Steven Pinley, Chapter Three

Steven Pinley, Chapter One

Steven Pinley, Chapter Two


Previously

Steven Pinley and I were studying biology at Kingsham University back then. We, especially Pinley, excelled in every aspect. Our attendance was perfect, our understanding of the matter discussed in lectures was impeccable and our performance was very notable. We had decided to take our theoretical discussions and hypotheses a step further and conduct practical experiments. We had learned much about general practices and felt that we were advanced enough to start research of our own.

After hypothesising and daydreaming for god knows how long, we decided we’d acquire a location to decorate with various laboratorial objects to start our very own research. We managed to locate and obtain an old abandoned logger’s shack in the dense forest neighbouring Westhorpe and bought a surplus surgery table anonymously from the university. With several pieces of tools and some electrical lamps we had a remote laboratory where we could work undisturbed.

We were doing research on mushrooms and their effects on dead specimens of various types of wood. We discovered that the nutritional network created between the mushrooms had regenerating effects on the deceased wood, and were thoroughly excited by the discoveries made, Though we wanted to refine our discoveries more before publishing.

One day, I had caught influenza which made me decide that I shouldn’t join Pinley in the research of the day. I went to the bottom floor to phone Pinley with the apartment complex’ central phone. Pinley answered the phone quickly and seemed very considerate, and seemed almost happy that I wasn’t able to come. He explained that he had an idea he wanted to work on privately.

Oh God how I wish I didn’t ever return to that damned laboratory.


Chapter Three

It took me around three weeks to recover from my illness, and be in a state where I felt capable once again. The day I decided I would go again next week, the phone rang down stairs. The concierge ringed my door and called me downstairs. He mentioned that the person called for me, and that he seemed very excited about something. I took over the phone and heard what Pinley had to say.

Pinley told me that he had made some amazing progress concerning our mushroom related research and that we were on a fantastic track together. The absence of me, he explained, allowed him to concentrate so thoroughly that he had reached something incredible, and urged me to come by as soon as possible. But, he stressed, he wanted me not to come before next week, as “Preparations would be complete by then.” And so I waited.

That next week, during a windy evening as I had to work during the day, I went on my way over that familiar road, but now by myself without Pinley. Through Westhorpe and through the forest towards the house. The walk felt like it took hours and hours, and an inexplicable feeling of panic kept coming over me. The road felt harrowing, the evening sky had an ominous colour and the air felt foreboding. I approached our laboratory and noticed quickly that there was no light coming out of the windows, even though they were covered by curtains and some boards, some light used to shine through, and there was an unsettling silence around the small building.

I slowly approached the firmly closed door in the darkness, wondering why the house could be closed while Pinley and I had arranged a rendezvous. The closer and closer I came to the door the more every nerve sprawling through my body told me to turn around and never return. But I opened the door. The door swung easily open, it hadn’t even closed all the way. I turned the lights on and waited for them to warm up, during which my mind was still puzzled with confusion. As the lights went on, shock overcame me.

Our laboratory was a disorderly chaos, tools broken and one of the three lights had been smashed. Cupboards were opened, their insides were littered over the floor. Not one glass beaker had been left unbroken. Yet all this paled in comparison to the new objects in the space. Spread along the walls were boxes with specimens I had not seen before, nor had any say in the creation of them. I examined one of the specimens, and to my horror, Pinley had taken our research to new, dark extremes. In the bins were various pieces of flesh, labelled with their species; bovine and pig, covered with mushrooms we declared best fit for the rejuvenation of wood. All pieces of meat had a white hue, radiating a sense of death.

But the worst of all, the most ungodly of all, was the rear left corner of the room. It was the corner furthest from the entrance, so I had not seen it immediately. Usually it was lit, but the fixture responsible for the luminance in that area was unfortunately the one with the smashed lamp. In my recollection the walk to that damnable corner felt like it took hours, as the container stored in that corner was the worst thing I have ever seen. After my eyes had finally adapted to the darkness, I discovered a long, sturdy, iron rimmed glass container holding a long mushroom covered piece of meat. The object seemed to pulsate, coloured a ghastly green with deep purplish veins running through. It radiated an intense horror and instilled fear, yet I did then not know why. Yet.

I went to take the piece out of the container, only to be mortified by a hand returning my grasp. The piece of revived meat was a humanoid arm! The arm fell onto the wooden ground, flopping around spastically in a way no healthily thinking human would. The frantically flexing muscles bulged greatly, obviously nourished well by the mushrooms which had mostly fallen off following the fall. Suddenly, all muscles tensed strongly, making the arm unable to move any more, followed by the sudden final death of the limb which had now gone a greyish white colour.

I walked back slowly, still confused and scared from the preceding incident, and bumped into the great, central ornament. I had somehow missed the cold steel surgery table in the centre of the room during my initial inspection of the chaotic space. The table was covered in green filth, surrounded by the very same mushrooms found on the arm. We kept a strict routine on cleaning the table, so the dirt covering it disturbed me greatly. Especially Pinley would not have left it this way voluntarily.

