The Books of Shallice

The Secret Worshipers


Andrew Norman

This story takes place in the Lovecraft mythos and has violent imagery.


Friday, May 15, 2015

My name is James Perkins. Around three months ago, I received a visitor in my office at Miskatonic University, a man that introduced himself as Walter. The specifics of that story are for another time, but, within a week, I realized that I was now part of a war. I was on Walter’s side, and, working at MU, I was his inside man.

A week ago yesterday, I received a handwritten note from Walter. My cell phone, being provided by MU, was not safe to use in our communications.

James, I have something for you to see. This will give you an idea of what we’re up against. I understand that the semester has ended and that after next week you will be able to spend a good deal of time away from the university. The timing is perfect, because you’ll have a rare opportunity to see this event.
As soon as you’re able to, next Friday, go straight from the university down Seventh Street, towards the train tracks. Once you leave Arkham city limits, Seventh becomes Arkham Road, and a few miles from there, Arkham Road seems to approach a T. It’s actually a two-way stop, and there’s an overgrown dirt road on the other side. It’s easy to miss, but it’s still Arkham Road.
The dirt road leads straight into a very small town called Ettakhen. (The town won’t be on any map.) There is a bed-and-breakfast there called “Ettakhen Inn” that you can stay at. Stay there at least through the weekend. You’ll know when it’s time to go because there will be nothing left for you to do.
Observe the town as much as you can. The structure of the town itself is unusual, but focus primarily upon the people. Talk to them, ask them about their lives, and watch them carefully. Take notes, and don’t let them know why you’re really there.
The town is small, but not entirely unknown. I’m including a clipping from The Daily Arkham. This is the news story that brought the town to my attention.
One last thing– No matter what happens, you’re not in danger. The people around you, however, are. Do what you can to help, if possible.

The news story that was clipped to the note was from the only newspaper that I knew to have no online edition. It was only a small blurb.

Disappearances from Ettakhen
A number of people, mostly preteens and young teenagers, have begun to disappear from the town of Ettakhen, a small suburb of Arkham. Officials are investigating the matter, but tell The Daily Arkham that the missing persons are likely runaways.
“Depression is rampant in Ettakhen’s schools,” said one parent, Sylvia Marten. “It doesn’t surprise me that so many of our young people and even a few of our adults are leaving their lives here. I imagine that many of them may be in Arkham right now, and just didn’t care enough about their families to tell them.”
The facts seem to corroborate the runaway theory, as the sleepy town has had no signs of foul play and no suspicious characters have been reported.

Today is the day that Walter told me to leave for Ettakhen. I’m typing this on my laptop in my B&B room right now. I had a bag ready in my car so that I could leave at three o’clock, and I have a prepaid cellphone so that I can keep my work phone off to prevent MU from knowing where I am.

Shortly before I crossed the train tracks, I saw Walter wearing a suit and tie, sitting on a bench on the side of the road. He nodded silently at me with an approving smile on his face. I nodded back. It was his way of seeing me off without risking the MU faculty learning that there was any connection between the two of us.

I came to a T on Arkham Road just as Walter had written. I might have missed the overgrown road had I not been looking for it, but I did notice a stop sign facing opposite myself. I crossed the perpendicular road and continued until I reached this town, which seems more like a neighborhood with a small grocer than an actual town. I saw a few make-do business signs in front of houses, which brings me to imagine that many of the businesses are run out of the owners’ homes. Even this bed-and-breakfast is not much more than a two-story house with the sign "Ettakhen Inn" out front.

This entry is the first of the notes that Walter asked me to take. So far, I’ve only found the B&B and checked in, but in that short amount of time there are still some observations that I want to make.

1.) These buildings are very old, but I’ve never seen architecture quite like this. The floorplans seem to be odd, as not one building would fit on a rectangular foundation, or even a foundation in which any of the corners were right angles. Many of the houses seem to have small spires, domes, or flying buttresses, none of which are shaped in a way that I would think of as "right." As I walked up to the Inn, I became briefly dizzy by looking at it. Even my room has a vaulted ceiling, which curves somewhat irregularly across the length of the room.

Every structure seems to be carefully designed to be slightly unsettling, and the fact that these buildings are still standing in spite of the seemingly unstable design must be the result of a brilliant architect. These old buildings are still solid.

2.) I would never have looked at a town like this and thought that depression is rampant. Aside from the architecture, it seems like a stereotypical, picturesque small town. The people are extraordinarily friendly. As I was driving in, many people smiled at me, and the people at the front desk of the Inn were very friendly, as well. They do not seem to be depressed, but there are still obvious signs that they are disturbed, as I will discuss in a moment.

3.) I feel lucky to have electricity in my room. This B&B doesn’t have Wifi, and I have no cell phone reception. Aside from the land-line phone in my room, I have no connection to any world outside of Ettakhen. (That I know of.)

