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Title:      Collected Stories
Author:     H. P. Lovecraft
eBook No.:  0600031.txt
Edition:    1
Language:   English
Character set encoding:     Latin-1(ISO-8859-1)--8 bit
Date first posted:          January 2006
Date most recently updated: June 2006

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Title:      Collected Stories
Author:     H. P. Lovecraft




CONTENTS:

The Nameless City
The Festival
The Colour out of Space
The Call of Cthulhu
The Dunwich Horror
The Whisperer in Darkness
Dreams in the Witch-house
The Haunter of the Dark
The Shadow over Innsmouth
The Shadow out of Time
At the Mountain of Madness
The Case of Charles Dexter Ward
Azathoth
Beyond the Wall of Sleep
Celephais
Cool Air
Dagon
Ex Oblivione
Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family
From Beyond
He
Herbert West: Reanimator
Hypnos
Imprisoned with the Pharaohs
In the Vault
Medusa's Coil
Memory
Nyarlathotep
Pickman's Model
Poetry of the Gods
The Alchemist
The Beast in the Cave
The Book
The Cats of Ulthar
The Crawling Chaos
The Descendant
The Doom That Came to Sarnath
The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath
The Evil Clergyman
The Horror at Martin's Beach
The Horror at Red Hook
The Hound
The Lurking Fear
The Moon Bog
The Music of Erich Zann
The Other Gods
The Outsider
The Picture in the House
The Quest of Iranon
The Rats in the Walls
The Shunned House
The Silver Key
The Statement of Randolph Carter
The Strange High House in the Mist
The Street
The Temple
The Terrible Old Man
The Thing on the Doorstep
The Tomb
The Transition of Juan Romero
The Tree
The Unnamable
The White Ship
Through the Gates of the Silver Key
What the Moon Brings
Polaris
The Very Old Folk


* * * * *




* THE NAMELESS CITY

When I drew nigh the nameless city I knew it was accursed. I was
traveling in a parched and terrible valley under the moon, and afar I
saw it protruding uncannily above the sands as parts of a corpse may
protrude from an ill-made grave. Fear spoke from the age-worn stones of
this hoary survivor of the deluge, this great-grandfather of the eldest
pyramid; and a viewless aura repelled me and bade me retreat from
antique and sinister secrets that no man should see, and no man else
had dared to see..

Remote in the desert of Araby lies the nameless city, crumbling and
inarticulate, its low walls nearly hidden by the sands of uncounted
ages. It must have been thus before the first stones of Memphis were
laid, and while the bricks of Babylon were yet unbaked. There is no
legend so old as to give it a name, or to recall that it was ever
alive; but it is told of in whispers around campfires and muttered
about by grandams in the tents of sheiks so that all the tribes shun it
without wholly knowing why. It was of this place that Abdul Alhazred
the mad poet dreamed of the night before he sang his unexplained
couplet:

That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons death may die.

I should have known that the Arabs had good reason for shunning the
nameless city, the city told of in strange tales but seen by no living
man, yet I defied them and went into the untrodden waste with my camel.
I alone have seen it, and that is why no other face bears such hideous
lines of fear as mine; why no other man shivers so horribly when the
night wind rattles the windows. When I came upon it in the ghastly
stillness of unending sleep it looked at me, chilly from the rays of a
cold moon amidst the desert's heat. And as I returned its look I forgot
my triumph at finding it, and stopped still with my camel to wait for
the dawn.

For hours I waited, till the east grew grey and the stars faded, and
the grey turned to roseate light edged with gold. I heard a moaning and
saw a storm of sand stirring among the antique stones though the sky
was clear and the vast reaches of desert still. Then suddenly above the
desert's far rim came the blazing edge of the sun, seen through the
tiny sandstorm which was passing away, and in my fevered state I
fancied that from some remote depth there came a crash of musical metal
to hail the fiery disc as Memnon hails it from the banks of the Nile.
My ears rang and my imagination seethed as I led my camel slowly across
the sand to that unvocal place; that place which I alone of living men
had seen.

In and out amongst the shapeless foundations of houses and places I
wandered, finding never a carving or inscription to tell of these men,
if men they were, who built this city and dwelt therein so long ago.
The antiquity of the spot was unwholesome, and I longed to encounter
some sign or device to prove that the city was indeed fashioned by
mankind. There were certain proportions and dimensions in the ruins
which I did not like. I had with me many tools, and dug much within the
walls of the obliterated edifices; but progress was slow, and nothing
significant was revealed. When night and the moon returned I felt a
chill wind which brought new fear, so that I did not dare to remain in
the city. And as I went outside the antique walls to sleep, a small
sighing sandstorm gathered behind me, blowing over the grey stones
though the moon was bright and most of the desert still.

I awakened just at dawn from a pageant of horrible dreams, my ears
ringing as from some metallic peal. I saw the sun peering redly through
the last gusts of a little sandstorm that hovered over the nameless
city, and marked the quietness of the rest of the landscape. Once more
I ventured within those brooding ruins that swelled beneath the sand
like an ogre under a coverlet, and again dug vainly for relics of the
forgotten race. At noon I rested, and in the afternoon I spent much
time tracing the walls and bygone streets, and the outlines of the
nearly vanished buildings. I saw that the city had been mighty indeed,
and wondered at the sources of its greatness. To myself I pictured all
the spendours of an age so distant that Chaldaea could not recall it,
and thought of Sarnath the Doomed, that stood in the land of Mnar when
mankind was young, and of Ib, that was carven of grey stone before
mankind existed.

All at once I came upon a place where the bed rock rose stark
through the sand and formed a low cliff; and here I saw with joy what
seemed to promise further traces of the antediluvian people. Hewn
rudely on the face of the cliff were the unmistakable facades of
several small, squat rock houses or temples; whose interiors might
preserve many secrets of ages too remote for calculation, though
sandstorms had long effaced any carvings which may have been outside.

Very low and sand-choked were all the dark apertures near me, but I
cleared on with my spade and crawled through it, carrying a torch to
reveal whatever mysteries it might hold. When I was inside I saw that
the cavern was indeed a temple, and beheld plain signs of the race that
had lived and worshipped before the desert was a desert. Primitive
altars, pillars, and niches, all curiously low, were not absent; and
though I saw no sculptures or frescoes, there were many singular stones
clearly shaped into symbols by artificial means. The lowness of the
chiselled chamber was very strange, for I could hardly kneel upright;
but the area was so great that my torch showed only part of it at a
time. I shuddered oddly in some of the far corners; for certain altars
and stones suggested forgotten rites of terrible, revolting and
inexplicable nature and made me wonder what manner of men could have
made and frequented such a temple. When I had seen all that the place
contained, I crawled out again, avid to find what the temples might
yield.

Night had now approached, yet the tangible things I had seen made
curiosity stronger than fear, so that I did not flee from the long
mooncast shadows that had daunted me when first I saw the nameless
city. In the twilight I cleared another aperture and with a new torch
crawled into it, finding more vague stones and symbols, though nothing
more definite than the other temple had contained the room was just as
low, but much less broad, ending in a very narrow passage crowded with
obscure and cryptical shrines. About these shrines I was prying when
the noise of a wind and my camel outside broke through the stillness
and drew me forth to see what could have frightened the beast.

The moon was gleaming vividly over the primitive ruins, lighting a
dense cloud of sand that seemed blown by a strong but decreasing wind
from some point along the cliff ahead of me. I knew it was this chilly,
sandy wind which had disturbed the camel and was about to lead him to a
place of better shelter when I chanced to glance up and saw that there
was no wind atop the cliff. This astonished me and made me fearful
again, but I immediately recalled the sudden local winds that I had
seen and heard before at sunrise and sunset, and judged it was a normal
thing. I decided it came from some rock fissure leading to a cave, and
watched the troubled sand to trace it to its source; soon perceiving
that it came from the black orifice of a temple a long distance south
of me, almost out of sight. Against the choking sand-cloud I plodded
toward this temple, which as I neared it loomed larger than the rest,
and shewed a doorway far less clogged with caked sand. I would have
entered had not the terrific force of the icy wind almost quenched my
torch. It poured madly out of the dark door, sighing uncannily as it
ruffled the sand and spread among the weird ruins. Soon it grew fainter
and the sand grew more and more still, till finally all was at rest
again; but a presence seemed stalking among the spectral stones of the
city, and when I glanced at the moon it seemed to quiver as though
mirrored in unquiet waters. I was more afraid than I could explain, but
not enough to dull my thirst for wonder; so as soon as the wind was
quite gone I crossed into the dark chamber from which it had come.

This temple, as I had fancied from the outside, was larger than
either of those I had visited before; and was presumably a natural
cavern since it bore winds from some region beyond. Here I could stand
quite upright, but saw that the stones and altars were as low as those
in the other temples. On the walls and roof I beheld for the first time
some traces of the pictorial art of the ancient race, curious curling
streaks of paint that had almost faded or crumbled away; and on two of
the altars I saw with rising excitement a maze of well-fashioned
curvilinear carvings. As I held my torch aloft it seemed to me that the
shape of the roof was too regular to be natural, and I wondered what
the prehistoric cutters of stone had first worked upon. Their
engineering skill must have been vast.

Then a brighter flare of the fantastic flame showed that form which
I had been seeking, the opening to those remoter abysses whence the
sudden wind had blown; and I grew faint when I saw that it was a small
and plainly artificial door chiselled in the solid rock. I thrust my
torch within, beholding a black tunnel with the roof arching low over a
rough flight of very small, numerous and steeply descending steps. I
shall always see those steps in my dreams, for I came to learn what
they meant. At the time I hardly knew whether to call them steps or
mere footholds in a precipitous descent. My mind was whirling with mad
thoughts, and the words and warning of Arab prophets seemed to float
across the desert from the land that men know to the nameless city that
men dare not know. Yet I hesitated only for a moment before advancing
through the portal and commencing to climb cautiously down the steep
passage, feet first, as though on a ladder.

It is only in the terrible phantasms of drugs or delirium that any
other man can have such a descent as mine. The narrow passage led
infinitely down like some hideous haunted well, and the torch I held
above my head could not light the unknown depths toward which I was
crawling. I lost track of the hours and forgot to consult my watch,
though I was frightened when I thought of the distance I must have be
traversing. There were changes of direction and of steepness; and once
I came to a long, low, level passage where I had to wriggle my feet
first along the rocky floor, holding torch at arm's length beyond my
head. The place was not high enough for kneeling. After that were more
of the steep steps, and I was still scrambling down interminably when
my failing torch died out. I do not think I noticed it at the time, for
when I did notice it I was still holding it above me as if it were
ablaze. I was quite unbalanced with that instinct for the strange and
the unknown which had made me a wanderer upon earth and a haunter of
far, ancient, and forbidden places.

In the darkness there flashed before my mind fragments of my
cherished treasury of daemonic lore; sentences from Alhazred the mad
Arab, paragraphs from the apocryphal nightmares of Damascius, and
infamous lines from the delirious Image du Monde of Gauthier de Metz. I
repeated queer extracts, and muttered of Afrasiab and the daemons that
floated with him down the Oxus; later chanting over and over again a
phrase from one of Lord Dunsany's tales--"The unreveberate blackness of
the abyss." Once when the descent grew amazingly steep I recited
something in sing-song from Thomas Moore until I feared to recite more:

A reservoir of darkness, black
As witches' cauldrons are, when fill'd
With moon-drugs in th' eclipse distill'd
Leaning to look if foot might pass
Down thro' that chasm, I saw, beneath,
As far as vision could explore,
The jetty sides as smooth as glass,
Looking as if just varnish'd o'er
With that dark pitch the Seat of Death
Throws out upon its slimy shore.

Time had quite ceased to exist when my feet again felt a level
floor, and I found myself in a place slightly higher than the rooms in
the two smaller temples now so incalculably far above my head. I could
not quite stand, but could kneel upright, and in the dark I shuffled
and crept hither and thither at random. I soon knew that I was in a
narrow passage whose walls were lined with cases of wood having glass
fronts. As in that Palaeozoic and abysmal place I felt of such things
as polished wood and glass I shuddered at the possible implications.
The cases were apparently ranged along each side of the passage at
regular intervals, and were oblong and horizontal, hideously like
coffins in shape and size. When I tried to move two or three for
further examination, I found that they were firmly fastened.

I saw that the passage was a long one, so floundered ahead rapidly
in a creeping run that would have seemed horrible had any eye watched
me in the blackness; crossing from side to side occasionally to feel of
my surroundings and be sure the walls and rows of cases still stretched
on. Man is so used to thinking visually that I almost forgot the
darkness and pictured the endless corridor of wood and glass in its
low-studded monotony as though I saw it. And then in a moment of
indescribable emotion I did see it.

Just when my fancy merged into real sight I cannot tell; but there
came a gradual glow ahead, and all at once I knew that I saw the dim
outlines of a corridor and the cases, revealed by some unknown
subterranean phosphorescence. For a little while all was exactly as I
had imagined it, since the glow was very faint; but as I mechanically
kept stumbling ahead into the stronger light I realised that my fancy
had been but feeble. This hall was no relic of crudity like the temples
in the city above, but a monument of the most magnificent and exotic
art. Rich, vivid, and daringly fantastic designs and pictures formed a
continuous scheme of mural paintings whose lines and colours were
beyond description. The cases were of a strange golden wood, with
fronts of exquisite glass, and containing the mummified forms of
creatures outreaching in grotesqueness the most chaotic dreams of man.

To convey any idea of these monstrosities is impossible. They were
of the reptile kind, with body lines suggestion sometimes the
crocodile, sometimes the seal, but more often nothing of which either
the naturalist or the palaeontologist ever heard. In size they
approximated a small man, and their fore-legs bore delicate and evident
feet curiously like human hands and fingers. But strangest of all were
their heads, which presented a contour violating all known biological
principles. To nothing can such things be well compared--in one flash I
thought of comparisons as varied as the cat, the bullfrog, the mythic
Satyr, and the human being. Not Jove himself had had so colossal and
protuberant a forehead, yet the horns and the noselessness and the
alligator-like jaw placed things outside all established categories. I
debated for a time on the reality of the mummies, half suspecting they
were artificial idols; but soon decided they were indeed some
palaeogean species which had lived when the nameless city was alive. To
crown their grotesqueness, most of them were gorgeously enrobed in the
costliest of fabrics, and lavishly laden with ornaments of gold,
jewels, and unknown shining metals.

The importance of these crawling creatures must have been vast, for
they held first place among the wild designs on the frescoed walls and
ceiling. With matchless skill had the artist drawn them in a world of

their own, wherein they had cities and gardens fashioned to suit their
dimensions; and I could not help but think that their pictured history
was allegorical, perhaps showing the progress of the race that
worshipped them. These creatures, I said to myself, were to men of the
nameless city what the she-wolf was to Rome, or some totem-beast is to
a tribe of Indians.

Holding this view, I could trace roughly a wonderful epic of the
nameless city; the tale of a mighty seacoast metropolis that ruled the
world before Africa rose out of the waves, and of its struggles as the
sea shrank away, and the desert crept into the fertile valley that held
it. I saw its wars and triumphs, its troubles and defeats, and
afterwards its terrible fight against the desert when thousands of its
people--here represented in allegory by the grotesque reptiles--were
driven to chisel their way down through the rocks in some marvellous
manner to another world whereof their prophets had told them. It was
all vividly weird and realistic, and its connection with the awesome
descent I had made was unmistakable. I even recognized the passages.

As I crept along the corridor toward the brighter light I saw later
stages of the painted epic--the leave-taking of the race that had
dwelt in the nameless city and the valley around for ten million years;
the race whose souls shrank from quitting scenes their bodies had known
so long where they had settled as nomads in the earth's youth, hewing
in the virgin rock those primal shrines at which they had never ceased
to worship. Now that the light was better I studied the pictures more
closely and, remembering that the strange reptiles must represent the
unknown men, pondered upon the customs of the nameless city. Many
things were peculiar and inexplicable. The civilization, which included
a written alphabet, had seemingly risen to a higher order than those
immeasurably later civilizations of Egypt and Chaldaea, yet there were
curious omissions. I could, for example, find no pictures to represent
deaths or funeral customs, save such as were related to wars, violence,
and plagues; and I wondered at the reticence shown concerning natural
death. It was as though an ideal of immortality had been fostered as a
cheering illusion.

Still nearer the end of the passage was painted scenes of the utmost
picturesqueness and extravagance: contrasted views of the nameless city
in its desertion and growing ruin, and of the strange new realm of
paradise to which the race had hewed its way through the stone. In
these views the city and the desert valley were shewn always by
moonlight, golden nimbus hovering over the fallen walls, and
half-revealing the splendid perfection of former times, shown
spectrally and elusively by the artist. The paradisal scenes were
almost too extravagant to be believed, portraying a hidden world of
eternal day filled with glorious cities and ethereal hills and valleys.
At the very last I thought I saw signs of an artistic anticlimax. The
paintings were less skillful, and much more bizarre than even the
wildest of the earlier scenes. They seemed to record a slow decadence
of the ancient stock, coupled with a growing ferocity toward the
outside world from which it was driven by the desert. The forms of the
people--always represented by the sacred reptiles--appeared to be
gradually wasting away, through their spirit was shewn hovering above
the ruins by moonlight gained in proportion. Emaciated priests,
displayed as reptiles in ornate robes, cursed the upper air and all who
breathed it; and one terrible final scene shewed a primitive-looking
man, perhaps a pioneer of ancient Irem, the City of Pillars, torn to
pieces by members of the elder race. I remember how the Arabs fear the
nameless city, and was glad that beyond this place the grey walls and
ceiling were bare.

As I viewed the pageant of mural history I had approached very
closely to the end of the low-ceiled hall, and was aware of a gate
through which came all of the illuminating phosphorescence. Creeping up
to it, I cried aloud in transcendent amazement at what lay beyond; for
instead of other and brighter chambers there was only an illimitable
void of uniform radiance, such one might fancy when gazing down from the
peak of Mount Everest upon a sea of sunlit mist. Behind me was a
passage so cramped that I could not stand upright in it; before me was
an infinity of subterranean effulgence.

Reaching down from the passage into the abyss was the head of a
steep flight of steps--small numerous steps like those of black
passages I had traversed--but after a few feet the glowing vapours
concealed everything. Swung back open against the left-hand wall of the
passage was a massive door of brass, incredibly thick and decorated
with fantastic bas-reliefs, which could if closed shut the whole inner
world of light away from the vaults and passages of rock. I looked at
the step, and for the nonce dared not try them. I touched the open
brass door, and could not move it. Then I sank prone to the stone
floor, my mind aflame with prodigious reflections which not even a
death-like exhaustion could banish.

As I lay still with closed eyes, free to ponder, many things I had
lightly noted in the frescoes came back to me with new and terrible
significance--scenes representing the nameless city in its heyday--
the vegetations of the valley around it, and the distant lands with
which its merchants traded. The allegory of the crawling creatures
puzzled me by its universal prominence, and I wondered that it would be
so closely followed in a pictured history of such importance. In the
frescoes the nameless city had been shewn in proportions fitted to the
reptiles. I wondered what its real proportions and magnificence had
been, and reflected a moment on certain oddities I had noticed in the
ruins. I thought curiously of the lowness of the primal temples and of
the underground corridor, which were doubtless hewn thus out of
deference to the reptile deities there honoured; though it perforce
reduced the worshippers to crawling. Perhaps the very rites here
involved crawling in imitation of the creatures. No religious theory,
however, could easily explain why the level passages in that awesome
descent should be as low as the temples--or lower, since one could not
even kneel in it. As I thought of the crawling creatures, whose hideous
mummified forms were so close to me, I felt a new throb of fear. Mental
associations are curious, and I shrank from the idea that except for
the poor primitive man torn to pieces in the last painting, mine was
the only human form amidst the many relics and symbols of the
primordial life.

But as always in my strange and roving existence, wonder soon drove
out fear; for the luminous abyss and what it might contain presented a
problem worthy of the greatest explorer that a weird world of mystery
lay far down that flight of peculiarly small steps I could not doubt,
and I hoped to find there those human memorials which the painted
corridor had failed to give. The frescoes had pictured unbelievable
cities, and valleys in this lower realm, and my fancy dwelt on the rich
and colossal ruins that awaited me.

My fears, indeed, concerned the past rather than the future. Not
even the physical horror of my position in that cramped corridor of
dead reptiles and antediluvian frescoes, miles below the world I knew
and faced by another world of eery light and mist, could match the
lethal dread I felt at the abysmal antiquity of the scene and its soul.
An ancientness so vast that measurement is feeble seemed to leer down
from the primal stones and rock-hewn temples of the nameless city,
while the very latest of the astounding maps in the frescoes shewed
oceans and continents that man has forgotten, with only here and there
some vaguely familiar outlines. Of what could have happened in the
geological ages since the paintings ceased and the death-hating race
resentfully succumbed to decay, no man might say. Life had once teemed
in these caverns and in the luminous realm beyond; now I was alone with
vivid relics, and I trembled to think of the countless ages through
which these relics had kept a silent deserted vigil.

Suddenly there came another burst of that acute fear which had
intermittently seized me ever since I first saw the terrible valley and
the nameless city under a cold moon, and despite my exhaustion I found
myself starting frantically to a sitting posture and gazing back along
the black corridor toward the tunnels that rose to the outer world. My
sensations were like those which had made me shun the nameless city at
night, and were as inexplicable as they were poignant. In another
moment, however, I received a still greater shock in the form of a
definite sound--the first which had broken the utter silence of these
tomb-like depths. It was a deep, low moaning, as of a distant throng of
condemned spirits, and came from the direction in which I was staring.
Its volume rapidly grew, till it soon reverberated rightfully through
the low passage, and at the same time I became conscious of an
increasing draught of old air, likewise flowing from the tunnels and
the city above. The touch of this air seemed to restore my balance, for
I instantly recalled the sudden gusts which had risen around the mouth
of the abyss each sunset and sunrise, one of which had indeed revealed
the hidden tunnels to me. I looked at my watch and saw that sunrise was
near, so bracing myself to resist the gale that was sweeping down to
its cavern home as it had swept forth at evening. My fear again waned
low, since a natural phenomenon tends to dispel broodings over the
unknown.

More and more madly poured the shrieking, moaning night wind into
the gulf of the inner earth. I dropped prone again and clutched vainly
at the floor for fear of being swept bodily through the open gate into
the phosphorescent abyss. Such fury I had not expected, and as I grew
aware of an actual slipping of my form toward the abyss I was beset by
a thousand new terrors of apprehension and imagination. The malignancy
of the blast awakened incredible fancies; once more I compared myself
shudderingly to the only human image in that frightful corridor, the
man who was torn to pieces by the nameless race, for in the fiendish
clawing of the swirling currents there seemed to abide a vindictive
rage all the stronger because it was largely impotent. I think I
screamed frantically near the last--I was almost mad--of the howling
wind-wraiths. I tried to crawl against the murderous invisible torrent,
but I could not even hold my own as I was pushed slowly and inexorably
toward the unknown world. Finally reason must have wholly snapped; for
I fell babbling over and over that unexplainable couplet of the mad
Arab Alhazred, who dreamed of the nameless city:

That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death may die.

Only the grim brooding desert gods know what really took place--what
indescribable struggles and scrambles in the dark I endured or what
Abaddon guided me back to life, where I must always remember and shiver
in the night wind till oblivion--or worse--claims me. Monstrous,
unnatural, colossal, was the thing--too far beyond all the ideas of man
to be believed except in the silent damnable small hours of the morning
when one cannot sleep.

I have said that the fury of the rushing blast was infernal--
cacodaemoniacal--and that its voices were hideous with the pent-up
viciousness of desolate eternities. Presently these voices, while still
chaotic before me, seemed to my beating brain to take articulate form
behind me; and down there in the grave of unnumbered aeon-dead
antiquities, leagues below the dawn-lit world of men, I heard the
ghastly cursing and snarling of strange-tongued fiends. Turning, I saw
outlined against the luminous aether of the abyss that could not be
seen against the dusk of the corridor--a nightmare horde of rushing
devils; hate distorted, grotesquely panoplied, half transparent devils of
a race no man might mistake--the crawling reptiles of the nameless
city.

And as the wind died away I was plunged into the ghoul-pooled
darkness of earth's bowels; for behind the last of the creatures the
great brazen door clanged shut with a deafening peal of metallic music
whose reverberations swelled out to the distant world to hail the
rising sun as Memnon hails it from the banks of the Nile.



* THE FESTIVAL

Efficiut Daemones, ut quae non sunt, sic tamen quasi sint,
conspicienda hominibus exhibeant.

--Lacantius

(Devils so work that things which are not appear to men
as if they were real.)


I was far from home, and the spell of the eastern sea was upon me.
In the twilight I heard it pounding on the rocks, and I knew it lay
just over the hill where the twisting willows writhed against the
clearing sky and the first stars of evening. And because my fathers had
called me to the old town beyond, I pushed on through the shallow,
new-fallen snow along the road that soared lonely up to where Aldebaran
twinkled among the trees; on toward the very ancient town I had never
seen but often dreamed of.

It was the Yuletide, that men call Christmas though they know in
their hearts it is older than Bethlehem and Babylon, older than Memphis
and mankind. It was the Yuletide, and I had come at last to the ancient
sea town where my people had dwelt and kept festival in the elder time
when festival was forbidden; where also they had commanded their sons
to keep festival once every century, that the memory of primal secrets
might not be forgotten. Mine were an old people, and were old even when
this land was settled three hundred years before. And they were
strange, because they had come as dark furtive folk from opiate
southern gardens of orchids, and spoken another tongue before they
learnt the tongue of the blue-eyed fishers. And now they were
scattered, and shared only the rituals of mysteries that none living
could understand. I was the only one who came back that night to the
old fishing town as legend bade, for only the poor and the lonely
remember.

Then beyond the hill's crest I saw Kingsport outspread frostily in
the gloaming; snowy Kingsport with its ancient vanes and steeples,
ridgepoles and chimney-pots, wharves and small bridges, willow-trees
and graveyards; endless labyrinths of steep, narrow, crooked streets,
and dizzy church-crowned central peak that time durst not touch;
ceaseless mazes of colonial houses piled and scattered at all angles
and levels like a child's disordered blocks; antiquity hovering on grey
wings over winter-whitened gables and gambrel roofs; fanlights and
small-paned windows one by one gleaming out in the cold dusk to join
Orion and the archaic stars. And against the rotting wharves the sea
pounded; the secretive, immemorial sea out of which the people had come
in the elder time.

Beside the road at its crest a still higher summit rose, bleak and
windswept, and I saw that it was a burying-ground where black
gravestones stuck ghoulishly through the snow like the decayed
fingernails of a gigantic corpse. The printless road was very lonely,
and sometimes I thought I heard a distant horrible creaking as of a
gibbet in the wind. They had hanged four kinsmen of mine for witchcraft
in 1692, but I did not know just where.

As the road wound down the seaward slope I listened for the merry
sounds of a village at evening, but did not hear them. Then I thought
of the season, and felt that these old Puritan folk might well have
Christmas customs strange to me, and full of silent hearthside prayer.
So after that I did not listen for merriment or look for wayfarers,
kept on down past the hushed lighted farmhouses and shadowy stone walls
to where the signs of ancient shops and sea taverns creaked in the salt
breeze, and the grotesque knockers of pillared doorways glistened along
deserted unpaved lanes in the light of little, curtained windows.

I had seen maps of the town, and knew where to find the home of my
people. It was told that I should be known and welcomed, for village
legend lives long; so I hastened through Back Street to Circle Court,
and across the fresh snow on the one full flagstone pavement in the
town, to where Green Lane leads off behind the Market House. The old
maps still held good, and I had no trouble; though at Arkham they must
have lied when they said the trolleys ran to this place, since I saw
not a wire overhead. Snow would have hid the rails in any case. I was
glad I had chosen to walk, for the white village had seemed very
beautiful from the hill; and now I was eager to knock at the door of my
people, the seventh house on the left in Green Lane, with an ancient
peaked roof and jutting second storey, all built before 1650.

There were lights inside the house when I came upon it, and I saw
from the diamond window-panes that it must have been kept very close to
its antique state. The upper part overhung the narrow grass-grown
street and nearly met the over-hanging part of the house opposite, so
that I was almost in a tunnel, with the low stone doorstep wholly free
from snow. There was no sidewalk, but many houses had high doors
reached by double flights of steps with iron railings. It was an odd
scene, and because I was strange to New England I had never known its
like before. Though it pleased me, I would have relished it better if
there had been footprints in the snow, and people in the streets, and a
few windows without drawn curtains.

When I sounded the archaic iron knocker I was half afraid. Some fear
had been gathering in me, perhaps because of the strangeness of my
heritage, and the bleakness of the evening, and the queerness of the
silence in that aged town of curious customs. And when my knock was
answered I was fully afraid, because I had not heard any footsteps
before the door creaked open. But I was not afraid long, for the
gowned, slippered old man in the doorway had a bland face that
reassured me; and though he made signs that he was dumb, he wrote a
quaint and ancient welcome with the stylus and wax tablet he carried.

He beckoned me into a low, candle-lit room with massive exposed
rafters and dark, stiff, sparse furniture of the seventeenth century.
The past was vivid there, for not an attribute was missing. There was a
cavernous fireplace and a spinning-wheel at which a bent old woman in
loose wrapper and deep poke-bonnet sat back toward me, silently
spinning despite the festive season. An indefinite dampness seemed upon
the place, and I marvelled that no fire should be blazing. The
high-backed settle faced the row of curtained windows at the left, and
seemed to be occupied, though I was not sure. I did not like everything
about what I saw, and felt again the fear I had had. This fear grew
stronger from what had before lessened it, for the more I looked at the
old man's bland face the more its very blandness terrified me. The eyes
never moved, and the skin was too much like wax. Finally I was sure it
was not a face at all, but a fiendishly cunning mask. But the flabby
hands, curiously gloved, wrote genially on the tablet and told me I
must wait a while before I could be led to the place of the festival.

Pointing to a chair, table, and pile of books, the old man now left
the room; and when I sat down to read I saw that the books were hoary
and mouldy, and that they included old Morryster's wild Marvels of
Science, the terrible Saducismus Triumphatus of Joseph Glanvil,
published in 1681, the shocking Daemonolatreja of Remigius, printed in
1595 at Lyons, and worst of all, the unmentionable Necronomicon of the
mad Arab Abdul Alhazred, in Olaus Wormius' forbidden Latin translation;
a book which I had never seen, but of which I had heard monstrous
things whispered. No one spoke to me, but I could hear the creaking of
signs in the wind outside, and the whir of the wheel as the bonneted
old woman continued her silent spinning, spinning. I thought the room
and the books and the people very morbid and disquieting, but because
an old tradition of my fathers had summoned me to strange feastings, I
resolved to expect queer things. So I tried to read, and soon became
tremblingly absorbed by something I found in that accursed
Necronomicon; a thought and a legend too hideous for sanity or
consciousness, but I disliked it when I fancied I heard the closing of
one of the windows that the settle faced, as if it had been stealthily
opened. It had seemed to follow a whirring that was not of the old
woman's spinning-wheel. This was not much, though, for the old woman
was spinning very hard, and the aged clock had been striking. After
that I lost the feeling that there were persons on the settle, and was
reading intently and shudderingly when the old man came back booted and
dressed in a loose antique costume, and sat down on that very bench, so
that I could not see him. It was certainly nervous waiting, and the
blasphemous book in my hands made it doubly so. When eleven struck,
however, the old man stood up, glided to a massive carved chest in a
corner, and got two hooded cloaks; one of which he donned, and the
other of which he draped round the old woman, who was ceasing her
monotonous spinning. Then they both started for the outer door; the
woman lamely creeping, and the old man, after picking up the very book
I had been reading, beckoning me as he drew his hood over that unmoving
face or mask.

We went out into the moonless and tortuous network of that
incredibly ancient town; went out as the lights in the curtained
windows disappeared one by one, and the Dog Star leered at the throng
of cowled, cloaked figures that poured silently from every doorway and
formed monstrous processions up this street and that, past the creaking
sigus and antediluvian gables, the thatched roofs and diamond-paned
windows; threading precipitous lanes where decaying houses overlapped
and crumbled together; gliding across open courts and churchyards where
the bobbing lanthorns made eldritch drunken constellations.

Amid these hushed throngs I followed my voiceless guides; jostled by
elbows that seemed preternaturally soft, and pressed by chests and
stomachs that seemed abnormally pulpy; but seeing never a face and
hearing never a word. Up, up, up, the eery columns slithered, and I saw
that all the travellers were converging as they flowed near a sort of
focus of crazy alleys at the top of a high hill in the centre of the
town, where perched a great white church. I had seen it from the road's
crest when I looked at Kingsport in the new dusk, and it had made me
shiver because Aldebaran had seemed to balance itself a moment on the
ghostly spire.

There was an open space around the church; partly a churchyard with
spectral shafts, and partly a half-paved square swept nearly bare of
snow by the wind, and lined with unwholesomely archaic houses having
peaked roofs and overhanging gables. Death-fires danced over the tombs,
revealing gruesome vistas, though queerly failing to cast any shadows.
Past the churchyard, where there were no houses, I could see over the
hill's summit and watch the glimmer of stars on the harbour, though the
town was invisible in the dark. Only once in a while a lantern bobbed
horribly through serpentine alleys on its way to overtake the throng
that was now slipping speechlessly into the church. I waited till the
crowd had oozed into the black doorway, and till all the stragglers had
followed. The old man was pulling at my sleeve, but I was determined to
be the last. Crossing the threshold into the swarming temple of unknown
darkness, I turned once to look at the outside world as the churchyard
phosphorescence cast a sickly glow on the hilltop pavement. And as I
did so I shuddered. For though the wind had not left much snow, a few
patches did remain on the path near the door; and in that fleeting
backward look it seemed to my troubled eyes that they bore no mark of
passing feet, not even mine.

The church was scarce lighted by all the lanthorns that had entered
it, for most of the throng had already vanished. They had streamed up
the aisle between the high pews to the trap-door of the vaults which
yawned loathsomely open just before the pulpit, and were now squirming
noiselessly in. I followed dumbly down the foot-worn steps and into the
dark, suffocating crypt. The tail of that sinuous line of
night-marchers seemed very horrible, and as I saw them wriggling into a
venerable tomb they seemed more horrible still. Then I noticed that the
tomb's floor had an aperture down which the throng was sliding, and in
a moment we were all descending an ominous staircase of rough-hewn
stone; a narrow spiral staircase damp and peculiarly odorous, that
wound endlessly down into the bowels of the hill past monotonous walls
of dripping stone blocks and crumbling mortar. It was a silent,
shocking descent, and I observed after a horrible interval that the
walls and steps were changing in nature, as if chiselled out of the
solid rock. What mainly troubled me was that the myriad footfalls made
no sound and set up no echoes. After more aeons of descent I saw some
side passages or burrows leading from unknown recesses of blackness to
this shaft of nighted mystery. Soon they became excessively numerous,
like impious catacombs of nameless menace; and their pungent odour of
decay grew quite unbearable. I knew we must have passed down through
the mountain and beneath the earth of Kingsport itself, and I shivered
that a town should be so aged and maggoty with subterraneous evil.

Then I saw the lurid shimmering of pale light, and heard the
insidious lapping of sunless waters. Again I shivered, for I did not
like the things that the night had brought, and wished bitterly that no
forefather had summoned me to this primal rite. As the steps and the
passage grew broader, I heard another sound, the thin, whining mockery
of a feeble flute; and suddenly there spread out before me the
boundless vista of an inner world--a vast fungous shore litten by a
belching column of sick greenish flame and washed by a wide oily river
that flowed from abysses frightful and unsuspected to join the blackest
gulfs of immemorial ocean.

Fainting and gasping, I looked at that unhallowed Erebus of titan
toadstools, leprous fire and slimy water, and saw the cloaked throngs
forming a semicircle around the blazing pillar. It was the Yule-rite,
older than man and fated to survive him; the primal rite of the
solstice and of spring's promise beyond the snows; the rite of fire and
evergreen, light and music. And in the stygian grotto I saw them do the
rite, and adore the sick pillar of flame, and throw into the water
handfuls gouged out of the viscous vegetation which glittered green in
the chlorotic glare. I saw this, and I saw something amorphously
squatted far away from the light, piping noisomely on a flute; and as
the thing piped I thought I heard noxious muffled flutterings in the
foetid darkness where I could not see. But what frightened me most was
that flaming column; spouting volcanically from depths profound and
inconceivable, casting no shadows as healthy flame should, and coating
the nitrous stone with a nasty, venomous verdigris. For in all that
seething combustion no warmth lay, but only the clamminess of death and
corruption.

The man who had brought me now squirmed to a point directly beside
the hideous flame, and made stiff ceremonial motions to the semi-circle
he faced. At certain stages of the ritual they did grovelling
obeisance, especially when he held above his head that abhorrent
Necronomicon he had taken with him; and I shared all the obeisances
because I had been summoned to this festival by the writings of my
forefathers. Then the old man made a signal to the half-seen
flute-player in the darkness, which player thereupon changed its feeble
drone to a scarce louder drone in another key; precipitating as it did
so a horror unthinkable and unexpected. At this horror I sank nearly to
the lichened earth, transfixed with a dread not of this or any world,
but only of the mad spaces between the stars.

Out of the unimaginable blackness beyond the gangrenous glare of
that cold flame, out of the tartarean leagues through which that oily
river rolled uncanny, unheard, and unsuspected, there flopped
rhythmically a horde of tame, trained, hybrid winged things that no
sound eye could ever wholly grasp, or sound brain ever wholly remember.
They were not altogether crows, nor moles, nor buzzards, nor ants, nor
vampire bats, nor decomposed human beings; but something I cannot and
must not recall. They flopped limply along, half with their webbed feet
and half with their membranous wings; and as they reached the throng of
celebrants the cowled figures seized and mounted them, and rode off one
by one along the reaches of that unlighted river, into pits and
galleries of panic where poison springs feed frightful and
undiscoverable cataracts.

The old spinning woman had gone with the throng, and the old man
remained only because I had refused when he motioned me to seize an
animal and ride like the rest. I saw when I staggered to my feet that
the amorphous flute-player had rolled out of sight, but that two of the
beasts were patiently standing by. As I hung back, the old man produced
his stylus and tablet and wrote that he was the true deputy of my
fathers who had founded the Yule worship in this ancient place; that it
had been decreed I should come back, and that the most secret mysteries
were yet to be performed. He wrote this in a very ancient hand, and
when I still hesitated he pulled from his loose robe a seal ring and a
watch, both with my family arms, to prove that he was what he said. But
it was a hideous proof, because I knew from old papers that that watch
had been buried with my great-great-great-great-grandfather in 1698.

Presently the old man drew back his hood and pointed to the family
resemblance in his face, but I only shuddered, because I was sure that
the face was merely a devilish waxen mask. The flopping animals were
now scratching restlessly at the lichens, and I saw that the old man
was nearly as restless himself. When one of the things began to waddle
and edge away, he turned quickly to stop it; so that the suddenness of
his motion dislodged the waxen mask from what should have been his
head. And then, because that nightmare's position barred me from the
stone staircase down which we had come, I flung myself into the oily
underground river that bubbled somewhere to the caves of the sea; flung
myself into that putrescent juice of earth's inner horrors before the
madness of my screams could bring down upon me all the charnel legions
these pest-gulfs might conceal.

At the hospital they told me I had been found half-frozen in
Kingsport Harbour at dawn, clinging to the drifting spar that accident
sent to save me. They told me I had taken the wrong fork of the hill
road the night before, and fallen over the cliffs at Orange Point; a
thing they deduced from prints found in the snow. There was nothing I
could say, because everything was wrong. Everything was wrong, with the
broad windows showing a sea of roofs in which only about one in five
was ancient, and the sound of trolleys and motors in the streets below.
They insisted that this was Kingsport, and I could not deny it. When I
went delirious at hearing that the hospital stood near the old
churchyard on Central Hill, they sent me to St. Mary's Hospital in
Arkham, where I could have better care. I liked it there, for the
doctors were broad-minded, and even lent me their influence in
obtaining the carefully sheltered copy of Alhazred's objectionable
Necronomicon from the library of Miskatonic University. They said
something about a "psychosis" and agreed I had better get any harassing
obsessions off my mind.

So I read that hideous chapter, and shuddered doubly because it was
indeed not new to me. I had seen it before, let footprints tell what
they might; and where it was I had seen it were best forgotten. There
was no one--in waking hours--who could remind me of it; but my dreams
are filled with terror, because of phrases I dare not quote. I dare
quote only one paragraph, put into such English as I can make from the
awkward Low Latin.

"The nethermost caverns," wrote the mad Arab, "are not for the
fathoming of eyes that see; for their marvels are strange and terrific.
Cursed the ground where dead thoughts live new and oddly bodied, and
evil the mind that is held by no head. Wisely did Ibn Schacabao say,
that happy is the tomb where no wizard hath lain, and happy the town at
night whose wizards are all ashes. For it is of old rumour that the
soul of the devil-bought hastes not from his charnel clay, but fats and
instructs the very worm that gnaws; till out of corruption horrid life
springs, and the dull scavengers of earth wax crafty to vex it and
swell monstrous to plague it. Great holes secretly are digged where
earth's pores ought to suffice, and things have learnt to walk that
ought to crawl."



* THE COLOUR OUT OF SPACE

West of Arkham the hills rise wild, and there are valleys with deep
woods that no axe has ever cut. There are dark narrow glens where the
trees slope fantastically, and where thin brooklets trickle without
ever having caught the glint of sunlight. On the gentle slopes there
are farms, ancient and rocky, with squat, moss-coated cottages brooding
eternally over old New England secrets in the lee of great ledges; but
these are all vacant now, the wide chimneys crumbling and the shingled
sides bulging perilously beneath low gambrel roofs.

The old folk have gone away, and foreigners do not like to live
there. French-Canadians have tried it, Italians have tried it, and the
Poles have come and departed. It is not because of anything that can be
seen or heard or handled, but because of something that is imagined.
The place is not good for imagination, and does not bring restful
dreams at night. It must be this which keeps the foreigners away, for
old Ammi Pierce has never told them of anything he recalls from the
strange days. Ammi, whose head has been a little queer for years, is
the only one who still remains, or who ever talks of the strange days;
and he dares to do this because his house is so near the open fields
and the travelled roads around Arkham.

There was once a road over the hills and through the valleys, that
ran straight where the blasted heath is now; but people ceased to use
it and a new road was laid curving far toward the south. Traces of the
old one can still be found amidst the weeds of a returning wilderness,
and some of them will doubtless linger even when half the hollows are
flooded for the new reservoir. Then the dark woods will be cut down and
the blasted heath will slumber far below blue waters whose surface will
mirror the sky and ripple in the sun. And the secrets of the strange
days will be one with the deep's secrets; one with the hidden lore of
old ocean, and all the mystery of primal earth.

When I went into the hills and vales to survey for the new reservoir
they told me the place was evil. They told me this in Arkham, and
because that is a very old town full of witch legends I thought the
evil must be something which grandams had whispered to children through
centuries. The name "blasted heath" seemed to me very odd and
theatrical, and I wondered how it had come into the folklore of a
Puritan people. Then I saw that dark westward tangle of glens and
slopes for myself, and ceased to wonder at anything beside its own
elder mystery. It was morning when I saw it, but shadow lurked always
there. The trees grew too thickly, and their trunks were too big for
any healthy New England wood. There was too much silence in the dim
alleys between them, and the floor was too soft with the dank moss and
mattings of infinite years of decay.

In the open spaces, mostly along the line of the old road, there
were little hillside farms; sometimes with all the buildings standing,
sometimes with only one or two, and sometimes with only a lone chimney
or fast-filling cellar. Weeds and briers reigned, and furtive wild
things rustled in the undergrowth. Upon everything was a haze of
restlessness and oppression; a touch of the unreal and the grotesque,
as if some vital element of perspective or chiaroscuro were awry. I did
not wonder that the foreigners would not stay, for this was no region
to sleep in. It was too much like a landscape of Salvator Rosa; too
much like some forbidden woodcut in a tale of terror.

But even all this was not so bad as the blasted heath. I knew it the
moment I came upon it at the bottom of a spacious valley; for no other
name could fit such a thing, or any other thing fit such a name. It was
as if the poet had coined the phrase from having seen this one
particular region. It must, I thought as I viewed it, be the outcome of
a fire; but why had nothing new ever grown over these five acres of
grey desolation that sprawled open to the sky like a great spot eaten
by acid in the woods and fields? It lay largely to the north of the
ancient road line, but encroached a little on the other side. I felt an
odd reluctance about approaching, and did so at last only because my
business took me through and past it. There was no vegetation of any
kind on that broad expanse, but only a fine grey dust or ash which no
wind seemed ever to blow about. The trees near it were sickly and
stunted, and many dead trunks stood or lay rotting at the rim. As I
walked hurriedly by I saw the tumbled bricks and stones of an old
chimney and cellar on my right, and the yawning black maw of an
abandoned well whose stagnant vapours played strange tricks with the
hues of the sunlight. Even the long, dark woodland climb beyond seemed
welcome in contrast, and I marvelled no more at the frightened whispers
of Arkham people. There had been no house or ruin near; even in the old
days the place must have been lonely and remote. And at twilight,
dreading to repass that ominous spot, I walked circuitously back to the
town by the curious road on the south. I vaguely wished some clouds
would gather, for an odd timidity about the deep skyey voids above had
crept into my soul.

In the evening I asked old people in Arkham about the blasted heath,
and what was meant by that phrase "strange days" which so many
evasively muttered. I could not, however, get any good answers except
that all the mystery was much more recent than I had dreamed. It was
not a matter of old legendry at all, but something within the lifetime
of those who spoke. It had happened in the 'eighties, and a family had
disappeared or was killed. Speakers would not be exact; and because
they all told me to pay no attention to old Ammi Pierce's crazy tales,
I sought him out the next morning, having heard that he lived alone in
the ancient tottering cottage where the trees first begin to get very
thick. It was a fearsomely ancient place, and had begun to exude the
faint miasmal odour which clings about houses that have stood too long.
Only with persistent knocking could I rouse the aged man, and when he
shuffled timidly to the door I could tell he was not glad to see
me. He was not so feeble as I had expected; but his eyes drooped in a
curious way, and his unkempt clothing and white beard made him seem
very worn and dismal.

Not knowing just how he could best be launched on his tales, I
feigned a matter of business; told him of my surveying, and asked vague
questions about the district. He was far brighter and more educated
than I had been led to think, and before I knew it had grasped quite as
much of the subject as any man I had talked with in Arkham. He was not
like other rustics I had known in the sections where reservoirs were to
be. From him there were no protests at the miles of old wood and
farmland to be blotted out, though perhaps there would have been had
not his home lain outside the bounds of the future lake. Relief was all
that he showed; relief at the doom of the dark ancient valleys through
which he had roamed all his life. They were better under water now--
better under water since the strange days. And with this opening his
husky voice sank low, while his body leaned forward and his right
forefinger began to point shakily and impressively.

It was then that I heard the story, and as the rambling voice
scraped and whispered on I shivered again and again spite the summer
day. Often I had to recall the speaker from ramblings, piece out
scientific points which he knew only by a fading parrot memory of
professors' talk, or bridge over gaps, where his sense of logic and
continuity broke down. When he was done I did not wonder that his mind
had snapped a trifle, or that the folk of Arkham would not speak much
of the blasted heath. I hurried back before sunset to my hotel,
unwilling to have the stars come out above me in the open; and the next
day returned to Boston to give up my position. I could not go into
that dim chaos of old forest and slope again, or face another time that
grey blasted heath where the black well yawned deep beside the tumbled
bricks and stones. The reservoir will soon be built now, and all those
elder secrets will be safe forever under watery fathoms. But even then
I do not believe I would like to visit that country by night--at least
not when the sinister stars are out; and nothing could bribe me to
drink the new city water of Arkham.

It all began, old Ammi said, with the meteorite. Before that time
there had been no wild legends at all since the witch trials, and even
then these western woods were not feared half so much as the small
island in the Miskatonic where the devil held court beside a curious
lone altar older than the Indians. These were not haunted woods, and
their fantastic dusk was never terrible till the strange days. Then
there had come that white noontide cloud, that string of explosions in
the air, and that pillar of smoke from the valley far in the wood. And
by night all Arkham had heard of the great rock that fell out of the
sky and bedded itself in the ground beside the well at the Nahum
Gardner place. That was the house which had stood where the blasted
heath was to come--the trim white Nahum Gardner house amidst its
fertile gardens and orchards.

Nahum had come to town to tell people about the stone, and dropped
in at Ammi Pierce's on the way. Ammi was forty then, and all the queer
things were fixed very strongly in his mind. He and his wife had gone
with the three professors from Miskatonic University who hastened out
the next morning to see the weird visitor from unknown stellar space,
and had wondered why Nahum had called it so large the day before. It
had shrunk, Nahum said as he pointed out the big brownish mound above
the ripped earth and charred grass near the archaic well-sweep in his
front yard; but the wise men answered that stones do not shrink. Its
heat lingered persistently, and Nahum declared it had glowed faintly in
the night. The professors tried it with a geologist's hammer and found
it was oddly soft. It was, in truth, so soft as to be almost plastic;
and they gouged rather than chipped a specimen to take back to the
college for testing. They took it in an old pail borrowed from Nahum's
kitchen, for even the small piece refused to grow cool. On the trip
back they stopped at Ammi's to rest, and seemed thoughtful when Mrs.
Pierce remarked that the fragment was growing smaller and burning the
bottom of the pail. Truly, it was not large, but perhaps they had taken
less than they thought.

The day after that--all this was in June of '82--the professors had
trooped out again in a great excitement. As they passed Ammi's they
told him what queer things the specimen had done, and how it had faded
wholly away when they put it in a glass beaker. The beaker had gone,
too, and the wise men talked of the strange stone's affinity for
silicon. It had acted quite unbelievably in that well-ordered
laboratory; doing nothing at all and showing no occluded gases when
heated on charcoal, being wholly negative in the borax bead, and soon
proving itself absolutely non-volatile at any producible temperature,
including that of the oxy-hydrogen blowpipe. On an anvil it appeared
highly malleable, and in the dark its luminosity was very marked.
Stubbornly refusing to grow cool, it soon had the college in a state of
real excitement; and when upon heating before the spectroscope it
displayed shining bands unlike any known colours of the normal spectrum
there was much breathless talk of new elements, bizarre optical
properties, and other things which puzzled men of science are wont to
say when faced by the unknown.

Hot as it was, they tested it in a crucible with all the proper
reagents. Water did nothing. Hydrochloric acid was the same. Nitric
acid and even aqua regia merely hissed and spattered against its torrid
invulnerability. Ammi had difficulty in recalling all these things, but
recognized some solvents as I mentioned them in the usual order of use.
There were ammonia and caustic soda, alcohol and ether, nauseous carbon
disulphide and a dozen others; but although the weight grew steadily
less as time passed, and the fragment seemed to be slightly cooling,
there was no change in the solvents to show that they had attacked the
substance at all. It was a metal, though, beyond a doubt. It was
magnetic, for one thing; and after its immersion in the acid solvents
there seemed to be faint traces of the Widmanstatten figures found on
meteoric iron. When the cooling had grown very considerable, the
testing was carried on in glass; and it was in a glass beaker that they
left all the chips made of the original fragment during the work. The
next morning both chips and beaker were gone without trace, and only a
charred spot marked the place on the wooden shelf where they had been.

All this the professors told Ammi as they paused at his door, and
once more he went with them to see the stony messenger from the stars,
though this time his wife did not accompany him. It had now most
certainly shrunk, and even the sober professors could not doubt the
truth of what they saw. All around the dwindling brown lump near the
well was a vacant space, except where the earth had caved in; and
whereas it had been a good seven feet across the day before, it was now
scarcely five. It was still hot, and the sages studied its surface
curiously as they detached another and larger piece with hammer and
chisel. They gouged deeply this time, and as they pried away the
smaller mass they saw that the core of the thing was not quite
homogeneous.

They had uncovered what seemed to be the side of a large coloured
globule embedded in the substance. The colour, which resembled some of
the bands in the meteor's strange spectrum, was almost impossible to
describe; and it was only by analogy that they called it colour at all.
Its texture was glossy, and upon tapping it appeared to promise both
brittleness and hollowness. One of the professors gave it a smart blow
with a hammer, and it burst with a nervous little pop. Nothing was
emitted, and all trace of the thing vanished with the puncturing. It
left behind a hollow spherical space about three inches across, and all
thought it probable that others would be discovered as the enclosing
substance wasted away.

Conjecture was vain; so after a futile attempt to find additional
globules by drilling, the seekers left again with their new specimen
which proved, however, as baffling in the laboratory as its
predecessor. Aside from being almost plastic, having heat, magnetism,
and slight luminosity, cooling slightly in powerful acids, possessing
an unknown spectrum, wasting away in air, and attacking silicon
compounds with mutual destruction as a result, it presented no
identifying features whatsoever; and at the end of the tests the
college scientists were forced to own that they could not place it. It
was nothing of this earth, but a piece of the great outside; and as
such dowered with outside properties and obedient to outside laws.

That night there was a thunderstorm, and when the professors went
out to Nahum's the next day they met with a bitter disappointment. The
stone, magnetic as it had been, must have had some peculiar electrical
property; for it had "drawn the lightning," as Nahum said, with a
singular persistence. Six times within an hour the farmer saw the
lightning strike the furrow in the front yard, and when the storm was
over nothing remained but a ragged pit by the ancient well-sweep,
half-choked with a caved-in earth. Digging had borne no fruit, and the
scientists verified the fact of the utter vanishment. The failure was
total; so that nothing was left to do but go back to the laboratory and
test again the disappearing fragment left carefully cased in lead. That
fragment lasted a week, at the end of which nothing of value had been
learned of it. When it had gone, no residue was left behind, and in
time the professors felt scarcely sure they had indeed seen with waking
eyes that cryptic vestige of the fathomless gulfs outside; that lone,
weird message from other universes and other realms of matter, force,
and entity.

As was natural, the Arkham papers made much of the incident with its
collegiate sponsoring, and sent reporters to talk with Nahum Gardner
and his family. At least one Boston daily also sent a scribe, and Nahum
quickly became a kind of local celebrity. He was a lean, genial person
of about fifty, living with his wife and three sons on the pleasant
farmstead in the valley. He and Ammi exchanged visits frequently, as
did their wives; and Ammi had nothing but praise for him after all
these years. He seemed slightly proud of the notice his place had
attracted, and talked often of the meteorite in the succeeding weeks.
That July and August were hot; and Nahum worked hard at his haying in
the ten-acre pasture across Chapman's Brook; his rattling wain wearing
deep ruts in the shadowy lanes between. The labour tired him more than
it had in other years, and he felt that age was beginning to tell on
him.

Then fell the time of fruit and harvest. The pears and apples slowly
ripened, and Nahum vowed that his orchards were prospering as never
before. The fruit was growing to phenomenal size and unwonted gloss,
and in such abundance that extra barrels were ordered to handle the
future crop. But with the ripening came sore disappointment, for of all
that gorgeous array of specious lusciousness not one single jot was fit
to eat. Into the fine flavour of the pears and apples had crept a
stealthy bitterness and sickishness, so that even the smallest bites
induced a lasting disgust. It was the same with the melons and
tomatoes, and Nahum sadly saw that his entire crop was lost. Quick to
connect events, he declared that the meteorite had poisoned the soil,
and thanked Heaven that most of the other crops were in the upland lot
along the road.

Winter came early, and was very cold. Ammi saw Nahum less often than
usual, and observed that he had begun to look worried. The rest of his
family too, seemed to have grown taciturn; and were far from steady in
their church-going or their attendance at the various social events of
the countryside. For this reserve or melancholy no cause could be
found, though all the household confessed now and then to poorer health
and a feeling of vague disquiet. Nahum himself gave the most definite
statement of anyone when he said he was disturbed about certain
footprints in the snow. They were the usual winter prints of red
squirrels, white rabbits, and foxes, but the brooding farmer professed
to see something not quite right about their nature and arrangement. He
was never specific, but appeared to think that they were not as
characteristic of the anatomy and habits of squirrels and rabbits and
foxes as they ought to be. Ammi listened without interest to this talk
until one night when he drove past Nahum's house in his sleigh on the
way back from Clark's Comer. There had been a moon, and a rabbit had
run across the road, and the leaps of that rabbit were longer than
either Ammi or his horse liked. The latter, indeed, had almost run away
when brought up by a firm rein. Thereafter Ammi gave Nahum's tales more
respect, and wondered why the Gardner dogs seemed so cowed and
quivering every morning. They had, it developed, nearly lost the spirit
to bark.

In February the McGregor boys from Meadow Hill were out shooting
woodchucks, and not far from the Gardner place bagged a very peculiar
specimen. The proportions of its body seemed slightly altered in a
queer way impossible to describe, while its face had taken on an
expression which no one ever saw in a woodchuck before. The boys were
genuinely frightened, and threw the thing away at once, so that only
their grotesque tales of it ever reached the people of the countryside.
But the shying of horses near Nahum's house had now become an
acknowledged thing, and all the basis for a cycle of whispered legend
was fast taking form.

People vowed that the snow melted faster around Nahum's than it did
anywhere else, and early in March there was an awed discussion in
Potter's general store at Clark's Corners. Stephen Rice had driven past
Gardner's in the morning, and had noticed the skunk-cabbages coming up
through the mud by the woods across the road. Never were things of such
size seen before, and they held strange colours that could not be put
into any words. Their shapes were monstrous, and the horse had snorted
at an odour which struck Stephen as wholly unprecedented. That
afternoon several persons drove past to see the abnormal growth, and
all agreed that plants of that kind ought never to sprout in a healthy
world. The bad fruit of the fall before was freely mentioned, and it
went from mouth to mouth that there was poison in Nahum's ground. Of
course it was the meteorite; and remembering how strange the men from
the college had found that stone to be, several farmers spoke about the
matter to them.

One day they paid Nahum a visit; but having no love of wild tales
and folklore were very conservative in what they inferred. The plants
were certainly odd, but all skunk-cabbages are more or less odd in
shape and hue. Perhaps some mineral element from the stone had entered
the soil, but it would soon be washed away. And as for the footprints
and frightened horses--of course this was mere country talk which such
a phenomenon as the aerolite would be certain to start. There was
really nothing for serious men to do in cases of wild gossip, for
superstitious rustics will say and believe anything. And so all through
the strange days the professors stayed away in contempt. Only one of
them, when given two phials of dust for analysis in a police job over a
year and half later, recalled that the queer colour of that
skunk-cabbage had been very like one of the anomalous bands of light
shown by the meteor fragment in the college spectroscope, and like the
brittle globule found imbedded in the stone from the abyss. The samples
in this analysis case gave the same odd bands at first, though later
they lost the property.

The trees budded prematurely around Nahum's, and at night they
swayed ominously in the wind. Nahum's second son Thaddeus, a lad of
fifteen, swore that they swayed also when there was no wind; but even
the gossips would not credit this. Certainly, however, restlessness was
in the air. The entire Gardner family developed the habit of stealthy
listening, though not for any sound which they could consciously name.
The listening was, indeed, rather a product of moments when
consciousness seemed half to slip away. Unfortunately such moments
increased week by week, till it became common speech that "something
was wrong with all Nahum's folks." When the early saxifrage came out it
had another strange colour; not quite like that of the skunk-cabbage,
but plainly related and equally unknown to anyone who saw it. Nahum
took some blossoms to Arkham and showed them to the editor of the
Gazette, but that dignitary did no more than write a humorous article
about them, in which the dark fears of rustics were held up to polite
ridicule. It was a mistake of Nahum's to tell a stolid city man about
the way the great, overgrown mourning-cloak butterflies behaved in
connection with these saxifrages.

April brought a kind of madness to the country folk, and began that
disuse of the road past Nahum's which led to its ultimate abandonment.
It was the vegetation. All the orchard trees blossomed forth in strange
colours, and through the stony soil of the yard and adjacent pasturage
there sprang up a bizarre growth which only a botanist could connect
with the proper flora of the region. No sane wholesome colours were
anywhere to be seen except in the green grass and leafage; but
everywhere were those hectic and prismatic variants of some diseased,
underlying primary tone without a place among the known tints of
earth. The "Dutchman's breeches" became a thing of sinister menace, and
the bloodroots grew insolent in their chromatic perversion. Ammi and
the Gardners thought that most of the colours had a sort of haunting
familiarity, and decided that they reminded one of the brittle globule
in the meteor. Nahum ploughed and sowed the ten-acre pasture and the
upland lot, but did nothing with the land around the house. He knew it
would be of no use, and hoped that the summer's strange growths would
draw all the poison from the soil. He was prepared for almost anything
now, and had grown used to the sense of something near him waiting to
be heard. The shunning of his house by neighbors told on him, of
course; but it told on his wife more. The boys were better off, being
at school each day; but they could not help being frightened by the
gossip. Thaddeus, an especially sensitive youth, suffered the most.

In May the insects came, and Nahum's place became a nightmare of
buzzing and crawling. Most of the creatures seemed not quite usual in
their aspects and motions, and their nocturnal habits contradicted all
former experience. The Gardners took to watching at night--watching in
all directions at random for something--they could not tell what. It
was then that they owned that Thaddeus had been right about the trees.
Mrs. Gardner was the next to see it from the window as she watched the
swollen boughs of a maple against a moonlit sky. The boughs surely
moved, and there was no wind. It must be the sap. Strangeness had come
into everything growing now. Yet it was none of Nahum's family at all
who made the next discovery. Familiarity had dulled them, and what they
could not see was glimpsed by a timid windmill salesman from Bolton who
drove by one night in ignorance of the country legends. What he told in
Arkham was given a short paragraph in the Gazette; and it was there
that all the farmers, Nahum included, saw it first. The night had been
dark and the buggy-lamps faint, but around a farm in the valley which
everyone knew from the account must be Nahum's, the darkness had been
less thick. A dim though distinct luminosity seemed to inhere in all
the vegetation, grass, leaves, and blossoms alike, while at one moment
a detached piece of the phosphorescence appeared to stir furtively in
the yard near the barn.

The grass had so far seemed untouched, and the cows were freely
pastured in the lot near the house, but toward the end of May the milk
began to be bad. Then Nahum had the cows driven to the uplands, after
which this trouble ceased. Not long after this the change in grass and
leaves became apparent to the eye. All the verdure was going grey, and
was developing a highly singular quality of brittleness. Ammi was now
the only person who ever visited the place, and his visits were
becoming fewer and fewer. When school closed the Gardners were
virtually cut off from the world, and sometimes let Ammi do their
errands in town. They were failing curiously both physically and
mentally, and no one was surprised when the news of Mrs. Gardner's
madness stole around.

It happened in June, about the anniversary of the meteor's fall, and
the poor woman screamed about things in the air which she could not
describe. In her raving there was not a single specific noun, but only
verbs and pronouns. Things moved and changed and fluttered, and ears
tingled to impulses which were not wholly sounds. Something was taken
away--she was being drained of something--something was fastening
itself on her that ought not to be--someone must make it keep off--
nothing was ever still in the night--the walls and windows shifted.
Nahum did not send her to the county asylum, but let her wander about
the house as long as she was harmless to herself and others. Even when
her expression changed he did nothing. But when the boys grew afraid of
her, and Thaddeus nearly fainted at the way she made faces at him, he
decided to keep her locked in the attic. By July she had ceased to
speak and crawled on all fours, and before that month was over Nahum
got the mad notion that she was slightly luminous in the dark, as he
now clearly saw was the case with the nearby vegetation.

It was a little before this that the horses had stampeded. Something
had aroused them in the night, and their neighing and kicking in their
stalls had been terrible. There seemed virtually nothing to do to calm
them, and when Nahum opened the stable door they all bolted out like
frightened woodland deer. It took a week to track all four, and when
found they were seen to be quite useless and unmanageable. Something
had snapped in their brains, and each one had to be shot for its own
good. Nahum borrowed a horse from Ammi for his haying, but found it
would not approach the barn. It shied, balked, and whinnied, and in the
end he could do nothing but drive it into the yard while the men used
their own strength to get the heavy wagon near enough the hayloft for
convenient pitching. And all the while the vegetation was turning grey
and brittle. Even the flowers whose hues had been so strange were
greying now, and the fruit was coming out grey and dwarfed and
tasteless. The asters and golden-rod bloomed grey and distorted, and
the roses and zinneas and hollyhocks in the front yard were such
blasphemous-looking things that Nahum's oldest boy Zenas cut them down.
The strangely puffed insects died about that time, even the bees that
had left their hives and taken to the woods.

By September all the vegetation was fast crumbling to a greyish
powder, and Nahum feared that the trees would die before the poison was
out of the soil. His wife now had spells of terrific screaming, and he
and the boys were in a constant state of nervous tension. They shunned
people now, and when school opened the boys did not go. But it was
Ammi, on one of his rare visits, who first realised that the well water
was no longer good. It had an evil taste that was not exactly fetid nor
exactly salty, and Ammi advised his friend to dig another well on
higher ground to use till the soil was good again. Nahum, however,
ignored the warning, for he had by that time become calloused to
strange and unpleasant things. He and the boys continued to use the
tainted supply, drinking it as listlessly and mechanically as they ate
their meagre and ill-cooked meals and did their thankless and
monotonous chores through the aimless days. There was something of
stolid resignation about them all, as if they walked half in another
world between lines of nameless guards to a certain and familiar doom.

Thaddeus went mad in September after a visit to the well. He had
gone with a pail and had come back empty-handed, shrieking and waving
his arms, and sometimes lapsing into an inane titter or a whisper about
"the moving colours down there." Two in one family was pretty bad, but
Nahum was very brave about it. He let the boy run about for a week
until he began stumbling and hurting himself, and then he shut him in
an attic room across the hall from his mother's. The way they screamed
at each other from behind their locked doors was very terrible,
especially to little Merwin, who fancied they talked in some terrible
language that was not of earth. Merwin was getting frightfully
imaginative, and his restlessness was worse after the shutting away of
the brother who had been his greatest playmate.

Almost at the same time the mortality among the livestock commenced.
Poultry turned greyish and died very quickly, their meat being found
dry and noisome upon cutting. Hogs grew inordinately fat, then suddenly
began to undergo loathsome changes which no one could explain. Their
meat was of course useless, and Nahum was at his wit's end. No rural
veterinary would approach his place, and the city veterinary from
Arkham was openly baffled. The swine began growing grey and brittle and
falling to pieces before they died, and their eyes and muzzles
developed singular alterations. It was very inexplicable, for they had
never been fed from the tainted vegetation. Then something struck the
cows. Certain areas or sometimes the whole body would be uncannily
shrivelled or compressed, and atrocious collapses or disintegrations
were common. In the last stages--and death was always the result--
there would be a greying and turning brittle like that which beset the
hogs. There could be no question of poison, for all the cases occurred
in a locked and undisturbed barn. No bites of prowling things could
have brought the virus, for what live beast of earth can pass through
solid obstacles? It must be only natural disease--yet what disease
could wreak such results was beyond any mind's guessing. When the
harvest came there was not an animal surviving on the place, for the
stock and poultry were dead and the dogs had run away. These dogs,
three in number, had all vanished one night and were never heard of
again. The five cats had left some time before, but their going was
scarcely noticed since there now seemed to be no mice, and only Mrs.
Gardner had made pets of the graceful felines.

On the nineteenth of October Nahum staggered into Ammi's house with
hideous news. The death had come to poor Thaddeus in his attic room,
and it had come in a way which could not be told. Nahum had dug a grave
in the railed family plot behind the farm, and had put therein what he
found. There could have been nothing from outside, for the small barred
window and locked door were intact; but it was much as it had been in
the barn. Ammi and his wife consoled the stricken man as best they
could, but shuddered as they did so. Stark terror seemed to cling round
the Gardners and all they touched, and the very presence of one in the
house was a breath from regions unnamed and unnamable. Ammi accompanied
Nahum home with the greatest reluctance, and did what he might to calm
the hysterical sobbing of little Merwin. Zenas needed no calming. He
had come of late to do nothing but stare into space and obey what his
father told him; and Ammi thought that his fate was very merciful. Now
and then Merwin's screams were answered faintly from the attic, and in
response to an inquiring look Nahum said that his wife was getting very
feeble. When night approached, Ammi managed to get away; for not even
friendship could make him stay in that spot when the faint glow of the
vegetation began and the trees may or may not have swayed without wind.
It was really lucky for Ammi that he was not more imaginative. Even as
things were, his mind was bent ever so slightly; but had he been able
to connect and reflect upon all the portents around him he must
inevitably have turned a total maniac. In the twilight he hastened
home, the screams of the mad woman and the nervous child ringing
horribly in his ears.

Three days later Nahum burst into Ammi's kitchen in the early
morning, and in the absence of his host stammered out a desperate tale
once more, while Mrs. Pierce listened in a clutching fright. It was
little Merwin this time. He was gone. He had gone out late at night
with a lantern and pail for water, and had never come back. He'd been
going to pieces for days, and hardly knew what he was about. Screamed
at everything. There had been a frantic shriek from the yard then, but
before the father could get to the door the boy was gone. There was no
glow from the lantern he had taken, and of the child himself no trace.
At the time Nahum thought the lantern and pail were gone too; but when
dawn came, and the man had plodded back from his all-night search of
the woods and fields, he had found some very curious things near the
well. There was a crushed and apparently somewhat melted mass of iron
which had certainly been the lantern; while a bent handle and twisted
iron hoops beside it, both half-fused, seemed to hint at the remnants
of the pail. That was all. Nahum was past imagining, Mrs. Pierce was
blank, and Ammi, when he had reached home and heard the tale, could
give no guess. Merwin was gone, and there would be no use in telling
the people around, who shunned all Gardners now. No use, either, in
telling the city people at Arkham who laughed at everything. Thad was
gone, and now Merwin was gone. Something was creeping and creeping and
waiting to be seen and heard. Nahum would go soon, and he wanted Ammi
to look after his wife and Zenas if they survived him. It must all be a
judgment of some sort; though he could not fancy what for, since he had
always walked uprightly in the Lord's ways so far as he knew.

For over two weeks Ammi saw nothing of Nahum; and then, worried
about what might have happened, he overcame his fears and paid the
Gardner place a visit. There was no smoke from the great chimney, and
for a moment the visitor was apprehensive of the worst. The aspect of
the whole farm was shocking--greyish withered grass and leaves on the
ground, vines falling in brittle wreckage from archaic walls and
gables, and great bare trees clawing up at the grey November sky with a
studied malevolence which Ammi could not but feel had come from some
subtle change in the tilt of the branches. But Nahum was alive, after
all. He was weak, and lying on a couch in the low-ceiled kitchen, but
perfectly conscious and able to give simple orders to Zenas. The room
was deadly cold; and as Ammi visibly shivered, the host shouted huskily
to Zenas for more wood. Wood, indeed, was sorely needed; since the
cavernous fireplace was unlit and empty, with a cloud of soot blowing
about in the chill wind that came down the chimney. Presently Nahum
asked him if the extra wood had made him any more comfortable, and then
Ammi saw what had happened. The stoutest cord had broken at last, and
the hapless farmer's mind was proof against more sorrow.

Questioning tactfully, Ammi could get no clear data at all about the
missing Zenas. "In the well--he lives in the well--" was all that the
clouded father would say. Then there flashed across the visitor's mind
a sudden thought of the mad wife, and he changed his line of inquiry.
"Nabby? Why, here she is!" was the surprised response of poor Nahum,
and Ammi soon saw that he must search for himself. Leaving the harmless
babbler on the couch, he took the keys from their nail beside the door
and climbed the creaking stairs to the attic. It was very close and
noisome up there, and no sound could be heard from any direction. Of
the four doors in sight, only one was locked, and on this he tried
various keys of the ring he had taken. The third key proved the right
one, and after some fumbling Ammi threw open the low white door.

It was quite dark inside, for the window was small and half-obscured
by the crude wooden bars; and Ammi could see nothing at all on the
wide-planked floor. The stench was beyond enduring, and before
proceeding further he had to retreat to another room and return with
his lungs filled with breathable air. When he did enter he saw
something dark in the corner, and upon seeing it more clearly he
screamed outright. While he screamed he thought a momentary cloud
eclipsed the window, and a second later he felt himself brushed as if
by some hateful current of vapour. Strange colours danced before his
eyes; and had not a present horror numbed him he would have thought of
the globule in the meteor that the geologist's hammer had shattered,
and of the morbid vegetation that had sprouted in the spring. As it was
he thought only of the blasphemous monstrosity which confronted him,
and which all too clearly had shared the nameless fate of young
Thaddeus and the livestock. But the terrible thing about the horror was
that it very slowly and perceptibly moved as it continued to crumble.

Ammi would give me no added particulars of this scene, but the shape
in the comer does not reappear in his tale as a moving object. There
are things which cannot be mentioned, and what is done in common
humanity is sometimes cruelly judged by the law. I gathered that no
moving thing was left in that attic room, and that to leave anything
capable of motion there would have been a deed so monstrous as to damn
any accountable being to eternal torment. Anyone but a stolid farmer
would have fainted or gone mad, but Ammi walked conscious through that
low doorway and locked the accursed secret behind him. There would be
Nahum to deal with now; he must be fed and tended, and removed to some
place where he could be cared for.

Commencing his descent of the dark stairs. Ammi heard a thud below
him. He even thought a scream had been suddenly choked off, and
recalled nervously the clammy vapour which had brushed by him in that
frightful room above. What presence had his cry and entry started up?
Halted by some vague fear, he heard still further sounds below.
Indubitably there was a sort of heavy dragging, and a most detestably
sticky noise as of some fiendish and unclean species of suction. With
an associative sense goaded to feverish heights, he thought
unaccountably of what he had seen upstairs. Good God! What eldritch
dream-world was this into which he had blundered? He dared move neither
backward nor forward, but stood there trembling at the black curve of
the boxed-in staircase. Every trifle of the scene burned itself into
his brain. The sounds, the sense of dread expectancy, the darkness, the
steepness of the narrow step--and merciful Heaven!--the faint but
unmistakable luminosity of all the woodwork in sight; steps, sides,
exposed laths, and beams alike.

Then there burst forth a frantic whinny from Ammi's horse outside,
followed at once by a clatter which told of a frenzied runaway. In
another moment horse and buggy had gone beyond earshot, leaving the
frightened man on the dark stairs to guess what had sent them. But that
was not all. There had been another sound out there. A sort of liquid
splash--water--it must have been the well. He had left Hero untied
near it, and a buggy wheel must have brushed the coping and knocked in
a stone. And still the pale phosphorescence glowed in that detestably
ancient woodwork. God! how old the house was! Most of it built before
1670, and the gambrel roof no later than 1730.

A feeble scratching on the floor downstairs now sounded distinctly,
and Ammi's grip tightened on a heavy stick he had picked up in the
attic for some purpose. Slowly nerving himself, he finished his descent
and walked boldly toward the kitchen. But he did not complete the walk,
because what he sought was no longer there. It had come to meet him,
and it was still alive after a fashion. Whether it had crawled or
whether it had been dragged by any external forces, Ammi could not say;
but the death had been at it. Everything had happened in the last
half-hour, but collapse, greying, and disintegration were already far
advanced. There was a horrible brittleness, and dry fragments were
scaling off. Ammi could not touch it, but looked horrifiedly into the
distorted parody that had been a face. "What was it, Nahum--what was
it?" He whispered, and the cleft, bulging lips were just able to
crackle out a final answer.

"Nothin'...nothin'...the colour...it burns...cold an' wet, but
it burns...it lived in the well...I seen it...a kind of smoke...
jest like the flowers last spring...the well shone at night...Thad
an' Merwin an' Zenas...everything alive...suckin' the life out of
everything...in that stone...it must a' come in that stone pizened
the whole place...dun't know what it wants...that round thing them
men from the college dug outen the stone...they smashed it...it was
the same colour...jest the same, like the flowers an' plants...must
a' ben more of 'em...seeds...seeds...they growed...I seen it the
fust time this week...must a' got strong on Zenas...he was a big boy,
full o' life...it beats down your mind an' then gets ye...burns ye
up...in the well water...you was right about that...evil water...
Zenas never come back from the well...can't git away...draws ye...ye
know summ'at's comin' but tain't no use...I seen it time an' agin
senct Zenas was took...whar's Nabby, Ammi?...my head's no good...
dun't know how long sense I fed her...it'll git her ef we ain't
keerful...jest a colour...her face is gittin' to hev that colour
sometimes towards night...an' it burns an' sucks...it come from some
place whar things ain't as they is here...one o' them professors said
so...he was right...look out, Ammi, it'll do suthin' more...sucks
the life out..."

But that was all. That which spoke could speak no more because it
had completely caved in. Ammi laid a red checked tablecloth over what
was left and reeled out the back door into the fields. He climbed the
slope to the ten-acre pasture and stumbled home by the north road and
the woods. He could not pass that well from which his horses had run
away. He had looked at it through the window, and had seen that no
stone was missing from the rim. Then the lurching buggy had not
dislodged anything after all--the splash had been something else--
something which went into the well after it had done with poor Nahum.

When Ammi reached his house the horses and buggy had arrived before
him and thrown his wife into fits of anxiety. Reassuring her without
explanations, he set out at once for Arkham and notified the
authorities that the Gardner family was no more. He indulged in no
details, but merely told of the deaths of Nahum and Nabby, that of
Thaddeus being already known, and mentioned that the cause seemed to be
the same strange ailment which had killed the live-stock. He also
stated that Merwin and Zenas had disappeared. There was considerable
questioning at the police station, and in the end Ammi was compelled to
take three officers to the Gardner farm, together with the coroner, the
medical examiner, and the veterinary who had treated the diseased
animals. He went much against his will, for the afternoon was advancing
and he feared the fall of night over that accursed place, but it was
some comfort to have so many people with him.

The six men drove out in a democrat-wagon, following Ammi's buggy,
and arrived at the pest-ridden farmhouse about four o'clock. Used as
the officers were to gruesome experiences, not one remained unmoved at
what was found in the attic and under the red checked tablecloth on the
floor below. The whole aspect of the farm with its grey desolation was
terrible enough, but those two crumbling objects were beyond all
bounds. No one could look long at them, and even the medical examiner
admitted that there was very little to examine. Specimens could be
analysed, of course, so he busied himself in obtaining them--and here
it develops that a very puzzling aftermath occurred at the college
laboratory where the two phials of dust were finally taken. Under the
spectroscope both samples gave off an unknown spectrum, in which many
of the baffling bands were precisely like those which the strange
meteor had yielded in the previous year. The property of emitting this
spectrum vanished in a month, the dust thereafter consisting mainly of
alkaline phosphates and carbonates.

Ammi would not have told the men about the well if he had thought
they meant to do anything then and there. It was getting toward sunset,
and he was anxious to be away. But he could not help glancing nervously
at the stony curb by the great sweep, and when a detective questioned
him he admitted that Nahum had feared something down there so much so
that he had never even thought of searching it for Merwin or Zenas.
After that nothing would do but that they empty and explore the well
immediately, so Ammi had to wait trembling while pail after pail of
rank water was hauled up and splashed on the soaking ground outside.
The men sniffed in disgust at the fluid, and toward the last held their
noses against the foetor they were uncovering. It was not so long a job
as they had feared it would be, since the water was phenomenally low.
There is no need to speak too exactly of what they found. Merwin and
Zenas were both there, in part, though the vestiges were mainly
skeletal. There were also a small deer and a large dog in about the
same state, and a number of bones of small animals. The ooze and slime
at the bottom seemed inexplicably porous and bubbling, and a man who
descended on hand-holds with a long pole found that he could sink the
wooden shaft to any depth in the mud of the floor without meeting any
solid obstruction.

Twilight had now fallen, and lanterns were brought from the house.
Then, when it was seen that nothing further could be gained from the
well, everyone went indoors and conferred in the ancient sitting-room
while the intermittent light of a spectral half-moon played wanly on
the grey desolation outside. The men were frankly nonplussed by the
entire case, and could find no convincing common element to link the
strange vegetable conditions, the unknown disease of live-stock and
humans, and the unaccountable deaths of Merwin and Zenas in the tainted
well. They had heard the common country talk, it is true; but could not
believe that anything contrary to natural law had occurred. No doubt
the meteor had poisoned the soil, but the illness of persons and
animals who had eaten nothing grown in that soil was another matter.
Was it the well water? Very possibly. It might be a good idea to
analyze it. But what peculiar madness could have made both boys jump
into the well? Their deeds were so similar-and the fragments showed
that they had both suffered from the grey brittle death. Why was
everything so grey and brittle?

It was the coroner, seated near a window overlooking the yard, who
first noticed the glow about the well. Night had fully set in, and all
the abhorrent grounds seemed faintly luminous with more than the fitful
moonbeams; but this new glow was something definite and distinct, and
appeared to shoot up from the black pit like a softened ray from a
searchlight, giving dull reflections in the little ground pools where
the water had been emptied. It had a very queer colour, and as all the
men clustered round the window Ammi gave a violent start. For this
strange beam of ghastly miasma was to him of no unfamiliar hue. He had
seen that colour before, and feared to think what it might mean. He had
seen it in the nasty brittle globule in that aerolite two summers ago,
had seen it in the crazy vegetation of the springtime, and had thought
he had seen it for an instant that very morning against the small
barred window of that terrible attic room where nameless things had
happened. It had flashed there a second, and a clammy and hateful
current of vapour had brushed past him--and then poor Nahum had been
taken by something of that colour. He had said so at the last--said it
was like the globule and the plants. After that had come the runaway in
the yard and the splash in the well and now that well was belching
forth to the night a pale insidious beam of the same demoniac tint.

It does credit to the alertness of Ammi's mind that he puzzled even
at that tense moment over a point which was essentially scientific. He
could not but wonder at his gleaning of the same impression from a
vapour glimpsed in the daytime, against a window opening on the morning
sky, and from a nocturnal exhalation seen as a phosphorescent mist
against the black and blasted landscape. It wasn't right--it was
against Nature--and he thought of those terrible last words of his
stricken friend, "It come from some place whar things ain't as they is
here...one o' them professors said so..."

All three horses outside, tied to a pair of shrivelled saplings by
the road, were now neighing and pawing frantically. The wagon driver
started for the door to do something, but Ammi laid a shaky hand on his
shoulder. "Dun't go out thar," he whispered. "They's more to this nor
what we know. Nahum said somethin' lived in the well that sucks your
life out. He said it must be some'at growed from a round ball like one
we all seen in the meteor stone that fell a year ago June. Sucks an'
burns, he said, an' is jest a cloud of colour like that light out thar
now, that ye can hardly see an' can't tell what it is. Nahum thought it
feeds on everything livin' an' gits stronger all the time. He said he
seen it this last week. It must be somethin' from away off in the sky
like the men from the college last year says the meteor stone was. The
way it's made an' the way it works ain't like no way o' God's world.
It's some'at from beyond."

So the men paused indecisively as the light from the well grew
stronger and the hitched horses pawed and whinnied in increasing
frenzy. It was truly an awful moment; with terror in that ancient and
accursed house itself, four monstrous sets of fragments--two from the
house and two from the well--in the woodshed behind, and that shaft of
unknown and unholy iridescence from the slimy depths in front. Ammi had
restrained the driver on impulse, forgetting how uninjured he himself
was after the clammy brushing of that coloured vapour in the attic
room, but perhaps it is just as well that he acted as he did. No one
will ever know what was abroad that night; and though the blasphemy
from beyond had not so far hurt any human of unweakened mind, there is
no telling what it might not have done at that last moment, and with
its seemingly increased strength and the special signs of purpose it
was soon to display beneath the half-clouded moonlit sky.

