Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

[Torchwood] "Book of Dead Names" (PG-13)

Author's Note: Written for [profile] octoberwriting. Set before "Exit Wounds" or in an AU where Children of Earth never happened. Also have made free with some elements cribbed from H.P. Lovecraft (I'd dare call this my first full on Lovecraftian work...).

Gavan Evans found the grimoire in the bottom of a box of jumble that someone had dropped off at the OxFam rummage shop where his mother worked, and where she insisted that he help out after school. A lot of tatty Boon and Mills paperbacks filled the top of the carton, but at the bottom, he dug out a thick book covered in worn, water stained black leather, the edges flaking as he lifted it out.

"What's this? Antique Bible?" his mother, Nerys, asked, squinting at it as she looked up from sorting through a tangle of clothes stuffed into a black bin liner.

"Don't know," Gavan said, opening the book and turning over the parchment-like pages within. The book appeared to be hand written, in a neat, old-fashioned hand, the text covering whole pages, interspersed with diagrams and drawings and sketches of what looked like ritual tools and sigils, like something out of a fantasy RPG manual. Leafing to the front of the book, where most volumes would have had a title page, he came upon a header written in a tidy but exquisite calligraphy hand:


A spellbook, he realized. But who had spell books these days? Maybe those hippy Pagans with their sage and crystals, the kind who pranced naked around Stonehenge on the First Day of Winter or Summer. But the images that decorated the book were not of nubile maiden goddesses or slinky modern day witches. What he saw resembled demons, not the silly cartoon kind in red boiler suits and wielding pitchforks, but honest to Satan things that would scare the hell out of anyone.

Just what he could use, a spell book of his own, a book to summon up his own demon familiar. Then no one would torment him at school ever again. When his mum's attention had gone back to thorough immersion in detangling a knot of ancient brassieres -- destined to go to recycling for the rags -- he slipped away to hide the book in the bottom of his knapsack schoolbag before sneaking upstairs to the flat.

* * * *

On the other side of Cardiff, fifty feet below Roald Dahl Plass, a Rift alarm went off and a blip started to blink on a map of the city spread out on one of Tosh's monitors.

"What's the sensitivity level on that thing now?" Owen asked from the next work station, tilting back in his chair to peer around the divider and get a look at her screen.

"Hush, I recalibrated it last night; shouldn't be giving any more false positives," Tosh replied, zooming in on the location of the blip. "Huh. It seems to be coming from an OxFam rummage shop."

"Aliens poppin' in to buy last year's fashions and Grandma's ugly knick-knacks?" Owen asked, swiveling his back to her.

"It could be anything," Tosh said, opening the commlink to the others in the field. "Jack, I'm getting some odd readings about a half mile west of your current location."

"Oooh, need me to pick up a litre of milk while we're at it?" Jack's voice replied over the link. "We still got those suspicious rocks to bring home."

"They're sealed up in the containment units: that should hold them while we take care of this?" Gwen's voice asked.

"Could be a stray litre of alien milk," Owen suggested.

"'Spose the sooner we look into the side-errand, the quicker we find out," Jack's voice replied. And the particle indicating the van's location on Tosh's map turned westward.

* * * *

Ianto watched as needles on the Rift activity meter and its attached EMF meter swung wildly. "We're getting closer, whatever this is," he said, as the three of them scanned the front of the shop.

"And we've got a whole store to track through: never know what kind of treasures you can find in a place like this," Jack said with a grin, hinting the kind of things he hoped to find.

"That could take some time, goin' through tea cozys and old clothes," Gwen said, drawing in a breath.

"Not after Tosh recalibrated the meters," Ianto said.

"Tosh's magic fingers hard at work," Gwen said, with a smile of relief.

"And I bet those fingers could work other kinds of magic," Jack said, opening his door and getting out.

"Jack, focus," Gwen put in as she followed suit. "What's our cover on this?" she asked.

"Radioactivity in the area," Jack said, lightly. "Cardiff Nuclear Commission staying on top of things after the Blaidd Drwg Nuclear Plant affair a few years back."