4.) The agents investigating the disappearances are still here. Men in black suits with dark sunglasses are walking around the town. I saw one standing in the waiting area in the B&B when I came in, and, looking out my window, I can see one walking down the street right now. I don’t know how many there are; I’ve only seen the two so far. I’m making the assumption that they’re the government agents because they stick out like a sore thumb and don’t appear to be native to the town at all.

That being said, I don’t know why this investigation isn’t being handled by local authorities.

5.) There was a painting in the front room of the B&B that caught my attention. It seemed blurry and not quite real, as if it were an impressionistic painting. The picture was of a person, or a person-like thing, in a bedroom. He was either screaming in pain or frozen in fear, but it was difficult to tell which. He was lying on his bed and clutching the sheets, with a dark liquid covering his entire body, seeming to originate from his mouth and eyes, and dripping onto the floor. There was no artist’s signature that I could see.

The moment I stepped into my room, I had to remember Walter’s final words in his letter to reassure myself. I can’t imagine what would bring the owners of this B&B to put that painting of this room in the front.

6.) I opened the desk drawer, in the desk that I’m sitting at right now, expecting to possibly find a copy of a Gideon Bible. Instead, I found a black leather-bound copy of Olaus Wormius’ Latin translation of the Necronomicon.

Whatever is in this town is doing very little to conceal itself from me. That is very comforting. I would be in the most danger if it tried to lure me into a false sense of security. Instead, I think that it is attempting to intimidate me so that I will leave town. That means that it sees me as a threat rather than as prey. I am actually safer here than I was just a few hours ago, when I was still on MU’s campus.

It’s a little past 6:30 p.m. as I type this, so I’m going to save the file and go out to the town to find some place to eat. I’m fairly certain that I could get anywhere in this town just from walking. When I come back, I’ll read some of Lovecraft’s The Outsider and Others, which Walter gave me at the conclusion of one of our earlier meetings, then I’ll go to bed.

I’ll start exploring the town and meeting the people tomorrow. Even though I have no cell reception on my phone, I do have an mp3 recorder that I’m going to use to record conversations. I don’t want to depend strictly on memory when I type up the conversations.

Friday, May 15, 2015

This is the same night as my previous entry. It is currently almost 10:30 at night.

The first peculiar thing about this evening has been noticing the men in black suits. I noticed two before, and I think there are at least five now. I thought before that they were government agents of some kind, but they seem to be doing nothing to investigate the disappearances. They seem to linger around the town and watch people.

The strange painting that I saw in Ettakhen Inn’s front room is not unique to the B&B. I assume that it’s a local artist, because I saw a very similar painting in the restaurant. This painting was of a man sitting on a couch, staring at the viewer. The man’s head was heavily deformed, but I was unable to tell if that was the intention of the artist or if it was merely due to the almost impressionistic style of the painting. He was very pale, seemingly because of fear rather than complexion, and there was a dark liquid coming out of his eyes and mouth. Looking at it closely, I could tell now that it was a very dark green. There was no background in the picture; it was simply this man sitting on the couch.

Also notable are the roads. They’re oddly shaped, like everything else in this town, and seem to go in arbitrary directions. There’s not a perpendicular intersection or a straight road anywhere that I’ve seen so far. After some wandering, while looking for a restaurant, I noticed something very familiar about one particular intersection.

I thought about it while eating, and finally realized why it seemed so familiar: I’m sure, now, that it was intended to recreate the horrible angles that I saw in R’lyeh. It’s not possible, of course, for any human to even imagine the architecture of that city, much less recreate it, but that is nonetheless clearly what the intention was. I almost vomited while eating when I remembered those angles.

Now that I’ve gotten those things out of the way, though, I want to talk about the discussion that I had with one of the local women, the waitress at the restaurant, Sylvia Marten, who had been quoted in The Daily Arkham. After the meal, I started the mp3 recorder on my phone (discreetly) and struck up a conversation. I’ll go ahead and transcribe the recording.

SYLVIA: Anything else I can get for you?

ME: Yes, if you don’t mind, I was wondering about this town. Do you know much about it?

SYLVIA: Well, some. I’ve lived here all my life.

ME: Do you think you could spare some time?

SYLVIA: We don’t have any other customers this late, so, sure, I guess.

ME: Thanks. I’m from Arkham, and I saw a story in the paper about Ettakhen.

SYLVIA: Yes, the disappearances. My husband and daughter both have gone.

ME: Do you have any idea where they’ve gone?

SYLVIA: To Arkham, I assume? I don’t know how my daughter would have gotten there, though. She was only eight, and she didn’t leave at the same time as her father.

ME: I’m sorry. When did these happen?

