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Athenaeums 2 - The Scarab On My Back

Yes… yes…

Okay, here it is… Scarabs, no... not those scarabs… HERE it is. Blah blah blah, okay, resurrection, interesting… Oh, funeral rites... Known for their use in funerals for protections, transformation, okay, makes sense. Oh… oops. Almost forgot.

Audio journal of Laurence Abbot, Archivist at Downing Hill Public Library, entry number… 299 I believe.

I did a bit more digging. And by ‘digging’ I mean that I’m glad I have coworkers who will bring me insanely caffeinated drinks to make up for my lack of sleep. I managed to find a bit more on the beetle, well, scarab technically. Before I jump into all that though, let’s review a couple of personal details. For context sake.

A few years ago, I suppose maybe about 6 or 7 now, I showed up on the front steps of Downing Hill, completely unaware of how I got there. I remember everything from before, family, my childhood, just not how I got to Downing Hill, or ended up with a library card, or where most of my tattoos came from. They include a scarab that looks just like this drawing, and a scattered mess of symbols down my arms in a language I can’t read. Which is terrifying because I can read a dozen ancient languages fluently.

Before Downing Hill, I lived with my family in this double-decker bus; we moved from Pennsylvania up into Canada after the rains started. My sister, Amelia, was a great comfort. Any tattoo I had before Downing Hill is one she gave me. She was fun to be around, even if she was a little older. She disappeared a few years before my memory runs out, no note or any indication that she was leaving. We looked all over for her. I guess we eventually sort of gave up on finding her after a few months. It saved us all the stress of wondering, I guess.

My parents were never exactly the same after that. I’m still a bit curious about where she went, how she died, if she died, that is. But then I was waking up in the pouring rain with this card in my hand, on the front steps of the Library, the lions in front looking rather welcoming despite their grimaces.

Lucky for me, I had some experience from my parents that made me useful. They liked collecting old books with unusual contents. I was surprised to find, later on of course, that some of those books are part of Downing Hill’s Arcane Program. I’m not sure why they chose to take me in, I was bewildered at the time, and I’m a little too curious for their taste. Curiosity is what gets you killed nine times out of ten here.

Why did I choose to stay? Perhaps that’s the real question. I like knowing things. Makes it easier to talk to people, makes me feel like I know what’s happening to the world. I guess it gives me something interesting to bring up if the occasion rises. Even if that knowledge is maddening on occasion.

Back to the research, though, I found some text within the book I referenced in the previous entry. Surprisingly, “The Consistent Communion of Undeath” has a similar depiction of the scarab symbol. It, of course, goes into its use in the binding of ghosts, aiding in the transformation of the soul from its intended destination, to a more… fixed one.

This is an entirely different method than what the late Mr. Reed used if what I’ve heard about him is true. This method relies more on ritual and symbolism, less… music? With my luck, of course, there’s very little information on the beetle sketch itself. No listed history or references other than your all-too-common scarab symbol seen basically all over history and, unsurprisingly, throughout pop culture.

From my own personal research, undeath, manifesting ghosts, and especially controlling them is something of a chore. Needless to say, it’s not a perfect art, but an art that must be perfect to create the intended effect. With the addition of the right symbols, words, motions, that sort of thing, it’s more likely to happen.

The symbols themselves act as grounding points usually, supposedly to aid in the process, as with the scarab symbol it appears. Apparently it needs some activation though, as most symbols do that have some innate power. I’m not too keen to learn why it’s tattooed on me along with a text I cannot read. I get the suspicion that it’s not just decorative.

I can’t say I’m not a bit concerned about it showing up in a book about undeath. It might be worse to say that I’m curious about it. It’s become a personal interest, which might be more dangerous than if I were just researching something on the Library’s behalf. I can hardly seem to sleep with the note on my mind; there’s been a beetle buzzing in my dreams lately...

I would like to know who wrote it, and how it managed to find itself into Solomon Reed’s personal collection of forbidden knowledge. Perhaps after another coffee… or two.

This episode was written by horror writer Theo Dixon! You can find Theo at @EldriitchBones across the internet!

The Season One Epilogue story that goes with this episode is called 'Librarians', and is available on the Hello From The Hallowoods Patreon. Consider joining for access to all the show's bonus stories, behind-the-scenes and more!


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