These are the opening pages from Escape: A Dark Tale from Innsmouth.
Graham McLaughlin thought the view from the top of the Randolph Carter Memorial Tower was impressive. It was only a little after sunset but the darkness was already intense. The world around him was enveloped by an inescapable blackness, broken only by occasional splashes of neon illumination. McLaughlin swung one leg over the waist-high rail that separated the safety of the observation platform from a two hundred foot drop and stepped out onto the narrow ledge that circled the tower top. He drew a deep breath of the chilly air and tried to savour the excitement of being so close to death.
Beneath him, two hundred feet down, he could see the sprawl of the Innsmouth University campus. The familiar old buildings of LeGrasse and Thurston, as well as the more modern units of the library, refectory and admin buildings, all looked like something taken from the scaled landscape of a hobbyist’s railway set. He knew, if he jumped or fell from this spot, he would make a substantial hole in the roof of the rotunda at the base of the tower. He also knew such a fall would likely be the last thing he ever did with his miserable life. It would be the last contribution he made to the world of Innsmouth’s academia.
And he knew his passing would be no great loss.
To the west of where he stood, McLaughlin could see the shadowy shape of the kurgan that sat atop the shoreline cliffs. It was an ancient burial site where a colleague of his had recently died. To the north, sitting at the top of the Innsmouth peninsular, with its white walls illuminated by stark security lighting, he could see the imposing structure of Clevedon Manor, standing proud and exclusive in the middle of its own grounds. Clevedon Manor was home to the secretive society that called themselves the Esoteric Order of Dagon, and McLaughlin shuddered a little as he thought about the dangers that the lunatic cult represented. He didn’t dare stare at the building for too long, knowing the sight always fostered dark thoughts of helplessness and despair. Angrily, he wrenched his gaze away and almost lost his footing. The prospect of plummeting down was disquieting, but it did not make his heartrate increase by a single beat per second. He could easily fall to his death without his body showing a single symptom of concern.
A hand reached out from inside the top of the tower and grasped his wrist.
“Professor McLaughlin,” Karl gasped.
McLaughlin studied the student with haunted eyes. He’d had an opportunity to kill Karl several months earlier, but he’d failed to take advantage of the chance. There had been times since then that he’d doubted the wisdom of his kind decision. Even now, knowing that Karl had just saved him from falling to his death from the top of the Randolph Carter Memorial Tower, McLaughlin felt no notion of gratitude.
“You almost fell,” Karl said, concern rich in his tone.
McLaughlin shrugged as he stepped back into the safety of the tower top. He gestured at the man-bag Karl was carrying and asked, “Did you bring the F17, like I told you?”
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