All at once one of the detectives at the window gave a short, sharp
gasp. The others looked at him, and then quickly followed his own gaze
upward to the point at which its idle straying had been suddenly
arrested. There was no need for words. What had been disputed in
country gossip was disputable no longer, and it is because of the thing
which every man of that party agreed in whispering later on, that the
strange days are never talked about in Arkham. It is necessary to
premise that there was no wind at that hour of the evening. One did
arise not long afterward, but there was absolutely none then. Even the
dry tips of the lingering hedge-mustard, grey and blighted, and the
fringe on the roof of the standing democrat-wagon were unstirred. And
yet amid that tense godless calm the high bare boughs of all the trees
in the yard were moving. They were twitching morbidly and
spasmodically, clawing in convulsive and epileptic madness at the
moonlit clouds; scratching impotently in the noxious air as if jerked
by some allied and bodiless line of linkage with subterrene horrors
writhing and struggling below the black roots.

Not a man breathed for several seconds. Then a cloud of darker depth
passed over the moon, and the silhouette of clutching branches faded
out momentarily. At this there was a general cry; muffled with awe, but
husky and almost identical from every throat. For the terror had not
faded with the silhouette, and in a fearsome instant of deeper darkness
the watchers saw wriggling at that tree top height a thousand tiny
points of faint and unhallowed radiance, tipping each bough like the
fire of St. Elmo or the flames that come down on the apostles' heads at
Pentecost. It was a monstrous constellation of unnatural light, like a
glutted swarm of corpse-fed fireflies dancing hellish sarabands over an
accursed marsh, and its colour was that same nameless intrusion which
Ammi had come to recognize and dread. All the while the shaft of
phosphorescence from the well was getting brighter and brighter,
bringing to the minds of the huddled men, a sense of doom and
abnormality which far outraced any image their conscious minds could
form. It was no longer shining out; it was pouring out; and as the
shapeless stream of unplaceable colour left the well it seemed to flow
directly into the sky.

The veterinary shivered, and walked to the front door to drop the
heavy extra bar across it. Ammi shook no less, and had to tug and point
for lack of controllable voice when he wished to draw notice to the
growing luminosity of the trees. The neighing and stamping of the
horses had become utterly frightful, but not a soul of that group in
the old house would have ventured forth for any earthly reward. With
the moments the shining of the trees increased, while their restless
branches seemed to strain more and more toward verticality. The wood of
the well-sweep was shining now, and presently a policeman dumbly
pointed to some wooden sheds and bee-hives near the stone wall on the
west. They were commencing to shine, too, though the tethered vehicles
of the visitors seemed so far unaffected. Then there was a wild
commotion and clopping in the road, and as Ammi quenched the lamp for
better seeing they realized that the span of frantic greys had broken
their sapling and run off with the democrat-wagon.

The shock served to loosen several tongues, and embarrassed whispers
were exchanged. "It spreads on everything organic that's been around
here," muttered the medical examiner. No one replied, but the man who
had been in the well gave a hint that his long pole must have stirred
up something intangible. "It was awful," he added. "There was no bottom
at all. Just ooze and bubbles and the feeling of something lurking
under there." Ammi's horse still pawed and screamed deafeningly in the
road outside, and nearly drowned its owner's faint quaver as he mumbled
his formless reflections. "It come from that stone--it growed down
thar--it got everything livin'--it fed itself on 'em, mind and body--Thad
an' Merwin, Zenas an' Nabby--Nahum was the last--they all drunk
the water--it got strong on 'em--it come from beyond, whar things
ain't like they be here--now it's goin' home--"

At this point, as the column of unknown colour flared suddenly
stronger and began to weave itself into fantastic suggestions of shape
which each spectator described differently, there came from poor
tethered Hero such a sound as no man before or since ever heard from a
horse. Every person in that low-pitched sitting room stopped his ears,
and Ammi turned away from the window in horror and nausea. Words could
not convey it--when Ammi looked out again the hapless beast lay
huddled inert on the moonlit ground between the splintered shafts of
the buggy. That was the last of Hero till they buried him next day. But
the present was no time to mourn, for almost at this instant a
detective silently called attention to something terrible in the very
room with them. In the absence of the lamplight it was clear that a
faint phosphorescence had begun to pervade the entire apartment. It
glowed on the broad-planked floor and the fragment of rag carpet, and
shimmered over the sashes of the small-paned windows. It ran up and
down the exposed corner-posts, coruscated about the shelf and mantel,
and infected the very doors and furniture. Each minute saw it
strengthen, and at last it was very plain that healthy living things
must leave that house.

Ammi showed them the back door and the path up through the fields to
the ten-acre pasture. They walked and stumbled as in a dream, and did
not dare look back till they were far away on the high ground. They
were glad of the path, for they could not have gone the front way, by
that well. It was bad enough passing the glowing barn and sheds, and
those shining orchard trees with their gnarled, fiendish contours; but
thank Heaven the branches did their worst twisting high up. The moon
went under some very black clouds as they crossed the rustic bridge
over Chapman's Brook, and it was blind groping from there to the open
meadows.

When they looked back toward the valley and the distant Gardner
place at the bottom they saw a fearsome sight. At the farm was shining
with the hideous unknown blend of colour; trees, buildings, and even
such grass and herbage as had not been wholly changed to lethal grey
brittleness. The boughs were all straining skyward, tipped with tongues
of foul flame, and lambent tricklings of the same monstrous fire were
creeping about the ridgepoles of the house, barn and sheds. It was a
scene from a vision of Fuseli, and over all the rest reigned that riot
of luminous amorphousness, that alien and undimensioned rainbow of
cryptic poison from the well--seething, feeling, lapping, reaching,
scintillating, straining, and malignly bubbling in its cosmic and
unrecognizable chromaticism.

Then without warning the hideous thing shot vertically up toward the
sky like a rocket or meteor, leaving behind no trail and disappearing
through a round and curiously regular hole in the clouds before any man
could gasp or cry out. No watcher can ever forget that sight, and Ammi
stared blankly at the stars of Cygnus, Deneb twinkling above the
others, where the unknown colour had melted into the Milky Way. But his
gaze was the next moment called swiftly to earth by the crackling in
the valley. It was just that. Only a wooden ripping and crackling, and
not an explosion, as so many others of the party vowed. Yet the outcome
was the same, for in one feverish kaleidoscopic instant there burst up
from that doomed and accursed farm a gleamingly eruptive cataclysm of
unnatural sparks and substance; blurring the glance of the few who saw
it, and sending forth to the zenith a bombarding cloudburst of such
coloured and fantastic fragments as our universe must needs disown.
Through quickly reclosing vapours they followed the great morbidity
that had vanished, and in another second they had vanished too. Behind
and below was only a darkness to which the men dared not return, and
all about was a mounting wind which seemed to sweep down in black,
frore gusts from interstellar space. It shrieked and howled, and lashed
the fields and distorted woods in a mad cosmic frenzy, till soon the
trembling party realized it would be no use waiting for the moon to
show what was left down there at Nahum's.

Too awed even to hint theories, the seven shaking men trudged back
toward Arkham by the north road. Ammi was worse than his fellows, and
begged them to see him inside his own kitchen, instead of keeping
straight on to town. He did not wish to cross the blighted,
wind-whipped woods alone to his home on the main road. For he had had
an added shock that the others were spared, and was crushed forever
with a brooding fear he dared not even mention for many years to come.
As the rest of the watchers on that tempestuous hill had stolidly set
their faces toward the road, Ammi had looked back an instant at the
shadowed valley of desolation so lately sheltering his ill-starred
friend. And from that stricken, far-away spot he had seen something
feebly rise, only to sink down again upon the place from which the
great shapeless horror had shot into the sky. It was just a colour--but
not any colour of our earth or heavens. And because Ammi recognized
that colour, and knew that this last faint remnant must still lurk down
there in the well, he has never been quite right since.

Ammi would never go near the place again. It is forty-four years now
since the horror happened, but he has never been there, and will be
glad when the new reservoir blots it out. I shall be glad, too, for I
do not like the way the sunlight changed colour around the mouth of
that abandoned well I passed. I hope the water will always be very deep
--but even so, I shall never drink it. I do not think I shall visit the
Arkham country hereafter. Three of the men who had been with Ammi
returned the next morning to see the ruins by daylight, but there were
not any real ruins. Only the bricks of the chimney, the stones of the
cellar, some mineral and metallic litter here and there, and the rim of
that nefandous well. Save for Ammi's dead horse, which they towed away
and buried, and the buggy which they shortly returned to him,
everything that had ever been living had gone. Five eldritch acres of
dusty grey desert remained, nor has anything ever grown there since. To
this day it sprawls open to the sky like a great spot eaten by acid in
the woods and fields, and the few who have ever dared glimpse it in
spite of the rural tales have named it "the blasted heath."

The rural tales are queer. They might be even queerer if city men
and college chemists could be interested enough to analyze the water
from that disused well, or the grey dust that no wind seems to
disperse. Botanists, too, ought to study the stunted flora on the
borders of that spot, for they might shed light on the country notion
that the blight is spreading--little by little, perhaps an inch a
year. People say the colour of the neighboring herbage is not quite
right in the spring, and that wild things leave queer prints in the
light winter snow. Snow never seems quite so heavy on the blasted heath
as it is elsewhere. Horses--the few that are left in this motor age--
grow skittish in the silent valley; and hunters cannot depend on their
dogs too near the splotch of greyish dust.

They say the mental influences are very bad, too; numbers went queer
in the years after Nahum's taking, and always they lacked the power to
get away. Then the stronger-minded folk all left the region, and only
the foreigners tried to live in the crumbling old homesteads. They
could not stay, though; and one sometimes wonders what insight beyond
ours their wild, weird stories of whispered magic have given them.
Their dreams at night, they protest, are very horrible in that
grotesque country; and surely the very look of the dark realm is enough
to stir a morbid fancy. No traveler has ever escaped a sense of
strangeness in those deep ravines, and artists shiver as they paint
thick woods whose mystery is as much of the spirits as of the eye. I
myself am curious about the sensation I derived from my one lone walk
before Ammi told me his tale. When twilight came I had vaguely wished
some clouds would gather, for an odd timidity about the deep skyey
voids above had crept into my soul.

Do not ask me for my opinion. I do not know--that is all. There was
no one but Ammi to question; for Arkham people will not talk about the
strange days, and all three professors who saw the aerolite and its
coloured globule are dead. There were other globules--depend upon
that. One must have fed itself and escaped, and probably there was
another which was too late. No doubt it is still down the well--I know
there was something wrong with the sunlight I saw above the miasmal
brink. The rustics say the blight creeps an inch a year, so perhaps
there is a kind of growth or nourishment even now. But whatever demon
hatchling is there, it must be tethered to something or else it would
quickly spread. Is it fastened to the roots of those trees that claw
the air? One of the current Arkham tales is about fat oaks that shine
and move as they ought not to do at night.

What it is, only God knows. In terms of matter I suppose the thing
Ammi described would be called a gas, but this gas obeyed the laws that
are not of our cosmos. This was no fruit of such worlds and suns as
shine on the telescopes and photographic plates of our observatories.
This was no breath from the skies whose motions and dimensions our
astronomers measure or deem too vast to measure. It was just a colour
out of space--a frightful messenger from unformed realms of infinity
beyond all Nature as we know it; from realms whose mere existence stuns
the brain and numbs us with the black extra-cosmic gulfs it throws open
before our frenzied eyes.

I doubt very much if Ammi consciously lied to me, and I do not think
his tale was all a freak of madness as the townsfolk had forewarned.
Something terrible came to the hills and valleys on that meteor, and
something terrible--though I know not in what proportion--still
remains. I shall be glad to see the water come. Meanwhile I hope
nothing will happen to Ammi. He saw so much of the thing--and its
influence was so insidious. Why has he never been able to move away?
How clearly he recalled those dying words of Nahum's--"Can't git away
--draws ye--ye know summ'at's comin' but tain't no use--". Ammi is
such a good old man--when the reservoir gang gets to work I must write
the chief engineer to keep a sharp watch on him. I would hate to think
of him as the grey, twisted, brittle monstrosity which persists more
and more in troubling my sleep.



* THE CALL OF CTHULHU

Of such great powers or beings there may be conceivably a
survival...a survival of a hugely remote period when...consciousness
was manifested, perhaps, in shapes and forms long since withdrawn
before the tide of advancing humanity...forms of which poetry and
legend alone have caught a flying memory and called them gods,
monsters, mythical beings of all sorts and kinds...

--Algernon Blackwood


I. The Horror In Clay

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of
the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid
island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was
not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in
its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the
piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying
vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall
either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace
and safety of a new dark age.

Theosophists have guessed at the awesome grandeur of the cosmic
cycle wherein our world and human race form transient incidents. They
have hinted at strange survivals in terms which would freeze the blood
if not masked by a bland optimism. But it is not from them that there
came the single glimpse of forbidden eons which chills me when I think
of it and maddens me when I dream of it. That glimpse, like all dread
glimpses of truth, flashed out from an accidental piecing together of
separated things--in this case an old newspaper item and the notes of
a dead professor. I hope that no one else will accomplish this piecing
out; certainly, if I live, I shall never knowingly supply a link in so
hideous a chain. I think that the professor, too, intended to keep
silent regarding the part he knew, and that he would have destroyed his
notes had not sudden death seized him.

My knowledge of the thing began in the winter of 1926-27 with the
death of my great-uncle, George Gammell Angell, Professor Emeritus of
Semitic Languages in Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island.
Professor Angell was widely known as an authority on ancient
inscriptions, and had frequently been resorted to by the heads of
prominent museums; so that his passing at the age of ninety-two may be
recalled by many. Locally, interest was intensified by the obscurity of
the cause of death. The professor had been stricken whilst returning
from the Newport boat; falling suddenly; as witnesses said, after
having been jostled by a nautical-looking negro who had come from one
of the queer dark courts on the precipitous hillside which formed a
short cut from the waterfront to the deceased's home in Williams
Street. Physicians were unable to find any visible disorder, but
concluded after perplexed debate that some obscure lesion of the heart,
induced by the brisk ascent of so steep a hill by so elderly a man, was
responsible for the end. At the time I saw no reason to dissent from
this dictum, but latterly I am inclined to wonder--and more than
wonder.

As my great-uncle's heir and executor, for he died a childless
widower, I was expected to go over his papers with some thoroughness;
and for that purpose moved his entire set of files and boxes to my
quarters in Boston. Much of the material which I correlated will be
later published by the American Archaeological Society, but there was
one box which I found exceedingly puzzling, and which I felt much
averse from showing to other eyes. It had been locked and I did not
find the key till it occurred to me to examine the personal ring which
the professor carried in his pocket. Then, indeed, I succeeded in
opening it, but when I did so seemed only to be confronted by a greater
and more closely locked barrier. For what could be the meaning of the
queer clay bas-relief and the disjointed jottings, ramblings, and
cuttings which I found? Had my uncle, in his latter years become
credulous of the most superficial impostures? I resolved to search out
the eccentric sculptor responsible for this apparent disturbance of an
old man's peace of mind.

The bas-relief was a rough rectangle less than an inch thick and
about five by six inches in area; obviously of modern origin. Its
designs, however, were far from modern in atmosphere and suggestion;
for, although the vagaries of cubism and futurism are many and wild,
they do not often reproduce that cryptic regularity which lurks in
prehistoric writing. And writing of some kind the bulk of these designs
seemed certainly to be; though my memory, despite much the papers and
collections of my uncle, failed in any way to identify this particular
species, or even hint at its remotest affiliations.

Above these apparent hieroglyphics was a figure of evident pictorial
intent, though its impressionistic execution forbade a very clear idea
of its nature. It seemed to be a sort of monster, or symbol
representing a monster, of a form which only a diseased fancy could
conceive. If I say that my somewhat extravagant imagination yielded
simultaneous pictures of an octopus, a dragon, and a human caricature,
I shall not be unfaithful to the spirit of the thing. A pulpy,
tentacled head surmounted a grotesque and scaly body with rudimentary
wings; but it was the general outline of the whole which made it most
shockingly frightful. Behind the figure was a vague suggestions of a
Cyclopean architectural background.

The writing accompanying this oddity was, aside from a stack of
press cuttings, in Professor Angell's most recent hand; and made no
pretense to literary style. What seemed to be the main document was
headed "CTHULHU CULT" in characters painstakingly printed to avoid the
erroneous reading of a word so unheard-of. This manuscript was divided
into two sections, the first of which was headed "1925--Dream and
Dream Work of H.A. Wilcox, 7 Thomas St., Providence, R. I.", and the
second, "Narrative of Inspector John R. Legrasse, 121 Bienville St.,
New Orleans, La., at 1908 A. A. S. Mtg.--Notes on Same, & Prof.
Webb's Acct." The other manuscript papers were brief notes, some of
them accounts of the queer dreams of different persons, some of them
citations from theosophical books and magazines (notably W.
Scott-Elliot's Atlantis and the Lost Lemuria), and the rest comments on
long-surviving secret societies and hidden cults, with references to
passages in such mythological and anthropological source-books as
Frazer's Golden Bough and Miss Murray's Witch-Cult in Western Europe.
The cuttings largely alluded to outré mental illness and outbreaks of
group folly or mania in the spring of 1925.

The first half of the principal manuscript told a very particular
tale. It appears that on March 1st, 1925, a thin, dark young man of
neurotic and excited aspect had called upon Professor Angell bearing
the singular clay bas-relief, which was then exceedingly damp and
fresh. His card bore the name of Henry Anthony Wilcox, and my uncle had
recognized him as the youngest son of an excellent family slightly
known to him, who had latterly been studying sculpture at the Rhode
Island School of Design and living alone at the Fleur-de-Lys Building
near that institution. Wilcox was a precocious youth of known genius
but great eccentricity, and had from childhood excited attention through
the strange stories and odd dreams he was in the habit of relating. He
called himself "psychically hypersensitive", but the staid folk of the
ancient commercial city dismissed him as merely "queer." Never mingling
much with his kind, he had dropped gradually from social visibility,
and was now known only to a small group of aesthetes from other towns.
Even the Providence Art Club, anxious to preserve its conservatism, had
found him quite hopeless.

On the occasion of the visit, ran the professor's manuscript, the
sculptor abruptly asked for the benefit of his host's archeological
knowledge in identifying the hieroglyphics of the bas-relief. He spoke
in a dreamy, stilted manner which suggested pose and alienated
sympathy; and my uncle showed some sharpness in replying, for the
conspicuous freshness of the tablet implied kinship with anything but
archeology. Young Wilcox's rejoinder, which impressed my uncle enough
to make him recall and record it verbatim, was of a fantastically
poetic cast which must have typified his whole conversation, and which
I have since found highly characteristic of him. He said, "It is new,
indeed, for I made it last night in a dream of strange cities; and
dreams are older than brooding Tyre, or the contemplative Sphinx, or
garden-girdled Babylon."

It was then that he began that rambling tale which suddenly played
upon a sleeping memory and won the fevered interest of my uncle. There
had been a slight earthquake tremor the night before, the most
considerable felt in New England for some years; and Wilcox's
imagination had been keenly affected. Upon retiring, he had had an
unprecedented dream of great Cyclopean cities of Titan blocks and
sky-flung monoliths, all dripping with green ooze and sinister with
latent horror. Hieroglyphics had covered the walls and pillars, and
from some undetermined point below had come a voice that was not a
voice; a chaotic sensation which only fancy could transmute into sound,
but which he attempted to render by the almost unpronounceable jumble
of letters: "Cthulhu fhtagn."

This verbal jumble was the key to the recollection which excited and
disturbed Professor Angell. He questioned the sculptor with scientific
minuteness; and studied with frantic intensity the bas-relief on which
the youth had found himself working, chilled and clad only in his night
clothes, when waking had stolen bewilderingly over him. My uncle blamed
his old age, Wilcox afterwards said, for his slowness in recognizing
both hieroglyphics and pictorial design. Many of his questions seemed
highly out of place to his visitor, especially those which tried to
connect the latter with strange cults or societies; and Wilcox could
not understand the repeated promises of silence which he was offered in
exchange for an admission of membership in some widespread mystical or
paganly religious body. When Professor Angell became convinced that the
sculptor was indeed ignorant of any cult or system of cryptic lore, he
besieged his visitor with demands for future reports of dreams. This
bore regular fruit, for after the first interview the manuscript
records daily calls of the young man, during which he related startling
fragments of nocturnal imaginery whose burden was always some terrible
Cyclopean vista of dark and dripping stone, with a subterrene voice or
intelligence shouting monotonously in enigmatical sense-impacts
uninscribable save as gibberish. The two sounds frequently repeated are
those rendered by the letters "Cthulhu" and "R'lyeh."

On March 23, the manuscript continued, Wilcox failed to appear; and
inquiries at his quarters revealed that he had been stricken with an
obscure sort of fever and taken to the home of his family in Waterman
Street. He had cried out in the night, arousing several other artists
in the building, and had manifested since then only alternations of
unconsciousness and delirium. My uncle at once telephoned the family,
and from that time forward kept close watch of the case; calling often
at the Thayer Street office of Dr. Tobey, whom he learned to be in
charge. The youth's febrile mind, apparently, was dwelling on strange
things; and the doctor shuddered now and then as he spoke of them. They
included not only a repetition of what he had formerly dreamed, but
touched wildly on a gigantic thing "miles high" which walked or
lumbered about.

He at no time fully described this object but occasional frantic
words, as repeated by Dr. Tobey, convinced the professor that it must
be identical with the nameless monstrosity he had sought to depict in
his dream-sculpture. Reference to this object, the doctor added, was
invariably a prelude to the young man's subsidence into lethargy. His
temperature, oddly enough, was not greatly above normal; but the whole
condition was otherwise such as to suggest true fever rather than
mental disorder.

On April 2 at about 3 P.M. every trace of Wilcox's malady suddenly
ceased. He sat upright in bed, astonished to find himself at home and
completely ignorant of what had happened in dream or reality since the
night of March 22. Pronounced well by his physician, he returned to his
quarters in three days; but to Professor Angell he was of no further
assistance. All traces of strange dreaming had vanished with his
recovery, and my uncle kept no record of his night-thoughts after a
week of pointless and irrelevant accounts of thoroughly usual visions.

Here the first part of the manuscript ended, but references to
certain of the scattered notes gave me much material for thought--so
much, in fact, that only the ingrained skepticism then forming my
philosophy can account for my continued distrust of the artist. The
notes in question were those descriptive of the dreams of various
persons covering the same period as that in which young Wilcox had had
his strange visitations. My uncle, it seems, had quickly instituted a
prodigiously far-flung body of inquires amongst nearly all the friends
whom he could question without impertinence, asking for nightly reports
of their dreams, and the dates of any notable visions for some time
past. The reception of his request seems to have varied; but he must,
at the very least, have received more responses than any ordinary man
could have handled without a secretary. This original correspondence
was not preserved, but his notes formed a thorough and really
significant digest. Average people in society and business--New
England's traditional "salt of the earth"--gave an almost completely
negative result, though scattered cases of uneasy but formless
nocturnal impressions appear here and there, always between March 23
and April 2--the period of young Wilcox's delirium. Scientific men
were little more affected, though four cases of vague description
suggest fugitive glimpses of strange landscapes, and in one case there
is mentioned a dread of something abnormal.

It was from the artists and poets that the pertinent answers came,
and I know that panic would have broken loose had they been able to
compare notes. As it was, lacking their original letters, I half
suspected the compiler of having asked leading questions, or of having
edited the correspondence in corroboration of what he had latently
resolved to see. That is why I continued to feel that Wilcox, somehow
cognizant of the old data which my uncle had possessed, had been
imposing on the veteran scientist. These responses from esthetes told
disturbing tale. From February 28 to April 2 a large proportion of them
had dreamed very bizarre things, the intensity of the dreams being
immeasurably the stronger during the period of the sculptor's delirium.
Over a fourth of those who reported anything, reported scenes and
half-sounds not unlike those which Wilcox had described; and some of
the dreamers confessed acute fear of the gigantic nameless thing
visible toward the last. One case, which the note describes with
emphasis, was very sad. The subject, a widely known architect with
leanings toward theosophy and occultism, went violently insane on the
date of young Wilcox's seizure, and expired several months later after
incessant screamings to be saved from some escaped denizen of hell. Had
my uncle referred to these cases by name instead of merely by number, I
should have attempted some corroboration and personal investigation;
but as it was, I succeeded in tracing down only a few. All of these,
however, bore out the notes in full. I have often wondered if all the
the objects of the professor's questioning felt as puzzled as did this
fraction. It is well that no explanation shall ever reach them.

The press cuttings, as I have intimated, touched on cases of panic,
mania, and eccentricity during the given period. Professor Angell must
have employed a cutting bureau, for the number of extracts was
tremendous, and the sources scattered throughout the globe. Here was a
nocturnal suicide in London, where a lone sleeper had leaped from a
window after a shocking cry. Here likewise a rambling letter to the
editor of a paper in South America, where a fanatic deduces a dire
future from visions he has seen. A dispatch from California describes a
theosophist colony as donning white robes en masse for some "glorious
fulfilment" which never arrives, whilst items from India speak guardedly
of serious native unrest toward the end of March 22-23.

The west of Ireland, too, is full of wild rumour and legendry, and a
fantastic painter named Ardois-Bonnot hangs a blasphemous Dream
Landscape in the Paris spring salon of 1926. And so numerous are the
recorded troubles in insane asylums that only a miracle can have
stopped the medical fraternity from noting strange parallelisms and
drawing mystified conclusions. A weird bunch of cuttings, all told; and
I can at this date scarcely envisage the callous rationalism with which
I set them aside. But I was then convinced that young Wilcox had known
of the older matters mentioned by the professor.



II. The Tale of Inspector Legrasse

The older matters which had made the sculptor's dream and bas-relief
so significant to my uncle formed the subject of the second half of his
long manuscript. Once before, it appears, Professor Angell had seen the
hellish outlines of the nameless monstrosity, puzzled over the unknown
hieroglyphics, and heard the ominous syllables which can be rendered
only as "Cthulhu"; and all this in so stirring and horrible a
connection that it is small wonder he pursued young Wilcox with queries
and demands for data.

This earlier experience had come in 1908, seventeen years before,
when the American Archaeological Society held its annual meeting in St.
Louis. Professor Angell, as befitted one of his authority and
attainments, had had a prominent part in all the deliberations; and was
one of the first to be approached by the several outsiders who took
advantage of the convocation to offer questions for correct answering
and problems for expert solution.

The chief of these outsiders, and in a short time the focus of
interest for the entire meeting, was a commonplace-looking middle-aged
man who had travelled all the way from New Orleans for certain special
information unobtainable from any local source. His name was John
Raymond Legrasse, and he was by profession an Inspector of Police. With
him he bore the subject of his visit, a grotesque, repulsive, and
apparently very ancient stone statuette whose origin he was at a loss
to determine. It must not be fancied that Inspector Legrasse had the
least interest in archaeology. On the contrary, his wish for
enlightenment was prompted by purely professional considerations. The
statuette, idol, fetish, or whatever it was, had been captured some
months before in the wooded swamps south of New Orleans during a raid
on a supposed voodoo meeting; and so singular and hideous were the
rites connected with it, that the police could not but realise that
they had stumbled on a dark cult totally unknown to them, and
infinitely more diabolic than even the blackest of the African voodoo
circles. Of its origin, apart from the erratic and unbelievable tales
extorted from the captured members, absolutely nothing was to be
discovered; hence the anxiety of the police for any antiquarian lore
which might help them to place the frightful symbol, and through it
track down the cult to its fountain-head.

Inspector Legrasse was scarcely prepared for the sensation which his
offering created. One sight of the thing had been enough to throw the
assembled men of science into a state of tense excitement, and they
lost no time in crowding around him to gaze at the diminutive figure
whose utter strangeness and air of genuinely abysmal antiquity hinted
so potently at unopened and archaic vistas. No recognised school of
sculpture had animated this terrible object, yet centuries and even
thousands of years seemed recorded in its dim and greenish surface of
unplaceable stone.

The figure, which was finally passed slowly from man to man for
close and careful study, was between seven and eight inches in height,
and of exquisitely artistic workmanship. It represented a monster of
vaguely anthropoid outline, but with an octopus-like head whose face
was a mass of feelers, a scaly, rubbery-looking body, prodigious claws
on hind and fore feet, and long, narrow wings behind. This thing, which
seemed instinct with a fearsome and unnatural malignancy, was of a
somewhat bloated corpulence, and squatted evilly on a rectangular block
or pedestal covered with undecipherable characters. The tips of the
wings touched the back edge of the block, the seat occupied the centre,
whilst the long, curved claws of the doubled-up, crouching hind legs
gripped the front edge and extended a quarter of the way down toward
the bottom of the pedestal. The cephalopod head was bent forward, so
that the ends of the facial feelers brushed the backs of huge fore paws
which clasped the croucher's elevated knees. The aspect of the whole
was abnormally life-like, and the more subtly fearful because its
source was so totally unknown. Its vast, awesome, and incalculable age
was unmistakable; yet not one link did it shew with any known type of
art belonging to civilisation's youth--or indeed to any other time.
Totally separate and apart, its very material was a mystery; for the
soapy, greenish-black stone with its golden or iridescent flecks and
striations resembled nothing familiar to geology or mineralogy. The
characters along the base were equally baffling; and no member present,
despite a representation of half the world's expert learning in this
field, could form the least notion of even their remotest linguistic
kinship. They, like the subject and material, belonged to something
horribly remote and distinct from mankind as we know it, something
frightfully suggestive of old and unhallowed cycles of life in which
our world and our conceptions have no part.

And yet, as the members severally shook their heads and confessed
defeat at the Inspector's problem, there was one man in that gathering
who suspected a touch of bizarre familiarity in the monstrous shape and
writing, and who presently told with some diffidence of the odd trifle
he knew. This person was the late William Channing Webb, Professor of
Anthropology in Princeton University, and an explorer of no slight
note. Professor Webb had been engaged, forty-eight years before, in a
tour of Greenland and Iceland in search of some Runic inscriptions
which he failed to unearth; and whilst high up on the West Greenland
coast had encountered a singular tribe or cult of degenerate Esquimaux
whose religion, a curious form of devil-worship, chilled him with its
deliberate bloodthirstiness and repulsiveness. It was a faith of which
other Esquimaux knew little, and which they mentioned only with
shudders, saying that it had come down from horribly ancient aeons
before ever the world was made. Besides nameless rites and human
sacrifices there were certain queer hereditary rituals addressed to a
supreme elder devil or tornasuk; and of this Professor Webb had
taken a careful phonetic copy from an aged angekok or wizard-priest,
expressing the sounds in Roman letters as best he knew how.
But just now of prime significance was the fetish which this
cult had cherished, and around which they danced when the aurora leaped
high over the ice cliffs. It was, the professor stated, a very crude
bas-relief of stone, comprising a hideous picture and some cryptic
writing. And so far as he could tell, it was a rough parallel in all
essential features of the bestial thing now lying before the meeting.

This data, received with suspense and astonishment by the assembled
members, proved doubly exciting to Inspector Legrasse; and he began at
once to ply his informant with questions. Having noted and copied an
oral ritual among the swamp cult-worshippers his men had arrested, he
besought the professor to remember as best he might the syllables taken
down amongst the diabolist Esquimaux. There then followed an exhaustive
comparison of details, and a moment of really awed silence when both
detective and scientist agreed on the virtual identity of the phrase
common to two hellish rituals so many worlds of distance apart. What,
in substance, both the Esquimaux wizards and the Louisiana
swamp-priests had chanted to their kindred idols was something very
like this: the word-divisions being guessed at from traditional breaks
in the phrase as chanted aloud:

"Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn."


Legrasse had one point in advance of Professor Webb, for several
among his mongrel prisoners had repeated to him what older celebrants
had told them the words meant. This text, as given, ran something like
this:

"In his house at R'lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming."

And now, in response to a general and urgent demand, Inspector
Legrasse related as fully as possible his experience with the swamp
worshippers; telling a story to which I could see my uncle attached
profound significance. It savoured of the wildest dreams of myth-maker
and theosophist, and disclosed an astonishing degree of cosmic
imagination among such half-castes and pariahs as might be least
expected to possess it.

On November 1st, 1907, there had come to the New Orleans police a
frantic summons from the swamp and lagoon country to the south. The
squatters there, mostly primitive but good-natured descendants of
Lafitte's men, were in the grip of stark terror from an unknown thing
which had stolen upon them in the night. It was voodoo, apparently, but
voodoo of a more terrible sort than they had ever known; and some of
their women and children had disappeared since the malevolent tom-tom
had begun its incessant beating far within the black haunted woods
where no dweller ventured. There were insane shouts and harrowing
screams, soul-chilling chants and dancing devil-flames; and, the
frightened messenger added, the people could stand it no more.

So a body of twenty police, filling two carriages and an automobile,
had set out in the late afternoon with the shivering squatter as a
guide. At the end of the passable road they alighted, and for miles
splashed on in silence through the terrible cypress woods where day
never came. Ugly roots and malignant hanging nooses of Spanish moss
beset them, and now and then a pile of dank stones or fragment of a
rotting wall intensified by its hint of morbid habitation a depression
which every malformed tree and every fungous islet combined to create.
At length the squatter settlement, a miserable huddle of huts, hove in
sight; and hysterical dwellers ran out to cluster around the group of
bobbing lanterns. The muffled beat of tom-toms was now faintly audible
far, far ahead; and a curdling shriek came at infrequent intervals when
the wind shifted. A reddish glare, too, seemed to filter through pale
undergrowth beyond the endless avenues of forest night. Reluctant even
to be left alone again, each one of the cowed squatters refused
point-blank to advance another inch toward the scene of unholy worship,
so Inspector Legrasse and his nineteen colleagues plunged on unguided
into black arcades of horror that none of them had ever trod before.

The region now entered by the police was one of traditionally evil
repute, substantially unknown and untraversed by white men. There were
legends of a hidden lake unglimpsed by mortal sight, in which dwelt a
huge, formless white polypous thing with luminous eyes; and squatters
whispered that bat-winged devils flew up out of caverns in inner earth
to worship it at midnight. They said it had been there before
D'Iberville, before La Salle, before the Indians, and before even the
wholesome beasts and birds of the woods. It was nightmare itself, and
to see it was to die. But it made men dream, and so they knew enough to
keep away. The present voodoo orgy was, indeed, on the merest fringe of
this abhorred area, but that location was bad enough; hence perhaps the
very place of the worship had terrified the squatters more than the
shocking sounds and incidents.

Only poetry or madness could do justice to the noises heard by
Legrasse's men as they ploughed on through the black morass toward the
red glare and muffled tom-toms. There are vocal qualities peculiar to
men, and vocal qualities peculiar to beasts; and it is terrible to hear
the one when the source should yield the other. Animal fury and
orgiastic license here whipped themselves to daemoniac heights by howls
and squawking ecstacies that tore and reverberated through those
nighted woods like pestilential tempests from the gulfs of hell. Now
and then the less organized ululation would cease, and from what seemed
a well-drilled chorus of hoarse voices would rise in sing-song chant
that hideous phrase or ritual:

"Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn."

Then the men, having reached a spot where the trees were thinner,
came suddenly in sight of the spectacle itself. Four of them reeled,
one fainted, and two were shaken into a frantic cry which the mad
cacophony of the orgy fortunately deadened. Legrasse dashed swamp water
on the face of the fainting man, and all stood trembling and nearly
hypnotised with horror.

In a natural glade of the swamp stood a grassy island of perhaps an
acre's extent, clear of trees and tolerably dry. On this now leaped and
twisted a more indescribable horde of human abnormality than any but a
Sime or an Angarola could paint. Void of clothing, this hybrid spawn
were braying, bellowing, and writhing about a monstrous ring-shaped
bonfire; in the centre of which, revealed by occasional rifts in the
curtain of flame, stood a great granite monolith some eight feet in
height; on top of which, incongruous in its diminutiveness, rested the
noxious carven statuette. From a wide circle of ten scaffolds set up at
regular intervals with the flame-girt monolith as a centre hung, head
downward, the oddly marred bodies of the helpless squatters who had
disappeared. It was inside this circle that the ring of worshippers
jumped and roared, the general direction of the mass motion being from
left to right in endless Bacchanal between the ring of bodies and the
ring of fire.

It may have been only imagination and it may have been only echoes
which induced one of the men, an excitable Spaniard, to fancy he heard
antiphonal responses to the ritual from some far and unillumined spot
deeper within the wood of ancient legendry and horror. This man, Joseph
D. Galvez, I later met and questioned; and he proved distractingly
imaginative. He indeed went so far as to hint of the faint beating of
great wings, and of a glimpse of shining eyes and a mountainous white
bulk beyond the remotest trees but I suppose he had been hearing too
much native superstition.

Actually, the horrified pause of the men was of comparatively brief
duration. Duty came first; and although there must have been nearly a
hundred mongrel celebrants in the throng, the police relied on their
firearms and plunged determinedly into the nauseous rout. For five
minutes the resultant din and chaos were beyond description. Wild blows
were struck, shots were fired, and escapes were made; but in the end
Legrasse was able to count some forty-seven sullen prisoners, whom he
forced to dress in haste and fall into line between two rows of
policemen. Five of the worshippers lay dead, and two severely wounded
ones were carried away on improvised stretchers by their
fellow-prisoners. The image on the monolith, of course, was carefully
removed and carried back by Legrasse.

Examined at headquarters after a trip of intense strain and
weariness, the prisoners all proved to be men of a very low,
mixed-blooded, and mentally aberrant type. Most were seamen, and a
sprinkling of Negroes and mulattoes, largely West Indians or Brava
Portuguese from the Cape Verde Islands, gave a colouring of voodooism
to the heterogeneous cult. But before many questions were asked, it
became manifest that something far deeper and older than Negro
fetishism was involved. Degraded and ignorant as they were, the
creatures held with surprising consistency to the central idea of their
loathsome faith.

They worshipped, so they said, the Great Old Ones who lived ages
before there were any men, and who came to the young world out of the
sky. Those Old Ones were gone now, inside the earth and under the sea;
but their dead bodies had told their secrets in dreams to the first
men, who formed a cult which had never died. This was that cult, and
the prisoners said it had always existed and always would exist, hidden
in distant wastes and dark places all over the world until the time
when the great priest Cthulhu, from his dark house in the mighty city
of R'lyeh under the waters, should rise and bring the earth again
beneath his sway. Some day he would call, when the stars were ready,
and the secret cult would always be waiting to liberate him.

Meanwhile no more must be told. There was a secret which even
torture could not extract. Mankind was not absolutely alone among the
conscious things of earth, for shapes came out of the dark to visit the
faithful few. But these were not the Great Old Ones. No man had ever
seen the Old Ones. The carven idol was great Cthulhu, but none might
say whether or not the others were precisely like him. No one could
read the old writing now, but things were told by word of mouth. The
chanted ritual was not the secret--that was never spoken aloud, only
whispered. The chant meant only this: "In his house at R'lyeh dead
Cthulhu waits dreaming."

Only two of the prisoners were found sane enough to be hanged, and
the rest were committed to various institutions. All denied a part in
the ritual murders, and averred that the killing had been done by Black
Winged Ones which had come to them from their immemorial meeting-place
in the haunted wood. But of those mysterious allies no coherent account
could ever be gained. What the police did extract, came mainly from the
immensely aged mestizo named Castro, who claimed to have sailed to
strange ports and talked with undying leaders of the cult in the
mountains of China.

Old Castro remembered bits of hideous legend that paled the
speculations of theosophists and made man and the world seem recent and
transient indeed. There had been aeons when other Things ruled on the
earth, and They had had great cities. Remains of Them, he said the
deathless Chinamen had told him, were still be found as Cyclopean
stones on islands in the Pacific. They all died vast epochs of time
before men came, but there were arts which could revive Them when the
stars had come round again to the right positions in the cycle of
eternity. They had, indeed, come themselves from the stars, and brought
Their images with Them.

These Great Old Ones, Castro continued, were not composed altogether
of flesh and blood. They had shape--for did not this star-fashioned
image prove it?--but that shape was not made of matter. When the stars
were right, They could plunge from world to world through the sky; but
when the stars were wrong, They could not live. But although They no
longer lived, They would never really die. They all lay in stone houses
in Their great city of R'lyeh, preserved by the spells of mighty
Cthulhu for a glorious resurrection when the stars and the earth might
once more be ready for Them. But at that time some force from outside
must serve to liberate Their bodies. The spells that preserved them
intact likewise prevented Them from making an initial move, and They
could only lie awake in the dark and think whilst uncounted millions of
years rolled by. They knew all that was occurring in the universe, for
Their mode of speech was transmitted thought. Even now They talked in
Their tombs. When, after infinities of chaos, the first men came, the
Great Old Ones spoke to the sensitive among them by moulding their
dreams; for only thus could Their language reach the fleshly minds of
mammals.

Then, whispered Castro, those first men formed the cult around tall
idols which the Great Ones showed them; idols brought in dim eras from
dark stars. That cult would never die till the stars came right again,
and the secret priests would take great Cthulhu from His tomb to revive
His subjects and resume His rule of earth. The time would be easy to
know, for then mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free
and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside
and all men shouting and killing and revelling in joy. Then the
liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and
revel and enjoy themselves, and all the earth would flame with a
holocaust of ecstasy and freedom. Meanwhile the cult, by appropriate
rites, must keep alive the memory of those ancient ways and shadow
forth the prophecy of their return.

In the elder time chosen men had talked with the entombed Old Ones
in dreams, but then something happened. The great stone city R'lyeh,
with its monoliths and sepulchres, had sunk beneath the waves; and the
deep waters, full of the one primal mystery through which not even
thought can pass, had cut off the spectral intercourse. But memory
never died, and the high-priests said that the city would rise again
when the stars were right. Then came out of the earth the black spirits
of earth, mouldy and shadowy, and full of dim rumours picked up in
caverns beneath forgotten sea-bottoms. But of them old Castro dared not
speak much. He cut himself off hurriedly, and no amount of persuasion
or subtlety could elicit more in this direction. The size of the Old
Ones, too, he curiously declined to mention. Of the cult, he said that
he thought the centre lay amid the pathless desert of Arabia, where
Irem, the City of Pillars, dreams hidden and untouched. It was not
allied to the European witch-cult, and was virtually unknown beyond its
members. No book had ever really hinted of it, though the deathless
Chinamen said that there were double meanings in the Necronomicon of
the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred which the initiated might read as they
chose, especially the much-discussed couplet:

That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death may die.

Legrasse, deeply impressed and not a little bewildered, had inquired
in vain concerning the historic affiliations of the cult. Castro,
apparently, had told the truth when he said that it was wholly secret.
The authorities at Tulane University could shed no light upon either
cult or image, and now the detective had come to the highest
authorities in the country and met with no more than the Greenland tale
of Professor Webb.

The feverish interest aroused at the meeting by Legrasse's tale,
corroborated as it was by the statuette, is echoed in the subsequent
correspondence of those who attended; although scant mention occurs in
the formal publications of the society. Caution is the first care of
those accustomed to face occasional charlatanry and imposture. Legrasse
for some time lent the image to Professor Webb, but at the latter's
death it was returned to him and remains in his possession, where I
viewed it not long ago. It is truly a terrible thing, and unmistakably
akin to the dream-sculpture of young Wilcox.

That my uncle was excited by the tale of the sculptor I did not
wonder, for what thoughts must arise upon hearing, after a knowledge of
what Legrasse had learned of the cult, of a sensitive young man who had
dreamed not only the figure and exact hieroglyphics of the swamp-found
image and the Greenland devil tablet, but had come in his dreams upon
at least three of the precise words of the formula uttered alike by
Esquimaux diabolists and mongrel Louisianans? Professor Angell's
instant start on an investigation of the utmost thoroughness was
eminently natural; though privately I suspected young Wilcox of having
heard of the cult in some indirect way, and of having invented a series
of dreams to heighten and continue the mystery at my uncle's expense.
The dream-narratives and cuttings collected by the professor were, of
course, strong corroboration; but the rationalism of my mind and the
extravagance of the whole subject led me to adopt what I thought the
most sensible conclusions. So, after thoroughly studying the manuscript
again and correlating the theosophical and anthropological notes with
the cult narrative of Legrasse, I made a trip to Providence to see the
sculptor and give him the rebuke I thought proper for so boldly
imposing upon a learned and aged man.

Wilcox still lived alone in the Fleur-de-Lys Building in Thomas
Street, a hideous Victorian imitation of seventeenth century Breton
Architecture which flaunts its stuccoed front amidst the lovely
colonial houses on the ancient hill, and under the very shadow of the
finest Georgian steeple in America, I found him at work in his rooms,
and at once conceded from the specimens scattered about that his genius
is indeed profound and authentic. He will, I believe, some time be
heard from as one of the great decadents; for he has crystallised in
clay and will one day mirror in marble those nightmares and phantasies
which Arthur Machen evokes in prose, and Clark Ashton Smith makes
visible in verse and in painting.

Dark, frail, and somewhat unkempt in aspect, he turned languidly at
my knock and asked me my business without rising. Then I told him who I
was, he displayed some interest; for my uncle had excited his curiosity
in probing his strange dreams, yet had never explained the reason for
the study. I did not enlarge his knowledge in this regard, but sought
with some subtlety to draw him out. In a short time I became convinced
of his absolute sincerity, for he spoke of the dreams in a manner none
could mistake. They and their subconscious residuum had influenced his
art profoundly, and he shewed me a morbid statue whose contours almost
made me shake with the potency of its black suggestion. He could not
recall having seen the original of this thing except in his own dream
bas-relief, but the outlines had formed themselves insensibly under his
hands. It was, no doubt, the giant shape he had raved of in delirium.
That he really knew nothing of the hidden cult, save from what my
uncle's relentless catechism had let fall, he soon made clear; and
again I strove to think of some way in which he could possibly have
received the weird impressions.


He talked of his dreams in a strangely poetic fashion; making me see
with terrible vividness the damp Cyclopean city of slimy green stone--
whose geometry, he oddly said, was all wrong--and hear with frightened
expectancy the ceaseless, half-mental calling from underground:
"Cthulhu fhtagn", "Cthulhu fhtagn."

These words had formed part of that dread ritual which told of dead
Cthulhu's dream-vigil in his stone vault at R'lyeh, and I felt deeply
moved despite my rational beliefs. Wilcox, I was sure, had heard of the
cult in some casual way, and had soon forgotten it amidst the mass of
his equally weird reading and imagining. Later, by virtue of its sheer
impressiveness, it had found subconscious expression in dreams, in the
bas-relief, and in the terrible statue I now beheld; so that his
imposture upon my uncle had been a very innocent one. The youth was of
a type, at once slightly affected and slightly ill-mannered, which I
could never like, but I was willing enough now to admit both his genius
and his honesty. I took leave of him amicably, and wish him all the
success his talent promises.

The matter of the cult still remained to fascinate me, and at times
I had visions of personal fame from researches into its origin and
connections. I visited New Orleans, talked with Legrasse and others of
that old-time raiding-party, saw the frightful image, and even
questioned such of the mongrel prisoners as still survived. Old Castro,
unfortunately, had been dead for some years. What I now heard so
graphically at first-hand, though it was really no more than a detailed
confirmation of what my uncle had written, excited me afresh; for I
felt sure that I was on the track of a very real, very secret, and very
ancient religion whose discovery would make me an anthropologist of
note. My attitude was still one of absolute materialism, as I wish it
still were, and I discounted with almost inexplicable perversity the
coincidence of the dream notes and odd cuttings collected by Professor
Angell.

One thing I began to suspect, and which I now fear I know, is that
my uncle's death was far from natural. He fell on a narrow hill street
leading up from an ancient waterfront swarming with foreign mongrels,
after a careless push from a Negro sailor. I did not forget the mixed
blood and marine pursuits of the cult-members in Louisiana, and would
not be surprised to learn of secret methods and rites and beliefs.
Legrasse and his men, it is true, have been let alone; but in Norway a
certain seaman who saw things is dead. Might not the deeper inquiries
of my uncle after encountering the sculptor's data have come to
sinister ears? I think Professor Angell died because he knew too much,
or because he was likely to learn too much. Whether I shall go as he
did remains to be seen, for I have learned much now.



III. The Madness from the Sea

If heaven ever wishes to grant me a boon, it will be a total
effacing of the results of a mere chance which fixed my eye on a
certain stray piece of shelf-paper. It was nothing on which I would
naturally have stumbled in the course of my daily round, for it was an
old number of an Australian journal, the Sydney Bulletin for April 18,
1925. It had escaped even the cutting bureau which had at the time of
its issuance been avidly collecting material for my uncle's research.

I had largely given over my inquiries into what Professor Angell
called the "Cthulhu Cult", and was visiting a learned friend in
Paterson, New Jersey; the curator of a local museum and a mineralogist
of note. Examining one day the reserve specimens roughly set on the
storage shelves in a rear room of the museum, my eye was caught by an
odd picture in one of the old papers spread beneath the stones. It was
the Sydney Bulletin I have mentioned, for my friend had wide
affiliations in all conceivable foreign parts; and the picture was a
half-tone cut of a hideous stone image almost identical with that which
Legrasse had found in the swamp.

Eagerly clearing the sheet of its precious contents, I scanned the
item in detail; and was disappointed to find it of only moderate
length. What it suggested, however, was of portentous significance to
my flagging quest; and I carefully tore it out for immediate action. It
read as follows:

MYSTERY DERELICT FOUND AT SEA

Vigilant Arrives With Helpless Armed New Zealand
Yacht in Tow. One Survivor and Dead Man Found Aboard. Tale of Desperate
Battle and Deaths at Sea. Rescued Seaman Refuses Particulars of Strange
Experience. Odd Idol Found in His Possession. Inquiry to Follow.


The Morrison Co.'s freighter Vigilant, bound from
Valparaiso, arrived this morning at its wharf in Darling Harbour,
having in tow the battled and disabled but heavily armed steam yacht
Alert of Dunedin, N.Z., which was sighted April 12th in S. Latitude
34°21', W. Longitude 152°17', with one living and one dead man aboard.

The Vigilant left Valparaiso March 25th, and on April 2nd was
driven considerably south of her course by exceptionally heavy storms
and monster waves. On April 12th the derelict was sighted; and though
apparently deserted, was found upon boarding to contain one survivor in
a half-delirious condition and one man who had evidently been dead for
more than a week. The living man was clutching a horrible stone idol of
unknown origin, about foot in height, regarding whose nature
authorities at Sydney University, the Royal Society, and the Museum in
College Street all profess complete bafflement, and which the survivor
says he found in the cabin of the yacht, in a small carved shrine of
common pattern.

This man, after recovering his senses, told an exceedingly strange
story of piracy and slaughter. He is Gustaf Johansen, a Norwegian of
some intelligence, and had been second mate of the two-masted schooner
Emma of Auckland, which sailed for Callao February 20th with a
complement of eleven men. The Emma, he says, was delayed and thrown
widely south of her course by the great storm of March 1st, and on
March 22nd, in S. Latitude 49°51' W. Longitude 128°34', encountered the
Alert, manned by a queer and evil-looking crew of Kanakas and
half-castes. Being ordered peremptorily to turn back, Capt. Collins
refused; whereupon the strange crew began to fire savagely and without
warning upon the schooner with a peculiarly heavy battery of brass
cannon forming part of the yacht's equipment. The Emma's men showed
fight, says the survivor, and though the schooner began to sink from
shots beneath the water-line they managed to heave alongside their
enemy and board her, grappling with the savage crew on the yacht's
deck, and being forced to kill them all, the number being slightly
superior, because of their particularly abhorrent and desperate though
rather clumsy mode of fighting.

Three of the Emma's men, including Capt. Collins and First Mate
Green, were killed; and the remaining eight under Second Mate Johansen
proceeded to navigate the captured yacht, going ahead in their original
direction to see if any reason for their ordering back had existed. The
next day, it appears, they raised and landed on a small island,
although none is known to exist in that part of the ocean; and six of
the men somehow died ashore, though Johansen is queerly reticent about
this part of his story, and speaks only of their falling into a rock
chasm. Later, it seems, he and one companion boarded the yacht and
tried to manage her, but were beaten about by the storm of April 2nd,
From that time till his rescue on the 12th the man remembers little,
and he does not even recall when William Briden, his companion, died.
Briden's death reveals no apparent cause, and was probably due to
excitement or exposure. Cable advices from Dunedin report that the
Alert was well known there as an island trader, and bore an evil
reputation along the waterfront, It was owned by a curious group of
half-castes whose frequent meetings and night trips to the woods
attracted no little curiosity; and it had set sail in great haste just
after the storm and earth tremors of March 1st. Our Auckland
correspondent gives the Emma and her crew an excellent reputation, and
Johansen is described as a sober and worthy man. The admiralty will
institute an inquiry on the whole matter beginning tomorrow, at which
every effort will be made to induce Johansen to speak more freely than
he has done hitherto.


This was all, together with the picture of the hellish image; but
what a train of ideas it started in my mind! Here were new treasuries
of data on the Cthulhu Cult, and evidence that it had strange interests
at sea as well as on land. What motive prompted the hybrid crew to
order back the Emma as they sailed about with their hideous idol? What
was the unknown island on which six of the Emma's crew had died, and
about which the mate Johansen was so secretive? What had the
vice-admiralty's investigation brought out, and what was known of the
noxious cult in Dunedin? And most marvellous of all, what deep and more
than natural linkage of dates was this which gave a malign and now
undeniable significance to the various turns of events so carefully
noted by my uncle?

March 1st--or February 28th according to the International Date
Line--the earthquake and storm had come. From Dunedin the Alert and
her noisome crew had darted eagerly forth as if imperiously summoned,
and on the other side of the earth poets and artists had begun to dream
of a strange, dank Cyclopean city whilst a young sculptor had moulded
in his sleep the form of the dreaded Cthulhu. March 23rd the crew of
the Emma landed on an unknown island and left six men dead; and on that
date the dreams of sensitive men assumed a heightened vividness and
darkened with dread of a giant monster's malign pursuit, whilst an
architect had gone mad and a sculptor had lapsed suddenly into
delirium! And what of this storm of April 2nd--the date on which all
dreams of the dank city ceased, and Wilcox emerged unharmed from the
bondage of strange fever? What of all this--and of those hints of old
Castro about the sunken, star-born Old Ones and their coming reign;
their faithful cult and their mastery of dreams? Was I tottering on the
brink of cosmic horrors beyond man's power to bear? If so, they must be
horrors of the mind alone, for in some way the second of April had put
a stop to whatever monstrous menace had begun its siege of mankind's
soul.

That evening, after a day of hurried cabling and arranging, I bade
my host adieu and took a train for San Francisco. In less than a month
I was in Dunedin; where, however, I found that little was known of the
strange cult-members who had lingered in the old sea-taverns.
Waterfront scum was far too common for special mention; though there
was vague talk about one inland trip these mongrels had made, during
which faint drumming and red flame were noted on the distant hills. In
Auckland I learned that Johansen had returned with yellow hair turned
white after a perfunctory and inconclusive questioning at Sydney, and
had thereafter sold his cottage in West Street and sailed with his wife
to his old home in Oslo. Of his stirring experience he would tell his
friends no more than he had told the admiralty officials, and all they
could do was to give me his Oslo address.

After that I went to Sydney and talked profitlessly with seamen and
members of the vice-admiralty court. I saw the Alert, now sold and in
commercial use, at Circular Quay in Sydney Cove, but gained nothing
from its non-committal bulk. The crouching image with its cuttlefish
head, dragon body, scaly wings, and hieroglyphed pedestal, was
preserved in the Museum at Hyde Park; and I studied it long and well,
finding it a thing of balefully exquisite workmanship, and with the
same utter mystery, terrible antiquity, and unearthly strangeness of
material which I had noted in Legrasse's smaller specimen. Geologists,
the curator told me, had found it a monstrous puzzle; for they vowed
that the world held no rock like it. Then I thought with a shudder of
what Old Castro had told Legrasse about the Old Ones; "They had come
from the stars, and had brought Their images with Them."

Shaken with such a mental resolution as I had never before known, I
now resolved to visit Mate Johansen in Oslo. Sailing for London, I
reembarked at once for the Norwegian capital; and one autumn day landed
at the trim wharves in the shadow of the Egeberg. Johansen's address, I
discovered, lay in the Old Town of King Harold Haardrada, which kept
alive the name of Oslo during all the centuries that the greater city
masqueraded as "Christiana." I made the brief trip by taxicab, and
knocked with palpitant heart at the door of a neat and ancient building
with plastered front. A sad-faced woman in black answered my summons,
and I was stung with disappointment when she told me in halting English
that Gustaf Johansen was no more.

He had not long survived his return, said his wife, for the doings
at sea in 1925 had broken him. He had told her no more than he told the
public, but had left a long manuscript--of "technical matters" as he
said--written in English, evidently in order to guard her from the
peril of casual perusal. During a walk through a narrow lane near the
Gothenburg dock, a bundle of papers falling from an attic window had
knocked him down. Two Lascar sailors at once helped him to his feet,
but before the ambulance could reach him he was dead. Physicians found
no adequate cause the end, and laid it to heart trouble and a weakened
constitution. I now felt gnawing at my vitals that dark terror which
will never leave me till I, too, am at rest; "accidentally" or
otherwise. Persuading the widow that my connection with her husband's
"technical matters" was sufficient to entitle me to his manuscript, I
bore the document away and began to read it on the London boat.

It was a simple, rambling thing--a naive sailor's effort at a
post-facto diary--and strove to recall day by day that last awful
voyage. I cannot attempt to transcribe it verbatim in all its
cloudiness and redundance, but I will tell its gist enough to show why
the sound the water against the vessel's sides became so unendurable to
me that I stopped my ears with cotton.

Johansen, thank God, did not know quite all, even though he saw the
city and the Thing, but I shall never sleep calmly again when I think
of the horrors that lurk ceaselessly behind life in time and in space,
and of those unhallowed blasphemies from elder stars which dream
beneath the sea, known and favoured by a nightmare cult ready and eager
to loose them upon the world whenever another earthquake shall heave
their monstrous stone city again to the sun and air.

Johansen's voyage had begun just as he told it to the
vice-admiralty. The Emma, in ballast, had cleared Auckland on February
20th, and had felt the full force of that earthquake-born tempest which
must have heaved up from the sea-bottom the horrors that filled men's
dreams. Once more under control, the ship was making good progress when
held up by the Alert on March 22nd, and I could feel the mate's regret
as he wrote of her bombardment and sinking. Of the swarthy cult-fiends
on the Alert he speaks with significant horror. There was some
peculiarly abominable quality about them which made their destruction
seem almost a duty, and Johansen shows ingenuous wonder at the charge
of ruthlessness brought against his party during the proceedings of the
court of inquiry. Then, driven ahead by curiosity in their captured
yacht under Johansen's command, the men sight a great stone pillar
sticking out of the sea, and in S. Latitude 47°9', W. Longitude
l23°43', come upon a coastline of mingled mud, ooze, and weedy
Cyclopean masonry which can be nothing less than the tangible substance
of earth's supreme terror--the nightmare corpse-city of R'lyeh, that
was built in measureless aeons behind history by the vast, loathsome
shapes that seeped down from the dark stars. There lay great Cthulhu
and his hordes, hidden in green slimy vaults and sending out at last,
after cycles incalculable, the thoughts that spread fear to the dreams
of the sensitive and called imperiously to the faithful to come on a
pilgrimage of liberation and restoration. All this Johansen did not
suspect, but God knows he soon saw enough!

I suppose that only a single mountain-top, the hideous
monolith-crowned citadel whereon great Cthulhu was buried, actually
emerged from the waters. When I think of the extent of all that may be
brooding down there I almost wish to kill myself forthwith. Johansen
and his men were awed by the cosmic majesty of this dripping Babylon of
elder daemons, and must have guessed without guidance that it was
nothing of this or of any sane planet. Awe at the unbelievable size of
the greenish stone blocks, at the dizzying height of the great carven
monolith, and at the stupefying identity of the colossal statues and
bas-reliefs with the queer image found in the shrine on the Alert, is
poignantly visible in every line of the mates frightened description.

Without knowing what futurism is like, Johansen achieved something
very close to it when he spoke of the city; for instead of describing
any definite structure or building, he dwells only on broad impressions
of vast angles and stone surfaces--surfaces too great to belong to
anything right or proper for this earth, and impious with horrible
images and hieroglyphs. I mention his talk about angles because it
suggests something Wilcox had told me of his awful dreams. He said that
the geometry of the dream-place he saw was abnormal, non-Euclidean, and
loathsomely redolent of spheres and dimensions apart from ours. Now an
unlettered seaman felt the same thing whilst gazing at the terrible
reality.

Johansen and his men landed at a sloping mud-bank on this monstrous
Acropolis, and clambered slipperily up over titan oozy blocks which
could have been no mortal staircase. The very sun of heaven seemed
distorted when viewed through the polarising miasma welling out from
this sea-soaked perversion, and twisted menace and suspense lurked
leeringly in those crazily elusive angles of carven rock where a second
glance showed concavity after the first showed convexity.

Something very like fright had come over all the explorers before
anything more definite than rock and ooze and weed was seen. Each would
have fled had he not feared the scorn of the others, and it was only
half-heartedly that they searched--vainly, as it proved--for some
portable souvenir to bear away.

It was Rodriguez the Portuguese who climbed up the foot of the
monolith and shouted of what he had found. The rest followed him, and
looked curiously at the immense carved door with the now familiar
squid-dragon bas-relief. It was, Johansen said, like a great barn-door;
and they all felt that it was a door because of the ornate lintel,
threshold, and jambs around it, though they could not decide whether it
lay flat like a trap-door or slantwise like an outside cellar-door. As
Wilcox would have said, the geometry of the place was all wrong. One
could not be sure that the sea and the ground were horizontal, hence
the relative position of everything else seemed phantasmally variable.

Briden pushed at the stone in several places without result. Then
Donovan felt over it delicately around the edge, pressing each point
separately as he went. He climbed interminably along the grotesque
stone moulding--that is, one would call it climbing if the thing was
not after all horizontal--and the men wondered how any door in the
universe could be so vast. Then, very softly and slowly, the acre-great
lintel began to give inward at the top; and they saw that it was
balanced.

Donovan slid or somehow propelled himself down or along the jamb and
rejoined his fellows, and everyone watched the queer recession of the
monstrously carven portal. In this phantasy of prismatic distortion it
moved anomalously in a diagonal way, so that all the rules of matter
and perspective seemed upset.

The aperture was black with a darkness almost material. That
tenebrousness was indeed a positive quality; for it obscured such parts
of the inner walls as ought to have been revealed, and actually burst
forth like smoke from its aeon-long imprisonment, visibly darkening the
sun as it slunk away into the shrunken and gibbous sky on flapping
membraneous wings. The odour rising from the newly opened depths was
intolerable, and at length the quick-eared Hawkins thought he heard a
nasty, slopping sound down there. Everyone listened, and everyone was
listening still when It lumbered slobberingly into sight and gropingly
squeezed Its gelatinous green immensity through the black doorway into
the tainted outside air of that poison city of madness.

Poor Johansen's handwriting almost gave out when he wrote of this.
Of the six men who never reached the ship, he thinks two perished of
pure fright in that accursed instant. The Thing cannot be described--
there is no language for such abysms of shrieking and immemorial
lunacy, such eldritch contradictions of all matter, force, and cosmic
order. A mountain walked or stumbled. God! What wonder that across the
earth a great architect went mad, and poor Wilcox raved with fever in
that telepathic instant? The Thing of the idols, the green, sticky
spawn of the stars, had awaked to claim his own. The stars were right
again, and what an age-old cult had failed to do by design, a band of
innocent sailors had done by accident. After vigintillions of years
great Cthulhu was loose again, and ravening for delight.

Three men were swept up by the flabby claws before anybody turned.
God rest them, if there be any rest in the universe. They were Donovan,
Guerrera, and Angstrom. Parker slipped as the other three were plunging
frenziedly over endless vistas of green-crusted rock to the boat, and
Johansen swears he was swallowed up by an angle of masonry which
shouldn't have been there; an angle which was acute, but behaved as if
it were obtuse. So only Briden and Johansen reached the boat, and
pulled desperately for the Alert as the mountainous monstrosity flopped
down the slimy stones and hesitated, floundering at the edge of the
water.

Steam had not been suffered to go down entirely, despite the
departure of all hands for the shore; and it was the work of only a few
moments of feverish rushing up and down between wheel and engines to
get the Alert under way. Slowly, amidst the distorted horrors of that
indescribable scene, she began to churn the lethal waters; whilst on
the masonry of that charnel shore that was not of earth the titan Thing
from the stars slavered and gibbered like Polypheme cursing the fleeing
ship of Odysseus. Then, bolder than the storied Cyclops, great Cthulhu
slid greasily into the water and began to pursue with vast wave-raising
strokes of cosmic potency. Briden looked back and went mad, laughing
shrilly as he kept on laughing at intervals till death found him one
night in the cabin whilst Johansen was wandering deliriously.

But Johansen had not given out yet. Knowing that the Thing could
surely overtake the Alert until steam was fully up, he resolved on a
desperate chance; and, setting the engine for full speed, ran
lightning-like on deck and reversed the wheel. There was a mighty
eddying and foaming in the noisome brine, and as the steam mounted
higher and higher the brave Norwegian drove his vessel head on against
the pursuing jelly which rose above the unclean froth like the stern of
a daemon galleon. The awful squid-head with writhing feelers came
nearly up to the bowsprit of the sturdy yacht, but Johansen drove on
relentlessly. There was a bursting as of an exploding bladder, a slushy
nastiness as of a cloven sunfish, a stench as of a thousand opened
graves, and a sound that the chronicler could not put on paper. For an
instant the ship was befouled by an acrid and blinding green cloud, and
then there was only a venomous seething astern; where--God in heaven!
--the scattered plasticity of that nameless sky-spawn was nebulously
recombining in its hateful original form, whilst its distance widened
every second as the Alert gained impetus from its mounting steam.

That was all. After that Johansen only brooded over the idol in the
cabin and attended to a few matters of food for himself and the
laughing maniac by his side. He did not try to navigate after the first
bold flight, for the reaction had taken something out of his soul. Then
came the storm of April 2nd, and a gathering of the clouds about his
consciousness. There is a sense of spectral whirling through liquid
gulfs of infinity, of dizzying rides through reeling universes on a
comets tail, and of hysterical plunges from the pit to the moon and
from the moon back again to the pit, all livened by a cachinnating
chorus of the distorted, hilarious elder gods and the green, bat-winged
mocking imps of Tartarus.

Out of that dream came rescue--the Vigilant, the vice-admiralty
court, the streets of Dunedin, and the long voyage back home to the old
house by the Egeberg. He could not tell--they would think him mad. He
would write of what he knew before death came, but his wife must not
guess. Death would be a boon if only it could blot out the memories.

That was the document I read, and now I have placed it in the tin
box beside the bas-relief and the papers of Professor Angell. With it
shall go this record of mine--this test of my own sanity, wherein is
pieced together that which I hope may never be pieced together again. I
have looked upon all that the universe has to hold of horror, and even
the skies of spring and the flowers of summer must ever afterward be
poison to me. But I do not think my life will be long. As my uncle
went, as poor Johansen went, so I shall go. I know too much, and the
cult still lives.

Cthulhu still lives, too, I suppose, again in that chasm of stone
which has shielded him since the sun was young. His accursed city is
sunken once more, for the Vigilant sailed over the spot after the April
storm; but his ministers on earth still bellow and prance and slay
around idol-capped monoliths in lonely places. He must have been
trapped by the sinking whilst within his black abyss, or else the world
would by now be screaming with fright and frenzy. Who knows the end?
What has risen may sink, and what has sunk may rise. Loathsomeness
waits and dreams in the deep, and decay spreads over the tottering
cities of men. A time will come--but I must not and cannot think! Let
me pray that, if I do not survive this manuscript, my executors may put
caution before audacity and see that it meets no other eye.



* THE DUNWICH HORROR

Gorgons and Hydras, and Chimaeras--dire stories of Celaeno and
the Harpies--may reproduce themselves in the brain of
superstition--but they were there before. They are transcripts,
types--the archetypes are in us, and eternal. How else should the
recital of that which we know in a waking sense to be false come
to affect us all? Is it that we naturally conceive terror from
such objects, considered in their capacity of being able to
inflict upon us bodily injury? O, least of all! These terrors are
of older standing. They date beyond body--or without the body,
they would have been the same...That the kind of fear here
treated is purely spiritual--that it is strong in proportion as
it is objectless on earth, that it predominates in the period of
our sinless infancy--are difficulties the solution of which
might afford some probable insight into our ante-mundane
condition, and a peep at least into the shadowland of
pre-existence.


--Charles Lamb: Witches and Other Night-Fears





I.

When a traveller in north central Massachusetts takes the wrong fork
at the junction of Aylesbury pike just beyond Dean's Corners he comes
upon a lonely and curious country.

The ground gets higher, and the brier-bordered stone walls press
closer and closer against the ruts of the dusty, curving road. The
trees of the frequent forest belts seem too large, and the wild weeds,
brambles and grasses attain a luxuriance not often found in settled
regions. At the same time the planted fields appear singularly few and
barren; while the sparsely scattered houses wear a surprisingly uniform
aspect of age, squalor, and dilapidation.

Without knowing why, one hesitates to ask directions from the
gnarled solitary figures spied now and then on crumbling doorsteps or
on the sloping, rock-strewn meadows. Those figures are so silent and
furtive that one feels somehow confronted by forbidden things, with
which it would be better to have nothing to do. When a rise in the road
brings the mountains in view above the deep woods, the feeling of
strange uneasiness is increased. The summits are too rounded and
symmetrical to give a sense of comfort and naturalness, and sometimes
the sky silhouettes with especial clearness the queer circles of tall
stone pillars with which most of them are crowned.

Gorges and ravines of problematical depth intersect the way, and the
crude wooden bridges always seem of dubious safety. When the road dips
again there are stretches of marshland that one instinctively dislikes,
and indeed almost fears at evening when unseen whippoorwills chatter
and the fireflies come out in abnormal profusion to dance to the
raucous, creepily insistent rhythms of stridently piping bull-frogs.
The thin, shining line of the Miskatonic's upper reaches has an oddly
serpent-like suggestion as it winds close to the feet of the domed
hills among which it rises.

As the hills draw nearer, one heeds their wooded sides more than
their stone-crowned tops. Those sides loom up so darkly and
precipitously that one wishes they would keep their distance, but there
is no road by which to escape them. Across a covered bridge one sees a
small village huddled between the stream and the vertical slope of
Round Mountain, and wonders at the cluster of rotting gambrel roofs
bespeaking an earlier architectural period than that of the
neighbouring region. It is not reassuring to see, on a closer glance,
that most of the houses are deserted and falling to ruin, and that the
broken-steepled church now harbours the one slovenly mercantile
establishment of the hamlet. One dreads to trust the tenebrous tunnel
of the bridge, yet there is no way to avoid it. Once across, it is hard
to prevent the impression of a faint, malign odour about the village
street, as of the massed mould and decay of centuries. It is always a
relief to get clear of the place, and to follow the narrow road around
the base of the hills and across the level country beyond till it
rejoins the Aylesbury pike. Afterwards one sometimes learns that one
has been through Dunwich.

Outsiders visit Dunwich as seldom as possible, and since a certain
season of horror all the signboards pointing towards it have been taken
down. The scenery, judged by an ordinary aesthetic canon, is more than
commonly beautiful; yet there is no influx of artists or summer
tourists. Two centuries ago, when talk of witch-blood, Satan-worship,
and strange forest presences was not laughed at, it was the custom to
give reasons for avoiding the locality. In our sensible age--since the
Dunwich horror of 1928 was hushed up by those who had the town's and
the world's welfare at heart--people shun it without knowing exactly
why. Perhaps one reason--though it cannot apply to uninformed
strangers--is that the natives are now repellently decadent, having
gone far along that path of retrogression so common in many New England
backwaters. They have come to form a race by themselves, with the
well-defined mental and physical stigmata of degeneracy and inbreeding.
The average of their intelligence is woefully low, whilst their annals
reek of overt viciousness and of half-hidden murders, incests, and
deeds of almost unnameable violence and perversity. The old gentry,
representing the two or three armigerous families which came from Salem
in 1692, have kept somewhat above the general level of decay; though
many branches are sunk into the sordid populace so deeply that only
their names remain as a key to the origin they disgrace. Some of the
Whateleys and Bishops still send their eldest sons to Harvard and
Miskatonic, though those sons seldom return to the mouldering gambrel
roofs under which they and their ancestors were born.

No one, even those who have the facts concerning the recent horror,
can say just what is the matter with Dunwich; though old legends speak
of unhallowed rites and conclaves of the Indians, amidst which they
called forbidden shapes of shadow out of the great rounded hills, and
made wild orgiastic prayers that were answered by loud crackings and
rumblings from the ground below. In 1747 the Reverend Abijah Hoadley,
newly come to the Congregational Church at Dunwich Village, preached a
memorable sermon on the close presence of Satan and his imps; in which
he said:

"It must be allow'd, that these Blasphemies of an infernall Train of
Daemons are Matters of too common Knowledge to be deny'd; the cursed
Voices of Azazel and Buzrael, of Beelzebub and Belial, being heard now
from under Ground by above a Score of credible Witnesses now living. I
myself did not more than a Fortnight ago catch a very plain Discourse
of evill Powers in the Hill behind my House; wherein there were a
Rattling and Rolling, Groaning, Screeching, and Hissing, such as no
Things of this Earth could raise up, and which must needs have come
from those Caves that only black Magick can discover, and only the
Divell unlock".

Mr. Hoadley disappeared soon after delivering this sermon, but the
text, printed in Springfield, is still extant. Noises in the hills
continued to be reported from year to year, and still form a puzzle to
geologists and physiographers.

Other traditions tell of foul odours near the hill-crowning circles
of stone pillars, and of rushing airy presences to be heard faintly at
certain hours from stated points at the bottom of the great ravines;
while still others try to explain the Devil's Hop Yard--a bleak,
blasted hillside where no tree, shrub, or grass-blade will grow. Then,
too, the natives are mortally afraid of the numerous whippoorwills
which grow vocal on warm nights. It is vowed that the birds are
psychopomps lying in wait for the souls of the dying, and that they
time their eerie cries in unison with the sufferer's struggling breath.
If they can catch the fleeing soul when it leaves the body, they
instantly flutter away chittering in daemoniac laughter; but if they
fail, they subside gradually into a disappointed silence.

These tales, of course, are obsolete and ridiculous; because they
come down from very old times. Dunwich is indeed ridiculously old--
older by far than any of the communities within thirty miles of it.
South of the village one may still spy the cellar walls and chimney of
the ancient Bishop house, which was built before 1700; whilst the ruins
of the mill at the falls, built in 1806, form the most modern piece of
architecture to be seen. Industry did not flourish here, and the
nineteenth-century factory movement proved short-lived. Oldest of all
are the great rings of rough-hewn stone columns on the hilltops, but
these are more generally attributed to the Indians than to the
settlers. Deposits of skulls and bones, found within these circles and
around the sizeable table-like rock on Sentinel Hill, sustain the
popular belief that such spots were once the burial-places of the
Pocumtucks; even though many ethnologists, disregarding the absurd
improbability of such a theory, persist in believing the remains
Caucasian.



II.

It was in the township of Dunwich, in a large and partly inhabited
farmhouse set against a hillside four miles from the village and a mile
and a half from any other dwelling, that Wilbur Whateley was born at 5
a.m. on Sunday, the second of February, 1913. This date was recalled
because it was Candlemas, which people in Dunwich curiously observe
under another name; and because the noises in the hills had sounded,
and all the dogs of the countryside had barked persistently, throughout
the night before. Less worthy of notice was the fact that the mother
was one of the decadent Whateleys, a somewhat deformed, unattractive
albino woman of thirty-five, living with an aged and half-insane father
about whom the most frightful tales of wizardry had been whispered in
his youth. Lavinia Whateley had no known husband, but according to the
custom of the region made no attempt to disavow the child; concerning
the other side of whose ancestry the country folk might--and did--
speculate as widely as they chose. On the contrary, she seemed
strangely proud of the dark, goatish-looking infant who formed such a
contrast to her own sickly and pink-eyed albinism, and was heard to
mutter many curious prophecies about its unusual powers and tremendous
future.

Lavinia was one who would be apt to mutter such things, for she was
a lone creature given to wandering amidst thunderstorms in the hills
and trying to read the great odorous books which her father had
inherited through two centuries of Whateleys, and which were fast
falling to pieces with age and wormholes. She had never been to school,
but was filled with disjointed scraps of ancient lore that Old Whateley
had taught her. The remote farmhouse had always been feared because of
Old Whateley's reputation for black magic, and the unexplained death by
violence of Mrs Whateley when Lavinia was twelve years old had not
helped to make the place popular. Isolated among strange influences,
Lavinia was fond of wild and grandiose day-dreams and singular
occupations; nor was her leisure much taken up by household cares in a
home from which all standards of order and cleanliness had long since
disappeared.

There was a hideous screaming which echoed above even the hill
noises and the dogs' barking on the night Wilbur was born, but no known
doctor or midwife presided at his coming. Neighbours knew nothing of
him till a week afterward, when Old Whateley drove his sleigh through
the snow into Dunwich Village and discoursed incoherently to the group
of loungers at Osborne's general store. There seemed to be a change in
the old man--an added element of furtiveness in the clouded brain
which subtly transformed him from an object to a subject of fear--
though he was not one to be perturbed by any common family event.
Amidst it all he showed some trace of the pride later noticed in his
daughter, and what he said of the child's paternity was remembered by
many of his hearers years afterward.

'I dun't keer what folks think--ef Lavinny's boy looked like his
pa, he wouldn't look like nothin' ye expeck. Ye needn't think the only
folks is the folks hereabouts. Lavinny's read some, an' has seed some
things the most o' ye only tell abaout. I calc'late her man is as good
a husban' as ye kin find this side of Aylesbury; an' ef ye knowed as
much abaout the hills as I dew, ye wouldn't ast no better church
weddin' nor her'n. Let me tell ye suthin--some day yew folks'll hear a
child o' Lavinny's a-callin' its father's name on the top o' Sentinel
Hill!'

The only person who saw Wilbur during the first month of his life
were old Zechariah Whateley, of the undecayed Whateleys, and Earl
Sawyer's common-law wife, Mamie Bishop. Mamie's visit was frankly one
of curiosity, and her subsequent tales did justice to her observations;
but Zechariah came to lead a pair of Alderney cows which Old Whateley
had bought of his son Curtis. This marked the beginning of a course of
cattle-buying on the part of small Wilbur's family which ended only in
1928, when the Dunwich horror came and went; yet at no time did the
ramshackle Whateley barn seem overcrowded with livestock. There came a
period when people were curious enough to steal up and count the herd
that grazed precariously on the steep hillside above the old
farm-house, and they could never find more than ten or twelve anaemic,
bloodless-looking specimens. Evidently some blight or distemper,
perhaps sprung from the unwholesome pasturage or the diseased fungi and
timbers of the filthy barn, caused a heavy mortality amongst the
Whateley animals. Odd wounds or sores, having something of the aspect
of incisions, seemed to afflict the visible cattle; and once or twice
during the earlier months certain callers fancied they could discern
similar sores about the throats of the grey, unshaven old man and his
slattemly, crinkly-haired albino daughter.

In the spring after Wilbur's birth Lavinia resumed her customary
rambles in the hills, bearing in her misproportioned arms the swarthy
child. Public interest in the Whateleys subsided after most of the
country folk had seen the baby, and no one bothered to comment on the
swift development which that newcomer seemed every day to exhibit.
Wilbur's growth was indeed phenomenal, for within three months of his
birth he had attained a size and muscular power not usually found in
infants under a full year of age. His motions and even his vocal sounds
showed a restraint and deliberateness highly peculiar in an infant, and
no one was really unprepared when, at seven months, he began to walk
unassisted, with falterings which another month was sufficient to
remove.

It was somewhat after this time--on Hallowe'en--that a great blaze
was seen at midnight on the top of Sentinel Hill where the old
table-like stone stands amidst its tumulus of ancient bones.
Considerable talk was started when Silas Bishop--of the undecayed
Bishops--mentioned having seen the boy running sturdily up that hill
ahead of his mother about an hour before the blaze was remarked. Silas
was rounding up a stray heifer, but he nearly forgot his mission when
he fleetingly spied the two figures in the dim light of his lantern.
They darted almost noiselessly through the underbrush, and the
astonished watcher seemed to think they were entirely unclothed.
Afterwards he could not be sure about the boy, who may have had some
kind of a fringed belt and a pair of dark trunks or trousers on. Wilbur
was never subsequently seen alive and conscious without complete and
tightly buttoned attire, the disarrangement or threatened
disarrangement of which always seemed to fill him with anger and alarm.
His contrast with his squalid mother and grandfather in this respect
was thought very notable until the horror of 1928 suggested the most
valid of reasons.

The next January gossips were mildly interested in the fact that
'Lavinny's black brat' had commenced to talk, and at the age of only
eleven months. His speech was somewhat remarkable both because of its
difference from the ordinary accents of the region, and because it
displayed a freedom from infantile lisping of which many children of
three or four might well be proud. The boy was not talkative, yet when
he spoke he seemed to reflect some elusive element wholly unpossessed
by Dunwich and its denizens. The strangeness did not reside in what he
said, or even in the simple idioms he used; but seemed vaguely linked
with his intonation or with the internal organs that produced the
spoken sounds. His facial aspect, too, was remarkable for its maturity;
for though he shared his mother's and grandfather's chinlessness, his
firm and precociously shaped nose united with the expression of his
large, dark, almost Latin eyes to give him an air of quasi-adulthood
and well-nigh preternatural intelligence. He was, however, exceedingly
ugly despite his appearance of brilliancy; there being something almost
goatish or animalistic about his thick lips, large-pored, yellowish
skin, coarse crinkly hair, and oddly elongated ears. He was soon
disliked even more decidedly than his mother and grandsire, and all
conjectures about him were spiced with references to the bygone magic
of Old Whateley, and how the hills once shook when he shrieked the
dreadful name of Yog-Sothoth in the midst of a circle of stones with a
great book open in his arms before him. Dogs abhorred the boy, and he
was always obliged to take various defensive measures against their
barking menace.


III.

Meanwhile Old Whateley continued to buy cattle without measurably
increasing the size of his herd. He also cut timber and began to repair
the unused parts of his house--a spacious, peak-roofed affair whose
rear end was buried entirely in the rocky hillside, and whose three
least-ruined ground-floor rooms had always been sufficient for himself
and his daughter.

There must have been prodigious reserves of strength in the old man
to enable him to accomplish so much hard labour; and though he still
babbled dementedly at times, his carpentry seemed to show the effects
of sound calculation. It had already begun as soon as Wilbur was born,
when one of the many tool sheds had been put suddenly in order,
clapboarded, and fitted with a stout fresh lock. Now, in restoring the
abandoned upper storey of the house, he was a no less thorough
craftsman. His mania showed itself only in his tight boarding-up of all
the windows in the reclaimed section--though many declared that it was
a crazy thing to bother with the reclamation at all.

Less inexplicable was his fitting up of another downstairs room for
his new grandson--a room which several callers saw, though no one was
ever admitted to the closely-boarded upper storey. This chamber he
lined with tall, firm shelving, along which he began gradually to
arrange, in apparently careful order, all the rotting ancient books and
parts of books which during his own day had been heaped promiscuously
in odd corners of the various rooms.

'I made some use of 'em,' he would say as he tried to mend a torn
black-letter page with paste prepared on the rusty kitchen stove, 'but
the boy's fitten to make better use of 'em. He'd orter hev 'em as well
so as he kin, for they're goin' to be all of his larnin'.'

When Wilbur was a year and seven months old--in September of 1914--
his size and accomplishments were almost alarming. He had grown as
large as a child of four, and was a fluent and incredibly intelligent
talker. He ran freely about the fields and hills, and accompanied his
mother on all her wanderings. At home he would pore diligently over
the queer pictures and charts in his grandfather's books, while Old
Whateley would instruct and catechize him through long, hushed
afternoons. By this time the restoration of the house was finished, and
those who watched it wondered why one of the upper windows had been
made into a solid plank door. It was a window in the rear of the east
gable end, close against the hill; and no one could imagine why a
cleated wooden runway was built up to it from the ground. About the
period of this work's completion people noticed that the old
tool-house, tightly locked and windowlessly clapboarded since Wilbur's
birth, had been abandoned again. The door swung listlessly open, and
when Earl Sawyer once stepped within after a cattle-selling call on Old
Whateley he was quite discomposed by the singular odour he encountered
--such a stench, he averred, as he had never before smelt in all his
life except near the Indian circles on the hills, and which could not
come from anything sane or of this earth. But then, the homes and sheds
of Dunwich folk have never been remarkable for olfactory immaculateness.

