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Statement of Second Lieutenant Charles Fleming, regarding his experiences during the Taiping Rebellion.

Pre-Statement[]

Jonathan Sims visits the Pu Songling Research Centre in Beijing, as Gertrude Robinson had gone there in 2014 before her trip to New Zealand. He speaks with the head librarian there, Zhang Xiaoling, and does not seem to notice when she occasionally switches into Mandarin. She gives John a statement that she believes is the one Gertrude was looking at, as it is the only one written in English from the period of the Taiping Rebellion.

Statement[]

Second Lieutenant Charles Fleming served on the East India Company ship Nemesis during the First Opium War. The captain and crew committed many atrocities against the Chinese during that time, including drowning prisoners out of pure cruelty. Fleming notes that he began to see the faces of the dead following him in his reflection, and hear them singing at night when he tried to sleep.

The Nemesis eventually sank into the Canton River, and Fleming was the only survivor. When he escaped the ship, he saw it sink into dark water far deeper than the river should have been, and the water was full of corpses.

Fleming remained in China instead of trying to return to England, and became an opium addict. When the Taiping Rebellion began, he was trapped in Anqing and resorted to eating human flesh to survive the siege. He was eventually able to escape by dint of his British uniform, while the rest of the city's population was put to death by the conquering army.

Fleming resorted to wandering China, which was by then devastated by the Taiping Rebellion. He felt the ghosts of all those he had ever killed following him. At one point, he was captured by some thieves who hoped to ransom a foreign officer. Before the thieves could agree on which side would pay the better ransom, the ghosts tore them to pieces, but left Fleming alive.

During his travels, he passed Hangzhou, where the entire population had flung themselves into a lake rather than wait to be executed by the occupying army. Fleming claims he was able to walk three hundred yards from the shore on the backs of the tightly-packed bodies.

Eventually, Fleming found a shrine where the names of the ghosts who followed him were engraved on the walls. He stopped to write out his statement, and left it there, hoping that when he left the shrine the ghosts would finally kill him.

Post-Statement[]

John is shaken by the brutality of the statement, and hopes out loud that the most horrifying elements were just supernatural hallucinations. Still, Fleming's account does not seem related to The Stranger or The Circus, and he almost gives up the Pu Songling Research Centre as a dead end before he notices that Xiaoling has given him the wrong file.

Upon checking the records again, Xiaoling confirms that Gertrude had read Fleming's statement in 2004. The two files Gertrude accessed in 2014 had been forwarded to an American address and never returned to Beijing. She gives John the address, and he thanks her profusely.

Notes[]

In the real world, the Nemesis survived the Opium Wars and was ultimately sold for scrap in Kolkata in 1855.

Continuity[]

  • John first understood a language he had not learned in MAG 102, where he read a statement written in French.
ATTENTION! SPOILERS AHEAD!!
This section contains information from later episodes of The Magnus Archives and may contain major spoilers for the setting and plot. Continue at your own risk.


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