I picked up my car which had been sitting in the parking garage since Saturday, and a half-hour later I was back in my dad's basement. I knew that wasn't the most prudent thing to do, especially since the old man had said the blob would be back, but I needed information.
Problem was, I didn't know how to go about getting information. After I cleaned up the reconstructed spider webs in the stairway with a broom, I spent a few minutes moving the desk back into place and tidying up. The old computer hadn't even become unplugged; it was still humming happily away on top of the desk. Say what you will about those old anemic, overpriced IBM desktops; they were built to last.
The computer had dragged the dot-matrix printer off the stand. The printer had landed badly, trashed, but single red light glowed in the depths of the wreckage like the eye of the Terminator, just to let you know it was still alive. I mercifully unplugged the old machine and the glowing eye faded to death. "Rest in pieces, faithful digital electronic output device", said I, holding the printer up by the cord. Then I ceremoniously dumped it into the trash can where it only half-fit.
Still puttering, I picked up the two by four, left lying by the book case when the monster dragged me across the floor. Half of it was still covered by dried spider webs. I took the broom and board out to hose them off but the spider webs didn't cooperate. After I had gotten my feet thoroughly wet and made no apparent impression on the webbing, I gave up and just left the broom and board standing against the house. I'd get back to them later. Or not.
Before I went back into the basement, I searched the house again for signs of sendings or specters or Limboids, or whatever you want to call those black-mercury monsters. I wasn't really relying on my eyes though; I was relying on the tattoo. It had warned me twice before.
Then I sat down in the basement at my dad's old desk, my feet now warmer with new, dry shoes, and read some more of his journal.
I've read that the Earth's core is made up of large quantities of heavy elements. The concentration of such elements would have to be greater than they are found anywhere else in the Solar System, but traditional science has no other way to account for the Earth's mass. However if my theory of dark matter is correct, then the extra mass would come from a dark-matter planet sharing the same space with ours.I skipped around a bit, looking for any reference to a third world, one that would correspond to the old man's Limbo, but there was nothing about it.
The geography of this second planet is remarkably close to the geography of Earth, indicating that there are forces shared between the two kinds of matter. However, these forces would have to be temporary and infrequent because physicists have discovered no hint of them. Or perhaps the forces are such that they can only have an effect over geological time scales. This is one of the many question that must be left to others to study.
I did find some detailed instructions on how to use the graviscope. It occurred to me that if this hoodoo guy was watching me, I should be watching him. Or it. Or whatever.
With this inspiration, I flipped on the graviscope's master power switch and the machine slowly warmed to life. Following the directions, I typed a command into the desktop computer
gscop /i /localMeaningless lines of symbols scrolled rapidly across the computer screen and another screen on the graviscope lit up with a fuzzy black and green CRT image. It was an image of the graviscope itself with me sitting at the desk.
I appeared as a faint green skeleton with a fainter outline of flesh. After a few moments of staring, I fancied that I could see my heart beating, a faint fluttering within the ghostly ribcage. The rest of the office was also bizarrely distorted, seen through the dimension of density rather than any optical dimension. The effect was something like a fuzzy green X-ray.
The computer joystick controlled movement along the x and y axes and there were separate dials for the z axis and for the three directions of rotation: yaw, pitch and roll. I carefully played with the controls to get a good look around the room but saw no sign of an invisible spy. Nor did I see anything when I examined the rest of the house.
The spy had last been seen at the tattoo shop, so I decided to try to find that spot. But the image grew more indistinct at distance and it was impossible to read anything like street signs. I quickly got lost and had to hit the button to reset to zero. After three long and tedious tries, I decided that I needed another plan of action, so I scanned the instructions for the program and found a way to enter coordinates manually.
I had topographical maps on my own computer, so I went upstairs, logged in, and opened my GIS program. In a few minutes, I had merged a topo map with a street map to find the latitude, longitude, and altitude of the shop. Then I went downstairs and, following the directions in Dad's journal, hit escape which brought up one of those old-fashioned dialog boxes with the borders of the box drawn using text characters. I entered the three numbers and hit Return.
The screen showed a room filled with sharp objects. That's the only way I can think to describe the way it looked. There were shelves of objects with sharp edges and corners and plane surfaces. Green skeletons with faint penumbral bodies wandered around among the shelves, occasionally picking up a sharp object to examine it. Suddenly, I realized that I was in the electronic store two shops down from the tattoo parlor. Pretty good accuracy.
After getting oriented to the front door I slowly, methodically, moved out the door and down the street to the tattoo parlor. As I went I was not paying much attention to the ghostly skeletons until I noticed one passing through another. Startled, I stopped to watch the skeletons for a while. It didn't take long for it to become obvious what my father had noted in his journal. There seemed to be two sets of skeletons, each ignoring the other and even passing through each other. It was a remarkable dance of spooks.
One set of skeletons was human. The other was distinctly not. And the inhuman skeletons were of several different types. Now that I was paying attention to the screen, it was surprising to me that Dad had not come to the two-worlds theory even sooner. It seemed obvious.
Inside the tattoo shop, I found two ghostly skeletons --one human and one inhuman. Ah hah! The inhuman skeleton must be the hoodoo that the old man saw. But as I watched, it became clear that the inhuman skeleton was interacting with the human skeleton. They were in the same world. But which world were they in?
Of course --the tattoo chair would exist only in my world, the world of bright matter. The human was clearly lying in the tattoo chair while the inhuman skeleton did something to him with a sharp object. A surge of fear gripped me. Had the hoodoo found a way to cross over? Was he torturing the old man to find out where I was?
But then I realized that I had gotten it wrong. The human wasn't being tortured. The human was lying quietly in the chair. And the inhuman skeleton was giving him a tattoo.