Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Six

  1. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part One
  2. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Two
  3. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Three
  4. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Four
  5. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Five
  6. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Six
  7. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Seven
  8. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Eight
  9. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Nine
  10. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Ten
  11. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Eleven – Finale



Part Six: A Dagger Sharpened Over Eons


One night, as the early frigidness of winter rolled in, Jeffrey lounged in the breakroom waiting for Alan to make his common appearance shortly before the end of their shift. His gaze meandered around the room as he could no longer fall asleep at work. Whether he deemed it good fortune or unlucky happenstance, he caught sight of a strangely textured object poking out of Alan’s coat pocket. Without even a second thought, he hurried across the room and pulled what he discovered was a blade from the pocket. Delaying inspection until later, he stowed it into his backpack and decided to leave a few minutes early to avoid an interrogation from Alan. 

Brushing past Clara as he entered the apartment, he set his backpack down and began to take off his coat in the kitchen. He had left the backpack near the door, and as Clara watched him shuffle around in the kitchen without speaking a word, she edged nearer to the bag. A suspicion and doubt had been growing in her heart for weeks; she knew he had changed but couldn’t understand why. Having tried all she could think of to bring him back, she decided there was little left to lose.

“How was your night?” she asked, the tone of uneasiness obvious in her voice. 

“Fine. You sleep well?” Jeffrey responded without making eye contact. 

“I guess so,” Clara muttered back as she gathered up the courage to test him. “Might be time to wash this backpack. I’ll do that for you,” she grabbed the bag from the floor and began unzip it.

“Put the fucking backpack down!” Jeffrey fired off in a burst of rage that surprised even himself. He had rushed over to her and yanked it from her hands, shoving her away in the process like an overly protective animal guarding its hard-earned meal. 

“What the hell is wrong with you?” Clara sputtered, shocked by his explosive reaction. 

“I-I… I don’t want you to touch the bag,” Jeffrey stammered, trailing off into a strange fog after so quickly descending from the furious peak. 

“I don’t know why you’re being like this, but you’ve got to come back to reality,” Clara pleaded as her eyes filled with tears of heartbreak and fear. “I can’t argue with you anymore. When I get home from work, I want a decision.”

“W-what do you mean?” he asked, entirely oblivious to the implication. His bloodshot eyes and mouth agape amply displayed the unwinding fibers of his reasoning. 

“Decide whether you want to snap out of whatever god-forsaken crisis you’re going though. I can’t keep this up,” she concluded as she grabbed her keys and stormed out. 

Jeffrey stood motionless for a few moments processing what had occurred, but soon returned his attention to the backpack without dwelling long on Clara’s ultimatum. Sitting down at the table, he reached into his bag and pulled from it the blade for closer inspection. The dagger was about ten inches long, and it appeared to be a single carved piece of stone that made up both the blade and handle. On the blade were symbols matching those in the book. The stone was rough, yet its edges seemed sharp enough to pierce the skin. He could tell it was old and had seen much use; the etched lettering was caked with dried blood, but at this point it didn’t disturb him nearly as much as he expected it to. Jeffrey turned the unhallowed object over in his hands, dragging his fingers across the handle and sharpened blade. Its weight felt almost absurdly heavy for its size, and he couldn’t tell what kind of rock had been used in its crafting.

After he’d had his fill of inspecting the dagger, he decided to bring it before the professor, which would also give him the opportunity to inquire about progress on the book’s translation. Arriving on campus, Jeffrey pushed through the crowds of students in the halls, seeing nothing more than faceless bodies brushed aside in his wake. His deteriorating mind had become singularly focused, unable to grasp more than one aim at a time; the professor’s office was near, and not even an effort for politeness could be spared from Jeffrey’s sleep-starved state. He appeared to the students as a haggard and gaunt reflection of a man gliding down the hall without even so much as brief eye contact with any in his path. They would have been shocked to learn he was only a few years older than themselves. 

“Come in!” the professor called after Jeffrey’s knock on the door. 

“Professor, I have something else to show you,” Jeffrey blurted as soon as he had closed the door, entirely doing away with small talk. “Look at what I’ve found,” he stammered as he held the dagger out with a jittery grasp. 

“Woah there, hold on a second,” the professor warned as he recoiled a bit from Jeffrey’s volatile approach. “Slow down, kid.” 

“Sorry to show up without calling first, I just thought you should see this as soon as I found it,” he explained as he sat down on the other side of the desk. He gently placed the dagger before the professor and pulled his hands away as if he had handled some sort of sacred object deserving reverence.

“Fascinating,” the professor mumbled after he had retrieved the dagger with a shifty glance toward Jeffrey. “Where did you find this?”

“I was out on one of the trails past route 23, pretty far down the gorge when I saw it in the brush.” Jeffrey was surprised how effortlessly the lie had slid from his mouth, unsure of when he had fabricated it.

“Lucky find,” the professor acknowledged as he inspected the blade and its markings. “These definitely match the book you brought me- which, by the way, I’ve got here.” He pulled the book from one of his desk drawers, as well as a typed manuscript.

“Is that the translation, then?” Jeffrey gestured at the manuscript. 

“Indeed, it is,” answered the professor. “The book is mostly translated, all except for the last couple of pages, it seems. The reason is a bit of a tragedy, I’m afraid. My colleague translating the piece died quite suddenly of a stroke. A real shame, she wasn’t much older than me. One of her teaching assistants sent it back to me while going through her materials.” 

“Sorry to hear that,” Jeffrey curtly expressed his condolence. “Have you read any of it yet?” 

“I have,” he replied with a sense of reservation. “This is dark material. It’s hard to determine how old it actually is, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s been used in occult activity over its lifetime. Read at your own discretion.” The professor handed the manuscript to Jeffrey across the desk, eying him for his reaction. 

“And the dagger? What about that?” Jeffrey pressed, after flipping through the first few pages. 

“I suspect it’s connected in some way, as the script aligns with the title of the book. I can keep it here and we’ll look into it a bit more, if you don’t mind,” he said as he turned it over in his hands again. 

“Uh- sure,” Jeffrey replied uneasily. He wasn’t sure why, but he felt an anxiety sweep over him at the thought of parting ways with the dagger. “Just keep it safe, I guess,” was his final plea before he dismissed himself from the office. 

Jeffrey tried to shake off a strange feeling as he exited the building, still unsure of his own attachment to the knife. The cold breeze blew through his hair as he tugged his coat tighter around his body. It was now early afternoon, and his exhaustion had extended beyond the desire for sleep. His jittery fretting made the thought of sitting alone in an apartment rather unappealing. Across the lawn on the edge of campus he could see a tavern on the other side of the street with students milling about. The warm, bustling pub offered a sort of relief from the icy loneliness of recent months. After shuffling over to table in a dim corner, he sat with his back to the wall and spent time simply gazing at the energetic space in front of him. With a coffee in his hand and heat radiating from a nearby fireplace, he pulled the translated manuscript from his coat and placed it on the table. Turning back the cover, his eyes fell upon the title now more accurately translated on the first page: Beneath the rock, uneasily it sleeps. The next page began the narrative.


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