The following months were void of visible events, save that everyone
swore to a slow but steady increase in the mysterious hill noises. On
May Eve of 1915 there were tremors which even the Aylesbury people
felt, whilst the following Hallowe'en produced an underground rumbling
queerly synchronized with bursts of flame--'them witch Whateleys'
doin's'--from the summit of Sentinel Hill. Wilbur was growing up
uncannily, so that he looked like a boy of ten as he entered his fourth
year. He read avidly by himself now; but talked much less than
formerly. A settled taciturnity was absorbing him, and for the first
time people began to speak specifically of the dawning look of evil in
his goatish face. He would sometimes mutter an unfamiliar jargon, and
chant in bizarre rhythms which chilled the listener with a sense of
unexplainable terror. The aversion displayed towards him by dogs had
now become a matter of wide remark, and he was obliged to carry a
pistol in order to traverse the countryside in safety. His occasional
use of the weapon did not enhance his popularity amongst the owners of
canine guardians.

The few callers at the house would often find Lavinia alone on the
ground floor, while odd cries and footsteps resounded in the boarded-up
second storey. She would never tell what her father and the boy were
doing up there, though once she turned pale and displayed an abnormal
degree of fear when a jocose fish-pedlar tried the locked door leading
to the stairway. That pedlar told the store loungers at Dunwich Village
that he thought he heard a horse stamping on that floor above. The
loungers reflected, thinking of the door and runway, and of the cattle
that so swiftly disappeared. Then they shuddered as they recalled tales
of Old Whateley's youth, and of the strange things that are called out
of the earth when a bullock is sacrificed at the proper time to certain
heathen gods. It had for some time been noticed that dogs had begun to
hate and fear the whole Whateley place as violently as they hated and
feared young Wilbur personally.

In 1917 the war came, and Squire Sawyer Whateley, as chairman of the
local draft board, had hard work finding a quota of young Dunwich men
fit even to be sent to development camp. The government, alarmed at
such signs of wholesale regional decadence, sent several officers and
medical experts to investigate; conducting a survey which New England
newspaper readers may still recall. It was the publicity attending this
investigation which set reporters on the track of the Whateleys, and
caused the Boston Globe and Arkham Advertiser to print flamboyant
Sunday stories of young Wilbur's precociousness, Old Whateley's black
magic, and the shelves of strange books, the sealed second storey of
the ancient farmhouse, and the weirdness of the whole region and its
hill noises. Wilbur was four and a half then, and looked like a lad of
fifteen. His lips and cheeks were fuzzy with a coarse dark down, and
his voice had begun to break.

Earl Sawyer went out to the Whateley place with both sets of
reporters and camera men, and called their attention to the queer
stench which now seemed to trickle down from the sealed upper spaces.
It was, he said, exactly like a smell he had found in the toolshed
abandoned when the house was finally repaired; and like the faint
odours which he sometimes thought he caught near the stone circle on
the mountains. Dunwich folk read the stories when they appeared, and
grinned over the obvious mistakes. They wondered, too, why the writers
made so much of the fact that Old Whateley always paid for his cattle
in gold pieces of extremely ancient date. The Whateleys had received
their visitors with ill-concealed distaste, though they did not dare
court further publicity by a violent resistance or refusal to talk.


IV.

For a decade the annals of the Whateleys sink indistinguishably into
the general life of a morbid community used to their queer ways and
hardened to their May Eve and All-Hallows orgies. Twice a year they
would light fires on the top of Sentinel Hill, at which times the
mountain rumblings would recur with greater and greater violence; while
at all seasons there were strange and portentous doings at the lonely
farm-house. In the course of time callers professed to hear sounds in
the sealed upper storey even when all the family were downstairs, and
they wondered how swiftly or how lingeringly a cow or bullock was
usually sacrificed. There was talk of a complaint to the Society for
the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals but nothing ever came of it, since
Dunwich folk are never anxious to call the outside world's attention to
themselves.

About 1923, when Wilbur was a boy of ten whose mind, voice, stature,
and bearded face gave all the impressions of maturity, a second great
siege of carpentry went on at the old house. It was all inside the
sealed upper part, and from bits of discarded lumber people concluded
that the youth and his grandfather had knocked out all the partitions
and even removed the attic floor, leaving only one vast open void
between the ground storey and the peaked roof. They had torn down the
great central chimney, too, and fitted the rusty range with a flimsy
outside tin stove-pipe.

In the spring after this event Old Whateley noticed the growing
number of whippoorwills that would come out of Cold Spring Glen to
chirp under his window at night. He seemed to regard the circumstance
as one of great significance, and told the loungers at Osborn's that he
thought his time had almost come.

'They whistle jest in tune with my breathin' naow,' he said, 'an' I
guess they're gittin' ready to ketch my soul. They know it's a-goin'
aout, an' dun't calc'late to miss it. Yew'll know, boys, arter I'm
gone, whether they git me er not. Ef they dew, they'll keep up
a-singin' an' laffin' till break o' day. Ef they dun't they'll kinder
quiet daown like. I expeck them an' the souls they hunts fer hev some
pretty tough tussles sometimes.'

On Lammas Night, 1924, DrHoughton of Aylesbury was hastily summoned
by Wilbur Whateley, who had lashed his one remaining horse through the
darkness and telephoned from Osborn's in the village. He found Old
Whateley in a very grave state, with a cardiac action and stertorous
breathing that told of an end not far off. The shapeless albino
daughter and oddly bearded grandson stood by the bedside, whilst from
the vacant abyss overhead there came a disquieting suggestion of
rhythmical surging or lapping, as of the waves on some level beach. The
doctor, though, was chiefly disturbed by the chattering night birds
outside; a seemingly limitless legion of whippoorwills that cried their
endless message in repetitions timed diabolically to the wheezing gasps
of the dying man. It was uncanny and unnatural--too much, thought Dr
Houghton, like the whole of the region he had entered so reluctantly in
response to the urgent call.

Towards one o'clock Old Whateley gained consciousness, and interrupted
his wheezing to choke out a few words to his grandson.

'More space, Willy, more space soon. Yew grows--an' that grows
faster. It'll be ready to serve ye soon, boy. Open up the gates to
Yog-Sothoth with the long chant that ye'll find on page 751 of the
complete edition, an' then put a match to the prison. Fire from airth
can't burn it nohaow.'

He was obviously quite mad. After a pause, during which the flock of
whippoorwills outside adjusted their cries to the altered tempo while
some indications of the strange hill noises came from afar off, he
added another sentence or two.

'Feed it reg'lar, Willy, an' mind the quantity; but dun't let it
grow too fast fer the place, fer ef it busts quarters or gits aout
afore ye opens to Yog-Sothoth, it's all over an' no use. Only them from
beyont kin make it multiply an' work...Only them, the old uns as wants
to come back...'

But speech gave place to gasps again, and Lavinia screamed at the
way the whippoorwills followed the change. It was the same for more
than an hour, when the final throaty rattle came. Dr Houghton drew
shrunken lids over the glazing grey eyes as the tumult of birds faded
imperceptibly to silence. Lavinia sobbed, but Wilbur only chuckled
whilst the hill noises rumbled faintly.

'They didn't git him,' he muttered in his heavy bass voice.

Wilbur was by this time a scholar of really tremendous erudition in
his one-sided way, and was quietly known by correspondence to many
librarians in distant places where rare and forbidden books of old days
are kept. He was more and more hated and dreaded around Dunwich because
of certain youthful disappearances which suspicion laid vaguely at his
door; but was always able to silence inquiry through fear or through
use of that fund of old-time gold which still, as in his grandfather's
time, went forth regularly and increasingly for cattle-buying. He was
now tremendously mature of aspect, and his height, having reached the
normal adult limit, seemed inclined to wax beyond that figure. In 1925,
when a scholarly correspondent from Miskatonic University called upon
him one day and departed pale and puzzled, he was fully six and
three-quarters feet tall.

Through all the years Wilbur had treated his half-deformed albino
mother with a growing contempt, finally forbidding her to go to the
hills with him on May Eve and Hallowmass; and in 1926 the poor creature
complained to Mamie Bishop of being afraid of him.

'They's more abaout him as I knows than I kin tell ye, Mamie,' she
said, 'an' naowadays they's more nor what I know myself. I vaow afur
Gawd, I dun't know what he wants nor what he's a-tryin' to dew.'

That Hallowe'en the hill noises sounded louder than ever, and fire
burned on Sentinel Hill as usual; but people paid more attention to the
rhythmical screaming of vast flocks of unnaturally belated
whippoorwills which seemed to be assembled near the unlighted Whateley
farmhouse. After midnight their shrill notes burst into a kind of
pandemoniac cachinnation which filled all the countryside, and not
until dawn did they finally quiet down. Then they vanished, hurrying
southward where they were fully a month overdue. What this meant, no
one could quite be certain till later. None of the countryfolk seemed
to have died--but poor Lavinia Whateley, the twisted albino, was never
seen again.

In the summer of 1927 Wilbur repaired two sheds in the farmyard and
began moving his books and effects out to them. Soon afterwards Earl
Sawyer told the loungers at Osborn's that more carpentry was going on
in the Whateley farmhouse. Wilbur was closing all the doors and windows
on the ground floor, and seemed to be taking out partitions as he and
his grandfather had done upstairs four years before. He was living in
one of the sheds, and Sawyer thought he seemed unusually worried and
tremulous. People generally suspected him of knowing something about
his mother's disappearance, and very few ever approached his
neighbourhood now. His height had increased to more than seven feet,
and showed no signs of ceasing its development.


V.

The following winter brought an event no less strange than Wilbur's
first trip outside the Dunwich region. Correspondence with the Widener
Library at Harvard, the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, the British
Museum, the University of Buenos Ayres, and the Library of Miskatonic
University at Arkham had failed to get him the loan of a book he
desperately wanted; so at length he set out in person, shabby, dirty,
bearded, and uncouth of dialect, to consult the copy at Miskatonic,
which was the nearest to him geographically. Almost eight feet tall,
and carrying a cheap new valise from Osborne's general store, this dark
and goatish gargoyle appeared one day in Arkham in quest of the dreaded
volume kept under lock and key at the college library--the hideous
Necronomicon of the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred in Olaus Wormius' Latin
version, as printed in Spain in the seventeenth century. He had never
seen a city before, but had no thought save to find his way to the
university grounds; where indeed, he passed heedlessly by the great
white-fanged watchdog that barked with unnatural fury and enmity, and
tugged frantically at its stout chain.

Wilbur had with him the priceless but imperfect copy of Dr Dee's
English version which his grandfather had bequeathed him, and upon
receiving access to the Latin copy he at once began to collate the two
texts with the aim of discovering a certain passage which would have
come on the 751st page of his own defective volume. This much he could
not civilly refrain from telling the librarian--the same erudite Henry
Armitage (A.M. Miskatonic, Ph.D. Princeton, Litt.D. Johns Hopkins) who
had once called at the farm, and who now politely plied him with
questions. He was looking, he had to admit, for a kind of formula or
incantation containing the frightful name Yog-Sothoth, and it puzzled
him to find discrepancies, duplications, and ambiguities which made the
matter of determination far from easy. As he copied the formula he
finally chose, Dr Armitage looked involuntarily over his shoulder at
the open pages; the left-hand one of which, in the Latin version,
contained such monstrous threats to the peace and sanity of the world.

Nor is it to be thought (ran the text as Armitage mentally
translated it) that man is either the oldest or the last of earth's
masters, or that the common bulk of life and substance walks alone. The
Old Ones were, the Old Ones are, and the Old Ones shall be. Not in the
spaces we know, but between them, they walk serene and primal,
undimensioned and to us unseen. Yog-Sothoth knows the gate. Yog-Sothoth
is the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the key and guardian of the gate. Past,
present, future, all are one in Yog-Sothoth. He knows where the Old
Ones broke through of old, and where They shall break through again. He
knows where They had trod earth's fields, and where They still tread
them, and why no one can behold Them as They tread. By Their smell can
men sometimes know Them near, but of Their semblance can no man know,
saving only in the features of those They have begotten on mankind; and
of those are there many sorts, differing in likeness from man's truest
eidolon to that shape without sight or substance which is Them. They
walk unseen and foul in lonely places where the Words have been spoken
and the Rites howled through at their Seasons. The wind gibbers with
Their voices, and the earth mutters with Their consciousness. They bend
the forest and crush the city, yet may not forest or city behold the
hand that smites. Kadath in the cold waste hath known Them, and what
man knows Kadath? The ice desert of the South and the sunken isles of
Ocean hold stones whereon Their seal is engraver, but who hath seen the
deep frozen city or the sealed tower long garlanded with seaweed and
barnacles? Great Cthulhu is Their cousin, yet can he spy Them only
dimly. Iä! Shub-Niggurath! As a foulness shall ye know Them. Their hand
is at your throats, yet ye see Them not; and Their habitation is even
one with your guarded threshold. Yog-Sothoth is the key to the gate,
whereby the spheres meet. Man rules now where They ruled once; They
shall soon rule where man rules now. After summer is winter, after
winter summer. They wait patient and potent, for here shall They reign
again.

Dr. Armitage, associating what he was reading with what he had heard
of Dunwich and its brooding presences, and of Wilbur Whateley and his
dim, hideous aura that stretched from a dubious birth to a cloud of
probable matricide, felt a wave of fright as tangible as a draught of
the tomb's cold clamminess. The bent, goatish giant before him seemed
like the spawn of another planet or dimension; like something only
partly of mankind, and linked to black gulfs of essence and entity that
stretch like titan phantasms beyond all spheres of force and matter,
space and time. Presently Wilbur raised his head and began speaking in
that strange, resonant fashion which hinted at sound-producing organs
unlike the run of mankind's.

'Mr Armitage,' he said, 'I calc'late I've got to take that book
home. They's things in it I've got to try under sarten conditions that
I can't git here, en' it 'ud be a mortal sin to let a red-tape rule
hold me up. Let me take it along, Sir, an' I'll swar they wun't nobody
know the difference. I dun't need to tell ye I'll take good keer of it.
It wan't me that put this Dee copy in the shape it is...'

He stopped as he saw firm denial on the librarian's face, and his
own goatish features grew crafty. Armitage, half-ready to tell him he
might make a copy of what parts he needed, thought suddenly of the
possible consequences and checked himself. There was too much
responsibility in giving such a being the key to such blasphemous outer
spheres. Whateley saw how things stood, and tried to answer lightly.

'Wal, all right, ef ye feel that way abaout it. Maybe Harvard won't
be so fussy as yew be.' And without saying more he rose and strode out
of the building, stooping at each doorway.

Armitage heard the savage yelping of the great watchdog, and studied
Whateley's gorilla-like lope as he crossed the bit of campus visible
from the window. He thought of the wild tales he had heard, and
recalled the old Sunday stories in the Advertiser; these things, and
the lore he had picked up from Dunwich rustics and villagers during his
one visit there. Unseen things not of earth--or at least not of
tridimensional earth--rushed foetid and horrible through New England's
glens, and brooded obscenely on the mountain tops. Of this he had long
felt certain. Now he seemed to sense the close presence of some
terrible part of the intruding horror, and to glimpse a hellish advance
in the black dominion of the ancient and once passive nightmare. He
locked away the Necronomicon with a shudder of disgust, but the room
still reeked with an unholy and unidentifiable stench. 'As a foulness
shall ye know them,' he quoted. Yes--the odour was the same as that
which had sickened him at the Whateley farmhouse less than three years
before. He thought of Wilbur, goatish and ominous, once again, and
laughed mockingly at the village rumours of his parentage.

'Inbreeding?' Armitage muttered half-aloud to himself. 'Great God,
what simpletons! Show them Arthur Machen's Great God Pan and they'll
think it a common Dunwich scandal! But what thing--what cursed
shapeless influence on or off this three-dimensional earth--was Wilbur
Whateley's father? Born on Candlemas--nine months after May Eve of
1912, when the talk about the queer earth noises reached clear to
Arkham--what walked on the mountains that May night? What Roodmas
horror fastened itself on the world in half-human flesh and blood?'

During the ensuing weeks Dr Armitage set about to collect all
possible data on Wilbur Whateley and the formless presences around
Dunwich. He got in communication with Dr Houghton of Aylesbury, who had
attended Old Whateley in his last illness, and found much to ponder
over in the grandfather's last words as quoted by the physician. A
visit to Dunwich Village failed to bring out much that was new; but a
close survey of the Necronomicon, in those parts which Wilbur had
sought so avidly, seemed to supply new and terrible clues to the
nature, methods, and desires of the strange evil so vaguely threatening
this planet. Talks with several students of archaic lore in Boston, and
letters to many others elsewhere, gave him a growing amazement which
passed slowly through varied degrees of alarm to a state of really
acute spiritual fear. As the summer drew on he felt dimly that
something ought to be done about the lurking terrors of the upper
Miskatonic valley, and about the monstrous being known to the human
world as Wilbur Whateley.


VI.

The Dunwich horror itself came between Lammas and the equinox in
1928, and Dr Armitage was among those who witnessed its monstrous
prologue. He had heard, meanwhile, of Whateley's grotesque trip to
Cambridge, and of his frantic efforts to borrow or copy from the
Necronomicon at the Widener Library. Those efforts had been in vain,
since Armitage had issued warnings of the keenest intensity to all
librarians having charge of the dreaded volume. Wilbur had been
shockingly nervous at Cambridge; anxious for the book, yet almost
equally anxious to get home again, as if he feared the results of being
away long.

Early in August the half-expected outcome developed, and in the
small hours of the third Dr Armitage was awakened suddenly by the wild,
fierce cries of the savage watchdog on the college campus. Deep and
terrible, the snarling, half-mad growls and barks continued; always in
mounting volume, but with hideously significant pauses. Then there rang
out a scream from a wholly different throat--such a scream as roused
half the sleepers of Arkham and haunted their dreams ever afterwards--
such a scream as could come from no being born of earth, or wholly of
earth.

Armitage, hastening into some clothing and rushing across the street
and lawn to the college buildings, saw that others were ahead of him;
and heard the echoes of a burglar-alarm still shrilling from the
library. An open window showed black and gaping in the moonlight. What
had come had indeed completed its entrance; for the barking and the
screaming, now fast fading into a mixed low growling and moaning,
proceeded unmistakably from within. Some instinct warned Armitage that
what was taking place was not a thing for unfortified eyes to see, so
he brushed back the crowd with authority as he unlocked the vestibule
door. Among the others he saw Professor Warren Rice and Dr Francis
Morgan, men to whom he had told some of his conjectures and misgivings;
and these two he motioned to accompany him inside. The inward sounds,
except for a watchful, droning whine from the dog, had by this time
quite subsided; but Armitage now perceived with a sudden start that a
loud chorus of whippoorwills among the shrubbery had commenced a
damnably rhythmical piping, as if in unison with the last breaths of a
dying man.

The building was full of a frightful stench which Dr Armitage knew
too well, and the three men rushed across the hall to the small
genealogical reading-room whence the low whining came. For a second
nobody dared to turn on the light, then Armitage summoned up his
courage and snapped the switch. One of the three--it is not certain
which--shrieked aloud at what sprawled before them among disordered
tables and overturned chairs. Professor Rice declares that he wholly
lost consciousness for an instant, though he did not stumble or fall.

The thing that lay half-bent on its side in a foetid pool of
greenish-yellow ichor and tarry stickiness was almost nine feet tall,
and the dog had torn off all the clothing and some of the skin. It was
not quite dead, but twitched silently and spasmodically while its chest
heaved in monstrous unison with the mad piping of the expectant
whippoorwills outside. Bits of shoe-leather and fragments of apparel
were scattered about the room, and just inside the window an empty
canvas sack lay where it had evidently been thrown. Near the central
desk a revolver had fallen, a dented but undischarged cartridge later
explaining why it had not been fired. The thing itself, however,
crowded out all other images at the time. It would be trite and not
wholly accurate to say that no human pen could describe it, but one may
properly say that it could not be vividly visualized by anyone whose
ideas of aspect and contour are too closely bound up with the common
life-forms of this planet and of the three known dimensions. It was
partly human, beyond a doubt, with very manlike hands and head, and the
goatish, chinless face had the stamp of the Whateley's upon it. But the
torso and lower parts of the body were teratologically fabulous, so
that only generous clothing could ever have enabled it to walk on earth
unchallenged or uneradicated.

Above the waist it was semi-anthropomorphic; though its chest, where
the dog's rending paws still rested watchfully, had the leathery,
reticulated hide of a crocodile or alligator. The back was piebald with
yellow and black, and dimly suggested the squamous covering of certain
snakes. Below the waist, though, it was the worst; for here all human
resemblance left off and sheer phantasy began. The skin was thickly
covered with coarse black fur, and from the abdomen a score of long
greenish-grey tentacles with red sucking mouths protruded limply.

Their arrangement was odd, and seemed to follow the symmetries of
some cosmic geometry unknown to earth or the solar system. On each of
the hips, deep set in a kind of pinkish, ciliated orbit, was what
seemed to be a rudimentary eye; whilst in lieu of a tail there depended
a kind of trunk or feeler with purple annular markings, and with many
evidences of being an undeveloped mouth or throat. The limbs, save for
their black fur, roughly resembled the hind legs of prehistoric earth's
giant saurians, and terminated in ridgy-veined pads that were neither
hooves nor claws. When the thing breathed, its tail and tentacles
rhythmically changed colour, as if from some circulatory cause normal
to the non-human greenish tinge, whilst in the tail it was manifest as
a yellowish appearance which alternated with a sickly grayish-white in
the spaces between the purple rings. Of genuine blood there was none;
only the foetid greenish-yellow ichor which trickled along the painted
floor beyond the radius of the stickiness, and left a curious
discoloration behind it.

As the presence of the three men seemed to rouse the dying thing, it
began to mumble without turning or raising its head. Dr Armitage made
no written record of its mouthings, but asserts confidently that
nothing in English was uttered. At first the syllables defied all
correlation with any speech of earth, but towards the last there came
some disjointed fragments evidently taken from the Necronomicon, that
monstrous blasphemy in quest of which the thing had perished. These
fragments, as Armitage recalls them, ran something like 'N'gai,
n'gha'ghaa, bugg-shoggog, y'hah: Yog-Sothoth, Yog-Sothoth...' They
trailed off into nothingness as the whippoorwills shrieked in
rhythmical crescendos of unholy anticipation.

Then came a halt in the gasping, and the dog raised its head in a
long, lugubrious howl. A change came over the yellow, goatish face of
the prostrate thing, and the great black eyes fell in appallingly.
Outside the window the shrilling of the whippoorwills had suddenly
ceased, and above the murmurs of the gathering crowd there came the
sound of a panic-struck whirring and fluttering. Against the moon vast
clouds of feathery watchers rose and raced from sight, frantic at that
which they had sought for prey.

All at once the dog started up abruptly, gave a frightened bark, and
leaped nervously out of the window by which it had entered. A cry rose
from the crowd, and Dr Armitage shouted to the men outside that no one
must be admitted till the police or medical examiner came. He was
thankful that the windows were just too high to permit of peering in,
and drew the dark curtains carefully down over each one. By this time
two policemen had arrived; and Dr Morgan, meeting them in the
vestibule, was urging them for their own sakes to postpone entrance to
the stench-filled reading-room till the examiner came and the prostrate
thing could be covered up.

Meanwhile frightful changes were taking place on the floor. One need
not describe the kind and rate of shrinkage and disintegration that
occurred before the eyes of Dr Armitage and Professor Rice; but it is
permissible to say that, aside from the external appearance of face and
hands, the really human element in Wilbur Whateley must have been very
small. When the medical examiner came, there was only a sticky whitish
mass on the painted boards, and the monstrous odour had nearly
disappeared. Apparently Whateley had had no skull or bony skeleton; at
least, in any true or stable sense. He had taken somewhat after his
unknown father.


VII.

Yet all this was only the prologue of the actual Dunwich horror.
Formalities were gone through by bewildered officials, abnormal details
were duly kept from press and public, and men were sent to Dunwich and
Aylesbury to look up property and notify any who might be heirs of the
late Wilbur Whateley. They found the countryside in great agitation,
both because of the growing rumblings beneath the domed hills, and
because of the unwonted stench and the surging, lapping sounds which
came increasingly from the great empty shell formed by Whateley's
boarded-up farmhouse. Earl Sawyer, who tended the horse and cattle
during Wilbur's absence, had developed a woefully acute case of nerves.
The officials devised excuses not to enter the noisome boarded place;
and were glad to confine their survey of the deceased's living
quarters, the newly mended sheds, to a single visit. They filed a
ponderous report at the courthouse in Aylesbury, and litigations
concerning heirship are said to be still in progress amongst the
innumerable Whateleys, decayed and undecayed, of the upper Miskatonic
valley.

An almost interminable manuscript in strange characters, written in
a huge ledger and adjudged a sort of diary because of the spacing and
the variations in ink and penmanship, presented a baffling puzzle to
those who found it on the old bureau which served as its owner's desk.
After a week of debate it was sent to Miskatonic University, together
with the deceased's collection of strange books, for study and possible
translation; but even the best linguists soon saw that it was not
likely to be unriddled with ease. No trace of the ancient gold with
which Wilbur and Old Whateley had always paid their debts has yet been
discovered.

It was in the dark of September ninth that the horror broke loose.
The hill noises had been very pronounced during the evening, and dogs
barked frantically all night. Early risers on the tenth noticed a
peculiar stench in the air. About seven o'clock Luther Brown, the hired
boy at George Corey's, between Cold Spring Glen and the village, rushed
frenziedly back from his morning trip to Ten-Acre Meadow with the cows.
He was almost convulsed with fright as he stumbled into the kitchen;
and in the yard outside the no less frightened herd were pawing and
lowing pitifully, having followed the boy back in the panic they shared
with him. Between gasps Luther tried to stammer out his tale to Mrs
Corey.

'Up thar in the rud beyont the glen, Mis' Corey--they's suthin' ben
thar! It smells like thunder, an' all the bushes an' little trees is
pushed back from the rud like they'd a haouse ben moved along of it.
An' that ain't the wust, nuther. They's prints in the rud, Mis' Corey--
great raound prints as big as barrel-heads, all sunk dawon deep like a
elephant had ben along, only they's a sight more nor four feet could
make! I looked at one or two afore I run, an' I see every one was
covered with lines spreadin' aout from one place, like as if big
palm-leaf fans--twict or three times as big as any they is--hed of
ben paounded dawon into the rud. An' the smell was awful, like what it
is around Wizard Whateley's ol' haouse...'

Here he faltered, and seemed to shiver afresh with the fright that
had sent him flying home. Mrs Corey, unable to extract more
information, began telephoning the neighbours; thus starting on its
rounds the overture of panic that heralded the major terrors. When she
got Sally Sawyer, housekeeper at Seth Bishop's, the nearest place to
Whateley's, it became her turn to listen instead of transmit; for
Sally's boy Chauncey, who slept poorly, had been up on the hill towards
Whateley's, and had dashed back in terror after one look at the place,
and at the pasturage where Mr Bishop's cows had been left out all night.

'Yes, Mis' Corey,' came Sally's tremulous voice over the party wire,
'Cha'ncey he just come back a-postin', and couldn't half talk fer bein'
scairt! He says Ol' Whateley's house is all bowed up, with timbers
scattered raound like they'd ben dynamite inside; only the bottom floor
ain't through, but is all covered with a kind o' tar-like stuff that
smells awful an' drips daown offen the aidges onto the graoun' whar the
side timbers is blowed away. An' they's awful kinder marks in the yard,
tew--great raound marks bigger raound than a hogshead, an' all sticky
with stuff like is on the browed-up haouse. Cha'ncey he says they leads
off into the medders, whar a great swath wider'n a barn is matted
daown, an' all the stun walls tumbled every whichway wherever it goes.

'An' he says, says he, Mis' Corey, as haow he sot to look fer Seth's
caows, frightened ez he was an' faound 'em in the upper pasture nigh
the Devil's Hop Yard in an awful shape. Haff on 'em's clean gone, an'
nigh haff o' them that's left is sucked most dry o' blood, with sores
on 'em like they's ben on Whateleys cattle ever senct Lavinny's black
brat was born. Seth hes gone aout naow to look at 'em, though I'll vaow
he won't keer ter git very nigh Wizard Whateley's! Cha'ncey didn't look
keerful ter see whar the big matted-daown swath led arter it leff the
pasturage, but he says he thinks it p'inted towards the glen rud to the
village.

'I tell ye, Mis' Corey, they's suthin' abroad as hadn't orter be
abroad, an' I for one think that black Wilbur Whateley, as come to the
bad end he deserved, is at the bottom of the breedin' of it. He wa'n't
all human hisself, I allus says to everybody; an' I think he an' Ol'
Whateley must a raised suthin' in that there nailed-up haouse as ain't
even so human as he was. They's allus ben unseen things araound Dunwich
--livin' things--as ain't human an' ain't good fer human folks.

'The graoun' was a-talkin' las' night, an' towards mornin' Cha'ncey
he heered the whippoorwills so laoud in Col' Spring Glen he couldn't
sleep nun. Then he thought he heered another faint-like saound over
towards Wizard Whateley's--a kinder rippin' or tearin' o' wood, like
some big box er crate was bein' opened fur off. What with this an'
that, he didn't git to sleep at all till sunup, an' no sooner was he up
this mornin', but he's got to go over to Whateley's an' see what's the
matter. He see enough I tell ye, Mis' Corey! This dun't mean no good,
an' I think as all the men-folks ought to git up a party an' do
suthin'. I know suthin' awful's abaout, an' feel my time is nigh,
though only Gawd knows jest what it is.

'Did your Luther take accaount o' whar them big tracks led tew? No?
Wal, Mis' Corey, ef they was on the glen rud this side o' the glen, an'
ain't got to your haouse yet, I calc'late they must go into the glen
itself. They would do that. I allus says Col' Spring Glen ain't no
healthy nor decent place. The whippoorwills an' fireflies there never
did act like they was creaters o' Gawd, an' they's them as says ye kin
hear strange things a-rushin' an' a-talkin' in the air dawon thar ef ye
stand in the right place, atween the rock falls an' Bear's Den.'

By that noon fully three-quarters of the men and boys of Dunwich
were trooping over the roads and meadows between the newmade Whateley
ruins and Cold Spring Glen, examining in horror the vast, monstrous
prints, the maimed Bishop cattle, the strange, noisome wreck of the
farmhouse, and the bruised, matted vegetation of the fields and
roadside. Whatever had burst loose upon the world had assuredly gone
down into the great sinister ravine; for all the trees on the banks
were bent and broken, and a great avenue had been gouged in the
precipice-hanging underbrush. It was as though a house, launched by an
avalanche, had slid down through the tangled growths of the almost
vertical slope. From below no sound came, but only a distant,
undefinable foetor; and it is not to be wondered at that the men
preferred to stay on the edge and argue, rather than descend and beard
the unknown Cyclopean horror in its lair. Three dogs that were with the
party had barked furiously at first, but seemed cowed and reluctant
when near the glen. Someone telephoned the news to the Aylesbury
Transcript; but the editor, accustomed to wild tales from Dunwich, did
no more than concoct a humorous paragraph about it; an item soon
afterwards reproduced by the Associated Press.

That night everyone went home, and every house and barn was
barricaded as stoutly as possible. Needless to say, no cattle were
allowed to remain in open pasturage. About two in the morning a
frightful stench and the savage barking of the dogs awakened the
household at Elmer Frye's, on the eastern edge of Cold Spring Glen, and
all agreed that they could hear a sort of muffled swishing or lapping
sound from somewhere outside. Mrs Frye proposed telephoning the
neighbours, and Elmer was about to agree when the noise of splintering
wood burst in upon their deliberations. It came, apparently, from the
barn; and was quickly followed by a hideous screaming and stamping
amongst the cattle. The dogs slavered and crouched close to the feet of
the fear-numbed family. Frye lit a lantern through force of habit, but
knew it would be death to go out into that black farmyard. The children
and the women-folk whimpered, kept from screaming by some obscure,
vestigial instinct of defence which told them their lives depended on
silence. At last the noise of the cattle subsided to a pitiful moaning,
and a great snapping, crashing, and crackling ensued. The Fryes,
huddled together in the sitting-room, did not dare to move until the
last echoes died away far down in Cold Spring Glen. Then, amidst the
dismal moans from the stable and the daemoniac piping of the late
whippoorwills in the glen, Selina Frye tottered to the telephone and
spread what news she could of the second phase of the horror.

The next day all the countryside was in a panic; and cowed,
uncommunicative groups came and went where the fiendish thing had
occurred. Two titan swaths of destruction stretched from the glen to
the Frye farmyard, monstrous prints covered the bare patches of ground,
and one side of the old red barn had completely caved in. Of the
cattle, only a quarter could be found and identified. Some of these
were in curious fragments, and all that survived had to be shot. Earl
Sawyer suggested that help be asked from Aylesbury or Arkham, but
others maintained it would be of no use. Old Zebulon Whateley, of a
branch that hovered about halfway between soundness and decadence, made
darkly wild suggestions about rites that ought to be practiced on the
hill-tops. He came of a line where tradition ran strong, and his
memories of chantings in the great stone circles were not altogether
connected with Wilbur and his grandfather.

Darkness fell upon a stricken countryside too passive to organize
for real defence. In a few cases closely related families would band
together and watch in the gloom under one roof; but in general there
was only a repetition of the barricading of the night before, and a
futile, ineffective gesture of loading muskets and setting pitchforks
handily about. Nothing, however, occurred except some hill noises; and
when the day came there were many who hoped that the new horror had
gone as swiftly as it had come. There were even bold souls who proposed
an offensive expedition down in the glen, though they did not venture
to set an actual example to the still reluctant majority.

When night came again the barricading was repeated, though there was
less huddling together of families. In the morning both the Frye and
the Seth Bishop households reported excitement among the dogs and vague
sounds and stenches from afar, while early explorers noted with horror
a fresh set of the monstrous tracks in the road skirting Sentinel Hill.
As before, the sides of the road showed a bruising indicative of the
blasphemously stupendous bulk of the horror; whilst the conformation of
the tracks seemed to argue a passage in two directions, as if the
moving mountain had come from Cold Spring Glen and returned to it along
the same path. At the base of the hill a thirty-foot swath of crushed
shrubbery saplings led steeply upwards, and the seekers gasped when
they saw that even the most perpendicular places did not deflect the
inexorable trail. Whatever the horror was, it could scale a sheer stony
cliff of almost complete verticality; and as the investigators climbed
round to the hill's summit by safer routes they saw that the trail
ended--or rather, reversed--there.

It was here that the Whateleys used to build their hellish fires and
chant their hellish rituals by the table-like stone on May Eve and
Hallowmass. Now that very stone formed the centre of a vast space
thrashed around by the mountainous horror, whilst upon its slightly
concave surface was a thick and foetid deposit of the same tarry
stickiness observed on the floor of the ruined Whateley farmhouse when
the horror escaped. Men looked at one another and muttered. Then they
looked down the hill. Apparently the horror had descended by a route
much the same as that of its ascent. To speculate was futile. Reason,
logic, and normal ideas of motivation stood confounded. Only old
Zebulon, who was not with the group, could have done justice to the
situation or suggested a plausible explanation.

Thursday night began much like the others, but it ended less
happily. The whippoorwills in the glen had screamed with such unusual
persistence that many could not sleep, and about 3 A.M. all the party
telephones rang tremulously. Those who took down their receivers heard
a fright-mad voice shriek out, 'Help, oh, my Gawd!...' and some
thought a crashing sound followed the breaking off of the exclamation.
There was nothing more. No one dared do anything, and no one knew till
morning whence the call came. Then those who had heard it called
everyone on the line, and found that only the Fryes did not reply. The
truth appeared an hour later, when a hastily assembled group of armed
men trudged out to the Frye place at the head of the glen. It was
horrible, yet hardly a surprise. There were more swaths and monstrous
prints, but there was no longer any house. It had caved in like an
egg-shell, and amongst the ruins nothing living or dead could be
discovered. Only a stench and a tarry stickiness. The Elmer Fryes had
been erased from Dunwich.


VIII.

In the meantime a quieter yet even more spiritually poignant phase
of the horror had been blackly unwinding itself behind the closed door
of a shelf-lined room in Arkham. The curious manuscript record or diary
of Wilbur Whateley, delivered to Miskatonic University for translation
had caused much worry and bafflement among the experts in language both
ancient and modern; its very alphabet, notwithstanding a general
resemblance to the heavily-shaded Arabic used in Mesopotamia, being
absolutely unknown to any available authority. The final conclusion of
the linguists was that the text represented an artificial alphabet,
giving the effect of a cipher; though none of the usual methods of
cryptographic solution seemed to furnish any clue, even when applied on
the basis of every tongue the writer might conceivably have used. The
ancient books taken from Whateley's quarters, while absorbingly
interesting and in several cases promising to open up new and terrible
lines of research among philosophers and men of science, were of no
assistance whatever in this matter. One of them, a heavy tome with an
iron clasp, was in another unknown alphabet--this one of a very
different cast, and resembling Sanskrit more than anything else. The
old ledger was at length given wholly into the charge of Dr Armitage,
both because of his peculiar interest in the Whateley matter, and
because of his wide linguistic learning and skill in the mystical
formulae of antiquity and the middle ages.

Armitage had an idea that the alphabet might be something
esoterically used by certain forbidden cults which have come down from
old times, and which have inherited many forms and traditions from the
wizards of the Saracenic world. That question, however, he did not deem
vital; since it would be unnecessary to know the origin of the symbols
if, as he suspected, they were used as a cipher in a modern language.
It was his belief that, considering the great amount of text involved,
the writer would scarcely have wished the trouble of using another
speech than his own, save perhaps in certain special formulae and
incantations. Accordingly he attacked the manuscript with the
preliminary assumption that the bulk of it was in English.

Dr Armitage knew, from the repeated failures of his colleagues, that
the riddle was a deep and complex one; and that no simple mode of
solution could merit even a trial. All through late August he fortified
himself with the mass lore of cryptography; drawing upon the fullest
resources of his own library, and wading night after night amidst the
arcana of Trithemius' Poligraphia, Giambattista Porta's De Furtivis
Literarum Notis, De Vigenere's Traite des Chiffres, Falconer's
Cryptomenysis Patefacta, Davys' and Thicknesse's eighteenth-century
treatises, and such fairly modern authorities as Blair, van Marten and
Kluber's script itself, and in time became convinced that he had to
deal with one of those subtlest and most ingenious of cryptograms, in
which many separate lists of corresponding letters are arranged like
the multiplication table, and the message built up with arbitrary
key-words known only to the initiated. The older authorities seemed
rather more helpful than the newer ones, and Armitage concluded that
the code of the manuscript was one of great antiquity, no doubt handed
down through a long line of mystical experimenters. Several times he
seemed near daylight, only to be set back by some unforeseen obstacle.
Then, as September approached, the clouds began to clear. Certain
letters, as used in certain parts of the manuscript, emerged definitely
and unmistakably; and it became obvious that the text was indeed in
English.

On the evening of September second the last major barrier gave way,
and Dr Armitage read for the first time a continuous passage of Wilbur
Whateley's annals. It was in truth a diary, as all had thought; and it
was couched in a style clearly showing the mixed occult erudition and
general illiteracy of the strange being who wrote it. Almost the first
long passage that Armitage deciphered, an entry dated November 26,
1916, proved highly startling and disquieting. It was written, he
remembered, by a child of three and a half who looked like a lad of
twelve or thirteen.

Today learned the Aklo for the Sabaoth (it ran), which did not like,
it being answerable from the hill and not from the air. That upstairs
more ahead of me than I had thought it would be, and is not like to
have much earth brain. Shot Elam Hutchins's collie Jack when he went to
bite me, and Elam says he would kill me if he dast. I guess he won't.
Grandfather kept me saying the Dho formula last night, and I think I
saw the inner city at the 2 magnetic poles. I shall go to those poles
when the earth is cleared off, if I can't break through with the
Dho-Hna formula when I commit it. They from the air told me at Sabbat
that it will be years before I can clear off the earth, and I guess
grandfather will be dead then, so I shall have to learn all the angles
of the planes and all the formulas between the Yr and the Nhhngr. They
from outside will help, but they cannot take body without human blood.
That upstairs looks it will have the right cast. I can see it a little
when I make the Voorish sign or blow the powder of Ibn Ghazi at it, and
it is near like them at May Eve on the Hill. The other face may wear
off some. I wonder how I shall look when the earth is cleared and there
are no earth beings on it. He that came with the Aklo Sabaoth said I
may be transfigured there being much of outside to work on.

Morning found Dr Armitage in a cold sweat of terror and a frenzy of
wakeful concentration. He had not left the manuscript all night, but
sat at his table under the electric light turning page after page with
shaking hands as fast as he could decipher the cryptic text. He had
nervously telephoned his wife he would not be home, and when she
brought him a breakfast from the house he could scarcely dispose of a
mouthful. All that day he read on, now and then halted maddeningly as a
reapplication of the complex key became necessary. Lunch and dinner
were brought him, but he ate only the smallest fraction of either.
Toward the middle of the next night he drowsed off in his chair, but
soon woke out of a tangle of nightmares almost as hideous as the truths
and menaces to man's existence that he had uncovered.

On the morning of September fourth Professor Rice and Dr Morgan
insisted on seeing him for a while, and departed trembling and
ashen-grey. That evening he went to bed, but slept only fitfully.
Wednesday--the next day--he was back at the manuscript, and began to
take copious notes both from the current sections and from those he had
already deciphered. In the small hours of that night he slept a little
in a easy chair in his office, but was at the manuscript again before
dawn. Some time before noon his physician, Dr Hartwell, called to see
him and insisted that he cease work. He refused; intimating that it was
of the most vital importance for him to complete the reading of the
diary and promising an explanation in due course of time. That evening,
just as twilight fell, he finished his terrible perusal and sank back
exhausted. His wife, bringing his dinner, found him in a half-comatose
state; but he was conscious enough to warn her off with a sharp cry
when he saw her eyes wander toward the notes he had taken. Weakly
rising, he gathered up the scribbled papers and sealed them all in a
great envelope, which he immediately placed in his inside coat pocket.
He had sufficient strength to get home, but was so clearly in need of
medical aid that Dr Hartwell was summoned at once. As the doctor put
him to bed he could only mutter over and over again, 'But what, in
God's name, can we do?'

Dr Armitage slept, but was partly delirious the next day. He made no
explanations to Hartwell, but in his calmer moments spoke of the
imperative need of a long conference with Rice and Morgan. His wilder
wanderings were very startling indeed, including frantic appeals that
something in a boarded-up farmhouse be destroyed, and fantastic
references to some plan for the extirpation of the entire human race
and all animal and vegetable life from the earth by some terrible elder
race of beings from another dimension. He would shout that the world
was in danger, since the Elder Things wished to strip it and drag it
away from the solar system and cosmos of matter into some other plane
or phase of entity from which it had once fallen, vigintillions of
aeons ago. At other times he would call for the dreaded Necronomicon
and the Daemonolatreia of Remigius, in which he seemed hopeful of
finding some formula to check the peril he conjured up.

'Stop them, stop them!' he would shout. 'Those Whateleys meant to
let them in, and the worst of all is left! Tell Rice and Morgan we must
do something--it's a blind business, but I know how to make the
powder...It hasn't been fed since the second of August, when Wilbur
came here to his death, and at that rate...'

But Armitage had a sound physique despite his seventy-three years,
and slept off his disorder that night without developing any real
fever. He woke late Friday, clear of head, though sober with a gnawing
fear and tremendous sense of responsibility. Saturday afternoon he felt
able to go over to the library and summon Rice and Morgan for a
conference, and the rest of that day and evening the three men tortured
their brains in the wildest speculation and the most desperate debate.
Strange and terrible books were drawn voluminously from the stack
shelves and from secure places of storage; and diagrams and formulae
were copied with feverish haste and in bewildering abundance. Of
scepticism there was none. All three had seen the body of Wilbur
Whateley as it lay on the floor in a room of that very building, and
after that not one of them could feel even slightly inclined to treat
the diary as a madman's raving.

Opinions were divided as to notifying the Massachusetts State
Police, and the negative finally won. There were things involved which
simply could not be believed by those who had not seen a sample, as
indeed was made clear during certain subsequent investigations. Late at
night the conference disbanded without having developed a definite
plan, but all day Sunday Armitage was busy comparing formulae and
mixing chemicals obtained from the college laboratory. The more he
reflected on the hellish diary, the more he was inclined to doubt the
efficacy of any material agent in stamping out the entity which Wilbur
Whateley had left behind him--the earth threatening entity which,
unknown to him, was to burst forth in a few hours and become the
memorable Dunwich horror.

Monday was a repetition of Sunday with Dr Armitage, for the task in
hand required an infinity of research and experiment. Further
consultations of the monstrous diary brought about various changes of
plan, and he knew that even in the end a large amount of uncertainty
must remain. By Tuesday he had a definite line of action mapped out,
and believed he would try a trip to Dunwich within a week. Then, on
Wednesday, the great shock came. Tucked obscurely away in a corner of
the Arkham Advertiser was a facetious little item from the Associated
Press, telling what a record-breaking monster the bootleg whisky of
Dunwich had raised up. Armitage, half stunned, could only telephone for
Rice and Morgan. Far into the night they discussed, and the next day
was a whirlwind of preparation on the part of them all. Armitage knew
he would be meddling with terrible powers, yet saw that there was no
other way to annul the deeper and more malign meddling which others had
done before him.


IX.

Friday morning Armitage, Rice, and Morgan set out by motor for
Dunwich, arriving at the village about one in the afternoon. The day
was pleasant, but even in the brightest sunlight a kind of quiet dread
and portent seemed to hover about the strangely domed hills and the
deep, shadowy ravines of the stricken region. Now and then on some
mountain top a gaunt circle of stones could be glimpsed against the
sky. From the air of hushed fright at Osborn's store they knew
something hideous had happened, and soon learned of the annihilation of
the Elmer Frye house and family. Throughout that afternoon they rode
around Dunwich, questioning the natives concerning all that had
occurred, and seeing for themselves with rising pangs of horror the
drear Frye ruins with their lingering traces of the tarry stickiness,
the blasphemous tracks in the Frye yard, the wounded Seth Bishop
cattle, and the enormous swaths of disturbed vegetation in various
places. The trail up and down Sentinel Hill seemed to Armitage of
almost cataclysmic significance, and he looked long at the sinister
altar-like stone on the summit.

At length the visitors, apprised of a party of State Police which
had come from Aylesbury that morning in response to the first telephone
reports of the Frye tragedy, decided to seek out the officers and
compare notes as far as practicable. This, however, they found more
easily planned than performed; since no sign of the party could be
found in any direction. There had been five of them in a car, but now
the car stood empty near the ruins in the Frye yard. The natives, all
of whom had talked with the policemen, seemed at first as perplexed as
Armitage and his companions. Then old Sam Hutchins thought of something
and turned pale, nudging Fred Farr and pointing to the dank, deep
hollow that yawned close by.

'Gawd,' he gasped, 'I telled 'em not ter go daown into the glen, an'
I never thought nobody'd dew it with them tracks an' that smell an' the
whippoorwills a-screechin' daown thar in the dark o' noonday...'

A cold shudder ran through natives and visitors alike, and every ear
seemed strained in a kind of instinctive, unconscious listening.
Armitage, now that he had actually come upon the horror and its
monstrous work, trembled with the responsibility he felt to be his.
Night would soon fall, and it was then that the mountainous blasphemy
lumbered upon its eldritch course. Negotium perambuians in tenebris...
The old librarian rehearsed the formulae he had memorized, and clutched
the paper containing the alternative one he had not memorized. He saw
that his electric flashlight was in working order. Rice, beside him,
took from a valise a metal sprayer of the sort used in combating
insects; whilst Morgan uncased the big-game rifle on which he relied
despite his colleague's warnings that no material weapon would be of
help.

Armitage, having read the hideous diary, knew painfully well what
kind of a manifestation to expect; but he did not add to the fright of
the Dunwich people by giving any hints or clues. He hoped that it might
be conquered without any revelation to the world of the monstrous thing
it had escaped. As the shadows gathered, the natives commenced to
disperse homeward, anxious to bar themselves indoors despite the
present evidence that all human locks and bolts were useless before a
force that could bend trees and crush houses when it chose. They shook
their heads at the visitors' plan to stand guard at the Frye ruins near
the glen; and, as they left, had little expectancy of ever seeing the
watchers again.

There were rumblings under the hills that night, and the
whippoorwills piped threateningly. Once in a while a wind, sweeping up
out of Cold Spring Glen, would bring a touch of ineffable foetor to the
heavy night air; such a foetor as all three of the watchers had smelled
once before, when they stood above a dying thing that had passed for
fifteen years and a half as a human being. But the looked-for terror
did not appear. Whatever was down there in the glen was biding its
time, and Armitage told his colleagues it would be suicidal to try to
attack it in the dark.

Morning came wanly, and the night-sounds ceased. It was a grey,
bleak day, with now and then a drizzle of rain; and heavier and heavier
clouds seemed to be piling themselves up beyond the hills to the
north-west. The men from Arkham were undecided what to do. Seeking
shelter from the increasing rainfall beneath one of the few undestroyed
Frye outbuildings, they debated the wisdom of waiting, or of taking the
aggressive and going down into the glen in quest of their nameless,
monstrous quarry. The downpour waxed in heaviness, and distant peals of
thunder sounded from far horizons. Sheet lightning shimmered, and then
a forky bolt flashed near at hand, as if descending into the accursed
glen itself. The sky grew very dark, and the watchers hoped that the
storm would prove a short, sharp one followed by clear weather.

It was still gruesomely dark when, not much over an hour later, a
confused babel of voices sounded down the road. Another moment brought
to view a frightened group of more than a dozen men, running, shouting,
and even whimpering hysterically. Someone in the lead began sobbing out
words, and the Arkham men started violently when those words developed
a coherent form.

'Oh, my Gawd, my Gawd,' the voice choked out. 'It's a-goin' agin,
an' this time by day! It's aout--it's aout an' a-movin' this very
minute, an' only the Lord knows when it'll be on us all!'

The speaker panted into silence, but another took up his message.

'Nigh on a haour ago Zeb Whateley here heered the 'phone a-ringin',
an' it was Mis' Corey, George's wife, that lives daown by the junction.
She says the hired boy Luther was aout drivin' in the caows from the
storm arter the big bolt, when he see all the trees a-bendin' at the
maouth o' the glen--opposite side ter this--an' smelt the same awful
smell like he smelt when he faound the big tracks las' Monday mornin'.
An' she says he says they was a swishin' lappin' saound, more nor what
the bendin' trees an' bushes could make, an' all on a suddent the trees
along the rud begun ter git pushed one side, an' they was a awful
stompin' an' splashin' in the mud. But mind ye, Luther he didn't see
nothin' at all, only just the bendin' trees an' underbrush.

'Then fur ahead where Bishop's Brook goes under the rud he heerd a
awful creakin' an' strainin' on the bridge, an' says he could tell the
saound o' wood a-startin' to crack an' split. An' all the whiles he
never see a thing, only them trees an' bushes a-bendin'. An' when the
swishin' saound got very fur off--on the rud towards Wizard Whateley's
an' Sentinel Hill--Luther he had the guts ter step up whar he'd heerd
it fust an' look at the graound. It was all mud an' water, an' the sky
was dark, an' the rain was wipin' aout all tracks abaout as fast as
could be; but beginnin' at the glen maouth, whar the trees hed moved,
they was still some o' them awful prints big as bar'ls like he seen
Monday.'

At this point the first excited speaker interrupted.

'But that ain't the trouble naow--that was only the start. Zeb here
was callin' folks up an' everybody was a-listenin' in when a call from
Seth Bishop's cut in. His haousekeeper Sally was carryin' on fit to
kill--she'd jest seed the trees a-bendin' beside the rud, an' says
they was a kind o' mushy saound, like a elephant puffin' an' treadin',
a-headin' fer the haouse. Then she up an' spoke suddent of a fearful
smell, an' says her boy Cha'ncey was a-screamin' as haow it was jest
like what he smelt up to the Whateley rewins Monday mornin'. An' the
dogs was barkin' an' whinin' awful.

'An' then she let aout a turrible yell, an' says the shed daown the
rud had jest caved in like the storm hed blowed it over, only the wind
w'an't strong enough to dew that. Everybody was a-listenin', an' we
could hear lots o' folks on the wire a-gaspin'. All to onct Sally she
yelled again, an' says the front yard picket fence hed just crumbled
up, though they wa'n't no sign o' what done it. Then everybody on the
line could hear Cha'ncey an' old Seth Bishop a-yellin' tew, an' Sally
was shriekin' aout that suthin' heavy hed struck the haouse--not
lightnin' nor nothin', but suthin' heavy again' the front, that kep'
a-launchin' itself agin an' agin, though ye couldn't see nothin' aout
the front winders. An' then...an' then...'

Lines of fright deepened on every face; and Armitage, shaken as he was,
had barely poise enough to prompt the speaker.

'An' then...Sally she yelled aout, "O help, the haouse is a-cavin'
in"...an' on the wire we could hear a turrible crashin' an' a hull
flock o' screaming...jes like when Elmer Frye's place was took, only
wuss...'

The man paused, and another of the crowd spoke.

'That's all--not a saound nor squeak over the 'phone arter that.
Jest still-like. We that heerd it got aout Fords an' wagons an' rounded
up as many able-bodied men-folks as we could git, at Corey's place, an'
come up here ter see what yew thought best ter dew. Not but what I
think it's the Lord's jedgment fer our iniquities, that no mortal kin
ever set aside.'

Armitage saw that the time for positive action had come, and spoke
decisively to the faltering group of frightened rustics.

'We must follow it, boys.' He made his voice as reassuring as
possible. 'I believe there's a chance of putting it out of business.
You men know that those Whateleys were wizards--well, this thing is a
thing of wizardry, and must be put down by the same means. I've seen
Wilbur Whateley's diary and read some of the strange old books he used
to read; and I think I know the right kind of spell to recite to make
the thing fade away. Of course, one can't be sure, but we can always
take a chance. It's invisible--I knew it would be--but there's powder
in this long-distance sprayer that might make it show up for a second.
Later on we'll try it. It's a frightful thing to have alive, but it
isn't as bad as what Wilbur would have let in if he'd lived longer.
You'll never know what the world escaped. Now we've only this one thing
to fight, and it can't multiply. It can, though, do a lot of harm; so
we mustn't hesitate to rid the community of it.

'We must follow it--and the way to begin is to go to the place that
has just been wrecked. Let somebody lead the way--I don't know your
roads very well, but I've an idea there might be a shorter cut across
lots. How about it?'

The men shuffled about a moment, and then Earl Sawyer spoke softly,
pointing with a grimy finger through the steadily lessening rain.

'I guess ye kin git to Seth Bishop's quickest by cuttin' across the
lower medder here, wadin' the brook at the low place, an' climbin'
through Carrier's mowin' an' the timber-lot beyont. That comes aout on
the upper rud mighty nigh Seth's--a leetle t'other side.'

Armitage, with Rice and Morgan, started to walk in the direction
indicated; and most of the natives followed slowly. The sky was growing
lighter, and there were signs that the storm had worn itself away. When
Armitage inadvertently took a wrong direction, Joe Osborn warned him
and walked ahead to show the right one. Courage and confidence were
mounting, though the twilight of the almost perpendicular wooded hill
which lay towards the end of their short cut, and among whose fantastic
ancient trees they had to scramble as if up a ladder, put these
qualities to a severe test.

At length they emerged on a muddy road to find the sun coming out.
They were a little beyond the Seth Bishop place, but bent trees and
hideously unmistakable tracks showed what had passed by. Only a few
moments were consumed in surveying the ruins just round the bend. It
was the Frye incident all over again, and nothing dead or living was
found in either of the collapsed shells which had been the Bishop house
and barn. No one cared to remain there amidst the stench and tarry
stickiness, but all turned instinctively to the line of horrible prints
leading on towards the wrecked Whateley farmhouse and the altar-crowned
slopes of Sentinel Hill.

As the men passed the site of Wilbur Whateley's abode they shuddered
visibly, and seemed again to mix hesitancy with their zeal. It was no
joke tracking down something as big as a house that one could not see,
but that had all the vicious malevolence of a daemon. Opposite the base
of Sentinel Hill the tracks left the road, and there was a fresh
bending and matting visible along the broad swath marking the monster's
former route to and from the summit.

Armitage produced a pocket telescope of considerable power and
scanned the steep green side of the hill. Then he handed the instrument
to Morgan, whose sight was keener. After a moment of gazing Morgan
cried out sharply, passing the glass to Earl Sawyer and indicating a
certain spot on the slope with his finger. Sawyer, as clumsy as most
non-users of optical devices are, fumbled a while; but eventually
focused the lenses with Armitage's aid. When he did so his cry was less
restrained than Morgan's had been.

'Gawd almighty, the grass an' bushes is a'movin'! It's a-goin' up--
slow-like--creepin'--up ter the top this minute, heaven only knows
what fur!'

Then the germ of panic seemed to spread among the seekers. It was
one thing to chase the nameless entity, but quite another to find it.
Spells might be all right--but suppose they weren't? Voices began
questioning Armitage about what he knew of the thing, and no reply
seemed quite to satisfy. Everyone seemed to feel himself in close
proximity to phases of Nature and of being utterly forbidden and wholly
outside the sane experience of mankind.


X.

In the end the three men from Arkham--old, white-bearded Dr
Armitage, stocky, iron-grey Professor Rice, and lean, youngish Dr
Morgan, ascended the mountain alone. After much patient instruction
regarding its focusing and use, they left the telescope with the
frightened group that remained in the road; and as they climbed they
were watched closely by those among whom the glass was passed round. It
was hard going, and Armitage had to be helped more than once. High
above the toiling group the great swath trembled as its hellish maker
repassed with snail-like deliberateness. Then it was obvious that the
pursuers were gaining.

Curtis Whateley--of the undecayed branch--was holding the
telescope when the Arkham party detoured radically from the swath. He
told the crowd that the men were evidently trying to get to a
subordinate peak which overlooked the swath at a point considerably
ahead of where the shrubbery was now bending. This, indeed, proved to
be true; and the party were seen to gain the minor elevation only a
short time after the invisible blasphemy had passed it.

Then Wesley Corey, who had taken the glass, cried out that Armitage
was adjusting the sprayer which Rice held, and that something must be
about to happen. The crowd stirred uneasily, recalling that his sprayer
was expected to give the unseen horror a moment of visibility. Two or
three men shut their eyes, but Curtis Whateley snatched back the
telescope and strained his vision to the utmost. He saw that Rice, from
the party's point of advantage above and behind the entity, had an
excellent chance of spreading the potent powder with marvellous effect.

Those without the telescope saw only an instant's flash of grey
cloud--a cloud about the size of a moderately large building--near
the top of the mountain. Curtis, who held the instrument, dropped it
with a piercing shriek into the ankle-deep mud of the road. He reeled,
and would have crumbled to the ground had not two or three others
seized and steadied him. All he could do was moan half-inaudibly.

'Oh, oh, great Gawd...that...that...'

There was a pandemonium of questioning, and only Henry Wheeler
thought to rescue the fallen telescope and wipe it clean of mud. Curtis
was past all coherence, and even isolated replies were almost too much
for him.

'Bigger'n a barn...all made o' squirmin' ropes...hull thing sort
o' shaped like a hen's egg bigger'n anything with dozens o' legs like
hogs-heads that haff shut up when they step...nothin' solid abaout it
--all like jelly, an' made o' sep'rit wrigglin' ropes pushed clost
together...great bulgin' eyes all over it...ten or twenty maouths or
trunks a-stickin' aout all along the sides, big as stove-pipes an all
a-tossin' an openin' an' shuttin'...all grey, with kinder blue or
purple rings...an' Gawd it Heaven--that haff face on top...'

This final memory, whatever it was, proved too much for poor Curtis;
and he collapsed completely before he could say more. Fred Farr and
Will Hutchins carried him to the roadside and laid him on the damp
grass. Henry Wheeler, trembling, turned the rescued telescope on the
mountain to see what he might. Through the lenses were discernible
three tiny figures, apparently running towards the summit as fast as
the steep incline allowed. Only these--nothing more. Then everyone
noticed a strangely unseasonable noise in the deep valley behind, and
even in the underbrush of Sentinel Hill itself. It was the piping of
unnumbered whippoorwills, and in their shrill chorus there seemed to
lurk a note of tense and evil expectancy.

Earl Sawyer now took the telescope and reported the three figures as
standing on the topmost ridge, virtually level with the altar-stone but
at a considerable distance from it. One figure, he said, seemed to be
raising its hands above its head at rhythmic intervals; and as Sawyer
mentioned the circumstance the crowd seemed to hear a faint,
half-musical sound from the distance, as if a loud chant were
accompanying the gestures. The weird silhouette on that remote peak
must have been a spectacle of infinite grotesqueness and
impressiveness, but no observer was in a mood for aesthetic
appreciation. 'I guess he's sayin' the spell,' whispered Wheeler as he
snatched back the telescope. The whippoorwills were piping wildly, and
in a singularly curious irregular rhythm quite unlike that of the
visible ritual.

Suddenly the sunshine seemed to lessen without the intervention of
any discernible cloud. It was a very peculiar phenomenon, and was
plainly marked by all. A rumbling sound seemed brewing beneath the
hills, mixed strangely with a concordant rumbling which clearly came
from the sky. Lightning flashed aloft, and the wondering crowd looked
in vain for the portents of storm. The chanting of the men from Arkham
now became unmistakable, and Wheeler saw through the glass that they
were all raising their arms in the rhythmic incantation. From some
farmhouse far away came the frantic barking of dogs.

The change in the quality of the daylight increased, and the crowd
gazed about the horizon in wonder. A purplish darkness, born of nothing
more than a spectral deepening of the sky's blue, pressed down upon the
rumbling hills. Then the lightning flashed again, somewhat brighter
than before, and the crowd fancied that it had showed a certain
mistiness around the altar-stone on the distant height. No one,
however, had been using the telescope at that instant. The
whippoorwills continued their irregular pulsation, and the men of
Dunwich braced themselves tensely against some imponderable menace with
which the atmosphere seemed surcharged.

Without warning came those deep, cracked, raucous vocal sounds which
will never leave the memory of the stricken group who heard them. Not
from any human throat were they born, for the organs of man can yield
no such acoustic perversions. Rather would one have said they came from
the pit itself, had not their source been so unmistakably the
altar-stone on the peak. It is almost erroneous to call them sounds at
all, since so much of their ghastly, infra-bass timbre spoke to dim
seats of consciousness and terror far subtler than the ear; yet one
must do so, since their form was indisputably though vaguely that of
half-articulate words. They were loud--loud as the rumblings and the
thunder above which they echoed--yet did they come from no visible
being. And because imagination might suggest a conjectural source in
the world of non-visible beings, the huddled crowd at the mountain's
base huddled still closer, and winced as if in expectation of a blow.

Ygnailh...ygnaiih...thflthkh'ngha...Yog-Sothoth...rang the hideous
croaking out of space. Y'bthnk...h'ehye--n'grkdl'lh...

The speaking impulse seemed to falter here, as if some frightful
psychic struggle were going on. Henry Wheeler strained his eye at the
telescope, but saw only the three grotesquely silhouetted human figures
on the peak, all moving their arms furiously in strange gestures as
their incantation drew near its culmination. From what black wells of
Acherontic fear or feeling, from what unplumbed gulfs of extra-cosmic
consciousness or obscure, long-latent heredity, were those
half-articulate thunder-croakings drawn? Presently they began to gather
renewed force and coherence as they grew in stark, utter, ultimate
frenzy.

Eh-y-ya-ya-yahaah--e'yayayaaaa...ngh'aaaaa...ngh'aaa...
h'yuh...h'yuh...HELP! HELP!...ff--ff--ff--FATHER! FATHER!
YOG-SOTHOTH!...

But that was all. The pallid group in the road, still reeling at the
indisputably English syllables that had poured thickly and thunderously
down from the frantic vacancy beside that shocking altar-stone, were
never to hear such syllables again. Instead, they jumped violently at
the terrific report which seemed to rend the hills; the deafening,
cataclysmic peal whose source, be it inner earth or sky, no hearer was
ever able to place. A single lightning bolt shot from the purple zenith
to the altar-stone, and a great tidal wave of viewless force and
indescribable stench swept down from the hill to all the countryside.
Trees, grass, and under-brush were whipped into a fury; and the
frightened crowd at the mountain's base, weakened by the lethal foetor
that seemed about to asphyxiate them, were almost hurled off their
feet. Dogs howled from the distance, green grass and foliage wilted to
a curious, sickly yellow-grey, and over field and forest were scattered
the bodies of dead whippoorwills.

The stench left quickly, but the vegetation never came right again.
To this day there is something queer and unholy about the growths on
and around that fearsome hill Curtis Whateley was only just regaining
consciousness when the Arkham men came slowly down the mountain in the
beams of a sunlight once more brilliant and untainted. They were grave
and quiet, and seemed shaken by memories and reflections even more
terrible than those which had reduced the group of natives to a state
of cowed quivering. In reply to a jumble of questions they only shook
their heads and reaffirmed one vital fact.

'The thing has gone for ever,' Armitage said. 'It has been split up
into what it was originally made of, and can never exist again. It was
an impossibility in a normal world. Only the least fraction was really
matter in any sense we know. It was like its father--and most of it
has gone back to him in some vague realm or dimension outside our
material universe; some vague abyss out of which only the most accursed
rites of human blasphemy could ever have called him for a moment on the
hills.'

There was a brief silence, and in that pause the scattered senses of
poor Curtis Whateley began to knit back into a sort of continuity; so
that he put his hands to his head with a moan. Memory seemed to pick
itself up where it had left off, and the horror of the sight that had
prostrated him burst in upon him again.

'Oh, oh, my Gawd, that haff face--that haff face on top of it...
that face with the red eyes an' crinkly albino hair, an' no chin, like
the Whateleys...It was a octopus, centipede, spider kind o' thing, but
they was a haff-shaped man's face on top of it, an' it looked like
Wizard Whateley's, only it was yards an' yards acrost...'

He paused exhausted, as the whole group of natives stared in a
bewilderment not quite crystallized into fresh terror. Only old Zebulon
Whateley, who wanderingly remembered ancient things but who had been
silent heretofore, spoke aloud.

'Fifteen year' gone,' he rambled, 'I heered Ol' Whateley say as haow
some day we'd hear a child o' Lavinny's a-callin' its father's name on
the top o' Sentinel Hill...'

But Joe Osborn interrupted him to question the Arkham men anew.

'What was it, anyhaow, an' haowever did young Wizard Whateley call it
aout o' the air it come from?'

Armitage chose his words very carefully.

'It was--well, it was mostly a kind of force that doesn't belong in
our part of space; a kind of force that acts and grows and shapes
itself by other laws than those of our sort of Nature. We have no
business calling in such things from outside, and only very wicked
people and very wicked cults ever try to. There was some of it in
Wilbur Whateley himself--enough to make a devil and a precocious
monster of him, and to make his passing out a pretty terrible sight.
I'm going to burn his accursed diary, and if you men are wise you'll
dynamite that altar-stone up there, and pull down all the rings of
standing stones on the other hills. Things like that brought down the
beings those Whateleys were so fond of--the beings they were going to
let in tangibly to wipe out the human race and drag the earth off to
some nameless place for some nameless purpose.

'But as to this thing we've just sent back--the Whateleys raised it
for a terrible part in the doings that were to come. It grew fast and
big from the same reason that Wilbur grew fast and big--but it beat
him because it had a greater share of the outsideness in it. You
needn't ask how Wilbur called it out of the air. He didn't call it out.
It was his twin brother, but it looked more like the father than he
did.'



* THE WHISPERER IN DARKNESS


I

Bear in mind closely that I did not see any actual visual horror at
the end. To say that a mental shock was the cause of what I inferred--
that last straw which sent me racing out of the lonely Akeley farmhouse
and through the wild domed hills of Vermont in a commandeered motor at
night--is to ignore the plainest facts of my final experience.
Notwithstanding the deep things I saw and heard, and the admitted
vividness the impression produced on me by these things, I cannot prove
even now whether I was right or wrong in my hideous inference. For
after all Akeley's disappearance establishes nothing. People found
nothing amiss in his house despite the bullet-marks on the outside and
inside. It was just as though he had walked out casually for a ramble
in the hills and failed to return. There was not even a sign that a
guest had been there, or that those horrible cylinders and machines had
been stored in the study. That he had mortally feared the crowded green
hills and endless trickle of brooks among which he had been born and
reared, means nothing at all, either; for thousands are subject to just
such morbid fears. Eccentricity, moreover, could easily account for his
strange acts and apprehensions toward the last.

The whole matter began, so far as I am concerned, with the historic
and unprecedented Vermont floods of November 3, 1927. I was then, as
now, an instructor of literature at Miskatonic University in Arkham,
Massachusetts, and an enthusiastic amateur student of New England
folklore. Shortly after the flood, amidst the varied reports of
hardship, suffering, and organized relief which filled the press, there
appeared certain odd stories of things found floating in some of the
swollen rivers; so that many of my friends embarked on curious
discussions and appealed to me to shed what light I could on the
subject. I felt flattered at having my folklore study taken so
seriously, and did what I could to belittle the wild, vague tales which
seemed so clearly an outgrowth of old rustic superstitions. It amused
me to find several persons of education who insisted that some stratum
of obscure, distorted fact might underlie the rumors.

The tales thus brought to my notice came mostly through newspaper
cuttings; though one yarn had an oral source and was repeated to a
friend of mine in a letter from his mother in Hardwick, Vermont. The
type of thing described was essentially the same in all cases, though
there seemed to be three separate instances involved--one connected
with the Winooski River near Montpelier, another attached to the West
River in Windham County beyond Newfane, and a third centering in the
Passumpsic in Caledonia County above Lyndonville. Of course many of the
stray items mentioned other instances, but on analysis they all seemed
to boil down to these three. In each case country folk reported seeing
one or more very bizarre and disturbing objects in the surging waters
that poured down from the unfrequented hills, and there was a
widespread tendency to connect these sights with a primitive,
half-forgotten cycle of whispered legend which old people resurrected
for the occasion.

What people thought they saw were organic shapes not quite like any
they had ever seen before. Naturally, there were many human bodies
washed along by the streams in that tragic period; but those who
described these strange shapes felt quite sure that they were not
human, despite some superficial resemblances in size and general
outline. Nor, said the witnesses, could they have been any kind of
animal known to Vermont. They were pinkish things about five feet long;
with crustaceous bodies bearing vast pairs of dorsal fins or membranous
wings and several sets of articulated limbs, and with a sort of
convoluted ellipsoid, covered with multitudes of very short antennae,
where a head would ordinarily be. It was really remarkable how closely
the reports from different sources tended to coincide; though the
wonder was lessened by the fact that the old legends, shared at one
time throughout the hill country, furnished a morbidly vivid picture
which might well have coloured the imaginations of all the witnesses
concerned. It was my conclusion that such witnesses--in every case
naive and simple backwoods folk--had glimpsed the battered and bloated
bodies of human beings or farm animals in the whirling currents; and
had allowed the half-remembered folklore to invest these pitiful
objects with fantastic attributes.

The ancient folklore, while cloudy, evasive, and largely forgotten
by the present generation, was of a highly singular character, and
obviously reflected the influence of still earlier Indian tales. I knew
it well, though I had never been in Vermont, through the exceedingly
rare monograph of Eli Davenport, which embraces material orally
obtained prior to 1839 among the oldest people of the state. This
material, moreover, closely coincided with tales which I had personally
heard from elderly rustics in the mountains of New Hampshire. Briefly
summarized, it hinted at a hidden race of monstrous beings which lurked
somewhere among the remoter hills--in the deep woods of the highest
peaks, and the dark valleys where streams trickle from unknown sources.
These beings were seldom glimpsed, but evidences of their presence were
reported by those who had ventured farther than usual up the slopes of
certain mountains or into certain deep, steep-sided gorges that even
the wolves shunned.

There were queer footprints or claw-prints in the mud of
brook-margins and barren patches, and curious circles of stones, with
the grass around them worn away, which did not seem to have been placed
or entirely shaped by Nature. There were, too, certain caves of
problematical depth in the sides of the hills; with mouths closed by
boulders in a manner scarcely accidental, and with more than an average
quota of the queer prints leading both toward and away from them--if
indeed the direction of these prints could be justly estimated. And
worst of all, there were the things which adventurous people had seen
very rarely in the twilight of the remotest valleys and the dense
perpendicular woods above the limits of normal hill-climbing.

It would have been less uncomfortable if the stray accounts of these
things had not agreed so well. As it was, nearly all the rumors had
several points in common; averring that the creatures were a sort of
huge, light-red crab with many pairs of legs and with two great batlike
wings in the middle of the back. They sometimes walked on all their
legs, and sometimes on the hindmost pair only, using the others to
convey large objects of indeterminate nature. On one occasion they were
spied in considerable numbers, a detachment of them wading along a
shallow woodland watercourse three abreast in evidently disciplined
formation. Once a specimen was seen flying--launching itself from the
top of a bald, lonely hill at night and vanishing in the sky after its
great flapping wings had been silhouetted an instant against the full
moon

These things seemed content, on the whole, to let mankind alone;
though they were at times held responsible for the disappearance of
venturesome individuals--especially persons who built houses too close
to certain valleys or too high up on certain mountains. Many localities
came to be known as inadvisable to settle in, the feeling persisting
long after the cause was forgotten. People would look up at some of the
neighbouring mountain-precipices with a shudder, even when not
recalling how many settlers had been lost, and how many farmhouses
burnt to ashes, on the lower slopes of those grim, green sentinels.

But while according to the earliest legends the creatures would
appear to have harmed only those trespassing on their privacy; there
were later accounts of their curiosity respecting men, and of their
attempts to establish secret outposts in the human world. There were
tales of the queer claw-prints seen around farmhouse windows in the
morning, and of occasional disappearances in regions outside the
obviously haunted areas. Tales, besides, of buzzing voices in imitation
of human speech which made surprising offers to lone travelers on roads
and cart-paths in the deep woods, and of children frightened out of
their wits by things seen or heard where the primal forest pressed
close upon their door-yards. In the final layer of legends--the layer
just preceding the decline of superstition and the abandonment of close
contact with the dreaded places--there are shocked references to
hermits and remote farmers who at some period of life appeared to have
undergone a repellent mental change, and who were shunned and whispered
about as mortals who had sold themselves to the strange beings. In one
of the northeastern counties it seemed to be a fashion about 1800 to
accuse eccentric and unpopular recluses of being allies or
representatives of the abhorred things.

As to what the things were--explanations naturally varied. The
common name applied to them was "those ones," or "the old ones," though
other terms had a local and transient use. Perhaps the bulk of the
Puritan settlers set them down bluntly as familiars of the devil, and
made them a basis of awed theological speculation. Those with Celtic
legendry in their heritage--mainly the Scotch-Irish element of New
Hampshire, and their kindred who had settled in Vermont on Governor
Wentworth's colonial grants--linked them vaguely with the malign
fairies and "little people" of the bogs and raths, and protected
themselves with scraps of incantation handed down through many
generations. But the Indians had the most fantastic theories of all.
While different tribal legends differed, there was a marked consensus
of belief in certain vital particulars; it being unanimously agreed
that the creatures were not native to this earth.

The Pennacook myths, which were the most consistent and picturesque,
taught that the Winged Ones came from the Great Bear in the sky, and
had mines in our earthly hills whence they took a kind of stone they
could not get on any other world. They did not live here, said the
myths, but merely maintained outposts and flew back with vast cargoes
of stone to their own stars in the north. They harmed only those
earth-people who got too near them or spied upon them. Animals shunned
them through instinctive hatred, not because of being hunted. They
could not eat the things and animals of earth, but brought their own
food from the stars. It was bad to get near them, and sometimes young
hunters who went into their hills never came back. It was not good,
either, to listen to what they whispered at night in the forest with
voices like a bee's that tried to be like the voices of men. They knew
the speech of all kinds of men--Pennacooks, Hurons, men of the Five
Nations--but did not seem to have or need any speech of their own.
They talked with their heads, which changed colour in different ways to
mean different things.

All the legendry, of course, white and Indian alike, died down
during the nineteenth century, except for occasional atavistical
flareups. The ways of the Vermonters became settled; and once their
habitual paths and dwellings were established according to a certain
fixed plan, they remembered less and less what fears and avoidances had
determined that plan, and even that there had been any fears or
avoidances. Most people simply knew that certain hilly regions were
considered as highly unhealthy, unprofitable, and generally unlucky to
live in, and that the farther one kept from them the better off one
usually was. In time the ruts of custom and economic interest became so
deeply cut in approved places that there was no longer any reason for
going outside them, and the haunted hills were left deserted by
accident rather than by design. Save during infrequent local scares,
only wonder-loving grandmothers and retrospective nonagenarians ever
whispered of beings dwelling in those hills; and even such whispers
admitted that there was not much to fear from those things now that
they were used to the presence of houses and settlements, and now that
human beings let their chosen territory severely alone.

All this I had long known from my reading, and from certain folk
tales picked up in New Hampshire; hence when the flood-time rumours
began to appear, I could easily guess what imaginative background had
evolved them. I took great pains to explain this to my friends, and was
correspondingly amused when several contentious souls continued to
insist on a possible element of truth in the reports. Such persons
tried to point out that the early legends had a significant persistence
and uniformity, and that the virtually unexplored nature of the Vermont
hills made it unwise to be dogmatic about what might or might not dwell
among them; nor could they be silenced by my assurance that all the
myths were of a well-known pattern common to most of mankind and
determined by early phases of imaginative experience which always
produced the same type of delusion.

It was of no use to demonstrate to such opponents that the Vermont
myths differed but little in essence from those universal legends of
natural personification which filled the ancient world with fauns and
dryads and satyrs, suggested the kallikanzarai of modern Greece, and
gave to wild Wales and Ireland their dark hints of strange, small, and
terrible hidden races of troglodytes and burrowers. No use, either, to
point out the even more startlingly similar belief of the Nepalese hill
tribes in the dreaded Mi-Go or "Abominable Snow-Men" who lurk hideously
amidst the ice and rock pinnacles of the Himalayan summits. When I
brought up this evidence, my opponents turned it against me by claiming
that it must imply some actual historicity for the ancient tales; that
it must argue the real existence of some queer elder earth-race, driven
to hiding after the advent and dominance of mankind, which might very
conceivably have survived in reduced numbers to relatively recent times
--or even to the present.

The more I laughed at such theories, the more these stubborn friends
asseverated them; adding that even without the heritage of legend the
recent reports were too clear, consistent, detailed, and sanely prosaic
in manner of telling, to be completely ignored. Two or three fanatical
extremists went so far as to hint at possible meanings in the ancient
Indian tales which gave the hidden beings a nonterrestrial origin;
citing the extravagant books of Charles Fort with their claims that
voyagers from other worlds and outer space have often visited the
earth. Most of my foes, however, were merely romanticists who insisted
on trying to transfer to real life the fantastic lore of lurking
"little people" made popular by the magnificent horror-fiction of
Arthur Machen.


II

As was only natural under the circumstances, this piquant debating
finally got into print in the form of letters to the Arkham Advertiser;
some of which were copied in the press of those Vermont regions whence
the flood-stories came. The Rutland Herald gave half a page of extracts
from the letters on both sides, while the Brattleboro Reformer
reprinted one of my long historical and mythological summaries in full,
with some accompanying comments in "The Pendrifter's" thoughtful column
which supported and applauded my skeptical conclusions. By the spring
of 1928 I was almost a well-known figure in Vermont, notwithstanding
the fact that I had never set foot in the state. Then came the
challenging letters from Henry Akeley which impressed me so profoundly,
and which took me for the first and last time to that fascinating realm
of crowded green precipices and muttering forest streams.

Most of what I know of Henry Wentworth Akeley was gathered by
correspondence with his neighbours, and with his only son in
California, after my experience in his lonely farmhouse. He was, I
discovered, the last representative on his home soil of a long, locally
distinguished line of jurists, administrators, and
gentlemen-agriculturists. In him, however, the family mentally had
veered away from practical affairs to pure scholarship; so that he had
been a notable student of mathematics, astronomy, biology,
anthropology, and folklore at the University of Vermont. I had never
previously heard of him, and he did not give many autobiographical
details in his communications; but from the first I saw he was a man of
character, education, and intelligence, albeit a recluse with very
little worldly sophistication.

Despite the incredible nature of what he claimed, I could not help
at once taking Akeley more seriously than I had taken any of the other
challengers of my views. For one thing, he was really close to the
actual phenomena--visible and tangible--that he speculated so
grotesquely about; and for another thing, he was amazingly willing to
leave his conclusions in a tentative state like a true man of science.
He had no personal preferences to advance, and was always guided by
what he took to be solid evidence. Of course I began by considering him
mistaken, but gave him credit for being intelligently mistaken; and at
no time did I emulate some of his friends in attributing his ideas, and
his fear of the lonely green hills, to insanity. I could see that there
was a great deal to the man, and knew that what he reported must surely
come from strange circumstance deserving investigation, however little
it might have to do with the fantastic causes he assigned. Later on I
received from him certain material proofs which placed the matter on a
somewhat different and bewilderingly bizarre basis.

I cannot do better than transcribe in full, so far as is possible,
the long letter in which Akeley introduced himself, and which formed
such an important landmark in my own intellectual history. It is no
longer in my possession, but my memory holds almost every word of its
portentous message; and again I affirm my confidence in the sanity of
the man who wrote it. Here is the text--a text which reached me in the
cramped, archaic-looking scrawl of one who had obviously not mingled
much with the world during his sedate, scholarly life.
R.F.D. #2,

Townshend, Windham Co., Vermont.
May 5,1928

Albert N. Wilmarth, Esq.,
118 Saltonstall St.,
Arkham, Mass.


My Dear Sir:

I have read with great interest the Brattleboro Reformer's
reprint (Apr. 23, '28) of your letter on the recent stories of strange
bodies seen floating in our flooded streams last fall, and on the
curious folklore they so well agree with. It is easy to see why an
outlander would take the position you take, and even why "Pendrifter"
agrees with you. That is the attitude generally taken by educated
persons both in and out of Vermont, and was my own attitude as a young
man (I am now 57) before my studies, both general and in Davenport's
book, led me to do some exploring in parts of the hills hereabouts not
usually visited.

I was directed toward such studies by the queer old tales I used to
hear from elderly farmers of the more ignorant sort, but now I wish I
had let the whole matter alone. I might say, with all proper modesty,
that the subject of anthropology and folklore is by no means strange to
me. I took a good deal of it at college, and am familiar with most of
the standard authorities such as Tylor, Lubbock, Frazer, Quatrefages,
Murray, Osborn, Keith, Boule, G. Elliott Smith, and so on. It is no
news to me that tales of hidden races are as old as all mankind. I have
seen the reprints of letters from you, and those agreeing with you, in
the Rutland Herald, and guess I know about where your controversy stands
at the present time.

What I desire to say now is, that I am afraid your adversaries are
nearer right than yourself, even though all reason seems to be on your
side. They are nearer right than they realise themselves--for of
course they go only by theory, and cannot know what I know. If I knew
as little of the matter as they, I would feel justified in believing as
they do. I would be wholly on your side.

