let me invite you to close the curtains on the snow swirling outside. Draw closer to the fire and settle back with a glass of something to fortify the nerves.
I was chatting the other day to my old chum Harry Pearson, you remember he did a lot of research on the origins of Wargaming when he was writing up his Magnum Opus 'Achtung Schweinhund'. One of the fascinating aspects was the close association that developed back between the wars between wargaming and the study of the occult. Harry records how the great beast master Alistair Crowley and Dennis Wheatley, author of the Devil Rides Out were both keen wargamers.
However Harry is a little vague on what role, if any, the wargame played in Black Magic Rituals. Was a unit's reaction, for example, decided by counting factors or reading the entrails of a Black Cock . I decided an outright question was the best approach but all Harry did was turn pale and mutter something about not meddling in affairs best left alone before hastily leaving.
However I could not just leave it and I believe I have discovered evidence that the wargame may have had a more central and sinister place in the occult practices.
Look at the picture above. Published in John Garratts Model Soldiers 1959 it purports to show a wargame in progress. But does it ? Look at the central figure chanting from a book, the two identically posed acolytes surely those grins denote a state of drugged frenzy. And what do you make of the background? Why are they playing in front of a giant and rather ragged paper screen? What horrors do they wish to conceal.
"Oh enough," you scoff, "This is merely fanciful stuff".
So be it, but, look again gentle reader and tell me who is casting the fourth shadow?
Consider, the light is falling from the left and casting a shadow to the right of the figures. Three shadows are clear but who does the central one belong to? He cannot be out of picture since the shadow of the left hand gamer (or should I say worshipper) falls OVER his shadow. He could be behind the paper but look at the top of the wall no gap is apparent and if a door was behind we would see the outline of that as well.
No only one answer fits the facts a fourth gamer is about to materialise in the middle of the group. I would go as far as to be certain that the Prince of Darkness is about to appear to his followers.
In fact,.. Just a moment I can hear a scratching at the window, I must go and make it secure, I will be right back...................