SYLVIA: Joe left about a month ago. Rebbecca left last night.

At this point in the recording, there’s a gap. I remember thinking about how strange it was that she was telling me this so matter-of-factly, and her daughter had disappeared just the night before. What’s more, she was working instead of looking for her.

ME: Do you… Do you know anything at all about… about what happened when they left?

SYLVIA: Not really. I’ve been having occasional… I guess you could call them blackouts. Like, last night, I was watching Rebbecca in the playground just over there–

She pointed to a playground out the window.

SYLVIA: And I suddenly felt confused and dizzy, and a little nauseous, and I passed out. When I woke up, Rebbecca was gone.

ME: What did you do then?

SYLVIA: I reported it to the sheriff and went home.

There’s another pause here in the recording. With the expressionless look on her face, she seemed to feel no emotion while telling me that her daughter had disappeared the night before. I imagine that I probably looked stunned, but she didn’t seem to recognize my reaction, either.

ME: And what about your husband’s disappearance? Do you remember anything about that?

SYLVIA: It was pretty similar. We were in the living room. Rebbecca was asleep in her room. We were sitting on the couch when I heard the front door open. I remember looking towards the door, and that’s when I felt sick again and passed out. When I woke up, he was gone.

ME: And, I guess you reported that to the Sheriff, too?

SYLVIA: Around one that night, yes. I wasn’t sure at first if he had disappeared or was just gone for the night.

Another pause. I remember, at this point, thinking about how Walter told me that Cthulhu uses dreams to interact with his worshipers.

ME: Do you remember any weird dreams that you’ve had lately? Especially any dreams that may have happened during one of your blackouts?

SYLVIA: Yes, actually, I have had a lot of strange dreams. They always involve something that’s… difficult to describe. I mean, you know how dreams can be. But they always have a man, or sort of a man. Wearing a suit. Really, really tall, and really thin. He didn’t move the same way that we do, though. Like, he still had joints, elbows and knees, but it also seemed like his bones would bend and stretch. And his suit seemed like it was part of him, and it would move with him. He could stretch out his arms, legs, and his torso and get taller if he needed to.

ME: Do you remember anything that he did in these dreams?

SYLVIA: Not really. I remember being really afraid of him, but knowing that I had to trust him.

ME: Why?

SYLVIA: I don’t know. Like I said, you know how dreams are. Oh, and his face was weird. He didn’t really have one. I mean, he must have had a face, but I couldn’t really see it.

ME: Like it was a blur?

SYLVIA: Not quite a blur; more like, there was always a blind spot in my eyes wherever his face was.

Here, there’s another pause in the recording.

ME: Do you have anything else that sticks out in your memory about these disappearances?

SYLVIA: Mmm. Not off the top of my head. But if you have any particular questions, I’d be glad to answer them.

ME: Sure, thanks. And did you ever get those blackouts checked out?

SYLVIA: Oh, yeah, it’s actually nothing to worry about. Just a family thing. My dad has them, too.

ME: Well, blackouts like that aren’t ever really "nothing to worry about." I think– I mean, I hope you don’t mind my saying so, but I think you should try to do something about it.

SYLVIA: Okay. Thanks, I guess.

At this point in the conversation, I settled the check.

Then I looked out the window. I felt confused, dizzy, and nauseous, and I passed out. I remember having the same dream that Sylvia described to me just moments earlier. I saw the tall, thin man. I saw the way that he moved. I couldn’t see his face.

The mp3 recorder on my phone was still running, though, and it recorded something when I was unconscious. It’s very quiet, and I have to turn up the volume on my headphones to hear it. Mostly, it’s nonsense, as thousands of independent sounds creating indecipherable chaos. But there is one particular voice that I can hear clearly. It’s a voice made by non-human vocal chords, and it says, "Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn. Sp’kl sut rint ahf lukksurmegger."

When I woke up, I was on the floor of the restaurant. Nobody had seemed to notice that I had blacked out. I looked around and saw two other people picking themselves up off the floor, and everyone else acting as if nothing had happened.

I was fairly certain that I was all right. I remembered again Walter’s words, that I am not in danger. I’m not sure why they comforted me so much, though. It seems like after passing out in the restaurant and seeing that thing, I should be afraid no matter what he had told me.

I’m typing this in my hotel room right now, of course. Since I am apparently as susceptible to blackouts as Sylvia, I am going to set up a webcam to record on my laptop, and point it out the window of my room. I’ll set a program that automatically starts recording if it detects movement.

I don’t know what that thing that I saw was, though. It certainly wasn’t anything that I saw in R’lyeh.