You can see that I am having a hard time getting to the point,
probably because I really dread getting to the point; but the upshot of
the matter is that I have certain evidence that monstrous things do indeed
live in the woods on the high hills which nobody visits.
I have not seen any of the things floating in the rivers, as reported,
but I have seen things like them under circumstances I dread to repeat.
I have seen footprints, and of late have seen them nearer my own home
(I live in the old Akeley place south of Townshend Village, on the side
of Dark Mountain) than I dare tell you now. And I have overheard voices
in the woods at certain points that I will not even begin to describe
on paper.

At one place I heard them so much that I took a phonograph
therewith a dictaphone attachment and wax blank--and I shall try to
arrange to have you hear the record I got. I have run it on the machine
for some of the old people up here, and one of the voices had nearly
scared them paralysed by reason of its likeness to a certain voice
(that buzzing voice in the woods which Davenport mentions) that their
grandmothers have told about and mimicked for them. I know what most
people think of a man who tells about "hearing voices"--but before you
draw conclusions just listen to this record and ask some of the older
backwoods people what they think of it. If you can account for it
normally, very well; but there must be something behind it. Ex nihilo
nihil fit, you know.

Now my object in writing you is not to start an argument but to
give you information which I think a man of your tastes will find
deeply interesting. This is private. Publicly I am on your side,
for certain things show me that it does not do for people to know too
much about these matters. My own studies are now wholly private, and I
would not think of saying anything to attract people's attention and
cause them to visit the places I have explored. It is true--terribly
true--that there are non-human creatures watching us all the time; with
spies among us gathering information. It is from a wretched man who, if
he was sane (as I think he was) was one of those spies, that I got a
large part of my clues to the matter. He later killed himself, but I
have reason to think there are others now.

The things come from another planet, being able to live in interstellar
space and fly through it on clumsy, powerful wings which have a way of
resisting the aether but which are too poor at steering to be of
much use in helping them about on earth. I will tell you about
this later if you do not dismiss me at once as a madman. They
come here to get metals from mines that go deep under the hills,
and I think I know where they come from. They will not hurt us
if we let them alone, but no one can say what will happen if we
get too curious about them. Of course a good army of men could
wipe out their mining colony. That is what they are afraid of.
But if that happened, more would come from outside--any number
of them. They could easily conquer the earth, but have not tried
so far because they have not needed to. They would rather leave
things as they are to save bother.

I think they mean to get rid of me because of what I have
discovered. There is a great black stone with unknown hieroglyphics
half worn away which I found in the woods on Round Hill, east of here;
and after I took it home everything became different. If they think I
suspect too much they will either kill me or take me off the earth to
where they come from. They like to take away men of learning once in
a while, to keep informed on the state of things in the human world.

This leads me to my secondary purpose in addressing you--namely,
to urge you to hush up the present debate rather than give it more
publicity. People must be kept away from these hills, and in
order to effect this, their curiosity ought not to be aroused any
further. Heaven knows there is peril enough anyway, with promoters and
real estate men flooding Vermont with herds of summer people to overrun
the wild places and cover the hills with cheap bungalows.

I shall welcome further communication with you, and shall try to
send you that phonograph record and black stone (which is so worn that
photographs don't show much) by express if you are willing. I say "try"
because I think those creatures have a way of tampering with things
around here. There is a sullen furtive fellow named Brown, on a farm
near the village, who I think is their spy. Little by little they are
trying to cut me off from our world because I know too much about their
world.

They have the most amazing way of finding out what I do. You may
not even get this letter. I think I shall have to leave this part of
the country and go live with my son in San Diego, Cal., if things get
any worse, but it is not easy to give up the place you were born in,
and where your family has lived for six generations. Also, I would
hardly dare sell this house to anybody now that the creatures have
taken notice of it. They seem to be trying to get the black stone back
and destroy the phonograph record, but I shall not let them if I can
help it. My great police dogs always hold them back, for there are very
few here as yet, and they are clumsy in getting about. As I have said,
their wings are not much use for short flights on earth. I am on the
very brink of deciphering that stone--in a very terrible way--and
with your knowledge of folklore you may be able to supply the missing
links enough to help me. I suppose you know all about the fearful myths
antedating the coming of man to the earth--the Yog-Sothoth and Cthulhu
cycles--which are hinted at in the Necronomicon. I had access to a copy
of that once, and hear that you have one in your college library under
lock and key.

To conclude, Mr. Wilmarth, I think that with our respective studies
we can be very useful to each other. I don't wish to put you in any
peril, and suppose I ought to warn you that possession of the stone and
the record won't be very safe; but I think you will find any risks
worth running for the sake of knowledge. I will drive down to Newfane
or Brattleboro to send whatever you authorize me to send, for the
express offices there are more to be trusted. I might say that I live
quite alone now, since I can't keep hired help any more. They won't
stay because of the things that try to get near the house at night, and
that keep the dogs barking continually. I am glad I didn't get as deep
as this into the business while my wife was alive, for it would have
driven her mad.

Hoping that I am not bothering you unduly, and that you will decide
to get in touch with me rather than throw this letter into the waste
basket as a madman's raving, I am

Yrs. very truly, Henry W. Akeley

P.S. I am making some extra prints of certain photographs taken by
me, which I think will help to prove a number of the points I have
touched on. The old people think they are monstrously true. I shall
send you these very soon if you are interested.

H. W. A.


It would be difficult to describe my sentiments upon reading this
strange document for the first time. By all ordinary rules, I ought to
have laughed more loudly at these extravagances than at the far milder
theories which had previously moved me to mirth; yet something in the
tone of the letter made me take it with paradoxical seriousness. Not
that I believed for a moment in the hidden race from the stars which my
correspondent spoke of; but that, after some grave preliminary doubts,
I grew to feel oddly sure of his sanity and sincerity, and of his
confrontation by some genuine though singular and abnormal phenomenon
which he could not explain except in this imaginative way. It could not
be as he thought it, I reflected, yet on the other hand, it could not
be otherwise than worthy of investigation. The man seemed unduly
excited and alarmed about something, but it was hard to think that all
cause was lacking. He was so specific and logical in certain ways--and
after all, his yarn did fit in so perplexingly well with some of the
old myths--even the wildest Indian legends.

That he had really overheard disturbing voices in the hills, and had
really found the black stone he spoke about, was wholly possible
despite the crazy inferences he had made--inferences probably
suggested by the man who had claimed to be a spy of the outer beings
and had later killed himself. It was easy to deduce that this man must
have been wholly insane, but that he probably had a streak of perverse
outward logic which made the naive Akeley--already prepared for such
things by his folklore studies--believe his tale. As for the latest
developments--it appeared from his inability to keep hired help that
Akeley's humbler rustic neighbours were as convinced as he that his
house was besieged by uncanny things at night. The dogs really barked,
too.

And then the matter of that phonograph record, which I could not but
believe he had obtained in the way he said. It must mean something;
whether animal noises deceptively like human speech, or the speech of
some hidden, night-haunting human being decayed to a state not much
above that of lower animals. From this my thoughts went back to the
black hieroglyphed stone, and to speculations upon what it might mean.
Then, too, what of the photographs which Akeley said he was about to
send, and which the old people had found so convincingly terrible?

As I re-read the cramped handwriting I felt as never before that my
credulous opponents might have more on their side than I had conceded.
After all, there might be some queer and perhaps hereditarily misshapen
outcasts in those shunned hills, even though no such race of star-born
monsters as folklore claimed. And if there were, then the presence of
strange bodies in the flooded streams would not be wholly beyond
belief. Was it too presumptuous to suppose that both the old legends
and the recent reports had this much of reality behind them? But even
as I harboured these doubts I felt ashamed that so fantastic a piece of
bizarrerie as Henry Akeley's wild letter had brought them up.

In the end I answered Akeley's letter, adopting a tone of friendly
interest and soliciting further particulars. His reply came almost by
return mail; and contained, true to promise, a number of Kodak views of
scenes and objects illustrating what he had to tell. Glancing at these
pictures as I took them from the envelope, I felt a curious sense of
fright and nearness to forbidden things; for in spite of the vagueness
of most of them, they had a damnably suggestive power which was
intensified by the fact of their being genuine photographs--actual
optical links with what they portrayed, and the product of an
impersonal transmitting process without prejudice, fallibility, or
mendacity.

The more I looked at them, the more I saw that my serious estimate of
Akeley and his story had not been unjustified. Certainly, these
pictures carried conclusive evidence of something in the Vermont hills
which was at least vastly outside the radius of our common knowledge
and belief. The worst thing of all was the footprint--a view taken
where the sun shone on a mud patch somewhere in a deserted upland. This
was no cheaply counterfeited thing, I could see at a glance; for the
sharply defined pebbles and grassblades in the field of vision gave a
clear index of scale and left no possibility of a tricky double
exposure. I have called the thing a "footprint," but "claw-print" would
be a better term. Even now I can scarcely describe it save to say that
it was hideously crablike, and that there seemed to be some ambiguity
about its direction. It was not a very deep or fresh print, but seemed
to be about the size of an average man's foot. From a central pad,
pairs of saw-toothed nippers projected in opposite directions--quite
baffling as to function, if indeed the whole object were exclusively an
organ of locomotion.

Another photograph--evidently a time-exposure taken in deep shadow
--was of the mouth of a woodland cave, with a boulder of rounded
regularity choking the aperture. On the bare ground in front of, it one
could just discern a dense network of curious tracks, and when I
studied the picture with a magnifier I felt uneasily sure that the
tracks were like the one in the other view. A third pictured showed a
druid-like circle of standing stones on the summit of a wild hill.
Around the cryptic circle the grass was very much beaten down and worn
away, though I could not detect any footprints even with the glass. The
extreme remoteness of the place was apparent from the veritable sea of
tenantless mountains which formed the background and stretched away
toward a misty horizon.888

But if the most disturbing of all the views was that of the
footprint, the most curiously suggestive was that of the great black
stone found in the Round Hill woods. Akeley had photographed it on what
was evidently his study table, for I could see rows of books and a bust
of Milton in the background. The thing, as nearly as one might guess,
had faced the camera vertically with a somewhat irregularly curved
surface of one by two feet; but to say anything definite about that
surface, or about the general shape of the whole mass, almost defies
the power of language. What outlandish geometrical principles had
guided its cutting--for artificially cut it surely was--I could not
even begin to guess; and never before had I seen anything which struck
me as so strangely and unmistakably alien to this world. Of the
hieroglyphics on the surface I could discern very few, but one or two
that I did see gave rather a shock. Of course they might be fraudulent,
for others besides myself had read the monstrous and abhorred
Necronomicon of the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred; but it nevertheless made
me shiver to recognise certain ideographs which study had taught me to
link with the most blood-curdling and blasphemous whispers of things
that had had a kind of mad half-existence before the earth and the
other inner worlds of the solar system were made.

Of the five remaining pictures, three were of swamp and hill scenes
which seemed to bear traces of hidden and unwholesome tenancy. Another
was of a queer mark in the ground very near Akeley's house, which he
said he had photographed the morning after a night on which the dogs
had barked more violently than usual. It was very blurred, and one
could really draw no certain conclusions from it; but it did seem
fiendishly like that other mark or claw-print photographed on the
deserted upland. The final picture was of the Akeley place itself; a
trim white house of two stories and attic, about a century and a
quarter old, and with a well-kept lawn and stone-bordered path leading
up to a tastefully carved Georgian doorway. There were several huge
police dogs on the lawn, squatting near a pleasant-faced man with a
close-cropped grey beard whom I took to be Akeley himself--his own
photographer, one might infer from the tube-connected bulb in his right
hand.

From the pictures I turned to the bulky, closely-written letter
itself; and for the next three hours was immersed in a gulf of
unutterable horror. Where Akeley had given only outlines before, he now
entered into minute details; presenting long transcripts of words
overheard in the woods at night, long accounts of monstrous pinkish
forms spied in thickets at twilight on the hills, and a terrible cosmic
narrative derived from the application of profound and varied
scholarship to the endless bygone discourses of the mad self-styled spy
who had killed himself. I found myself faced by names and terms that I
had heard elsewhere in the most hideous of connections--Yuggoth, Great
Cthulhu, Tsathoggua, YogSothoth, R'lyeh, Nyarlathotep, Azathoth,
Hastur, Yian, Leng, the Lake of Hali, Bethmoora, the Yellow Sign,
L'mur-Kathulos, Bran, and the Magnum Innominandum--and was drawn back
through nameless aeons and inconceivable dimensions to worlds of elder,
outer entity at which the crazed author of the Necronomicon had only
guessed in the vaguest way. I was told of the pits of primal life, and
of the streams that had trickled down therefrom; and finally, of the
tiny rivulets from one of those streams which had become entangled with
the destinies of our own earth.

My brain whirled; and where before I had attempted to explain things
away, I now began to believe in the most abnormal and incredible
wonders. The array of vital evidence was damnably vast and
overwhelming; and the cool, scientific attitude of Akeley--an attitude
removed as far as imaginable from the demented, the fanatical, the
hysterical, or even the extravagantly speculative--had a tremendous
effect on my thought and judgment. By the time I laid the frightful
letter aside I could understand the fears he had come to entertain, and
was ready to do anything in my power to keep people away from those
wild, haunted hills. Even now, when time has dulled the impression and
made me half-question my own experience and horrible doubts, there are
things in that letter of Akeley's which I would not quote, or even form
into words on paper. I am almost glad that the letter and record and
photographs are gone now--and I wish, for reasons I shall soon make
clear, that the new planet beyond Neptune had not been discovered.

With the reading of that letter my public debating about the Vermont
horror permanently ended. Arguments from opponents remained unanswered
or put off with promises, and eventually the controversy petered out
into oblivion. During late May and June I was in constant
correspondence with Akeley; though once in a while a letter would be
lost, so that we would have to retrace our ground and perform
considerable laborious copying. What we were trying to do, as a whole,
was to compare notes in matters of obscure mythological scholarship and
arrive at a clearer correlation of the Vermont horrors with the general
body of primitive world legend.

For one thing, we virtually decided that these morbidities and the
hellish Himalayan Mi-Go were one and the same order of incarnated
nightmare. There was also absorbing zoological conjectures, which I
would have referred to Professor Dexter in my own college but for
Akeley's imperative command to tell no one of the matter before us. If
I seem to disobey that command now, it is only because I think that at
this stage a warning about those farther Vermont hills--and about
those Himalayan peaks which bold explorers are more and more determined
to ascend--is more conducive to public safety than silence would be.
One specific thing we were leading up to was a deciphering of the
hieroglyphics on that infamous black stone--a deciphering which might
well place us in possession of secrets deeper and more dizzying than
any formerly known to man.


III

Toward the end of June the phonograph record came--shipped from
Brattleboro, since Akeley was unwilling to trust conditions on the
branch line north of there. He had begun to feel an increased sense of
espionage, aggravated by the loss of some of our letters; and said much
about the insidious deeds of certain men whom he considered tools and
agents of the hidden beings. Most of all he suspected the surly farmer
Walter Brown, who lived alone on a run-down hillside place near the
deep woods, and who was often seen loafing around corners in
Brattleboro, Bellows Falls, Newfane, and South Londonderry in the most
inexplicable and seemingly unmotivated way. Brown's voice, he felt
convinced, was one of those he had overheard on a certain occasion in a
very terrible conversation; and he had once found a footprint or
clawprint near Brown's house which might possess the most ominous
significance. It had been curiously near some of Brown's own footprints
--footprints that faced toward it.

So the record was shipped from Brattleboro, whither Akeley drove in
his Ford car along the lonely Vermont back roads. He confessed in an
accompanying note that he was beginning to be afraid of those roads,
and that he would not even go into Townshend for supplies now except in
broad daylight. It did not pay, he repeated again and again, to know
too much unless one were very remote from those silent and
problematical hills. He would be going to California pretty soon to
live with his son, though it was hard to leave a place where all one's
memories and ancestral feelings centered.

Before trying the record on the commercial machine which I borrowed
from the college administration building I carefully went over all the
explanatory matter in Akeley's various letters. This record, he had
said, was obtained about 1 A.M. on the 1st of May, 1915, near the
closed mouth of a cave where the wooded west slope of Dark Mountain
rises out of Lee's swamp. The place had always been unusually plagued
with strange voices, this being the reason he had brought the
phonograph, dictaphone, and blank in expectation of results. Former
experience had told him that May Eve--the hideous Sabbat-night of
underground European legend--would probably be more fruitful than any
other date, and he was not disappointed. It was noteworthy, though,
that he never again heard voices at that particular spot.

Unlike most of the overheard forest voices, the substance of the
record was quasi-ritualistic, and included one palpably human voice
which Akeley had never been able to place. It was not Brown's, but
seemed to be that of a man of greater cultivation. The second voice,
however, was the real crux of the thing--for this was the accursed
buzzing which had no likeness to humanity despite the human words which
it uttered in good English grammar and a scholarly accent.

The recording phonograph and dictaphone had not worked uniformly
well, and had of course been at a great disadvantage because of the
remote and muffled nature of the overheard ritual; so that the actual
speech secured was very fragmentary. Akeley had given me a transcript
of what he believed the spoken words to be, and I glanced through this
again as I prepared the machine for action. The text was darkly
mysterious rather than openly horrible, though a knowledge of its
origin and manner of gathering gave it all the associative horror which
any words could well possess. I will present it here in full as I
remember it--and I am fairly confident that I know it correctly by
heart, not only from reading the transcript, but from playing the
record itself over and over again. It is not a thing which one might
readily forget!
(Indistinguishable Sounds)

(A Cultivated Male Human Voice)

...is the Lord of the Wood, even to...and the gifts of the men of
Leng...so from the wells of night to the gulfs of space, and from the
gulfs of space to the wells of night, ever the praises of Great
Cthulhu, of Tsathoggua, and of Him Who is not to be Named. Ever Their
praises, and abundance to the Black Goat of the Woods. Ia!
Shub-Niggurath! The Goat with a Thousand Young!

(A Buzzing Imitation of Human Speech)

Ia! Shub-Niggurath! The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young!

(Human Voice)

And it has come to pass that the Lord of the Woods, being...seven
and nine, down the onyx steps...(tri)butes to Him in the Gulf,
Azathoth, He of Whom Thou has taught us marv(els)...on the wings of
night out beyond space, out beyond th...to That whereof Yuggoth is the
youngest child, rolling alone in black aether at the rim...

(Buzzing Voice)

...go out among men and find the ways thereof, that He in the Gulf
may know. To Nyarlathotep, Mighty Messenger, must all things be told.
And He shall put on the semblance of men, the waxen mask and the robe
that hides, and come down from the world of Seven Suns to mock...

(Human Voice)

(Nyarl)athotep, Great Messenger, bringer of strange joy to Yuggoth
through the void, Father of the Million Favoured Ones, Stalker among...

(Speech Cut Off by End of Record)

Such were the words for which I was to listen when I started the
phonograph. It was with a trace of genuine dread and reluctance that I
pressed the lever and heard the preliminary scratching of the sapphire
point, and I was glad that the first faint, fragmentary words were in a
human voice--a mellow, educated voice which seemed vaguely Bostonian
in accent, and which was certainly not that of any native of the
Vermont hills. As I listened to the tantalisingly feeble rendering, I
seemed to find the speech identical with Akeley's carefully prepared
transcript. On it chanted, in that mellow Bostonian voice..."Ia!
Shub-Niggurath! The Goat with a Thousand Young!..."

And then I heard the other voice. To this hour I shudder
retrospectively when I think of how it struck me, prepared though I was
by Akeley's accounts. Those to whom I have since described the record
profess to find nothing but cheap imposture or madness in it; but could
they have the accursed thing itself, or read the bulk of Akeley's
correspondence, (especially that terrible and encyclopaedic second
letter), I know they would think differently. It is, after all, a
tremendous pity that I did not disobey Akeley and play the record for
others--a tremendous pity, too, that all of his letters were lost. To
me, with my first-hand impression of the actual sounds, and with my
knowledge of the background and surrounding circumstances, the voice
was a monstrous thing. It swiftly followed the human voice in
ritualistic response, but in my imagination it was a morbid echo
winging its way across unimaginable abysses from unimaginable outer
hells. It is more than two years now since I last ran off that
blasphemous waxen cylinder; but at this moment, and at all other
moments, I can still hear that feeble, fiendish buzzing as it reached
me for the first time.

"Ia! Shub-Niggurath! The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young!"

But though the voice is always in my ears, I have not even yet been
able to analyse it well enough for a graphic description. It was like
the drone of some loathsome, gigantic insect ponderously shaped into
the articulate speech of an alien species, and I am perfectly certain
that the organs producing it can have no resemblance to the vocal
organs of man, or indeed to those of any of the mammalia. There were
singularities in timbre, range, and overtones which placed this
phenomenon wholly outside the sphere of humanity and earth-life. Its
sudden advent that first time almost stunned me, and I heard the rest
of the record through in a sort of abstracted daze. When the longer
passage of buzzing came, there was a sharp intensification of that
feeling of blasphemous infinity which had struck me during the shorter
and earlier passage. At last the record ended abruptly, during an
unusually clear speech of the human and Bostonian voice; but I sat
stupidly staring long after the machine had automatically stopped.

I hardly need say that I gave that shocking record many another
playing, and that I made exhaustive attempts at analysis and comment in
comparing notes with Akeley. It would be both useless and disturbing to
repeat here all that we concluded; but I may hint that we agreed in
believing we had secured a clue to the source of some of the most
repulsive primordial customs in the cryptic elder religions of mankind.
It seemed plain to us, also, that there were ancient and elaborate
alliance; between the hidden outer creatures and certain members of the
human race. How extensive these alliances were, and how their state
today might compare with their state in earlier ages, we had no means
of’ guessing; yet at best there was room for a limitless amount of
horrified speculation. There seemed to be an awful, immemorial linkage
in several definite stages betwixt man and nameless infinity. The
blasphemies which appeared on earth, it was hinted, came from the dark
planet Yuggoth, at the rim of the solar system; but this was itself
merely the populous outpost of a frightful interstellar race whose
ultimate source must lie far outside even the Einsteinian space-time
continuum or greatest known cosmos.

Meanwhile we continued to discuss the black stone and the best way
of getting it to Arkham--Akeley deeming it inadvisable to have me
visit him at the scene of his nightmare studies. For some reason or
other, Akeley was afraid to trust the thing to any ordinary or expected
transportation route. His final idea was to take it across country to
Bellows Falls and ship it on the Boston and Maine system through Keene
and Winchendon and Fitchburg, even though this would necessitate his
driving along somewhat lonelier and more forest-traversing hill roads
than the main highway to Brattleboro. He said he had noticed a man
around the express office at Brattleboro when he had sent the
phonograph record, whose actions and expression had been far from
reassuring. This man had seemed too anxious to talk with the clerks,
and had taken the train on which the record was shipped. Akeley
confessed that he had not felt strictly at ease about that record until
he heard from me of its safe receipt.

About this time--the second week in July--another letter of mine
went astray, as I learned through an anxious communication from Akeley.
After that he told me to address him no more at Townshend, but to send
all mail in care of the General Delivery at Brattleboro; whither he
would make frequent trips either in his car or on the motor-coach line
which had lately replaced passenger service on the lagging branch
railway. I could see that he was getting more and more anxious, for he
went into much detail about the increased barking of the dogs on
moonless nights, and about the fresh claw-prints he sometimes found in
the road and in the mud at the back of his farmyard when morning came.
Once he told about a veritable army of prints drawn up in a line facing
an equally thick and resolute line of dog-tracks, and sent a
loathsomely disturbing Kodak picture to prove it. That was after a
night on which the dogs had outdone themselves in barking and howling.

On the morning of Wednesday, July 18, I received a telegram from
Bellows Falls, in which Akeley said he was expressing the black stone
over the B. & M. on Train No. 5508, leaving Bellows Falls at 12:15
P.M., standard time, and due at the North Station in Boston at 4:12
P.M. It ought, I calculated, to get up to Arkham at least by the next
noon; and accordingly I stayed in all Thursday morning to receive it.
But noon came and went without its advent, and when I telephoned down
to the express office I was informed that no shipment for me had
arrived. My next act, performed amidst a growing alarm, was to give a
long-distance call to the express agent at the Boston North Station;
and I was scarcely surprised to learn that my consignment had not
appeared. Train No. 5508 had pulled in only 35 minutes late on the day
before, but had contained no box addressed to me. The agent promised,
however, to institute a searching inquiry; and I ended the day by
sending Akeley a night-letter outlining the situation.

With commendable promptness a report came from the Boston office on
the following afternoon, the agent telephoning as soon as he learned
the facts. It seemed that the railway express clerk on No. 5508 had
been able to recall an incident which might have much bearing on my
loss--an argument with a very curious-voiced man, lean, sandy, and
rustic-looking, when the train was waiting at Keene, N. H., shortly
after one o’clock standard time. The man, he said, was greatly excited
about a heavy box which he claimed to expect, but which was neither on
the train nor entered on the company’s books. He had given the name of
Stanley Adams, and had had such a queerly thick droning voice, that it
made the clerk abnormally dizzy and sleepy to listen to him. The clerk
could not remember quite how the conversation had ended, but recalled
starting into a fuller awakeness when the train began to move. The
Boston agent added that this clerk was a young man of wholly
unquestioned veracity and reliability, of known antecedents and long
with the company.

That evening I went to Boston to interview the clerk in person,
having obtained his name and address from the office. He was a frank,
prepossessing fellow, but I saw that he could add nothing to his
original account. Oddly, he was scarcely sure that he could even
recognise the strange inquirer again. Realising that he had no more to
tell, I returned to Arkham and sat up till morning writing letters to
Akeley, to the express company and to the police department and station
agent in Keene. I felt that the strange-voiced man who had so queerly
affected the clerk must have a pivotal place in the ominous business,
and hoped that Keene station employees and telegraph-office records
might tell something about him and about how he happened to make his
inquiry when and where he did.

I must admit, however, that all my investigations came to nothing.
The queer-voiced man had indeed been noticed around the Keene station
in the early afternoon of July 18, and one lounger seemed to couple him
vaguely with a heavy box; but he was altogether unknown, and had not
been seen before or since. He had not visited the telegraph office or
received any message so far as could be learned, nor had any message
which might justly be considered a notice of the black stone’s presence
on No. 5508 come through the office for anyone. Naturally Akeley joined
with me in conducting these inquiries, and even made a personal trip to
Keene to question the people around the station; but his attitude
toward the matter was more fatalistic than mine. He seemed to find the
loss of the box a portentous and menacing fulfillment of inevitable
tendencies, and had no real hope at all of its recovery. He spoke of
the undoubted telepathic and hypnotic powers of the hill creatures and
their agents, and in one letter hinted that he did not believe the
stone was on this earth any longer. For my part, I was duly enraged,
for I had felt there was at least a chance of learning profound and
astonishing things from the old, blurred hieroglyphs. The matter would
have rankled bitterly in my mind had not Akeley’s immediately
subsequent letters brought up a new phase of the whole horrible hill
problem which at once seized all my attention.


IV

The unknown things, Akeley wrote in a script grown pitifully
tremulous, had begun to close in on him with a wholly new degree of
determination. The nocturnal barking of the dogs whenever the moon. was
dim or absent was hideous now, and there had been attempts to molest
him on the lonely roads he had to traverse by day. On the second of
August, while bound for the village in his car, he had found a
tree-trunk laid in his path at a point where the highway ran through a
deep patch of woods; while the savage barking of the two great dogs he
had with him told all too well of the things which must have been
lurking near. What would have happened had the dogs not been there, he
did not dare guess--but he never went out now without at least two of
his faithful and powerful pack. Other road experiences had occurred on
August fifth and sixth; a shot grazing his car on one occasion, and the
barking of the dogs telling of unholy woodland presences on the other.

On August fifteenth I received a frantic letter which disturbed me
greatly, and which made me wish Akeley could put aside his lonely
reticence and call in the aid of the law. There had been frightful
happening on the night of the 12-13th, bullets flying outside the
farmhouse, and three of the twelve great dogs being found shot dead in
the morning. There were myriads of claw-prints in the road, with the
human prints of Walter Brown among them. Akeley had started to
telephone to Brattleboro for more dogs, but the wire had gone dead
before he had a chance to say much. Later he went to Brattleboro in his
car, and learned there that linemen had found the main cable neatly cut
at a point where it ran through the deserted hills north of Newfane.
But he was about to start home with four fine new dogs, and several
cases of ammunition for his big-game repeating rifle. The letter was
written at the post office in Brattleboro, and came through to me
without delay.

My attitude toward the matter was by this time quickly slipping from
a scientific to an alarmedly personal one. I was afraid for Akeley in
his remote, lonely farmhouse, and half afraid for myself because of my
now definite connection with the strange hill problem. The thing was
reaching out so. Would it suck me in and engulf me? In replying to his
letter I urged him to seek help, and hinted that I might take action
myself if he did not. I spoke of visiting Vermont in person in spite of
his wishes, and of helping him explain the situation to the proper
authorities. In return, however, I received only a telegram from
Bellows Falls which read thus:

APPRECIATE YOUR POSITION BUT CAN DO NOTHING TAKE NO ACTION YOURSELF FOR
IT COULD ONLY HARM BOTH WAIT FOR EXPLANATION

HENRY AKELY

But the affair was steadily deepening. Upon my replying to the
telegram I received a shaky note from Akeley with the astonishing news
that he had not only never sent the wire, but had not received the
letter from me to which it was an obvious reply. Hasty inquiries by him
at Bellows Falls had brought out that the message was deposited by a
strange sandy-haired man with a curiously thick, droning voice, though
more than this he could not learn. The clerk showed him the original
text as scrawled in pencil by the sender, but the handwriting was
wholly unfamiliar. It was noticeable that the signature was
misspelled--A-K-E-L-Y, without the second "E." Certain conjectures
were inevitable, but amidst the obvious crisis he did not stop to
elaborate upon them,

He spoke of the death of more dogs and the purchase of still others,
and of the exchange of gunfire which had become a settled feature each
moonless night. Brown’s prints, and the prints of at least one or two
more shod human figures, were now found regularly among the claw-prints
in the road, and at the back of the farmyard. It was, Akeley admitted,
a pretty bad business; and before long he would probably have to go to
live with his California son whether or not he could sell the old
place. But it was not easy to leave the only spot one could really
think of as home. He must try to hang on a little longer; perhaps he
could scare off the intruders--especially if he openly gave up all
further attempts to penetrate their secrets.

Writing Akeley at once, I renewed my offers of aid, and spoke again
of visiting him and helping him convince the authorities of his dire
peril. In his reply he seemed less set against that plan than his past
attitude would have led one to predict, but said he would like to hold
off a little while longer--long enough to get his things in order and
reconcile himself to the idea of leaving an almost morbidly cherished
birthplace. People looked askance at his studies and speculations and
it would be better to get quietly off without setting the countryside
in a turmoil and creating widespread doubts of his own sanity. He had
had enough, he admitted, but he wanted to make a dignified exit if he
could.

This letter reached me on the 28th of August, and I prepared and
mailed as encouraging a reply as I could. Apparently the encouragement
had effect, for Akeley had fewer terrors to report when he acknowledged
my note. He was not very optimistic, though, and expressed the belief
that it was only the full moon season which was holding the creatures
off. He hoped there would not be many densely cloudy nights, and talked
vaguely of boarding in Brattleboro when the moon waned. Again I wrote
him encouragingly but on September 5th there came a fresh communication
which had obviously crossed my letter in the mails; and to this I could
not give any such hopeful response. In view of its importance I believe
I had better give it in full--as best I can do from memory of the
shaky script. It ran substantially as follows:

Monday

Dear Wilmarth

A rather discouraging P. S. to my last. Last night was thickly
cloudy--though no rain--and not a bit of moonlight got through.
Things were pretty bad, and I think the end is getting near, in spite
of all we have hoped. After midnight something landed on the roof of
the house, and the dogs all rushed up to see what it was. I could hear
them snapping and tearing around, and then one managed to get on the
roof by jumping from the low ell. There was a terrible fight up there,
and I heard a frightful buzzing which I’ll never forget. And then there
was a shocking smell. About the same time bullets came through the
window and nearly grazed me. I think the main line of the hill
creatures had got close to the house when the dogs divided because of
the roof business. What was up there I don’t know yet, but I’m afraid
the creatures are learning to steer better with their space wings. I
put out the light and used the windows for loopholes, and raked all
around the house with rifle fire aimed just high enough not to hit the
dogs. That seemed to end the business, but in the morning I found great
pools of blood in the yard, besides pools of a green sticky stuff that
had the worst odour I have ever smelled. I climbed up on the roof and
found more of the sticky stuff there. Five of the dogs were killed--
I’m afraid I hit one myself by aiming too low, for he was shot in the
back. Now I am setting the panes the shots broke, and am going to
Brattleboro for more dogs. I guess the men at the kennels think I am
crazy. Will drop another note later. Suppose I’ll be ready for moving
in a week or two, though it nearly kills me to think of it.

Hastily--Akeley

But this was not the only letter from Akeley to cross mine. On the
next morning--September 6th--still another came; this time a frantic
scrawl which utterly unnerved me and put me at a loss what to say or do
next. Again I cannot do better than quote the text as faithfully as
memory will let me.
Tuesday

Clouds didn’t break, so no moon again--and going into the wane
anyhow. I’d have the house wired for electricity and put in a
searchlight if I didn’t know they’d cut the cables as fast as they
could be mended.

I think I am going crazy. It may be that all I have ever written
you is a dream or madness. It was bad enough before, but this time it
is too much. They talked to me last night--talked in that cursed
buzzing voice and told me things that I dare not repeat to you. I heard
them plainly above the barking of the dogs, and once when they were
drowned out a human voice helped them. Keep out of this, Wilmarth--it
is worse than either you or I ever suspected. They don’t mean to let me
get to California now--they want to take me off alive, or what
theoretically and mentally amounts to alive--not only to Yuggoth, but
beyond that--away outside the galaxy and possibly beyond the last
curved rim of space. I told them I wouldn’t go where they wish, or in
the terrible way they propose to take me, but I’m afraid it will be no
use. My place is so far out that they may come by day as well as by
night before long. Six more dogs killed, and I felt presences all along
the wooded parts of the road when I drove to Brattleboro today. It was
a mistake for me to try to send you that phonograph record and black
stone. Better smash the record before it’s too late. Will drop you
another line tomorrow if I’m still here. Wish I could arrange to get my
books and things to Brattleboro and board there. I would run off
without anything if I could but something inside my mind holds me back.
I can slip out to Brattleboro, where I ought to be safe, but I feel
just as much a prisoner there as at the house. And I seem to know that
I couldn’t get much farther even if I dropped everything and tried. It
is horrible--don’t get mixed up in this.

Yrs--Akeley

I did not sleep at all the night after receiving this terrible
thing, and was utterly baffled as to Akeley’s remaining degree of
sanity. The substance of the note was wholly insane, yet the manner of
expression--in view of all that had gone before--had a grimly potent
quality of convincingness. I made no attempt to answer it, thinking it
better to wait until Akeley might have time to reply to my latest
communication. Such a reply indeed came on the following day, though
the fresh material in it quite overshadowed any of the points brought
up by the letter nominally answered. Here is what I recall of the text,
scrawled and blotted as it was in the course of a plainly frantic and
hurried composition.
Wednesday

W--

Your letter came, but it’s no use to discuss anything any more. I
am fully resigned. Wonder that I have even enough will power left to
fight them off. Can’t escape even if I were willing to give up
everything and run. They’ll get me.

Had a letter from them yesterday--R.F.D. man brought it while I
was at Brattleboro. Typed and postmarked Bellows Falls. Tells what they
want to do with me--I can’t repeat it. Look out for yourself, too!
Smash that record. Cloudy nights keep up, and moon waning all the time.
Wish I dared to get help--it might brace up my will power--but
everyone who would dare to come at all would call me crazy unless there
happened to be some proof. Couldn’t ask people to come for no reason at
all--am all out of touch with everybody and have been for years.

But I haven’t told you the worst, Wilmarth. Brace up to read this,
for it will give you a shock. I am telling the truth, though. It is
this--I have seen and touched one of the things, or part of one of the
things. God, man, but it’s awful! It was dead, of course. One of the
dogs had it, and I found it near the kennel this morning. I tried to
save it in the woodshed to convince people of the whole thing, but it
all evaporated in a few hours. Nothing left. You know, all those things
in the rivers were seen only on the first morning after the flood. And
here’s the worst. I tried to photograph it for you, but when I
developed the film there wasn’t anything visible except the woodshed.
What can the thing have been made of? I saw it and felt it, and they
all leave footprints. It was surely made of matter--but what kind of
matter? The shape can’t be described. It was a great crab with a lot of
pyramided fleshy rings or knots of thick, ropy stuff covered with
feelers where a man’s head would be. That green sticky stuff is its
blood or juice. And there are more of them due on earth any minute.

Walter Brown is missing--hasn’t been seen loafing around any of
his usual corners in the villages hereabouts. I must have got him with
one of my shots, though the creatures always seem to try to take their
dead and wounded away.

Got into town this afternoon without any trouble, but am afraid
they’re beginning to hold off because they’re sure of me. Am writing
this in Brattleboro P. O. This may be goodbye--if it is, write my son
George Goodenough Akeley, 176 Pleasant St., San Diego, Cal., but don’t
come up here. Write the boy if you don’t hear from me in a week, and
watch the papers for news.

I’m going to play my last two cards now--if I have the will power
left. First to try poison gas on the things (I’ve got the right
chemicals and have fixed up masks for myself and the dogs) and then if
that doesn’t work, tell the sheriff. They can lock me in a madhouse if
they want to--it’ll be better than what the other creatures would do.
Perhaps I can get them to pay attention to the prints around the house
--they are faint, but I can find them every morning. Suppose, though,
police would say I faked them somehow; for they all think I’m a queer
character.

Must try to have a state policeman spend a night here and see for
himself--though it would be just like the creatures to learn about it
and hold off that night. They cut my wires whenever I try to telephone
in the night--the linemen think it is very queer, and may testify for
me if they don’t go and imagine I cut them myself. I haven’t tried to
keep them repaired for over a week now.

I could get some of the ignorant people to testify for me about the
reality of the horrors, but everybody laughs at what they say, and
anyway, they have shunned my place for so long that they don’t know any
of the new events. You couldn’t get one of those rundown farmers to
come within a mile of my house for love or money. The mail-carrier
hears what they say and jokes me about it--God! If I only dared tell
him how real it is! I think I’ll try to get him to notice the prints,
but he comes in the afternoon and they’re usually about gone by that
time. If I kept one by setting a box or pan over it, he’d think surely
it was a fake or joke.

Wish I hadn’t gotten to be such a hermit, so folks don’t drop
around as they used to. I’ve never dared show the black stone or the
Kodak pictures, or play that record, to anybody but the ignorant
people. The others would say I faked the whole business and do nothing
but laugh. But I may yet try showing the pictures. They give those
claw-prints clearly, even if the things that made them can’t be
photographed. What a shame nobody else saw that thing this morning
before it went to nothing!

But I don’t know as I care. After what I’ve been through, a
madhouse is as good a place as any. The doctors can help me make up my
mind to get away from this house, and that is all that will save me.


Write my son George if you don’t hear soon. Goodbye, smash that record,
and don’t mix up in this.

Yrs--Akeley

This letter frankly plunged me into the blackest of terror. I did
not know what to say in answer, but scratched off some incoherent words
of advice and encouragement and sent them by registered mail. I recall
urging Akeley to move to Brattleboro at once, and place himself under
the protection of the authorities; adding that I would come to that
town with the phonograph record and help convince the courts of his
sanity. It was time, too, I think I wrote, to alarm the people
generally against this thing in their midst. It will be observed that
at this moment of stress my own belief in all Akeley had told and
claimed was virtually complete, though I did think his failure to get a
picture of the dead monster was due not to any freak of Nature but to
some excited slip of his own.


V

Then, apparently crossing my incoherent note and reaching me
Saturday afternoon, September 8th, came that curiously different and
calming letter neatly typed on a new machine; that strange letter of
reassurance and invitation which must have marked so prodigious a
transition in the whole nightmare drama of the lonely hills. Again I
will quote from memory--seeking for special reasons to preserve as
much of the flavour of the style as I can. It was postmarked Bellows
Falls, and the signature as well as the body of the letter was typed--
as is frequent with beginners in typing. The text, though, was
marvellously accurate for a tyro’s work; and I concluded that Akeley
must have used a machine at some previous period--perhaps in college.
To say that the letter relieved me would be only fair, yet beneath my
relief lay a substratum of uneasiness. If Akeley had been sane in his
terror, was he now sane in his deliverance? And the sort of "improved
rapport" mentioned...what was it? The entire thing implied such a
diametrical reversal of Akeley’s previous attitude! But here is the
substance of the text, carefully transcribed from a memory in which I
take some pride.
Townshend, Vermont, Thursday, Sept. 6, 1928.

My dear Wilmarth:--

It gives me great pleasure to be able to set you at rest regarding
all the silly things I’ve been writing you. I say "silly," although by
that I mean my frightened attitude rather than my descriptions of
certain phenomena. Those phenomena are real and important enough; my
mistake had been in establishing an anomalous attitude toward them.


I think I mentioned that my strange visitors were beginning to
communicate with me, and to attempt such communication. Last night this
exchange of speech became actual. In response to certain signals I
admitted to the house a messenger from those outside--a fellow-human,
let me hasten to say. He told me much that neither you nor I had even
begun to guess, and showed clearly how totally we had misjudged and
misinterpreted the purpose of the Outer Ones in maintaining their
secret colony on this planet.

It seems that the evil legends about what they have offered to men,
and what they wish in connection with the earth, are wholly the result
of an ignorant misconception of allegorical speech--speech, of course,
moulded by cultural backgrounds and thought-habits vastly different
from anything we dream of. My own conjectures, I freely own, shot as
widely past the mark as any of the guesses of illiterate farmers and
savage Indians. What I had thought morbid and shameful and ignominious
is in reality awesome and mind-expanding and even glorious--my
previous estimate being merely a phase of man’s eternal tendency to
hate and fear and shrink from the utterly different.

Now I regret the harm I have inflicted upon these alien and
incredible beings in the course of our nightly skirmishes. If only I
had consented to talk peacefully and reasonably with them in the first
place! But they bear me no grudge, their emotions being organised very
differently from ours. It is their misfortune to have had as their
human agents in Vermont some very inferior specimens--the late Walter
Brown, for example. He prejudiced me vastly against them. Actually,
they have never knowingly harmed men, but have often been cruelly
wronged and spied upon by our species. There is a whole secret cult of
evil men (a man of your mystical erudition will understand me when I
link them with Hastur and the Yellow Sign) devoted to the purpose of
tracking them down and injuring them on behalf of monstrous powers from
other dimensions. It is against these aggressors--not against normal
humanity--that the drastic precautions of the Outer Ones are directed.
Incidentally, I learned that many of our lost letters were stolen not
by the Outer Ones but by the emissaries of this malign cult.

All that the Outer Ones wish of man is peace and non-molestation
and an increasing intellectual rapport. This latter is absolutely
necessary now that our inventions and devices are expanding our
knowledge and motions, and making it more and more impossible for the
Outer Ones’ necessary outposts to exist secretly on this planet. The
alien beings desire to know mankind more fully, and to have a few of
mankind’s philosophic and scientific leaders know more about them. With
such an exchange of knowledge all perils will pass, and a satisfactory
modus vivendi be established. The very idea of any attempt to enslave
or degrade mankind is ridiculous.

As a beginning of this improved rapport, the Outer Ones have
naturally chosen me--whose knowledge of them is already so
considerable--as their primary interpreter on earth. Much was told me
last night--facts of the most stupendous and vista-opening nature--
and more will be subsequently communicated to me both orally and in
writing. I shall not be called upon to make any trip outside just yet,
though I shall probably wish to do so later on--employing special
means and transcending everything which we have hitherto been
accustomed to regard as human experience. My house will be besieged no
longer. Everything has reverted to normal, and the dogs will have no
further occupation. In place of terror I have been given a rich boon of
knowledge and intellectual adventure which few other mortals have ever
shared.

The Outer Beings are perhaps the most marvellous organic things in
or beyond all space and time-members of a cosmos-wide race of which all
other life-forms are merely degenerate variants. They are more
vegetable than animal, if these terms can be applied to the sort of
matter composing them, and have a somewhat fungoid structure; though
the presence of a chlorophyll-like substance and a very singular
nutritive system differentiate them altogether from true cormophytic
fungi. Indeed, the type is composed of a form of matter totally alien
to our part of space--with electrons having a wholly different
vibration-rate. That is why the beings cannot be photographed on the
ordinary camera films and plates of our known universe, even though our
eyes can see them. With proper knowledge, however, any good chemist
could make a photographic emulsion which would record their images.

The genus is unique in its ability to traverse the heatless and
airless interstellar void in full corporeal form, and some of its
variants cannot do this without mechanical aid or curious surgical
transpositions. Only a few species have the ether-resisting wings
characteristic of the Vermont variety. Those inhabiting certain remote
peaks in the Old World were brought in other ways. Their external
resemblance to animal life, and to the sort of structure we understand
as material, is a matter of parallel evolution rather than of close
kinship. Their brain-capacity exceeds that of any other surviving
life-form, although the winged types of our hill country are by no
means the most highly developed. Telepathy is their usual means of
discourse, though we have rudimentary vocal organs which, after a
slight operation (for surgery is an incredibly expert and everyday
thing among them), can roughly duplicate the speech of such types of
organism as still use speech.

Their main immediate abode is a still undiscovered and almost
lightless planet at the very edge of our solar system--beyond Neptune,
and the ninth in distance from the sun. It is, as we have inferred, the
object mystically hinted at as "Yuggoth" in certain ancient and
forbidden writings; and it will soon be the scene of a strange
focussing of thought upon our world in an effort to facilitate mental
rapport. I would not be surprised if astronomers become sufficiently
sensitive to these thought-currents to discover Yuggoth when the Outer
Ones wish them to do so. But Yuggoth, of course, is only the
stepping-stone. The main body of the beings inhabits strangely
organized abysses wholly beyond the utmost reach of any human
imagination. The space-time globule which we recognize as the totality
of all cosmic entity is only an atom in the genuine infinity which is
theirs. And as much of this infinity as any human brain can hold is
eventually to be opened up to me, as it has been to not more than fifty
other men since the human race has existed.

You will probably call this raving at first, Wilmarth, but in time
you will appreciate the titanic opportunity I have stumbled upon. I
want you to share as much of it as is possible, and to that end must
tell you thousands of things that won’t go on paper. In the past I have
warned you not to come to see me. Now that all is safe, I take pleasure
in rescinding that warning and inviting you.

Can’t you make a trip up here before your college term opens? It
would be marvelously delightful if you could. Bring along the
phonograph record and all my letters to you as consultative data--we
shall need them in piecing together the whole tremendous story. You
might bring the Kodak prints, too, since I seem to have mislaid the
negatives and my own prints in all this recent excitement. But what a
wealth of facts I have to add to all this groping and tentative
material--and what a stupendous device I have to supplement my
additions!

Don’t hesitate--I am free from espionage now, and you will not
meet anything unnatural or disturbing. Just come along and let my car
meet you at the Brattleboro station--prepare to stay as long as you
can, and expect many an evening of discussion of things beyond all
human conjecture. Don’t tell anyone about it, of course--for this
matter must not get to the promiscuous public.

The train service to Brattleboro is not bad--you can get a
timetable in Boston. Take the B. & M. to Greenfield, and then
change for the brief remainder of the way. I suggest your taking the
convenient 4:10 P.M.--standard--from Boston. This gets into Greenfield
at 7:35, and at 9:19 a train leaves there which reaches Brattleboro at
10:01. That is weekdays. Let me know the date and I’ll have my car on
hand at the station.

Pardon this typed letter, but my handwriting has grown shaky of
late, as you know, and I don’t feel equal to long stretches of script.
I got this new Corona in Brattleboro yesterday--it seems to work very
well.

Awaiting word, and hoping to see you shortly with the phonograph record
and all my letters--and the Kodak prints--

I am

Yours in anticipation,
Henry W. Akeley

TO ALBERT N. WILMARTH, ESQ.,
MISKATONIC UNIVERSITY,
ARKHAM, MASS.

The complexity of my emotions upon reading, re-reading, and
pondering over this strange and unlooked-for letter is past adequate
description. I have said that I was at once relieved and made uneasy,
but this expresses only crudely the overtones of diverse and largely
subconscious feelings which comprised both the relief and the
uneasiness. To begin with, the thing was so antipodally at variance
with the whole chain of horrors preceding it--the change of mood from
stark terror to cool complacency and even exultation was so unheralded,
lightning-like, and complete! I could scarcely believe that a single
day could so alter the psychological perspective of one who had written
that final frenzied bulletin of Wednesday, no matter what relieving
disclosures that day might have brought. At certain moments a sense of
conflicting unrealities made me wonder whether this whole distantly
reported drama of fantastic forces were not a kind of half-illusory
dream created largely within my own mind. Then I thought of the
phonograph record and gave way to still greater bewilderment.

The letter seemed so unlike anything which could have been expected!
As I analysed my impression, I saw that it consisted of two distinct
phases. First, granting that Akeley had been sane before and was still
sane, the indicated change in the situation itself was so swift and
unthinkable. And secondly, the change in Akeley’s own manner, attitude,
and language was so vastly beyond the normal or the predictable. The
man’s whole personality seemed to have undergone an insidious mutation
--a mutation so deep that one could scarcely reconcile his two aspects
with the supposition that both represented equal sanity. Word-choice,
spelling--all were subtly different. And with my academic
sensitiveness to prose style, I could trace profound divergences in his
commonest reactions and rhythm-responses. Certainly, the emotional
cataclysm or revelation which could produce so radical an overturn must
be an extreme one indeed! Yet in another way the letter seemed quite
characteristic of Akeley. The same old passion for infinity--the same
old scholarly inquisitiveness. I could not a moment--or more than a
moment--credit the idea of spuriousness or malign substitution. Did
not the invitation--the willingness to have me test the truth of the
letter in person--prove its genuineness?

I did not retire Saturday night, but sat up thinking of the shadows
and marvels behind the letter I had received. My mind, aching from the
quick succession of monstrous conceptions it had been forced to
confront during the last four months, worked upon this startling new
material in a cycle of doubt and acceptance which repeated most of the
steps experienced in facing the earlier wonders; till long before dawn
a burning interest and curiosity had begun to replace the original
storm of perplexity and uneasiness. Mad or sane, metamorphosed or
merely relieved, the chances were that Akeley had actually encountered
some stupendous change of perspective in his hazardous research; some
change at once diminishing his danger--real or fancied--and opening
dizzy new vistas of cosmic and superhuman knowledge. My own zeal for
the unknown flared up to meet his, and I felt myself touched by the
contagion of the morbid barrier-breaking. To shake off the maddening
and wearying limitations of time and space and natural law--to be
linked with the vast outside--to come close to the nighted and abysmal
secrets of the infinite and the ultimate--surely such a thing was
worth the risk of one’s life, soul, and sanity! And Akeley had said
there was no longer any peril--he had invited me to visit him instead
of warning me away as before. I tingled at the thought of what he might
now have to tell me--there was an almost paralysing fascination in the
thought of sitting in that lonely and lately-beleaguered farmhouse with
a man who had talked with actual emissaries from outer space; sitting
there with the terrible record and the pile of letters in which Akeley
had summarised his earlier conclusions.

So late Sunday morning I telegraphed Akeley that I would meet him in
Brattleboro on the following Wednesday--September 12th--if that date
were convenient for him. In only one respect did I depart from his
suggestions, and that concerned the choice of a train. Frankly, I did
not feel like arriving in that haunted Vermont region late at night; so
instead of accepting the train he chose I telephoned the station and
devised another arrangement. By rising early and taking the 8:07 A.M.
(standard) into Boston, I could catch the 9:25 for Greenfield; arriving
there at 12:22 noon. This connected exactly with a train reaching
Brattleboro at 1:08 p.m.--a much more comfortable hour than 10:01 for
meeting Akeley and riding with him into the close-packed,
secret-guarding hills.

I mentioned this choice in my telegram, and was glad to learn in the
reply which came toward evening that it had met with my prospective
host’s endorsement. His wire ran thus:

ARRANGEMENT SATISFACTORY WILL MEET ONE EIGHT TRAIN WEDNESDAY DONT
FORGET RECORD AND LETTERS AND PRINTS KEEP DESTINATION QUIET EXPECT
GREAT REVELATIONS

AKELEY

Receipt of this message in direct response to one sent to Akeley--
and necessarily delivered to his house from the Townshend station
either by official messenger or by a restored telephone service--
removed any lingering subconscious doubts I may have had about the
authorship of the perplexing letter. My relief was marked--indeed, it
was greater than I could account for at the time; since all such doubts
had been rather deeply buried. But I slept soundly and long that night,
and was eagerly busy with preparations during the ensuing two days.


VI

On Wednesday I started as agreed, taking with me a valise full of
simple necessities and scientific data, including the hideous
phonograph record, the Kodak prints, and the entire file of Akeley’s
correspondence. As requested, I had told no one where I was going; for
I could see that the matter demanded utmost privacy, even allowing for
its most favourable turns. The thought of actual mental contact with
alien, outside entities was stupefying enough to my trained and
somewhat prepared mind; and this being so, what might one think of its
effect on the vast masses of uninformed laymen? I do not know whether
dread or adventurous expectancy was uppermost in me as I changed trains
at Boston and began the long westward run out of familiar regions into
those I knew less thoroughly. Waltham--Concord--Ayer--Fitchburg--
Gardner--Athol--

My train reached Greenfield seven minutes late, but the northbound
connecting express had been held. Transferring in haste, I felt a
curious breathlessness as the cars rumbled on through the early
afternoon sunlight into territories I had always read of but had never
before visited. I knew I was entering an altogether older-fashioned and
more primitive New England than the mechanised, urbanised coastal and
southern areas where all my life had been spent; an unspoiled,
ancestral New England without the foreigners and factory-smoke,
bill-boards and concrete roads, of the sections which modernity has
touched. There would be odd survivals of that continuous native life
whose deep roots make it the one authentic outgrowth of the landscape--
the continuous native life which keeps alive strange ancient memories,
and fertilises the soil for shadowy, marvellous, and seldom-mentioned
beliefs.

Now and then I saw the blue Connecticut River gleaming in the sun,
and after leaving Northfield we crossed it. Ahead loomed green and
cryptical hills, and when the conductor came around I learned that I
was at last in Vermont. He told me to set my watch back an hour, since
the northern hill country will have no dealings with new-fangled
daylight time schemes. As I did so it seemed to me that I was likewise
turning the calendar back a century.

The train kept close to the river, and across in New Hampshire I
could see the approaching slope of steep Wantastiquet, about which
singular old legends cluster. Then streets appeared on my left, and a
green island showed in the stream on my right. People rose and filed to
the door, and I followed them. The car stopped, and I alighted beneath
the long train-shed of the Brattleboro station.

Looking over the line of waiting motors I hesitated a moment to see
which one might turn out to be the Akeley Ford, but my identity was
divined before I could take the initiative. And yet it was clearly not
Akeley himself who advanced to meet me with an outstretched hand and a
mellowly phrased query as to whether I was indeed Mr. Albert N.
Wilmarth of Arkham. This man bore no resemblance to the bearded,
grizzled Akeley of the snapshot; but was a younger and more urbane
person, fashionably dressed, and wearing only a small, dark moustache.
His cultivated voice held an odd and almost disturbing hint of vague
familiarity, though I could not definitely place it in my memory.

As I surveyed him I heard him explaining that he was a friend of my
prospective host’s who had come down from Townshend in his stead.
Akeley, he declared, had suffered a sudden attack of some asthmatic
trouble, and did not feel equal to making a trip in the outdoor air. It
was not serious, however, and there was to be no change in plans
regarding my visit. I could not make out just how much this Mr. Noyes--
as he announced himself--knew of Akeley’s researches and discoveries,
though it seemed to me that his casual manner stamped him as a
comparative outsider. Remembering what a hermit Akeley had been, I was
a trifle surprised at the ready availability of such a friend; but did
not let my puzzlement deter me from entering the motor to which he
gestured me. It was not the small ancient car I had expected from
Akeley’s descriptions, but a large and immaculate specimen of recent
pattern--apparently Noyes’s own, and bearing Massachusetts license
plates with the amusing "sacred codfish" device of that year. My guide,
I concluded, must be a summer transient in the Townshend region.

Noyes climbed into the car beside me and started it at once. I was
glad that he did not overflow with conversation, for some peculiar
atmospheric tensity made me feel disinclined to talk. The town seemed
very attractive in the afternoon sunlight as we swept up an incline and
turned to the right into the main street. It drowsed like the older New
England cities which one remembers from boyhood, and something in the
collocation of roofs and steeples and chimneys and brick walls formed
contours touching deep viol-strings of ancestral emotion. I could tell
that I was at the gateway of a region half-bewitched through the
piling-up of unbroken time-accumulations; a region where old, strange
things have had a chance to grow and linger because they have never
been stirred up.

As we passed out of Brattleboro my sense of constraint and
foreboding increased, for a vague quality in the hill-crowded
countryside with its towering, threatening, close-pressing green and
granite slopes hinted at obscure secrets and immemorial survivals which
might or might not be hostile to mankind. For a time our course
followed a broad, shallow river which flowed down from unknown hills in
the north, and I shivered when my companion told me it was the West
River. It was in this stream, I recalled from newspaper items, that one
of the morbid crablike beings had been seen floating after the floods.

Gradually the country around us grew wilder and more deserted.
Archaic covered bridges lingered fearsomely out of the past in pockets
of the hills, and the half-abandoned railway track paralleling the
river seemed to exhale a nebulously visible air of desolation. There
were awesome sweeps of vivid valley where great cliffs rose, New
England’s virgin granite showing grey and austere through the verdure
that scaled the crests. There were gorges where untamed streams leaped,
bearing down toward the river the unimagined secrets of a thousand
pathless peaks. Branching away now and then were narrow, half-concealed
roads that bored their way through solid, luxuriant masses of forest
among whose primal trees whole armies of elemental spirits might well
lurk. As I saw these I thought of how Akeley had been molested by
unseen agencies on his drives along this very route, and did not wonder
that such things could be.

The quaint, sightly village of Newfane, reached in less than an
hour, was our last link with that world which man can definitely call
his own by virtue of conquest and complete occupancy. After that we
cast off all allegiance to immediate, tangible, and time-touched
things, and entered a fantastic world of hushed unreality in which the
narrow, ribbon-like road rose and fell and curved with an almost
sentient and purposeful caprice amidst the tenantless green peaks and
half-deserted valleys. Except for the sound of the motor, and the faint
stir of the few lonely farms we passed at infrequent intervals, the
only thing that reached my ears was the gurgling, insidious trickle of
strange waters from numberless hidden fountains in the shadowy woods.

The nearness and intimacy of the dwarfed, domed hills now became
veritably breath-taking. Their steepness and abruptness were even
greater than I had imagined from hearsay, and suggested nothing in
common with the prosaic objective world we know. The dense, unvisited
woods on those inaccessible slopes seemed to harbour alien and
incredible things, and I felt that the very outline of the hills
themselves held some strange and aeon-forgotten meaning, as if they
were vast hieroglyphs left by a rumoured titan race whose glories live
only in rare, deep dreams. All the legends of the past, and all the
stupefying imputations of Henry Akeley’s letters and exhibits, welled
up in my memory to heighten the atmosphere of tension and growing
menace. The purpose of my visit, and the frightful abnormalities it
postulated struck at me all at once with a chill sensation that nearly
over-balanced my ardour for strange delvings.

My guide must have noticed my disturbed attitude; for as the road
grew wilder and more irregular, and our motion slower and more jolting,
his occasional pleasant comments expanded into a steadier flow of
discourse. He spoke of the beauty and weirdness of the country, and
revealed some acquaintance with the folklore studies of my prospective
host. From his polite questions it was obvious that he knew I had come
for a scientific purpose, and that I was bringing data of some
importance; but he gave no sign of appreciating the depth and awfulness
of the knowledge which Akeley had finally reached.

His manner was so cheerful, normal, and urbane that his remarks
ought to have calmed and reassured me; but oddly enough. I felt only
the more disturbed as we bumped and veered onward into the unknown
wilderness of hills and woods. At times it seemed as if he were pumping
me to see what I knew of the monstrous secrets of the place, and with
every fresh utterance that vague, teasing, baffling familiarity in his
voice increased. It was not an ordinary or healthy familiarity despite
the thoroughly wholesome and cultivated nature of the voice. I somehow
linked it with forgotten nightmares, and felt that I might go mad if I
recognised it. If any good excuse had existed, I think I would have
turned back from my visit. As it was, I could not well do so--and it
occurred to me that a cool, scientific conversation with Akeley himself
after my arrival would help greatly to pull me together.

Besides, there was a strangely calming element of cosmic beauty in
the hypnotic landscape through which we climbed and plunged
fantastically. Time had lost itself in the labyrinths behind, and
around us stretched only the flowering waves of faery and the
recaptured loveliness of vanished centuries--the hoary groves, the
untainted pastures edged with gay autumnal blossoms, and at vast
intervals the small brown farmsteads nestling amidst huge trees beneath
vertical precipices of fragrant brier and meadow-grass. Even the
sunlight assumed a supernal glamour, as if some special atmosphere or
exhalation mantled the whole region. I had seen nothing like it before
save in the magic vistas that sometimes form the backgrounds of Italian
primitives. Sodoma and Leonardo conceived such expanses, but only in
the distance, and through the vaultings of Renaissance arcades. We were
now burrowing bodily through the midst of the picture, and I seemed to
find in its necromancy a thing I had innately known or inherited and
for which I had always been vainly searching.

Suddenly, after rounding an obtuse angle at the top of a sharp
ascent, the car came to a standstill. On my left, across a well-kept
lawn which stretched to the road and flaunted a border of whitewashed
stones, rose a white, two-and-a-half-story house of unusual size and
elegance for the region, with a congenes of contiguous or arcade-linked
barns, sheds, and windmill behind and to the right. I recognised it at
once from the snapshot I had received, and was not surprised to see the
name of Henry Akeley on the galvanised-iron mailbox near the road. For
some distance back of the house a level stretch of marshy and
sparsely-wooded land extended, beyond which soared a steep,
thickly-forested hillside ending in a jagged leafy crest. This latter,
I knew, was the summit of Dark Mountain, half way up which we must have
climbed already.

Alighting from the car and taking my valise, Noyes asked me to wait
while he went in and notified Akeley of my advent. He himself, he
added, had important business elsewhere, and could not stop for more
than a moment. As he briskly walked up the path to the house I climbed
out of the car myself, wishing to stretch my legs a little before
settling down to a sedentary conversation. My feeling of nervousness
and tension had risen to a maximum again now that I was on the actual
scene of the morbid beleaguering described so hauntingly in Akeley’s
letters, and I honestly dreaded the coming discussions which were to
link me with such alien and forbidden worlds.

Close contact with the utterly bizarre is often more terrifying than
inspiring, and it did not cheer me to think that this very bit of dusty
road was the place where those monstrous tracks and that foetid green
ichor had been found after moonless nights of fear and death. Idly I
noticed that none of Akeley’s dogs seemed to be about. Had he sold them
all as soon as the Outer Ones made peace with him? Try as I might, I
could not have the same confidence in the depth and sincerity of that
peace which appeared in Akeley’s final and queerly different letter.
After all, he was a man of much simplicity and with little worldly
experience. Was there not, perhaps, some deep and sinister undercurrent
beneath the surface of the new alliance?

Led by my thoughts, my eyes turned downward to the powdery road
surface which had held such hideous testimonies. The last few days had
been dry, and tracks of all sorts cluttered the rutted, irregular
highway despite the unfrequented nature of the district. With a vague
curiosity I began to trace the outline of some of the heterogeneous
impressions, trying meanwhile to curb the flights of macabre fancy
which the place and its memories suggested. There was something
menacing and uncomfortable in the funereal stillness, in the muffled,
subtle trickle of distant brooks, and in the crowding green peaks and
black-wooded precipices that choked the narrow horizon.

And then an image shot into my consciousness which made those vague
menaces and flights of fancy seem mild and insignificant indeed. I have
said that I was scanning the miscellaneous prints in the road with a
kind of idle curiosity--but all at once that curiosity was shockingly
snuffed out by a sudden and paralysing gust of active terror. For
though the dust tracks were in general confused and overlapping, and
unlikely to arrest any casual gaze, my restless vision had caught
certain details near the spot where the path to the house joined the
highway; and had recognised beyond doubt or hope the frightful
significance of those details. It was not for nothing, alas, that I had
pored for hours over the Kodak views of the Outer Ones’ claw-prints
which Akeley had sent. Too well did I know the marks of those loathsome
nippers, and that hint of ambiguous direction which stamped the horrors
as no creatures of this planet. No chance had been left me for merciful
mistake. Here, indeed, in objective form before my own eyes, and surely
made not many hours ago, were at least three marks which stood out
blasphemously among the surprising plethora of blurred footprints
leading to and from the Akeley farmhouse. They were the hellish tracks
of the living fungi from Yuggoth.

I pulled myself together in time to stifle a scream. After all, what
more was there than I might have expected, assuming that I had really
believed Akeley’s letters? He had spoken of making peace with the
things. Why, then, was it strange that some of them had visited his
house? But the terror was stronger than the reassurance. Could any man
be expected to look unmoved for the first time upon the claw-marks of
animate beings from outer depths of space? Just then I saw Noyes emerge
from the door and approach with a brisk step. I must, I reflected, keep
command of myself, for the chances were that this genial friend knew
nothing of Akeley’s profoundest and most stupendous probings into the
forbidden.

Akeley, Noyes hastened to inform me, was glad and ready to see me;
although his sudden attack of asthma would prevent him from being a
very competent host for a day or two. These spells hit him hard when
they came, and were always accompanied by a debilitating fever and
general weakness. He never was good for much while they lasted--had to
talk in a whisper, and was very clumsy and feeble in getting about. His
feet and ankles swelled, too, so that he had to bandage them like a
gouty old beef-eater. Today he was in rather bad shape, so that I would
have to attend very largely to my own needs; but he was none the less
eager for conversation. I would find him in the study at the left of
the front hall--the room where the blinds were shut. He had to keep
the sunlight out when he was ill, for his eyes were very sensitive.

As Noyes bade me adieu and rode off northward in his car I began to
walk slowly toward the house. The door had been left ajar for me; but
before approaching and entering I cast a searching glance around the
whole place, trying to decide what had struck me as so intangibly queer
about it. The barns and sheds looked trimly prosaic enough, and I
noticed Akeley’s battered Ford in its capacious, unguarded shelter.
Then the secret of the queerness reached me. It was the total silence.
Ordinarily a farm is at least moderately murmurous from its various
kinds of livestock, but here all signs of life were missing. What of
the hens and the dogs? The cows, of which Akeley had said he possessed
several, might conceivably be out to pasture, and the dogs might
possibly have been sold; but the absence of any trace of cackling or
grunting was truly singular.

I did not pause long on the path, but resolutely entered the open
house door and closed it behind me. It had cost me a distinct
psychological effort to do so, and now that I was shut inside I had a
momentary longing for precipitate retreat. Not that the place was in
the least sinister in visual suggestion; on the contrary, I thought the
graceful late-colonial hallway very tasteful and wholesome, and admired
the evident breeding of the man who had furnished it. What made me wish
to flee was something very attenuated and indefinable. Perhaps it was a
certain odd odour which I thought I noticed--though I well knew how
common musty odours are in even the best of ancient farmhouses.


VII

Refusing to let these cloudy qualms overmaster me, I recalled
Noyes’s instructions and pushed open the six-panelled, brass-latched
white door on my left. The room beyond was darkened as I had known
before; and as I entered it I noticed that the queer odour was stronger
there. There likewise appeared to be some faint, half-imaginary rhythm
or vibration in the air. For a moment the closed blinds allowed me to
see very little, but then a kind of apologetic hacking or whispering
sound drew my attention to a great easy-chair in the farther, darker
corner of the room. Within its shadowy depths I saw the white blur of a
man’s face and hands; and in a moment I had crossed to greet the figure
who had tried to speak. Dim though the light was, I perceived that this
was indeed my host. I had studied the Kodak picture repeatedly, and
there could be no mistake about this firm, weather-beaten face with the
cropped, grizzled beard.

But as I looked again my recognition was mixed with sadness and
anxiety; for certainly, his face was that of a very sick man. I felt
that there must be something more than asthma behind that strained,
rigid, immobile expression and unwinking glassy stare; and realised how
terribly the strain of his frightful experiences must have told on him.
Was it not enough to break any human being--even a younger man than
this intrepid delver into the forbidden? The strange and sudden relief,
I feared, had come too late to save him from something like a general
breakdown. There was a touch of the pitiful in the limp, lifeless way
his lean hands rested in his lap. He had on a loose dressing-gown, and
was swathed around the head and high around the neck with a vivid
yellow scarf or hood.

And then I saw that he was trying to talk in the same hacking
whisper with which he had greeted me. It was a hard whisper to catch at
first, since the grey moustache concealed all movements of the lips,
and something in its timbre disturbed me greatly; but by concentrating
my attention I could soon make out its purport surprisingly well. The
accent was by no means a rustic one, and the language was even more
polished than correspondence had led me to expect.

"Mr. Wilmarth, I presume? You must pardon my not rising. I am quite
ill, as Mr. Noyes must have told you; but I could not resist having you
come just the same. You know what I wrote in my last letter--there is
so much to tell you tomorrow when I shall feel better. I can’t say how
glad I am to see you in person after all our many letters. You have the
file with you, of course? And the Kodak prints and records? Noyes put
your valise in the hall--I suppose you saw it. For tonight I fear
you’ll have to wait on yourself to a great extent. Your room is
upstairs--the one over this--and you’ll see the bathroom door open at
the head of the staircase. There’s a meal spread for you in the
dining-room--right through this door at your right--which you can
take whenever you feel like it. I’ll be a better host tomorrow--but
just now weakness leaves me helpless.

"Make yourself at home--you might take out the letters and pictures
and records and put them on the table here before you go upstairs with
your bag. It is here that we shall discuss them--you can see my
phonograph on that corner stand.

"No, thanks--there’s nothing you can do for me. I know these spells
of old. Just come back for a little quiet visiting before night, and
then go to bed when you please. I’ll rest right here--perhaps sleep
here all night as I often do. In the morning I’ll be far better able to
go into the things we must go into. You realise, of course, the utterly
stupendous nature of the matter before us. To us, as to only a few men
on this earth, there will be opened up gulfs of time and space and
knowledge beyond anything within the conception of human science or
philosophy.

"Do you know that Einstein is wrong, and that certain objects and
forces can move with a velocity greater than that of light? With proper
aid I expect to go backward and forward in time, and actually see and
feel the earth of remote past and future epochs. You can’t imagine the
degree to which those beings have carried science. There is nothing
they can’t do with the mind and body of living organisms. I expect to
visit other planets, and even other stars and galaxies. The first trip
will be to Yuggoth, the nearest world fully peopled by the beings. It
is a strange dark orb at the very rim of our solar system--unknown to
earthly astronomers as yet. But I must have written you about this. At
the proper time, you know, the beings there will direct
thought-currents toward us and cause it to be discovered--or perhaps
let one of their human allies give the scientists a hint.

"There are mighty cities on Yuggoth--great tiers of terraced towers
built of black stone like the specimen I tried to send you. That came
from Yuggoth. The sun shines there no brighter than a star, but the
beings need no light. They have other subtler senses, and put no
windows in their great houses and temples. Light even hurts and hampers
and confuses them, for it does not exist at all in the black cosmos
outside time and space where they came from originally. To visit
Yuggoth would drive any weak man mad--yet I am going there. The black
rivers of pitch that flow under those mysterious cyclopean bridges--
things built by some elder race extinct and forgotten before the beings
came to Yuggoth from the ultimate voids--ought to be enough to make
any man a Dante or Poe if he can keep sane long enough to tell what he
has seen.

"But remember--that dark world of fungoid gardens and windowless
cities isn’t really terrible. It is only to us that it would seem so.
Probably this world seemed just as terrible to the beings when they
first explored it in the primal age. You know they were here long
before the fabulous epoch of Cthulhu was over, and remember all about
sunken R’lyeh when it was above the waters. They’ve been inside the
earth, too--there are openings which human beings know nothing of--
some of them in these very Vermont hills--and great worlds of unknown
life down there; blue-litten K’n-yan, red-litten Yoth, and black,
lightless N’kai. It’s from N’kai that frightful Tsathoggua came--you
know, the amorphous, toad-like god-creature mentioned in the Pnakotic
Manuscripts and the Necronomicon and the Commoriom myth-cycle preserved
by the Atlantean high-priest Klarkash-Ton.

"But we will talk of all this later on. It must be four or five
o’clock by this time. Better bring the stuff from your bag, take a
bite, and then come back for a comfortable chat."

Very slowly I turned and began to obey my host; fetching my valise,
extracting and depositing the desired articles, and finally ascending
to the room designated as mine. With the memory of that roadside
claw-print fresh in my mind, Akeley’s whispered paragraphs had affected
me queerly; and the hints of familiarity with this unknown world of
fungous life--forbidden Yuggoth--made my flesh creep more than I
cared to own. I was tremendously sorry about Akeley’s illness, but had
to confess that his hoarse whisper had a hateful as well as pitiful
quality. If only he wouldn’t gloat so about Yuggoth and its black
secrets!

My room proved a very pleasant and well-furnished one, devoid alike
of the musty odour and disturbing sense of vibration; and after leaving
my valise there I descended again to greet Akeley and take the lunch he
had set out for me. The dining-room was just beyond the study, and I
saw that a kitchen extended still farther in the same direction. On
the dining-table an ample array of sandwiches, cake, and cheese awaited
me, and a Thermos-bottle beside a cup and saucer testified that hot
coffee had not been forgotten. After a well-relished meal I poured
myself a liberal cup of coffee, but found that the culinary standard
had suffered a lapse in this one detail. My first spoonful revealed a
faintly unpleasant acrid taste, so that I did not take more. Throughout
the lunch I thought of Akeley sitting silently in the great chair in
the darkened next room.

Once I went in to beg him to share the repast, but he whispered that
he could eat nothing as yet. Later on, just before he slept, he would
take some malted milk--all he ought to have that day.

After lunch I insisted on clearing the dishes away and washing them
in the kitchen sink--incidentally emptying the coffee which I had not
been able to appreciate. Then returning to the darkened study I drew up
a chair near my host’s corner and prepared for such conversation as he
might feel inclined to conduct. The letters, pictures, and record were
still on the large centre-table, but for the nonce we did not have to
draw upon them. Before long I forgot even the bizarre odour and curious
suggestions of vibration.

I have said that there were things in some of Akeley’s letters--
especially the second and most voluminous one--which I would not dare
to quote or even form into words on paper. This hesitancy applies with
still greater force to the things I heard whispered that evening in the
darkened room among the lonely hills. Of the extent of the cosmic
horrors unfolded by that raucous voice I cannot even hint. He had known
hideous things before, but what he had learned since making his pact
with the Outside Things was almost too much for sanity to bear. Even
now I absolutely refused to believe what he implied about the
constitution of ultimate infinity, the juxtaposition of dimensions, and
the frightful position of our known cosmos of space and time in the
unending chain of linked cosmos-atoms which makes up the immediate
super-cosmos of curves, angles, and material and semi-material
electronic organisation.

Never was a sane man more dangerously close to the arcana of basic
entity--never was an organic brain nearer to utter annihilation in the
chaos that transcends form and force and symmetry. I learned whence
Cthulhu first came, and why half the great temporary stars of history
had flared forth. I guessed--from hints which made even my informant
pause timidly--the secret behind the Magellanic Clouds and globular
nebulae, and the black truth veiled by the immemorial allegory of Tao.
The nature of the Doels was plainly revealed, and I was told the
essence (though not the source) of the Hounds of Tindalos. The legend
of Yig, Father of Serpents, remained figurative no longer, and I
started with loathing when told of the monstrous nuclear chaos beyond
angled space which the Necronomicon had mercifully cloaked under the
name of Azathoth. It was shocking to have the foulest nightmares of
secret myth cleared up in concrete terms whose stark, morbid
hatefulness exceeded the boldest hints of ancient and mediaeval
mystics. Ineluctably I was led to believe that the first whisperers of
these accursed tales must have had discourse with Akeley’s Outer Ones,
and perhaps have visited outer cosmic realms as Akeley now proposed
visiting them.

I was told of the Black Stone and what it implied, and was glad that
it had not reached me. My guesses about those hieroglyphics had been
all too correct! And yet Akeley now seemed reconciled to the whole
fiendish system he had stumbled upon; reconciled and eager to probe
farther into the monstrous abyss. I wondered what beings he had talked
with since his last letter to me, and whether many of them had been as
human as that first emissary he had mentioned. The tension in my head
grew insufferable, and I built up all sorts of wild theories about that
queer, persistent odour and those insidious hints of vibration in the
darkened room.

Night was falling now, and as I recalled what Akeley had written me
about those earlier nights I shuddered to think there would be no moon.
Nor did I like the way the farmhouse nestled in the lee of that
colossal forested slope leading up to Dark Mountain’s unvisited crest.
With Akeley’s permission I lighted a small oil lamp, turned it low, and
set it on a distant bookcase beside the ghostly bust of Milton; but
afterward I was sorry I had done so, for it made my host’s strained,
immobile face and listless hands look damnably abnormal and corpselike.
He seemed half-incapable of motion, though I saw him nod stiffly once
in awhile.

After what he had told, I could scarcely imagine what profounder
secrets he was saving for the morrow; but at last it developed that his
trip to Yuggoth and beyond--and my own possible participation in it--
was to be the next day’s topic. He must have been amused by the start
of horror I gave at hearing a cosmic voyage on my part proposed, for
his head wabbled violently when I showed my fear. Subsequently he spoke
very gently of how human beings might accomplish--and several times
had accomplished--the seemingly impossible flight across the
interstellar void. It seemed that complete human bodies did not indeed
make the trip, but that the prodigious surgical, biological, chemical,
and mechanical skill of the Outer Ones had found a way to convey human
brains without their concomitant physical structure.

There was a harmless way to extract a brain, and a way to keep the
organic residue alive during its absence. The bare, compact cerebral
matter was then immersed in an occasionally replenished fluid within an
ether-tight cylinder of a metal mined in Yuggoth, certain electrodes
reaching through and connecting at will with elaborate instruments
capable of duplicating the three vital faculties of sight, hearing, and
speech. For the winged fungus-beings to carry the brain-cylinders
intact through space was an easy matter. Then, on every planet covered
by their civilisation, they would find plenty of adjustable
faculty-instruments capable of being connected with the encased brains;
so that after a little fitting these travelling intelligences could be
given a full sensory and articulate life--albeit a bodiless and
mechanical one--at each stage of their journeying through and beyond
the space-time continuum. It was as simple as carrying a phonograph
record about and playing it wherever a phonograph of corresponding make
exists. Of its success there could be no question. Akeley was not
afraid. Had it not been brilliantly accomplished again and again?

For the first time one of the inert, wasted hands raised itself and
pointed stiffly to a high shelf on the farther side of the room. There,
in a neat row, stood more than a dozen cylinders of a metal I had never
seen before--cylinders about a foot high and somewhat less in
diameter, with three curious sockets set in an isosceles triangle over
the front convex surface of each. One of them was linked at two of the
sockets to a pair of singular-looking machines that stood in the
background. Of their purport I did not need to be told, and I shivered
as with ague. Then I saw the hand point to a much nearer corner where
some intricate instruments with attached cords and plugs, several of
them much like the two devices on the shelf behind the cylinders, were
huddled together.

"There are four kinds of instruments here, Wilmarth," whispered the
voice. "Four kinds--three faculties each--makes twelve pieces in all.
You see there are four different sorts of beings represented in those
cylinders up there. Three humans, six fungoid beings who can’t navigate
space corporeally, two beings from Neptune (God! if you could see the
body this type has on its own planet!), and the rest entities from the
central caverns of an especially interesting dark star beyond the
galaxy. In the principal outpost inside Round Hill you’ll now and then
find more cylinders and machines--cylinders of extra-cosmic brains
with different senses from any we know--allies and explorers from the
uttermost Outside--and special machines for giving them impressions
and expression in the several ways suited at once to them and to the
comprehensions of different types of listeners. Round Hill, like most
of the beings’ main outposts all through the various universes, is a
very cosmopolitan place. Of course, only the more common types have
been lent to me for experiment.

"Here--take the three machines I point to and set them on the
table. That tall one with the two glass lenses in front--then the box
with the vacuum tubes and sounding-board--and now the one with the
metal disc on top. Now for the cylinder with the label ‘B-67’ pasted on
it. Just stand in that Windsor chair to reach the shelf. Heavy? Never
mind! Be sure of the number--B-67. Don’t bother that fresh, shiny
cylinder joined to the two testing instruments--the one with my name
on it. Set B-67 on the table near where you’ve put the machines--and
see that the dial switch on all three machines is jammed over to the
extreme left.

"Now connect the cord of the lens machine with the upper socket on
the cylinder--there! Join the tube machine to the lower left-hand
socket, and the disc apparatus to the outer socket. Now move all the
dial switches on the machine over to the extreme right--first the lens
one, then the disc one, and then the tube one. That’s right. I might as
well tell you that this is a human being--just like any of us. I’ll
give you a taste of some of the others tomorrow."

To this day I do not know why I obeyed those whispers so slavishly,
or whether I thought Akeley was mad or sane. After what had gone
before, I ought to have been prepared for anything; but this mechanical
mummery seemed so like the typical vagaries of crazed inventors and
scientists that it struck a chord of doubt which even the preceding
discourse had not excited. What the whisperer implied was beyond all
human belief--yet were not the other things still farther beyond, and
less preposterous only because of their remoteness from tangible
concrete proof?

As my mind reeled amidst this chaos, I became conscious of a mixed
grating and whirring from all three of the machines lately linked to
the cylinder--a grating and whirring which soon subsided into a
virtual noiselessness. What was about to happen? Was I to hear a voice?
And if so, what proof would I have that it was not some cleverly
concocted radio device talked into by a concealed but closely watched
speaker? Even now I am unwilling to swear just what I heard, or just
what phenomenon really took place before me. But something certainly
seemed to take place.

To be brief and plain, the machine with the tubes and sound-box
began to speak, and with a point and intelligence which left no doubt
that the speaker was actually present and observing us. The voice was
loud, metallic, lifeless, and plainly mechanical in every detail of its
production. It was incapable of inflection or expressiveness, but
scraped and rattled on with a deadly precision and deliberation.

"Mr. Wilmarth," it said, "I hope I do not startle you. I am a human
being like yourself, though my body is now resting safely under proper
vitalising treatment inside Round Hill, about a mile and a half east of
here. I myself am here with you--my brain is in that cylinder and I
see, hear, and speak through these electronic vibrators. In a week I am
going across the void as I have been many times before, and I expect to
have the pleasure of Mr. Akeley’s company. I wish I might have yours as
well; for I know you by sight and reputation, and have kept close track
of your correspondence with our friend. I am, of course, one of the men
who have become allied with the outside beings visiting our planet. I
met them first in the Himalayas, and have helped them in various ways.
In return they have given me experiences such as few men have ever had.

"Do you realise what it means when I say I have been on thirty-seven
different celestial bodies--planets, dark stars, and less definable
objects--including eight outside our galaxy and two outside the curved
cosmos of space and time? All this has not harmed me in the least. My
brain has been removed from my body by fissions so adroit that it would
be crude to call the operation surgery. The visiting beings have
methods which make these extractions easy and almost normal--and one’s
body never ages when the brain is out of it. The brain, I may add, is
virtually immortal with its mechanical faculties and a limited
nourishment supplied by occasional changes of the preserving fluid.

"Altogether, I hope most heartily that you will decide to come with
Mr. Akeley and me. The visitors are eager to know men of knowledge like
yourself, and to show them the great abysses that most of us have had
to dream about in fanciful ignorance. It may seem strange at first to
meet them, but I know you will be above minding that. I think Mr. Noyes
will go along, too--the man who doubtless brought you up here in his
car. He has been one of us for years--I suppose you recognised his
voice as one of those on the record Mr. Akeley sent you."