"Won't people get nervous when we bring this up?" Ianto said. "Folk get testy when they hear about glowing greens."

"Retcon in their tea: they'll need the sedative after what we're likely to turn up," Jack said, leading the way to the door.

"Of course," Ianto noted, and from the roll of his eye that Gwen spotted behind Jack's back, she wondered if Ianto would not mind a sedative for himself after some of the weird things the job threw at them.

* * * *

"Radioactivity?" the pleasant looking older woman behind the counter said, her face going pale. "Gavan must mucking about with his rock collection, must've picked up something funny. He's a bright young man, but he's a dabbler. You know the type?"

"We've had dealings with them," Jack said. "Always getting *their hands on things they shouldn't, though they mean well. Just get too curious for their own safety."

"If it's causing trouble, you can take a look in the rooms upstairs: his rooms are up in the garret," Gavan's mother said, glancing to a door behind the counter, then opening it for them. "I've been trying to get him to pick up some hobby he could share with friends o at least some nicer ones than those game players, but maybe he'll listen if it comes from someone official."

Jack led the trio through the door and up the staircase within. "Radiation level is spiking," Ianto said in a sufficiently grim voice, his eye on his meter.

Gwen put a firm but gentle hand on Nerys's shoulder. "I'm sorry, you might want step outside: it could get dangerous."

"If Gavan's gotten his hands on something awful, I can't argue that," Nerys said. "Just give a moment to shut up the shop so that no one else goes into harm's way."

Jack followed Ianto up the stairs to the uppermost floor. At their knock, a weedy-looking young man opened the door and looked out at them. "What is it?" he demanded.

"Cardiff Nuclear Commission," Jack said. "We got a dangerous level of radioactivity on a routine sweep of the area and we tracked the source to here. We understand you've got a rock collection?"

"It's best if you let us take a look at your collection before you start developing radiation sickness," Ianto said.

The kid glared at them. "I don't know what you're talking about. Did my mother send you up here? She's always trying to make me be rid of my rock collection."

"Could be the rock collection, could be something else," Jack said. "The sooner you let us have a look, the sooner we're off your back and out of your hair."

Gavan harrumphed, then pulled the door open wider for them. "If you insist."

Rock specimens lined long shelves on one side of the untidy room within, while bookshelves covered the opposite wall where the bed did not take up space, with more books piled on the floor. Ianto started running the Rift activity meter over the rocks in a show of following out on their cover. Jack approached the work table cum computer desk that dominated the area under the one window, then stopped dead in his tracks.

"Ianto, you can put that aside, I've found what tripped the Rift activity meters," Jack said. His gaze rested on a large, leather-covered book that dominated the work table.

Ianto came to Jack's side, eying the book. "What is that?"

Jack had backed a step or two away from the book. "The Necronomicon, the Book of Dead Names. Probably the most dangerous book of dark magick ever penned," he said, reaching into an inner pocket of his greatcoat and taking out a pair of gloves, pulling them on.

"I thought that was just a figment of H.P. Lovecraft's overactive imagination," Ianto said.

"Only wish it was: he stole a copy from a library in Albany, New York, back in the 1920s. Wanted it to stay on top of checking the facts. I told him it was a bad move -- and that I could show him some better ones -- but he'd have none of it. Any of it. Nearly caused an apocalypse in Providence, but at least his writing helped seal the things from beyond back where they belong. Didn't make him immune to the cancer that killed him eight years later, likely caused by exposure to that damned book."

"Great. Makes your radioactivity cover story not so off the mark," Ianto muttered.

"What are you two going on about in there?" Gavan said, looking in. *He narrowed his eyes at Jack. "I just brought that book upstairs from the shop: you can't have that."

"Just as well we got it," Jack said, meeting Gavan's gaze. "You got something that's not exactly suitable for children, and not because it got tagged on a Banned Books list."