I just noticed that one of those paintings by the local artist is in my room here at the inn, above my bed. I’m fairly certain that it wasn’t here when I checked in. It must have been put in while I was at dinner. In its usual unsettling style, it’s a picture of a girl on a swing set, deformed as the man on the couch was, with a dark green liquid coming out of her eyes and mouth.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

It’s almost 8:00 a.m. right now, and I want to record what has happened so far this morning.

When I woke up, the first thing I did was look at my laptop to see if the webcam had captured any footage. Each time the camera detected motion, it recorded movement, and there was, altogether, about 50 minutes of footage overnight. The camera was facing down a curved road that stopped abruptly at the end of town, and the road could be seen clearly in the streetlight.

Most of the footage was of no importance: Dogs and cats running in the street, someone walking home at around midnight, and the like. There was, though, one event that was captured with timestamp 3:17 a.m. I could see, in the lower left corner of the screen, one of the men in black suits walking down the road, towards the upper-middle of the screen, and he was being followed by some of the locals with flashlights. He had no flashlight himself. As he passed through the town, people came out of their houses and joined the crowd to follow him down the road. What’s really unusual, though, is that other men in black would come out from between houses, and merge with him. Every time they merged, the newly-unified entity would be taller and thinner, and his movements would become more unnatural and clearly inhuman.

It wasn’t until nine of the eventually eleven men in black had merged to become this Creature that I realized that it was one and the same as the entity that I had seen when I had blacked out in the restaurant last night. There was no chanting in this recording, though. All I could hear in the recording was the birds flying away from the Creature as he advanced toward the forest at the end of the curved road.

Everyone’s back was turned towards the camera, so I couldn’t see anyone’s face. Most notably, I couldn’t see the Creature’s face. I saw the Creature and the people walking down the irregularly curved road, and out of the town, and into the surrounding forest.

When the motion stopped, the camera had stopped recording automatically. The next automated recording had the timestamp 3:51 a.m. There was a flickering light coming out of the forest that was a sickeningly dark green color. In the final recording, with timestamp 4:36 a.m, the locals came out of the forest and went back to their homes. The men in black were nowhere to be seen, either individually or united as the Creature.

That was the last of the notable recordings. From the rest of the night until I woke up at 7 was just the usual dogs and cats, and one instance in which a lizard had apparently climbed up the outer wall of the inn and sat on my windowsill for some time, blocking the camera’s view of the street.

I haven’t yet gone downstairs for breakfast, but, instead, I tried to do some research on the phrase that had been pounded into my mind last night during the blackout. Without an internet connection or a library, this is obviously pretty difficult. The first sentence I know from Lovecraft, "In his house at R’lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming." The second sentence, though, "Sp’kl sut rint ahf lukksurmegger," is not in The Outsider and Others in any place that I could find. Since I’ve never seen it written, I doubt that I’m spelling it correctly, which makes things difficult.

I flipped through Wormius’ Necronomicon, the copy that was in my room, but this is not an interlinear with an English translation and it has no commentary, so it isn’t terribly helpful to me. It is frustrating to finally have a copy of the Necronomicon within my grasp, and have no way to understand it.

The reader may not be aware of the historic purging of the book in the 1970s. After a recently-printed Arabic copy of the Necronomicon with hand-written German annotations in the margin was discovered among Adolf Hitler’s personal belongings, many religious leaders (including Popes Paul VI, John Paul I, and John Paul II, the hermitic Rabbi J’Fla, Ayatollah Khomeini, and Anton LaVey, among others) called for the book to be burned everywhere that it could be found. Something in those annotations, something that Walter does not know, caused a newfound and intense fear of the book.

These religious leaders never expressed this call through any news media, but, nevertheless, they were very successful in quietly wiping its existence from the planet and from history, save for a few literary references as well as some obvious hoaxes that were published to perpetuate the myth that it never really existed. Even Miskatonic University, which had been relatively peaceful during the riots of the 60s, was forced to join the purge in 1978 by burning entire sections of their library to avoid a violent riot on their campus.

In spite of all this, you will never find a newspaper from that time or a history book today that even mentions the purge, and very rarely will you find anyone that has ever heard of the book beyond Lovecraft’s fictionalized history. For most people, it seems to have never existed. Until Walter first approached me, I thought it was a myth, just as I also thought that Cthulhu was a myth.

Because of the purge, finding a copy of the medieval text today is nearly impossible. Walter tells me that you could count the number of known Latin copies in the world on one hand, and there are likely no extant manuscripts in the original Arabic, except possibly within inaccessible Leng.