At my violent start the speaker paused a moment before concluding.
"So Mr. Wilmarth, I will leave the matter to you; merely adding that a
man with your love of strangeness and folklore ought never to miss such
a chance as this. There is nothing to fear. All transitions are
painless; and there is much to enjoy in a wholly mechanised state of
sensation. When the electrodes are disconnected, one merely drops off
into a sleep of especially vivid and fantastic dreams.

"And now, if you don’t mind, we might adjourn our session till
tomorrow. Good night--just turn all the switches back to the left;
never mind the exact order, though you might let the lens machine be
last. Good night, Mr. Akeley--treat our guest well! Ready now with
those switches?"

That was all. I obeyed mechanically and shut off all three switches,
though dazed with doubt of everything that had occurred. My head was
still reeling as I heard Akeley’s whispering voice telling me that I
might leave all the apparatus on the table just as it was. He did not
essay any comment on what had happened, and indeed no comment could
have conveyed much to my burdened faculties. I heard him telling me I
could take the lamp to use in my room, and deduced that he wished to
rest alone in the dark. It was surely time he rested, for his discourse
of the afternoon and evening had been such as to exhaust even a
vigorous man. Still dazed, I bade my host good night and went upstairs
with the lamp, although I had an excellent pocket flashlight with me.

I was glad to be out of that downstairs study with the queer odour
and vague suggestions of vibration, yet could not of course escape a
hideous sense of dread and peril and cosmic abnormality as I thought of
the place I was in and the forces I was meeting. The wild, lonely
region, the black, mysteriously forested slope towering so close behind
the house; the footprint in the road, the sick, motionless whisperer in
the dark, the hellish cylinders and machines, and above all the
invitations to strange surgery and stranger voyagings--these things,
all so new and in such sudden succession, rushed in on me with a
cumulative force which sapped my will and almost undermined my physical
strength.

To discover that my guide Noyes was the human celebrant in that
monstrous bygone Sabbat-ritual on the phonograph record was a
particular shock, though I had previously sensed a dim, repellent
familiarity in his voice. Another special shock came from my own
attitude toward my host whenever I paused to analyse it; for much as I
had instinctively liked Akeley as revealed in his correspondence, I now
found that he filled me with a distinct repulsion. His illness ought to
have excited my pity; but instead, it gave me a kind of shudder. He was
so rigid and inert and corpselike--and that incessant whispering was
so hateful and unhuman!

It occurred to me that this whispering was different from anything
else of the kind I had ever heard; that, despite the curious
motionlessness of the speaker’s moustache-screened lips, it had a
latent strength and carrying-power remarkable for the wheezing of an
asthmatic. I had been able to understand the speaker when wholly across
the room, and once or twice it had seemed to me that the faint but
penetrant sounds represented not so much weakness as deliberate
repression--for what reason I could not guess. From the first I had
felt a disturbing quality in their timbre. Now, when I tried to weigh
the matter, I thought I could trace this impression to a kind of
subconscious familiarity like that which had made Noyes’s voice so
hazily ominous. But when or where I had encountered the thing it hinted
at, was more than I could tell.

One thing was certain--I would not spend another night here. My
scientific zeal had vanished amidst fear and loathing, and I felt
nothing now but a wish to escape from this net of morbidity and
unnatural revelation. I knew enough now. It must indeed be true that
strange cosmic linkages do exist--but such things are surely not meant
for normal human beings to meddle with.

Blasphemous influences seemed to surround me and press chokingly
upon my senses. Sleep, I decided, would be out of the question; so I
merely extinguished the lamp and threw myself on the bed fully dressed.
No doubt it was absurd, but I kept ready for some unknown emergency;
gripping in my right hand the revolver I had brought along, and holding
the pocket flashlight in my left. Not a sound came from below, and I
could imagine how my host was sitting there with cadaverous stiffness
in the dark.

Somewhere I heard a clock ticking, and was vaguely grateful for the
normality of the sound. It reminded me, though, of another thing about
the region which disturbed me--the total absence of animal life. There
were certainly no farm beasts about, and now I realised that even the
accustomed night-noises of wild living things were absent. Except for
the sinister trickle of distant unseen waters, that stillness was
anomalous--interplanetary--and I wondered what star-spawned,
intangible blight could be hanging over the region. I recalled from old
legends that dogs and other beasts had always hated the Outer Ones, and
thought of what those tracks in the road might mean.


VIII

Do not ask me how long my unexpected lapse into slumber lasted, or
how much of what ensued was sheer dream. If I tell you that I awakened
at a certain time, and heard and saw certain things, you will merely
answer that I did not wake then; and that everything was a dream until
the moment when I rushed out of the house, stumbled to the shed where I
had seen the old Ford, and seized that ancient vehicle for a mad,
aimless race over the haunted hills which at last landed me--after
hours of jolting and winding through forest-threatened labyrinths--in
a village which turned out to be Townshend.

You will also, of course, discount everything else in my report; and
declare that all the pictures, record-sounds, cylinder-and-machine
sounds, and kindred evidences were bits of pure deception practiced on
me by the missing Henry Akeley. You will even hint that he conspired
with other eccentrics to carry out a silly and elaborate hoax--that he
had the express shipment removed at Keene, and that he had Noyes make
that terrifying wax record. It is odd, though, that Noyes has not ever
yet been identified; that he was unknown at any of the villages near
Akeley’s place, though he must have been frequently in the region. I
wish I had stopped to memorize the license-number of his car--or
perhaps it is better after all that I did not. For I, despite all you
can say, and despite all I sometimes try to say to myself, know that
loathsome outside influences must be lurking there in the half-unknown
hills--and that, those influences have spies and emissaries in the
world of men. To keep as far as possible from such influences and such
emissaries is all that I ask of life in future.

When my frantic story sent a sheriff’s posse out to the farmhouse,
Akeley was gone without leaving a trace. His loose dressing gown,
yellow scarf, and foot-bandages lay on the study floor near his corner.
easy-chair, and it could not be decided whether any of his other
apparel had vanished with him. The dogs and livestock were indeed
missing, and there were some curious bullet-holes both on the house’s
exterior and on some of the walls within; but beyond this nothing
unusual could be detected. No cylinders or machines, none of the
evidences I had brought in my valise, no queer odour or
vibration-sense, no foot-prints in the road, and none of the
problematical things I glimpsed at the very last.

I stayed a week in Brattleboro after my escape, making inquiries
among people of every kind who had known Akeley; and the results
convince me that the matter is no figment of dream or delusion.’
Akeley’s queer purchase of dogs and ammunition and chemicals, and the
cutting of his telephone wires, are matters of record; while all who
knew him--including his son in California--concede that his
occasional remarks on strange studies had a certain consistency. Solid
citizens believe he was mad, and unhesitatingly pronounce all reported
evidences mere hoaxes devised with insane cunning and perhaps abetted
by eccentric associates; but the lowlier country folk sustain his
statements in every detail. He had showed some of these rustics his
photographs and black stone, and had played the hideous record for
them; and they all said the footprints and buzzing voice were like
those described in ancestral legends.

They said, too, that suspicious sights and sounds had been noticed
increasingly around Akeley’s house after he found the black stone, and
that the place was now avoided by everybody except the mail man and
other casual, tough-minded people. Dark Mountain and Round Hill were
both notoriously haunted spots, and I could find no one who had ever
closely explored either. Occasional disappearances of natives
throughout the district’s history were well attested, and these now
included the semi-vagabond Walter Brown, whom Akeley’s letters had
mentioned. I even came upon one farmer who thought he had personally
glimpsed one of the queer bodies at flood-time in the swollen West
River, but his tale was too confused to be really valuable.

When I left Brattleboro I resolved never to go back to Vermont, and
I feel quite certain I shall keep my resolution. Those wild hills are
surely the outpost of a frightful cosmic race--as I doubt all the less
since reading that a new ninth planet has been glimpsed beyond Neptune,
just as those influences had said it would be glimpsed. Astronomers,
with a hideous appropriateness they little suspect, have named this
thing "Pluto." I feel, beyond question, that it is nothing less than
nighted Yuggoth--and I shiver when I try to figure out the real reason
why its monstrous denizens wish it to be known in this way at this
especial time. I vainly try to assure myself that these daemoniac
creatures are not gradually leading up to some new policy hurtful to
the earth and its normal inhabitants.

But I have still to tell of the ending of that terrible night in the
farmhouse. As I have said, I did finally drop into a troubled doze; a
doze filled with bits of dream which involved monstrous
landscape-glimpses. Just what awaked me I cannot yet say, but that I
did indeed awake at this given point I feel very certain. My first
confused impression was of stealthily creaking floor-boards in the hall
outside my door, and of a clumsy, muffled fumbling at the latch. This,
however, ceased almost at once; so that my really clear impressions
begin with the voices heard from the study below. There seemed to be
several speakers, and I judged that they were controversially engaged.

By the time I had listened a few seconds I was broad awake, for the
nature of the voices was such as to make all thought of sleep
ridiculous. The tones were curiously varied, and no one who had
listened to that accursed phonograph record could harbour any doubts
about the nature of at least two of them. Hideous though the idea was,
I knew that I was under the same roof with nameless things from abysmal
space; for those two voices were unmistakably the blasphemous buzzings
which the Outside Beings used in their communication with men. The two
were individually different--different in pitch, accent, and tempo--
but they were both of the same damnable general kind.

A third voice was indubitably that of a mechanical utterance-machine
connected with one of the detached brains in the cylinders. There was
as little doubt about that as about the buzzings; for the loud,
metallic, lifeless voice of the previous evening, with its
inflectionless, expressionless scraping and rattling, and its
impersonal precision and deliberation, had been utterly unforgettable.
For a time I did not pause to question whether the intelligence behind
the scraping was the identical one which had formerly talked to me; but
shortly afterward I reflected that any brain would emit vocal sounds of
the same quality if linked to the same mechanical speech-producer; the
only possible differences being in language, rhythm, speed, and
pronunciation. To complete the eldritch colloquy there were two
actually human voices--one the crude speech of an unknown and
evidently rustic man, and the other the suave Bostonian tones of my
erstwhile guide Noyes.

As I tried to catch the words which the stoutly-fashioned floor so
bafflingly intercepted, I was also conscious of a great deal of
stirring and scratching and shuffling in the room below; so that I
could not escape the impression that it was full of living beings--
many more than the few whose speech I could single out. The exact
nature of this stirring is extremely hard to describe, for very few
good bases of comparison exist. Objects seemed now and then to move
across the room like conscious entities; the sound of their footfalls
having something about it like a loose, hard-surfaced clattering--as
of the contact of ill-coordinated surfaces of horn or hard rubber. It
was, to use a more concrete but less accurate comparison, as if people
with loose, splintery wooden shoes were shambling and rattling about on
the polished board floor. Of the nature and appearance of those
responsible for the sounds, I did not care to speculate.

Before long I saw that it would be impossible to distinguish any
connected discourse. Isolated words--including the names of Akeley and
myself--now and then floated up, especially when uttered by the
mechanical speech-producer; but their true significance was lost for
want of continuous context. Today I refuse to form any definite
deductions from them, and even their frightful effect on me was one of
suggestion rather than of revelation. A terrible and abnormal conclave,
I felt certain, was assembled below me; but for what shocking
deliberations I could not tell. It was curious how this unquestioned
sense of the malign and the blasphemous pervaded me despite Akeley’s
assurances of the Outsider’s friendliness.

With patient listening I began to distinguish clearly between
voices, even though I could not grasp much of what any of the voices
said. I seemed to catch certain typical emotions behind some of the
speakers. One of the buzzing voices, for example, held an unmistakable
note of authority; whilst the mechanical voice, notwithstanding its
artificial loudness and regularity, seemed to be in a position of
subordination and pleading. Noyes’s tones exuded a kind of conciliatory
atmosphere. The others I could make no attempt to interpret. I did not
hear the familiar whisper of Akeley, but well knew that such a sound
could never penetrate the solid flooring of my room.

I will try to set down some of the few disjointed words and other
sounds I caught, labelling the speakers of the words as best I know
how. It was from the speech-machine that I first picked up a few
recognisable phrases.
(The Speech-Machine)

"...brought it on myself...sent back the letters and the record...
end on it...taken in...seeing and hearing...damn you...impersonal
force, after all...fresh, shiny cylinder...great God..."

(First Buzzing Voice)

"...time we stopped...small and human...Akeley...brain...saying..."

(Second Buzzing Voice)

"Nyarlathotep...Wilmarth...records and letters...cheap imposture..."

(Noyes)

"...(an unpronounceable word or name, possibly N’gah-Kthun)
harmless...peace...couple of weeks...theatrical...told you that
before..."

(First Buzzing Voice)

"...no reason...original plan...effects...Noyes can watch Round
Hill...fresh cylinder...Noyes’s car..."

(Noyes)

"...well...all yours...down here...rest...place..."

(Several Voices at Once in Indistinguishable Speech)

(Many Footsteps, Including the Peculiar Loose Stirring or Clattering)

(A Curious Sort of Flapping Sound)

(The Sound of an Automobile Starting and Receding)

(Silence)

That is the substance of what my ears brought me as I lay rigid upon
that strange upstairs bed in the haunted farmhouse among the daemoniac
hills--lay there fully dressed, with a revolver clenched in my right
hand and a pocket flashlight gripped in my left. I became, as I have
said, broad awake; but a kind of obscure paralysis nevertheless kept me
inert till long after the last echoes of the sounds had died away. I
heard the wooden, deliberate ticking of the ancient Connecticut clock
somewhere far below, and at last made out the irregular snoring of a
sleeper. Akeley must have dozed off after the strange session, and I
could well believe that he needed to do so.

Just what to think or what to do was more than I could decide After
all, what had I heard beyond things which previous information might
have led me to expect? Had I not known that the nameless Outsiders were
now freely admitted to the farmhouse? No doubt Akeley had been
surprised by an unexpected visit from them. Yet something in that
fragmentary discourse had chilled me immeasurably, raised the most
grotesque and horrible doubts, and made me wish fervently that I might
wake up and prove everything a dream. I think my subconscious mind must
have caught something which my consciousness has not yet recognised.
But what of Akeley? Was he not my friend, and would he not have
protested if any harm were meant me? The peaceful snoring below seemed
to cast ridicule on all my suddenly intensified fears.

Was it possible that Akeley had been imposed upon and used as a lure
to draw me into the hills with the letters and pictures and phonograph
record? Did those beings mean to engulf us both in a common destruction
because we had come to know too much? Again I thought of the abruptness
and unnaturalness of that change in the situation which must have
occurred between Akeley’s penultimate and final letters. Something, my
instinct told me, was terribly wrong. All was not as it seemed. That
acrid coffee which I refused--had there not been an attempt by some
hidden, unknown entity to drug it? I must talk to Akeley at once, and
restore his sense of proportion. They had hypnotised him with their
promises of cosmic revelations, but now he must listen to reason. We
must get out of this before it would be too late. If he lacked the will
power to make the break for liberty. I would supply it. Or if I could
not persuade him to go, I could at least go myself. Surely he would let
me take his Ford and leave it in a garage in Brattleboro. I had noticed
it in the shed--the door being left unlocked and open now that peril
was deemed past--and I believed there was a good chance of its being
ready for instant use. That momentary dislike of Akeley which I had
felt during and after the evening’s conversation was all gone now. He
was in a position much like my own, and we must stick together. Knowing
his indisposed condition, I hated to wake him at this juncture, but I
knew that I must. I could not stay in this place till morning as
matters stood.

At last I felt able to act, and stretched myself vigorously to
regain command of my muscles. Arising with a caution more impulsive
than deliberate, I found and donned my hat, took my valise, and started
downstairs with the flashlight’s aid. In my nervousness I kept the
revolver clutched in my right hand, being able to take care of both
valise and flashlight with my left. Why I exerted these precautions I
do not really know, since I was even then on my way to awaken the only
other occupant of the house.

As I half-tiptoed down the creaking stairs to the lower hall I could
hear the sleeper more plainly, and noticed that he must be in the room
on my left--the living-room I had not entered. On my right was the
gaping blackness of the study in which I had heard the voices. Pushing
open the unlatched door of the living-room I traced a path with the
flashlight toward the source of the snoring, and finally turned the
beams on the sleeper’s face. But in the next second I hastily turned
them away and commenced a catlike retreat to the hall, my caution this
time springing from reason as well as from instinct. For the sleeper on
the couch was not Akeley at all, but my quondam guide Noyes.

Just what the real situation was, I could not guess; but common
sense told me that the safest thing was to find out as much as possible
before arousing anybody. Regaining the hall, I silently closed and
latched the living-room door after me; thereby lessening the chances of
awakening Noyes. I now cautiously entered the dark study, where I
expected to find Akeley, whether asleep or awake, in the great corner
chair which was evidently his favorite resting-place. As I advanced,
the beams of my flashlight caught the great centre-table, revealing one
of the hellish cylinders with sight and hearing machines attached, and
with a speech machine standing close by, ready to be connected at any
moment. This, I reflected, must be the encased brain I had heard
talking during the frightful conference; and for a second I had a
perverse impulse to attach the speech machine and see what it would say.

It must, I thought, be conscious of my presence even now; since the
sight and hearing attachments could not fail to disclose the rays of my
flashlight and the faint creaking of the floor beneath my feet. But in
the end I did not dare meddle with the thing. I idly saw that it was
the fresh shiny cylinder with Akeley’s name on it, which I had noticed
on the shelf earlier in the evening and which my host had told me not
to bother. Looking back at that moment, I can only regret my timidity
and wish that I had boldly caused the apparatus to speak. God knows
what mysteries and horrible doubts and questions of identity it might
have cleared up! But then, it may be merciful that I let it alone.

From the table I turned my flashlight to the corner where I thought
Akeley was, but found to my perplexity that the great easy-chair was
empty of any human occupant asleep or awake. From the seat to the floor
there trailed voluminously the familiar old dressing-gown, and near it
on the floor lay the yellow scarf and the huge foot-bandages I had
thought so odd. As I hesitated, striving to conjecture where Akeley
might be, and why he had so suddenly discarded his necessary sick-room
garments, I observed that the queer odour and sense of vibration were
no longer in the room. What had been their cause? Curiously it occurred
to me that I had noticed them only in Akeley’s vicinity. They had been
strongest where he sat, and wholly absent except in the room with him
or just outside the doors of that room. I paused, letting the
flashlight wander about the dark study and racking my brain for
explanations of the turn affairs had taken.

Would to Heaven I had quietly left the place before allowing that
light to rest again on the vacant chair. As it turned out, I did not
leave quietly; but with a muffled shriek which must have disturbed,
though it did not quite awake, the sleeping sentinel across the hall.
That shriek, and Noyes’s still-unbroken snore, are the last sounds I
ever heard in that morbidity-choked farmhouse beneath the black-wooded
crest of haunted mountain--that focus of transcosmic horror amidst the
lonely green hills and curse-muttering brooks of a spectral rustic land.

It is a wonder that I did not drop flashlight, valise, and revolver
in my wild scramble, but somehow I failed to lose any of these. I
actually managed to get out of that room and that house without making
any further noise, to drag myself and my belongings safely into the old
Ford in the shed, and to set that archaic vehicle in motion toward some
unknown point of safety in the black, moonless night. The ride that
followed was a piece of delirium out of Poe or Rimbaud or the drawings
of Dore, but finally I reached Townshend. That is all. If my sanity is
still unshaken, I am lucky. Sometimes I fear what the years will bring,
especially since that new planet Pluto has been so curiously discovered.

As I have implied, I let my flashlight return to the vacant
easy-chair after its circuit of the room; then noticing for the first
time the presence of certain objects in the seat, made inconspicuous by
the adjacent loose folds of the empty dressing-gown. These are the
objects, three in number, which the investigators did not find when
they came later on. As I said at the outset, there was nothing of
actual visual horror about them. The trouble was in what they led one
to infer. Even now I have my moments of half-doubt--moments in which I
half-accept the scepticism of those who attribute my whole experience
to dream and nerves and delusion.

The three things were damnably clever constructions of their kind,
and were furnished with ingenious metallic clamps to attach them to
organic developments of which I dare not form any conjecture. I hope--
devoutly hope--that they were the waxen products of a master artist,
despite what my inmost fears tell me. Great God! That whisperer in
darkness with its morbid odour and vibrations! Sorcerer, emissary,
changeling, outsider...that hideous repressed buzzing...and all
the time in that fresh, shiny cylinder on the shelf...poor devil...
"Prodigious surgical, biological, chemical, and mechanical skill...

For the things in the chair, perfect to the last, subtle detail of
microscopic resemblance--or identity--were the face and hands of
Henry Wentworth Akeley.



* DREAMS IN THE WITCH-HOUSE


Whether the dreams brought on the fever or the fever brought on the
dreams Walter Gilman did not know. Behind everything crouched the
brooding, festering horror of the ancient town, and of the mouldy,
unhallowed garret gable where he wrote and studied and wrestled with
figures and formulae when he was not tossing on the meagre iron bed.
His ears were growing sensitive to a preternatural and intolerable
degree, and he had long ago stopped the cheap mantel clock whose
ticking had come to seem like a thunder of artillery. At night the
subtle stirring of the black city outside, the sinister scurrying of
rats in the wormy partitions, and the creaking of hidden timbers in the
centuried house, were enough to give him a sense of strident
pandemonium. The darkness always teemed with unexplained sound--and
yet he sometimes shook with fear lest the noises he heard should
subside and allow him to hear certain other fainter noises which he
suspected were lurking behind them.

He was in the changeless, legend-haunted city of Arkham, with its
clustering gambrel roofs that sway and sag over attics where witches
hid from the King's men in the dark, olden years of the Province. Nor
was any spot in that city more steeped in macabre memory than the gable
room which harboured him--for it was this house and this room which
had likewise harboured old Keziah Mason, whose flight from Salem Gaol
at the last no one was ever able to explain. That was in 1692--the
gaoler had gone mad and babbled of a small white-fanged furry thing
which scuttled out of Keziah's cell, and not even Cotton Mather could
explain the curves and angles smeared on the grey stone walls with some
red, sticky fluid.

Possibly Gilman ought not to have studied so hard. Non-Euclidean
calculus and quantum physics are enough to stretch any brain, and when
one mixes them with folklore, and tries to trace a strange background
of multi-dimensional reality behind the ghoulish hints of the Gothic
tales and the wild whispers of the chimney-corner, one can hardly
expect to be wholly free from mental tension. Gilman came from
Haverhill, but it was only after he had entered college in Arkham that
he began to connect his mathematics with the fantastic legends of elder
magic. Something in the air of the hoary town worked obscurely on his
imagination. The professors at Miskatonic had urged him to slacken up,
and had voluntarily cut down his course at several points. Moreover,
they had stopped him from consulting the dubious old books on forbidden
secrets that were kept under lock and key in a vault at the university
library. But all these precautions came late in the day, so that Gilman
had some terrible hints from the dreaded Necronomicon of Abdul
Alhazred, the fragmentary Book of Eibon, and the suppressed
Unaussprechlichen Kulten of von Junzt to correlate with his abstract
formulae on the properties of space and the linkage of dimensions known
and unknown.

He knew his room was in the old Witch-House--that, indeed, was why
he had taken it. There was much in the Essex County records about
Keziah Mason's trial, and what she had admitted under pressure to the
Court of Oyer and Terminer had fascinated Gilman beyond all reason. She
had told Judge Hathorne of lines and curves that could be made to point
out directions leading through the walls of space to other spaces
beyond, and had implied that such lines and curves were frequently used
at certain midnight meetings in the dark valley of the white stone
beyond Meadow Hill and on the unpeopled island in the river. She had
spoken also of the Black Man, of her oath, and of her new secret name
of Nahab. Then she had drawn those devices on the walls of her cell and
vanished.

Gilman believed strange things about Keziah, and had felt a queer
thrill on learning that her dwelling was still standing after more than
two hundred and thirty-five years. When he heard the hushed Arkham
whispers about Keziah's persistent presence in the old house and the
narrow streets, about the irregular human tooth-marks left on certain
sleepers in that and other houses, about the childish cries heard near
May-Eve, and Hallowmass, about the stench often noted in the old
house's attic just after those dreaded seasons, and about the small,
furry, sharp-toothed thing which haunted the mouldering structure and
the town and nuzzled people curiously in the black hours before dawn,
he resolved to live in the place at any cost. A room was easy to
secure, for the house was unpopular, hard to rent, and long given over
to cheap lodgings. Gilman could not have told what he expected to find
there, but he knew he wanted to be in the building where some
circumstance had more or less suddenly given a mediocre old woman of
the Seventeenth Century an insight into mathematical depths perhaps
beyond the utmost modern delvings of Planck, Heisenberg, Einstein, and
de Sitter.

He studied the timber and plaster walls for traces of cryptic
designs at every accessible spot where the paper had peeled, and within
a week managed to get the eastern attic room where Keziah was held to
have practised her spells. It had been vacant from the first--for no
one had ever been willing to stay there long--but the Polish landlord
had grown wary about renting it. Yet nothing whatever happened to
Gilman till about the time of the fever. No ghostly Keziah flitted
through the sombre halls and chambers, no small furry thing crept into
his dismal eyrie to nuzzle him, and no record of the witch's
incantations rewarded his constant search. Sometimes he would take
walks through shadowy tangles of unpaved musty-smelling lanes where
eldritch brown houses of unknown age leaned and tottered and leered
mockingly through narrow, small-paned windows. Here he knew strange
things had happened once, and there was a faint suggestion behind the
surface that everything of that monstrous past might not--at least in
the darkest, narrowest, and most intricately crooked alleys--have
utterly perished. He also rowed out twice to the ill-regarded island in
the river, and made a sketch of the singular angles described by the
moss-grown rows of grey standing stones whose origin was so obscure and
immemorial.

Gilman's room was of good size but queerly irregular shape; the
north wall slanting perceptibly inward from the outer to the inner end,
while the low ceiling slanted gently downward in the same direction.
Aside from an obvious rat-hole and the signs of other stopped-up ones,
there was no access--nor any appearance of a former avenue of access--
to the space which must have existed between the slanting wall and the
straight outer wall on the house's north side, though a view from the
exterior showed where a window had been boarded up at a very remote
date. The loft above the ceiling--which must have had a slanting floor
--was likewise inaccessible. When Gilman climbed up a ladder to the
cob-webbed level loft above the rest of the attic he found vestiges of
a bygone aperture tightly and heavily covered with ancient planking and
secured by the stout wooden pegs common in Colonial carpentry. No
amount of persuasion, however, could induce the stolid landlord to let
him investigate either of these two closed spaces.

As time wore along, his absorption in the irregular wall and ceiling
of his room increased; for he began to read into the odd angles a
mathematical significance which seemed to offer vague clues regarding
their purpose. Old Keziah, he reflected, might have had excellent
reasons for living in a room with peculiar angles; for was it not
through certain angles that she claimed to have gone outside the
boundaries of the world of space we know? His interest gradually veered
away from the unplumbed voids beyond the slanting surfaces, since it
now appeared that the purpose of those surfaces concerned the side he
was on.

The touch of brain-fever and the dreams began early in February. For
some time, apparently, the curious angles of Gilman's room had been
having a strange, almost hypnotic effect on him; and as the bleak
winter advanced he had found himself staring more and more intently at
the corner where the down-slanting ceiling met the inward-slanting
wall. About this period his inability to concentrate on his formal
studies worried him considerably, his apprehensions about the mid-year
examinations being very acute. But the exaggerated sense of hearing was
scarcely less annoying. Life had become an insistent and almost
unendurable cacophony, and there was that constant, terrifying
impression of other sounds--perhaps from regions beyond life--
trembling on the very brink of audibility. So far as concrete noises
went, the rats in the ancient partitions were the worst. Sometimes
their scratching seemed not only furtive but deliberate. When it came
from beyond the slanting north wall it was mixed with a sort of dry
rattling; and when it came from the century-closed loft above the
slanting ceiling Gilman always braced himself as if expecting some
horror which only bided its time before descending to engulf him
utterly.

The dreams were wholly beyond the pale of sanity, and Gilman felt
that they must be a result, jointly, of his studies in mathematics and
in folklore. He had been thinking too much about the vague regions
which his formulae told him must lie beyond the three dimensions we
know, and about the possibility that old Keziah Mason--guided by some
influence past all conjecture--had actually found the gate to those
regions. The yellowed country records containing her testimony and that
of her accusers were so damnably suggestive of things beyond human
experience--and the descriptions of the darting little furry object
which served as her familiar were so painfully realistic despite their
incredible details.

That object--no larger than a good-sized rat and quaintly called by
the townspeople "Brown Jenkin"--seemed to have been the fruit of a
remarkable case of sympathetic herd-delusion, for in 1692 no less than
eleven persons had testified to glimpsing it. There were recent
rumours, too, with a baffling and disconcerting amount of agreement.
Witnesses said it had long hair and the shape of a rat, but that its
sharp-toothed, bearded face was evilly human while its paws were like
tiny human hands. It took messages betwixt old Keziah and the devil,
and was nursed on the witch's blood, which it sucked like a vampire.
Its voice was a kind of loathsome titter, and it could speak all
languages. Of all the bizarre monstrosities in Gilman's dreams, nothing
filled him with greater panic and nausea than this blasphemous and
diminutive hybrid, whose image flitted across his vision in a form a
thousandfold more hateful than anything his waking mind had deduced
from the ancient records and the modern whispers.

Gilman's dreams consisted largely in plunges through limitless
abysses of inexplicably coloured twilight and bafflingly disordered
sound; abysses whose material and gravitational properties, and whose
relation to his own entity, he could not even begin to explain. He did
not walk or climb, fly or swim, crawl or wriggle; yet always
experienced a mode of motion partly voluntary and partly involuntary.
Of his own condition he could not well judge, for sight of his arms,
legs, and torso seemed always cut off by some odd disarrangement of
perspective; but he felt that his physical organization and faculties
were somehow marvellously transmuted and obliquely projected--though
not without a certain grotesque relationship to his normal proportions
and properties.

The abysses were by no means vacant, being crowded with
indescribably angled masses of alien-hued substance, some of which
appeared to be organic while others seemed inorganic. A few of the
organic objects tended to awake vague memories in the back of his mind,
though he could form no conscious idea of what they mockingly resembled
or suggested. In the later dreams he began to distinguish separate
categories into which the organic objects appeared to be divided, and
which seemed to involve in each case a radically different species of
conduct-pattern and basic motivation. Of these categories one seemed to
him to include objects slightly less illogical and irrelevant in their
motions than the members of the other categories.

All the objects--organic and inorganic alike--were totally beyond
description or even comprehension. Gilman sometimes compared the
inorganic matter to prisms, labyrinths, clusters of cubes and planes,
and Cyclopean buildings; and the organic things struck him variously as
groups of bubbles, octopi, centipedes, living Hindoo idols, and
intricate arabesques roused into a kind of ophidian animation.
Everything he saw was unspeakably menacing and horrible; and whenever
one of the organic entities appeared by its motions to be noticing him,
he felt a stark, hideous fright which generally jolted him awake. Of
how the organic entities moved, he could tell no more than of how he
moved himself. In time he observed a further mystery--the tendency of
certain entities to appear suddenly out of empty space, or to disappear
totally with equal suddenness. The shrieking, roaring confusion of
sound which permeated the abysses was past all analysis as to pitch,
timbre or rhythm; but seemed to be synchronous with vague visual
changes in all the indefinite objects, organic and inorganic alike.
Gilman had a constant sense of dread that it might rise to some
unbearable degree of intensity during one or another of its obscure,
relentlessly inevitable fluctuations.

But it was not in these vortices of complete alienage that he saw
Brown Jenkin. That shocking little horror was reserved for certain
lighter, sharper dreams which assailed him just before he dropped into
the fullest depths of sleep. He would be lying in the dark fighting to
keep awake when a faint lambent glow would seem to shimmer around the
centuried room, showing in a violet mist the convergence of angled
planes which had seized his brain so insidiously. The horror would
appear to pop out of the rat-hole in the corner and patter toward him
over the sagging, wide-planked floor with evil expectancy in its tiny,
bearded human face; but mercifully, this dream always melted away
before the object got close enough to nuzzle him. It had hellishly
long, sharp, canine teeth; Gilman tried to stop up the rat-hole every
day, but each night the real tenants of the partitions would gnaw away
the obstruction, whatever it might be. Once he had the landlord nail a
tin over it, but the next night the rats gnawed a fresh hole, in making
which they pushed or dragged out into the room a curious little
fragment of bone.

Gilman did not report his fever to the doctor, for he knew he could
not pass the examinations if ordered to the college infirmary when
every moment was needed for cramming. As it was, he failed in Calculus
D and Advanced General Psychology, though not without hope of making up
lost ground before the end of the term.

It was in March when the fresh element entered his lighter
preliminary dreaming, and the nightmare shape of Brown Jenkin began to
be companioned by the nebulous blur which grew more and more to
resemble a bent old woman. This addition disturbed him more than he
could account for, but finally he decided that it was like an ancient
crone whom he had twice actually encountered in the dark tangle of
lanes near the abandoned wharves. On those occasions the evil,
sardonic, and seemingly unmotivated stare of the beldame had set him
almost shivering--especially the first time when an overgrown rat
darting across the shadowed mouth of a neighbouring alley had made him
think irrationally of Brown Jenkin. Now, he reflected, those nervous
fears were being mirrored in his disordered dreams. That the influence
of the old house was unwholesome he could not deny, but traces of his
early morbid interest still held him there. He argued that the fever
alone was responsible for his nightly fantasies, and that when the
touch abated he would be free from the monstrous visions. Those
visions, however, were of absorbing vividness and convincingness, and
whenever he awaked he retained a vague sense of having undergone much
more than he remembered. He was hideously sure that in unrecalled
dreams he had talked with both Brown Jenkin and the old woman, and that
they had been urging him to go somewhere with them and to meet a third
being of greater potency.

Toward the end of March he began to pick up in his mathematics,
though the other studies bothered him increasingly. He was getting an
intuitive knack for solving Riemannian equations, and astonished
Professor Upham by his comprehension of fourth-dimensional and other
problems which had floored all the rest of the class. One afternoon
there was a discussion of possible freakish curvatures in space, and of
theoretical points of approach or even contact between our part of the
cosmos and various other regions as distant as the farthest stars or
the transgalactic gulfs themselves--or even as fabulously remote as
the tentatively conceivable cosmic units beyond the whole Einsteinian
space-time continuum. Gilman's handling of this theme filled everyone
with admiration, even though some of his hypothetical illustrations
caused an increase in the always plentiful gossip about his nervous and
solitary eccentricity. What made the students shake their heads was his
sober theory that a man might--given mathematical knowledge admittedly
beyond all likelihood of human acquirement--step deliberately from the
earth to any other celestial body which might lie at one of an infinity
of specific points in the cosmic pattern.

Such a step, he said, would require only two stages; first, a
passage out of the three-dimensional sphere we know, and second, a
passage back to the three-dimensional sphere at another point, perhaps
one of infinite remoteness. That this could be accomplished without
loss of life was in many cases conceivable. Any being from any part of
three-dimensional space could probably survive in the fourth dimension;
and its survival of the second stage would depend upon what alien part
of three-dimensional space it might select for its re-entry. Denizens
of some planets might be able to live on certain others--even planets
belonging to other galaxies, or to similar dimensional phases of other
space-time continua--though of course there must be vast numbers of
mutually uninhabitable even though mathematically juxtaposed bodies or
zones of space.

It was also possible that the inhabitants of a given dimensional
realm could survive entry to many unknown and incomprehensible realms
of additional or indefinitely multiplied dimensions--be they within or
outside the given space-time continuum--and that the converse would be
likewise true. This was a matter for speculation, though one could be
fairly certain that the type of mutation involved in a passage from any
given dimensional plane to the next higher one would not be destructive
of biological integrity as we understand it. Gilman could not be very
clear about his reasons for this last assumption, but his haziness here
was more than overbalanced by his clearness on other complex points.
Professor Upham especially liked his demonstration of the kinship of
higher mathematics to certain phases of magical lore transmitted down
the ages from an ineffable antiquity--human or pre-human--whose
knowledge of the cosmos and its laws was greater than ours.

Around 1 April Gilman worried considerably because his slow fever did
not abate. He was also troubled by what some of his fellow lodgers said
about his sleep-walking. It seemed that he was often absent from his
bed and that the creaking of his floor at certain hours of the night
was remarked by the man in the room below. This fellow also spoke of
hearing the tread of shod feet in the night; but Gilman was sure he
must have been mistaken in this, since shoes as well as other apparel
were always precisely in place in the morning. One could develop all
sorts of aural delusions in this morbid old house--for did not Gilman
himself, even in daylight, now feel certain that noises other than
rat-scratching came from the black voids beyond the slanting wall and
above the slanting ceiling? His pathologically sensitive ears began to
listen for faint footfalls in the immemorially sealed loft overhead,
and sometimes the illusion of such things was agonizingly realistic.

However, he knew that he had actually become a somnambulist; for
twice at night his room had been found vacant, though with all his
clothing in place. Of this he had been assured by Frank Elwood, the one
fellow-student whose poverty forced him to room in this squalid and
unpopular house. Elwood had been studying in the small hours and had
come up for help on a differential equation, only to find Gilman
absent. It had been rather presumptuous of him to open the unlocked
door after knocking had failed to rouse a response, but he had needed
the help very badly and thought that his host would not mind a gentle
prodding awake. On neither occasion, though, had Gilman been there; and
when told of the matter he wondered where he could have been wandering,
barefoot and with only his night clothes on. He resolved to investigate
the matter if reports of his sleep-walking continued, and thought of
sprinkling flour on the floor of the corridor to see where his
footsteps might lead. The door was the only conceivable egress, for
there was no possible foothold outside the narrow window.

As April advanced, Gilman's fever-sharpened ears were disturbed by
the whining prayers of a superstitious loom-fixer named Joe Mazurewicz
who had a room on the ground floor. Mazurewicz had told long, rambling
stories about the ghost of old Keziah and the furry sharp-fanged,
nuzzling thing, and had said he was so badly haunted at times that only
his silver crucifix--given him for the purpose by Father Iwanicki of
St. Stanislaus' Church--could bring him relief. Now he was praying
because the Witches' Sabbath was drawing near. May Eve was Walpurgis
Night, when hell's blackest evil roamed the earth and all the slaves of
Satan gathered for nameless rites and deeds. It was always a very bad
time in Arkham, even though the fine folks up in Miskatonic Avenue and
High and Saltonstall Streets pretended to know nothing about it. There
would be bad doings, and a child or two would probably be missing. Joe
knew about such things, for his grandmother in the old country had
heard tales from her grandmother. It was wise to pray and count one's
beads at this season. For three months Keziah and Brown Jenkin had not
been near Joe's room, nor near Paul Choynski's room, nor anywhere else
--and it meant no good when they held off like that. They must be up to
something.

Gilman dropped in at the doctor's office on the sixteenth of the
month, and was surprised to find his temperature was not as high as he
had feared. The physician questioned him sharply, and advised him to
see a nerve specialist. On reflection, he was glad he had not consulted
the still more inquisitive college doctor. Old Waldron, who had
curtailed his activities before, would have made him take a rest--an
impossible thing now that he was so close to great results in his
equations. He was certainly near the boundary between the known
universe and the fourth dimension, and who could say how much farther
he might go?

But even as these thoughts came to him he wondered at the source of
his strange confidence. Did all of this perilous sense of immininence
come from the formulae on the sheets he covered day by day? The soft,
stealthy, imaginary footsteps in the sealed loft above were unnerving.
And now, too, there was a growing feeling that somebody was constantly
persuading him to do something terrible which he could not do. How
about the somnambulism? Where did he go sometimes in the night? And
what was that faint suggestion of sound which once in a while seemed to
trickle through the confusion of identifiable sounds even in broad
daylight and full wakefulness? Its rhythm did not correspond to
anything on earth, unless perhaps to the cadence of one or two
unmentionable Sabbat-chants, and sometimes he feared it corresponded to
certain attributes of the vague shrieking or roaring in those wholly
alien abysses of dream.

The dreams were meanwhile getting to be atrocious. In the lighter
preliminary phase the evil old woman was now of fiendish distinctness,
and Gilman knew she was the one who had frightened him in the slums.
Her bent back, long nose, and shrivelled chin were unmistakable, and
her shapeless brown garments were like those he remembered. The
expression on her face was one of hideous malevolence and exultation,
and when he awaked he could recall a croaking voice that persuaded and
threatened. He must meet the Black Man and go with them all to the
throne of Azathoth at the centre of ultimate chaos. That was what she
said. He must sign the book of Azathoth in his own blood and take a new
secret name now that his independent delvings had gone so far. What
kept him from going with her and Brown Jenkin and the other to the
throne of Chaos where the thin flutes pipe mindlessly was the fact that
he had seen the name "Azathoth" in the Necronomicon, and knew it stood
for a primal evil too horrible for description.

The old woman always appeared out of thin air near the corner where
the downward slant met the inward slant. She seemed to crystallize at a
point closer to the ceiling than to the floor, and every night she was
a little nearer and more distinct before the dream shifted. Brown
Jenkin, too was always a little nearer at the last, and its
yellowish-white fangs glistened shockingly in that unearthly violet
phosphorescence. Its shrill loathsome tittering struck more and more
into Gilman's head, and he could remember in the morning how it had
pronounced the words "Azathoth" and "Nyarlathotep".

In the deeper dreams everything was likewise more distinct, and
Gilman felt that the twilight abysses around him were those of the
fourth dimension. Those organic entities whose motions seemed least
flagrantly irrelevant and unmotivated were probably projections of
life-forms from our own planet, including human beings. What the others
were in their own dimensional sphere or spheres he dared not try to
think. Two of the less irrelevantly moving things--a rather large
congeries of iridescent, prolately spheroidal bubbles and a very much
smaller polyhedron of unknown colours and rapidly shifting surface
angles--seemed to take notice of him and follow him about or float
ahead as he changed position among the titan prisms, labyrinths,
cube-and-plane clusters and quasi-buildings; and all the while the
vague shrieking and roaring waxed louder and louder, as if approaching
some monstrous climax of utterly unendurable intensity.

During the night of 19-20 April the new development occurred. Gilman
was half involuntarily moving about in the twilight abysses with the
bubble-mass and the small polyhedron floating ahead when he noticed the
peculiarly regular angles formed by the edges of some gigantic
neighbouring prism-clusters. In another second he was out of the abyss
and standing tremulously on a rocky hillside bathed in intense,
diffused green light. He was barefooted and in his nightclothes. and
when he tried to walk discovered that he could scarcely lift his feet.
A swirling vapour hid everything but the immediate sloping terrain from
sight, and he shrank from the thought of the sounds, that might surge
out of that vapour.

Then he saw the two shapes laboriously crawling toward him--the old
woman and the little furry thing. The crone strained up to her knees
and managed to cross her arms in a singular fashion, while Brown Jenkin
pointed in a certain direction with a horribly anthropoid forepaw which
it raised with evident difficulty. Spurred by an impulse he did not
originate, Gilman dragged himself forward along a course determined by
the angle of the old woman's arms and the direction of the small
monstrosity's paw, and before he had shuffled three steps he was back
in the twilight abysses. Geometrical shapes seethed around him, and he
fell dizzily and interminably. At last he woke in his bed in the
crazily angled garret of the eldritch old house.

He was good for nothing that morning, and stayed away from all his
classes. Some unknown attraction was pulling his eyes in a seemingly
irrelevant direction, for he could not help staring at a certain vacant
spot on the floor. As the day advanced, the focus of his unseeing eyes
changed position, and by noon he had conquered the impulse to stare at
vacancy. About two o'clock he went out for lunch and as he threaded the
narrow lanes of the city he found himself turning always to the
southeast. Only an effort halted him at a cafeteria in Church Street,
and after the meal he felt the unknown pull still more strongly.

He would have to consult a nerve specialist after all--perhaps
there was a connection with his somnambulism--but meanwhile he might
at least try to break the morbid spell himself. Undoubtedly he could
still manage to walk away from the pull, so with great resolution he
headed against it and dragged himself deliberately north along Garrison
Street. By the time he had reached the bridge over the Miskatonic he
was in a cold perspiration, and he clutched at the iron railing as he
gazed upstream at the ill-regarded island whose regular lines of
ancient standing stones brooded sullenly in the afternoon sunlight.

Then he gave a start. For there was a clearly visible living figure
on that desolate island, and a second glance told him it was certainly
the strange old woman whose sinister aspect had worked itself so
disastrously into his dreams. The tall grass near her was moving, too,
as if some other living thing were crawling close to the ground. When
the old woman began to turn toward him he fled precipitately off the
bridge and into the shelter of the town's labyrinthine waterfront
alleys. Distant though the island was, he felt that a monstrous and
invincible evil could flow from the sardonic stare of that bent,
ancient figure in brown.

The southeastwards pull still held, and only with tremendous
resolution could Gilman drag himself into the old house and up the
rickety stairs. For hours he sat silent and aimless, with his eyes
shifting gradually westward. About six o'clock his sharpened ears
caught the whining prayers of Joe Mazurewicz two floors below, and in
desperation he seized his hat and walked out into the sunset-golden
streets, letting the now directly southward pull carry him where it
might. An hour later darkness found him in the open fields beyond
Hangman's Brook, with the glimmering spring stars shining ahead. The
urge to walk was gradually changing to an urge to leap mystically into
space, and suddenly he realized just where the source of the pull lay.

It was in the sky. A definite point among the stars had a claim on
him and was calling him. Apparently it was a point somewhere between
Hydra and Argo Navis, and he knew that he had been urged toward it ever
since he had awaked soon after dawn. In the morning it had been
underfoot, and now it was roughly south but stealing toward the west.
What was the meaning of this new thing? Was he going mad? How long
would it last? Again mustering his resolution, Gilman turned and
dragged himself back to the sinister old house.

Mazurewicz was waiting for him at the door, and seemed both anxious
and reluctant to whisper some fresh bit of superstition. It was about
the witch-light. Joe had been out celebrating the night before--and it
was Patriots' Day in Massachusetts--and had come home after midnight.
Looking up at the house from outside, he had thought at first that
Gilman's window was dark, but then he had seen the faint violet glow
within. He wanted to warn the gentleman about that glow, for everybody
in Arkham knew it was Keziah's witch-light which played near Brown
Jenkin and the ghost of the old crone herself. He had not mentioned
this before, but now he must tell about it because it meant that Keziah
and her long-toothed familiar were haunting the young gentleman.
Sometimes he and Paul Choynski and Landlord Dombrowski thought they saw
that light seeping out of cracks in the sealed loft above the young
gentleman's room, but they had all agreed not to talk about that.
However, it would be better for the gentleman to take another room and
get a crucifix from some good priest like Father Iwanicki.

As the man rambled on, Gilman felt a nameless panic clutch at his
throat. He knew that Joe must have been half drunk when he came home
the night before; yet the mention of a violet light in the garret
window was of frightful import. It was a lambent glow of this sort
which always played about the old woman and the small furry thing in
those lighter, sharper dreams which prefaced his plunge into unknown
abysses, and the thought that a wakeful second person could see the
dream-luminance was utterly beyond sane harborage. Yet where had the
fellow got such an odd notion? Had he himself talked as well as walked
around the house in his sleep? No, Joe said, he had not--but he must
check up on this. Perhaps Frank Elwood could tell him something, though
he hated to ask.

Fever--wild dreams--somnambulism--illusions of sounds--a pull
toward a point in the sky--and now a suspicion of insane
sleep-talking! He must stop studying, see a nerve specialist, and take
himself in hand. When he climbed to the second storey he paused at
Elwood's door but saw that the other youth was out. Reluctantly he
continued up to his garret room and sat down in the dark. His gaze was
still pulled to the southward, but he also found himself listening
intently for some sound in the closed loft above, and half imagining
that an evil violet light seeped down through an infinitesimal crack in
the low, slanting ceiling.

That night as Gilman slept, the violet light broke upon him with
heightened intensity, and the old witch and small furry thing, getting
closer than ever before, mocked him with inhuman squeals and devilish
gestures. He was glad to sink into the vaguely roaring twilight
abysses, though the pursuit of that iridescent bubble-congeries and
that kaleidoscopic little polyhedron was menacing and irritating. Then
came the shift as vast converging planes of a slippery-looking
substance loomed above and below him--a shift which ended in a flash
of delirium and a blaze of unknown, alien light in which yellow,
carmine, and indigo were madly and inextricably blended.

He was half lying on a high, fantastically balustraded terrace above
a boundless jungle of outlandish, incredible peaks, balanced planes,
domes, minarets, horizontal disks poised on pinnacles, and numberless
forms of still greater wildness--some of stone and some of metal--
which glittered gorgeously in the mixed, almost blistering glare from a
poly-chromatic sky. Looking upward he saw three stupendous disks of
flame, each of a different hue, and at a different height above an
infinitely distant curving horizon of low mountains. Behind him tiers
of higher terraces towered aloft as far as he could see. The city below
stretched away to the limits of vision, and he hoped that no sound
would well up from it.

The pavement from which he easily raised himself was a veined
polished stone beyond his power to identify, and the tiles were cut in
bizarre-angled shapes which struck him as less asymmetrical than based
on some unearthly symmetry whose laws he could not comprehend. The
balustrade was chest-high, delicate, and fantastically wrought, while
along the rail were ranged at short intervals little figures of
grotesque design and exquisite workmanship. They, like the whole
balustrade, seemed to be made of some sort of shining metal whose
colour could not be guessed in the chaos of mixed effulgences, and
their nature utterly defied conjecture. They represented some ridged
barrel-shaped objects with thin horizontal arms radiating spoke-like
from a central ring and with vertical knobs or bulbs projecting from
the head and base of the barrel. Each of these knobs was the hub of a
system of five long, flat, triangularly tapering arms arranged around
it like the arms of a starfish--nearly horizontal, but curving
slightly away from the central barrel. The base of the bottom knob was
fused to the long railing with so delicate a point of contact that
several figures had been broken off and were missing. The figures were
about four and a half inches in height, while the spiky arms gave them
a maximum diameter of about two and a half inches.

When Gilman stood up, the tiles felt hot to his bare feet. He was
wholly alone, and his first act was to walk to the balustrade and look
dizzily down at the endless, Cyclopean city almost two thousand feet
below. As he listened he thought a rhythmic confusion of faint musical
pipings covering a wide tonal range welled up from the narrow streets
beneath, and he wished he might discern the denizens of the place. The
sight turned him giddy after a while, so that he would have fallen to
the pavement had he not clutched instinctively at the lustrous
balustrade. His right hand fell on one of the projecting figures, the
touch seeming to steady him slightly. It was too much, however, for the
exotic delicacy of the metal-work, and the spiky figure snapped off
under his grasp. Still half dazed, he continued to clutch it as his
other hand seized a vacant space on the smooth railing.

But now his over-sensitive ears caught something behind him, and he
looked back across the level terrace. Approaching him softly though
without apparent furtiveness were five figures, two of which were the
sinister old woman and the fanged, furry little animal. The other three
were what sent him unconscious; for they were living entities about
eight feet high, shaped precisely like the spiky images on the
balustrade, and propelling themselves by a spider-like wriggling of
their lower set of starfish-arms.

Gilman awoke in his bed, drenched by a cold perspiration and with a
smarting sensation in his face, hands and feet. Springing to the floor,
he washed and dressed in frantic haste, as if it were necessary for him
to get out of the house as quickly as possible. He did not know where
he wished to go, but felt that once more he would have to sacrifice his
classes. The odd pull toward that spot in the sky between Hydra and
Argo had abated, but another of even greater strength had taken its
place. Now he felt that he must go north--infinitely north. He dreaded
to cross the bridge that gave a view of the desolate island in the
Miskatonic, so went over the Peabody Avenue bridge. Very often he
stumbled, for his eyes and ears were chained to an extremely lofty
point in the blank blue sky.

After about an hour he got himself under better control, and saw
that he was far from the city. All around him stretched the bleak
emptiness of salt marshes, while the narrow road ahead led to Innsmouth
--that ancient, half-deserted town which Arkham people were so
curiously unwilling to visit. Though the northward pull had not
diminished, he resisted it as he had resisted the other pull, and
finally found that he could almost balance the one against the other.
Plodding back to town and getting some coffee at a soda fountain, he
dragged himself into the public library and browsed aimlessly among the
lighter magazines. Once he met some friends who remarked how oddly
sunburned he looked, but he did not tell them of his walk. At three
o'clock he took some lunch at a restaurant, noting meanwhile that the
pull had either lessened or divided itself. After that he killed the
time at a cheap cinema show, seeing the inane performance over and over
again without paying any attention to it.

About nine at night he drifted homeward and shuffled into the
ancient house. Joe Mazurewicz was whining unintelligible prayers, and
Gilman hastened up to his own garret chamber without pausing to see if
Elwood was in. It was when he turned on the feeble electric light that
the shock came. At once he saw there was something on the table which
did not belong there, and a second look left no room for doubt. Lying
on its side--for it could not stand up alone--was the exotic spiky
figure which in his monstrous dream he had broken off the fantastic
balustrade. No detail was missing. The ridged, barrel-shaped center,
the thin radiating arms, the knobs at each end, and the flat, slightly
outward-curving starfish-arms spreading from those knobs--all were
there. In the electric light the colour seemed to be a kind of
iridescent grey veined with green; and Gilman could see amidst his
horror and bewilderment that one of the knobs ended in a jagged break,
corresponding to its former point of attachment to the dream-railing.

Only his tendency toward a dazed stupor prevented him from screaming
aloud. This fusion of dream and reality was too much to bear. Still
dazed, he clutched at the spiky thing and staggered downstairs to
Landlord Dombrowski's quarters. The whining prayers of the
superstitious loom-fixer were still sounding through the mouldy halls,
but Gilman did not mind them now. The landlord was in, and greeted him
pleasantly. No, he had not seen that thing before and did not know
anything about it. But his wife had said she found a funny tin thing in
one of the beds when she fixed the rooms at noon, and maybe that was
it. Dombrowski called her, and she waddled in. Yes, that was the thing.
She had found it in the young gentleman's bed--on the side next the
wall. It had looked very queer to her, but of course the young
gentleman had lots of queer things in his room--books and curios and
pictures and markings on paper. She certainly knew nothing about it.

So Gilman climbed upstairs again in mental turmoil, convinced that
he was either still dreaming or that his somnambulism had run to
incredible extremes and led him to depredations in unknown places.
Where had he got this outré thing? He did not recall seeing it in any
museum in Arkham. It must have been somewhere, though; and the sight of
it as he snatched it in his sleep must have caused the odd
dream-picture of the balustraded terrace. Next day he would make some
very guarded inquiries--and perhaps see the nerve specialist.

Meanwhile he would try to keep track of his somnambulism. As he went
upstairs and across the garret hall he sprinkled about some flour which
he had borrowed--with a frank admission as to its purpose--from the
landlord. He had stopped at Elwood's door on the way, but had found all
dark within. Entering his room, he placed the spiky thing on the table,
and lay down in complete mental and physical exhaustion without pausing
to undress. From the closed loft above the slanting ceiling he thought
he heard a faint scratching and padding, but he was too disorganized
even to mind it. That cryptical pull from the north was getting very
strong again, though it seemed now to come from a lower place in the
sky.

In the dazzling violet light of dream the old woman and the fanged,
furry thing came again and with a greater distinctness than on any
former occasion. This time they actually reached him, and he felt the
crone's withered claws clutching at him. He was pulled out of bed and
into empty space, and for a moment he heard a rhythmic roaring and saw
the twilight amorphousness of the vague abysses seething around him.
But that moment was very brief, for presently he was in a crude,
windowless little space with rough beams and planks rising to a peak
just above his head, and with a curious slanting floor underfoot.
Propped level on that floor were low cases full of books of every
degree of antiquity and disintegration, and in the centre were a table
and bench, both apparently fastened in place. Small objects of unknown
shape and nature were ranged on the tops of the cases, and in the
flaming violet light Gilman thought he saw a counterpart of the spiky
image which had puzzled him so horribly. On the left the floor fell
abruptly away, leaving a black triangular gulf out of which, after a
second's dry rattling, there presently climbed the hateful little furry
thing with the yellow fangs and bearded human face.

The evilly-grinning beldame still clutched him, and beyond the table
stood a figure he had never seen before--a tall, lean man of dead
black colouration but without the slightest sign of negroid features:
wholly devoid of either hair or beard, and wearing as his only garment
a shapeless robe of some heavy black fabric. His feet were
indistinguishable because of the table and bench, but he must have been
shod, since there was a clicking whenever he changed position. The man
did not speak, and bore no trace of expression on his small, regular
features. He merely pointed to a book of prodigious size which lay open
on the table, while the beldame thrust a huge grey quill into Gilman's
right hand. Over everything was a pall of intensely maddening fear, and
the climax was reached when the furry thing ran up the dreamer's
clothing to his shoulders and then down his left arm, finally biting
him sharply in the wrist just below his cuff. As the blood spurted from
this wound Gilman lapsed into a faint.

He awaked on the morning of the twenty-second with a pain in his
left wrist, and saw that his cuff was brown with dried blood. His
recollections were very confused, but the scene with the black man in
the unknown space stood out vividly. The rats must have bitten him as
he slept, giving rise to the climax of that frightful dream. Opening
the door, he saw that the flour on the corridor floor was undisturbed
except for the huge prints of the loutish fellow who roomed at the
other end of the garret. So he had not been sleep-walking this time.
But something would have to be done about those rats. He would speak to
the landlord about them. Again he tried to stop up the hole at the base
of the slanting wall, wedging in a candlestick which seemed of about
the right size. His ears were ringing horribly, as if with the residual
echoes of some horrible noise heard in dreams.

As he bathed and changed clothes he tried to recall what he had
dreamed after the scene in the violet-litten space, but nothing
definite would crystallize in his mind. That scene itself must have
corresponded to the sealed loft overhead, which had begun to attack his
imagination so violently, but later impressions were faint and hazy.
There were suggestions of the vague, twilight abysses, and of still
vaster, blacker abysses beyond them--abysses in which all fixed
suggestions were absent. He had been taken there by the
bubble-congeries and the little polyhedron which always dogged him; but
they, like himself, had changed to wisps of mist in this farther void
of ultimate blackness. Something else had gone on ahead--a larger wisp
which now and then condensed into nameless approximations of form--and
he thought that their progress had not been in a straight line, but
rather along the alien curves and spirals of some ethereal vortex which
obeyed laws unknown to the physics and mathematics of any conceivable
cosmos. Eventually there had been a hint of vast, leaping shadows, of a
monstrous, half-acoustic pulsing, and of the thin, monotonous piping of
an unseen flute--but that was all. Gilman decided he had picked up
that last conception from what he had read in the Necronomicon about
the mindless entity Azathoth, which rules all time and space from a
black throne at the centre of Chaos.

When the blood was washed away the wrist wound proved very slight,
and Gilman puzzled over the location of the two tiny punctures. It
occurred to him that there was no blood on the bedspread where he had
lain--which was very curious in view of the amount on his skin and
cuff. Had he been sleep-walking within his room, and had the rat bitten
him as he sat in some chair or paused in some less rational position?
He looked in every corner for brownish drops or stains, but did not
find any. He had better, he thought, sprinkle flour within the room as
well as outside the door--though after all no further proof of his
sleep-walking was needed. He knew he did walk and the thing to do now
was to stop it. He must ask Frank Elwood for help. This morning the
strange pulls from space seemed lessened, though they were replaced by
another sensation even more inexplicable. It was a vague, insistent
impulse to fly away from his present situation, but held not a hint of
the specific direction in which he wished to fly. As he picked up the
strange spiky image on the table he thought the older northward pull
grew a trifle stronger; but even so, it was wholly overruled by the
newer and more bewildering urge.

He took the spiky image down to Elwood's room, steeling himself
against the whines of the loom-fixer which welled up from the ground
floor. Elwood was in, thank heaven, and appeared to be stirring about.
There was time for a little conversation before leaving for breakfast
and college, so Gilman hurriedly poured forth an account of his recent
dreams and fears. His host was very sympathetic, and agreed that
something ought to be done. He was shocked by his guest's drawn,
haggard aspect, and noticed the queer, abnormal-looking sunburn which
others had remarked during the past week.

There was not much, though, that he could say. He had not seen
Gilman on any sleep-walking expedition, and had no idea what the
curious image could be. He had, though, heard the French-Canadian who
lodged just under Gilman talking to Mazurewicz one evening. They were
telling each other how badly they dreaded the coming of Walpurgis
Night, now only a few days off; and were exchanging pitying comments
about the poor, doomed young gentleman. Desrochers, the fellow under
Gilman's room, had spoken of nocturnal footsteps shod and unshod, and
of the violet light he saw one night when he had stolen fearfully up to
peer through Gilman's keyhole. He had not dared to peer, he told
Mazurewicz, after he had glimpsed that light through the cracks around
the door. There had been soft talking, too--and as he began to
describe it his voice had sunk to an inaudible whisper.

Elwood could not imagine what had set these superstitious creatures
gossiping, but supposed their imaginations had been roused by Gilman's
late hours and somnolent walking and talking on the one hand, and by
the nearness of traditionally-feared May Eve on the other hand. That
Gilman talked in his sleep was plain, and it was obviously from
Desrochers' keyhole listenings that the delusive notion of the violet
dream-light had got abroad. These simple people were quick to imagine
they had seen any odd thing they had heard about. As for a plan of
action--Gilman had better move down to Elwood's room and avoid
sleeping alone. Elwood would, if awake, rouse him whenever he began to
talk or rise in his sleep. Very soon, too, he must see the specialist.
Meanwhile they would take the spiky image around to the various museums
and to certain professors; seeking identification and stating that it
had been found in a public rubbish-can. Also, Dombrowski must attend to
the poisoning of those rats in the walls.

Braced up by Elwood's companionship, Gilman attended classes that
day. Strange urges still tugged at him, but he could sidetrack them
with considerable success. During a free period he showed the queer
image to several professors, all of whom were intensely interested,
though none of them could shed any light upon its nature or origin.
That night he slept on a couch which Elwood had had the landlord bring
to the second-storey room, and for the first time in weeks was wholly
free from disquieting dreams. But the feverishness still hung on, and
the whines of the loom-fixer were an unnerving influence.

During the next few days Gilman enjoyed an almost perfect immunity
from morbid manifestations. He had, Elwood said, showed no tendency to
talk or rise in his sleep; and meanwhile the landlord was putting
rat-poison everywhere. The only disturbing element was the talk among
the superstitious foreigners, whose imaginations had become highly
excited. Mazurewicz was always trying to make him get a crucifix, and
finally forced one upon him which he said had been blessed by the good
Father Iwanicki. Desrochers, too, had something to say; in fact, he
insisted that cautious steps had sounded in the now vacant room above
him on the first and second nights of Gilinan's absence from it. Paul
Choynski thought he heard sounds in the halls and on the stairs at
night, and claimed that his door had been softly tried, while Mrs.
Dombrowski vowed she had seen Brown Jenkin for the first time since
All-Hallows. But such naïve reports could mean very little, and Gilman
let the cheap metal crucifix hang idly from a knob on his host's
dresser.

For three days Gilman and Elwood canvassed the local museums in an
effort to identify the strange spiky image, but always without success.
In every quarter, however, interest was intense; for the utter alienage
of the thing was a tremendous challenge to scientific curiosity. One of
the small radiating arms was broken off and subjected to chemical
analysis. Professor Ellery found platinum, iron and tellurium in the
strange alloy; but mixed with these were at least three other apparent
elements of high atomic weight which chemistry was absolutely powerless
to classify. Not only did they fail to correspond with any known
element, but they did not even fit the vacant places reserved for
probable elements in the periodic system. The mystery remains unsolved
to this day, though the image is on exhibition at the museum of
Miskatonic University.

On the morning of April twenty-seventh a fresh rat-hole appeared in
the room where Gilman was a guest, but Dombrowski tinned it up during
the day. The poison was not having much effect, for scratchings and
scurryings in the walls were virtually undiminished.

Elwood was out late that night, and Gilman waited up for him. He did
not wish to go to sleep in a room alone--especially since he thought
he had glimpsed in the evening twilight the repellent old woman whose
image had become so horribly transferred to his dreams. He wondered who
she was, and what had been near her rattling the tin can in a
rubbish-heap at the mouth of a squalid courtyard. The crone had seemed
to notice him and leer evilly at him--though perhaps this was merely
his imagination.

The next day both youths felt very tired, and knew they would sleep
like logs when night came. In the evening they drowsily discussed the
mathematical studies which had so completely and perhaps harmfully
engrossed Gilman, and speculated about the linkage with ancient magic
and folklore which seemed so darkly probable. They spoke of old Keziah
Mason, and Elwood agreed that Gilman had good scientific grounds for
thinking she might have stumbled on strange and significant
information. The hidden cults to which these witches belonged often
guarded and handed down surprising secrets from elder, forgotten eons;
and it was by no means impossible that Keziah had actually mastered the
art of passing through dimensional gates. Tradition emphasizes the
uselessness of material barriers in halting a witch's notions, and who
can say what underlies the old tales of broomstick rides through the
night?

Whether a modern student could ever gain similar powers from
mathematical research alone, was still to be seen. Success, Gilman
added, might lead to dangerous and unthinkable situations, for who
could foretell the conditions pervading an adjacent but normally
inaccessible dimension? On the other hand, the picturesque
possibilities were enormous. Time could not exist in certain belts of
space, and by entering and remaining in such a belt one might preserve
one's life and age indefinitely; never suffering organic metabolism or
deterioration except for slight amounts incurred during visits to one's
own or similar planes. One might, for example, pass into a timeless
dimension and emerge at some remote period of the earth's history as
young as before.

Whether anybody had ever managed to do this, one could hardly
conjecture with any degree of authority. Old legends are hazy and
ambiguous, and in historic times all attempts at crossing forbidden
gaps seem complicated by strange and terrible alliances with beings and
messengers from outside. There was the immemorial figure of the deputy
or messenger of hidden and terrible powers--the "Black Man" of the
witch-cult, and the "Nyarlathotep" of the Necronomicon. There was, too,
the baffling problem of the lesser messengers or intermediaries--the
quasi-animals and queer hybrids which legend depicts as witches'
familiars. As Gilman and Elwood retired, too sleepy to argue further,
they heard Joe Mazurewicz reel into the house half drunk, and shuddered
at the desperate wildness of his whining prayers.

That night Gilman saw the violet light again. In his dream he had
heard a scratching and gnawing in the partitions, and thought that
someone fumbled clumsily at the latch. Then he saw the old woman and
the small furry thing advancing toward him over the carpeted floor. The
beldame's face was alight with inhuman exultation, and the little
yellow-toothed morbidity tittered mockingly as it pointed at the
heavily-sleeping form of Elwood on the other couch across the room. A
paralysis of fear stifled all attempts to cry out. As once before, the
hideous crone seized Gilman by the shoulders, yanking him out of bed
and into empty space. Again the infinitude of the shrieking abysses
flashed past him, but in another second he thought he was in a dark,
muddy, unknown alley of foetid odors with the rotting walls of ancient
houses towering up on every hand.

Ahead was the robed black man he had seen in the peaked space in the
other dream, while from a lesser distance the old woman was beckoning
and grimacing imperiously. Brown Jenkin was rubbing itself with a kind
of affectionate playfulness around the ankles of the black man, which
the deep mud largely concealed. There was a dark open doorway on the
right, to which the black man silently pointed. Into this the grinning
crone started, dragging Gilman after her by his pajama sleeves. There
were evil-smelling staircases which creaked ominously, and on which the
old woman seemed to radiate a faint violet light; and finally a door
leading off a landing. The crone fumbled with the latch and pushed the
door open, motioning to Gilman to wait, and disappearing inside the
black aperture.

The youth's over-sensitive ears caught a hideous strangled cry, and
presently the beldame came out of the room bearing a small, senseless
form which she thrust at the dreamer as if ordering him to carry it.
The sight of this form, and the expression on its face, broke the
spell. Still too dazed to cry out, he plunged recklessly down the
noisome staircase and into the mud outside, halting only when seized
and choked by the waiting black man. As consciousness departed he heard
the faint, shrill tittering of the fanged, rat-like abnormality.

On the morning of the twenty-ninth Gilman awaked into a maelstrom of
horror. The instant he opened his eyes he knew something was terribly
wrong, for he was back in his old garret room with the slanting wall
and ceiling, sprawled on the now unmade bed. His throat was aching
inexplicably, and as he struggled to a sitting posture he saw with
growing fright that his feet and pajama bottoms were brown with caked
mud. For the moment his recollections were hopelessly hazy, but he knew
at least that he must have been sleep-walking. Elwood had been lost too
deeply in slumber to hear and stop him. On the floor were confused
muddy prints, but oddly enough they did not extend all the way to the
door. The more Gilman looked at them, the more peculiar they seemed;
for in addition to those he could recognize as his there were some
smaller, almost round markings--such as the legs of a large chair or a
table might make, except that most of them tended to be divided into
halves. There were also some curious muddy rat-tracks leading out of a
fresh hole and back into it again. Utter bewilderment and the fear of
madness racked Gilman as he staggered to the door and saw that there
were no muddy prints outside. The more he remembered of his hideous
dream the more terrified he felt, and it added to his desperation to
hear Joe Mazurewicz chanting mournfully two floors below.

Descending to Elwood's room he roused his still-sleeping host and
began telling of how he had found himself, but Elwood could form no
idea of what might really have happened. Where Gilman could have been,
how he got back to his room without making tracks in the hall, and how
the muddy, furniture-like prints came to be mixed with his in the
garret chamber, were wholly beyond conjecture. Then there were those
dark, livid marks on his throat, as if he had tried to strangle
himself. He put his hands up to them, but found that they did not even
approximately fit. While they were talking, Desrochers dropped in to
say that he had heard a terrific clattering overhead in the dark small
hours. No, there had been no one on the stairs after midnight, though
just before midnight he had heard faint footfalls in the garret, and
cautiously descending steps he did not like. It was, he added, a very
bad time of year for Arkham. The young gentleman had better be sure to
wear the crucifix Joe Mazurewicz had given him. Even the daytime was
not safe, for after dawn there had been strange sounds in the house--
especially a thin, childish wail hastily choked off.

Gilman mechanically attended classes that morning, but was wholly
unable to fix his mind on his studies. A mood of hideous apprehension
and expectancy had seized him, and he seemed to be awaiting the fall of
some annihilating blow. At noon he lunched at the University spa,
picking up a paper from the next seat as he waited for dessert. But he
never ate that dessert; for an item on the paper's first page left him
limp, wild-eyed, and able only to pay his check and stagger back to
Elwood's room.

There had been a strange kidnapping the night before in Orne's
Gangway, and the two-year-old child of a clod-like laundry worker named
Anastasia Wolejko had completely vanished from sight. The mother, it
appeared, had feared the event for some time; but the reasons she
assigned for her fear were so grotesque that no one took them
seriously. She had, she said, seen Brown Jenkin about the place now and
then ever since early in March, and knew from its grimaces and
titterings that little Ladislas must be marked for sacrifice at the
awful Sabbat on Walpurgis Night. She had asked her neighbour Mary
Czanek to sleep in the room and try to protect the child, but Mary had
not dared. She could not tell the police, for they never believed such
things. Children had been taken that way every year ever since she
could remember. And her friend Pete Stowacki would not help because he
wanted the child out of the way.

But what threw Gilman into a cold perspiration was the report of a
pair of revellers who had been walking past the mouth of the gangway
just after midnight. They admitted they had been drunk, but both vowed
they had seen a crazily dressed trio furtively entering the dark
passageway. There had, they said, been a huge robed negro, a little old
woman in rags, and a young white man in his night-clothes. The old
woman had been dragging the youth, while around the feet of the negro a
tame rat was rubbing and weaving in the brown mud.

Gilman sat in a daze all the afternoon, and Elwood--who had
meanwhile seen the papers and formed terrible conjectures from them--
found him thus when he came home. This time neither could doubt but
that something hideously serious was closing in around them. Between
the phantasms of nightmare and the realities of the objective world a
monstrous and unthinkable relationship was crystallizing, and only
stupendous vigilance could avert still more direful developments.
Gilman must see a specialist sooner or later, but not just now, when
all the papers were full of this kidnapping business.

Just what had really happened was maddeningly obscure, and for a
moment both Gilman and Elwood exchanged whispered theories of the
wildest kind. Had Gilman unconsciously succeeded better than he knew in
his studies of space and its dimensions? Had he actually slipped
outside our sphere to points unguessed and unimaginable? Where--if
anywhere--had he been on those nights of demoniac alienage? The
roaring twilight abysses--the green hillside--the blistering terrace
--the pulls from the stars--the ultimate black vortex--the black man
--the muddy alley and the stairs--the old witch and the fanged, furry
horror--the bubble-congeries and the little polyhedron--the strange
sunburn--the wrist-wound--the unexplained image--the muddy feet--
the throat marks--the tales and fears of the superstitious foreigners
--what did all this mean? To what extent could the laws of sanity apply
to such a case?

There was no sleep for either of them that night, but next day they
both cut classes and drowsed. This was April thirtieth, and with the
dusk would come the hellish Sabbat-time which all the foreigners and
the superstitious old folk feared. Mazurewicz came home at six o'clock
and said people at the mill were whispering that the Walpurgis revels
would be held in the dark ravine beyond Meadow Hill where the old white
stone stands in a place queerly devoid of all plant-life. Some of them
had even told the police and advised them to look there for the missing
Wolejko child, but they did not believe anything would be done. Joe
insisted that the poor young gentleman wear his nickel-chained
crucifix, and Gilman put it on and dropped it inside his shirt to
humour the fellow.

Late at night the two youths sat drowsing in their chairs, lulled by
the praying of the loom-fixer on the floor below. Gilman listened as he
nodded, his preternaturally sharpened hearing seeming to strain for
some subtle, dreaded murmur beyond the noises in the ancient house.
Unwholesome recollections of things in the Necronomicon and the Black
Book welled up, and he found himself swaying to infandous rhythms said
to pertain to the blackest ceremonies of the Sabbat and to have an
origin outside the time and space we comprehend.

Presently he realized what he was listening for--the hellish chant
of the celebrants in the distant black valley. How did he know so much
about what they expected? How did he know the time when Nahab and her
acolyte were due to bear the brimming bowl which would follow the black
cock and the black goat? He saw that Elwood had dropped asleep, and
tried to call out and waken him. Something, however, closed his throat.
He was not his own master. Had he signed the black man's book after all?

Then his fevered, abnormal hearing caught the distant, windborne
notes. Over miles of hill and field and alley they came, but he
recognized them none the less. The fires must be lit, and the dancers
must be starting in. How could he keep himself from going? What was it
that had enmeshed him? Mathematics--folklore--the house--old Keziah
--Brown Jenkin...and now he saw that there was a fresh rat-hole in
the wall near his couch. Above the distant chanting and the nearer
praying of Joe Mazurewicz came another sound--a stealthy, determined
scratching in the partitions. He hoped the electric lights would not go
out. Then he saw the fanged, bearded little face in the rat-hole--the
accursed little face which he at last realized bore such a shocking,
mocking resemblance to old Keziah's--and heard the faint fumbling at
the door.

The screaming twilight abysses flashed before him, and he felt
himself helpless in the formless grasp of the iridescent
bubble-congeries. Ahead raced the small, kaleidoscopic polyhedron and
all through the churning void there was a heightening and acceleration
of the vague tonal pattern which seemed to foreshadow some unutterable
and unendurable climax. He seemed to know what was coming--the
monstrous burst of Walpurgis-rhythm in whose cosmic timbre would be
concentrated all the primal, ultimate space-time seethings which lie
behind the massed spheres of matter and sometimes break forth in
measured reverberations that penetrate faintly to every layer of entity
and give hideous significance throughout the worlds to certain dreaded
periods.

But all this vanished in a second. He was again in the cramped,
violet-litten peaked space with the slanting floor, the low cases of
ancient books, the bench and table, the queer objects, and the
triangular gulf at one side. On the table lay a small white figure--an
infant boy, unclothed and unconscious--while on the other side stood
the monstrous, leering old woman with a gleaming, grotesque-hafted
knife in her right hand, and a queerly proportioned pale metal bowl
covered with curiously chased designs and having delicate lateral
handles in her left. She was intoning some croaking ritual in a
language which Gilman could not understand, but which seemed like
something guardedly quoted in the Necronomicon.

As the scene grew clearer he saw the ancient crone bend forward and
extend the empty bowl across the table--and unable to control his own
emotions, he reached far forward and took it in both hands, noticing as
he did so its comparative lightness. At the same moment the disgusting
form of Brown Jenkin scrambled up over the brink of the triangular
black gulf on his left. The crone now motioned him to hold the bowl in
a certain position while she raised the huge, grotesque knife above the
small white victim as high as her right hand could reach. The fanged,
furry thing began tittering a continuation of the unknown ritual, while
the witch croaked loathsome responses. Gilman felt a gnawing poignant
abhorrence shoot through his mental and emotional paralysis, and the
light metal bowl shook in his grasp. A second later the downward motion
of the knife broke the spell completely, and he dropped the bowl with a
resounding bell-like clangour while his hands darted out frantically to
stop the monstrous deed.

In an instant he had edged up the slanting floor around the end of
the table and wrenched the knife from the old woman's claws; sending it
clattering over the brink of the narrow triangular gulf. In another
instant, however, matters were reversed; for those murderous claws had
locked themselves tightly around his own throat, while the wrinkled
face was twisted with insane fury. He felt the chain of the cheap
crucifix grinding into his neck, and in his peril wondered how the
sight of the object itself would affect the evil creature. Her strength
was altogether superhuman, but as she continued her choking he reached
feebly in his shirt and drew out the metal symbol, snapping the chain
and pulling it free.

At sight of the device the witch seemed struck with panic, and her
grip relaxed long enough to give Gilman a chance to break it entirely.
He pulled the steel-like claws from his neck, and would have dragged
the beldame over the edge of the gulf had not the claws received a
fresh access of strength and closed in again. This time he resolved to
reply in kind, and his own hands reached out for the creature's throat.
Before she saw what he was doing he had the chain of the crucifix
twisted about her neck, and a moment later he had tightened it enough
to cut off her breath. During her last struggle he felt something bite
at his ankle, and saw that Brown Jenkin had come to her aid. With one
savage kick he sent the morbidity over the edge of the gulf and heard
it whimper on some level far below.

Whether he had killed the ancient crone he did not know, but he let
her rest on the floor where she had fallen. Then, as he turned away, he
saw on the table a sight which nearly snapped the last thread of his
reason. Brown Jenkin, tough of sinew and with four tiny hands of
demoniac dexterity, had been busy while the witch was throttling him,
and his efforts had been in vain. What he had prevented the knife from
doing to the victim's chest, the yellow fangs of the furry blasphemy
had done to a wrist--and the bowl so lately on the floor stood full
beside the small lifeless body.

In his dream-delirium Gilman heard the hellish alien-rhythmed chant
of the Sabbat coming from an infinite distance, and knew the black man
must be there. Confused memories mixed themselves with his mathematics,
and he believed his subconscious mind held the angles which he needed
to guide him back to the normal world alone and unaided for the first
time. He felt sure he was in the immemorially sealed loft above his own
room, but whether he could ever escape through the slanting floor or
the long-stopped egress he doubted greatly. Besides, would not an
escape from a dream-loft bring him merely into a dream-house--an
abnormal projection of the actual place he sought? He was wholly
bewildered as to the relation betwixt dream and reality in all his
experiences.

The passage through the vague abysses would be frightful, for the
Walpurgis-rhythm would be vibrating, and at last he would have to hear
that hitherto-veiled cosmic pulsing which he so mortally dreaded. Even
now he could detect a low, monstrous shaking whose tempo he suspected
all too well. At Sabbat-time it always mounted and reached through to
the worlds to summon the initiate to nameless rites. Half the chants of
the Sabbat were patterned on this faintly overheard pulsing which no
earthly ear could endure in its unveiled spatial fulness. Gilman
wondered, too, whether he could trust his instincts to take him back to
the right part of space. How could he be sure he would not land on that
green-litten hillside of a far planet, on the tessellated terrace above
the city of tentacled monsters somewhere beyond the galaxy or in the
spiral black vortices of that ultimate void of Chaos where reigns the
mindless demon-sultan Azathoth?

Just before he made the plunge the violet light went out and left
him in utter blackness. The witch--old Keziah--Nahab--that must have
meant her death. And mixed with the distant chant of the Sabbat and the
whimpers of Brown Jenkin in the gulf below he thought he heard another
and wilder whine from unknown depths. Joe Mazurewicz--the prayers
against the Crawling Chaos now turning to an inexplicably triumphant
shriek--worlds of sardonic actuality impinging on vortices of febrile
dream--Iä! Shub-Niggurath! The Goat with a Thousand Young...

They found Gilman on the floor of his queerly-angled old garret room
long before dawn, for the terrible cry had brought Desrochers and
Choynski and Dombrowski and Mazurewicz at once, and had even wakened
the soundly sleeping Elwood in his chair. He was alive, and with open,
staring eyes, but seemed largely unconscious. On his throat were the
marks of murderous hands, and on his left ankle was a distressing
rat-bite. His clothing was badly rumpled and Joe's crucifix was
missing, Elwood trembled, afraid even to speculate what new form his
friend's sleep-walking had taken. Mazurewicz seemed half dazed because
of a "sign" he said he had had in response to his prayers, and he
crossed himself frantically when the squealing and whimpering of a rat
sounded from beyond the slanting partition.

When the dreamer was settled on his couch in Elwood's room they sent
for Doctor Malkowski--a local practitioner who would repeat no tales
where they might prove embarrassing--and he gave Gilman two hypodermic
injections which caused him to relax in something like natural
drowsiness. During the day the patient regained consciousness at times
and whispered his newest dream disjointedly to Elwood. It was a painful
process, and at its very start brought out a fresh and disconcerting
fact.

Gilman--whose ears had so lately possessed an abnormal
sensitiveness--was now stone-deaf. Doctor Malkowski, summoned again in
haste, told Elwood that both ear-drums were ruptured, as if by the
impact of some stupendous sound intense beyond all human conception or
endurance. How such a sound could have been heard in the last few hours
without arousing all the Miskatonic Valley was more than the honest
physician could say.

Elwood wrote his part of the colloquy on paper, so that a fairly
easy communication was maintained. Neither knew what to make of the
whole chaotic business, and decided it would be better if they thought
as little as possible about it. Both, though, agreed that they must
leave this ancient and accursed house as soon as it could be arranged.
Evening papers spoke of a police raid on some curious revellers in a
ravine beyond Meadow Hill just before dawn, and mentioned that the
white stone there was an object of age-long superstitious regard.
Nobody had been caught, but among the scattering fugitives had been
glimpsed a huge negro. In another column it was stated that no trace of
the missing child Ladislas Wolejko had been found.

The crowning horror came that very night. Elwood will never forget
it, and was forced to stay out of college the rest of the term because
of the resulting nervous breakdown. He had thought he heard rats in the
partition all the evening, but paid little attention to them. Then,
long after both he and Gilman had retired, the atrocious shrieking
began. Elwood jumped up, turned on the lights and rushed over to his
guest's couch. The occupant was emitting sounds of veritably inhuman
nature, as if racked by some torment beyond description. He was
writhing under the bedclothes, and a great stain was beginning to
appear on the blankets.

Elwood scarcely dared to touch him, but gradually the screaming and
writhing subsided. By this time Dombrowski, Choynski, Desrochers,
Mazurewicz, and the top-floor lodger were all crowding into the
doorway, and the landlord had sent his wife back to telephone for
Doctor Malkowaki. Everybody shrieked when a large rat-like form
suddenly jumped out from beneath the ensanguined bedclothes and
scuttled across the floor to a fresh, open hole close by. When the
doctor arrived and began to pull down those frightful covers Walter
Gilman was dead.

