You know the drill. This is an “add a paragraph” story, imitation Lovecraft. My beginning:
My name is Clark Sitwell. I am a professor of Botany at Miskatonic University in Arkham, Massachusetts, and I am perfectly sane. I mention this because several who have heard my tale have dismissed me as a madman. Even now, as I record the horrible events which so recently deprived me of my friend, I am forced to admit how fantastic it all sounds. Nevertheless, my tale is a true one, and I hope that by recording it something can be done to confront the menace quietly growing in the desert.
My specialty, as I mentioned, is Botany. My late friend and fellow professor George Croft taught Zoology, and together we had planned a trip to study desert species. Our destination was the (alas, too well-named!) Death Valley in California. We were interested in the flurry
of biological activity which follows the infrequent and violent rains of the desert. We brought our camping gear and the equipment for collecting our specimens, and converged on the quiet California town.
This year’s rains, as you may recall, were especially heavy. For five days, we waited out the rain in our hotel, unable to begin our investigation and fearful that we would have to return to Arkham without getting the chance. If only it had been so!
The sixth day was bright and clear, so off we went. We were struck at once by a peculiar salt smell to the air, more suitable to a seacoast than a desert. Puddles were everywhere, and normally dry ditches flowed with sudsy creeks. Our progress was halted several times by these creeks, and we had to follow a circuitous route into the desert. The heat was intense, so we tried to stay on the shady sides of the small sandy hills whenever possible. After several hours of walking, we came to a small oasis remote from humanity.
I was fascinated by the spectacular growth which the rains had provoked, but George was puzzled by the almost complete lack of animal life. I was concentrating on drawing an unfamiliar flower when George wandered off to look at a sandy cliff which had collapsed nearby. Suddenly, he called to me and I came to see him pointing at a tall blue-purple obelisk, obviously a manufactured object.
WARNING: This is going to suck, as I know precious little about Cthulhu…
George said, “Get a load of that. God damn thing looks like it should be taped to a fridge. I wonder how mny boxes of crayons the local yokels went through to get it that color.”
“Be careful, George!” I warned my erstwhile friend. “It is not ours to touch. It is an artifact that deserves our respect. Let us move away from here.”
“Christ, Clark, do you always have to talk like the guy in War of the Fuckin’ Worlds? Relax. It’s a chunk of party-colored concrete. It probably has Grimace painted on it up close. Let’s go have a look.” Alas! If only my friend had known this was a war of worlds.
As he led me toward the obelisk it began to hum. The very terrain groaned in agony as the sound of the stone burned through it. I gasped and turned back, but my determined friend pressed forward. His sarcasm had overturned his common sense. George shouted “Is the audience listening?” as he tried to place his hand upon the obelisk. The hum turned tenor and the air itself screamed. “Holy living fuck,” said my friend.
A man appeared before us. “I am the Necromance. This is my place. What are you doing here?”
“We are studying the life forms here,” I told him.
“Did you know there’s an ‘R’ in ‘necromancer?’” asked George.
“Begone from here,” the Necromance ordered. “This is my place. Cthulhu is coming.”
The Necromance was wearing a robe the same color as the obelisk. He walked in front of it, making it look like his head was floating against the violet background.
Actually, his head WAS floating against the violet background. This became obvious when the head suddenly fell to the ground without its body.
I was vaguely nauseated by this, but there was nothing to do about it. I went back to sketching my flower. George couldn’t find any animals, so he followed the Necromance’s footprints back to their source. “Look at this,” he said.
“I’m trying to draw this flower,” I said. But George was persistent, and I went to look. The sand had collapsed around the mouth of a cave. Inside was a lot more blue-violet stuff.
“George, the head of the Necromance lived. Know it lays overturned in the sand. This place is dangerous.”
“Yeah, it’s the Necromance’s. You were the one who wanted to stay and look at a gawddam flower.”
“It is a rarity. Never has a blue-violet daisy been reported in the literature.”
“True you speak, Yoda. Still, the N-man went to all the trouble to scare us off and you didn’t follow along. Let’s go exploring. Maybe he’s got naked pictures of blueish-purple women.” And as my sarcastic companion finished, the head arose and floated before us anew in the cavern.
We followed it to the back of the cavern to a narrow slit. The head wafted through this and reluctantly, with a growing feeling of oppression, we followed. The slit was the beginning of a tunnel which seemed to have been carved out of the stone many eons ago.
The head floated serenly before us, leading us ever on. After a time I became aware of a strange glow surrounding the head. Fearing that my flashlight would fail at some crucial juncture I turned it off, recklessly deciding to follow the glow wherever it might lead. My friend had no need to perform a similar action. He had never turned his flashlight on. He seemed almost mesmerized and his eyes gazed unfocused into the distance.
The tunnel went on an immeasurable distance. It twisted and turned in unexpected ways, and at times seemed to completely double back on itself. But I could feel the gradient of the floor and knew that we were going further and further down…
After a mile or so of descent, I was starting to get worried about George. I had noticed that he had started muttering something I could not place an origin to. But it was familiar. Ever since we saw that horrid head floating and glowing on its own, I had felt a terror deep within me, but the deeper we went the more at ease I was starting to feel. That was until we came upon a noxious aroma that I could not describe.
I kept glancing at George. That look in his eyes was not exactly one of blankness, but almost the opposite. It seemed like he knew something I did not. I wished that smell would go away.