And yet, here is a dusty, leather-bound copy, in my hands, in this villa called "Ettakhen Inn," cut off from the world and safe from the purge. I can do nothing with it. I can’t read a word other than "et" and a handful of other vaguely familiar Latin words. I see the word "Necronomicon" on the title page in a serif typeface, then the name "Abdul Alhazred" at the bottom of the page. On the same page, I see what I believe is the year that it was printed, 1917. I see a hideous symbol embroidered on the front leather cover, which I think has some relation to Nyarlathotep. I see that the cover on both the front and back is bordered by some unfamiliar and unsettling decorative flora that I can only imagine must be native to Yuggoth. What I cannot see, in this book that is supposedly so dangerous that it must be erased from the world’s memory, is any information that would be meaningful to me in any way. It is an extremely frustrating situation.

I believe I am done writing my entry for this morning. I will go down to breakfast now and will write another entry later.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

It’s 6:00 p.m. right now. I spent most of the day exploring the town. Area-wise, there’s not a whole lot to explore, but I did talk to several people. Most of the conversations simply mirrored the conversations that I had with Sylvia Marten. Everyone had the same disinterested attitude towards the disappearances. Everyone had had a recent history of blackouts. Everyone had seen the tall, thin man in their dreams and couldn’t see its face.

Furthermore, nobody would admit to going into the forest at 3 in the morning last night, and nobody would admit to having any idea of who would or why they would. Nobody had had any contact with the men in black walking around town.

I screwed up enough courage to try to talk to the men in black myself. They would simply ignore me. I can’t help but assume that I’m not nearly important enough for them to consider talking to me.

After I finally got used to the town’s architecture that I saw everywhere and it no longer made me dizzy, I noticed that the pets seem to act odd. Not vicious by any means, though.

One example that’s worth mentioning is when I saw a dog in someone’s front yard. It was barking, which is why it caught my attention. There was a lizard nearby that the dog hadn’t noticed yet, and when he did, the dog suddenly stopped barking. He didn’t seem especially interested in the lizard. He didn’t try to investigate the lizard. He just simply stopped barking. I’d never seen a dog act like that. I would have expected the dog to start barking more because of the lizard.

In another instance, I saw a cat stalking a small spider in the street. The cat came very close to pouncing on it, and the spider turned towards the cat. The cat then lost interest, relaxed from his stalking position, and then just walked away.

Cats and dogs seem to behave like that often here. Not in terribly shocking ways or even unheard of ways, just in ways that I wouldn’t expect.

Apart from the mostly fruitless conversations, there was one very important incident.

I had a late lunch at the same restaurant in which I had dinner last night. (It’s the only restaurant in town aside from the one in this B&B that only serves breakfast.) As I was finishing up, a man came in and said to the girl behind the front desk, "Hey, Melissa, can I use your phone? I need to call the sheriff."

"Sure, Jack. Here it is."

I listened to the conversation.

"Hey, Thomas, it’s Jack. I was in that little playground with Audrey and my son Robbie, and I had one of my blackouts. When I woke up, I couldn’t find Audrey or Robbie. Yeah, I just wanted to let you know so that you could file it. Thanks."

He handed the phone back to the girl behind the desk, said, "Thanks," and walked out. There was no sign of panic or any concern at all.

I remembered, though, that the playground was within the range of my webcam. The entire thing must have been recorded. So, I came up here to look at the recording.

I saw a couple standing in the small playground watching their son, probably about six years old, on a swing. Then, the tall, thin man, the Creature, came into the playground from around a corner. Its face should be visible to the camera, but the image was scrambled wherever its face was. The audio was also silent when what should be its face was in the frame. Audio was restored when it turned its head away from the camera. Its movements were slow, awkward, and, like Sylvia had said, its bones seemed to bend and stretch as it moved.

Jack and Audrey, the parents, turned towards the Creature. They started to stagger, and then they collapsed. Robbie, the boy, turned towards it and fell out of the swing and onto the ground.

The Creature reached out both its hands, one towards Audrey and one towards Robbie. Its hands expanded so that it could easily pick them up, and it carried them away, into the forest.

After about thirty seconds, Jack woke up, stood up, looked around, and walked into the B&B, where he made the call to the sheriff.

All of this happened in broad daylight. The Creature who was taking the people of this town had no fear of being seen.

There were plenty of other people in the video frame, as well. There were only two responses from passers-by. One response was to stagger and collapse, like Jack and Audrey. The other was to ignore the scene altogether and continue walking along. I noticed that those that did not collapse were those that would only see the back of the Creature. Since the camera cannot pick up its face and since Sylvia and I and everyone else that I talked to could not see it, I assume, then, that there’s something about seeing its face that causes the blackouts.

Also worth noting, the painting in my room is gone, and has been replaced by two new paintings. One of a woman, with clothing matching Audrey’s, and one of a boy sitting on a swing, also with clothing matching Robbie’s. Both are of the same darkly impressionistic style, both images make the subjects appear deformed, and both have the dark green liquid coming out of the mouth and eyes of the subject.

