 1862’, but beneath that in the neat writing of the notebook ‘AW?!’. I looked back through the photos and AW’s initials appeared on the back of every photo with the out of focus man. I suddenly became aware that The Monkey was staring at me and I pushed the photos over to him with a shaking hand and told him that the man in the photos looks like the man from my bad dreams. ‘What the absolute fuck?’
I showed the nerds the photos when we got back, and they all agreed that AW looks like the dude in their bad dreams. Like Tony said, ‘It’s not as if he did anything – he was just creepy and somehow menacing with that fucked up face!’, we all agreed with that. None of us can explain the Civil War picture, maybe it’s one of his ancestors? Then Kev ran off and came back a few minutes later, clutching an A4 sheet of paper. He had printed out the Vegas gun range JPG that had caused the hacking of our laptop, and now he put it on top of the collection of photos and pointed to the row of grinning men in the background. And there he was, his face somehow out of focus but grinning even harder than the others, AW. We went through all of the other photos again and agreed that, ignoring the Civil War picture, he would be in his 90’s if it was the same man in the jungle shots. A relative maybe? And is he The Monkeys dark web chat buddy ‘Snakebite’? Tony said that it felt like we were being forced along a path that we couldn’t see. The Monkey grunted some obscenity I didn’t quite catch but ended with something about skull fucking him if he ever caught up to him. Dave was staring at the photos and I could clearly see goose bumps raised on his arms. He looked up as if coming out of a dream and said, ‘Maybe it’s hitsuzen.’ We all looked at him and when he didn’t explain The Monkey said ‘It means inevitable, a state in which all other outcomes are impossible’, he was reading from a Google search on my phone, and then he said ‘Well, it’s more likely than coincidence’…
The Monkey disappeared up to his room for a couple of hours and he has just come down to the living room very excited. There is a double page of the journal that was stuck together, and he has managed to separate it. Drawn across the pages is a sketch of a jungle temple with an enormous carved monkey head and either side of it are what look like seven pointed stars. The cigar is lit, and the Jack is out, and the nerds have just come in with a Chinese takeaway – happy days…
Well, looks like our temple of choice is in the region depicted in the map that is stuck in the book. The Monkey has been working hard to translate the markings and text around the map. I asked him if it wouldn’t be better to start at the beginning of the journal and find out what all the other stuff is all about, including the geometric symbols that have been carefully drawn on some of the pages, but all I got was a ‘yeah, yeah, I’ll get round to that’. Seems that some of the markings on the map represent mine fields and there are a lot of them around the temple – good thing I’ve been practicing getting blown up, wouldn’t want to look like a complete beginner when I get vaporised…
The nerds are making some progress with their gate for the black hole. They have stationed loads of little metal balls around the perimeter of the hole and connected them all together with tight coils of copper wire. I believe the idea is to fire them up and have them form a sort of crisscrossing net of energy over the hole and thus prevent anything unwanted coming through. There has been much discussion of Tesla coils and shifting things out of phase – have to admit I glazed over – and there was I believe some concern over possibly melting a large portion of the South West of England if things went badly wrong, but there seemed to be a consensus that that probably wouldn’t happen…
Tony has also offered to do some digging into this AW character. He is going to use some facial recognition software and some AI that is one of their pet projects to trawl the web for anything that might be of interest. He does love his research.
The Monkey is a bit perplexed. There are lots of mathematical references in the journal and he doesn’t really do maths. He came and stopped me working so that I could help him out, but I don’t really do maths either. I suggested that he try the nerds, but they are out for the day, they have gone to Maplin’s with a vast shopping list and they were also talking about hunting out some new video games. Guess they need a bit of R n R as well. It was obvious that I wasn’t going to get anything done with The Monkey fidgeting, so I suggested that we go to the beach for a walk as the sun was shining – even if it was cold.
Ended up with The Monkey throwing stones at my feet as I tried to dodge them for an hour. He says it will make me faster and lighter on my feet, although I suspect any benefit to me was outweighed by the malicious pleasure he derived from trying to break my toes. Then we went to the pub and The Monkey filled me in on some of the stuff in the journal that he had been able to work out plus some of the stuff that was written in English. The collector (never did find out his name) had crossed into Cambodia by way of Thailand and then Laos in the company of a couple of other rabid occult explorers, what he describes as a strange American who had joined the expedition in Thailand, and led by a US Airborne Ranger who had stumbled upon the temple when he had become separated from his Unit during heavy fighting on the border. With the aid of well-paid locals they had managed to travel along secret routes and avoid the patrols that constantly scoured the jungle. It was at this point in the story that the text changed to the foreign script and The Monkey’s understanding became scrappier. There were passages where they lost the locals after some sort of massacre and then they were hunted along a river by someone or something which The Monkey couldn’t translate. As they approached the region of the temple the journal began to fill up with geometric designs and this is where the maths came in. We sat in silence for a bit having a few more drinks and I was lost in daydreams of benighted jungle, frantic explorers, shattered ruins, and a man with a plastic face.