It would be barbarous to do more than suggest what had killed
Gilman. There had been virtually a tunnel through his body--something
had eaten his heart out. Dombrowski, frantic at the failure of his
rat-poisoning efforts, cast aside all thought of his lease and within a
week had moved with all his older lodgers to a dingy but less ancient
house in Walnut Street. The worst thing for a while was keeping Joe
Mazurewicz quiet; for the brooding loom-fixer would never stay sober,
and was constantly whining and muttering about spectral and terrible
things.

It seems that on that last hideous night Joe had stooped to look at
the crimson rat-tracks which led from Gilman's couch to the near-by
hole. On the carpet they were very indistinct, but a piece of open
flooring intervened between the carpet's edge and the baseboard. There
Mazurewicz had found something monstrous--or thought he had, for no
one else could quite agree with him despite the undeniable queerness of
the prints. The tracks on the flooring were certainly vastly unlike the
average prints of a rat but even Choynski and Desrochers would not
admit that they were like the prints of four tiny human hands.

The house was never rented again. As soon as Dombrowski left it the
pall of its final desolation began to descend, for people shunned it
both on account of its old reputation and because of the new foetid
odour. Perhaps the ex-landlord's rat-poison had worked after all, for
not long after his departure the place became a neighbourhood nuisance.
Health officials traced the smell to the closed spaces above and beside
the eastern garret room, and agreed that the number of dead rats must
be enormous. They decided, however, that it was not worth their while
to hew open and disinfect the long-sealed spaces; for the foetor would
soon be over, and the locality was not one which encouraged fastidious
standards. Indeed, there were always vague local tales of unexplained
stenches upstairs in the Witch-House just after May-Eve and Hallowmass.
The neighbours acquiesced in the inertia--but the foetor none the less
formed an additional count against the place. Toward the last the house
was condemned as a habitation by the building inspector.

Gilman's dreams and their attendant circumstances have never been
explained. Elwood, whose thoughts on the entire episode are sometimes
almost maddening, came back to college the next autumn and was
graduated in the following June. He found the spectral gossip of the
town much diminished, and it is indeed a fact that--notwithstanding
certain reports of a ghostly tittering in the deserted house which
lasted almost as long as that edifice itself--no fresh appearances
either of Old Keziah or of Brown Jenkin have been muttered of since
Gilman's death. It is rather fortunate that Elwood was not in Arkham in
that later year when certain events abruptly renewed the local whispers
about elder horrors. Of course he heard about the matter afterward and
suffered untold torments of black and bewildered speculation; but even
that was not as bad as actual nearness and several possible sights
would have been.

In March, 1931, a gale wrecked the roof and great chimney of the
vacant Witch-House, so that a chaos of crumbling bricks, blackened,
moss-grown shingles, and rotting planks and timbers crashed down into
the loft and broke through the floor beneath. The whole attic storey
was choked with debris from above, but no one took the trouble to touch
the mess before the inevitable razing of the decrepit structure. That
ultimate step came in the following December, and it was when Gilman's
old room was cleared out by reluctant, apprehensive workmen that the
gossip began.

Among the rubbish which had crashed through the ancient slanting
ceiling were several things which made the workmen pause and call in
the police. Later the police in turn called in the coroner and several
professors from the university. There were bones--badly crushed and
splintered, but clearly recognizable as human--whose manifestly modern
date conflicted puzzlingly with the remote period at which their only
possible lurking place, the low, slant-floored loft overhead, had
supposedly been sealed from all human access. The coroner's physician
decided that some belonged to a small child, while certain others--
found mixed with shreds of rotten brownish cloth--belonged to a rather
undersized, bent female of advanced years. Careful sifting of debris
also disclosed many tiny bones of rats caught in the collapse, as well
as older rat-bones gnawed by small fangs in a fashion now and then
highly productive of controversy and reflection.

Other objects found included the mangled fragments of many books and
papers, together with a yellowish dust left from the total
disintegration of still older books and papers. All, without exception,
appeared to deal with black magic in its most advanced and horrible
forms; and the evidently recent date of certain items is still a
mystery as unsolved as that of the modern human bones. An even greater
mystery is the absolute homogeneity of the crabbed, archaic writing
found on a wide range of papers whose conditions and watermarks suggest
age differences of at least one hundred and fifty to two hundred years.
To some, though, the greatest mystery of all is the variety of utterly
inexplicable objects--objects whose shapes, materials, types of
workmanship, and purposes baffle all conjecture--found scattered
amidst the wreckage in evidently diverse states of injury. One of these
things--which excited several Miskatonic professors profoundly is a
badly damaged monstrosity plainly resembling the strange image which
Gilman gave to the college museum, save that it is large, wrought of
some peculiar bluish stone instead of metal, and possessed of a
singularly angled pedestal with undecipherable hieroglyphics.

Archaeologists and anthropologists are still trying to explain the
bizarre designs chased on a crushed bowl of light metal whose inner
side bore ominous brownish stains when found. Foreigners and credulous
grandmothers are equally garrulous about the modern nickel crucifix
with broken chain mixed in the rubbish and shiveringly identified by
Joe Maturewicz as that which he had given poor Gilman many years
before. Some believe this crucifix was dragged up to the sealed loft by
rats, while others think it must have been on the floor in some corner
of Gilman's old room at the time. Still others, including Joe himself,
have theories too wild and fantastic for sober credence.

When the slanting wall of Gilman's room was torn out, the
once-sealed triangular space between that partition and the house's
north wall was found to contain much less structural debris, even in
proportion to its size, than the room itself, though it had a ghastly
layer of older materials which paralyzed the wreckers with horror. In
brief, the floor was a veritable ossuary of the bones of small children
--some fairly modern, but others extending back in infinite gradations
to a period so remote that crumbling was almost complete. On this deep
bony layer rested a knife of great size, obvious antiquity, and
grotesque, ornate, and exotic design--above which the debris was piled.

In the midst of this debris, wedged between a fallen plank and a
cluster of cemented bricks from the ruined chimney, was an object
destined to cause more bafflement, veiled fright, and openly
superstitious talk in Arkham than anything else discovered in the
haunted and accursed building.

This object was the partly crushed skeleton of a huge diseased rat,
whose abnormalities of form are still a topic of debate and source of
singular reticence among the members of Miskatonic's department of
comparative anatomy. Very little concerning this skeleton has leaked
out, but the workmen who found it whisper in shocked tones about the
long, brownish hairs with which it was associated.

The bones of the tiny paws, it is rumoured, imply prehensile
characteristics more typical of a diminutive monkey than of a rat,
while the small skull with its savage yellow fangs is of the utmost
anomalousness, appearing from certain angles like a miniature,
monstrously degraded parody of a human skull. The workmen crossed
themselves in fright when they came upon this blasphemy, but later
burned candles of gratitude in St. Stanislaus' Church because of the
shrill, ghostly tittering they felt they would never hear again.



* THE HAUNTER OF THE DARK


I have seen the dark universe yawning
Where the black planets roll without aim,
Where they roll in their horror unheeded,
Without knowledge or lustre or name.


Cautious investigators will hesitate to challenge the common belief
that Robert Blake was killed by lightning, or by some profound nervous
shock derived from an electrical discharge. It is true that the window
he faced was unbroken, but nature has shown herself capable of many
freakish performances. The expression on his face may easily have
arisen from some obscure muscular source unrelated to anything he saw,
while the entries in his diary are clearly the result of a fantastic
imagination aroused by certain local superstitions and by certain old
matters he had uncovered. As for the anomalous conditions at the
deserted church of Federal Hill--the shrewd analyst is not slow in
attributing them to some charlatanry, conscious or unconscious, with at
least some of which Blake was secretly connected.

For after all, the victim was a writer and painter wholly devoted to
the field of myth, dream, terror, and superstition, and avid in his
quest for scenes and effects of a bizarre, spectral sort. His earlier
stay in the city--a visit to a strange old man as deeply given to
occult and forbidden lore as he--had ended amidst death and flame, and
it must have been some morbid instinct which drew him back from his
home in Milwaukee. He may have known of the old stories despite his
statements to the contrary in the diary, and his death may have nipped
in the bud some stupendous hoax destined to have a literary reflection.

Among those, however, who have examined and correlated all this
evidence, there remain several who cling to less rational and
commonplace theories. They are inclined to take much of Blake's diary
at its face value, and point significantly to certain facts such as the
undoubted genuineness of the old church record, the verified existence
of the disliked and unorthodox Starry Wisdom sect prior to 1877, the
recorded disappearance of an inquisitive reporter named Edwin M.
Lillibridge in 1893, and--above all--the look of monstrous,
transfiguring fear on the face of the young writer when he died. It was
one of these believers who, moved to fanatical extremes, threw into the
bay the curiously angled stone and its strangely adorned metal box
found in the old church steeple--the black windowless steeple, and not
the tower where Blake's diary said those things originally were. Though
widely censured both officially and unofficially, this man--a reputable
physician with a taste for odd folklore--averred that he had rid the
earth of something too dangerous to rest upon it.

Between these two schools of opinion the reader must judge for
himself. The papers have given the tangible details from a sceptical
angle, leaving for others the drawing of the picture as Robert Blake
saw it--or thought he saw it--or pretended to see it. Now studying the
diary closely, dispassionately, and at leisure, let us summarize the
dark chain of events from the expressed point of view of their chief
actor.

Young Blake returned to Providence in the winter of 1934-5, taking
the upper floor of a venerable dwelling in a grassy court off College
Street--on the crest of the great eastward hill near the Brown
University campus and behind the marble John Hay Library. It was a cosy
and fascinating place, in a little garden oasis of village-like
antiquity where huge, friendly cats sunned themselves atop a convenient
shed. The square Georgian house had a monitor roof, classic doorway
with fan carving, small-paned windows, and all the other earmarks of
early nineteenth century workmanship. Inside were six-panelled doors,
wide floor-boards, a curving colonial staircase, white Adam-period
mantels, and a rear set of rooms three steps below the general level.

Blake's study, a large southwest chamber, overlooked the front
garden on one side, while its west windows--before one of which he had
his desk--faced off from the brow of the hill and commanded a splendid
view of the lower town's outspread roofs and of the mystical sunsets
that flamed behind them. On the far horizon were the open countryside's
purple slopes. Against these, some two miles away, rose the spectral
hump of Federal Hill, bristling with huddled roofs and steeples whose
remote outlines wavered mysteriously, taking fantastic forms as the
smoke of the city swirled up and enmeshed them. Blake had a curious
sense that he was looking upon some unknown, ethereal world which might
or might not vanish in dream if ever he tried to seek it out and enter
it in person.

Having sent home for most of his books, Blake bought some antique
furniture suitable for his quarters and settled down to write and
paint--living alone, and attending to the simple housework himself. His
studio was in a north attic room, where the panes of the monitor roof
furnished admirable lighting. During that first winter he produced five
of his best-known short stories--The Burrower Beneath, The Stairs in
the Crypt, Shaggai, In the Vale of Pnath, and The Feaster from the
Stars--and painted seven canvases; studies of nameless, unhuman
monsters, and profoundly alien, non-terrestrial landscapes.

At sunset he would often sit at his desk and gaze dreamily off at
the outspread west--the dark towers of Memorial Hall just below, the
Georgian court-house belfry, the lofty pinnacles of the downtown
section, and that shimmering, spire-crowned mound in the distance whose
unknown streets and labyrinthine gables so potently provoked his fancy.
From his few local aquaintances he learned that the far-off slope was a
vast Italian quarter, though most of the houses were remnant of older
Yankee and Irish days. Now and then he would train his field-glasses on
that spectral, unreachable world beyond the curling smoke; picking out
individual roofs and chimneys and steeples, and speculating upon the
bizarre and curious mysteries they might house. Even with optical aid
Federal Hill seemed somehow alien, half fabulous, and linked to the
unreal, intangible marvels of Blake's own tales and pictures. The
feeling would persist long after the hill had faded into the violet,
lamp-starred twilight, and the court-house floodlights and the red
Industrial Trust beacon had blazed up to make the night grotesque.

Of all the distant objects on Federal Hill, a certain huge, dark
church most fascinated Blake. It stood out with especial distinctness
at certain hours of the day, and at sunset the great tower and tapering
steeple loomed blackly against the flaming sky. It seemed to rest on
especially high ground; for the grimy façade, and the obliquely seen
north side with sloping roof and the tops of great pointed windows,
rose boldly above the tangle of surrounding ridgepoles and
chimney-pots. Peculiarly grim and austere, it appeared to be built of
stone, stained and weathered with the smoke and storms of a century and
more. The style, so far as the glass could show, was that earliest
experimental form of Gothic revival which preceded the stately Upjohn
period and held over some of the outlines and proportions of the
Georgian age. Perhaps it was reared around 1810 or 1815.

As months passed, Blake watched the far-off, forbidding structure
with an oddly mounting interest. Since the vast windows were never
lighted, he knew that it must be vacant. The longer he watched, the
more his imagination worked, till at length he began to fancy curious
things. He believed that a vague, singular aura of desolation hovered
over the place, so that even the pigeons and swallows shunned its smoky
eaves. Around other towers and belfries his glass would reveal great
flocks of birds, but here they never rested. At least, that is what he
thought and set down in his diary. He pointed the place out to several
friends, but none of them had even been on Federal Hill or possessed
the faintest notion of what the church was or had been.

In the spring a deep restlessness gripped Blake. He had begun his
long-planned novel--based on a supposed survival of the witch-cult in
Maine--but was strangely unable to make progress with it. More and more
he would sit at his westward window and gaze at the distant hill and
the black, frowning steeple shunned by the birds. When the delicate
leaves came out on the garden boughs the world was filled with a new
beauty, but Blake's restlessness was merely increased. It was then that
he first thought of crossing the city and climbing bodily up that
fabulous slope into the smoke-wreathed world of dream.

Late in April, just before the aeon-shadowed Walpurgis time, Blake
made his first trip into the unknown. Plodding through the endless
downtown streets and the bleak, decayed squares beyond, he came finally
upon the ascending avenue of century-worn steps, sagging Doric porches,
and blear-paned cupolas which he felt must lead up to the long-known,
unreachable world beyond the mists. There were dingy blue-and-white
street signs which meant nothing to him, and presently he noted the
strange, dark faces of the drifting crowds, and the foreign signs over
curious shops in brown, decade-weathered buildings. Nowhere could he
find any of the objects he had seen from afar; so that once more he
half fancied that the Federal Hill of that distant view was a
dream-world never to be trod by living human feet.

Now and then a battered church façade or crumbling spire came in
sight, but never the blackened pile that he sought. When he asked a
shopkeeper about a great stone church the man smiled and shook his
head, though he spoke English freely. As Blake climbed higher, the
region seemed stranger and stranger, with bewildering mazes of brooding
brown alleys leading eternally off to the south. He crossed two or
three broad avenues, and once thought he glimpsed a familiar tower.
Again he asked a merchant about the massive church of stone, and this
time he could have sworn that the plea of ignorance was feigned. The
dark man's face had a look of fear which he tried to hide, and Blake
saw him make a curious sign with his right hand.

Then suddenly a black spire stood out against the cloudy sky on his
left, above the tiers of brown roofs lining the tangled southerly
alleys. Blake knew at once what it was, and plunged toward it through
the squalid, unpaved lanes that climbed from the avenue. Twice he lost
his way, but he somehow dared not ask any of the patriarchs or
housewives who sat on their doorsteps, or any of the children who
shouted and played in the mud of the shadowy lanes.

At last he saw the tower plain against the southwest, and a huge
stone bulk rose darkly at the end of an alley. Presently he stood in a
wind-swept open square, quaintly cobblestoned, with a high bank wall on
the farther side. This was the end of his quest; for upon the wide,
iron-railed, weed-grown plateau which the wall supported--a separate,
lesser world raised fully six feet above the surrounding streets--there
stood a grim, titan bulk whose identity, despite Blake's new
perspective, was beyond dispute.

The vacant church was in a state of great decrepitude. Some of the
high stone buttresses had fallen, and several delicate finials lay half
lost among the brown, neglected weeds and grasses. The sooty Gothic
windows were largely unbroken, though many of the stone mullions were
missing. Blake wondered how the obscurely painted panes could have
survived so well, in view of the known habits of small boys the world
over. The massive doors were intact and tightly closed. Around the top
of the bank wall, fully enclosing the grounds, was a rusty iron fence
whose gate--at the head of a flight of steps from the square--was
visibly padlocked. The path from the gate to the building was
completely overgrown. Desolation and decay hung like a pall above the
place, and in the birdless eaves and black, ivyless walls Blake felt a
touch of the dimly sinister beyond his power to define.

There were very few people in the square, but Blake saw a policeman
at the northerly end and approached him with questions about the
church. He was a great wholesome Irishman, and it seemed odd that he
would do little more than make the sign of the cross and mutter that
people never spoke of that building. When Blake pressed him he said
very hurriedly that the Italian priest warned everybody against it,
vowing that a monstrous evil had once dwelt there and left its mark. He
himself had heard dark whispers of it from his father, who recalled
certain sounds and rumours from his boyhood.

There had been a bad sect there in the old days--an outlaw sect that
called up awful things from some unknown gulf of night. It had taken a
good priest to exorcise what had come, though there did be those who
said that merely the light could do it. If Father O'Malley were alive
there would be many a thing he could tell. But now there was nothing to
do but let it alone. It hurt nobody now, and those that owned it were
dead or far away. They had run away like rats after the threatening
talk in '77, when people began to mind the way folks vanished now and
then in the neighbourhood. Some day the city would step in and take the
property for lack of heirs, but little good would come of anybody's
touching it. Better it be left alone for the years to topple, lest
things be stirred that ought to rest forever in their black abyss.

After the policeman had gone Blake stood staring at the sullen
steepled pile. It excited him to find that the structure seemed as
sinister to others as to him, and he wondered what grain of truth might
lie behind the old tales the bluecoat had repeated. Probably they were
mere legends evoked by the evil look of the place, but even so, they
were like a strange coming to life of one of his own stories.

The afternoon sun came out from behind dispersing clouds, but seemed
unable to light up the stained, sooty walls of the old temple that
towered on its high plateau. It was odd that the green of spring had
not touched the brown, withered growths in the raised, iron-fenced
yard. Blake found himself edging nearer the raised area and examining
the bank wall and rusted fence for possible avenues of ingress. There
was a terrible lure about the blackened fane which was not to be
resisted. The fence had no opening near the steps, but round on the
north side were some missing bars. He could go up the steps and walk
round on the narrow coping outside the fence till he came to the gap.
If the people feared the place so wildly, he would encounter no
interference.

He was on the embankment and almost inside the fence before anyone
noticed him. Then, looking down, he saw the few people in the square
edging away and making the same sign with their right hands that the
shopkeeper in the avenue had made. Several windows were slammed down,
and a fat woman darted into the street and pulled some small children
inside a rickety, unpainted house. The gap in the fence was very easy
to pass through, and before long Blake found himself wading amidst the
rotting, tangled growths of the deserted yard. Here and there the worn
stump of a headstone told him that there had once been burials in the
field; but that, he saw, must have been very long ago. The sheer bulk
of the church was oppressive now that he was close to it, but he
conquered his mood and approached to try the three great doors in the
façade. All were securely locked, so he began a circuit of the
Cyclopean building in quest of some minor and more penetrable opening.
Even then he could not be sure that he wished to enter that haunt of
desertion and shadow, yet the pull of its strangeness dragged him on
automatically.

A yawning and unprotected cellar window in the rear furnished the
needed aperture. Peering in, Blake saw a subterrene gulf of cobwebs and
dust faintly litten by the western sun's filtered rays. Debris, old
barrels, and ruined boxes and furniture of numerous sorts met his eye,
though over everything lay a shroud of dust which softened all sharp
outlines. The rusted remains of a hot-air furnace showed that the
building had been used and kept in shape as late as mid-Victorian times.

Acting almost without conscious initiative, Blake crawled through
the window and let himself down to the dust-carpeted and debris-strewn
concrete floor. The vaulted cellar was a vast one, without partitions;
and in a corner far to the right, amid dense shadows, he saw a black
archway evidently leading upstairs. He felt a peculiar sense of
oppression at being actually within the great spectral building, but
kept it in check as he cautiously scouted about--finding a still-intact
barrel amid the dust, and rolling it over to the open window to provide
for his exit. Then, bracing himself, he crossed the wide,
cobweb-festooned space toward the arch. Half-choked with the
omnipresent dust, and covered with ghostly gossamer fibres, he reached
and began to climb the worn stone steps which rose into the darkness.
He had no light, but groped carefully with his hands. After a sharp
turn he felt a closed door ahead, and a little fumbling revealed its
ancient latch. It opened inward, and beyond it he saw a dimly illumined
corridor lined with worm-eaten panelling.

Once on the ground floor, Blake began exploring in a rapid fashion.
All the inner doors were unlocked, so that he freely passed from room
to room. The colossal nave was an almost eldritch place with its drifts
and mountains of dust over box pews, altar, hour-glass pulpit, and
sounding-board and its titanic ropes of cobweb stretching among the
pointed arches of the gallery and entwining the clustered Gothic
columns. Over all this hushed desolation played a hideous leaden light
as the declining afternoon sun sent its rays through the strange,
half-blackened panes of the great apsidal windows.

The paintings on those windows were so obscured by soot that Blake
could scarcely decipher what they had represented, but from the little
he could make out he did not like them. The designs were largely
conventional, and his knowledge of obscure symbolism told him much
concerning some of the ancient patterns. The few saints depicted bore
expressions distinctly open to criticism, while one of the windows
seemed to show merely a dark space with spirals of curious luminosity
scattered about in it. Turning away from the windows, Blake noticed
that the cobwebbed cross above the altar was not of the ordinary kind,
but resembled the primordial ankh or crux ansata of shadowy Egypt.

In a rear vestry room beside the apse Blake found a rotting desk and
ceiling-high shelves of mildewed, disintegrating books. Here for the
first time he received a positive shock of objective horror, for the
titles of those books told him much. They were the black, forbidden
things which most sane people have never even heard of, or have heard
of only in furtive, timorous whispers; the banned and dreaded
repositories of equivocal secret and immemorial formulae which have
trickled down the stream of time from the days of man's youth, and the
dim, fabulous days before man was. He had himself read many of them--a
Latin version of the abhorred Necronomicon, the sinister Liber Ivonis,
the infamous Cultes des Goules of Comte d'Erlette, the Unaussprechlichen
Kulten of von Junzt, and old Ludvig Prinn's hellish De Vermis
Mysteriis. But there were others he had known merely by reputation
or not at all--the Pnakotic Manuscripts, the Book of Dzyan, and
a crumbling volume of wholly unidentifiable characters yet with
certain symbols and diagrams shuddering recognizable to the occult
student. Clearly, the lingering local rumours had not lied. This place
had once been the seat of an evil older than mankind and wider than the
known universe.

In the ruined desk was a small leatherbound record-book filled with
entries in some odd cryptographic medium. The manuscript writing
consisted of the common traditional symbols used today in astronomy and
anciently in alchemy, astrology, and other dubious arts--the devices of
the sun, moon, planets, aspects, and zodiacal signs--here massed in
solid pages of text, with divisions and paragraphings suggesting that
each symbol answered to some alphabetical letter.

In the hope of later solving the cryptogram, Blake bore off this
volume in his coat pocket. Many of the great tomes on the shelves
fascinated him unutterably, and he felt tempted to borrow them at some
later time. He wondered how they could have remained undisturbed so
long. Was he the first to conquer the clutching, pervasive fear which
had for nearly sixty years protected this deserted place from visitors?

Having now thoroughly explored the ground floor, Blake ploughed
again through the dust of the spectral nave to the front vestibule,
where he had seen a door and staircase presumably leading up to the
blackened tower and steeple--objects so long familiar to him at a
distance. The ascent was a choking experience, for dust lay thick,
while the spiders had done their worst in this constricted place. The
staircase was a spiral with high, narrow wooden treads, and now and
then Blake passed a clouded window looking dizzily out over the city.
Though he had seen no ropes below, he expected to find a bell or peal
of bells in the tower whose narrow, louvre-boarded lancet windows his
field-glass had studied so often. Here he was doomed to disappointment;
for when he attained the top of the stairs he found the tower chamber
vacant of chimes, and clearly devoted to vastly different purposes.

The room, about fifteen feet square, was faintly lighted by four
lancet windows, one on each side, which were glazed within their
screening of decayed louvre-boards. These had been further fitted with
tight, opaque screens, but the latter were now largely rotted away. In
the centre of the dust-laden floor rose a curiously angled stone pillar
dome four feet in height and two in average diameter, covered on each
side with bizarre, crudely incised and wholly unrecognizable
hieroglyphs. On this pillar rested a metal box of peculiarly
asymmetrical form; its hinged lid thrown back, and its interior holding
what looked beneath the decade-deep dust to be an egg-shaped or
irregularly spherical object some four inches through. Around the
pillar in a rough circle were seven high-backed Gothic chairs still
largely intact, while behind them, ranging along the dark-panelled
walls, were seven colossal images of crumbling, black-painted plaster,
resembling more than anything else the cryptic carven megaliths of
mysterious Easter Island. In one corner of the cobwebbed chamber a
ladder was built into the wall, leading up to the closed trap door of
the windowless steeple above.

As Blake grew accustomed to the feeble light he noticed odd
bas-reliefs on the strange open box of yellowish metal. Approaching, he
tried to clear the dust away with his hands and handkerchief, and saw
that the figurings were of a monstrous and utterly alien kind;
depicting entities which, though seemingly alive, resembled no known
life-form ever evolved on this planet. The four-inch seeming sphere
turned out to be a nearly black, red-striated polyhedron with many
irregular flat surfaces; either a very remarkable crystal of some sort
or an artificial object of carved and highly polished mineral matter.
It did not touch the bottom of the box, but was held suspended by means
of a metal band around its centre, with seven queerly-designed supports
extending horizontally to angles of the box's inner wall near the top.
This stone, once exposed, exerted upon Blake an almost alarming
fascination. He could scarcely tear his eyes from it, and as he looked
at its glistening surfaces he almost fancied it was transparent, with
half-formed worlds of wonder within. Into his mind floated pictures of
alien orbs with great stone towers, and other orbs with titan mountains
and no mark of life, and still remoter spaces where only a stirring in
vague blacknesses told of the presence of consciousness and will.

When he did look away, it was to notice a somewhat singular mound of
dust in the far corner near the ladder to the steeple. Just why it took
his attention he could not tell, but something in its contours carried
a message to his unconscious mind. Ploughing toward it, and brushing
aside the hanging cobwebs as he went, he began to discern something
grim about it. Hand and handkerchief soon revealed the truth, and Blake
gasped with a baffling mixture of emotions. It was a human skeleton,
and it must have been there for a very long time. The clothing was in
shreds, but some buttons and fragments of cloth bespoke a man's grey
suit. There were other bits of evidence--shoes, metal clasps, huge
buttons for round cuffs, a stickpin of bygone pattern, a reporter's
badge with the name of the old Providence Telegram, and a crumbling
leather pocketbook. Blake examined the latter with care, finding within
it several bills of antiquated issue, a celluloid advertising calendar
for 1893, some cards with the name "Edwin M. Lillibridge", and a paper
covered with pencilled memoranda.

This paper held much of a puzzling nature, and Blake read it
carefully at the dim westward window. Its disjointed text included such
phrases as the following:

Prof. Enoch Bowen home from Egypt May 1844--buys old Free-Will
Church in July--his archaeological work & studies in occult well
known.


Dr Drowne of 4th Baptist warns against Starry Wisdom in sermon 29 Dec. 1844.

Congregation 97 by end of '45.

1846--3 disappearances--first mention of Shining Trapezohedron.

7 disappearances 1848--stories of blood sacrifice begin.

Investigation 1853 comes to nothing--stories of sounds.

Fr O'Malley tells of devil-worship with box found in great Egyptian
ruins--says they call up something that can't exist in light. Flees a
little light, and banished by strong light. Then has to be summoned
again. Probably got this from deathbed confession of Francis X. Feeney,
who had joined Starry Wisdom in '49. These people say the Shining
Trapezohedron shows them heaven & other worlds, & that the
Haunter of the Dark tells them secrets in some way.

Story of Orrin B. Eddy 1857. They call it up by gazing at the crystal,
& have a secret language of their own.

200 or more in cong. 1863, exclusive of men at front.

Irish boys mob church in 1869 after Patrick Regan's disappearance.

Veiled article in J. 14 March '72, but people don't talk about it.

6 disappearances 1876--secret committee calls on Mayor Doyle.

Action promised Feb. 1877--church closes in April.

Gang--Federal Hill Boys--threaten Dr--and vestrymen in May.

181 persons leave city before end of '77--mention no names.

Ghost stories begin around 1880--try to ascertain truth of report that
no human being has entered church since 1877.

Ask Lanigan for photograph of place taken 1851...


Restoring the paper to the pocketbook and placing the latter in his
coat, Blake turned to look down at the skeleton in the dust. The
implications of the notes were clear, and there could be no doubt but
that this man had come to the deserted edifice forty-two years before
in quest of a newspaper sensation which no one else had been bold
enough to attempt. Perhaps no one else had known of his plan--who
could tell? But he had never returned to his paper. Had some
bravely-suppressed fear risen to overcome him and bring on sudden
heart-failure? Blake stooped over the gleaming bones and noted their
peculiar state. Some of them were badly scattered, and a few seemed
oddly dissolved at the ends. Others were strangely yellowed, with vague
suggestions of charring. This charring extended to some of the
fragments of clothing. The skull was in a very peculiar state--stained
yellow, and with a charred aperture in the top as if some powerful acid
had eaten through the solid bone. What had happened to the skeleton
during its four decades of silent entombment here Blake could not
imagine.

Before he realized it, he was looking at the stone again, and
letting its curious influence call up a nebulous pageantry in his mind.
He saw processions of robed, hooded figures whose outlines were not
human, and looked on endless leagues of desert lined with carved,
sky-reaching monoliths. He saw towers and walls in nighted depths under
the sea, and vortices of space where wisps of black mist floated before
thin shimmerings of cold purple haze. And beyond all else he glimpsed
an infinite gulf of darkness, where solid and semisolid forms were
known only by their windy stirrings, and cloudy patterns of force
seemed to superimpose order on chaos and hold forth a key to all the
paradoxes and arcana of the worlds we know.

Then all at once the spell was broken by an access of gnawing,
indeterminate panic fear. Blake choked and turned away from the stone,
conscious of some formless alien presence close to him and watching him
with horrible intentness. He felt entangled with something--something
which was not in the stone, but which had looked through it at
him--something which would ceaselessly follow him with a cognition that
was not physical sight. Plainly, the place was getting on his nerves--as
well it might in view of his gruesome find. The light was waning, too,
and since he had no illuminant with him he knew he would have to be
leaving soon.

It was then, in the gathering twilight, that he thought he saw a
faint trace of luminosity in the crazily angled stone. He had tried to
look away from it, but some obscure compulsion drew his eyes hack. Was
there a subtle phosphorescence of radio-activity about the thing? What
was it that the dead man's notes had said concerning a Shining
Trapezohedron? What, anyway, was this abandoned lair of cosmic evil?
What had been done here, and what might still be lurking in the
bird-shunned shadows? It seemed now as if an elusive touch of foetor
had arisen somewhere close by, though its source was not apparent.
Blake seized the cover of the long-open box and snapped it down. It
moved easily on its alien hinges, and closed completely over the
unmistakably glowing stone.

At the sharp click of that closing a soft stirring sound seemed to
come from the steeple's eternal blackness overhead, beyond the
trap-door. Rats, without question--the only living things to reveal
their presence in this accursed pile since he had entered it. And yet
that stirring in the steeple frightened him horribly, so that he
plunged almost wildly down the spiral stairs, across the ghoulish nave,
into the vaulted basement, out amidst the gathering dust of the
deserted square, and down through the teeming, fear-haunted alleys and
avenues of Federal Hill towards the sane central streets and the
home-like brick sidewalks of the college district.

During the days which followed, Blake told no one of his expedition.
Instead, he read much in certain books, examined long years of
newspaper files downtown, and worked feverishly at the cryptogram in
that leather volume from the cobwebbed vestry room. The cipher, he soon
saw, was no simple one; and after a long period of endeavour he felt
sure that its language could not be English, Latin, Greek, French,
Spanish, Italian, or German. Evidently he would have to draw upon the
deepest wells of his strange erudition.

Every evening the old impulse to gaze westwards returned, and he saw
the black steeple as of yore amongst the bristling roofs of a distant
and half-fabulous world. But now it held a fresh note of terror for
him. He knew the heritage of evil lore it masked, and with the
knowledge his vision ran riot in queer new ways. The birds of spring
were returning, and as he watched their sunset flights he fancied they
avoided the gaunt, lone spire as never before. When a flock of them
approached it, he thought, they would wheel and scatter in panic
confusion--and he could guess at the wild twitterings which failed to
reach him across the intervening miles.

It was in June that Blake's diary told of his victory over the
cryptogram. The text was, he found, in the dark Aklo language used by
certain cults of evil antiquity, and known to him in a halting way
through previous researches. The diary is strangely reticent about what
Blake deciphered, but he was patently awed and disconcerted by his
results. There are references to a Haunter of the Dark awaked by gazing
into the Shining Trapezohedron, and insane conjectures about the black
gulfs of chaos from which it was called. The being is spoken of as
holding all knowledge, and demanding monstrous sacrifices. Some of
Blake's entries show fear lest the thing, which he seemed to regard as
summoned, stalk abroad; though he adds that the streetlights form a
bulwark which cannot be crossed.

Of the Shining Trapezohedron he speaks often, calling it a window on
all time and space, and tracing its history from the days it was
fashioned on dark Yuggoth, before ever the Old Ones brought it to
earth. It was treasured and placed in its curious box by the crinoid
things of Antarctica, salvaged from their ruins by the serpent-men of
Valusia, and peered at aeons later in Lemuria by the first human
beings. It crossed strange lands and stranger seas, and sank with
Atlantis before a Minoan fisher meshed it in his net and sold it to
swarthy merchants from nighted Khem. The Pharaoh Nephren-Ka built
around it a temple with a windowless crypt, and did that which caused
his name to be stricken from all monuments and records. Then it slept
in the ruins of that evil fane which the priests and the new Pharaoh
destroyed, till the delver's spade once more brought it forth to curse
mankind.

Early in July the newspapers oddly supplement Blake's entries,
though in so brief and casual a way that only the diary has called
general attention to their contribution. It appears that a new fear had
been growing on Federal Hill since a stranger had entered the dreaded
church. The Italians whispered of unaccustomed stirrings and bumpings
and scrapings in the dark windowless steeple, and called on their
priests to banish an entity which haunted their dreams. Something, they
said, was constantly watching at a door to see if it were dark enough
to venture forth. Press items mentioned the longstanding local
superstitions, but failed to shed much light on the earlier background
of the horror. It was obvious that the young reporters of today are no
antiquarians. In writing of these things in his diary, Blake expresses
a curious kind of remorse, and talks of the duty of burying the Shining
Trapezohedron and of banishing what he had evoked by letting daylight
into the hideous jutting spire. At the same time, however, he displays
the dangerous extent of his fascination, and admits a morbid
longing--pervading even his dreams--to visit the accursed tower and
gaze again into the cosmic secrets of the glowing stone.

Then something in the Journal on the morning of 17 July threw the
diarist into a veritable fever of horror. It was only a variant of the
other half-humorous items about the Federal Hill restlessness, but to
Blake it was somehow very terrible indeed. In the night a thunderstorm
had put the city's lighting-system out of commission for a full hour,
and in that black interval the Italians had nearly gone mad with
fright. Those living near the dreaded church had sworn that the thing
in the steeple had taken advantage of the street lamps' absence and
gone down into the body of the church, flopping and bumping around in a
viscous, altogether dreadful way. Towards the last it had bumped up to
the tower, where there were sounds of the shattering of glass. It could
go wherever the darkness reached, but light would always send it
fleeing.

When the current blazed on again there had been a shocking commotion
in the tower, for even the feeble light trickling through the
grime-blackened, louvre-boarded windows was too much for the thing. It
had bumped and slithered up into its tenebrous steeple just in time--for
a long dose of light would have sent it back into the abyss whence
the crazy stranger had called it. During the dark hour praying crowds
had clustered round the church in the rain with lighted candles and
lamps somehow shielded with folded paper and umbrellas--a guard of
light to save the city from the nightmare that stalks in darkness.
Once, those nearest the church declared, the outer door had rattled
hideously.

But even this was not the worst. That evening in the Bulletin Blake
read of what the reporters had found. Aroused at last to the whimsical
news value of the scare, a pair of them had defied the frantic crowds
of Italians and crawled into the church through the cellar window after
trying the doors in vain. They found the dust of the vestibule and of
the spectral nave ploughed up in a singular way, with pits of rotted
cushions and satin pew-linings scattered curiously around. There was a
bad odour everywhere, and here and there were bits of yellow stain and
patches of what looked like charring. Opening the door to the tower,
and pausing a moment at the suspicion of a scraping sound above, they
found the narrow spiral stairs wiped roughly clean.

In the tower itself a similarly half-swept condition existed. They
spoke of the heptagonal stone pillar, the overturned Gothic chairs, and
the bizarre plaster images; though strangely enough the metal box and
the old mutilated skeleton were not mentioned. What disturbed Blake the
most--except for the hints of stains and charring and bad odours--was
the final detail that explained the crashing glass. Every one of the
tower's lancet windows was broken, and two of them had been darkened in
a crude and hurried way by the stuffing of satin pew-linings and
cushion-horsehair into the spaces between the slanting exterior
louvre-boards. More satin fragments and bunches of horsehair lay
scattered around the newly swept floor, as if someone had been
interrupted in the act of restoring the tower to the absolute blackness
of its tightly curtained days.

Yellowish stains and charred patches were found on the ladder to the
windowless spire, but when a reporter climbed up, opened the
horizontally-sliding trap-door and shot a feeble flashlight beam into
the black and strangely foetid space, he saw nothing but darkness, and
a heterogeneous litter of shapeless fragments near the aperture. The
verdict, of course, was charlatanry. Somebody had played a joke on the
superstitious hill-dwellers, or else some fanatic had striven to
bolster up their fears for their own supposed good. Or perhaps some of
the younger and more sophisticated dwellers had staged an elaborate
hoax on the outside world. There was an amusing aftermath when the
police sent an officer to verify the reports. Three men in succession
found ways of evading the assignment, and the fourth went very
reluctantly and returned very soon without adding to the account given
by the reporters.

From this point onwards Blake's diary shows a mounting tide of
insidious horror and nervous apprehension. He upbraids himself for not
doing something, and speculates wildly on the consequences of another
electrical breakdown. It had been verified that on three occasions-
during thunderstorms--he telephoned the electric light company in a
frantic vein and asked that desperate precautions against a lapse of
power be taken. Now and then his entries show concern over the failure
of the reporters to find the metal box and stone, and the strangely
marred old skeleton, when they explored the shadowy tower room. He
assumed that these things had been removed--whither, and by whom or
what, he could only guess. But his worst fears concerned himself, and
the kind of unholy rapport he felt to exist between his mind and that
lurking horror in the distant steeple--that monstrous thing of night
which his rashness had called out of the ultimate black spaces. He
seemed to feel a constant tugging at his will, and callers of that
period remember how he would sit abstractedly at his desk and stare out
of the west window at that far-off spire-bristling mound beyond the
swirling smoke of the city. His entries dwell monotonously on certain
terrible dreams, and of a strengthening of the unholy rapport in his
sleep. There is mention of a night when he awakened to find himself
fully dressed, outdoors, and headed automatically down College Hill
towards the west. Again and again he dwells on the fact that the thing
in the steeple knows where to find him.

The week following 30 July is recalled as the time of Blake's
partial breakdown. He did not dress, and ordered all his food by
telephone. Visitors remarked the cords he kept near his bed, and he
said that sleep-walking had forced him to bind his ankles every night
with knots which would probably hold or else waken him with the labour
of untying. In his diary he told of the hideous experience which had
brought the collapse. After retiring on the night of the 30th, he had
suddenly found himself groping about in an almost black space. All he
could see were short, faint, horizontal streaks of bluish light, but he
could smell an overpowering foetor and hear a curious jumble of soft,
furtive sounds above him. Whenever he moved he stumbled over something,
and at each noise there would come a sort of answering sound from
above--a vague stirring, mixed with the cautious sliding of wood on
wood.

Once his groping hands encountered a pillar of stone with a vacant
top, whilst later he found himself clutching the rungs of a ladder
built into the wall, and fumbling his uncertain way upwards towards
some region of intenser stench where a hot, searing blast beat down
against him. Before his eyes a kaleidoscopic range of phantasmal images
played, all of them dissolving at intervals into the picture of a vast,
unplumbed abyss of night wherein whirled suns and worlds of an even
profounder blackness. He thought of the ancient legends of Ultimate
Chaos, at whose centre sprawls the blind idiot god Azathoth, Lord of
All Things, encircled by his flopping horde of mindless and amorphous
dancers, and lulled by the thin monotonous piping of a demoniac flute
held in nameless paws.

Then a sharp report from the outer world broke through his stupor
and roused him to the unutterable horror of his position. What it was,
he never knew--perhaps it was some belated peal from the fireworks
heard all summer on Federal Hill as the dwellers hail their various
patron saints, or the saints of their native villages in Italy. In any
event he shrieked aloud, dropped frantically from the ladder, and
stumbled blindly across the obstructed floor of the almost lightless
chamber that encompassed him.

He knew instantly where he was, and plunged recklessly down the
narrow spiral staircase, tripping and bruising himself at every turn.
There was a nightmare flight through a vast cobwebbed nave whose
ghostly arches reached up to realms of leering shadow, a sightless
scramble through a littered basement, a climb to regions of air and
street lights outside, and a mad racing down a spectral hill of
gibbering gables, across a grim, silent city of tall black towers, and
up the steep eastward precipice to his own ancient door.

On regaining consciousness in the morning he found himself lying on
his study floor fully dressed. Dirt and cobwebs covered him, and every
inch of his body seemed sore and bruised. When he faced the mirror he
saw that his hair was badly scorched while a trace of strange evil
odour seemed to cling to his upper outer clothing. It was then that his
nerves broke down. Thereafter, lounging exhaustedly about in a
dressing-gown, he did little but stare from his west window, shiver at
the threat of thunder, and make wild entries in his diary.

The great storm broke just before midnight on 8 August. Lightning
struck repeatedly in all parts of the city, and two remarkable
fireballs were reported. The rain was torrential, while a constant
fusillade of thunder brought sleeplessness to thousands. Blake was
utterly frantic in his fear for the lighting system, and tried to
telephone the company around 1 A.M. though by that time service had
been temporarily cut off in the interests of safety. He recorded
everything in his diary--the large, nervous, and often undecipherable,
hieroglyphs telling their own story of growing frenzy and despair, and
of entries scrawled blindly in the dark.

He had to keep the house dark in order to see out of the window, and
it appears that most of his time was spent at his desk, peering
anxiously through the rain across the glistening miles of downtown
roofs at the constellation of distant lights marking Federal Hill. Now
and then he would fumblingly make an entry in his diary, so that
detached phrases such as "The lights must not go"; "It knows where I
am"; "I must destroy it"; and "it is calling to me, but perhaps it
means no injury this time"; are found scattered down two of the pages.

Then the lights went out all over the city. It happened at 2.12 A.M.
according to power-house records, but Blake's diary gives no indication
of the time. The entry is merely, "Lights out--God help me." On Federal
Hill there were watchers as anxious as he, and rain-soaked knots of men
paraded the square and alleys around the evil church with
umbrella-shaded candles, electric flashlights, oil lanterns,
crucifixes, and obscure charms of the many sorts common to southern
Italy. They blessed each flash of lightning, and made cryptical signs
of fear with their right hands when a turn in the storm caused the
flashes to lessen and finally to cease altogether. A rising wind blew
out most of the candles, so that the scene grew threatening dark.
Someone roused Father Merluzzo of Spirito Santo Church, and he hastened
to the dismal square to pronounce whatever helpful syllables he could.
Of the restless and curious sounds in the blackened tower, there could
be no doubt whatever.

For what happened at 2.35 we have the testimony of the priest, a
young, intelligent, and well-educated person; of Patrolman William J.
Monohan of the Central Station, an officer of the highest reliability
who had paused at that part of his beat to inspect the crowd; and of
most of the seventy-eight men who had gathered around the church's high
back wall--especially those in the square where the eastward façade was
visible. Of course there was nothing which can be proved as being
outside the order of Nature. The possible causes of such an event are
many. No one can speak with certainty of the obscure chemical processes
arising in a vast, ancient, ill-aired, and long-deserted building of
heterogeneous contents. Mephitic vapours--spontaneous combustion-
pressure of gases born of long decay--any one of numberless phenomena
might be responsible. And then, of course, the factor of conscious
charlatanry can by no means be excluded. The thing was really quite
simple in itself, and covered less than three minutes of actual time.
Father Merluzzo, always a precise man, looked at his watch repeatedly.

It started with a definite swelling of the dull fumbling sounds
inside the black tower. There had for some time been a vague exhalation
of strange, evil odours from the church, and this had now become
emphatic and offensive. Then at last there was a sound of splintering
wood and a large, heavy object crashed down in the yard beneath the
frowning easterly façade. The tower was invisible now that the candles
would not burn, but as the object neared the ground the people knew
that it was the smoke-grimed louvre-boarding of that tower's east
window.

Immediately afterwards an utterly unbearable foetor welled forth
from the unseen heights, choking and sickening the trembling watchers,
and almost prostrating those in the square. At the same time the air
trembled with a vibration as of flapping wings, and a sudden
east-blowing wind more violent than any previous blast snatched off the
hats and wrenched the dripping umbrellas from the crowd. Nothing
definite could be seen in the candleless night, though some
upward-looking spectators thought they glimpsed a great spreading blur
of denser blackness against the inky sky--something like a formless
cloud of smoke that shot with meteorlike speed towards the east.

That was all. The watchers were half numbed with fright, awe, and
discomfort, and scarcely knew what to do, or whether to do anything at
all. Not knowing what had happened, they did not relax their vigil; and
a moment later they sent up a prayer as a sharp flash of belated
lightning, followed by an earsplitting crash of sound, rent the flooded
heavens. Half an hour later the rain stopped, and in fifteen minutes
more the street lights sprang on again, sending the weary, bedraggled
watchers relievedly back to their homes.

The next day's papers gave these matters minor mention in connection
with the general storm reports. It seems that the great lightning flash
and deafening explosion which followed the Federal Hill occurrence were
even more tremendous farther east, where a burst of the singular foetor
was likewise noticed. The phenomenon was most marked over College Hill,
where the crash awakened all the sleeping inhabitants and led to a
bewildered round of speculations. Of those who were already awake only
a few saw the anomalous blaze of light near the top of the hill, or
noticed the inexplicable upward rush of air which almost stripped the
leaves from the trees and blasted the plants in the gardens. It was
agreed that the lone, sudden lightning-bolt must have struck somewhere
in this neighbourhood, though no trace of its striking could afterwards
be found. A youth in the Tau Omega fraternity house thought he saw a
grotesque and hideous mass of smoke in the air just as the preliminary
flash burst, but his observation has not been verified. All of the few
observers, however, agree as to the violent gust from the west and the
flood of intolerable stench which preceded the belated stroke, whilst
evidence concerning the momentary burned odour after the stroke is
equally general.

These points were discussed very carefully because of their probable
connection with the death of Robert Blake. Students in the Psi Delta
house, whose upper rear windows looked into Blake's study, noticed the
blurred white face at the westward window on the morning of the ninth,
and wondered what was wrong with the expression. When they saw the same
face in the same position that evening, they felt worried, and watched
for the lights to come up in his apartment. Later they rang the bell of
the darkened flat, and finally had a policeman force the door.

The rigid body sat bolt upright at the desk by the window, and when
the intruders saw the glassy, bulging eyes, and the marks of stark,
convulsive fright on the twisted features, they turned away in sickened
dismay. Shortly afterwards the coroner's physician made an examination,
and despite the unbroken window reported electrical shock, or nervous
tension induced by electrical discharge, as the cause of death. The
hideous expression he ignored altogether, deeming it a not improbable
result of the profound shock as experienced by a person of such
abnormal imagination and unbalanced emotions. He deduced these latter
qualities from the books, paintings, and manuscripts found in the
apartment, and from the blindly scrawled entries in the diary on the
desk. Blake had prolonged his frenzied jottings to the last, and the
broken-pointed pencil was found clutched in his spasmodically
contracted right hand.

The entries after the failure of the lights were highly disjointed,
and legible only in part. From them certain investigators have drawn
conclusions differing greatly from the materialistic official verdict,
but such speculations have little chance for belief among the
conservative. The case of these imaginative theorists has not been
helped by the action of superstitious Doctor Dexter, who threw the
curious box and angled stone--an object certainly self-luminous as seen
in the black windowless steeple where it was found--into the deepest
channel of Narragansett Bay. Excessive imagination and neurotic
unbalance on Blake's part, aggravated by knowledge of the evil bygone
cult whose startling traces he had uncovered, form the dominant
interpretation given those final frenzied jottings. These are the
entries--or all that can be made of them:

Lights still out--must be five minutes now. Everything depends on
lightning. Yaddith grant it will keep up!...Some influence seems
beating through it...Rain and thunder and wind deafen...The thing is
taking hold of my mind...

Trouble with memory. I see things I never knew before. Other worlds
and other galaxies...Dark...The lightning seems dark and the darkness
seems light...

It cannot be the real hill and church that I see in the
pitch-darkness. Must be retinal impression left by flashes. Heaven
grant the Italians are out with their candles if the lightning stops!

What am I afraid of? Is it not an avatar of Nyarlathotep, who in
antique and shadowy Khem even took the form of man? I remember Yuggoth,
and more distant Shaggai, and the ultimate void of the black planets...

The long, winging flight through the void...cannot cross the
universe of light...re-created by the thoughts caught in the
Shining Trapezohedron...send it through the horrible abysses of
radiance...

My name is Blake--Robert Harrison Blake of 620 East Knapp Street,
Milwaukee, Wisconsin...I am on this planet...

Azathoth have mercy!--the lightning no longer flashes--horrible--I
can see everything with a monstrous sense that is not sight--light is
dark and dark is light...those people on the hill...guard...candles
and charms...their priests...

Sense of distance gone--far is near and near is far. No light--no
glass--see that steeple--that tower--window--can hear--Roderick
Usher--am mad or going mad--the thing is stirring and fumbling in the
tower.

I am it and it is I--I want to get out...must get out and unify the
forces...it knows where I am...

I am Robert Blake, but I see the tower in the dark. There is a
monstrous odour...senses transfigured...boarding at that tower window
cracking and giving way...Iä...ngai...ygg...

I see it--coming here--hell-wind--titan blue--black wing--Yog Sothoth
save me--the three-lobed burning eye...



* THE SHADOW OVER INNSMOUTH


I

During the winter of 1927-28 officials of the Federal government
made a strange and secret investigation of certain conditions in the
ancient Massachusetts seaport of Innsmouth. The public first learned of
it in February, when a vast series of raids and arrests occurred,
followed by the deliberate burning and dynamiting--under suitable
precautions--of an enormous number of crumbling, worm-eaten, and
supposedly empty houses along the abandoned waterfront. Uninquiring
souls let this occurrence pass as one of the major clashes in a
spasmodic war on liquor.

Keener news-followers, however, wondered at the prodigious number of
arrests, the abnormally large force of men used in making them, and the
secrecy surrounding the disposal of the prisoners. No trials, or even
definite charges were reported; nor were any of the captives seen
thereafter in the regular gaols of the nation. There were vague
statements about disease and concentration camps, and later about
dispersal in various naval and military prisons, but nothing positive
ever developed. Innsmouth itself was left almost depopulated, and it is
even now only beginning to show signs of a sluggishly revived existence.

Complaints from many liberal organizations were met with long
confidential discussions, and representatives were taken on trips to
certain camps and prisons. As a result, these societies became
surprisingly passive and reticent. Newspaper men were harder to manage,
but seemed largely to cooperate with the government in the end. Only
one paper--a tabloid always discounted because of its wild policy--
mentioned the deep diving submarine that discharged torpedoes downward
in the marine abyss just beyond Devil Reef. That item, gathered by
chance in a haunt of sailors, seemed indeed rather far-fetched; since
the low, black reef lay a full mile and a half out from Innsmouth
Harbour.

People around the country and in the nearby towns muttered a great
deal among themselves, but said very little to the outer world. They
had talked about dying and half-deserted Innsmouth for nearly a
century, and nothing new could be wilder or more hideous than what they
had whispered and hinted at years before. Many things had taught them
secretiveness, and there was no need to exert pressure on them.
Besides, they really knew little; for wide salt marshes, desolate and
unpeopled, kept neighbors off from Innsmouth on the landward side.

But at last I am going to defy the ban on speech about this thing.
Results, I am certain, are so thorough that no public harm save a shock
of repulsion could ever accrue from a hinting of what was found by
those horrified men at Innsmouth. Besides, what was found might
possibly have more than one explanation. I do not know just how much of
the whole tale has been told even to me, and I have many reasons for
not wishing to probe deeper. For my contact with this affair has been
closer than that of any other layman, and I have carried away
impressions which are yet to drive me to drastic measures.

It was I who fled frantically out of Innsmouth in the early morning
hours of July 16, 1927, and whose frightened appeals for government
inquiry and action brought on the whole reported episode. I was willing
enough to stay mute while the affair was fresh and uncertain; but now
that it is an old story, with public interest and curiosity gone, I
have an odd craving to whisper about those few frightful hours in that
ill-rumored and evilly-shadowed seaport of death and blasphemous
abnormality. The mere telling helps me to restore confidence in my own
faculties; to reassure myself that I was not the first to succumb to a
contagious nightmare hallucination. It helps me, too, in making up my
mind regarding a certain terrible step which lies ahead of me.

I never heard of Innsmouth till the day before I saw it for the
first and--so far--last time. I was celebrating my coming of age by a
tour of New England--sightseeing, antiquarian, and genealogical--and
had planned to go directly from ancient Newburyport to Arkham, whence
my mother's family was derived. I had no car, but was travelling by
train, trolley and motor-coach, always seeking the cheapest possible
route. In Newburyport they told me that the steam train was the thing
to take to Arkham; and it was only at the station ticket-office, when I
demurred at the high fare, that I learned about Innsmouth. The stout,
shrewd-faced agent, whose speech shewed him to be no local man, seemed
sympathetic toward my efforts at economy, and made a suggestion that
none of my other informants had offered.

"You could take that old bus, I suppose," he said with a certain
hesitation, "but it ain't thought much of hereabouts. It goes through
Innsmouth--you may have heard about that--and so the people don't
like it. Run by an Innsmouth fellow--Joe Sargent--but never gets any
custom from here, or Arkham either, I guess. Wonder it keeps running at
all. I s'pose it's cheap enough, but I never see mor'n two or three
people in it--nobody but those Innsmouth folk. Leaves the square--
front of Hammond's Drug Store--at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. unless they've
changed lately. Looks like a terrible rattletrap--I've never been on
it."

That was the first I ever heard of shadowed Innsmouth. Any reference
to a town not shown on common maps or listed in recent guidebooks would
have interested me, and the agent's odd manner of allusion roused
something like real curiosity. A town able to inspire such dislike in
it its neighbors, I thought, must be at least rather unusual, and
worthy of a tourist's attention. If it came before Arkham I would stop
off there and so I asked the agent to tell me something about it. He
was very deliberate, and spoke with an air of feeling slightly superior
to what he said.

"Innsmouth? Well, it's a queer kind of a town down at the mouth of
the Manuxet. Used to be almost a city--quite a port before the War of
1812--but all gone to pieces in the last hundred years or so. No
railroad now--B. and M. never went through, and the branch line from
Rowley was given up years ago.

"More empty houses than there are people, I guess, and no business
to speak of except fishing and lobstering. Everybody trades mostly
either here or in Arkham or Ipswich. Once they had quite a few mills,
but nothing's left now except one gold refinery running on the leanest
kind of part time.

"That refinery, though, used to be a big thing, and old man Marsh,
who owns it, must be richer'n Croesus. Queer old duck, though, and
sticks mighty close in his home. He's supposed to have developed some
skin disease or deformity late in life that makes him keep out of
sight. Grandson of Captain Obed Marsh, who founded the business. His
mother seems to've been some kind of foreigner--they say a South Sea
islander--so everybody raised Cain when he married an Ipswich girl
fifty years ago. They always do that about Innsmouth people, and folks
here and hereabouts always try to cover up any Innsmouth blood they
have in 'em. But Marsh's children and grandchildren look just like
anyone else far's I can see. I've had 'em pointed out to me here--
though, come to think of it, the elder children don't seem to be around
lately. Never saw the old man.

"And why is everybody so down on Innsmouth? Well, young fellow, you
mustn't take too much stock in what people here say. They're hard to
get started, but once they do get started they never let up. They've
been telling things about Innsmouth--whispering 'em, mostly--for the
last hundred years, I guess, and I gather they're more scared than
anything else. Some of the stories would make you laugh--about old
Captain Marsh driving bargains with the devil and bringing imps out of
hell to live in Innsmouth, or about some kind of devil-worship and
awful sacrifices in some place near the wharves that people stumbled on
around 1845 or thereabouts--but I come from Panton, Vermont, and that
kind of story don't go down with me.

"You ought to hear, though, what some of the old-timers tell about
the black reef off the coast--Devil Reef, they call it. It's well
above water a good part of the time, and never much below it, but at
that you could hardly call it an island. The story is that there's a
whole legion of devils seen sometimes on that reef--sprawled about, or
darting in and out of some kind of caves near the top. It's a rugged,
uneven thing, a good bit over a mile out, and toward the end of
shipping days sailors used to make big detours just to avoid it.

"That is, sailors that didn't hail from Innsmouth. One of the things
they had against old Captain Marsh was that he was supposed to land on
it sometimes at night when the tide was right. Maybe he did, for I dare
say the rock formation was interesting, and it's just barely possible
he was looking for pirate loot and maybe finding it; but there was talk
of his dealing with demons there. Fact is, I guess on the whole it was
really the Captain that gave the bad reputation to the reef.

"That was before the big epidemic of 1846, when over half the folks
in Innsmouth was carried off. They never did quite figure out what the
trouble was, but it was probably some foreign kind of disease brought
from China or somewhere by the shipping. It surely was bad enough--
there was riots over it, and all sorts of ghastly doings that I don't
believe ever got outside of town--and it left the place in awful
shape. Never came back--there can't be more'n 300 or 400 people living
there now.

"But the real thing behind the way folks feel is simply race
prejudice--and I don't say I'm blaming those that hold it. I hate
those Innsmouth folks myself, and I wouldn't care to go to their town.
I s'pose you know--though I can see you're a Westerner by your
talk--what a lot our New England ships used to have to do with queer ports
in Africa, Asia, the South Seas, and everywhere else, and what queer
kinds of people they sometimes brought back with 'em. You've probably
heard about the Salem man that came home with a Chinese wife, and maybe
you know there's still a bunch of Fiji Islanders somewhere around Cape
Cod.

"Well, there must be something like that back of the Innsmouth
people. The place always was badly cut off from the rest of the country
by marshes and creeks and we can't be sure about the ins and outs of
the matter; but it's pretty clear that old Captain Marsh must have
brought home some odd specimens when he had all three of his ships in
commission back in the twenties and thirties. There certainly is a
strange kind of streak in the Innsmouth folks today--I don't know how
to explain it but it sort of makes you crawl. You'll notice a little in
Sargent if you take his bus. Some of 'em have queer narrow heads with
flat noses and bulgy, stary eyes that never seem to shut, and their
skin ain't quite right. Rough and scabby, and the sides of the necks
are all shriveled or creased up. Get bald, too, very young. The older
fellows look the worst--fact is, I don't believe I've ever seen a very
old chap of that kind. Guess they must die of looking in the glass!
Animals hate 'em--they used to have lots of horse trouble before the
autos came in.

"Nobody around here or in Arkham or Ipswich will have anything to do
with 'em, and they act kind of offish themselves when they come to town
or when anyone tries to fish on their grounds. Queer how fish are
always thick off Innsmouth Harbour when there ain't any anywhere else
around--but just try to fish there yourself and see how the folks
chase you off! Those people used to come here on the railroad--walking
and taking the train at Rowley after the branch was dropped--but now
they use that bus.

"Yes, there's a hotel in Innsmouth--called the Gilman House--but I
don't believe it can amount to much. I wouldn't advise you to try it.
Better stay over here and take the ten o'clock bus tomorrow morning;
then you can get an evening bus there for Arkham at eight o'clock.
There was a factory inspector who stopped at the Gilman a couple of
years ago and he had a lot of unpleasant hints about the place. Seems
they get a queer crowd there, for this fellow heard voices in other
rooms--though most of 'em was empty--that gave him the shivers. It
was foreign talk he thought, but he said the bad thing about it was the
kind of voice that sometimes spoke. It sounded so unnatural--slopping
like, he said--that he didn't dare undress and go to sleep. Just
waited up and lit out the first thing in the morning. The talk went on
most all night.

"This fellow--Casey, his name was--had a lot to say about how the
Innsmouth folk watched him and seemed kind of on guard. He found the
Marsh refinery a queer place--it's in an old mill on the lower falls
of the Manuxet. What he said tallied up with what I'd heard. Books in
bad shape, and no clear account of any kind of dealings. You know it's
always been a kind of mystery where the Marshes get the gold they
refine. They've never seemed to do much buying in that line, but years
ago they shipped out an enormous lot of ingots.

"Used to be talk of a queer foreign kind of jewelry that the sailors
and refinery men sometimes sold on the sly, or that was seen once or
twice on some of the Marsh women-folks. People allowed maybe old
Captain Obed traded for it in some heathen port, especially since he
always ordered stacks of glass beads and trinkets such as seafaring men
used to get for native trade. Others thought and still think he'd found
an old pirate cache out on Devil Reef. But here's a funny thing. The
old Captain's been dead these sixty years, and there's ain't been a
good-sized ship out of the place since the Civil War; but just the same
the Marshes still keep on buying a few of those native trade things--
mostly glass and rubber gewgaws, they tell me. Maybe the Innsmouth
folks like 'em to look at themselves--Gawd knows they've gotten to be
about as bad as South Sea cannibals and Guinea savages.

"That plague of '46 must have taken off the best blood in the place.
Anyway, they're a doubtful lot now, and the Marshes and other rich
folks are as bad as any. As I told you, there probably ain't more'n 400
people in the whole town in spite of all the streets they say there
are. I guess they're what they call 'white trash' down South--lawless
and sly, and full of secret things. They get a lot of fish and lobsters
and do exporting by truck. Queer how the fish swarm right there and
nowhere else.

"Nobody can ever keep track of these people, and state school
officials and census men have a devil of a time. You can bet that
prying strangers ain't welcome around Innsmouth. I've heard personally
of more'n one business or government man that's disappeared there, and
there's loose talk of one who went crazy and is out at Danvers now.
They must have fixed up some awful scare for that fellow.

"That's why I wouldn't go at night if I was you. I've never been
there and have no wish to go, but I guess a daytime trip couldn't hurt
you--even though the people hereabouts will advise you not to make it.
If you're just sightseeing, and looking for old-time stuff, Innsmouth
ought to be quite a place for you."

And so I spent part of that evening at the Newburyport Public
Library looking up data about Innsmouth. When I had tried to question
the natives in the shops, the lunchroom, the garages, and the fire
station, I had found them even harder to get started than the ticket
agent had predicted; and realized that I could not spare the time to
overcome their first instinctive reticence. They had a kind of obscure
suspiciousness, as if there were something amiss with anyone too much
interested in Innsmouth. At the Y. M. C. A., where I was stopping, the
clerk merely discouraged my going to such a dismal, decadent place; and
the people at the library shewed much the same attitude. Clearly, in
the eyes of the educated, Innsmouth was merely an exaggerated case of
civic degeneration.

The Essex County histories on the library shelves had very little to
say, except that the town was founded in 1643, noted for shipbuilding
before the Revolution, a seat of great marine prosperity in the early
19th century, and later a minor factory center using the Manuxet as
power. The epidemic and riots of 1846 were very sparsely treated, as if
they formed a discredit to the county.

References to decline were few, though the significance of the later
record was unmistakable. After the Civil War all industrial life was
confined to the Marsh Refining Company, and the marketing of gold
ingots formed the only remaining bit of major commerce aside from the
eternal fishing. That fishing paid less and less as the price of the
commodity fell and large-scale corporations offered competition, but
there was never a dearth of fish around Innsmouth Harbour. Foreigners
seldom settled there, and there was some discreetly veiled evidence
that a number of Poles and Portuguese who had tried it had been
scattered in a peculiarly drastic fashion.

Most interesting of all was a glancing reference to the strange
jewelry vaguely associated with Innsmouth. It had evidently impressed
the whole countryside more than a little, for mention was made of
specimens in the museum of Miskatonic University at Arkham, and in the
display room of the Newburyport Historical Society. The fragmentary
descriptions of these things were bald and prosaic, but they hinted to
me an undercurrent of persistent strangeness. Something about them
seemed so odd and provocative that I could not put them out of my mind,
and despite the relative lateness of the hour I resolved to see the
local sample--said to be a large, queerly-proportioned thing evidently
meant for a tiara--if it could possibly be arranged.

The librarian gave me a note of introduction to the curator of the
Society, a Miss Anna Tilton, who lived nearby, and after a brief
explanation that ancient gentlewoman was kind enough to pilot me into
the closed building, since the hour was not outrageously late. The
collection was a notable one indeed, but in my present mood I had eyes
for nothing but the bizarre object which glistened in a corner cupboard
under the electric lights.

It took no excessive sensitiveness to beauty to make me literally
gasp at the strange, unearthly splendour of the alien, opulent phantasy
that rested there on a purple velvet cushion. Even now I can hardly
describe what I saw, though it was clearly enough a sort of tiara, as
the description had said. It was tall in front, and with a very large
and curiously irregular periphery, as if designed for a head of almost
freakishly elliptical outline. The material seemed to be predominantly
gold, though a weird lighter lustrousness hinted at some strange alloy
with an equally beautiful and scarcely identifiable metal. Its
condition was almost perfect, and one could have spent hours in
studying the striking and puzzlingly untraditional designs--some
simply geometrical, and some plainly marine--chased or moulded in high
relief on its surface with a craftsmanship of incredible skill and
grace.

The longer I looked, the more the thing fascinated me; and in this
fascination there was a curiously disturbing element hardly to be
classified or accounted for. At first I decided that it was the queer
other-worldly quality of the art which made me uneasy. All other art
objects I had ever seen either belonged to some known racial or
national stream, or else were consciously modernistic defiances of
every recognized stream. This tiara was neither. It clearly belonged to
some settled technique of infinite maturity and perfection, yet that
technique was utterly remote from any--Eastern or Western, ancient or
modern--which I had ever heard of or seen exemplified. It was as if
the workmanship were that of another planet.

However, I soon saw that my uneasiness had a second and perhaps
equally potent source residing in the pictorial and mathematical
suggestion of the strange designs. The patterns all hinted of remote
secrets and unimaginable abysses in time and space, and the
monotonously aquatic nature of the reliefs became almost sinister.
Among these reliefs were fabulous monsters of abhorrent grotesqueness
and malignity--half ichthyic and half batrachian in suggestion--which
one could not dissociate from a certain haunting and uncomfortable
sense of pseudomemory, as if they called up some image from deep cells
and tissues whose retentive functions are wholly primal and awesomely
ancestral. At times I fancied that every contour of these blasphemous
fish-frogs was over-flowing with the ultimate quintessence of unknown
and inhuman evil.

In odd contrast to the tiara's aspect was its brief and prosy
history as related by Miss Tilton. It had been pawned for a ridiculous
sum at a shop in State Street in 1873, by a drunken Innsmouth man
shortly afterward killed in a brawl. The Society had acquired it
directly from the pawnbroker, at once giving it a display worthy of its
quality. It was labeled as of probable East-Indian or Indochinese
provenance, though the attribution was frankly tentative.

Miss Tilton, comparing all possible hypotheses regarding its origin
and its presence in New England, was inclined to believe that it formed
part of some exotic pirate hoard discovered by old Captain Obed Marsh.
This view was surely not weakened by the insistent offers of purchase
at a high price which the Marshes began to make as soon as they knew of
its presence, and which they repeated to this day despite the Society's
unvarying determination not to sell.

As the good lady shewed me out of the building she made it clear
that the pirate theory of the Marsh fortune was a popular one among the
intelligent people of the region. Her own attitude toward shadowed
Innsmouth--which she never seen--was one of disgust at a community
slipping far down the cultural scale, and she assured me that the
rumours of devil-worship were partly justified by a peculiar secret
cult which had gained force there and engulfed all the orthodox
churches.

It was called, she said, "The Esoteric Order of Dagon", and was
undoubtedly a debased, quasi-pagan thing imported from the East a
century before, at a time when the Innsmouth fisheries seemed to be
going barren. Its persistence among a simple people was quite natural
in view of the sudden and permanent return of abundantly fine fishing,
and it soon came to be the greatest influence in the town, replacing
Freemasonry altogether and taking up headquarters in the old Masonic
Hall on New Church Green.

All this, to the pious Miss Tilton, formed an excellent reason for
shunning the ancient town of decay and desolation; but to me it was
merely a fresh incentive. To my architectural and historical
anticipations was now added an acute anthropological zeal, and I could
scarcely sleep in my small room at the "Y" as the night wore away.


II

Shortly before ten the next morning I stood with one small valise in
front of Hammond's Drug Store in old Market Square waiting for the
Innsmouth bus. As the hour for its arrival drew near I noticed a
general drift of the loungers to other places up the street, or to the
Ideal Lunch across the square. Evidently the ticket-agent had not
exaggerated the dislike which local People bore toward Innsmouth and
its denizens. In a few moments a small motor-coach of extreme
decrepitude and dirty grey colour rattled down State Street, made a
turn, and drew up at the curb beside me. I felt immediately that it was
the right one; a guess which the half-illegible sign on the windshield
--Arkham-Innsmouth-Newburyport--soon verified.

There were only three passengers--dark, unkempt men of sullen
visage and somewhat youthful cast--and when the vehicle stopped they
clumsily shambled out and began walking up State Street in a silent,
almost furtive fashion. The driver also alighted, and I watched him as
he went into the drug store to make some purchase. This, I reflected,
must be the Joe Sargent mentioned by the ticket-agent; and even before
I noticed any details there spread over me a wave of spontaneous
aversion which could be neither checked nor explained. It suddenly
struck me as very natural that the local people should not wish to ride
on a bus owned and driven by this man, or to visit any oftener than
possible the habitat of such a man and his kinsfolk.

When the driver came out of the store I looked at him more carefully
and tried to determine the source of my evil impression. He was a thin,
stoop-shouldered man not much under six feet tall, dressed in shabby
blue civilian clothes and wearing a frayed golf cap. His age was
perhaps thirty-five, but the odd, deep creases in the sides of his neck
made him seem older when one did not study his dull, expressionless
face. He had a narrow head, bulging, watery-blue eyes that seemed never
to wink, a flat nose, a receding forehead and chin, and singularly
undeveloped ears. His long thick lip and coarse-pored, greyish cheeks
seemed almost beardless except for some sparse yellow hairs that
straggled and curled in irregular patches; and in places the surface
seemed queerly irregular, as if peeling from some cutaneous disease.
His hands were large and heavily veined, and had a very unusual
greyish-blue tinge. The fingers were strikingly short in proportion to
the rest of the structure, and seemed to have a tendency to curl
closely into the huge palm. As he walked toward the bus I observed his
peculiarly shambling gait and saw that his feet were inordinately
immense. The more I studied them the more I wondered how he could buy
any shoes to fit them.

A certain greasiness about the fellow increased my dislike. He was
evidently given to working or lounging around the fish docks, and
carried with him much of their characteristic smell. Just what foreign
blood was in him I could not even guess. His oddities certainly did not
look Asiatic, Polynesian, Levantine or negroid, yet I could see why the
people found him alien. I myself would have thought of biological
degeneration rather than alienage.

I was sorry when I saw there would be no other passengers on the
bus. Somehow I did not like the idea of riding alone with this driver.
But as leaving time obviously approached I conquered my qualms and
followed the man aboard, extending him a dollar bill and murmuring the
single word "Innsmouth." He looked curiously at me for a second as he
returned forty cents change without speaking. I took a seat far behind
him, but on the same side of the bus, since I wished to watch the shore
during the journey.

At length the decrepit vehicle stared with a jerk, and rattled
noisily past the old brick buildings of State Street amidst a cloud of
vapour from the exhaust. Glancing at the people on the sidewalks, I
thought I detected in them a curious wish to avoid looking at the bus--
or at least a wish to avoid seeming to look at it. Then we turned to
the left into High Street, where the going was smoother; flying by
stately old mansions of the early republic and still older colonial
farmhouses, passing the Lower Green and Parker River, and finally
emerging into a long, monotonous stretch of open shore country.

The day was warm and sunny, but the landscape of sand and
sedge-grass, and stunted shrubbery became more and desolate as we
proceeded. Out the window I could see the blue water and the sandy line
of Plum Island, and we presently drew very near the beach as our narrow
road veered off from the main highway to Rowley and Ipswich. There were
no visible houses, and I could tell by the state of the road that
traffic was very light hereabouts. The weather-worn telephone poles
carried only two wires. Now and then we crossed crude wooden bridges
over tidal creeks that wound far inland and promoted the general
isolation of the region.

Once in a while I noticed dead stumps and crumbling foundation-walls
above the drifting sand, and recalled the old tradition quoted in one
of the histories I had read, that this was once a fertile and
thickly-settled countryside. The change, it was said, came
simultaneously with the Innsmouth epidemic of l846, and was thought by
simple folk to have a dark connection with hidden forces of evil.
Actually, it was caused by the unwise cutting of woodlands near the
shore, which robbed the soil of the best protection and opened the way
for waves of wind-blown sand.

At last we lost sight of Plum Island and saw the vast expanse of the
open Atlantic on our left. Our narrow course began to climb steeply,
and I felt a singular sense of disquiet in looking at the lonely crest
ahead where the rutted road-way met the sky. It was as if the bus were
about to keep on in its ascent, leaving the sane earth altogether and
merging with the unknown arcana of upper air and cryptical sky. The
smell of the sea took on ominous implications, and the silent driver's
bent, rigid back and narrow head became more and more hateful. As I
looked at him I saw that the back of his head was almost as hairless as
his face, having only a few straggling yellow strands upon a grey
scabrous surface.

Then we reached the crest and beheld the outspread valley beyond,
where the Manuxet joins the sea just north of the long line of cliffs
that culminate in Kingsport Head and veer off toward Cape Ann. On the
far misty horizon I could just make out the dizzy profile of the Head,
topped by the queer ancient house of which so many legends are told;
but for the moment all my attention was captured by the nearer panorama
just below me. I had, I realized, come face to face with
rumour-shadowed Innsmouth.

It was a town of wide extent and dense construction, yet one with a
portentous dearth of visible life. From the tangle of chimney-pots
scarcely a wisp of smoke came, and the three tall steeples loomed stark
and unpainted against the seaward horizon. One of them was crumbling
down at the top, and in that and another there were only black gaping
holes where clock-dials should have been. The vast huddle of sagging
gambrel roofs and peaked gables conveyed with offensive clearness the
idea of wormy decay, and as we approached along the now descending road
I could see that many roofs had wholly caved in. There were some large
square Georgian houses, too, with hipped roofs, cupolas, and railed
"widow's walks." These were mostly well back from the water, and one or
two seemed to be in moderately sound condition. Stretching inland from
among them I saw the rusted, grass-grown line of the abandoned railway,
with leaning telegraph-poles now devoid of wires, and the half-obscured
lines of the old carriage roads to Rowley and Ipswich.

The decay was worst close to the waterfront, though in its very
midst I could spy the white belfry of a fairly well preserved brick
structure which looked like a small factory. The harbour, long clogged
with sand, was enclosed by an ancient stone breakwater; on which I
could begin to discern the minute forms of a few seated fishermen, and
at whose end were what looked like the foundations of a bygone
lighthouse. A sandy tongue had formed inside this barrier and upon it I
saw a few decrepit cabins, moored dories, and scattered lobster-pots.
The only deep water seemed to be where the river poured out past the
belfried structure and turned southward to join the ocean at the
breakwater's end.

Here and there the ruins of wharves jutted out from the shore to end
in indeterminate rottenness, those farthest south seeming the most
decayed. And far out at sea, despite a high tide, I glimpsed a long,
black line scarcely rising above the water yet carrying a suggestion of
odd latent malignancy. This, I knew, must be Devil Reef. As I looked, a
subtle, curious sense of beckoning seemed superadded to the grim
repulsion; and oddly enough, I found this overtone more disturbing than
the primary impression.

We met no one on the road, but presently began to pass deserted
farms in varying stages of ruin. Then I noticed a few inhabited houses
with rags stuffed in the broken windows and shells and dead fish lying
about the littered yards. Once or twice I saw listless-looking people
working in barren gardens or digging clams on the fishy-smelling beach
below, and groups of dirty, simian-visaged children playing around
weed-grown doorsteps. Somehow these people seemed more disquieting than
the dismal buildings, for almost every one had certain peculiarities of
face and motions which I instinctively disliked without being able to
define or comprehend them. For a second I thought this typical physique
suggested some picture I had seen, perhaps in a book, under
circumstances of particular horror or melancholy; but this
pseudo-recollection passed very quickly.

As the bus reached a lower level I began to catch the steady note of
a waterfall through the unnatural stillness, The leaning, unpainted
houses grew thicker, lined both sides of the road, and displayed more
urban tendencies than did those we were leaving behind, The panorama
ahead had contracted to a street scene, and in spots I could see where
a cobblestone pavement and stretches of brick sidewalk had formerly
existed. All the houses were apparently deserted, and there were
occasional gaps where tumbledown chimneys and cellar walls told of
buildings that had collapsed. Pervading everything was the most
nauseous fishy odour imaginable.

Soon cross streets and junctions began to appear; those on the left
leading to shoreward realms of unpaved squalor and decay, while those
on the right shewed vistas of departed grandeur. So far I had seen no
people in the town, but there now came signs of a sparse habitation--
curtained windows here and there, and an occasional battered motorcar
at the curb. Pavement and sidewalks were increasingly well-defined, and
though most of the houses were quite old--wood and brick structures of
the early 19th century--they were obviously kept fit for habitation.
As an amateur antiquarian I almost lost my olfactory disgust and my
feeling of menace and repulsion amidst this rich, unaltered survival
from the past.

But I was not to reach my destination without one very strong
impression of poignantly disagreeable quality. The bus had come to a
sort of open concourse or radial point with churches on two sides and
the bedraggled remains of a circular green in the centre, and I was
looking at a large pillared hall on the right-hand junction ahead. The
structure's once white paint was now gray and peeling and the black and
gold sign on the pediment was so faded that I could only with
difficulty make out the words "Esoteric Order of Dagon"." This, then was
the former Masonic Hall now given over to a degraded cult. As I
strained to decipher this inscription my notice was distracted by the
raucous tones of a cracked bell across the street, and I quickly turned
to look out the window on my side of the coach.

The sound came from a squat stone church of manifestly later date
than most of the houses, built in a clumsy Gothic fashion and having a
disproportionately high basement with shuttered windows. Though the
hands of its clock were missing on the side I glimpsed, I knew that
those hoarse strokes were tolling the hour of eleven. Then suddenly all
thoughts of time were blotted out by an onrushing image of sharp
intensity and unaccountable horror which had seized me before I knew
what it really was. The door of the church basement was open, revealing
a rectangle of blackness inside. And as I looked, a certain object
crossed or seemed to cross that dark rectangle; burning into my brain a
momentary conception of nightmare which was all the more maddening
because analysis could not shew a single nightmarish quality in it.

It was a living object--the first except the driver that I had seen
since entering the compact part of the town--and had I been in a
steadier mood I would have found nothing whatever of terror in it.
Clearly, as I realised a moment later, it was the pastor; clad in some
peculiar vestments doubtless introduced since the Order of Dagon had
modified the ritual of the local churches. The thing which had probably
caught my first subconscious glance and supplied the touch of bizarre
horror was the tall tiara he wore; an almost exact duplicate of the one
Miss Tilton had shown me the previous evening. This, acting on my
imagination, had supplied namelessly sinister qualities to the
indeterminate face and robed, shambling form beneath it. There was not,
I soon decided, any reason why I should have felt that shuddering touch
of evil pseudo-memory. Was it not natural that a local mystery cult
should adopt among its regimentals an unique type of head-dress made
familiar to the community in some strange way--perhaps as
treasure-trove?

A very thin sprinkling of repellent-looking youngish people now
became visible on the sidewalks--lone individuals, and silent knots of
two or three. The lower floors of the crumbling houses sometimes
harboured small shops with dingy signs, and I noticed a parked truck or
two as we rattled along. The sound of waterfalls became more and more
distinct, and presently I saw a fairly deep river-gorge ahead, spanned
by a wide, iron-railed highway bridge beyond which a large square
opened out. As we clanked over the bridge I looked out on both sides
and observed some factory buildings on the edge of the grassy bluff or
part way down. The water far below was very abundant, and I could see
two vigorous sets of falls upstream on my right and at least one
downstream on my left. From this point the noise was quite deafening.
Then we rolled into the large semicircular square across the river and
drew up on the right-hand side in front of a tall, cupola crowned
building with remnants of yellow paint and with a half-effaced sign
proclaiming it to be the Gilman House.

I was glad to get out of that bus, and at once proceeded to check my
valise in the shabby hotel lobby. There was only one person in sight--
an elderly man without what I had come to call the "Innsmouth look"--
and I decided not to ask him any of the questions which bothered me;
remembering that odd things had been noticed in this hotel. Instead, I
strolled out on the square, from which the bus had already gone, and
studied the scene minutely and appraisingly.

One side of the cobblestoned open space was the straight line of the
river; the other was a semicircle of slant-roofed brick buildings of
about the 1800 period, from which several streets radiated away to the
southeast, south, and southwest. Lamps were depressingly few and small
--all low-powered incandescents--and I was glad that my plans called
for departure before dark, even though I knew the moon would be bright.
The buildings were all in fair condition, and included perhaps a dozen
shops in current operation; of which one was a grocery of the First
National chain, others a dismal restaurant, a drug store, and a
wholesale fish-dealer's office, and still another, at the eastward
extremity of the square near the river an office of the town's only
industry--the Marsh Refining Company. There were perhaps ten people
visible, and four or five automobiles and motor trucks stood scattered
about. I did not need to be told that this was the civic centre of
Innsmouth. Eastward I could catch blue glimpses of the harbour, against
which rose the decaying remains of three once beautiful Georgian
steeples. And toward the shore on the opposite bank of the river I saw
the white belfry surmounting what I took to be the Marsh refinery.

For some reason or other I chose to make my first inquiries at the
chain grocery, whose personnel was not likely to be native to
Innsmouth. I found a solitary boy of about seventeen in charge, and was
pleased to note the brightness and affability which promised cheerful
information. He seemed exceptionally eager to talk, and I soon gathered
that he did not like the place, its fishy smell, or its furtive people.
A word with any outsider was a relief to him. He hailed from Arkham,
boarded with a family who came from Ipswich, and went back whenever he
got a moment off. His family did not like him to work in Innsmouth, but
the chain had transferred him there and he did not wish to give up his
job.

There was, he said, no public library or chamber of commerce in
Innsmouth, but I could probably find my way about. The street I had
come down was Federal. West of that were the fine old residence streets
--Broad, Washington, Lafayette, and Adams--and east of it were the
shoreward slums. It was in these slums--along Main Street--that I
would find the old Georgian churches, but they were all long abandoned.
It would be well not to make oneself too conspicuous in such
neighbourhoods--especially north of the river since the people were
sullen and hostile. Some strangers had even disappeared.

