Antoinette Sturm, Edit
31, anthropologist of violent cults in war torn countries; 5'3”, slim. She is smartly dressed, elegant, and very attractive. She has auburn hair, light brown eyes, and talks with a slight Bryn Mawr accent (like Katherine Hepburn). She is full of witty anecdotes and has an infectious laugh.
She has written two well-respected and decently selling books: Gold Fire in the Jungle: The Cult of the Yellow King in the Philippines, about the magical beliefs, desperation, and fortitude of the Philippians fighting against the United States' occupation, and Masks in the Dark Green: Hidden Cults of Africa which followed the twisted beliefs of the subjugated and exploited people of several different African tribes. She was a part of the infamous and tragically ill-fated Mussey-Radiskolv expedition that largely perished in the Congo, and is a well known activist against the atrocities in the Congo by King Leopold of Belgium.
From an internal report in the United States Secret Service Edit
Born in France to Marguerite Queneau, an actress, and Jaroslav Philomena, an Austrian writer from a disfavored branch of the Austrian Hapsburgs, Mrs. Sturm spent most of her life traveling around the world with her mobile parents. Prior to Mr. Philomena, Mrs. Queneau was married to Johnathan Bowman, an American who died two years after the marriage, but who left her a son, Gaston Bowman. Because of her origins, Mrs. Sturm has citizenship in Austria, France, and the United States.
She is famed for her gift with languages and is known for her inordinate curiosity. She studied classic Greek and Latin literature at the Sorbonne; chemistry at Oxford; and spent a year working with Carl Jung in Zurich. After Oxford, and before Zurich and Jung, she married Henning Sturm, a stage magician [who knew Beatrice's friend, Fred Nadel]. After two years together, he died in a car accident, which reputedly sent Mrs. Sturm into a deep depression. After leaving Zurich and Jung, she returned to Oxford to study paranormal activity. It is said that she hoped to contact Mr. Sturm.
She is a known skeptic, and the more she investigated, the more skeptical she became. But while researching cults around the world, she found paranormal activity in the Philippines. She wrote a book about her anthropological investigations which also focused on the Philippine war against the United States. The book was called Gold Fire in the Jungle: The Cult of the Yellow King in the Philippines, and it was a surprise success.
A year later, she signed on to the ill-fated Mussey-Radiskolv expedition to King Leopold's Congo, which ended famously and tragically. Afterwards, she claimed she was writing a book about her experience called My Confession: The Tragic Tale of Mussey-Radiskolv, but it never materialized, and instead she became a well-known activist against the genocide in the Congo, and made an enemy of the King of Belgium.
Last year, she published Masks in the Dark Green: Hidden Cults of Africa, but it said little about the Mussey-Radiskolv expedition that wasn't already said before. Shortly after, she was approached by the Paranormal Bureau of London. She is supposedly willing to work with us.
Antoinette Sturm on the Mussey-Radiskolv expedition Edit
It was awful, just awful. The things I saw... just... just... unspeakable. King Leopold is a monster; an utter monster. The depravity... There were children who had their hands chopped off, just, just to make sure that their parents would collect enough rubber for Leopold's repugnant “business.” It was weeks of that... We went in without his consent, without the consent of our government, but thankfully with Oxford's consent and full backing. But all that... there was more horror to come. We met a former chieftain, Kimbareta, now just a slave like all the others. He was dealing in black arts... black magic. Or so he said. He was a fascinating man; slightly insane, but we were all insane. Insane was the air you breathed – that's a fetid truth, but a truth. One night Kimba said he would rid the Congo of the whites, but we would be spared. Curiosity, as usual, took hold of me and I convinced the others to stay. So we did. And we waited and watched as night fell – which was still beautiful, despite the horrors, despite the handless and sometimes footless children and men and women wandering or hobbling around. All the able bodied men were gone – all slaves – and we were surrounded by the refuse; the discarded people that now meant nothing to the Dutch and Leopold.
Well, Kimba slaughters a gorilla – a big monstrous thing – and then Kimba intones and the others, they started chanting and dancing (well, the ones who could dance, which wasn't many) and suddenly you could just feel it... just feel a change. I felt all the little hairs on the back of my neck stand up and my stomach drop and everything tighten.
And it went quiet. … Dear god. … I still... I still can hear the quiet. You don't realize how loud it is out there... you just get used to it. It's omnipresent noise and it's loud – the animals, the insects, the wind. And it all stopped. WE all stopped. The intoning. The dancing. It was so quiet. I get... I get... I still get scared. I'm sorry. I'm crying. And shaking. It always happens when I… No... No, it's ok. … So... um... so it was so... quiet that my heartbeat sounded like a drum. A resonant drum that you could hear clear in Australia. And I could hear my blood moving. And then a buzz. As if I could hear my brain working. Then I heard the others. The hearts and bodies of the others. Faint at first but then louder and louder.
I really don't know what happened next. There was a high pitched... um... twittering, I guess. Like an inaudible cackle that you felt instead of heard. I just shut down. I looked over at Dominique and I knew to run. Just run. But before I could get going I saw it appear over the fire. I knew then that Kimba was wrong; that he could never control what he brought into the world. I saw something... Angles. No, not angels. Dear lord... definitely not. No.. angles. Like in geometry. A gaping maw, or part of one. Perhaps a side of a toad's face? An elbow of a giant naked pustulant rat? Glimpses. Only glimpses but it was horrible, horrible; and then I was running. Just running with the horror – as bad as all the chopped hands condensed into a purity of the evil eating the Congo alive. I heard screams and felt my back go warm and wet as a fine spray of red enveloped me. I knew damn well what it was. The screams were mercifully short. Only Dominique and I made it out. No one else survived. That whole trip, that whole trip, we lost our friends over and over, one by one, until there was only eight, and then that... and there was four – Dominique and I and the two who stayed behind.
I didn't write about it, of course. And Dominique... Dominique took her life last year. I never talked to Ivan again. I felt guilty. I couldn't face him. I stayed friendly with John Thomas, but even that couldn't last. There's too much pain and they weren't there. They didn't see.