The nerds still haven’t come back – they may just have gone straight back to their house, especially if they got some new games – so The Monkey hasn’t been able to question them. To stop him having a massive sulk I have got out Pop-Up Pirate and we are having a drunken best of a hundred games. It’s 28 – 36 to The Monkey but I feel like my luck’s changing…
The nerds got a bit moist today. The Monkey grabbed them as soon as they arrived and showed them what he had translated from the journal. After staring at the Monkey’s scribbles and then at each other they went into raptures and eventually told us that what The Monkey had translated was Euler’s Identity. None the wiser we asked them to elucidate and then got a full-on lecture about this dude called Euler who lived in the 18th century and was a brilliant mathematician. They kept rambling on about it being a most beautiful equation and I kept on asking them what it did. Apparently, it has something to do with circles. They wanted to see what else The Monkey had but he said that he hadn’t translated much more of the maths stuff but he showed them the geometric drawings in the book some of which look like they have been drawn with a Spirograph. Once more the nerds went into an excited huddle and then asked if they could copy the drawings to study. The Monkey grudgingly allowed them to photograph the pages with their phones and they scampered off like kids on Christmas day.
With only a couple of days to go before we leave we spent the afternoon laying out clothes and kit and then gradually packing it into the large backpacks we are taking. Then we decided that we needed food, so we are now at the Mexican restaurant in town eating chimichangas and drinking tequila. There are loads of people about – had forgotten that it was Easter! All these holiday makers desperately trying to have a good time, bless ‘em. Anyway, there is another round of Jose Cuervo on the table and The Monkey has just sprayed lime juice in his eye and is having a screaming fit, not helped by the fact that he has wiped his eye with the back of his hand which is covered in salt. I am trying not to laugh but we could end up having to leave…
Managed to stay until the end last night. Fortunately, the restaurant know us quite well and cut us a little slack, plus we spend a whole lot on Mr. Cuervo. Think we frightened some of the holiday makers though (sorry if it was you who got involved in the naked arm-wrestling contest – you’re just lucky that The Monkey couldn’t find any scorpions).
The nerds stayed up all night working on the diagrams and this morning (late this morning over a fry up and some paracetamol) they told us what they had found. The diagrams represent the orbits of the planets in our solar system and the order and way that they are laid out has a specific meaning. The nerds put the orbit layout into one of their astronomy programs and it produced an alignment of planets that only happens once every five thousand years – give or take a couple. ‘Okay, so it’s going to be a race to the temple in time for the alignment’, I said. ‘No’, came the response. The alignment happened in December 2005 it seems – how rude, and here was I thinking I was going to be all Indiana Jones and shit. But the alignment must have been important for it to feature in a journal written three decades earlier? The nerds had done some research around that too and it seemed to be the harbinger of a terrible new age for many cults, esoteric societies and occult groups around the world. So, something must have happened it just hadn’t made the local news. The Monkey has promised to send the nerds any more info that he translates from the journal while we are away. I have got hold of a sat phone so I can keep the nerds updated even without internet access (jungle WiFi is probably shit) and we can keep everyone in the loop.
Tony likes to be thorough, so he started his search for the mysterious AW back in the 1800’s and has found a possible match. Arno Whitaker, Alabama snake handling preacher, died June 14th, 1859 after his rattle snakes bit him in the face multiple times. Risen from the dead June 16th, caused a minor stir amongst the locals who thought it was a miracle although the doctor quoted in The Independent Observer newspaper stated that he thought it was just the effects of the snake venom and that Mr Whitaker had been very lucky although he would always be disfigured. Tony is going to try the Confederate military records next to see if he can get a match on the Shiloh photograph.
Going to have a quite night tonight as we will be driving to Heathrow tomorrow ready for our flight early on Monday. Well, quiet – Universal Soldier is on the TV and the Jack has just come out. Hair of the dog says The Monkey – hmmm…
Said our goodbyes to the nerds earlier and The Monkey gave them the keys to the cupboard where he keeps his guns – just in case there are any unwanted visitors from either the black hole or outside the house. I have also left them instructions to feed the cat. Suddenly occurred to me that we hadn’t said goodbye to the Monster Highs, or in fact talked to them at all for a couple of weeks, so I sent them a text.
Driving to Heathrow now, just stopped at Gordano Services to fill up on crap before we hit the M4. We will be stopping in a hotel tonight, it was going to be the Travelodge to save money but The Monkey found a last minute deal and we are now stopping at the Hilton T4 and as we are flying from T4 it does seem easier, and nicer…
Ahhh! Drunken session in the bar – pretty sure we have managed to offend many guests. Good job the flights not until midday tomorrow. Fuck – The Monkey’s in the mini bar…