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The Lurker at the Threshold

The Lovecraft Mysteries Book 3

Brandon Berntson

Copyright 2021 by Brandon Berntson

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be copied or sold.

Cover art by www.derangeddoctordesings.com

This is a work of fiction.  Any reference to historical events, real people, or real places are used fictitiously.  Other names, places, characters, and events are products of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events, places or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

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Chapter 1

“Dev, what is that?”

“What do you think, Mill?  I got it at Rhode Island Books.  That bookshop on a hundred and twelfth and Lincoln.  I think they just opened up.”

“You went to Rhode Island for a book?”

“No.  It was right here in the city.”

“Why would a bookstore in Innsport be called Rhode Island Books?  Shouldn’t it be in Rhode Island?”

“Mill, you’re missing the point.  Look how old this thing is.  It’s ancient.”

“But you don’t read,” Millie said.

Macky looked up.  “Ha ha.  I get it.  You’re making a joke.  It’s a good joke, Mill.  I just don’t find it all that funny.”

“You’re laughing on the inside.  You just don’t know it.”  Millie stepped over to the desk, reached out, and—upon looking more closely at the volume—pulled her hand back.  She frowned.   “Dev, that thing looks creepy.”

“I thought you would like it.  That’s why I bought it.”

“You thought I would like it?” she said, raising her eyebrows.  “What on earth makes you think I would like a vile thing like that?  It looks horrid.”

“It’s an ancient tome, Mill.  You’re sapping the joy right out of this moment, you know that?  I thought you’d like it because it’s so rare.  I got it for a really good price.  The guy practically gave it to me.  He said something about the cost of my soul, but who takes these things seriously?”

Millie Von Clydesburgh raised her eyebrows.  Her red hair was done up in a vintage Victoria roll.  She was wearing white, high-waisted sailor pants, a dark green, long-sleeved blouse, and patchwork, low-cut, high heels with bowties.

The book was sitting on the desk, and she was right.  It was grisly in its charming, antediluvian way, but she didn’t like it.  It was made of imitation red leather, or she thought.  It had large black metal clasps.  The pages were brittle, some falling out, torn, even burned.  The longer she looked at it, the more disturbed she became.

“Good Lord, Dev!  That thing looks like it belongs to an evil sorcerer.”

“Mill, you’re overreacting. Something you do quite well, I might add.”

“Excuse me?”

“Nothing.  Look.  Do you want to take a look at this thing or not?  I thought we could make a drink and read from it.  I thought you’d get a kick out of it.”

“Well, I don’t. That thing looks like it’s made from the skin of a dead animal.  Or maybe a dead human.  Who sold it to you anyway?”

“A creepy, evil sorcerer.”

“From Rhode Island Books?”


“And how much did you pay for it?”

“I told you, my soul.”

“Dev, can you be serious for two seconds?”

“I don’t like to haggle finances with employees.”

“Fine.  I’m not sure I want to know anyway.”

They were in the office at 179th and Lexington.  Devlin Macky, Private Investigator, was stenciled on the frosted glass door.  The desk the book was sitting on was an Executive made of Poplar and Ash but stained a pretty walnut.  The Queen Anne vinyl chair was dark red.  Millie had been dusting, making the office look nice, watering the plants as the bright, open windows overlooked Innsport on a cool, October day at 2:17 p.m. on Tuesday the 21st.  The Vectra 2 radio on the stand was playing Duke Ellington.

Millie looked at the book for a couple of seconds and frowned.  The place seemed to darken with its presence.

“I thought we could read some,” Macky said.  “Maybe cast some ancient spell.  Put on some soft music.  I mean, if that doesn’t sound like fun, you’re looking in the wrong place.”

“You take too long to sound out the words.”

“Another bulls-eye, Mill.”

“I don’t want to read that thing, Dev.  I’m going home to play with Mr. Kalabraise.”

Macky frowned.

“My cocker spaniel.”

“Oh, yes!  I forgot.  The female cocker spaniel with a male name.  I’m sure she appreciated that.”

“She doesn’t mind,” Millie said and paused for a second.  “Dev?”

“Yeah?” he said, opening the cover of the book.

“What’s it supposed to be exactly?”

He shrugged.  “Something about the black earth.  I can’t remember exactly what the guy told me.  I was in a sort of fog.”

“What kind of fog?”

“The kind that—”

“—comes in a bottle,” Millie said.  “Yeah.  I know.  Is that all the man said?”

Macky was still looking at the book.  “Uh, something about portals.  Gates.  Doorways.  Things like that.  It’s supposed to be magic.”

Millie let out a long sigh.  “Dev, haven’t you learned anything in the time we’ve been together?”

“In what context?”

“Describe the guy who sold it to you.”

“Well, oh my gosh,” Dev said, mockingly.  He raised his voice to sound like a high school girl. “He was soooo cute, Millie.  You should’ve seen him—”

“That’s enough, Dev.”

“Come on, Mill.  I’m just trying to have a little fun.”

“What did you say it as called again?”

“The Necro-something-philiac-o-con-o-micon.  Or something.  I can’t remember.”

“You bought a copy of The Necronomicon?”

“You’ve heard of it?  See, I knew it was a good idea buying this thing.”

“Tell me you’re joking, Dev.  Tell me that’s not what it is.”

“No, I think you nailed it.  That’s the name.  The Necrono-mancipation-ocon . . . icon.  Did I get it right?”

Millie put a hand to her head and let out a sigh.  “It’s

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