Of course, I believe that the artist has some connection to the Creature and is trying to intimidate me. I don’t know who the artist is, unfortunately.

I am going to get some coffee and stay up late tonight, to see if something happens in the middle of the night again. I’ll follow them into the forest.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

It is very early morning as I write this. A great deal has happened since my last entry.

After dinner, I waited in my room with some coffee to see if the townspeople would again follow the Creature into the woods. I read some Lovecraft off-and-on, sitting by the window, but it wasn’t very easy for me to pay attention.

I was right. It happened around three in the morning, though I don’t remember the exact time. I was reading Lovecraft’s account of an escaped German captive that encountered the ancient god Dagon in the Pacific Ocean. I looked out the window and saw the townspeople coming out of their homes, and I saw the men in black unifying to become the Creature, all walking towards the woods.

When I saw that there were no more townspeople joining them, I left my hotel room and began to follow them.

I came to a clearing in the woods and I saw them standing in a ring around a bonfire. I watched while trying to remain hidden. They were putting something into the fire, something that burned a bright green color. Inside the ring on the opposite side of the fire, closer to it than the people, was the Creature. I tried not to look directly at it, knowing that I could not look directly at its face. Through the smoke, its body somehow seemed out-of-sync with the rest of the world. I couldn’t say that it was moving, and I couldn’t say that it was standing still. I could say with great certainty, though, that it was there.

As the the people were putting these things into the fire, getting prepared for whatever ceremony they were about to perform, I realized that I thought I knew what was about to happen. I looked at the middle of the bonfire, and in the bright, almost blinding green light, I saw a pillar, and on top of that pillar was a statue of Cthulhu. Far more horrifying, though, was in the bonfire– The townspeople that had gone missing. Burning alive, but entirely oblivious to the pain. They looked more like they were sleeping with their eyes open.

This was a Cthulhu worship ceremony, or so I thought at first.

It was almost hard to recognize that statue at first, because, as hideous as it was, the statue was still somehow proportionally sensical, unlike Cthulhu himself. It would be virtually impossible, I would think, to make a statue that correctly represented the monstrous being that I saw in my vision of R’lyeh.

Then, they were done feeding the fire, and they all held up their hands above their hands, looked down at the ground, and began to chant.

"Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn. Sp’kl sut rint ahf lukksurmegger."
"Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn. Sp’kl sut rint ahf lukksurmegger."

In addition to the horrible syllables uttered by the people, I also heard something else, that I can only assume came from the Creature. It was what I had heard on my phone’s recording before. I believe it was also saying the same chant, but speaking that alien language more accurately than human tongues ever could.

Something about this ritual was wrong, though. It didn’t quite match what Lovecraft described. Cthulhu-worshipers don’t take sacrifices from among their own people. Their behavior was calm, very unlike the rituals in Louisiana described by the police that raided the ceremony there. There was also that added phrase that was mentioned nowhere in Lovecraft.

As I watched, my faith in Walter’s assurance that I was not in any danger failed me. Even so, I was far too terrified to run away.

The chorus grew louder, and then they stopped and became silent. They opened their eyes and looked up at the statue.

I saw the sacrifices being burned alive, still too uninterested in the world around them to scream from the pain. Robbie, the boy from the playground, was the last sacrifice to close his eyes, and the second that he did, the statue broke into two pieces, and fell into the fire. This was not a worship ceremony. This was a divorce ceremony.

The people let out one more shout: "Ee-nikala! Ee-nikala! Sha-hepp‘j, kin-vlunak!"

At that point, the people were thrown into chaos. They all began to scream in pain. They were bleeding from their mouths and eyes profusely. They were crying. They collapsed. They were too weak to stand, much less run, but they tried to crawl away. One managed to crawl as far as my hiding place, and he saw me. In the light of this strange fire, his blood appeared to be dark green. He looked up at me, held out his hand, and I think he tried to say, "Please, help me."

The people in the fire, that had been sacrificed by being burned alive, stood up altogether. They were bleeding out of their mouths and eyes like the rest, but the fire had burned the skin off of their faces. There was still no emotion to be seen. They first looked towards the Creature, but then they noticed me. They all turned to look at me, and they began to walk towards me.

I got up and ran. I looked behind to see if they was near me, not fully thinking at the time about what would have happened if I had gotten a glimpse of the Creature’s face. They were not running to catch up with me, but I didn’t see the Creature anywhere.

I turned back to look where I was running– It was right in front of me, and it was reaching for me with its enormously stretched hands. I ducked and rolled to escape, got up, and kept running.

But I was lost in the woods, and I didn’t know where to go. I didn’t know if I was heading in the direction of the town or not. I just kept running.

In the moonlight, I could see a shed. I ran inside, hoping to hide.