All there was left on the table, besides the grime and debris, was a scribbled note:

“Close the door, leave this place and NEVER return.

I have made mistakes.

Goodbye Friend.”

I followed the simple orders without question, and the walk home is lost to my memory. I just remember being home, shocked from the horror I had experienced. Where Pinley is now, even if he still lives, which I do not even have hope for, is lost to the ages. He is a man never to be found again, a great mind lost to madness. Intelligence lost forever. Oh what greatness Pinley would have achieved if we had just stuck to daydreaming.

Yet I still wonder, what was the final mistake Pinley made? One can only wonder, yet the recent headlines feed the imagination. “Amputated limbs missing.” seems to connect with Pinley clearly in my mind, yet one headline seems too horrid to believe the implications thereof.

Nay.

I don’t want to accept it.

Body buried up from graveyard near Westhorpe, evidence missing.


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Steven Pinley, Chapter Two

Steven Pinley, Chapter One


Previously

Steven Pinley was a mere student back then, learning all ins and outs of biology. However, Pinley was greatly ahead of his class and had much more knowledge about the subjects discussed in lectures than his peers, and often held private discussions with professors and other individuals of equal intellect, though few could match his.

Pinley took a liking to me, as I was often the only other student as punctual as he was for lectures and classes. An exact fifteen minutes early was right on time for Pinley, and as I wanted Pinley to see me as one of his equals, fifteen minutes early was on time for me too.

We talked before classes, sat next to each other and dreamed of our fantastic futures as biologists. One day we took our concepts and ideas further than the frantic, yet fruitless daydreaming we were so accustomed to and devised a plan to put our newly learned knowledge to use. We rented an old logger’s house situated in the grand forest bordering Westhorpe, a settlement located next to our home city of Kingsham. With an old surgical table we bought anonymously and some electrical lights which were being sold in Kingsham had a laboratory of our own where we could work undisturbed and on ideas and experiments of our very own. I searched for knowledge which extended beyond the university’s courses and thusly gain knowledge to excel in regards to my performance. I wanted to research for reputation and public knowledge.

Pinley didn’t.


Chapter Two

The house was a forty-five-minute distance from the university. The grand town of Kingsham was the start of the walk which became intensely familiar to us after the repetitious journeys. Exiting the town, the road to Westhorpe greeted us with its monotony and tedium. Yet over time, we started to appreciate the road for its unchangingness as the length and lack of distractions allowed for us refining our upcoming experiments. I remember this first walk to the lodge, preparing to see it for the first time and examine the room where we were to spend a majority of our free time, the road to Westhorpe being already familiar, but the walk through that damnable forest leaving deep impressions on me. The forest had an unwelcoming radiance even the locals were wary of. The dense growth and canopy of the trees gave way only to neverending darkness. An old, decrepit, overgrown road led us to our similarly old, decrepit and overgrown house. I was never able to feel any hint of comfort in that place, for from every crack in those bricks poured an ominous darkness. And how right that ominousness was.

We had decorated our new laboratory with old drawers we filled with tools, three electric lamps and the old table we had sourced. Preparing the place took several days, and Pinley and I were appropriately using the time preparing the location and the journeys there to thoroughly think out our first subject of research. To get familiar with that new uncommon place, we thought it better to research something unchallenging. We chose local mushroom research to be the appropriate primary subject, but God! How I chose we had not.

Exams and several other university related distractions caused me to not be able to visit the house for quite some time after having just finished furnishing that room and planning the first topic, yet Pinley told me he was quite familiar with the place as I finally had the chance of joining my partner in research for the first time.

Pinley had already gathered various samples of local mushrooms and mushroom-infected vegetation. Centrally on the table was a large log, the smell of which overwhelmed me with its damp mouldiness. Pinley handed me a fragrance infused face mask to border out the overpowering smell and pointed out several fascinating features of the log.

Mushrooms had covered the upper surface of the long-diseased log, as tends to happen in damp forests. Pinley surgically removed a piece of tree bark, and thoroughly excitedly showed me the roots of the several mushroom species covering the surface of the log. The roots, he explained and proved, burrowed deeply into the log, a log that had been long dead before the first mushroom had started growing on it. The rooting of the mushrooms appeared like veins through the wood and created a network that connected one mushroom with all others and vice versa. Every mushroom was connected equally and exchanged nutrients with the other mushrooms. The log had become the body of a living organism, and the mushrooms were the organs and veins thereof, as Pinley so eloquently worded. ‘It had become a living creature once again.’ Pinley said with an awestruck expression.

The coming weeks of research had composed of finding samples like the original log and experiment on the found samples. We found that altering the roots of the mushrooms, by severing them or, oppositely, nurturing them, the mushrooms would react swiftly and strikingly. All features of the mushrooms would adapt; severing the roots, expectedly, resulted in the mushroom withering, yet not dying. ‘As mankind, banishing an individual from society does not eliminate him, yet thoroughly weakens him. The difference between death and weakening is one not to be overlooked.’ Pinley stressed. He noted every feature of the withering, surviving mushroom. Most died out after a remarkably long amount of time, yet what fascinated us both was that some of the exiled mushrooms prospered and created a new population of mushrooms, same species as the ones it was exiled from yet all having characteristic features originally found in the unique, severed mushroom.