Certain spots were almost forbidden territory, as he had learned at
considerable cost. One must not, for example, linger much around the
Marsh refinery, or around any of the still used churches, or around the
pillared Order of Dagon Hall at New Church Green. Those churches were
very odd--all violently disavowed by their respective denominations
elsewhere, and apparently using the queerest kind of ceremonials and
clerical vestments. Their creeds were heterodox and mysterious,
involving hints of certain marvelous transformations leading to bodily
immorality--of a sort--on this earth. The youth's own pastor--Dr.
Wallace of Asbury M. E. Church in Arkham--had gravely urged him not to
join any church in Innsmouth.

As for the Innsmouth people--the youth hardly knew what to make of
them. They were as furtive and seldom seen as animals that live in
burrows, and one could hardly imagine how they passed the time apart
from their desultory fishing. Perhaps--judging from the quantities of
bootleg liquor they consumed--they lay for most of the daylight hours
in an alcoholic stupor. They seemed sullenly banded together in some
sort of fellowship and understanding--despising the world as if they
had access to other and preferable spheres of entity. Their appearance
--especially those staring, unwinking eyes which one never saw shut--
was certainly shocking enough; and their voices were disgusting. It was
awful to hear them chanting in their churches at night, and especially
during their main festivals or revivals, which fell twice a year on
April 30th and October 31st.

They were very fond of the water, and swam a great deal in both
river and harbour. Swimming races out to Devil Reef were very common,
and everyone in sight seemed well able to share in this arduous sport.
When one came to think of it, it was generally only rather young people
who were seen about in public, and of these the oldest were apt to be
the most tainted-looking. When exceptions did occur, they were mostly
persons with no trace of aberrancy, like the old clerk at the hotel.
One wondered what became of the bulk of the older folk, and whether the
"Innsmouth look" were not a strange and insidious disease-phenomenon
which increased its hold as years advanced.

Only a very rare affliction, of course, could bring about such vast
and radical anatomical changes in a single individual after maturity--
changes invoking osseous factors as basic as the shape of the skull--
but then, even this aspect was no more baffling and unheard-of than the
visible features of the malady as a whole. It would be hard, the youth
implied, to form any real conclusions regarding such a matter; since
one never came to know the natives personally no matter how long one
might live in Innsmouth.

The youth was certain that many specimens even worse than the worst
visible ones were kept locked indoors in some places. People sometimes
heard the queerest kind of sounds. The tottering waterfront hovels
north of the river were reputedly connected by hidden tunnels, being
thus a veritable warren of unseen abnormalities. What kind of foreign
blood--if any--these beings had, it was impossible to tell. They
sometimes kept certain especially repulsive characters out of sight
when government and others from the outside world came to town.

It would be of no use, my informant said, to ask the natives
anything about the place. The only one who would talk was a very aged
but normal looking man who lived at the poorhouse on the north rim of
the town and spent his time walking about or lounging around the fire
station. This hoary character, Zadok Allen, was 96 years old and
somewhat touched in the head, besides being the town drunkard. He was a
strange, furtive creature who constantly looked over his shoulder as if
afraid of something, and when sober could not be persuaded to talk at
all with strangers. He was, however, unable to resist any offer of his
favorite poison; and once drunk would furnish the most astonishing
fragments of whispered reminiscence.

After all, though, little useful data could be gained from him;
since his stories were all insane, incomplete hints of impossible
marvels and horrors which could have no source save in his own
disordered fancy. Nobody ever believed him, but the natives did not
like him to drink and talk with strangers; and it was not always safe
to be seen questioning him. It was probably from him that some of the
wildest popular whispers and delusions were derived.

Several non-native residents had reported monstrous glimpses from
time to time, but between old Zadok's tales and the malformed
inhabitants it was no wonder such illusions were current. None of the
non-natives ever stayed out late at night, there being a widespread
impression that it was not wise to do so. Besides, the streets were
loathsomely dark.

As for business--the abundance of fish was certainly almost
uncanny, but the natives were taking less and less advantage of it.
Moreover, prices were falling and competition was growing. Of course
the town's real business was the refinery, whose commercial office was
on the square only a few doors east of where we stood. Old Man Marsh
was never seen, but sometimes went to the works in a closed, curtained
car.

There were all sorts of rumors about how Marsh had come to look. He
had once been a great dandy; and people said he still wore the
frock-coated finery of the Edwardian age curiously adapted to certain
deformities. His son had formerly conducted the office in the square,
but latterly they had been keeping out of sight a good deal and leaving
the brunt of affairs to the younger generation. The sons and their
sisters had come to look very queer, especially the elder ones; and it
was said that their health was failing.

One of the Marsh daughters was a repellent, reptilian-looking woman
who wore an excess of weird jewellery clearly of the same exotic
tradition as that to which the strange tiara belonged. My informant had
noticed it many times, and had heard it spoken of as coming from some
secret hoard, either of pirates or of demons. The clergymen--or
priests, or whatever they were called nowadays--also wore this kind of
ornament as a headdress; but one seldom caught glimpses of them. Other
specimens the youth had not seen, though many were rumoured to exist
around Innsmouth.

The Marshes, together with the other three gently bred families of
the town--the Waites, the Gilmans, and the Eliots--were all very
retiring. They lived in immense houses along Washington Street, and
several were reputed to harbour in concealment certain living kinsfolk
whose personal aspect forbade public view, and whose deaths had been
reported and recorded.

Warning me that many of the street signs were down, the youth drew
for my benefit a rough but ample and painstaking sketch map of the
town's salient features. After a moment's study I felt sure that it
would be of great help, and pocketed it with profuse thanks. Disliking
the dinginess of the single restaurant I had seen, I bought a fair
supply of cheese crackers and ginger wafers to serve as a lunch later
on. My program, I decided, would be to thread the principal streets,
talk with any non-natives I might encounter, and catch the eight
o'clock coach for Arkham. The town, I could see, formed a significant
and exaggerated example of communal decay; but being no sociologist I
would limit my serious observations to the field of architecture.

Thus I began my systematic though half-bewildered tour of
Innsmouth's narrow, shadow-blighted ways. Crossing the bridge and
turning toward the roar of the lower falls, I passed close to the Marsh
refinery, which seemed to be oddly free from the noise of industry. The
building stood on the steep river bluff near a bridge and an open
confluence of streets which I took to be the earliest civic center,
displaced after the Revolution by the present Town Square.

Re-crossing the gorge on the Main Street bridge, I struck a region
of utter desertion which somehow made me shudder. Collapsing huddles of
gambrel roofs formed a jagged and fantastic skyline, above which rose
the ghoulish, decapitated steeple of an ancient church. Some houses
along Main Street were tenanted, but most were tightly boarded up. Down
unpaved side streets I saw the black, gaping windows of deserted
hovels, many of which leaned at perilous and incredible angles through
the sinking of part of the foundations. Those windows stared so
spectrally that it took courage to turn eastward toward the waterfront.
Certainly, the terror of a deserted house swells in geometrical rather
than arithmetical progression as houses multiply to form a city of
stark desolation. The sight of such endless avenues of fishy-eyed
vacancy and death, and the thought of such linked infinities of black,
brooding compartments given over to cob-webs and memories and the
conqueror worm, start up vestigial fears and aversions that not even
the stoutest philosophy can disperse.

Fish Street was as deserted as Main, though it differed in having
many brick and stone warehouses still in excellent shape. Water Street
was almost its duplicate, save that there were great seaward gaps where
wharves had been. Not a living thing did I see except for the scattered
fishermen on the distant break-water, and not a sound did I hear save
the lapping of the harbour tides and the roar of the falls in the
Manuxet. The town was getting more and more on my nerves, and I looked
behind me furtively as I picked my way back over the tottering Water
Street bridge. The Fish Street bridge, according to the sketch, was in
ruins.

North of the river there were traces of squalid life--active
fish-packing houses in Water Street, smoking chimneys and patched roofs
here and there, occasional sounds from indeterminate sources, and
infrequent shambling forms in the dismal streets and unpaved lanes--
but I seemed to find this even more oppressive than the southerly
desertion. For one thing, the people were more hideous and abnormal
than those near the centre of the town; so that I was several times
evilly reminded of something utterly fantastic which I could not quite
place. Undoubtedly the alien strain in the Innsmouth folk was stronger
here than farther inland--unless, indeed, the "Innsmouth look" were a
disease rather than a blood stain, in which case this district might be
held to harbour the more advanced cases.

One detail that annoyed me was the distribution of the few faint
sounds I heard. They ought naturally to have come wholly from the
visibly inhabited houses, yet in reality were often strongest inside
the most rigidly boarded-up facades. There were creakings, scurryings,
and hoarse doubtful noises; and I thought uncomfortably about the
hidden tunnels suggested by the grocery boy. Suddenly I found myself
wondering what the voices of those denizens would be like. I had heard
no speech so far in this quarter, and was unaccountably anxious not to
do so.

Pausing only long enough to look at two fine but ruinous old
churches at Main and Church Streets, I hastened out of that vile
waterfront slum. My next logical goal was New Church Green, but somehow
or other I could not bear to repass the church in whose basement I had
glimpsed the inexplicably frightening form of that strangely diademmed
priest or pastor. Besides, the grocery youth had told me that churches,
as well as the Order of Dagon Hall, were not advisable neighbourhoods
for strangers.

Accordingly I kept north along Main to Martin, then turning inland,
crossing Federal Street safely north of the Green, and entering the
decayed patrician neighbourhood of northern Broad, Washington,
Lafayette, and Adams Streets. Though these stately old avenues were
ill-surfaced and unkempt, their elm-shaded dignity had not entirely
departed. Mansion after mansion claimed my gaze, most of them decrepit
and boarded up amidst neglected grounds, but one or two in each street
shewing signs of occupancy. In Washington Street there was a row of
four or five in excellent repair and with finely-tended lawns and
gardens. The most sumptuous of these--with wide terraced parterres
extending back the whole way to Lafayette Street--I took to be the
home of Old Man Marsh, the afflicted refinery owner.

In all these streets no living thing was visible, and I wondered at
the complete absence of cats and dogs from Innsmouth. Another thing
which puzzled and disturbed me, even in some of the best-preserved
mansions, was the tightly shuttered condition of many third-story and
attic windows. Furtiveness and secretiveness seemed universal in this
hushed city of alienage and death, and I could not escape the sensation
of being watched from ambush on every hand by sly, staring eyes that
never shut.

I shivered as the cracked stroke of three sounded from a belfry on
my left. Too well did I recall the squat church from which those notes
came. Following Washington Street toward the river, I now faced a new
zone of former industry and commerce; noting the ruins of a factory
ahead, and seeing others, with the traces of an old railway station and
covered railway bridge beyond, up the gorge on my right.

The uncertain bridge now before me was posted with a warning sign,
but I took the risk and crossed again to the south bank where traces of
life reappeared. Furtive, shambling creatures stared cryptically in my
direction, and more normal faces eyed me coldly and curiously.
Innsmouth was rapidly becoming intolerable, and I turned down Paine
Street toward the Square in the hope of getting some vehicle to take me
to Arkham before the still-distant starting-time of that sinister bus.

It was then that I saw the tumbledown fire station on my left, and
noticed the red faced, bushy-bearded, watery eyed old man in
nondescript rags who sat on a bench in front of it talking with a pair
of unkempt but not abnormal looking firemen. This, of course, must be
Zadok Allen, the half-crazed, liquorish nonagenarian whose tales of old
Innsmouth and its shadow were so hideous and incredible.


III

It must have been some imp of the perverse--or some sardonic pull
from dark, hidden sources--which made me change my plans as I did. I
had long before resolved to limit my observations to architecture
alone, and I was even then hurrying toward the Square in an effort to
get quick transportation out of this festering city of death and decay;
but the sight of old Zadok Allen set up new currents in my mind and
made me slacken my pace uncertainly.

I had been assured that the old man could do nothing but hint at
wild, disjointed, and incredible legends, and I had been warned that
the natives made it unsafe to be seen talking with him; yet the thought
of this aged witness to the town's decay, with memories going back to
the early days of ships and factories, was a lure that no amount of
reason could make me resist. After all, the strangest and maddest of
myths are often merely symbols or allegories based upon truth--and old
Zadok must have seen everything which went on around Innsmouth for the
last ninety years. Curiosity flared up beyond sense and caution, and in
my youthful egotism I fancied I might be able to sift a nucleus of real
history from the confused, extravagant outpouring I would probably
extract with the aid of raw whiskey.

I knew that I could not accost him then and there, for the firemen
would surely notice and object. Instead, I reflected, I would prepare
by getting some bootleg liquor at a place where the grocery boy had
told me it was plentiful. Then I would loaf near the fire station in
apparent casualness, and fall in with old Zadok after he had started on
one of his frequent rambles. The youth had said that he was very
restless, seldom sitting around the station for more than an hour or
two at a time.

A quart bottle of whiskey was easily, though not cheaply, obtained
in the rear of a dingy variety-store just off the Square in Eliot
Street. The dirty-looking fellow who waited on me had a touch of the
staring "Innsmouth look", but was quite civil in his way; being perhaps
used to the custom of such convivial strangers--truckmen, gold-buyers,
and the like--as were occasionally in town.

Reentering the Square I saw that luck was with me; for--shuffling
out of Paine Street around the corner of the Gilman House--I glimpsed
nothing less than the tall, lean, tattered form of old Zadok Allen
himself. In accordance with my plan, I attracted his attention by
brandishing my newly-purchased bottle: and soon realised that he had
begun to shuffle wistfully after me as I turned into Waite Street on my
way to the most deserted region I could think of.

I was steering my course by the map the grocery boy had prepared,
and was aiming for the wholly abandoned stretch of southern waterfront
which I had previously visited. The only people in sight there had been
the fishermen on the distant breakwater; and by going a few squares
south I could get beyond the range of these, finding a pair of seats on
some abandoned wharf and being free to question old Zadok unobserved
for an indefinite time. Before I reached Main Street I could hear a
faint and wheezy "Hey, Mister!" behind me and I presently allowed the
old man to catch up and take copious pulls from the quart bottle.

I began putting out feelers as we walked amidst the omnipresent
desolation and crazily tilted ruins, but found that the aged tongue did
not loosen as quickly as I had expected. At length I saw a grass-grown
opening toward the sea between crumbling brick walls, with the weedy
length of an earth-and-masonry wharf projecting beyond. Piles of
moss-covered stones near the water promised tolerable seats, and the
scene was sheltered from all possible view by a ruined warehouse on the
north. Here, I thought was the ideal place for a long secret colloquy;
so I guided my companion down the lane and picked out spots to sit in
among the mossy stones. The air of death and desertion was ghoulish,
and the smell of fish almost insufferable; but I was resolved to let
nothing deter me.

About four hours remained for conversation if I were to catch the
eight o'clock coach for Arkham, and I began to dole out more liquor to
the ancient tippler; meanwhile eating my own frugal lunch. In my
donations I was careful not to overshoot the mark, for I did not wish
Zadok's vinous garrulousness to pass into a stupor. After an hour his
furtive taciturnity shewed signs of disappearing, but much to my
disappointment he still sidetracked my questions about Innsmouth and
its shadow-haunted past. He would babble of current topics, revealing a
wide acquaintance with newspapers and a great tendency to philosophise
in a sententious village fashion.

Toward the end of the second hour I feared my quart of whiskey would
not be enough to produce results, and was wondering whether I had
better leave old Zadok and go back for more. Just then, however, chance
made the opening which my questions had been unable to make; and the
wheezing ancient's rambling took a turn that caused me to lean forward
and listen alertly. My back was toward the fishy-smelling sea, but he
was facing it and something or other had caused his wandering gaze to
light on the low, distant line of Devil Reef, then showing plainly and
almost fascinatingly above the waves. The sight seemed to displease
him, for he began a series of weak curses which ended in a confidential
whisper and a knowing leer. He bent toward me, took hold of my coat
lapel, and hissed out some hints that could not be mistaken,

"Thar's whar it all begun--that cursed place of all wickedness whar
the deep water starts. Gate o' hell--sheer drop daown to a bottom no
saoundin'-line kin tech. Ol' Cap'n Obed done it--him that faound aout
more'n was good fer him in the Saouth Sea islands.

"Everybody was in a bad way them days. Trade fallin' off, mills
losin' business--even the new ones--an' the best of our menfolks kilt
aprivateerin' in the War of 1812 or lost with the Elizy brig an' the
Ranger scow--both on 'em Gilman venters. Obed Marsh he had three ships
afloat--brigantine Columby, brig Hefty, an' barque Sumatry Queen. He
was the only one as kep' on with the East-Injy an' Pacific trade,
though Esdras Martin's barkentine Malay Bride made a venter as late as
twenty-eight.

"Never was nobody like Cap'n Obed--old limb o' Satan! Heh, heh! I
kin mind him a-tellin' abaout furren parts, an' callin' all the folks
stupid for goin' to Christian meetin' an' bearin' their burdens meek an'
lowly. Says they'd orter git better gods like some o' the folks in the
Injies--gods as ud bring 'em good fishin' in return for their
sacrifices, an' ud reely answer folks's prayers.

"Matt Eliot, his fust mate, talked a lot too, only he was again'
folks's doin' any heathen things. Told abaout an island east of
Othaheite whar they was a lot o' stone ruins older'n anybody knew
anything abaout, kind o' like them on Ponape, in the Carolines, but with
carven's of faces that looked like the big statues on Easter Island.
Thar was a little volcanic island near thar, too, whar they was other
ruins with diff'rent carvin'--ruins all wore away like they'd ben
under the sea onct, an' with picters of awful monsters all over 'em.

"Wal, Sir, Matt he says the natives araound thar had all the fish
they cud ketch, an' sported bracelets an' armlets an' head rigs made
aout o' a queer kind o' gold an' covered with picters o' monsters jest
like the ones carved over the ruins on the little island--sorter
fish-like frogs or froglike fishes that was drawed in all kinds o'
positions likes they was human bein's. Nobody cud get aout o' them whar
they got all the stuff, an' all the other natives wondered haow they
managed to find fish in plenty even when the very next island had lean
pickin's. Matt he got to wonderon' too an' so did Cap'n Obed. Obed he
notices, besides, that lots of the hn'some young folks ud drop aout o'
sight fer good from year to year, an' that they wan't many old folks
around. Also, he thinks some of the folks looked durned queer even for
Kanakys.

"It took Obed to git the truth aout o' them heathen. I dun't know
haow he done it, but he begun by tradin' fer the gold-like things they
wore. Ast 'em whar they come from, an' ef they cud git more, an'
finally wormed the story aout o' the old chief--Walakea, they called
him. Nobody but Obed ud ever a believed the old yeller devil, but the
Cap'n cud read folks like they was books. Heh, heh! Nobody never
believes me naow when I tell 'em, an' I dun't s'pose you will, young
feller--though come to look at ye, ye hev kind o' got them
sharp-readin' eyes like Obed had."

The old man's whisper grew fainter, and I found myself shuddering at
the terrible and sincere portentousness of his intonation, even though
I knew his tale could be nothing but drunken phantasy.

"Wal, Sir, Obed he larnt that they's things on this arth as most
folks never heerd about--an' wouldn't believe ef they did hear. It
seems these Kanakys was sacrificin' heaps o' their young men an'
maidens to some kind o' god-things that lived under the sea, an'
gittin' all kinds o' favour in return. They met the things on the
little islet with the queer ruins, an' it seems them awful picters o'
frog-fish monsters was supposed to be picters o' these things. Mebbe
they was the kind o' critters as got all the mermaid stories an' sech
started.

"They had all kinds a' cities on the sea-bottom, an' this island was
heaved up from thar. Seem they was some of the things alive in the
stone buildin's when the island come up sudden to the surface, That's
how the Kanakys got wind they was daown thar. Made sign-talk as soon as
they got over bein' skeert, an' pieced up a bargain afore long.

"Them things liked human sacrifices. Had had 'em ages afore, but
lost track o' the upper world after a time. What they done to the
victims it ain't fer me to say, an' I guess Obed wa'n't none too sharp
abaout askin'. But it was all right with the heathens, because they'd
ben havin' a hard time an' was desp'rate abaout everything. They give a
sarten number o' young folks to the sea-things twice every year--
May-Eve an' Hallawe'en--reg'lar as cud be. Also give some a' the
carved knick-knacks they made. What the things agreed to give in return
was plenty a' fish--they druv 'em in from all over the sea--an' a few
gold-like things naow an' then.

"Wal, as I says, the natives met the things on the little volcanic
islet--goin' thar in canoes with the sacrifices et cet'ry, and
bringin' back any of the gold-like jools as was comin' to 'em. At fust
the things didn't never go onto the main island, but arter a time they
come to want to. Seems they hankered arter mixin' with the folks, an'
havin' j'int ceremonies on the big days--May-Eve an' Hallowe'en. Ye
see, they was able to live both in ant aout o' water--what they call
amphibians, I guess. The Kanakys told 'em as haow folks from the other
islands might wanta wipe 'an out if they got wind o' their bein' thar,
but they says they dun't keer much, because they cud wipe aout the hull
brood o' humans ef they was willin' to bother--that is, any as didn't
be, sarten signs sech as was used onct by the lost Old Ones, whoever
they was. But not wantin' to bother, they'd lay low when anybody
visited the island.

"When it come to matin' with them toad-lookin' fishes, the Kanakys
kind o' balked, but finally they larnt something as put a new face on
the matter. Seems that human folks has got a kind a' relation to sech
water-beasts--that everything alive come aout o' the water onct an'
only needs a little change to go back agin. Them things told the
Kanakys that ef they mixed bloods there'd be children as ud look human
at fust, but later turn more'n more like the things, till finally
they'd take to the water an' jine the main lot o' things daown har. An'
this is the important part, young feller--them as turned into fish
things an' went into the water wouldn't never die. Them things never
died excep' they was kilt violent.

"Wal, Sir, it seems by the time Obed knowed them islanders they was
all full o' fish blood from them deep-water things. When they got old
an' begun to shew it, they was kep' hid until they felt like takin' to
the water an' quittin' the place. Some was more teched than others, an'
some never did change quite enough to take to the water; but mosily
they turned out jest the way them things said. Them as was born more
like the things changed arly, but them as was nearly human sometimes
stayed on the island till they was past seventy, though they'd usually
go daown under for trial trips afore that. Folks as had took to the
water gen'rally come back a good deal to visit, so's a man ud often be
a'talkin' to his own five-times-great-grandfather who'd left the dry
land a couple o' hundred years or so afore.

"Everybody got aout o' the idee o' dyin'--excep' in canoe wars with
the other islanders, or as sacrifices to the sea-gods daown below, or
from snakebite or plague or sharp gallopin' ailments or somethin' afore
they cud take to the water--but simply looked forrad to a kind o'
change that wa'n't a bit horrible arter a while. They thought what
they'd got was well wuth all they'd had to give up--an' I guess Obed
kind o' come to think the same hisself when he'd chewed over old
Walakea's story a bit. Walakea, though, was one of the few as hadn't
got none of the fish blood--bein' of a royal line that intermarried
with royal lines on other islands.

"Walakea he shewed Obed a lot o' rites an' incantations as had to do
with the sea things, an' let him see some o' the folks in the village
as had changed a lot from human shape. Somehaow or other, though, he
never would let him see one of the reg'lar things from right aout o'
the water. In the end he give him a funny kind o' thingumajig made aout
o' lead or something, that he said ud bring up the fish things from any
place in the water whar they might be a nest o' 'em. The idee was to
drop it daown with the right kind o' prayers an' sech. Walakea allowed
as the things was scattered all over the world, so's anybody that
looked abaout cud find a nest an' bring 'em up ef they was wanted.

"Matt he didn't like this business at all, an' wanted Obed shud keep
away from the island; but the Cap'n was sharp fer gain, an' faound he
cud get them gold-like things so cheap it ud pay him to make a
specialty of them. Things went on that way for years an' Obed got
enough o' that gold-like stuff to make him start the refinery in
Waite's old run-daown fullin' mill. He didn't dass sell the pieces like
they was, for folks ud be all the time askin' questions. All the same
his crews ud get a piece an' dispose of it naow and then, even though
they was swore to keep quiet; an' he let his women-folks wear some o'
the pieces as was more human-like than most.

"Well, come abaout thutty-eight--when I was seven year' old--Obed
he faound the island people all wiped aout between v'yages. Seems the
other islanders had got wind o' what was goin' on, and had took matters
into their own hands. S'pose they must a had, after all, them old magic
signs as the sea things says was the only things they was afeard of. No
tellin' what any o' them Kanakys will chance to git a holt of when the
sea-bottom throws up some island with ruins older'n the deluge. Pious
cusses, these was--they didn't leave nothin' standin' on either the
main island or the little volcanic islet excep' what parts of the ruins
was too big to knock daown. In some places they was little stones
strewed abaout--like charms--with somethin' on 'em like what ye call
a swastika naowadays. Prob'ly them was the Old Ones' signs. Folks all
wiped aout no trace o' no gold-like things an' none the nearby Kanakys
ud breathe a word abaout the matter. Wouldn't even admit they'd ever
ben any people on that island.

"That naturally hit Obed pretty hard, seein' as his normal trade was
doin' very poor. It hit the whole of Innsmouth, too, because in
seafarint days what profited the master of a ship gen'lly profited the
crew proportionate. Most of the folks araound the taown took the hard
times kind o' sheep-like an' resigned, but they was in bad shape
because the fishin' was peterin' aout an' the mills wan't doin' none
too well.

"Then's the time Obed he begun a-cursin' at the folks fer bein' dull
sheep an' prayin' to a Christian heaven as didn't help 'em none. He
told 'em he'd knowed o' folks as prayed to gods that give somethin' ye
reely need, an' says ef a good bunch o' men ud stand by him, he cud
mebbe get a holt o' sarten paowers as ud bring plenty o' fish an' quite
a bit of gold. 0' course them as sarved on the Sumatry Queen, an' seed
the island knowed what he meant, an' wa'n't none too anxious to get
clost to sea-things like they'd heard tell on, but them as didn't know
what 'twas all abaout got kind o' swayed by what Obed had to say, and
begun to ast him what he cud do to sit 'em on the way to the faith as
ud bring 'em results."

Here the old man faltered, mumbled, and lapsed into a moody and
apprehensive silence; glancing nervously over his shoulder and then
turning back to stare fascinatedly at the distant black reef. When I
spoke to him he did not answer, so I knew I would have to let him
finish the bottle. The insane yarn I was hearing interested me
profoundly, for I fancied there was contained within it a sort of crude
allegory based upon the strangeness of Innsmouth and elaborated by an
imagination at once creative and full of scraps of exotic legend. Not
for a moment did I believe that the tale had any really substantial
foundation; but none the less the account held a hint of genuine terror
if only because it brought in references to strange jewels clearly akin
to the malign tiara I had seen at Newburyport. Perhaps the ornaments
had, after all, come from some strange island; and possibly the wild
stories were lies of the bygone Obed himself rather than of this
antique toper.

I handed Zadok the bottle, and he drained it to the last drop. It
was curious how he could stand so much whiskey, for not even a trace of
thickness had come into his high, wheezy voice. He licked the nose of
the bottle and slipped it into his pocket, then beginning to nod and
whisper softly to himself. I bent close to catch any articulate words
he might utter, and thought I saw a sardonic smile behind the stained
bushy whiskers. Yes--he was really forming words, and I could grasp a
fair proportion of them.

"Poor Matt--Matt he allus was agin it--tried to line up the folks
on his side, an' had long talks with the preachers--no use--they run
the Congregational parson aout o' taown, an' the Methodist feller quit
--never did see Resolved Babcock, the Baptist parson, agin--Wrath o'
Jehovy--I was a mightly little critter, but I heerd what I heerd an,
seen what I seen--Dagon an' Ashtoreth--Belial an' Beelzebub--Golden
Caff an' the idols o' Canaan an' the Philistines--Babylonish
abominations--Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin--."

He stopped again, and from the look in his watery blue eyes I feared
he was close to a stupor after all. But when I gently shook his
shoulder he turned on me with astonishing alertness and snapped out
some more obscure phrases.

"Dun't believe me, hey? Hey, heh, heh--then jest tell me, young
feller, why Cap'n Obed an' twenty odd other folks used to row aout to
Devil Reef in the dead o' night an' chant things so laoud ye cud hear
'em all over taown when the wind was right? Tell me that, hey? An' tell
me why Obed was allus droppin' heavy things daown into the deep water
t'other side o' the reef whar the bottom shoots daown like a cliff
lower'n ye kin saound? Tell me what he done with that funny-shaped lead
thingumajig as Walakea give him? Hey, boy? An' what did they all haowl
on May-Eve, an, agin the next Hallowe'en? An' why'd the new church
parsons--fellers as used to be sailors--wear them queer robes an'
cover their-selves with them gold-like things Obed brung? Hey?"

The watery blue eyes were almost savage and maniacal now, and the
dirty white beard bristled electrically. Old Zadok probably saw me
shrink back, for he began to cackle evilly.

"Heh, heh, heh, heh! Beginnin' to see, hey? Mebbe ye'd like to a ben
me in them days, when I seed things at night aout to sea from the
cupalo top o' my haouse. Oh, I kin tell ye' little pitchers hev big
ears, an' I wa'n't missin' nothin' o' what was gossiped abaout Cap'n
Obed an' the folks aout to the reef! Heh, heh, heh! Haow abaout the
night I took my pa's ship's glass up to the cupalo an' seed the reef
a-bristlin' thick with shapes that dove off quick soon's the moon riz?

"Obed an' the folks was in a dory, but them shapes dove off the far side
into the deep water an' never come up...

"Haow'd ye like to be a little shaver alone up in a cupola
a-watchin' shapes as wa'n't human shapes?...Heh?...Heh, heh, heh..."

The old man was getting hysterical, and I began to shiver with a
nameless alarm. He laid a gnarled claw on my shoulder, and it seemed to
me that its shaking was not altogether that of mirth.

"S'pose one night ye seed somethin' heavy heaved offen Obed's dory
beyond the reef' and then learned next day a young feller was missin'
from home. Hey! Did anybody ever see hide or hair o' Hiram Gilman agin.
Did they? An' Nick Pierce, an' Luelly Waite, an' Adoniram Saouthwick,
an' Henry Garrison. Hey? Heh, heh, heh, heh...Shapes talkin' sign
language with their hands...them as had reel hands...

"Wal, Sir, that was the time Obed begun to git on his feet agin.
Folks see his three darters a-wearin' gold-like things as nobody'd
never see on 'em afore, an' smoke stared comin' aout o' the refin'ry
chimbly. Other folks was prosp'rin, too--fish begun to swarm into the
harbour fit to kill an' heaven knows what sized cargoes we begun to
ship aout to Newb'ryport, Arkham, an' Boston. 'Twas then Obed got the
ol' branch railrud put through. Some Kingsport fishermen heerd abaout
the ketch an' come up in sloops, but they was all lost. Nobody never
see 'em agin. An' jest then our folk organised the Esoteric Order o'
Dagon, an' bought Masonic Hall offen Calvary Commandery for it...heh,
heh, heh! Matt Eliot was a Mason an' agin the sellin', but he dropped
aout o' sight jest then.

"Remember, I ain't sayin' Obed was set on hevin' things jest like
they was on that Kanaky isle. I dun't think he aimed at fust to do no
mixin', nor raise no younguns to take to the water an' turn into fishes
with eternal life. He wanted them gold things, an' was willin' to pay
heavy, an' I guess the others was satisfied fer a while...

"Come in' forty-six the taown done some lookin' an' thinkin' fer
itself. Too many folks missin'--too much wild preachin' at meetin' of
a Sunday--too much talk abaout that reef. I guess I done a bit by
tellin' Selectman Mowry what I see from the cupalo. They was a party
one night as follered Obed's craowd aout to the reef, an' I heerd shots
betwixt the dories. Nex' day Obed and thutty-two others was in gaol,
with everybody a-wonderin' jest what was afoot and jest what charge
agin 'em cud he got to holt. God, ef anybody'd look'd ahead...a
couple o' weeks later, when nothin' had ben throwed into the sea fer
thet long..."

Zadok was shewing sings of fright and exhaustion, and I let him keep
silence for a while, though glancing apprehensively at my watch. The
tide had turned and was coming in now, and the sound of the waves
seemed to arouse him. I was glad of that tide, for at high water the
fishy smell might not be so bad. Again I strained to catch his whispers.

"That awful night...I seed 'em. I was up in the cupalo...hordes
of 'em...swarms of 'em...all over the reef an' swimmin' up the
harbour into the Manuxet...God, what happened in the streets of
Innsmouth that night...they rattled our door, but pa wouldn't open
...then he clumb aout the kitchen winder with his musket to find
Selecman Mowry an' see what he cud do...Maounds o' the dead an' the
dyin'...shots and screams...shaoutin' in Ol Squar an' Taown Squar
an' New Church Green--gaol throwed open...--proclamation...treason
...called it the plague when folks come in an' faoud haff our people
missin'...nobody left but them as ud jine in with Obed an' them
things or else keep quiet...never heard o' my pa no more..."

The old man was panting and perspiring profusely. His grip on my shoulder
tightened.

"Everything cleaned up in the mornin'--but they was traces...Obed
he kinder takes charge an' says things is goin' to be changed...
others'll worship with us at meetin'-time, an' sarten haouses hez got
to entertin guests...they wanted to mix like they done with the
Kanakys, an' he for one didn't feel baound to stop 'em. Far gone, was
Obed...jest like a crazy man on the subjeck. He says they brung us
fish an' treasure, an' shud hev what they hankered after..."

"Nothin' was to be diff'runt on the aoutside; only we was to keep shy
o' strangers ef we knowed what was good fer us.

"We all hed to take the Oath o' Dagon, an' later on they was secon'
an' third oaths that some o' us took. Them as ud help special, ud git
special rewards--gold an' sech--No use balkin', fer they was millions
of 'em daown thar. They'd ruther not start risin' an' wipin' aout
human-kind, but ef they was gave away an' forced to, they cud do a lot
toward jest that. We didn't hev them old charms to cut 'em off like
folks in the Saouth Sea did, an' them Kanakys wudn't never give away
their secrets.

"Yield up enough sacrifices an' savage knick-knacks an' harbourage
in the taown when they wanted it, an' they'd let well enough alone.
Wudn't bother no strangers as might bear tales aoutside--that is,
withaout they got pryin'. All in the band of the faithful--Order o'
Dagon--an' the children shud never die, but go back to the Mother
Hydra an' Father Dagon what we all come from onct...Ia! Ia! Cthulhu
fhtagn! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah-nagl fhtaga--"

Old Zadok was fast lapsing into stark raving, and I held my breath.
Poor old soul--to what pitiful depths of hallucination had his liquor,
plus his hatred of the decay, alienage, and disease around him, brought
that fertile, imaginative brain? He began to moan now, and tears were
coursing down his channelled checks into the depths of his beard.

"God, what I seen senct I was fifteen year' old--Mene, mene, tekel,
upharsin!--the folks as was missin', and them as kilt theirselves--
them as told things in Arkham or Ipswich or sech places was all called
crazy, like you're callin' me right naow--but God, what I seen--
They'd a kilt me long ago fer' what I know, only I'd took the fust an'
secon' Oaths o' Dago offen Obed, so was pertected unlessen a jury of
'em proved I told things knowin' an' delib'rit...but I wudn't take
the third Oath--I'd a died ruther'n take that--

"It got wuss araound Civil War time, when children born senct
'forty-six begun to grow up--some 'em, that is. I was afeared--never
did no pryin' arter that awful night, an' never see one o'--them--
clost to in all my life. That is, never no full-blooded one. I went to
the war, an' ef I'd a had any guts or sense I'd a never come back, but
settled away from here. But folks wrote me things wa'n't so bad. That,
I s'pose, was because gov'munt draft men was in taown arter
'sixty-three. Arter the war it was jest as bad agin. People begun to
fall off--mills an' shops shet daown--shippin' stopped an' the
harbour choked up--railrud give up--but they...they never stopped
swimmin' in an' aout o' the river from that cursed reef o' Satan--an'
more an' more attic winders got a-boarded up, an' more an' more noises
was heerd in haouses as wa'n't s'posed to hev nobody in 'em...

"Folks aoutside hev their stories abaout us--s'pose you've heerd a
plenty on 'em, seein' what questions ye ast--stories abaout things
they've seed naow an' then, an' abaout that queer joolry as still comes
in from somewhars an' ain't quite all melted up--but nothin' never
gits def'nite. Nobody'll believe nothin'. They call them gold-like
things pirate loot, an' allaow the Innsmouth folks hez furren blood or
is dis-tempered or somethin'. Beside, them that lives here shoo off as
many strangers as they kin, an' encourage the rest not to git very
cur'ous, specially raound night time. Beasts balk at the critters--
hosses wuss'n mules--but when they got autos that was all right.

"In 'forty-six Cap'n Obed took a second wife that nobody in the
taown never see--some says he didn't want to, but was made to by them
as he'd called in--had three children by her--two as disappeared
young, but one gal as looked like anybody else an' was eddicated in
Europe. Obed finally got her married off by a trick to an Arkham feller
as didn't suspect nothin'. But nobody aoutside'll hav nothin' to do
with Innsmouth folks naow. Barnabas Marsh that runs the refin'ry now is
Obed's grandson by his fust wife--son of Onesiphorus, his eldest son,
but his mother was another o' them as wa'n't never seen aoutdoors.

"Right naow Barnabas is abaout changed. Can't shet his eyes no more,
an' is all aout o' shape. They say he still wears clothes, but he'll
take to the water soon. Mebbe he's tried it already--they do sometimes
go daown for little spells afore they go daown for good. Ain't ben seed
abaout in public fer nigh on ten year'. Dun't know haow his poor wife
kin feel--she come from Ipiwich, an' they nigh lynched Barnabas when
he courted her fifty odd year' ago. Obed he died in 'seventy-eight an'
all the next gen'ration is gone naow--the fust wife's children dead,
and the rest...God knows..."

The sound of the incoming tide was now very insistent, and little by
little it seemed to change the old man's mood from maudlin tearfulness
to watchful fear. He would pause now and then to renew those nervous
glances over his shoulder or out toward the reef, and despite the wild
absurdity of his tale, I could not help beginning to share his
apprehensiveness. Zadok now grew shriller, seemed to be trying to whip
up his courage with louder speech.

"Hey, yew, why dun't ye say somethin'? Haow'd ye like to be livin'
in a taown like this, with everything a-rottin' an' dyin', an'
boarded-up monsters crawlin' an' bleatin' an' barkin' an' hoppin'
araoun' black cellars an' attics every way ye turn? Hey? Haow'd ye like
to hear the haowlin' night arter night from the churches an' Order o'
Dagon Hall, an' know what's doin' part o' the haowlin'? Haow'd ye like
to hear what comes from that awful reef every May-Eve an' Hallowmass?
Hey? Think the old man's crazy, eh? Wal, Sir, let me tell ye that ain't
the wust!"

Zadok was really screaming now, and the mad frenzy of his voice disturbed
me more than I care to own.

"Curse ye, dun't set thar a'starin' at me with them eyes--I tell
Obed Marsh he's in hell, an, hez got to stay thar! Heh, heh...in
hell, I says! Can't git me--I hain't done nothin' nor told nobody
nothin'--

"Oh, you, young feller? Wal, even ef I hain't told nobody nothin'
yet, I'm a'goin' to naow! Yew jest set still an' listen to me, boy--
this is what I ain't never told nobody...I says I didn't get to do
pryin' arter that night--but I faound things about jest the same!"

"Yew want to know what the reel horror is, hey? Wal, it's this--it
ain't what them fish devils hez done, but what they're a-goin' to do!
They're a-bringin' things up aout o' whar they come from into the taown
--been doin' it fer years, an' slackenin' up lately. Them haouses north
o' the river be-twixt Water an' Main Streets is full of 'em--them
devils an' what they brung--an' when they git ready...I say, when
they git...ever hear tell of a shoggoth?

"Hey, d'ye hear me? I tell ye I know what them things be--I seen 'em one
night when...eh-ahhh-ah! e'yahhh..."

The hideous suddenness and inhuman frightfulness of the old man's
shriek almost made me faint. His eyes, looking past me toward the
malodorous sea, were positively starting from his head; while his face
was a mask of fear worthy of Greek tragedy. His bony claw dug
monstrously into my shoulder, and he made no motion as I turned my head
to look at whatever he had glimpsed.

There was nothing that I could see. Only the incoming tide, with
perhaps one set of ripples more local than the long-flung line of
breakers. But now Zadok was shaking me, and I turned back to watch the
melting of that fear-frozen face into a chaos of twitching eyelids and
mumbling gums. Presently his voice came back--albeit as a trembling
whisper.

"Git aout o' here! Get aout o' here! They seen us--git aout fer
your life! Dun't wait fer nothin'--they know naow--Run fer it--quick
--aout o' this taown--"

Another heavy wave dashed against the loosing masonry of the bygone
wharf, and changed the mad ancient's whisper to another inhuman and
blood-curdling scream. "E-yaahhhh!...Yheaaaaaa!..."

Before I could recover my scattered wits he had relaxed his clutch
on my shoulder and dashed wildly inland toward the street, reeling
northward around the ruined warehouse wall.

I glanced back at the sea, but there was nothing there. And when I
reached Water Street and looked along it toward the north there was no
remaining trace of Zadok Allen.


IV

I can hardly describe the mood in which I was left by this harrowing
episode--an episode at once mad and pitiful, grotesque and terrifying.
The grocery boy had prepared me for it, yet the reality left me none
the less bewildered and disturbed. Puerile though the story was, old
Zadok's insane earnestness and horror had communicated to me a mounting
unrest which joined with my earlier sense of loathing for the town and
its blight of intangible shadow.

Later I might sift the tale and extract some nucleus of historic
allegory; just now I wished to put it out of my head. The hour grown
perilously late--my watch said 7:15, and the Arkham bus left Town
Square at eight--so I tried to give my thoughts as neutral and
practical a cast as possible, meanwhile walking rapidly through the
deserted streets of gaping roofs and leaning houses toward the hotel
where I had checked my valise and would find my bus.

Though the golden light of late afternoon gave the ancient roofs and
decrepit chimneys an air of mystic loveliness and peace, I could not
help glancing over my shoulder now and then. I would surely be very
glad to get out of malodorous and fear-shadowed Innsmouth, and wished
there were some other vehicle than the bus driven by that
sinister-looking fellow Sargent. Yet I did not hurry too precipitately,
for there were architectural details worth viewing at every silent
corner; and I could easily, I calculated, cover the necessary distance
in a half-hour.

Studying the grocery youth's map and seeking a route I had not
traversed before, I chose Marsh Street instead of State for my approach
to Town Square. Near the corner of Fall Street I began to see scattered
groups of furtive whisperers, and when I finally reached the Square I
saw that almost all the loiterers were congregated around the door of
the Gilman House. It seemed as if many bulging, watery, unwinking eyes
looked oddly at me as I claimed my valise in the lobby, and I hoped
that none of these unpleasant creatures would be my fellow-passengers
on the coach.

The bus, rather early, rattled in with three passengers somewhat
before eight, and an evil-looking fellow on the sidewalk muttered a few
indistinguishable words to the driver. Sargent threw out a mail-bag and
a roll of newspapers, and entered the hotel; while the passengers--the
same men whom I had seen arriving in Newburyport that morning--
shambled to the sidewalk and exchanged some faint guttural words with a
loafer in a language I could have sworn was not English. I boarded the
empty coach and took the seat I had taken before, but was hardly
settled before Sargent re-appeared and began mumbling in a throaty
voice of peculiar repulsiveness.

I was, it appeared, in very bad luck. There had been something wrong
with the engine, despite the excellent time made from Newburyport, and
the bus could not complete the journey to Arkham. No, it could not
possibly be repaired that night, nor was there any other way of getting
transportation out of Innsmouth either to Arkham or elsewhere. Sargent
was sorry, but I would have to stop over at the Gilman. Probably the
clerk would make the price easy for me, but there was nothing else to
do. Almost dazed by this sudden obstacle, and violently dreading the
fall of night in this decaying and half-unlighted town, I left the bus
and reentered the hotel lobby; where the sullen queer-looking night
clerk told me I could have Room 428 on next the top floor--large, but
without running water--for a dollar.

Despite what I had heard of this hotel in Newburyport, I signed the
register, paid my dollar, let the clerk take my valise, and followed
that sour, solitary attendant up three creaking flights of stairs past
dusty corridors which seemed wholly devoid of life. My room was a
dismal rear one with two windows and bare, cheap furnishings,
overlooked a dingy court-yard otherwise hemmed in by low, deserted
brick blocks, and commanded a view of decrepit westward-stretching
roofs with a marshy countryside beyond. At the end of the corridor was
a bathroom--a discouraging relique with ancient marble bowl, tin tub,
faint electric light, and musty wooded paneling around all the plumbing
fixtures.

It being still daylight, I descended to the Square and looked around
for a dinner of some sort; noticing as I did so the strange glances I
received from the unwholesome loafers. Since the grocery was closed, I
was forced to patronise the restaurant I had shunned before; a stooped,
narrow-headed man with staring, unwinking eyes, and a flat-nosed wench
with unbelievably thick, clumsy hands being in attendance. The service
was all of the counter type, and it relieved me to find that much was
evidently served from cans and packages. A bowl of vegetable soup with
crackers was enough for me, and I soon headed back for my cheerless
room at the Gilman; getting a evening paper and a fly-specked magazine
from the evil-visaged clerk at the rickety stand beside his desk.

As twilight deepened I turned on the one feeble electric bulb over
the cheap, iron-framed bed, and tried as best I could to continue the
reading I had begun. I felt it advisable to keep my mind wholesomely
occupied, for it would not do to brood over the abnormalities of this
ancient, blight-shadowed town while I was still within its borders. The
insane yarn I had heard from the aged drunkard did not promise very
pleasant dreams, and I felt I must keep the image of his wild, watery
eyes as far as possible from my imagination.

Also, I must not dwell on what that factory inspector had told the
Newburyport ticket-agent about the Gilman House and the voices of its
nocturnal tenants--not on that, nor on the face beneath the tiara in
the black church doorway; the face for whose horror my conscious mind
could not account. It would perhaps have been easier to keep my
thoughts from disturbing topics had the room not been so gruesomely
musty. As it was, the lethal mustiness blended hideously with the
town's general fishy odour and persistently focussed one's fancy on
death and decay.

Another thing that disturbed me was the absence of a bolt on the
door of my room. One had been there, as marks clearly shewed, but there
were signs of recent removal. No doubt it had been out of order, like
so many other things in this decrepit edifice. In my nervousness I
looked around and discovered a bolt on the clothes press which seemed
to be of the same size, judging from the marks, as the one formerly on
the door. To gain a partial relief from the general tension I busied
myself by transferring this hardware to the vacant place with the aid
of a handy three-in-one device including a screwdriver which I kept on
my key-ring. The bolt fitted perfectly, and I was somewhat relieved
when I knew that I could shoot it firmly upon retiring. Not that I had
any real apprehension of its need, but that any symbol of security was
welcome in an environment of this kind. There were adequate bolts on
the two lateral doors to connecting rooms, and these I proceeded to
fasten.

I did not undress, but decided to read till I was sleepy and then
lie down with only my coat, collar, and shoes off. Taking a pocket
flash light from my valise, I placed it in my trousers, so that I could
read my watch if I woke up later in the dark. Drowsiness, however, did
not come; and when I stopped to analyse my thoughts I found to my
disquiet that I was really unconsciously listening for something--
listening for something which I dreaded but could not name. That
inspector's story must have worked on my imagination more deeply than I
had suspected. Again I tried to read, but found that I made no progress.

After a time I seemed to hear the stairs and corridors creak at
intervals as if with footsteps, and wondered if the other rooms were
beginning to fill up. There were no voices, however, and it struck me
that there was something subtly furtive about the creaking. I did not
like it, and debated whether I had better try to sleep at all. This
town had some queer people, and there had undoubtedly been several
disappearances. Was this one of those inns where travelers were slain
for their money? Surely I had no look of excessive prosperity. Or were
the towns folk really so resentful about curious visitors? Had my
obvious sightseeing, with its frequent map-consultations, aroused
unfavorable notice. It occurred to me that I must be in a highly
nervous state to let a few random creakings set me off speculating in
this fashion--but I regretted none the less that I was unarmed.

At length, feeling a fatigue which had nothing of drowsiness in it,
I bolted the newly outfitted hall door, turned off the light, and threw
myself down on the hard, uneven bed--coat, collar, shoes, and all. In
the darkness every faint noise of the night seemed magnified, and a
flood of doubly unpleasant thoughts swept over me. I was sorry I had
put out the light, yet was too tired to rise and turn it on again.
Then, after a long, dreary interval, and prefaced by a fresh creaking
of stairs and corridor, there came that soft, damnably unmistakable
sound which seemed like a malign fulfillment of all my apprehensions.
Without the least shadow of a doubt, the lock of my door was being
tried--cautiously, furtively, tentatively--with a key.

My sensations upon recognising this sign of actual peril were
perhaps less rather than more tumultuous because of my previous vague
fears. I had been, albeit without definite reason, instinctively on my
guard--and that was to my advantage in the new and real crisis,
whatever it might turn out to be. Nevertheless the change in the menace
from vague premonition to immediate reality was a profound shock, and
fell upon me with the force of a genuine blow. It never once occurred
to me that the fumbling might be a mere mistake. Malign purpose was all
I could think of, and I kept deathly quiet, awaiting the would-be
intruder's next move.

After a time the cautious rattling ceased, and I heard the room to
the north entered with a pass-key. Then the lock of the connecting door
to my room was softly tried. The bolt held, of course, and I heard the
floor creak as the prowler left the room. After a moment there came
another soft rattling, and I knew that the room to the south of me was
being entered. Again a furtive trying of a bolted connecting door, and
again a receding creaking. This time the creaking went along the hall
and down the stairs, so I knew that the prowler had realised the bolted
condition of my doors and was giving up his attempt for a greater or
lesser time, as the future would shew.

The readiness with which I fell into a plan of action proves that I
must have been subconsciously fearing some menace and considering
possible avenues of escape for hours. From the first I felt that the
unseen fumbler meant a danger not to be met or dealt with, but only to
be fled from as precipitately as possible. The one thing to do was to
get out of that hotel alive as quickly as I could, and through some
channel other than the front stairs and lobby.

Rising softly and throwing my flashlight on the switch, I sought to
light the bulb over my bed in order to choose and pocket some
belongings for a swift, valiseless flight. Nothing, however, happened;
and I saw that the power had been cut off. Clearly, some cryptic, evil
movement was afoot on a large scale--just what, I could not say. As I
stood pondering with my hand on the now useless switch I heard a
muffled creaking on the floor below, and thought I could barely
distinguish voices in conversation. A moment later I felt less sure
that the deeper sounds were voices, since the apparent hoarse barkings
and loose-syllabled croakings bore so little resemblance to recognized
human speech. Then I thought with renewed force of what the factory
inspector had heard in the night in this mouldering and pestilential
building.

Having filled my pockets with the flashlight's aid, I put on my hat
and tiptoed to the windows to consider chances of descent. Despite the
state's safety regulations there was no fire escape on this side of the
hotel, and I saw that my windows commanded only a sheer three story
drop to the cobbled courtyard. On the right and left, however, some
ancient brick business blocks abutted on the hotel; their slant roofs
coming up to a reasonable jumping distance from my fourth-story level.
To reach either of these lines of buildings I would have to be in a
room two from my own--in one case on the north and in the other case
on the south--and my mind instantly set to work what chances I had of
making the transfer.

I could not, I decided, risk an emergence into the corridor; where
my footsteps would surely be heard, and where the difficulties of
entering the desired room would be insuperable. My progress, if it was
to be made at all, would have to be through the less solidly-built
connecting doors of the rooms; the locks and bolts of which I would
have to force violently, using my shoulder as a battering-ram whenever
they were set against me. This, I thought, would be possible owing to
the rickety nature of the house and its fixtures; but I realised I
could not do it noiselessly. I would have to count on sheer speed, and
the chance of getting to a window before any hostile forces became
coordinated enough to open the right door toward me with a pass-key. My
own outer door I reinforced by pushing the bureau against it--little
by little, in order to make a minimum of sound.

I perceived that my chances were very slender, and was fully
prepared for any calamity. Even getting to another roof would not solve
the problem for there would then remain the task of reaching the ground
and escaping from the town. One thing in my favour was the deserted and
ruinous state of the abutting building and the number of skylights
gaping blackly open in each row.

Gathering from the grocery boy's map that the best route out of town
was southward, I glanced first at the connecting door on the south side
of the room. It was designed to open in my direction, hence I saw--
after drawing the bolt and finding other fastening in place--it was
not a favorable one for forcing. Accordingly abandoning it as a route,
I cautiously moved the bedstead against it to hamper any attack which
might be made on it later from the next room. The door on the north was
hung to open away from me, and this--though a test proved it to be
locked or bolted from the other side--I knew must be my route. If I
could gain the roofs of the buildings in Paine Street and descend
successfully to the ground level, I might perhaps dart through the
courtyard and the adjacent or opposite building to Washington or Bates
--or else emerge in Paine and edge around southward into Washington. In
any case, I would aim to strike Washington somehow and get quickly out
of the Town Square region. My preference would be to avoid Paine, since
the fire station there might be open all night.

As I thought of these things I looked out over the squalid sea of
decaying roofs below me, now brightened by the beams of a moon not much
past full. On the right the black gash of the river-gorge clove the
panorama; abandoned factories and railway station clinging
barnacle-like to its sides. Beyond it the rusted railway and the Rowley
road led off through a flat marshy terrain dotted with islets of higher
and dryer scrub-grown land. On the left the creek-threaded country-side
was nearer, the narrow road to Ipswich gleaming white in the moonlight.
I could not see from my side of the hotel the southward route toward
Arkham which I had determined to take.

I was irresolutely speculating on when I had better attack the
northward door, and on how I could least audibly manage it, when I
noticed that the vague noises underfoot had given place to a fresh and
heavier creaking of the stairs. A wavering flicker of light shewed
through my transom, and the boards of the corridor began to groan with
a ponderous load. Muffled sounds of possible vocal origin approached,
and at length a firm knock came at my outer door.

For a moment I simply held my breath and waited. Eternities seemed
to elapse, and the nauseous fishy odour of my environment seemed to
mount suddenly and spectacularly. Then the knocking was repeated--
continuously, and with growing insistence. I knew that the time for
action had come, and forthwith drew the bolt of the northward
connecting door, bracing myself for the task of battering it open. The
knocking waxed louder, and I hoped that its volume would cover the
sound of my efforts. At last beginning my attempt, I lunged again and
again at the thin paneling with my left shoulder, heedless of shock or
pain. The door resisted even more than I expected, but I did not give
in. And all the while the clamour at the outer door increased.

Finally the connecting door gave, but with such a crash that I knew
those outside must have heard. Instantly the outside knocking became a
violent battering, while keys sounded ominously in the hall doors of
the rooms on both sides of me. Rushing through the newly opened
connexion, I succeeded in bolting the northerly hall door before the
lock could be turned; but even as I did so I heard the hall door of the
third room--the one from whose window I had hoped to reach the roof
below--being tried with a pass-key.

For an instant I felt absolute despair, since my trapping in a
chamber with no window egress seemed complete. A wave of almost
abnormal horror swept over me, and invested with a terrible but
unexplainable singularity the flashlight-glimpsed dust prints made by
the intruder who had lately tried my door from this room. Then, with a
dazed automatism which persisted despite hopelessness, I made for the
next connecting door and performed the blind motion of pushing at it in
an effort to get through and--granting that fastenings might be as
providentially intact as in this second room--bolt the hall door
beyond before the lock could be turned from outside.

Sheer fortunate chance gave me my reprieve--for the connecting door
before me was not only unlocked but actually ajar. In a second I was
though, and had my right knee and shoulder against a hall door which
was visibly opening inward. My pressure took the opener off guard, for
the thing shut as I pushed, so that I could slip the well-conditioned
bolt as I had done with the other door. As I gained this respite I
heard the battering at the two other doors abate, while a confused
clatter came from the connecting door I had shielded with the bedstead.
Evidently the bulk of my assailants had entered the southerly room and
were massing in a lateral attack. But at the same moment a pass-key
sounded in the next door to the north, and I knew that a nearer peril
was at hand.

The northward connecting door was wide open, but there was no time
to think about checking the already turning lock in the hall. All I
could do was to shut and bolt the open connecting door, as well as its
mate on the opposite side--pushing a bedstead against the one and a
bureau against the other, and moving a washstand in front of the hall
door. I must, I saw, trust to such makeshift barriers to shield me till
I could get out the window and on the roof of the Paine Street block.
But even in this acute moment my chief horror was something apart from
the immediate weakness of my defenses. I was shuddering because not one
of my pursuers, despite some hideous panting, grunting, and subdued
barkings at odd intervals, was uttering an unmuffled or intelligible
vocal sound.

As I moved the furniture and rushed toward the windows I heard a
frightful scurrying along the corridor toward the room north of me, and
perceived that the southward battering had ceased. Plainly, most of my
opponents were about to concentrate against the feeble connecting door
which they knew must open directly on me. Outside, the moon played on
the ridgepole of the block below, and I saw that the jump would be
desperately hazardous because of the steep surface on which I must land.

Surveying the conditions, I chose the more southerly of the two
windows as my avenue of escape; planning to land on the inner slope of
the roof and make for the nearest sky-light. Once inside one of the
decrepit brick structures I would have to reckon with pursuit; but I
hoped to descend and dodge in and out of yawning doorways along the
shadowed courtyard, eventually getting to Washington Street and
slipping out of town toward the south.

The clatter at the northerly connecting door was now terrific, and I
saw that the weak panelling was beginning to splinter. Obviously, the
besiegers had brought some ponderous object into play as a
battering-ram. The bedstead, however, still held firm; so that I had at
least a faint chance of making good my escape. As I opened the window I
noticed that it was flanked by heavy velour draperies suspended from a
pole by brass rings, and also that there was a large projecting catch
for the shutters on the exterior. Seeing a possible means of avoiding
the dangerous jump, I yanked at the hangings and brought them down,
pole and all; then quickly hooking two of the rings in the shutter
catch and flinging the drapery outside. The heavy folds reached fully
to the abutting roof, and I saw that the rings and catch would be
likely to bear my weight. So, climbing out of the window and down the
improvised rope ladder, I left behind me forever the morbid and
horror-infested fabric of the Gilman House.

I landed safely on the loose slates of the steep roof, and succeeded
in gaining the gaping black skylight without a slip. Glancing up at the
window I had left, I observed it was still dark, though far across the
crumbling chimneys to the north I could see lights ominously blazing in
the Order of Dagon Hall, the Baptist church, and the Congregational
church which I recalled so shiveringly. There had seemed to be no one
in the courtyard below, and I hoped there would be a chance to get away
before the spreading of a general alarm. Flashing my pocket lamp into
the skylight, I saw that there were no steps down. The distance was
slight, however, so I clambered over the brink and dropped; striking a
dusty floor littered with crumbling boxes and barrels.

The place was ghoulish-looking, but I was past minding such
impressions and made at once for the staircase revealed by my
flashlight--after a hasty glance at my watch, which shewed the hour to
be 2 a.m. The steps creaked, but seemed tolerably sound; and I raced
down past a barnlike second storey to the ground floor. The desolation
was complete, and only echoes answered my footfalls. At length I
reached the lower hall at the end of which I saw a faint luminous
rectangle marking the ruined Paine Street doorway. Heading the other
way, I found the back door also open; and darted out and down five
stone steps to the grass-grown cobblestones of the courtyard.

The moonbeams did not reach down here, but I could just see my way
about without using the flashlight. Some of the windows on the Gilman
House side were faintly glowing, and I thought I heard confused sounds
within. Walking softly over to the Washington Street side I perceived
several open doorways, and chose the nearest as my route out. The
hallway inside was black, and when I reached the opposite end I saw
that the street door was wedged immovably shut. Resolved to try another
building, I groped my way back toward the courtyard, but stopped short
when close to the doorway.

For out of an opened door in the Gilman House a large crowd of
doubtful shapes was pouring--lanterns bobbing in the darkness, and
horrible croaking voices exchanging low cries in what was certainly not
English. The figures moved uncertainly, and I realized to my relief
that they did not know where I had gone; but for all that they sent a
shiver of horror through my frame. Their features were
indistinguishable, but their crouching, shambling gait was abominably
repellent. And worst of all, I perceived that one figure was strangely
robed, and unmistakably surmounted by a tall tiara of a design
altogether too familiar. As the figures spread throughout the
courtyard, I felt my fears increase. Suppose I could find no egress
from this building on the street side? The fishy odour was detestable,
and I wondered I could stand it without fainting. Again groping toward
the street, I opened a door off the hall and came upon an empty room
with closely shuttered but sashless windows. Fumbling in the rays of my
flashlight, I found I could open the shutters; and in another moment
had climbed outside and was fully closing the aperture in its original
manner.

I was now in Washington Street, and for the moment saw no living
thing nor any light save that of the moon. From several directions in
the distance, however, I could hear the sound of hoarse voices, of
footsteps, and of a curious kind of pattering which did not sound quite
like footsteps. Plainly I had no time to lose. The points of the
compass were clear to me, and I was glad that all the street lights
were turned off, as is often the custom on strongly moonlit nights in
prosperous rural regions. Some of the sounds came from the south, yet I
retained my design of escaping in that direction. There would, I knew,
be plenty of deserted doorways to shelter me in case I met any person
or group who looked like pursuers.

I walked rapidly, softly, and close to the ruined houses. While
hatless and dishevelled after my arduous climb, I did not look
especially noticeable; and stood a good chance of passing unheeded if
forced to encounter any casual wayfarer.

At Bates Street I drew into a yawning vestibule while two shambling
figures crossed in front of me, but was soon on my way again and
approaching the open space where Eliot Street obliquely crosses
Washington at the intersection of South. Though I had never seen this
space, it had looked dangerous to me on the grocery youth's map; since
the moonlight would have free play there. There was no use trying to
evade it, for any alternative course would involve detours of possibly
disastrous visibility and delaying effect. The only thing to do was to
cross it boldly and openly; imitating the typical shamble of the
Innsmouth folk as best I could, and trusting that no one--or at least
no pursuer of mine--would be there.

Just how fully the pursuit was organised--and indeed, just what its
purpose might be--I could form no idea. There seemed to be unusual
activity in the town, but I judged that the news of my escape from the
Gilman had not yet spread. I would, of course, soon have to shift from
Washington to some other southward street; for that party from the
hotel would doubtless be after me. I must have left dust prints in that
last old building, revealing how I had gained the street.

The open space was, as I had expected, strongly moonlit; and I saw
the remains of a parklike, iron-railed green in its center. Fortunately
no one was about though a curious sort of buzz or roar seemed to be
increasing in the direction of Town Square. South Street was very wide,
leading directly down a slight declivity to the waterfront and
commanding a long view out to sea; and I hoped that no one would be
glancing up it from afar as I crossed in the bright moonlight.

My progress was unimpeded, and no fresh sound arose to hint that I
had been spied. Glancing about me, I involuntarily let my pace slacken
for a second to take in the sight of the sea, gorgeous in the burning
moonlight at the street's end. Far out beyond the breakwater was the
dim, dark line of Devil Reef, and as I glimpsed it I could not help
thinking of all the hideous legends I had heard in the last twenty-four
hours--legends which portrayed this ragged rock as a veritable gateway
to realms of unfathomed horror and inconceivable abnormality.

Then, without warning, I saw the intermittent flashes of light on
the distant reef. They were definite and unmistakable, and awaked in my
mind a blind horror beyond all rational proportion. My muscles
tightened for panic flight, held in only by a certain unconscious
caution and half-hypnotic fascination. And to make matters worse, there
now flashed forth from the lofty cupola of the Gilman House, which
loomed up to the northeast behind me, a series of analogous though
differently spaced gleams which could be nothing less than an answering
signal.

Controlling my muscles, and realising afresh--how plainly visible I
was, I resumed my brisker and feignedly shambling pace; though keeping
my eyes on that hellish and ominous reef as long as the opening of
South Street gave me a seaward view. What the whole proceeding meant, I
could not imagine; unless it involved some strange rite connected with
Devil Reef, or unless some party had landed from a ship on that
sinister rock. I now bent to the left around the ruinous green; still
gazing toward the ocean as it blazed in the spectral summer moonlight,
and watching the cryptical flashing of those nameless, unexplainable
beacons.

It was then that the most horrible impression of all was borne in
upon me--the impression which destroyed my last vestige of
self-control and sent me running frantically southward past the yawning
black doorways and fishily staring windows of that deserted nightmare
street. For at a closer glance I saw that the moonlit waters between
the reef and the shore were far from empty. They were alive with a
teeming horde of shapes swimming inward toward the town; and even at my
vast distance and in my single moment of perception I could tell that
the bobbing heads and flailing arms were alien and aberrant in a way
scarcely to be expressed or consciously formulated.

My frantic running ceased before I had covered a block, for at my
left I began to hear something like the hue and cry of organised
pursuit. There were footsteps and guttural sounds, and a rattling motor
wheezed south along Federal Street. In a second all my plans were
utterly changed--for if the southward highway were blocked ahead of
me, I must clearly find another egress from Innsmouth. I paused and
drew into a gaping doorway, reflecting how lucky I was to have left the
moonlit open space before these pursuers came down the parallel street.

A second reflection was less comforting. Since the pursuit was down
another street, it was plain that the party was not following me
directly. It had not seen me, but was simply obeying a general plan of
cutting off my escape. This, however, implied that all roads leading
out of Innsmouth were similarly patrolled; for the people could not
have known what route I intended to take. If this were so, I would have
to make my retreat across country away from any road; but how could I
do that in view of the marshy and creek-riddled nature of all the
surrounding region? For a moment my brain reeled--both from sheer
hopelessness and from a rapid increase in the omnipresent fishy odour.

Then I thought of the abandoned railway to Rowley, whose solid line
of ballasted, weed-grown earth still stretched off to the northwest
from the crumbling station on the edge at the river-gorge. There was
just a chance that the townsfolk would not think of that; since its
briar-choked desertion made it half-impassable, and the unlikeliest of
all avenues for a fugitive to choose. I had seen it clearly from my
hotel window and knew about how it lay. Most of its earlier length was
uncomfortably visible from the Rowley road, and from high places in the
town itself; but one could perhaps crawl inconspicuously through the
undergrowth. At any rate, it would form my only chance of deliverance,
and there was nothing to do but try it.

Drawing inside the hall of my deserted shelter, I once more
consulted the grocery boy's map with the aid of the flashlight. The
immediate problem was how to reach the ancient railway; and I now saw
that the safest course was ahead to Babson Street; then west to
Lafayette--there edging around but not crossing an open space
homologous to the one I had traversed--and subsequently back northward
and westward in a zigzagging line through Lafayette, Bates, Adam, and
Bank streets--the latter skirting the river gorge--to the abandoned
and dilapidated station I had seen from my window. My reason for going
ahead to Babson was that I wished neither to recross the earlier open
space nor to begin my westward course along a cross street as broad as
South.

Starting once more, I crossed the street to the right-hand side in
order to edge around into Babson as inconspicuously as possible. Noises
still continued in Federal Street, and as I glanced behind me I thought
I saw a gleam of light near the building through which I had escaped.
Anxious to leave Washington Street, I broke into a quiet dogtrot,
trusting to luck not to encounter any observing eye. Next the corner of
Babson Street I saw to my alarm that one of the houses was still
inhabited, as attested by curtains at the window; but there were no
lights within, and I passed it without disaster.

In Babson Street, which crossed Federal and might thus reveal me to
the searchers, I clung as closely as possible to the sagging, uneven
buildings; twice pausing in a doorway as the noises behind me
momentarily increased. The open space ahead shone wide and desolate
under the moon, but my route would not force me to cross it. During my
second pause I began to detect a fresh distribution of vague sounds;
and upon looking cautiously out from cover beheld a motor car darting
across the open space, bound outward along Eliot Street, which there
intersects both Babson and Lafayette.

As I watched--choked by a sudden rise in the fishy odour after a
short abatement--I saw a band of uncouth, crouching shapes loping and
shambling in the same direction; and knew that this must be the party
guarding the Ipswich road, since that highway forms an extension of
Eliot Street. Two of the figures I glimpsed were in voluminous robes,
and one wore a peaked diadem which glistened whitely in the moonlight.
The gait of this figure was so odd that it sent a chill through me--
for it seemed to me the creature was almost hopping.

When the last of the band was out of sight I resumed my progress;
darting around the corner into Lafayette Street, and crossing Eliot
very hurriedly lest stragglers of the party be still advancing along
that thoroughfare. I did hear some croaking and clattering sounds far
off toward Town Square, but accomplished the passage without disaster.
My greatest dread was in re-crossing broad and moonlit South Street--
with its seaward view--and I had to nerve myself for the ordeal.
Someone might easily be looking, and possible Eliot Street stragglers
could not fail to glimpse me from either of two points. At the last
moment I decided I had better slacken my trot and make the crossing as
before in the shambling gait of an average Innsmouth native.

When the view of the water again opened out--this time on my right
--I was half-determined not to look at it at all. I could not however,
resist; but cast a sidelong glance as I carefully and imitatively
shambled toward the protecting shadows ahead. There was no ship
visible, as I had half-expected there would be. Instead, the first
thing which caught my eye was a small rowboat pulling in toward the
abandoned wharves and laden with some bulky, tarpaulin-covered object.
Its rowers, though distantly and indistinctly seen, were of an
especially repellent aspect. Several swimmers were still discernible;
while on the far black reef I could see a faint, steady glow unlike the
winking beacon visible before, and of a curious colour which I could
not precisely identify. Above the slant roofs ahead and to the right
there loomed the tall cupola of the Gilman House, but it was completely
dark. The fishy odour, dispelled for a moment by some merciful breeze,
now closed in again with maddening intensity.

I had not quite crossed the street when I heard a muttering band
advancing along Washington from the north. As they reached the broad
open space where I had had my first disquieting glimpse of the moonlit
water I could see them plainly only a block away--and was horrified by
the bestial abnormality of their faces and the doglike sub-humanness of
their crouching gait. One man moved in a positively simian way, with
long arms frequently touching the ground; while another figure--robed
and tiaraed--seemed to progress in an almost hopping fashion. I judged
this party to be the one I had seen in the Gilman's courtyard--the
one, therefore, most closely on my trail. As some of the figures turned
to look in my direction I was transfixed with fright, yet managed to
preserve the casual, shambling gait I had assumed. To this day I do not
know whether they saw me or not. If they did, my stratagem must have
deceived them, for they passed on across the moonlit space without
varying their course--meanwhile croaking and jabbering in some hateful
guttural patois I could not identify.

Once more in shadow, I resumed my former dog-trot past the leaning
and decrepit houses that stared blankly into the night. Having crossed
to the western sidewalk I rounded the nearest corner into Bates Street
where I kept close to the buildings on the southern side. I passed two
houses shewing signs of habitation, one of which had faint lights in
upper rooms, yet met with no obstacle. As I turned into Adams Street I
felt measurably safer, but received a shook when a man reeled out of a
black doorway directly in front of me. He proved, however, too
hopelessly drunk to be a menace; so that I reached the dismal ruins of
the Bank Street warehouses in safety.

No one was stirring in that dead street beside the river-gorge, and
the roar of the waterfalls quite drowned my foot steps. It was a long
dog-trot to the ruined station, and the great brick warehouse walls
around me seemed somehow more terrifying than the fronts of private
houses. At last I saw the ancient arcaded station--or what was left of
it--and made directly for the tracks that started from its farther end.

The rails were rusty but mainly intact, and not more than half the
ties had rotted away. Walking or running on such a surface was very
difficult; but I did my best, and on the whole made very fair time. For
some distance the line kept on along the gorge's brink, but at length I
reached the long covered bridge where it crossed the chasm at a
dizzying height. The condition of this bridge would determine my next
step. If humanly possible, I would use it; if not, I would have to risk
more street wandering and take the nearest intact highway bridge.

The vast, barnlike length of the old bridge gleamed spectrally in
the moonlight, and I saw that the ties were safe for at least a few
feet within. Entering, I began to use my flashlight, and was almost
knocked down by the cloud of bats that flapped past me. About half-way
across there was a perilous gap in the ties which I feared for a moment
would halt me; but in the end I risked a desperate jump which
fortunately succeeded.

I was glad to see the moonlight again when I emerged from that
macabre tunnel. The old tracks crossed River Street at grade, and at
once veered off into a region increasingly rural and with less and less
of Innsmouth's abhorrent fishy odour. Here the dense growth of weeds
and briers hindered me and cruelly tore at my clothes, but I was none
the less glad that they were there to give me concealment in case of
peril. I knew that much of my route must be visible from the Rowley
road.

The marshy region began very abruptly, with the single track on a
low, grassy embankment where the weedy growth was somewhat thinner.
Then came a sort of island of higher ground, where the line passed
through a shallow open cut choked with bushes and brambles. I was very
glad of this partial shelter, since at this point the Rowley road was
uncomfortably near according to my window view. At the end of the cut
it would cross the track and swerve off to a safer distance; but
meanwhile I must be exceedingly careful. I was by this time thankfully
certain that the railway itself was not patrolled.

Just before entering the cut I glanced behind me, but saw no
pursuer. The ancient spires and roofs of decaying Innsmouth gleamed
lovely and ethereal in the magic yellow moonlight, and I thought of how
they must have looked in the old days before the shadow fell. Then, as
my gaze circled inland from the town, something less tranquil arrested
my notice and held me immobile for a second.

What I saw--or fancied I saw--was a disturbing suggestion of
undulant motion far to the south; a suggestion which made me conclude
that a very large horde must be pouring out of the city along the level
Ipswich road. The distance was great and I could distinguish nothing in
detail; but I did not at all like the look of that moving column. It
undulated too much, and glistened too brightly in the rays of the now
westering moon. There was a suggestion of sound, too, though the wind
was blowing the other way--a suggestion of bestial scraping and
bellowing even worse than the muttering of the parties I had lately
overheard.

All sorts of unpleasant conjectures crossed my mind. I thought of
those very extreme Innsmouth types said to be hidden in crumbling,
centuried warrens near the waterfront; I thought, too, of those
nameless swimmers I had seen. Counting the parties so far glimpsed, as
well as those presumably covering other roads, the number of my
pursuers must be strangely large for a town as depopulated as Innsmouth.

Whence could come the dense personnel of such a column as I now
beheld? Did those ancient, unplumbed warrens teem with a twisted,
uncatalogued, and unsuspected life? Or had some unseen ship indeed
landed a legion of unknown outsiders on that hellish reef? Who were
they? Why were they here? And if such a column of them was scouring the
Ipswich road, would the patrols on the other roads be likewise
augmented?

I had entered the brush-grown cut and was struggling along at a very
slow pace when that damnable fishy odour again waxed dominant. Had the
wind suddenly changed eastward, so that it blew in from the sea and
over the town? It must have, I concluded, since I now began to hear
shocking guttural murmurs from that hitherto silent direction. There
was another sound, too--a kind of wholesale, colossal flopping or
pattering which somehow called up images of the most detestable sort.
It made me think illogically of that unpleasantly undulating column on
the far-off Ipswich road.

And then both stench and sounds grew stronger, so that I paused
shivering and grateful for the cut's protection. It was here, I
recalled, that the Rowley road drew so close to the old railway before
crossing westward and diverging. Something was coming along that road,
and I must lie low till its passage and vanishment in the distance.
Thank heaven these creatures employed no dogs for tracking--though
perhaps that would have been impossible amidst the omnipresent regional
odour. Crouched in the bushes of that sandy cleft I felt reasonably
safe, even though I knew the searchers would have to cross the track in
front of me not much more than a hundred yards away. I would be able to
see them, but they could not, except by a malign miracle, see me.

All at once I began dreading to look at them as they passed. I saw
the close moonlit space where they would surge by, and had curious
thoughts about the irredeemable pollution of that space. They would
perhaps be the worst of all Innsmouth types--something one would not
care to remember.

The stench waxed overpowering, and the noises swelled to a bestial
babel of croaking, baying and barking without the least suggestion of
human speech. Were these indeed the voices of my pursuers? Did they
have dogs after all? So far I had seen none of the lower animals in
Innsmouth. That flopping or pattering was monstrous--I could not look
upon the degenerate creatures responsible for it. I would keep my eyes
shut till the sound receded toward the west. The horde was very close
now--air foul with their hoarse snarlings, and the ground almost
shaking with their alien-rhythmed footfalls. My breath nearly ceased to
come, and I put every ounce of will-power into the task of holding my
eyelids down.

I am not even yet willing to say whether what followed was a hideous
actuality or only a nightmare hallucination. The later action of the
government, after my frantic appeals, would tend to confirm it as a
monstrous truth; but could not an hallucination have been repeated
under the quasi-hypnotic spell of that ancient, haunted, and shadowed
town? Such places have strange properties, and the legacy of insane
legend might well have acted on more than one human imagination amidst
those dead, stench-cursed streets and huddles of rotting roofs and
crumbling steeples. Is it not possible that the germ of an actual
contagious madness lurks in the depths of that shadow over Innsmouth?
Who can be sure of reality after hearing things like the tale of old
Zadok Allen? The government men never found poor Zadok, and have no
conjectures to make as to what became of him. Where does madness leave
off and reality begin? Is it possible that even my latest fear is sheer
delusion?

But I must try to tell what I thought I saw that night under the
mocking yellow moon--saw surging and hopping down the Rowley road in
plain sight in front of me as I crouched among the wild brambles of
that desolate railway cut. Of course my resolution to keep my eyes shut
had failed. It was foredoomed to failure--for who could crouch blindly
while a legion of croaking, baying entities of unknown source flopped
noisomely past, scarcely more than a hundred yards away?

I thought I was prepared for the worst, and I really ought to have been
prepared considering what I had seen before.

My other pursuers had been accursedly abnormal--so should I not
have been ready to face a strengthening of the abnormal element; to
look upon forms in which there was no mixture of the normal at all? I
did not open my eyes until the raucous clamour came loudly from a point
obviously straight ahead. Then I knew that a long section of them must
be plainly in sight where the sides of the cut flattened out and the
road crossed the track--and I could no longer keep myself from
sampling whatever horror that leering yellow moon might have to shew.

It was the end, for whatever remains to me of life on the surface of
this earth, of every vestige of mental peace and confidence in the
integrity of nature and of the human mind. Nothing that I could have
imagined--nothing, even, that I could have gathered had I credited old
Zadok's crazy tale in the most literal way--would be in any way
comparable to the demoniac, blasphemous reality that I saw--or believe
I saw. I have tried to hint what it was in order to postpone the horror
of writing it down baldly. Can it be possible that this planet has
actually spawned such things; that human eyes have truly seen, as
objective flesh, what man has hitherto known only in febrile phantasy
and tenuous legend?

And yet I saw them in a limitless stream--flopping, hopping,
croaking, bleating--urging inhumanly through the spectral moonlight in
a grotesque, malignant saraband of fantastic nightmare. And some of
them had tall tiaras of that nameless whitish-gold metal...and some
were strangely robed...and one, who led the way, was clad in a
ghoulishly humped black coat and striped trousers, and had a man's felt
hat perched on the shapeless thing that answered for a head.

I think their predominant colour was a greyish-green, though they
had white bellies. They were mostly shiny and slippery, but the ridges
of their backs were scaly. Their forms vaguely suggested the
anthropoid, while their heads were the heads of fish, with prodigious
bulging eyes that never closed. At the sides of their necks were
palpitating gills, and their long paws were webbed. They hopped
irregularly, sometimes on two legs and sometimes on four. I was somehow
glad that they had no more than four limbs. Their croaking, baying
voices, clearly used for articulate speech, held all the dark shades of
expression which their staring faces lacked.888

But for all of their monstrousness they were not unfamiliar to me. I
knew too well what they must be--for was not the memory of the evil
tiara at Newburyport still fresh? They were the blasphemous fish-frogs
of the nameless design--living and horrible--and as I saw them I knew
also of what that humped, tiaraed priest in the black church basement
had fearsomely reminded me. Their number was past guessing. It seemed
to me that there were limitless swarms of them and certainly my
momentary glimpse could have shewn only the least fraction. In another
instant everything was blotted out by a merciful fit of fainting; the
first I had ever had.


V

It was a gentle daylight rain that awaked me front my stupor in the
brush-grown railway cut, and when I staggered out to the roadway ahead
I saw no trace of any prints in the fresh mud. The fishy odour, too,
was gone, Innsmouth's ruined roofs and toppling steeples loomed up
greyly toward the southeast, but not a living creature did I spy in all
the desolate salt marshes around. My watch was still going, and told me
that the hour was past noon.

The reality of what I had been through was highly uncertain in my
mind, but I felt that something hideous lay in the background. I must
get away from evil-shadowed Innsmouth--and accordingly I began to test
my cramped, wearied powers of locomotion. Despite weakness hunger,
horror, and bewilderment I found myself after a time able to walk; so
started slowly along the muddy road to Rowley. Before evening I was in
village, getting a meal and providing myself with presentable clothes.
I caught the night train to Arkham, and the next day talked long and
earnestly with government officials there; a process I later repeated
in Boston. With the main result of these colloquies the public is now
familiar--and I wish, for normality's sake, there were nothing more to
tell. Perhaps it is madness that is overtaking me--yet perhaps a
greater horror--or a greater marvel--is reaching out.

As may well be imagined, I gave up most of the foreplanned features
of the rest of my tour--the scenic, architectural, and antiquarian
diversions on which I had counted so heavily. Nor did I dare look for
that piece of strange jewelry said to be in the Miskatonic University
Museum. I did, however, improve my stay in Arkham by collecting some
genealogical notes I had long wished to possess; very rough and hasty
data, it is true, but capable of good use later on when I might have
time to collate and codify them. The curator of the historical society
there--Mr. B. Lapham Peabody--was very courteous about assisting me,
and expressed unusual interest when I told him I was a grandson of
Eliza Orne of Arkham, who was born in 1867 and had married James
Williamson of Ohio at the age of seventeen.

It seemed that a maternal uncle of mine had been there many years
before on a quest much like my own; and that my grandmother's family
was a topic of some local curiosity. There had, Mr. Peabody said, been
considerable discussion about the marriage of her father, Benjamin
Orne, just after the Civil War; since the ancestry of the bride was
peculiarly puzzling. That bride was understood to have been an orphaned
Marsh of New Hampshire--a cousin of the Essex County Marshes--but her
education had been in France and she knew very little of her family. A
guardian had deposited funds in a Boston bank to maintain her and her
French governess; but that guardian's name was unfamiliar to Arkham
people, and in time he dropped out of sight, so that the governess
assumed the role by court appointment. The Frenchwoman--now long dead--was
very taciturn, and there were those who said she could have told
more than she did.

But the most baffling thing was the inability of anyone to place the
recorded parents of the young woman--Enoch and Lydia (Meserve) Marsh--
among the known families of New Hampshire. Possibly, many suggested,
she was the natural daughter of some Marsh of prominence--she
certainly had the true Marsh eyes. Most of the puzzling was done after
her early death, which took place at the birth of my grandmother--her
only child. Having formed some disagreeable impressions connected with
the name of Marsh, I did not welcome the news that it belonged on my
own ancestral tree; nor was I pleased by Mr. Peabody's suggestion that
I had the true Marsh eyes myself. However, I was grateful for data
which I knew would prove valuable; and took copious notes and lists of
book references regarding the well-documented Orne family.

I went directly home to Toledo from Boston, and later spent a month
at Maumee recuperating from my ordeal. In September I entered Oberlin
for my final year, and from then till the next June was busy with
studies and other wholesome activities--reminded of the bygone terror
only by occasional official visits from government men in connexion
with the campaign which my pleas and evidence had started. Around the
middle of July--just a year after the Innsmouth experience--I spent a
week with my late mother's family in Cleveland; checking some of my new
genealogical data with the various notes, traditions, and bits of
heirloom material in existence there, and seeing what kind of a
connected chart I could construct.