As I was gasping for breath, I looked around inside the shed, barely able to see past the stars in my vision. I could see a little of my surroundings because of the moonlight coming in through the window. There was a small stool and a table. On the wall, in front of me, clearly visible in the moonlight was a painting. Another painting of a person with a misshapen head, with a dark liquid coming out of his eyes and mouth. He was leaning against a door. The painting was of me, there in the shed.

As I started to scream, the painting itself leaped off the wall, and a hand reached out of it and grabbed me. I lost consciousness.

Sunday, May 17, 2015 (Cont.)

I woke up on the stool in the shed, leaning against the back wall, facing the door. I looked up and saw all eleven of the men in black standing in front of me, across the table. They were all identical in human form, looking at me through their sunglasses to hide their eyes. The room was dimly lit with old-fashioned oil lanterns on the table.

The one directly in front of me spoke. I was surprised to hear a human voice, speaking English.

"Who are you?"

I wasn’t able to speak at first. Another one spoke.

"Who are you?"

"James Perkins."

The men took turns speaking. One would speak at a time, but they were clearly one mind.

"James Perkins."

"You are one of ours."

"You belong to our coven."

"But you are low-ranking. You still believe that it is a university."

"Why are you here?"

"You were not told to come here."

"Why are you here?"

They became silent, waiting for my response. I couldn’t tell them that I was working for Walter.

"Tell me why you are here."

I still couldn’t respond.

"You will tell me why you are here."

While I was too terrified to move or speak, they said in unison. "You will answer me. Do you know who I am?"

They then began to merge. I fell out of the stool and onto the ground. I could only see their feet beneath the table as they merged, and they continued to speak. As they spoke, their voices became more and more inhuman, but still speaking English.

I was the first to sacrifice children to Molech, and I instructed the earliest of the Tcho-Tcho people on the Plateau of Leng.
I delighted in in the stoning of the Prophets, and I laughed at the children of Japan as they died in burning hellfire.
I held the pen of Abdul Alhazred, and whispered into the ear of Grigory Rasputin.
I assisted Torquemada, the Grand Inquisitor, and Dracula, the Prince of Wallachia.
I led Bowen into the crypt of Nephren-Ka, and Genghis Khan to Zhongdu.
I have done that which not even the Pnakotic writers could bear to record. I have done these and much more than you could comprehend, in worlds that you will never know, because this is what gives me pleasure.
I am the voice of one screaming in the city, saying "The King is dead, and there is no hope."

I began to cry. I thought, at this point, that I was going to die in the same way that the townspeople had a few minutes before.

Then I discovered what Walter meant when he said that I am not in danger. A bright light appeared in the room. The Creature fell on the ground, and, underneath the table, I could see his face. This time, I wasn’t lightheaded and I didn’t pass out, and I could see an expression on his face– Fear.

There was a voice– "You will not touch this one. I have claimed him for myself. He is mine."

The voice wasn’t speaking English, any other human language, or the language of Cthulhu, but, somehow, I could understand it. I would not be able to duplicate it, but I could easily understand it.

The creature then disappeared, into thin air. The light went out, and only the light of the lanterns on the table lit the room. I stood up and saw nothing else in the room, except some tools in the corner that one might expect to find in a shed.

I now had a new fear– What sort of being is so powerful that even this thing was afraid of it? Is it after me?

Leaving the shed, I wandered the woods until I found my way back to the town. I didn’t come across the bonfire on the way there.

The town was entirely empty, since all of the townspeople were now dead in the woods. I went back to my room at the Inn, and I knew now that there was nothing left for me to do here. There were no people for me to talk to and nothing to observe.

When I entered the room, I saw Walter in there, waiting for me.

"I take it," he said, "that the ceremony is completed."

"Could we have done nothing to help them?"

He looked down at the ground and said, "No. That’s something that’s out of our hands. We just don’t have any control over that. I wanted you to see this so that you know what we’re up against."

"That is the most horrifying and terrifying thing I’ve ever seen."

"Well, you’ve only seen small glimpses of R’lyeh. There’s far more that you’ll see in the next few years."

I sat on the bed and he sat in the chair at my desk. He began to speak again.

"This was just an observational assignment. I have some real tasks for you now. But, first, do you have any questions?"

"Yes… What was that thing? That Creature?"

He thought about his answer before beginning.

"That Creature has been on Earth for a very long time. It’s had many names, probably more than I know. He’s working for the Enemy, alongside Cthulhu. Cthulhu brings people into his fold, and, because of the many horrors that they see, many of them want out. The Creature offers them a way. What the people don’t understand is that by accepting its offer, they are being brought into the service of the Enemy. That’s what you saw here."

"No, wait," I interrupted. "Those people that I saw tonight weren’t being brought into anyone’s service. They were killed. I saw them die. Only a few of them were brought back to life."