After another mile of walking, I suddenly placed in my head the words my colleague had been muttering. They were from that accursed book kept locked away at Miskatonic U., the Neconomicon written my that Mad Arab Al’hazred. “Of course,” I thought, “after all, the guy’s (head’s?) name is Necromance!” I had not studied the unholy book as George had so I did not precisely know what he was muttering about. The only reason I was able to place his words when he muttered the word “shoggoth.”
Without warning George’s uttered a shriek that pierced the cavern. When I turned my head I saw…
I shouted for several minutes, and pounded at the unyielding and slightly damp wall. There was no reply save echos and an occasional “tsk, tsk” from the head of the Necromance.
I turned in anger and fear to look at the head, which had begun to look familiar. Or as familiar as a free-floating head can look.
“Where am I, and what has happened to George?” I asked.
“Oh, so now you’re talking to me?” said the head petulantly. “You are in the great fane of Cthulhu and your friend Professor Croft no longer is.” I was as alarmed by the Necromance’s knowledge of my friend’s name as I was by the multiple meanings of the last sentence.
The head ignored my surprise. “And as I said, Cthulhu is coming. He’ll be here at 4:51 Pacific Standard Time and he’s going to whale on the human race.”
I stared at the face, suddenly recognizing it. “Wait, you’re…”
“…Professor Dawson!!” I exclaimed, referring to a leading archeologist who mysteriously went missing decades ago. I remembered the case well because the press at the time had hinted at strange and foul play.
Reports of mysticism and strange lights that I’d dismissed but were etched in my mind, not only because of their bizarre nature but also because the party he’d disapeared with had contained a number of leading botanists. Botanists who were seemingly on the edge of a breakthrough that would revolutionise the way we looked at plants. But no-one had been able to make anything from the sparse notes they’d left behind…
“But you disappeared in the wastelands of Siberia. Why…? How…” my voice trailed off as my mind suddenly seemed to fully appreciate the scene in front of it.
As if aware of my impending relationship with shock the head smiled. Not a smile that warmed the heart. Oh no! The eyes sharpened slightly emphasising a passive malevolance that shook me to the very core.
“Oh yes. We did.” He chuckled deeply and the darkness seemed to take on a life of its own.
Some will have you believe that black is an absence of colour. What I saw next defies that. For there are shades of black that man has never set eyes on.
George returned. He had been blinded. His eye sockets lay empty, and from the depths of his skull pulsed an inkiness that banished all joy, all wisdom, all good.
“Look,” siad the head. “Look inside. See what happens to those who blapheme Cthulhu.”
I peered into my poor friend’s head. There lay a small squid, the same blue-violet color, jetting the blackness into George’s head. Then I knew my mind was gone.
“What is it, Clark? You’re looking at me like I’m the damned disembodied head. What’s wrong?” My poor friend could still see without his eyes and was completely free of pain or fear. But then, he had not seen the squid.
And distant voices–distant, yet slowly approaching–answered each time with voices not human, but rather with infernal laughing shrieks and gibbers,
“Ia! Ia! Cthulhu fhtagn!”
I flung myself down upon my knees, and gave my own answering shriek of despair! The infernal whispering! The rats, the rats in the walls! Damn you, Croft, I’ll teach you to faint at what my family do . . .
All this and no mention of Azathoth, Shab-Niggurath, Nyarlathotep, Hastur, The Plateau of Leng, The Unknown Kaddath, De Vermis Mysteriis, The Book of Eibon, Namless Cults, The Shinning Trapezoid, Randolph Carter, The Silver Key, Mi-Go, or any of the Marshes…oh well at least someone mentioned the Shoggoths.
I ceased my shrieking and looked up at George quizzically.
“George, you fool!” I said. "Not from Earth, indeed! Know you nothing of the Great Race of elder days? Have you never heard of the Elder Ones? It is we who are the interlopers in this world, silly man-animal. For the origins of our race, I have found . . " I began to choke on a thick, foul-smelling mist that began to fill the underground chamber. “I have found . . .” I noticed that George was no longer paying attention, instead looking over my shoulder and shrieking, “Tikalee-lee! Tikalee-lee!” I turned and saw . . .
“The one you proposed with Randolph Carter, just before he went to the Plateau of Leng. Remember?”
Oh, no, wait, you were extrapolating from the Book of Eibon and the Commentaries on the Necronomicon."
“I’ve never even heard of Eibon.”
“Then you were the one who talked to me about the Shining Trapezoid and the Silver Key and their relationship to the Nameless Cults?”
“I doubt it.”
“Azathoth? Shab-Niggurath? Nyarlathotep? Hastur? The Unknown Kaddath? De Vermis Mysteriis? Mi-Go? Any of the Marshes?”
Dawson rolled his eyes. “From the beginning!”
“I don’t have my copy of the Necronomicon,” George complained, “and it would take several decades to explain without possessing Clark like you did me. Just hit the basics.”
“Look, Clark,” began Dawson. “Cthulhu is an elder god who is coming to reclaim his power over this cosmos. He is cephalapodic in form and has chosen blue-violet as his color. He is not what you would consider a great speaker. Cthulhu also needs to incubate before his power comes to fruition. George here will be the incubator.”
“That’s me, ol’ incubator George!”
“Looking at Cthulhu means certain insanity. Prolonged exposure to his presence without magical protection (which I just gave you and George) means certain death. “Dermo” means “shit” in Russian. Sorry, I just threw that in. Any questions, Clark?”