Pinley was fascinated by the life-like, human resemblance of the mushrooms, yet eventually directed his interest elsewhere. His research shifted towards the carrier of the mushrooms. A fascination regarding the roots of the mushrooms grew and grew, and especially regarding the ‘mother’, as Pinley called the carrier by the resemblance of the carrier losing vitality and vigour as to facilitate the growth of the mushrooms, such as a mother does when she carries her child. Often the mother, the dead log in the primary specimen, benefitted parasitically of the growth of the mushrooms. Wood would show signs of health caused by the mushrooms growing on it, and the roots nurturing the wood once again. Pinley said that the mushrooms almost revived the wood, and started experimenting with bringing pieces of bark and thick tree branches back to life by utilising select mushrooms and the ways that their particularly thin roots permeated equally through the wood, not damaging the fibrous structure of the wooden mother.

One day I wasn’t able to go with Pinley to the lab, as I felt quite sick. I had caught influenza and the doctor told me to stay home, so I phoned Pinley with the phone down at the entrance of the house where I had an attic room to tell him how I was not able to join him that day. Pinley took no offence, he even seemed excited to be able to work by himself as he told me how he had some plans he wanted to work out in quiet and pure concentration. We had been working on revitalising pieces of wood from fallen trees with nutrients supplied by mushrooms. We discovered that by letting mushrooms grow on the wood and feeding the mushrooms certain vitamins and minerals, pieces of wood appeared to lose the dark brown colour characteristic of dead wood and trade it for lively light brown, the colour of living trees. One sample even managed to sprout some leaves from its former dead self. We truly felt on the edge of something amazing, being able to revive fallen trees and making them grow leaves, and hopefully even sprout new fruit.

All this made me not understand what Pinley was so glad about during that phone call, but oh how I wish I had just stayed home forever, never to see that damned laboratory ever again.


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Steven Pinley, Chapter One

A story inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft.


I tell you, it was not like anything I’ve experienced before. I’m quite used to unnatural sights, unnameable diseases and horrid disfigurations. The field of biology and being an apprentice biologist has left me many visuals on my retinas, but none like the ones I have experienced with him.

During my education towards becoming a certified biologist, I worked together with a curious man. Steven Pinley was a man of genius. His intellect rose above all peers, he towered over all us students and even over some of our professors. He often went to professors after class to discuss the matter newly learned, ask questions which left professors dumbfounded and often found discrepancies in the lessons. He peeked the interest of many.

Often we sat besides one another, as we took a liking to each other quickly after us meeting. We could talk for hours about the subjects of biology and the theories discussed in the lessons. We could dream of our futures and dreams as biologists, experimenting with instruments most modern on subjects delivered to our operating tables. We could hardly wait, a state of mind and certain motivation which manifested itself quickly.

Pinley was an even-tempered man, he looked composed, well dressed and had a calm collected face only an intellectual can have. His small, peering eyes hid a bright shimmer behind long, dark eyelashes. His slim nose drooped down his face to a small moustache and thin lips. Above his gaze were slim eyebrows and smooth, dark hair. Slim was a word which described him impeccably.

I got used to his punctuality, fifteen minutes early to every class and appointment, and was able to play into it by being early also, which enabled us to have talks before lessons and be seated next to each other, as we got used to. One day, in our fanatic yearnings of our applying of learned information, we conceived a plan. As Pinley was so ahead of our class, and me, being so much next to him, arriving at the same intellectual level, yet always some distance behind him, he noted that we, together, had the required knowledge to start experimenting preemptively. We had had some classes on experimenting and necropsy, and Pinley felt that that experience, together with our books was enough to start some work of our own.

The next weekend we started devising our plan. We thought that a good start would be to find ourselves a remote place to work in peace, without any disturbances. Behind our home town there was the small town of Westhorpe, a settlement of old, which was at one half of the periphery lined with dense woods, with a few land roads cutting through the opaque forestry. The other half was divided into two: one side was a cliff descending into a lake, the other half was a field with more citified roads leading in- and out of Westhorpe, connecting it to the major city of Kingsham, where our university was located.

In the woods there were some old logger’s houses up for rent, which we could afford through our scholarships, provided by our education for our excellent performance in the first year. We devised we’d rent one of the old houses, where we could set up shop and work on our first experiments of our own.

My goal with this plan, a goal Steven did not share with me, was to impress the teachers at the University to receive some royalty to further explore biology of our own. Steven had other ideas, but was never so keen of explaining them to me, even after we had paid our first month rent of the house. We could anonymously buy an old, discarded table from one of the biological institutes connected to the University, and some electrical lamps from an electrical store in Kingsham. With this we could erect a laboratory of our own, and we could light the place for some hours if the sun was low or the leafage was particularly dense. But God! How I curse the day I decided to proceed this plan further than just dreaming of it!

 

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