"No, no," he said. "They didn’t die. They’ll continue in horrible pain, but they’re no longer capable of dying. We’ll see them again. That’s part of the Enemy’s plan.

"You see, these people fear Cthulhu," he continued. "And, rightly so. But Cthulhu is deep underneath sea and earth. His only power, for the moment, is through his psychic connection to a handful of dangerous eccentrics. He will ascend one day, but the Enemy is the one who rules the air, right now. Cthulhu is driving these people into His trap. The Enemy transforms them to make them fit for His service. That’s what He does.

"The Creature that you saw is a shape-shifter. Long before humans first appeared on the planet, or any other life, for that matter, a race of beings, we just call them the Elder Ones, came to the Earth from another star system, very far away. They created a slave race called the Shoggoths. These Shoggoths were dumb animals in the beginning. They were shape-shifters and they were very hearty, able to survive in nearly any environment. These two things made them incredibly useful beasts of burden.

"Then they evolved, became more intelligent, and they rebelled against their creators, the Elder Ones. Weakened by wars with Cthulhu’s spawn on the Earth and other aliens in the stars, the Elder Ones were defeated by the Shoggoths, and mostly destroyed.

"The Enemy is a master of repurposing created beings for his own unholy purposes. He saw great potential in the Shoggoths. He took some of them, experimented with them, and created the Creature that you saw tonight. More powerful, more skilled at shape-shifting, far more intelligent, very loyal to his Creator, and increasing in evil. I’m sure you’ve seen some animals behaving strangely? Usually around reptiles and arachnids. Those reptiles and arachnids are the Creature."

"You say," I said, "that the Enemy is a master of repurposing creating beings for his own purposes. Is that what he was doing to the townspeople?"

"Yes, exactly," Walter said. "The sacrifices were turned into one kind of servant, and the rest were turned into another kind. They’re not dead. They’ll never die."

I thought for a moment about what I’d seen that evening, trying to put it together. I then remembered that there were a few more things that I needed to be explained.

"The chant at the ritual was a little different. It wasn’t the one that’s used in Cthulhu worship– There was something added to it."

I then tried as well as I could to recreate it– "Sp’kl sut rint ahf lukksurmegger."

"Yes," Walter said, "It means ‘The people will be delivered to the Light-Bearer’. Well, ‘Light-Bearer’ or, more loosely translated, ‘Morning Star’. It’s what the Enemy was called a very long time ago, and what He still calls himself. It’s part of the ritual to separate themselves from Cthulhu and join with the Enemy– ‘In his house in R’lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming, but the people will be delivered to the Morning Star’."

"There was one more," I said, "Ee-nikala! Ee-nikala! Sha-t’reppa, kin-vlunak!"

Walter shuddered when I said it. "I’ll forgive you this time, but do not repeat that out loud again. I will not translate it into English. In short, they’re trying to abandon Cthulhu and set themselves up as their own gods. But, it doesn’t work that way. They are very, very confused. Everyone serves something. They’re switching their god from one devil to another.

"Now," he said, "Do you have any more questions?"

"Yes– who stopped the Creature? He said that he has ‘claimed’ me."

"Oh, of course. He’s the one that sent you here. He’s the one that sent me to retrieve you from the beginning. He’s the one that will defeat the Enemy."

"He’s…" I had a hard time completing this thought at first. "He’s terrifying."

"Yes, absolutely. He’s nothing like you’d expect. But, He’s good."

"All right," Walter concluded. "Anything else?"

"Well," I said, "I’ll have a hard time digesting this before I really have any more questions."

"Very well," he said. "There’s one more thing left to do here." He pointed at the window. It was closed, but on the windowsill on the outside was my phone.

"While we’ve been talking, another conversation has been taking place, outside this window."

He opened the window, picked up the phone, and handed it to me. The mp3 recorder program had been running. I played back the message, and heard a conversation in the same language that I heard spoken by the Light in the shed, a nonhuman language that I could understand perfectly. I recognized one voice– The Creature.

"My Lord, Morning Star," it said. "How may I be of service to you?"

The second voice was very clean, very well-spoken.

"Mephistopheles, my son. Is the task complete?" the second voice said.

"It is. They are now Your servants."

"I am pleased with your work, my son."

"My Lord, there was an outsider that witnessed the ceremony. He is among the Chosen."

"That cannot be avoided, my son."

"He is a part of the Miskatonic Coven."

There was a brief silence.

"This is terrible news," the voice of Morning Star said. "You have done excellent work in discovering this. Come with me back to Pandaemonium, dear Mephistopheles. You may devour souls there as your reward."

"Thank you, my Lord."

At that point in the recording, I heard the window open, when Walter had picked up the phone.

"Now," Walter said to me. "Are you ready for your next assignment?"