"It's still mine and you can't have it," Gavan snapped, lunging for the book. Jack lobbed it past Gavan toward Ianto, who opened the containment unit and shoved it into Jack's line of fire.

The book bounced off the edge of the box and clattered to the floor at Gavan's feet. He snatched up the book and whipped it open and started chanting in a harsh tongue that sounded like Welsh crossed with Orkish.

"Ianto, get out of here, this is gonna get bad fast," Jack cried.

"I'm not leaving you," Ianto snapped.

"All right, but you better get ready to look away, to keep from going mad from the sight," Jack said, making a grab for Gavan and knocking him to the floor before clamping a hand over his mouth. The book fell open, sliding across the floor.

Something crawled out from between the pages, some gelatinous creature shaped like a sea cucumber with too many eyes. It slithered toward Jack and Gavan, rearing up one end with a slobbering opening that Ianto hoped was only a mouth -- then regretted thinking that. Jack shoved Gavan aside and slammed the book shut.

"Ianto, shut the book up!" Jack shouted and hurled himself at the thing. The best emitted a shrill cry, the rubbery protuberances around its mouth flaring as it* closed over Jack's head and the thing drew the rest of him, kicking and flailing, into its maw.

Ianto threw the containment unit over the book, levering the lid under it before rolling the book upright and snapping the lid shut over the book, hitting the biometric seals.

"Whatisthat?Whatisthat?Whatisthat?" Gavan babbled, shivering and rocking back and forth, a wet mark showing in the crotch of his jeans. Ianto grabbed a blanket from the bed and wrapped Gavan in it, turning the youngster away. He looked over his shoulder, watching the thing.

*The creature roiled, as if trying to keep its meal down; through its translucent skin, Jack's shadow appeared as he fought to break loose. The creature shrieked, letting out noises so high-pitched, Ianto wondered why the glass in the window had not broken. The monster undulated its body, clearly trying to fight back and digest Jack through sheer brute force, till its sides started to bulge out. The thing swelled, then blew apart, sending chunks of flesh splattering over the room.

"Ugh, those things smell worse on the inside than they do on the outside," Jack groaned, rubbing his acid-burned -- and naked -- chest and limbs.

"Great, it digested your clothes," Ianto groaned.

Gavan, on seeing Jack and the carnage that covered the room, sighed and his eyes rolled back in their sockets, as he sagged in Ianto's arms.

* * * *

"Bloody hell, that thing stinks: the smell's enough to drive anyone mad," Gwen said, wrinkling her nose as Tosh and Owen wheeled the body bag containing the last of the thing into the morgue. "That poor kid will need all the RetCon that we could give him."

"Wouldn't mind dose myself, after we examine the remains, yechh," Owen groaned.

Gwen now turned her attention to Jack -- now cleaned up and fully clothed -- as he sealed the biometric locks on the containment unit that held the Necronomicon. "If that book is that dangerous, what are you going to do with it?" she asked.

"Right now? We seal it up in the holding cells," Jack said, making a note in the property log. "It's not staying."

"Then what can we do with it?" she asked. "Send it back where it came from?"

"We'd have to crack the Rift open for that; somehow that seems like a really bad idea," Jack said. "It stays till I can get in touch with my contact at the Miskatonic University. We've worked together over the years."

"What I don't get: how can a book cause all the harm that it has?" Gwen asked. "Don't you have to believe in magic in order for it to have any effect?"

"Words have power," Jack said solemnly, his eyes on the box. "The right sounds in the right sequence can affect the very fabric of matter itself. The words in the Necronomicon can affect the fabric of time and space and open a door to another dimension, in order to let something through that doesn't belong to the earth, or at least not the Earth that we know."

With that, he took up the containment unit, book and all, and brought it to the safe which held so many other alien artifact. He opened a drawer, set the box containing the book inside and slid it shut before locking it.

As he stepped away, he thought he could hear a dim whisper coming from inside that drawer...


NaNoWriMo 2012
The Matrix Refugee
Personal LJ

Latest Month

June 2015


Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Akiko Kurono