I did not exactly relish this task, for the atmosphere of the
Williamson home had always depressed me. There was a strain of
morbidity there, and my mother had never encouraged my visiting her
parents as a child, although she always welcomed her father when he
came to Toledo. My Arkham-born grandmother had seemed strange and
almost terrifying to me, and I do not think I grieved when she
disappeared. I was eight years old then, and it was said that she had
wandered off in grief after the suicide of my Uncle Douglas, her eldest
son. He had shot himself after a trip to New England--the same trip,
no doubt, which had caused him to be recalled at the Arkham Historical
Society.

This uncle had resembled her, and I had never liked him either.
Something about the staring, unwinking expression of both of them had
given me a vague, unaccountable uneasiness. My mother and Uncle Walter
had not looked like that. They were like their father, though poor
little cousin Lawrence--Walter's son--had been almost perfect
duplicate of his grandmother before his condition took him to the
permanent seclusion of a sanitarium at Canton. I had not seen him in
four years, but my uncle once implied that his state, both mental and
physical, was very bad. This worry had probably been a major cause of
his mother's death two years before.

My grandfather and his widowed son Walter now comprised the
Cleveland household, but the memory of older times hung thickly over
it. I still disliked the place, and tried to get my researches done as
quickly as possible. Williamson records and traditions were supplied in
abundance by my grandfather; though for Orne material I had to depend
on my uncle Walter, who put at my disposal the contents of all his
files, including notes, letters, cuttings, heirlooms, photographs, and
miniatures.

It was in going over the letters and pictures on the Orne side that
I began to acquire a kind of terror of my own ancestry. As I have said,
my grandmother and Uncle Douglas had always disturbed me. Now, years
after their passing, I gazed at their pictured faces with a measurably
heightened feeling of repulsion and alienation. I could not at first
understand the change, but gradually a horrible sort of comparison
began to obtrude itself on my unconscious mind despite the steady
refusal of my consciousness to admit even the least suspicion of it. It
was clear that the typical expression of these faces now suggested
something it had not suggested before--something which would bring
stark panic if too openly thought of.

But the worst shock came when my uncle shewed me the Orne jewellery
in a downtown safe deposit vault. Some of the items were delicate and
inspiring enough, but there was one box of strange old pieces descended
from my mysterious great-grandmother which my uncle was almost
reluctant to produce. They were, he said, of very grotesque and almost
repulsive design, and had never to his knowledge been publicly worn;
though my grandmother used to enjoy looking at them. Vague legends of
bad luck clustered around them, and my great-grandmother's French
governess had said they ought not to be worn in New England, though it
would be quite safe to wear them in Europe.

As my uncle began slowly and grudgingly to unwrap the things he
urged me not to be shocked by the strangeness and frequent hideousness
of the designs. Artists and archaeologists who had seen them pronounced
their workmanship superlatively and exotically exquisite, though no one
seemed able to define their exact material or assign them to any
specific art tradition. There were two armlets, a tiara, and a kind of
pectoral; the latter having in high relief certain figures of almost
unbearable extravagance.

During this description I had kept a tight rein on my emotions, but
my face must have betrayed my mounting fears. My uncle looked
concerned, and paused in his unwrapping to study my countenance. I
motioned to him to continue, which he did with renewed signs of
reluctance. He seemed to expect some demonstration when the first piece
--the tiara--became visible, but I doubt if he expected quite what
actually happened. I did not expect it, either, for I thought I was
thoroughly forewarned regarding what the jewellery would turn out to
be. What I did was to faint silently away, just as I had done in that
brier-choked railway cut a year before.

From that day on my life has been a nightmare of brooding and
apprehension nor do I know how much is hideous truth and how much
madness. My great-grandmother had been a Marsh of unknown source whose
husband lived in Arkham--and did not old Zadok say that the daughter
of Obed Marsh by a monstrous mother was married to an Arkham man through
trick? What was it the ancient toper had muttered about the line of my
eyes to Captain Obed's? In Arkham, too, the curator had told me I had
the true Marsh eyes. Was Obed Marsh my own great-great-grandfather? Who
--or what--then, was my great-great-grandmother? But perhaps this was
all madness. Those whitish-gold ornaments might easily have been bought
from some Innsmouth sailor by the father of my great-grandmother,
whoever he was. And that look in the staring-eyed faces of my
grandmother and self-slain uncle might be sheer fancy on my part--
sheer fancy, bolstered up by the Innsmouth shadow which had so darkly
coloured my imagination. But why had my uncle killed himself after an
ancestral quest in New England?

For more than two years I fought off these reflections with partial
success. My father secured me a place in an insurance office, and I
buried myself in routine as deeply as possible. In the winter of
1930-31, however, the dreams began. They were very sparse and insidious
at first, but increased in frequency and vividness as the weeks went
by. Great watery spaces opened out before me, and I seemed to wander
through titanic sunken porticos and labyrinths of weedy cyclopean walls
with grotesque fishes as my companions. Then the other shapes began to
appear, filling me with nameless horror the moment I awoke. But during
the dreams they did not horrify me at all--I was one with them;
wearing their unhuman trappings, treading their aqueous ways, and
praying monstrously at their evil sea-bottom temples.

There was much more than I could remember, but even what I did
remember each morning would be enough to stamp me as a madman or a
genius if ever I dared write it down. Some frightful influence, I felt,
was seeking gradually to drag me out of the sane world of wholesome
life into unnamable abysses of blackness and alienage; and the process
told heavily on me. My health and appearance grew steadily worse, till
finally I was forced to give up my position and adopt the static,
secluded life of an invalid. Some odd nervous affliction had me in its
grip, and I found myself at times almost unable to shut my eyes.

It was then that I began to study the mirror with mounting alarm.
The slow ravages of disease are not pleasant to watch, but in my case
there was something subtler and more puzzling in the background. My
father seemed to notice it, too, for he began looking at me curiously
and almost affrightedly. What was taking place in me? Could it be that
I was coming to resemble my grandmother and uncle Douglas?

One night I had a frightful dream in which I met my grandmother
under the sea. She lived in a phosphorescent palace of many terraces,
with gardens of strange leprous corals and grotesque brachiate
efflorescences, and welcomed me with a warmth that may have been
sardonic. She had changed--as those who take to the water change--and
told me she had never died. Instead, she had gone to a spot her dead
son had learned about, and had leaped to a realm whose wonders--
destined for him as well--he had spurned with a smoking pistol. This
was to be my realm, too--I could not escape it. I would never die, but
would live with those who had lived since before man ever walked the
earth.

I met also that which had been her grandmother. For eighty thousand
years Pth'thya-l'yi had lived in Y'ha-nthlei, and thither she had gone
back after Obed Marsh was dead. Y'ha-nthlei was not destroyed when the
upper-earth men shot death into the sea. It was hurt, but not
destroyed. The Deep Ones could never be destroyed, even though the
palaeogean magic of the forgotten Old Ones might sometimes check them.
For the present they would rest; but some day, if they remembered, they
would rise again for the tribute Great Cthulhu craved. It would be a
city greater than Innsmouth next time. They had planned to spread, and
had brought up that which would help them, but now they must wait once
more. For bringing the upper-earth men's death I must do a penance, but
that would not be heavy. This was the dream in which I saw a shoggoth
for the first time, and the sight set me awake in a frenzy of
screaming. That morning the mirror definitely told me I had acquired
the Innsmouth look.

So far I have not shot myself as my uncle Douglas did. I bought an
automatic and almost took the step, but certain dreams deterred me. The
tense extremes of horror are lessening, and I feel queerly drawn toward
the unknown sea-deeps instead of fearing them. I hear and do strange
things in sleep, and awake with a kind of exaltation instead of terror.
I do not believe I need to wait for the full change as most have
waited. If I did, my father would probably shut me up in a sanitarium
as my poor little cousin is shut up. Stupendous and unheard-of
splendors await me below, and I shall seek them soon. Ia-R'lyehl
Cihuiha flgagnl id Ia! No, I shall not shoot myself--I cannot be made
to shoot myself!

I shall plan my cousin's escape from that Canton mad-house, and
together we shall go to marvel-shadowed Innsmouth. We shall swim out to
that brooding reef in the sea and dive down through black abysses to
Cyclopean and many-columned Y'ha-nthlei, and in that lair of the Deep
Ones we shall dwell amidst wonder and glory for ever. ckd complete



* THE SHADOW OUT OF TIME


I

After twenty-two years of nightmare and terror, saved only by a
desperate conviction of the mythical source of certain impressions, I
am unwilling to vouch for the truth of that which I think I found in
Western Australia on the night of 17-18 July 1935. There is reason to
hope that my experience was wholly or partly an hallucination--for
which, indeed, abundant causes existed. And yet, its realism was so
hideous that I sometimes find hope impossible.

If the thing did happen, then man must be prepared to accept notions
of the cosmos, and of his own place in the seething vortex of time,
whose merest mention is paralysing. He must, too, be placed on guard
against a specific, lurking peril which, though it will never engulf
the whole race, may impose monstrous and unguessable horrors upon
certain venturesome members of it.

It is for this latter reason that I urge, with all the force of my
being, final abandonment of all the attempts at unearthing those
fragments of unknown, primordial masonry which my expedition set out to
investigate.

Assuming that I was sane and awake, my experience on that night was
such as has befallen no man before. It was, moreover, a frightful
confirmation of all I had sought to dismiss as myth and dream.
Mercifully there is no proof, for in my fright I lost the awesome object
which would--if real and brought out of that noxious abyss--have
formed irrefutable evidence.

When I came upon the horror I was alone--and I have up to now told
no one about it. I could not stop the others from digging in its
direction, but chance and the shifting sand have so far saved them from
finding it. Now I must formulate some definite statement--not only for
the sake of my own mental balance, but to warn such others as may read
it seriously.

These pages--much in whose earlier parts will be familiar to close
readers of the general and scientific press--are written in the cabin
of the ship that is bringing me home. I shall give them to my son,
Professor Wingate Peaslee of Miskatonic University--the only member of
my family who stuck to me after my queer amnesia of long ago, and the
man best informed on the inner facts of my case. Of all living persons,
he is least likely to ridicule what I shall tell of that fateful night.

I did not enlighten him orally before sailing, because I think he
had better have the revelation in written form. Reading and re-reading
at leisure will leave with him a more convincing picture than my
confused tongue could hope to convey.

He can do anything that he thinks best with this account--showing
it, with suitable comment, in any quarters where it will be likely to
accomplish good. It is for the sake of such readers as are unfamiliar
with the earlier phases of my case that I am prefacing the revelation
itself with a fairly ample summary of its background.

My name is Nathaniel Wingate Peaslee, and those who recall the
newspaper tales of a generation back--or the letters and articles in
psychological journals six or seven years ago--will know who and what
I am. The press was filled with the details of my strange amnesia in
1908-13, and much was made of the traditions of horror, madness, and
witchcraft which lurked behind the ancient Massachusetts town then and
now forming my place of residence. Yet I would have it known that there
is nothing whatever of the mad or sinister in my heredity and early
life. This is a highly important fact in view of the shadow which fell
so suddenly upon me from outside sources.

It may be that centuries of dark brooding had given to crumbling,
whisper-haunted Arkham a peculiar vulnerability as regards such shadows
--though even this seems doubtful in the light of those other cases
which I later came to study. But the chief point is that my own
ancestry and background are altogether normal. What came, came from
somewhere else--where I even now hesitate to assert in plain words.

I am the son of Jonathan and Hannah (Wingate) Peaslee, both of
wholesome old Haverhill stock. I was born and reared in Haverhill--at
the old homestead in Boardman Street near Golden Hill--and did not go
to Arkham till I entered Miskatonic University as instructor of
political economy in 1895.

For thirteen years more my life ran smoothly and happily. I married
Alice Keezar of Haverhill in 1896, and my three children, Robert,
Wingate and Hannah were born in 1898, 1900, and 1903, respectively. In
1898 I became an associate professor, and in 1902 a full professor. At
no time had I the least interest in either occultism or abnormal
psychology.

It was on Thursday, 14 May 1908, that the queer amnesia came. The
thing was quite sudden, though later I realized that certain brief,
glimmering visions of several hours previous--chaotic visions which
disturbed me greatly because they were so unprecedented--must have
formed premonitory symptoms. My head was aching, and I had a singular
feeling--altogether new to me--that some one else was trying to get
possession of my thoughts.

The collapse occurred about 10.20 A.M., while I was conducting a
class in Political Economy VI--history and present tendencies of
economics--for juniors and a few sophomores. I began to see strange
shapes before my eyes, and to feel that I was in a grotesque room other
than the classroom.

My thoughts and speech wandered from my subject, and the students
saw that something was gravely amiss. Then I slumped down, unconscious,
in my chair, in a stupor from which no one could arouse me. Nor did my
rightful faculties again look out upon the daylight of our normal world
for five years, four months, and thirteen days.

It is, of course, from others that I have learned what followed. I
showed no sign of consciousness for sixteen and a half hours though
removed to my home at 27 Crane Street, and given the best of medical
attention.

At 3 A.M. May 15 my eyes opened and began to speak and my family were
thoroughly frightened by the trend of my expression and language. It
was clear that I had no remembrance of my identity and my past, though
for some reason seemed anxious to conceal his lack of knowledge. My
eyes glazed strangely at the persons around me, and the flections of my
facial muscles were altogether unfamiliar.

Even my speech seemed awkward and foreign. I used my vocal organs
clumsily and gropingly, and my diction had a curiously stilted quality,
as if I had laboriously learned the English language from books. The
pronunciation was barbarously alien, whilst the idiom seemed to include
both scraps of curious archaism and expressions of a wholly
incomprehensible cast.

Of the latter, one in particular was very potently--even
terrifiedly--recalled by the youngest of the physicians twenty years
afterward. For at that late period such a phrase began to have an
actual currency--first in England and then in the United States--and
though of much complexity and indisputable newness, it reproduced in
every least particular the mystifying words of the strange Arkham
patient of 1908.

Physical strength returned at once, although I required an odd
amount of re-education in the use of my hands, legs, and bodily
apparatus in general. Because of this and other handicaps inherent in
the mnemonic lapse, I was for some time kept under strict medical care.

When I saw that my attempts to conceal the lapse had failed, I
admitted it openly, and became eager for information of all sorts.
Indeed, it seemed to the doctors that I lost interest in my proper
personality as soon as I found the case of amnesia accepted as a
natural thing.

They noticed that my chief efforts were to master certain points in
history, science, art, language, and folklore--some of them
tremendously abstruse, and some childishly simple--which remained,
very oddly in many cases, outside my consciousness.

At the same time they noticed that I had an inexplicable command of
many almost unknown sorts of knowledge--a command which I seemed to
wish to hide rather than display. I would inadvertently refer, with
casual assurance, to specific events in dim ages outside of the range
of accepted history--passing off such references as a jest when I saw
the surprise they created. And I had a way of speaking of the future
which two or three times caused actual fright.

These uncanny flashes soon ceased to appear, though some observers
laid their vanishment more to a certain furtive caution on my part than
to any waning of the strange knowledge behind them. Indeed, I seemed
anomalously avid to absorb the speech, customs, and perspectives of the
age around me; as if I were a studious traveller from a far, foreign
land.

As soon as permitted, I haunted the college library at all hours;
and shortly began to arrange for those odd travels, and special courses
at American and European Universities, which evoked so much comment
during the next few years.

I did not at any time suffer from a lack of learned contacts, for my
case had a mild celebrity among the psychologists of the period. I was
lectured upon as a typical example of secondary personality--even
though I seemed to puzzle the lecturers now and then with some bizarre
symptoms or some queer trace of carefully veiled mockery.

Of real friendliness, however, I encountered little. Something in my
aspect and speech seemed to excite vague fears and aversions in every
one I met, as if I were a being infinitely removed from all that is
normal and healthful. This idea of a black, hidden horror connected
with incalculable gulfs of some sort of distance was oddly widespread
and persistent.

My own family formed no exception. From the moment of my strange
waking my wife had regarded me with extreme horror and loathing, vowing
that I was some utter alien usurping the body of her husband. In 1910
she obtained a legal divorce, nor would she ever consent to see me even
after my return to normality in 1913. These feelings were shared by my
elder son and my small daughter, neither of whom I have ever seen since.

Only my second son, Wingate, seemed able to conquer the terror and
repulsion which my change aroused. He indeed felt that I was a
stranger, but though only eight years old held fast to a faith that my
proper self would return. When it did return he sought me out, and the
courts gave me his custody. In succeeding years he helped me with the
studies to which I was driven, and today, at thirty-five, he is a
professor of psychology at Miskatonic.

But I do not wonder at the horror caused--for certainly, the mind,
voice, and facial expression of the being that awakened on l5 May 1908,
were not those of Nathaniel Wingate Peastee.

I will not attempt to tell much of my life from 1908 to 1913, since
readers may glean I the outward essentials--as I largely had to do--
from files of old newspapers and scientific journals.

I was given charge of my funds, and spent them slowly and on the
whole wisely, in travel and in study at various centres of learning. My
travels, however, were singular in the extreme, involving long visits
to remote and desolate places.

In 1909 I spent a month in the Himalayas, and in 1911 roused much
attention through a camel trip into the unknown deserts of Arabia. What
happened on those journeys I have never been able to learn.

During the summer of l9l2 I chartered a ship and sailed in the
Arctic, north of Spitzbergen, afterward showing signs of disappointment.

Later in that year I spent weeks--alone beyond the limits of
previous or subsequent exploration in the vast limestone cavern systems
of western Virginia--black labyrinths so complex that no retracing of
my steps could even be considered.

My sojourns at the universities were marked by abnormally rapid
assimilation, as if the secondary personality had an intelligence
enormously superior to my own. I have found, also, that my rate of
reading and solitary study was phenomenal. I could master every detail
of a book merely by glancing over it as fast as I could turn the
leaves; while my skill at interpreting complex figures in an instant
was veritably awesome.

At times there appeared almost ugly reports of my power to influence
the thoughts and acts of others, though I seemed to have taken care to
minimize displays of this faculty.

Other ugly reports concerned my intimacy with leaders of occultist
groups, and scholars suspected of connection with nameless bands of
abhorrent elder-world hierophants. These rumours, though never proved
at the time, were doubtless stimulated by the known tenor of some of my
reading--for the consultation of rare books at libraries cannot be
effected secretly.

There is tangible proof--in the form of marginal notes--that I
went minutely through such things as the Comte d'Erlette's Cultes des
Goules, Ludvig Prinn's De Vermis Mysteriis, the Unaussprechlichen
Kulten of von Junzt, the surviving fragments of the puzzling Book of
Eibon, and the dreaded Necronomicon of the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred.
Then, too, it is undeniable that a fresh and evil wave of underground
cult activity set in about the time of my odd mutation.

In the summer of 1913 I began to display signs of ennui and flagging
interest, and to hint to various associates that a change might soon be
expected in me. I spoke of returning memories of my earlier life--
though most auditors judged me insincere, since all the recollections I
gave were casual, and such as might have been learned from my old
private papers.

About the middle of August I returned to Arkham and re-opened my
long-closed house in Crane Street. Here I installed a mechanism of the
most curious aspect, constructed piecemeal by different makers of
scientific apparatus in Europe and America, and guarded carefully from
the sight of any one intelligent enough to analyse it.

Those who did see it--a workman, a servant, and the new housekeeper--say
that it was a queer mixture of rods, wheels, and mirrors, though
only about two feet tall, one foot wide, and one foot thick. The
central mirror was circular and convex. All this is borne out by such
makers of parts as can be located.

On the evening of Friday, 26 September, I dismissed the housekeeper
and the maid until noon of the next day. Lights burned in the house
till late, and a lean, dark, curiously foreign-looking man called in an
automobile.

It was about one A.M. that the lights were last seen. At 2.15 A.M. a
policeman observed the place in darkness, but the stranger's motor still
at the curb. By 4 o'clock the motor was certainly gone.

It was at 6 o'clock that a hesitant, foreign voice on the telephone
asked Dr Wilson to call at my house and bring me out of a peculiar
faint. This call--a long-distance one--was later traced to a public
booth in the North Station in Boston, but no sign of the lean foreigner
was ever unearthed.

When the doctor reached my house he found me unconscious in the
sitting room--in an easy-chair with a table drawn up before it. On the
polished top were scratches showing where some heavy object had rested.
The queer machine was gone, nor was anything afterward heard of it.
Undoubtedly the dark, lean foreigner had taken it away.

In the library grate were abundant ashes, evidently left from the
burning of every remaining scrap of paper on which I had written
since the advent of the amnesia. Dr Wilson found my breathing very
peculiar, but after a hypodermic injection it became more regular.

At 11.15 A.M., 27 September, I stirred vigorously, and my hitherto
masklike face began to show signs of expression. Dr Wilson remarked
that the expression was not that of my secondary personality, but
seemed much like that of my normal self. About 11.30 I muttered some
very curious syllables--syllables which seemed unrelated to any human
speech. I appeared, too, to struggle against something. Then, just
afternoon--the housekeeper and the maid having meanwhile returned--I
began to mutter in English.

"--of the orthodox economists of that period, Jevons typifies the
prevailing trend toward scientific correlation. His attempt to link the
commercial cycle of prosperity and depression with the physical cycle
of the solar spots forms perhaps the apex of--"

Nathaniel Wingate Peaslee had come back--a spirit in whose time
scale it was still Thursday morning in 1908, with the economics class
gazing up at the battered desk on the platform.


II

My reabsorption into normal life was a painful and difficult
process. The loss of over five years creates more complications than
can be imagined, and in my case there were countless matters to be
adjusted.

What I heard of my actions since 1908 astonished and disturbed me,
but I tried to view the matter as philosophically as I could. At last,
regaining custody of my second son, Wingate, I settled down with him in
the Crane Street house and endeavoured to resume my teaching--my old
professorship having been kindly offered me by the college.

I began work with the February, 1914, term, and kept at it just a
year. By that time I realized how badly my experience had shaken me.
Though perfectly sane--I hoped--and with no flaw in my original
personality, I had not the nervous energy of the old days. Vague dreams
and queer ideas continually haunted me, and when the outbreak of the
World War turned my mind to history I found myself thinking of periods
and events in the oddest possible fashion.

My conception of time, my ability to distinguish between
consecutiveness and simultaneousness--seemed subtly disordered so that
I formed chimerical notions about living in one age and casting one's
mind all over eternity for knowledge of past and future ages.

The war gave me strange impressions of remembering some of its
far-off consequences--as if I knew how it was coming out and could
look back upon it in the light of future information. All such
quasi-memories were attended with much pain, and with a feeling that
some artificial psychological barrier was set against them.

When I diffidently hinted to others about my impressions I met with
varied responses. Some persons looked uncomfortably at me, but men in
the mathematics department spoke of new developments in those theories
of relativity--then discussed only in learned circles--which were
later to become so famous. Dr. Albert Einstein, they said, was rapidly
reducing time to the status of a mere dimension.

But the dreams and disturbed feelings gained on me, so that I had to
drop my regular work in 1915. Certainly the impressions were taking an
annoying shape--giving me the persistent notion that my amnesia had
formed some unholy sort of exchange; that the secondary personality had
indeed had had suffered displacement.

Thus I was driven to vague and fright speculations concerning the
whereabouts of my true self during the years that another had held my
body. The curious knowledge and strange conduct of my body's late
tenant troubled me more and more as I learned further details from
persons, papers, and magazines.

Queernesses that had baffled others seemed to harmonize terribly
with some background of black knowledge which festered in the chasms of
my subconscious. I began to search feverishly for every scrap of
information bearing on the studies and travels of that other one during
the dark years.

Not all of my troubles were as semi-abstract as this. There were the
dreams--and these seemed to grow in vividness and concreteness.
Knowing how most would regard them, I seldom mentioned them to anyone
but my son or certain trusted psychologists, but eventually I commenced
a scientific study of other cases in order to see how typical or
nontypical such visions might be among amnesia victims.

My results, aided by psychologists, historians, anthropologists, and
mental specialists of wide experience, and by a study that included all
records of split personalities from the days of daemonic-possession
legends to the medically realistic present, at first bothered me more
than they consoled me.

I soon found that my dreams had, indeed, no counterpart in the
overwhelming bulk of true amnesia cases. There remained, however, a
tiny residue of accounts which for years baffled and shocked me with
their parallelism to my own experience. Some of them were bits of
ancient folklore; others were case histories in the annals of medicine;
one or two were anecdotes obscurely buried in standard histories.

It thus appeared that, while my special kind of affliction was
prodigiously rare, instances of it had occurred at long intervals ever
since the beginning of men's annals. Some centuries might contain one,
two, or three cases, others none--or at least none whose record
survived.

The essence was always the same--a person of keen thoughtfulness
seized a strange secondary life and leading for a greater or lesser
period an utterly alien existence typified at first by vocal and bodily
awkwardness, and later by a wholesale acquisition of scientific,
historic, artistic, and anthropologic knowledge; an acquisition carried
on with feverish zest and with a wholly abnormal absorptive power. Then
a sudden return of rightful consciousness, intermittently plagued ever
after with vague unplaceable dreams suggesting fragments of some
hideous memory elaborately blotted out.

And the close resemblance of those nightmares to my own--even in
some of the smallest particulars--left no doubt in my mind of their
significantly typical nature. One or two of the cases had an added ring
of faint, blasphemous familiarity, as if I had heard of them before
through some cosmic channel too morbid and frightful to contemplate. In
three instances there was specific mention of such an unknown machine
as had been in my house before the second change.

Another thing that worried me during my investigation was the
somewhat greater frequency of cases where a brief, elusive glimpse of
the typical nightmares was afforded to persons not visited with well-defined
amnesia.

These persons were largely of mediocre mind or less--some so
primitive that they could scarcely be thought of as vehicles
for abnormal scholarship and preternatural mental acquisitions. For a
second they would be fired with alien force--then a backward lapse,
and a thin, swift-fading memory of unhuman horrors.

There had been at least three such cases during the past half
century--one only fifteen years before. Had something been groping
blindly through time from some unsuspected abyss in Nature? Were these
faint cases monstrous, sinister experiments of a kind and authorship
utterly beyond sane belief?

Such were a few of the formless speculations of my weaker hours--
fancies abetted by myths which my studies uncovered. For I could not
doubt but that certain persistent legends of immemorial antiquity,
apparently unknown to the victims and physicians connected with recent
amnesia cases, formed a striking and awesome elaboration of memory
lapses such as mine.

Of the nature of the dreams and impressions which were growing so
clamorous I still almost fear to speak. They seemed to savor of
madness, and at times I believed I was indeed going mad. Was there a
special type of delusion afflicting those who had suffered lapses of
memory? Conceivably, the efforts of the subconscious mind to fill up a
perplexing blank with pseudo-memories might give rise to strange
imaginative vagaries.

This indeed--though an alternative folklore theory finally seemed
to me more plausible--was the belief of many of the alienists who
helped me in my search for parallel cases, and who shared my puzzlement
at the exact resemblances sometimes discovered.

They did not call the condition true insanity, but classed it rather
among neurotic disorders. My course in trying to track down and analyze
it, instead of vainly seeking to dismiss or forget it, they heartily
endorsed as correct according to the best psychological principles. I
especially valued the advice of such physicians as had studied me
during my possession by the other personality.

My first disturbances were not visual at all, but concerned the more
abstract matters which I have mentioned. There was, too, a feeling of
profound and inexplicable horror concerning myself. I developed a queer
fear of seeing my own form, as if my eyes would find it something
utterly alien and inconceivably abhorrent.

When I did glance down and behold the familiar human shape in quiet
grey or blue clothing, I always felt a curious relief, though in order
to gain this relief I had to conquer an infinite dread. I shunned
mirrors as much as possible, and was always shaved at the barber's.

It was a long time before I correlated any of these disappointed
feelings with the fleeting visual impressions which began to develop.
The first such correlation had to do with the odd sensation of an
external, artificial restraint on my memory.

I felt that the snatches of sight I experienced had a profound and
terrible meaning, and a frightful connexion with myself, but that some
purposeful influence held me from grasping that meaning and that
connexion. Then came that queerness about the element of time, and with
it desperate efforts to place the fragmentary dream-glimpses in the
chronological and spatial pattern.

The glimpses themselves were at first merely strange rather than
horrible. I would seem to be in an enormous vaulted chamber whose lofty
stone groinings were well-nigh lost in the shadows overhead. In
whatever time or place the scene might be, the principle of the arch
was known as fully and used as extensively as by the Romans.

There were colossal, round windows and high, arched doors, and
pedestals or tables each as tall as the height of an ordinary room.
Vast shelves of dark wood lined the walls, holding what seemed to be
volumes of immense size with strange hieroglyphs on their backs.

The exposed stonework held curious carvings, always in curvilinear
mathematical designs, and there were chiselled inscriptions in the same
characters that the huge books bore. The dark granite masonry was of a
monstrous megathic type, with lines of convex-topped blocks fitting the
concave-bottomed courses which rested upon them.

There were no chairs, but the tops of the vast pedestals were
littered with books, papers, and what seemed to be writing materials--
oddly figured jars of a purplish metal, and rods with stained tips.
Tall as the pedestals were, I seemed at times able to view them from
above. On some of them were great globes of luminous crystal serving as
lamps, and inexplicable machines formed of vitreous tubes and metal
rods.

The windows were glazed, and latticed with stout-looking bars.
Though I dared not approach and peer out them, I could see from where I
was the waving tops of singular fern-like growths. The floor was of
massive octagonal flagstones, while rugs and hangings were entirely
lacking.

Later I had visions of sweeping through Cyclopean corridors of
stone, and up and down gigantic inclined planes of the same monstrous
masonry. There were no stairs anywhere, nor was any passageway less
than thirty feet wide. Some of the structures through which I floated
must have towered in the sky for thousands of feet.

There were multiple levels of black vaults below, and never-opened
trap-doors, sealed down with metal bands and holding dim suggestions of
some special peril.

I seemed to be a prisoner, and horror hung broodingly over
everything I saw. I felt that the mocking curvilinear hieroglyphs on
the walls would blast my soul with their message were I not guarded by
a merciful ignorance.

Still later my dreams included vistas from the great round windows,
and from the titanic flat roof, with its curious gardens, wide barren
area, and high, scalloped parapet of stone, to which the topmost of the
inclined planes led.

There were, almost endless leagues of giant buildings, each in its
garden, and ranged along paved roads fully 200 feet wide. They differed
greatly in aspect, but few were less than 500 feet square or a thousand
feet high. Many seemed so limitless that they must have had a frontage
of several thousand feet, while some shot up to mountainous altitudes
in the grey, steamy heavens.

They seemed to be mainly of stone or concrete, and most of them
embodied the oddly curvilinear type of masonry noticeable in the
building that held me. Roofs were flat and garden-covered, and tended
to have scalloped parapets. Sometimes there were terraces and higher
levels, and wide, cleared spaces amidst the gardens. The great roads
held hints of motion, but in the earlier visions I could not resolve
this impression into details.

In certain places I beheld enormous dark cylindrical towers which
climbed far above any of the other structures. These appeared to be of
a totally unique nature and shewed signs of prodigious age and
dilapidation. They were built of a bizarre type of square-cut basalt
masonry, and tapered slightly toward their rounded tops. Nowhere in any
of them could the least traces of windows or other apertures save huge
doors be found. I noticed also some lower buildings--all crumbling
with the weathering of aeons--which resembled these dark, cylindrical
towers in basic architecture. Around all these aberrant piles of
square-cut masonry there hovered an inexplicable aura of menace and
concentrated fear, like that bred by the sealed trap-doors.

The omnipresent gardens were almost terrifying in their strangeness,
with bizarre and unfamiliar forms of vegetation nodding over broad
paths lined with curiously carven monoliths. Abnormally vast fern-like
growths predominated--some green, and some of a ghastly, fungoid
pallor.

Among them rose great spectral things resembling calamites, whose
bamboo-like trunks towered to fabulous heights. Then there were tufted
forms like fabulous cycads, and grotesque dark-green shrubs and trees
of coniferous aspect.

Flowers were small, colourless, and unrecognizable, blooming in
geometrical beds and at large among the greenery.

In a few of the terrace and roof-top gardens were larger and more
blossoms of most offensive contours and seeming to suggest artificial
breeding. Fungi of inconceivable size, outlines, and colours speckled
the scene in patterns bespeaking some unknown but well-established
horticultural tradition. In the larger gardens on the ground there
seemed to be some attempt to preserve the irregularities of Nature, but
on the roofs there was more selectiveness, and more evidences of the
topiary art.

The skies were almost always moist and cloudy, and sometimes I would
seem to witness tremendous rains. Once in a while, though, there would
be glimpses of the sun--which looked abnormally large--and of the
moon, whose markings held a touch of difference from the normal that I
could never quite fathom. When--very rarely--the night sky was clear
to any extent, I beheld constellations which were nearly beyond
recognition. Known outlines were sometimes approximated, but seldom
duplicated; and from the position of the few groups I could recognize,
I felt I must be in the earth's southern hemisphere, near the Tropic of
Capricorn.

The far horizon was always steamy and indistinct, but I could see
that great jungles of unknown tree-ferns, calamites, lepidodendra, and
sigillaria lay outside the city, their fantastic frondage waving
mockingly in the shifting vapours. Now and then there would be
suggestions of motion in the sky, but these my early visions never
resolved.

By the autumn of 1914 I began to have infrequent dreams of strange
floatings over the city and through the regions around it. I saw
interminable roads through forests of fearsome growths with mottled,
fluted, and banded trunks, and past other cities as strange as the one
which persistently haunted me.

I saw monstrous constructions of black or iridescent tone in glades
and clearings where perpetual twilight reigned, and traversed long
causeways over swamps so dark that I could tell but little of their
moist, towering vegetation.

Once I saw an area of countless miles strewn with age-blasted
basaltic ruins whose architecture had been like that of the few
windowless, round-topped towers in the haunting city.

And once I saw the sea--a boundless, steamy expanse beyond the
colossal stone piers of an enormous town of domes and arches. Great
shapeless suggestions of shadow moved over it, and here and there its
surface was vexed with anomalous spoutings.


III

As I have said, it was not immediately that these wild visions began
to hold their terrifying quality. Certainly, many persons have dreamed
intrinsically stranger things--things compounded of unrelated scraps
of daily life, pictures,space and reading, and arranged in fantastically
novel forms by the unchecked caprices of sleep.

For some time I accepted the visions as natural, even though I had
never before been an extravagant dreamer. Many of the vague anomalies,
I argued, must have come from trivial sources too numerous to track
down; while others seemed to reflect a common text book knowledge of
the plants and other conditions of the primitive world of a hundred and
fifty million years ago--the world of the Permian or Triassic age.

In the course of some months, however, the element of terror did
figure with accumulating force. This was when the dreams began so
unfailingly to have the aspect of memories, and when my mind began to
link them with my growing abstract disturbances--the feeling of
mnemonic restraint, the curious impressions regarding time, and sense
of a loathsome exchange with my secondary personality of 1908-13, and,
considerably later, the inexplicable loathing of my own person.

As certain definite details began to enter the dreams, their horror
increased a thousandfold--until by October, 1915, I felt I must do
something. It was then that I began an intensive study of other cases
of amnesia and visions, feeling that I might thereby objectivise my
trouble and shake clear of its emotional grip.

However, as before mentioned, the result was at first almost exactly
opposite. It disturbed me vastly to find that my dreams had been so
closely duplicated; especially since some of the accounts were too
early to admit of any geological knowledge--and therefore of any idea
of primitive landscapes--on the subjects' part.

What is more, many of these accounts supplied very horrible details
and explanations in connexion with the visions of great buildings and
jungle gardens--and other things. The actual sights and vague
impressions were bad enough, but what was hinted or asserted by some of
the other dreamers savored of madness and blasphemy. Worst of all, my
own pseudo-memory was aroused to milder dreams and hints of coming
revelations. And yet most doctors deemed my course, on the whole, an
advisable one.

I studied psychology systematically, and under the prevailing
stimulus my son Wingate did the same--his studies leading eventually
to his present professorship. In 1917 and 1918 I took special courses
at Miskatonic. Meanwhile, my examination of medical, historical, and
anthropological records became indefatigable, involving travels to
distant libraries, and finally including even a reading of the hideous
books of forbidden elder lore in which my secondary personality had
been so disturbingly interested.

Some of the latter were the actual copies I had consulted in my
altered state, and I was greatly disturbed by certain marginal
notations and ostensible corrections of the hideous text in a script
and idiom which somehow seemed oddly unhuman.

These markings were mostly in the respective languages of the
various books, all of which the writer seemed to know with equal,
though obviously academic, facility. One note appended to von Junzt's
Unaussprechlichen Kulten, however, was alarmingly otherwise. It
consisted of certain curvilinear hieroglyphs in the same ink as that of
the German corrections, but following no recognized human pattern. And
these hieroglyphs were closely and unmistakably akin to the characters
constantly met with in my dreams--characters whose meaning I would
sometimes momentarily fancy I knew, or was just on the brink of
recalling.

To complete my black confusion, my librarians assured me that, in
view of previous examinations and records of consultation of the
volumes in question, all of these notations must have been made by
myself in my secondary state. This despite the fact that I was and
still am ignorant of three of the languages involved.

Piecing together the scattered records, ancient and modern,
anthropological and medical, I found a fairly consistent mixture of
myth and hallucination whose scope and wildness left me utterly dazed.
Only one thing consoled me, the fact that the myths were of such early
existence. What lost knowledge could have brought pictures of the
Palaeozoic or Mesozoic landscape into these primitive fables, I could
not even guess; but the pictures had been there. Thus, a basis existed
for the formation of a fixed type of delusion.

Cases of amnesia no doubt created the general myth pattern--but
afterward the fanciful accretions of the myths must have reacted on
amnesia sufferers and coloured their pseudo-memories. I myself had read
and heard all the early tales during my memory lapse--my quest had
amply proved that. Was it not natural, then, for my subsequent dreams
and emotional impressions to become coloured and moulded by what my
memory subtly held over from my secondary state?

A few of the myths had significant connexions with other cloudy
legends of the pre-human world, especially those Hindu tales involving
stupefying gulfs of time and forming part of the lore of modern
theosopists.

Primal myth and modern delusion joined in their assumption that
mankind is only one--perhaps the least--of the highly evolved and
dominant races of this planet's long and largely unknown career. Things
of inconceivable shape, they implied, had reared towers to the sky and
delved into every secret of Nature before the first amphibian forbear
of man had crawled out of the hot sea 300 million years ago.

Some had come down from the stars; a few were as old as the cosmos
itself, others had arisen swiftly from terrene germs as far behind the
first germs of our life-cycle as those germs are behind ourselves.
Spans of thousands of millions of years, and linkages to other galaxies
and universes, were freely spoken of. Indeed, there was no such thing
as time in its humanly accepted sense.

But most of the tales and impressions concerned a relatively late
race, of a queer and intricate shape, resembling no life-form known to
science, which had lived till only fifty million years before the
advent of man. This, they indicated, was the greatest race of all
because it alone had conquered the secret of time.

It had learned all things that ever were known or ever would be
known on the earth, through the power of its keener minds to project
themselves into the past and future, even through gulfs of millions of
years, and study the lore of every age. From the accomplishments of
this race arose all legends of prophets, including those in human
mythology.

In its vast libraries were volumes of texts and pictures holding the
whole of earth's annals--histories and descriptions of every species
that had ever been or that ever would be, with full records of their
arts, their achievements, their languages, and their psychologies.

With this aeon-embracing knowledge, the Great Race chose from every
era and life-form such thoughts, arts, and processes as might suit its
own nature and situation. Knowledge of the past, secured through a kind
of mind-casting outside the recognized senses, was harder to glean than
knowledge of the future.

In the latter case the course was easier and more material. With
suitable mechanical aid a mind would project itself forward in time,
feeling its dim, extra-sensory way till it approached the desired
period. Then, after preliminary trials, it would seize on the best
discoverable representative of the highest of that period's life-forms.
It would enter the organism's brain and set up therein its own
vibrations, while the displaced mind would strike back to the period of
the displacer, remaining in the latter's body till a reverse process
was set up.

The projected mind, in the body of the organism of the future, would
then pose as a member of the race whose outward form it wore, learning
as quickly as possible all that could be learned of the chosen age and
its massed information and techniques.

Meanwhile the displaced mind, thrown back to the displacer's age and
body, would be carefully guarded. It would be kept from harming the
body it occupied, and would be drained of all its knowledge by trained
questioners. Often it could be questioned in its own language, when
previous quests into the future had brought back records of that
language.

If the mind came from a body whose language the Great Race could not
physically reproduce, clever machines would be made, on which the alien
speech could be played as on a musical instrument.

The Great Race's members were immense rugose cones ten feet high,
and with head and other organs attached to foot-thick, distensible
limbs spreading from the apexes. They spoke by the clicking or scraping
of huge paws or claws attached to the end of two of their four limbs,
and walked by the expansion and contraction of a viscous layer attached
to their vast, ten-foot bases.

When the captive mind's amazement and resentment had worn off, and
when--assuming that it came from a body vastly different from the
Great Race's--it had lost its horror at its unfamiliar temporary form,
it was permitted to study its new environment and experience a wonder
and wisdom approximating that of its displacer.

With suitable precautions, and in exchange for suitable services, it
was allowed to rove all over the habitable world in titan airships or
on the huge boatlike atomic-engined vehicles which traversed the great
roads, and to delve freely into the libraries containing the records of
the planet's past and future.

This reconciled many captive minds to their lot; since none were
other than keen, and to such minds the unveiling of hidden mysteries of
earth-closed chapters of inconceivable pasts and dizzying vortices of
future time which include the years ahead of their own natural
ages-forms always, despite the abysmal horrors often unveiled, the
supreme experience of life.

Now and then certain captives were permitted to meet other captive
minds seized from the future--to exchange thoughts with
consciousnesses living a hundred or a thousand or a million years
before or after their own ages. And all were urged to write copiously
in their own languages of themselves and their respective periods; such
documents to be filed in the great central archives.

It may be added that there was one special type of captive whose
privileges were far greater than those of the majority. These were the
dying permanent exiles, whose bodies in the future had been seized by
keen-minded members of the Great Race who, faced with death, sought to
escape mental extinction.

Such melancholy exiles were not as common as might be expected,
since the longevity of the Great Race lessened its love of life--
especially among those superior minds capable of projection. From cases
of the permanent projection of elder minds arose many of those lasting
changes of personality noticed in later history--including mankind's.

As for the ordinary cases of exploration--when the displacing mind
had learned what it wished in the future, it would build an apparatus
like that which had started its flight and reverse the process of
projection. Once more it would be in its own body in its own age, while
the lately captive mind would return to that body of the future to
which it properly belonged.

Only when one or the other of the bodies had died during the
exchange was this restoration impossible. In such cases, of course, the
exploring mind had--like those of the death-escapers--to live out an
alien-bodied life in the future; or else the captive mind--like the
dying permanent exiles--had to end its days in the form and past age
of the Great Race.

This fate was least horrible when the captive mind was also of the
Great Race--a not infrequent occurrence, since in all its periods that
race was intensely concerned with its own future. The number of dying
permanent exiles of the Great Race was very slight--largely because of
the tremendous penalties attached to displacements of future Great Race
minds by the moribund.

Through projection, arrangements were made to inflict these
penalties on the offending minds in their new future bodies--and
sometimes forced reëxchanges were effected.

Complex cases of the displacement of exploring or already captive
minds by minds in various regions of the past had been known and
carefully rectified. In every age since the discovery of mind
projection, a minute but well-recognised element of the population
consisted of Great Race minds from past ages, sojourning for a longer
or shorter while.

When a captive mind of alien origin was returned to its own body in
the future, it was purged by an intricate mechanical hypnosis of all it
had learned in the Great Race's age--this because of certain
troublesome consequences inherent in the general carrying forward of
knowledge in large quantities.

The few existing instances of clear transmission had caused, and
would cause at known future times, great disasters. And it was largely
in consequence of two cases of this kind--said the old myths--that
mankind had learned what it had concerning the Great Race.

Of all things surviving physically and directly from that
aeon-distant world, there remained only certain ruins of great stones
in far places and under the sea, and parts of the text of the frightful
Pnakotic Manuscripts.

Thus the returning mind reached its own age with only the faintest
and most fragmentary visions of what it had undergone since its
seizure. All memories that could be eradicated were eradicated, so that
in most cases only a dream-shadowed blank stretched back to the time of
the first exchange. Some minds recalled more than others, and the
chance joining of memories had at rare times brought hints of the
forbidden past to future ages.

There probably never was a time when groups or cults did not
secretly cherish certain of these hints. In the Necronomicon the
presence of such a cult among human beings was suggested--a cult that
sometimes gave aid to minds voyaging down the aeons from the days of
the Great Race.

And, meanwhile, the Great Race itself waxed well-nigh omniscient,
and turned to the task of setting up exchanges with the minds of other
planets, and of exploring their pasts and futures. It sought likewise
to fathom the past years and origin of that black, aeon-dead orb in far
space whence its own mental heritage had come--for the mind of the
Great Race was older than its bodily form.

The beings of a dying elder world, wise with the ultimate secrets,
had looked ahead for a new world and species wherein they might have
long life; and had sent their minds en masse into that future race best
adapted to house them--the cone-shaped beings that peopled our earth a
billion years ago.

Thus the Great Race came to be, while the myriad minds sent backward
were left to die in the horror of strange shapes. Later the race would
again face death, yet would live through another forward migration of
its best minds into the bodies of others who had a longer physical span
ahead of them.

Such was the background of intertwined legend and hallucination.
When, around 1920, I had my researches in coherent shape, I felt a
slight lessening of the tension which their earlier stages had
increased. After all, and in spite of the fancies prompted by blind
emotions, were not most of my phenomena readily explainable? Any chance
might have turned my mind to dark studies during the amnesia--and then
I read the forbidden legends and met the members of ancient and
ill-regarded cults. That, plainly, supplied the material for the dreams
and disturbed feelings which came after the return of memory.

As for the marginal notes in dream-hieroglyphs and languages unknown
to me, but laid at my door by librarians--I might easily have picked
up a smattering of the tongues during my secondary state, while the
hieroglyphs were doubtless coined by my fancy from descriptions in old
legends, and afterward woven into my dreams. I tried to verify certain
points through conversation with known cult leaders, but never
succeeded in establishing the right connexions.

At times the parallelism of so many cases in so many distant ages
continued to worry me as it had at first, but on the other hand I
reflected that the excitant folklore was undoubtedly more universal in
the past than in the present.

Probably all the other victims whose cases were like mine had had a
long and familiar knowledge of the tales I had learned only when in my
secondary state. When these victims had lost their memory, they had
associated themselves with the creatures of their household myths--the
fabulous invaders supposed to displace men's minds--and had thus
embarked upon quests for knowledge which they thought they could take
back to a fancied, non-human past.

Then, when their memory returned, they reversed the associative
process and thought of themselves as the former captive minds instead
of as the displacers. Hence the dreams and pseudo-memories following
the conventional myth pattern.

Despite the seeming cumbrousness of these explanations, they came
finally to supersede all others in my mind--largely because of the
greater weakness of any rival theory. And a substantial number of
eminent psychologists and anthropologists gradually agreed with me.

The more I reflected, the more convincing did my reasoning seem;
till in the end I had a really effective bulwark against the visions
and impressions which still assailed me. Suppose I did see strange
things at night? These were only what I had heard and read of. Suppose
I did have odd loathings and perspectives and pseudo-memories? These,
too, were only echoes of myths absorbed in my secondary state. Nothing
that I might dream, nothing that I might feel, could be of any actual
significance.

Fortified by this philosophy, I greatly improved in nervous
equilibrium, even though the visions--rather than the abstract
impressions--steadily became more frequent and more disturbingly
detailed. In 1922 I felt able to undertake regular work again, and put
my newly gained knowledge to practical use by accepting an
instructorship in psychology at the university.

My old chair of political economy had long been adequately filled--
besides which, methods of teaching economics had changed greatly since
my heyday. My son was at this time just entering on the post-graduate
studies leading to his present professorship, and we worked together a
great deal.


IV

I continued, however, to keep a careful record of the outré dreams
which crowded upon me so thickly and vividly. Such a record, I argued,
was of genuine value as a psychological document. The glimpses still
seemed damnably like memories, though I fought off this impression with
a goodly measure of success.

In writing, I treated the phantasmata as things seen; but at all
other times I brushed them aside like any gossamer illusions of the
night. I had never mentioned such matters in common conversation;
though reports of them, filtering out as such things will, had aroused
sundry rumors regarding my mental health. It is amusing to reflect that
these rumors were confined wholly to laymen, without a single champion
among physicians or psychologists.

Of my visions after 1914 I will here mention only a few, since
fuller accounts and records are at the disposal of the serious student.
It is evident that with time the curious inhibitions somewhat waned,
for the scope of my visions vastly increased. They have never, though,
become other than disjointed fragments seemingly without clear
motivation.

Within the dreams I seemed gradually to acquire a greater and
greater freedom of wandering. I floated through many strange buildings
of stone, going from one to the other along mammoth underground
passages which seemed to form the common avenues of transit. Sometimes
I encountered those gigantic sealed trap-doors in the lowest level,
around which such an aura of fear and forbiddenness clung.

I saw tremendously tessellated pools, and rooms of curious and
inexplicable utensils of myriad sorts. Then there were colossal caverns
of intricate machinery whose outlines and purpose were wholly strange
to me, and whose sound manifested itself only after many years of
dreaming. I may here remark that sight and sound are the only senses I
have ever exercised in the visionary world.

The real horror began in May, 1915, when I first saw the living
things. This was before my studies had taught me what, in view of the
myths and case histories, to expect. As mental barriers wore down, I
beheld great masses of thin vapour in various parts of the building and
in the streets below.

These steadily grew more solid and distinct, till at last I could
trace their monstrous outlines with uncomfortable ease. They seemed to
be enormous, iridescent cones, about ten feet high and ten feet wide at
the base, and made up of some ridgy, scaly, semi-elastic matter. From
their apexes projected four flexible, cylindrical members, each a foot
thick, and of a ridgy substance like that of the cones themselves.

These members were sometimes contracted almost to nothing, and
sometimes extended to any distance up to about ten feet. Terminating
two of them were enormous claws or nippers. At the end of a third were
four red, trumpetlike appendages. The fourth terminated in an irregular
yellowish globe some two feet in diameter and having three great dark
eyes ranged along its central circumference.

Surmounting this head were four slender grey stalks bearing
flower-like appendages, whilst from its nether side dangled eight
greenish antennae or tentacles. The great base of the central cone was
fringed with a rubbery, grey substance which moved the whole entity
through expansion and contraction.

Their actions, though harmless, horrified me even more than their
appearance--for it is not wholesome to watch monstrous objects doing
what one had known only human beings to do. These objects moved
intelligently about the great rooms, getting books from the shelves and
taking them to the great tables, or vice versa, and sometimes writing
diligently with a peculiar rod gripped in the greenish head tentacles.
The huge nippers were used in carrying books and in conversation-speech
consisting of a kind of clicking and scraping.

The objects had no clothing, but wore satchels or knapsacks
suspended from the top of the conical trunk. They commonly carried
their head and its supporting member at the level of the cone top,
although it was frequently raised or lowered.

The other three great members tended to rest downward at the sides
of the cone, contracted to about five feet each when not in use. From
their rate of reading, writing, and operating their machines--those on
the tables seemed somehow connected with thought--I concluded that
their intelligence was enormously greater than man's.

Afterward I saw them everywhere; swarming in all the great chambers
and corridors, tending monstrous machines in vaulted crypts, and racing
along the vast roads in gigantic, boat-shaped cars. I ceased to be
afraid of them, for they seemed to form supremely natural parts of
their environment.

Individual differences amongst them began to be manifest, and a few
appeared to be under some kind of restraint. These latter, though
shewing no physical variation, had a diversity of gestures and habits
which marked them off not only from the majority, but very largely from
one another.

They wrote a great deal in what seemed to my cloudy vision a vast
variety of characters--never the typical curvilinear hieroglyphs of
the majority. A few, I fancied, used our own familiar alphabet. Most of
them worked much more slowly than the general mass of the entities.

All this time my own part in the dreams seemed to be that of a
disembodied consciousness with a range of vision wider than the normal,
floating freely about, yet confined to the ordinary avenues and speeds
of travel. Not until August, 1915, did any suggestions of bodily
existence begin to harass me. I say harass, because the first phase was
a purely abstract, though infinitely terrible, association of my
previously noted body loathing with the scenes of my visions.

For a while my chief concern during dreams was to avoid looking down
at myself, and I recall how grateful I was for the total absence of
large mirrors in the strange rooms. I was mightily troubled by the fact
that I always saw the great tables--whose height could not be under
ten feet--from a level not below that of their surfaces.

And then the morbid temptation to look down at myself became greater
and greater, till one night I could not resist it. At first my downward
glance revealed nothing whatever. A moment later I perceived that this
was because my head lay at the end of a flexible neck of enormous
length. Retracting this neck and gazing down very sharply, I saw the
scaly, rugose, iridescent bulk of a vast cone ten feet tall and ten
feet wide at the base. That was when I waked half of Arkham with my
screaming as I plunged madly up from the abyss of sleep.

Only after weeks of hideous repetition did I grow half-reconciled to
these visions of myself in monstrous form. In the dreams I now moved
bodily among the other unknown entities, reading terrible books from
the endless shelves and writing for hours at the great tables with a
stylus managed by the green tentacles that hung down from my head.

Snatches of what I read and wrote would linger in my memory. There
were horrible annals of other worlds and other universes, and of
stirrings of formless life outside of all universes. There were records
of strange orders of beings which had peopled the world in forgotten
pasts, and frightful chronicles of grotesque-bodied intelligences which
would people it millions of years after the death of the last human
being.

I learned of chapters in human history whose existence no scholar of
today has ever suspected. Most of these writings were in the language
of the hieroglyphs; which I studied in a queer way with the aid of
droning machines, and which was evidently an agglutinative speech with
root systems utterly unlike any found in human languages.

Other volumes were in other unknown tongues learned in the same
queer way. A very few were in languages I knew. Extremely clever
pictures, both inserted in the records and forming separate
collections, aided me immensely. And all the time I seemed to be
setting down a history of my own age in English. On waking, I could
recall only minute and meaningless scraps of the unknown tongues which
my dream-self had mastered, though whole phrases of the history stayed
with me.

I learned--even before my waking self had studied the parallel
cases or the old myths from which the dreams doubtless sprang--that
the entities around me were of the world's greatest race, which had
conquered time and had sent exploring minds into every age. I knew,
too, that I had been snatched from my age while another used my body in
that age, and that a few of the other strange forms housed similarly
captured minds. I seemed to talk, in some odd language of claw
clickings, with exiled intellects from every corner of the solar system.

There was a mind from the planet we know as Venus, which would live
incalculable epochs to come, and one from an outer moon of Jupiter six
million years in the past. Of earthly minds there were some from the
winged, star-headed, half-vegetable race of palaeogean Antarctica; one
from the reptile people of fabled Valusia; three from the furry
pre-human Hyperborean worshippers of Tsathoggua; one from the wholly
abominable Tcho-Tchos; two from the arachnid denizens of earth's last
age; five from the hardy coleopterous species immediately following
mankind, to which the Great Race was some day to transfer its keenest
minds en masse in the face of horrible peril; and several from
different branches of humanity.

I talked with the mind of Yiang-Li, a philosopher from the cruel
empire of Tsan-Chan, which is to come in 5,000 A.D.; with that of a
general of the greatheaded brown people who held South Africa in 50,000
B.C.; with that of a twelfth-century Florentine monk named Bartolomeo
Corsi; with that of a king of Lomar who had ruled that terrible polar
land one hundred thousand years before the squat, yellow Inutos came
from the west to engulf it.

I talked with the mind of Nug-Soth, a magician of the dark
conquerors of 16,000 A.D.; with that of a Roman named Titus Sempronius
Blaesus, who had been a quaestor in Sulla's time; with that of
Khephnes, an Egyptian of the 14th Dynasty, who told me the hideous
secret of Nyarlathotep, with that of a priest of Atlantis' middle
kingdom; with that of a Suffolk gentleman of Cromwell's day, James
Woodville; with that of a court astronomer of pre-Inca Peru; with that
of the Australian physicist Nevil Kingston-Brown, who will die in 2,518
A.D.; with that of an archimage of vanished Yhe in the Pacific; with
that of Theodotides, a Greco-Bactrian official of 200 B.C.; with that
of an aged Frenchman of Louis XIII's time named Pierre-Louis Montagny;
with that of Crom-Ya, a Cimmerian chieftain of 15,000 B.C.; and with so
many others that my brain cannot hold the shocking secrets and dizzying
marvels I learned from them.

I awaked each morning in a fever, sometimes frantically trying to
verify or discredit such information as fell within the range of modern
human knowledge. Traditional facts took on new and doubtful aspects,
and I marvelled at the dream-fancy which could invent such surprising
addenda to history and science.

I shivered at the mysteries the past may conceal, and trembled at
the menaces the future may bring forth. What was hinted in the speech
of post-human entities of the fate of mankind produced such an effect
on me that I will not set it down here.

After man there would be the mighty beetle civilisation, the bodies
of whose members the cream of the Great Race would seize when the
monstrous doom overtook the elder world. Later, as the earth's span
closed, the transferred minds would again migrate through time and
space--to another stopping-place in the bodies of the bulbous
vegetable entities of Mercury. But there would be races after them,
clinging pathetically to the cold planet and burrowing to its
horror-filled core, before the utter end.

Meanwhile, in my dreams, I wrote endlessly in that history of my own
age which I was preparing--half voluntarily and half through promises
of increased library and travel opportunities--for the Great Race's
central archives. The archives were in a colossal subterranean
structure near the city's center, which I came to know well through
frequent labors and consultations. Meant to last as long as the race,
and to withstand the fiercest of earth's convulsions, this titan
repository surpassed all other buildings in the massive, mountain-like
firmness of its construction.

The records, written or printed on great sheets of a curiously
tenacious cellulose fabric were bound into books that opened from the
top, and were kept in individual cases of a strange, extremely light,
rustless metal of greyish hue, decorated with mathematical designs and
bearing the title in the Great Race's curvilinear hieroglyphs.

These cases were stored in tiers of rectangular vaults--like closed,
locked shelves--wrought of the same rustless metal and fastened by
knobs with intricate turnings. My own history was assigned a specific
place in the vaults of the lowest or vertebrate level--the section
devoted to the culture of mankind and of the furry and reptilian races
immediately preceding it in terrestrial dominance.

But none of the dreams ever gave me a full picture of daily life.
All were the merest misty, disconnected fragments, and it is certain
that these fragments were not unfolded in their rightful sequence. I
have, for example, a very imperfect idea of my own living arrangements
in the dream-world; though I seem to have possessed a great stone room
of my own. My restrictions as a prisoner gradually disappeared, so that
some of the visions included vivid travels over the mighty jungle
roads, sojourns in strange cities, and explorations of some of the
vast, dark, windowless ruins from which the Great Race shrank in
curious fear. There were also long sea voyages in enormous, many-decked
boats of incredible swiftness, and trips over wild regions in closed
projectile-like airships lifted and moved by electrical repulsion.

Beyond the wide, warm ocean were other cities of the Great Race, and
on one far continent I saw the crude villages of the black-snouted,
winged creatures who would evolve as a dominant stock after the Great
Race had sent its foremost minds into the future to escape the creeping
horror. Flatness and exuberant green life were always the keynote of
the scene. Hills were low and sparse, and usually displayed signs of
volcanic forces.

Of the animals I saw, I could write volumes. All were wild; for the
Great Race's mechanised culture had long since done away with domestic
beasts, while food was wholly vegetable or synthetic. Clumsy reptiles
of great bulk floundered in steaming morasses, fluttered in the heavy
air, or spouted in the seas and lakes; and among these I fancied I
could vaguely recognise lesser, archaic prototypes of many forms--
dinosaurs, pterodactyls, ichthyosaurs, labyrinthodonts, plesiosaurs,
and the like-made familiar through palaeontology. Of birds or mammals
there were none that I could discover.

The ground and swamps were constantly alive with snakes, lizards,
and crocodiles while insects buzzed incessantly among the lush
vegetation. And far out at sea, unspied and unknown monsters spouted
mountainous columns of foam into the vaporous sky. Once I was taken
under the ocean in a gigantic submarine vessel with searchlights, and
glimpsed some living horrors of awesome magnitude. I saw also the ruins
of incredible sunken cities, and the wealth of crinoid, brachiopod,
coral, and ichthyic life which everywhere abounded.

Of the physiology, psychology, folkways, and detailed history of the
Great Race my visions preserved but little information, and many of the
scattered points I here set down were gleaned from my study of old
legends and other cases rather than from my own dreaming.

For in time, of course, my reading and research caught up with and
passed the dreams in many phases, so that certain dream-fragments were
explained in advance and formed verifications of what I had learned.
This consolingly established my belief that similar reading and
research, accomplished by my secondary self, had formed the source of
the whole terrible fabric of pseudomemories.

The period of my dreams, apparently, was one somewhat less than
150,000,000 years ago, when the Palaeozoic age was giving place to the
Mesozoic. The bodies occupied by the Great Race represented no
surviving--or even scientifically known--line of terrestrial evolution,
but were of a peculiar, closely homogeneous, and highly specialised
organic type inclining as much as to the vegetable as to the animal
state.

Cell action was of an unique sort almost precluding fatigue, and
wholly eliminating the need of sleep. Nourishment, assimilated through
the red trumpet-like appendages on one of the great flexible limbs, was
always semifluid and in many aspects wholly unlike the food of existing
animals.

The beings had but two of the senses which we recognise--sight and
hearing, the latter accomplished through the flower-like appendages on
the grey stalks above their heads. Of other and incomprehensible senses
--not, however, well utilizable by alien captive minds inhabiting their
bodies--they possessed many. Their three eyes were so situated as to
give them a range of vision wider than the normal. Their blood was a
sort of deep-greenish ichor of great thickness.

They had no sex, but reproduced through seeds or spores which
clustered on their bases and could be developed only under water.
Great, shallow tanks were used for the growth of their young--which
were, however, reared only in small numbers on account of the longevity
of individuals--four or five thousand years being the common life span.

Markedly defective individuals were quickly disposed of as soon as
their defects were noticed. Disease and the approach of death were, in
the absence of a sense of touch or of physical pain, recognised by
purely visual symptoms.

The dead were incinerated with dignified ceremonies. Once in a
while, as before mentioned, a keen mind would escape death by forward
projection in time; but such cases were not numerous. When one did
occur, the exiled mind from the future was treated with the utmost
kindness till the dissolution of its unfamiliar tenement.

The Great Race seemed to form a single, loosely knit nation or
league, with major institutions in common, though there were four
definite divisions. The political and economic system of each unit was
a sort of fascistic socialism, with major resources rationally
distributed, and power delegated to a small governing board elected by
the votes of all able to pass certain educational and psychological
tests. Family organisation was not overstressed, though ties among
persons of common descent were recognised, and the young were generally
reared by their parents.

Resemblances to human attitudes and institutions were, of course,
most marked in those fields where on the one hand highly abstract
elements were concerned, or where on the other hand there was a
dominance of the basic, unspecialised urges common to all organic life.
A few added likenesses came through conscious adoption as the Great
Race probed the future and copied what it liked.

Industry, highly mechanised, demanded but little time from each
citizen; and the abundant leisure was filled with intellectual and
aesthetic activities of various sorts.

The sciences were carried to an unbelievable height of development,
and art was a vital part of life, though at the period of my dreams it
had passed its crest and meridian. Technology was enormously stimulated
through the constant struggle to survive, and to keep in existence the
physical fabric of great cities, imposed by the prodigious geologic
upheavals of those primal days.

Crime was surprisingly scant, and was dealt with through highly
efficient policing. Punishments ranged from privilege deprivation and
imprisonment to death or major emotion wrenching, and were never
administered without a careful study of the criminal's motivations.

Warfare, largely civil for the last few millennia though sometimes
waged against reptilian or octopodic invaders, or against the winged,
star-headed Old Ones who centered in the antarctic, was infrequent
though infinitely devastating. An enormous army, using camera-like
weapons which produced tremendous electrical effects, was kept on hand
for purposes seldom mentioned, but obviously connected with the
ceaseless fear of the dark, windowless elder ruins and of the great
sealed trap-doors in the lowest subterranean levels.

This fear of the basalt ruins and trap-doors was largely a matter of
unspoken suggestion--or, at most, of furtive quasi-whispers.
Everything specific which bore on it was significantly absent from such
books as were on the common shelves. It was the one subject lying
altogether under a taboo among the Great Race, and seemed to be
connected alike with horrible bygone struggles, and with that future
peril which would some day force the race to send its keener minds
ahead en masse in time.

Imperfect and fragmentary as were the other things presented by
dreams and legends, this matter was still more bafflingly shrouded. The
vague old myths avoided it--or perhaps all allusions had for some
reason been excised. And in the dreams of myself and others, the hints
were peculiarly few. Members of the Great Race never intentionally
referred to the matter, and what could be gleaned came only from some
of the more sharply observant captive minds.

According to these scraps of information, the basis of the fear was
a horrible elder race of half-polypous, utterly alien entities which
had come through space from immeasurably distant universes and had
dominated the earth and three other solar planets about 600 million
years ago. They were only partly material--as we understand matter--
and their type of consciousness and media of perception differed widely
from those of terrestrial organisms. For example, their senses did not
include that of sight; their mental world being a strange, non-visual
pattern of impressions.

They were, however, sufficiently material to use implements of
normal matter when in cosmic areas containing it; and they required
housing--albeit of a peculiar kind. Though their senses could
penetrate all material barriers, their substance could not; and certain
forms of electrical energy could wholly destroy them. They had the
power of aërial motion, despite the absence of wings or any other
visible means of levitation. Their minds were of such texture that no
exchange with them could be effected by the Great Race.

When these things had come to the earth they had built mighty basalt
cities of windowless towers, and had preyed horribly upon the beings
they found. Thus it was when the minds of the Great Race sped across
the void from that obscure, trans-galactic world known in the
disturbing and debatable Eltdown Shards as Yith.

The newcomers, with the instruments they created, had found it easy
to subdue the predatory entities and drive them down to those caverns
of inner earth which they had already joined to their abodes and begun
to inhabit.

Then they had sealed the entrances and left them to their fate,
afterward occupying most of their great cities and preserving certain
important buildings for reasons connected more with superstition than
with indifference, boldness, or scientific and historical zeal.

But as the aeons passed there came vague, evil signs that the elder
things were growing strong and numerous in the inner world. There were
sporadic irruptions of a particularly hideous character in certain
small and remote cities of the Great Race, and in some of the deserted
elder cities which the Great Race had not peopled--places where the
paths to the gulfs below had not been properly sealed or guarded.

After that greater precautions were taken, and many of the paths
were closed forever--though a few were left with sealed trap-doors for
strategic use in fighting the elder things if ever they broke forth in
unexpected places.

The irruptions of the elder things must have been shocking beyond
all description, since they had permanently coloured the psychology of
the Great Race. Such was the fixed mood of horror that the very aspect
of the creatures was left unmentioned. At no time was I able to gain a
clear hint of what they looked like.

There were veiled suggestions of a monstrous plasticity, and of
temporary lapses of visibility, while other fragmentary whispers
referred to their control and military use of great winds. Singular
whistling noises, and colossal footprints made up of five circular toe
marks, seemed also to be associated with them.

It was evident that the coming doom so desperately feared by the
Great Race--the doom that was one day to send millions of keen minds
across the chasm of time to strange bodies in the safer future--had to
do with a final successful irruption of the elder beings.

Mental projections down the ages had clearly foretold such a horror,
and the Great Race had resolved that none who could escape should face
it. That the foray would be a matter of vengeance, rather than an
attempt to reoccupy the outer world, they knew from the planet's later
history--for their projections shewed the coming and going of
subsequent races untroubled by the monstrous entities.

Perhaps these entities had come to prefer earth's inner abysses to
the variable, storm-ravaged surface, since light meant nothing to them.
Perhaps, too, they were slowly weakening with the aeons. Indeed, it was
known that they would be quite dead in the time of the post-human
beetle race which the fleeing minds would tenant.

Meanwhile, the Great Race maintained its cautious vigilance, with
potent weapons ceaselessly ready despite the horrified banishing of the
subject from common speech and visible records. And always the shadow
of nameless fear hung bout the sealed trap-doors and the dark,
windowless elder towers.


V

That is the world of which my dreams brought me dim, scattered
echoes every night. I cannot hope to give any true idea of the horror
and dread contained in such echoes, for it was upon a wholly intangible
quality--the sharp sense of pseudo-memory--that such feelings mainly
depended.

As I have said, my studies gradually gave me a defence against these
feelings in the form of rational psychological explanations; and this
saving influence was augmented by the subtle touch of accustomedness
which comes with the passage of time. Yet in spite of everything the
vague, creeping terror would return momentarily now and then. It did
not, however, engulf me as it had before; and after 1922 I lived a very
normal life of work and recreation.

In the course of years I began to feel that my experience--together
with the kindred cases and the related folklore--ought to be
definitely summarised and published for the benefit of serious
students; hence I prepared a series of articles briefly covering the
whole ground and illustrated with crude sketches of some of the shapes,
scenes, decorative motifs, and hieroglyphs remembered from the dreams.

These appeared at various times during 1928 and 1929 in the Journal
of the American Psychological Society, but did not attract much
attention. Meanwhile I continued to record my dreams with the minutest
care, even though the growing stack of reports attained troublesomely
vast proportions. On July 10, 1934, there was forwarded to me by the
Psychological Society the letter which opened the culminating and most
horrible phase of the whole mad ordeal. It was postmarked Pilbarra,
Western Australia, and bore the signature of one whom I found, upon
inquiry, to be a mining engineer of considerable prominence. Enclosed
were some very curious snapshots. I will reproduce the text in its
entirety, and no reader can fail to understand how tremendous an effect
it and the photographs had upon me.

I was, for a time, almost stunned and incredulous; for although I
had often thought that some basis of fact must underlie certain phases
of the legends which had coloured my dreams, I was none the less
unprepared for anything like a tangible survival from a lost world
remote beyond all imagination. Most devastating of all were the
photographs--for here, in cold, incontrovertible realism, there stood
out against a background of sand certain worn-down, water-ridged,
storm-weathered blocks of stone whose slightly convex tops and slightly
concave bottoms told their own story.

And when I studied them with a magnifying glass I could see all too
plainly, amidst the batterings and pittings, the traces of those vast
curvilinear designs and occasional hieroglyphs whose significance had
become so hideous to me. But here is the letter, which speaks for
itself.

49, Dampier St.,

Pilbarra, W. Australia,
May 18, 1934.

Prof. N. W Peaslee,
c/o Am. Psychological Society,
30 E. 41st St.,
New York City, U.S.A.


My Dear Sir:

A recent conversation with Dr. E. M. Boyle of Perth, and some
papers with your articles which he has just sent me, make it advisable
for me to tell you about certain things I have seen in the Great Sandy
Desert east of our gold field here. It would seem, in view of the
peculiar legends about old cities with huge stonework and strange
designs and hieroglyphs which you describe, that I have come upon
something very important.

The blackfellows have always been full of talk about "great stones
with marks on them," and seem to have a terrible fear of such things.
They connect them in some way with their common racial legends about
Buddai, the gigantic old man who lies asleep for ages underground with
his head on his arm, and who will some day awake and eat up the world.

There are some very old and half-forgotten tales of enormous
underground huts of great stones, where passages lead down and down,
and where horrible things have happened. The blackfellows claim that
once some warriors, fleeing in battle, went down into one and never
came back, but that frightful winds began to blow from the place soon
after they went down. However, there usually isn't much in what these
natives say.

But what I have to tell is more than this. Two years ago, when I
was prospecting about 500 miles east in the desert, I came on a lot of
queer pieces of dressed stone perhaps 3 X 2 X 2 feet in size, and
weathered and pitted to the very limit.


At first I couldn't find any of the marks the blackfellows told
about, but when I looked close enough I could make out some deeply
carved lines in spite of the weathering. There were peculiar curves,
just like what the blackfellows had tried to describe. I imagine there
must have been thirty or forty blocks, some nearly buried in the sand,
and all within a circle perhaps a quarter of a mile in diameter.

When I saw some, I looked around closely for more, and made a
careful reckoning of the place with my instruments. I also took
pictures of ten or twelve of the most typical blocks, and will enclose
the prints for you to see.

I turned my information and pictures over to the government at Perth,
but they have done nothing about them.

Then I met Dr. Boyle, who had read your articles in the Journal of
the American Psychological Society, and, in time, happened to mention
the stones. He was enormously interested, and became quite excited when
I shewed him my snapshots, saying that the stones and the markings were
just like those of the masonry you had dreamed about and seen described
in legends.

He meant to write you, but was delayed. Meanwhile, he sent me most
of the magazines with your articles, and I saw at once, from your
drawings and descriptions, that my stones are certainly the kind you
mean. You can appreciate this from the enclosed prints. Later on you
will hear directly from Dr. Boyle.

Now I can understand how important all this will be to you. Without
question we are faced with the remains of an unknown civilization older
than any dreamed of before, and forming a basis for your legends.

As a mining engineer, I have some knowledge of geology, and can
tell you that these blocks are so ancient they frighten me. They are
mostly sandstone and granite, though one is almost certainly made of a
queer sort of cement or concrete.

They bear evidence of water action, as if this part of the world
had been submerged and come up again after long ages--all since those
blocks were made and used. It is a matter of hundreds of thousands of
years--or heaven knows how much more. I don't like to think about it.

In view of your previous diligent work in tracking down the legends
and everything connected with them, I cannot doubt but that you will
want to lead an expedition to the desert and make some archaeological
excavations. Both Dr. Boyle and I are prepared to cooperate in such
work if you--or organizations known to you--can furnish the funds.

I can get together a dozen miners for the heavy digging--the
blackfellows would be of no use, for I've found that they have an
almost maniacal fear of this particular spot. Boyle and I are saying
nothing to others, for you very obviously ought to have precedence in
any discoveries or credit.

The place can be reached from Pilbarra in about four days by motor
tractor--which we'd need for our apparatus. It is somewhat west and
south of Warburton's path of 1873, and 100 miles southeast of Joanna
Spring. We could float things up the De Grey River instead of starting
from Pilbarra--but all that can be talked over later.

Roughly the stones lie at a point about 22° 3' 14" South Latitude,
125° 0' 39" East Longitude. The climate is tropical, and the desert
conditions are trying.

I shall welcome further correspondence upon this subject, and am
keenly eager to assist in any plan you may devise. After studying your
articles I am deeply impressed with the profound significance of the
whole matter. Dr. Boyle will write later. When rapid communication is
needed, a cable to Perth can be relayed by wireless.

Hoping profoundly for an early message,

Believe me,

Most faithfully yours,
Robert B.F. Mackenzie

Of the immediate aftermath of this letter, much can be learned from
the press. My good fortune in securing the backing of Miskatonic
University was great, and both Mr. Mackenzie and Dr. Boyle proved
invaluable in arranging matters at the Australian end. We were not too
specific with the public about our objects, since the whole matter
would have lent itself unpleasantly to sensational and jocose treatment
by the cheaper newspapers. As a result, printed reports were sparing;
but enough appeared to tell of our quest for reported Australian ruins
and to chronicle our various preparatory steps.

Professor William Dyer of the college's geology department--leader
of the Miskatonic Antarctic Expedition Of 1930-31--Ferdinand C. Ashley
of the department of ancient history, and Tyler M. Freeborn of the
department of anthropology--together with my son Wingate--accompanied me.

My correspondent, Mackenzie, came to Arkham early in 1935 and
assisted in our final preparations. He proved to be a tremendously
competent and affable man of about fifty, admirably well-read, and
deeply familiar with all the conditions of Australian travel.

He had tractors waiting at Pilbarra, and we chartered a tramp
steamer sufficiently small to get up the river to that point. We were
prepared to excavate in the most careful and scientific fashion,
sifting every particle of sand, and disturbing nothing which might seem
to be in or near its original situation.

Sailing from Boston aboard the wheezy Lexington on March 28, 1935,
we had a leisurely trip across the Atlantic and Mediterranean, through
the Suez Canal, down the Red Sea, and across the Indian Ocean to our
goal. I need not tell how the sight of the low, sandy West Australian
coast depressed me, and how I detested the crude mining town and dreary
gold fields where the tractors were given their last loads.

Dr. Boyle, who met us, proved to be elderly, pleasant, and
intelligent--and his knowledge of psychology led him into many long
discussions with my son and me.

Discomfort and expectancy were oddly mingled in most of us when at
length our party of eighteen rattled forth over the arid leagues of
sand and rock. On Friday, May 31st, we forded a branch of the De Grey
and entered the realm of utter desolation. A certain positive terror
grew on me as we advanced to this actual site of the elder world behind
the legends--a terror, of course, abetted by the fact that my
disturbing dreams and pseudo-memories still beset me with unabated
force.

It was on Monday, June 3rd, that we saw the first of the half-buried
blocks. I cannot describe the emotions with which I actually touched--
in objective reality--a fragment of Cyclopean masonry in every respect
like the blocks in the walls of my dream-buildings. There was a
distinct trace of carving--and my hands trembled as I recognised part
of a curvilinear decorative scheme made hellish to me through years of
tormenting nightmare and baffling research.

A month of digging brought a total of some 1250 blocks in varying
stages of wear and disintegration. Most of these were carven megaliths
with curved tops and bottoms. A minority were smaller, flatter,
plain-surfaced, and square or octagonally cut-like those of the floors
and pavements in my dreams--while a few were singularly massive and
curved or slanted in such a manner as to suggest use in vaulting or
groining, or as parts of arches or round window casings.

The deeper--and the farther north and east--we dug, the more
blocks we found; though we still failed to discover any trace of
arrangement among them. Professor Dyer was appalled at the measureless
age of the fragments, and Freeborn found traces of symbols which fitted
darkly into certain Papuan and Polynesian legends of infinite
antiquity. The condition and scattering of the blocks told mutely of
vertiginous cycles of time and geologic upheavals of cosmic savagery.

We had an aëroplane with us, and my son Wingate would often go up to
different heights and scan the sand-and-rock waste for signs of dim,
large-scale outlines--either differences of level or trails of
scattered blocks. His results were virtually negative; for whenever he
would one day think he had glimpsed some significant trend, he would on
his next trip find the impression replaced by another equally
insubstantial--a result of the shifting, wind-blown sand.

One or two of these ephemeral suggestions, though, affected me
queerly and disagreeably. They seemed, after a fashion, to dovetail
horribly with something I had dreamed or read, but which I could no
longer remember. There was a terrible familiarity about them--which
somehow made me look furtively and apprehensively over the abominable,
sterile terrain toward the north and northeast.

Around the first week in July I developed an unaccountable set of
mixed emotions about that general northeasterly region. There was
horror, and there was curiosity--but more than that, there was a
persistent and perplexing illusion of memory.

I tried all sorts of psychological expedients to get these notions
out of my head, but met with no success. Sleeplessness also gained upon
me, but I almost welcomed this because of the resultant shortening of
my dream-periods. I acquired the habit of taking long, lone walks in
the desert late at night--usually to the north or northeast, whither the
sum of my strange new impulses seemed subtly to pull me.

Sometimes, on these walks, I would stumble over nearly buried
fragments of the ancient masonry. Though there were fewer visible
blocks here than where we had started, I felt sure that there must be a
vast abundance beneath the surface. The ground was less level than at
our camp, and the prevailing high winds now and then piled the sand
into fantastic temporary hillocks--exposing low traces of the elder
stones while it covered other traces.

I was queerly anxious to have the excavations extend to this
territory, yet at the same time dreaded what might be revealed.
Obviously, I was getting into a rather bad state--all the worse
because I could not account for it.

An indication of my poor nervous health can be gained from my
response to an odd discovery which I made on one of my nocturnal
rambles. It was on the evening of July 11th, when the moon flooded the
mysterious hillocks with a curious pallor.

Wandering somewhat beyond my usual limits, I came upon a great stone
which seemed to differ markedly from any we had yet encountered. It was
almost wholly covered, but I stooped and cleared away the sand with my
hands, later studying the object carefully and supplementing the
moonlight with my electric torch.

Unlike the other very large rocks, this one was perfectly
square-cut, with no convex or concave surface. It seemed, too, to be of
a dark basaltic substance, wholly dissimilar to the granite and
sandstone and occasional concrete of the now familiar fragments.

Suddenly I rose, turned, and ran for the camp at top speed. It was a
wholly unconscious and irrational flight, and only when I was close to
my tent did I fully realise why I had run. Then it came to me. The
queer dark stone was something which I had dreamed and read about, and
which was linked with the uttermost horrors of the aeon-old legendry.

It was one of the blocks of that basaltic elder masonry which the
fabled Great Race held in such fear--the tall, windowless ruins left
by those brooding, half-material, alien things that festered in earth's
nether abysses and against whose wind-like, invisible forces the
trap-doors were sealed and the sleepless sentinels posted.

I remained awake all night, but by dawn realised how silly I had
been to let the shadow of a myth upset me. Instead of being frightened,
I should have had a discoverer's enthusiasm.

The next forenoon I told the others about my find, and Dyer,
Freeborn, Boyle, my son, and I set out to view the anomalous block.
Failure, however, confronted us. I had formed no clear idea of the
stone's location, and a late wind had wholly altered the hillocks of
shifting sand.


VI

I come now to the crucial and most difficult part of my narrative--
all the more difficult because I cannot be quite certain of its
reality. At times I feel uncomfortably sure that I was not dreaming or
deluded; and it is this feeling in view of the stupendous implications
which the objective truth of my experience would raise--which impels
me to make this record.

My son--a trained psychologist with the fullest and most
sympathetic knowledge of my whole case--shall be the primary judge of
what I have to tell.

First let me outline the externals of the matter, as those at the
camp know them. On the night of July 17-18, after a windy day, I
retired early but could not sleep. Rising shortly before eleven, and
afflicted as usual with that strange feeling regarding the
northeastward terrain, I set out on one of my typical nocturnal walks;
seeing and greeting only one person--an Australian miner named Tupper
--as I left our precincts.

The moon, slightly past full, shone from a clear sky, and drenched
the ancient sands with a white, leprous radiance which seemed to me
somehow infinitely evil. There was no longer any wind, nor did any
return for nearly five hours, as amply attested by Tupper and others
who saw me walking rapidly across the pallid, secret-guarding hillocks
toward the northeast.

About 3:30 a.m. a violent wind blew up, waking everyone in camp and
felling three of the tents. The sky was unclouded, and the desert still
blazed with that leprous moonlight. As the party saw to the tents my
absence was noted, but in view of my previous walks this circumstance
gave no one alarm. And yet, as many as three men--all Australians--
seemed to feel something sinister in the air.

Mackenzie explained to Professor Freeborn that this was a fear
picked up from blackfellow folklore--the natives having woven a
curious fabric of malignant myth about the high winds which at long
intervals sweep across the sands under a clear sky. Such winds, it is
whispered, blow out of the great stone huts under the ground, where
terrible things have happened--and are never felt except near places
where the big marked stones are scattered. Close to four the gale
subsided as suddenly as it had begun, leaving the sand hills in new and
unfamiliar shapes.

It was just past five, with the bloated, fungoid moon sinking in the
west, when I staggered into camp--hatless, tattered, features
scratched and ensanguined, and without my electric torch. Most of the
men had returned to bed, but Professor Dyer was smoking a pipe in front
of his tent. Seeing my winded and almost frenzied state, he called Dr.
Boyle, and the two of them got me on my cot and made me comfortable. My
son, roused by the stir, soon joined them, and they all tried to force
me to lie still and attempt sleep.

But there was no sleep for me. My psychological state was very
extraordinary--different from anything I had previously suffered.
After a time I insisted upon talking--nervously and elaborately
explaining my condition. I told them I had become fatigued, and had
lain down in the sand for a nap. There had, I said, been dreams even
more frightful than usual--and when I was awaked by the sudden high
wind my overwrought nerves had snapped. I had fled in panic, frequently
falling over half-buried stones and thus gaining my tattered and
bedraggled aspect. I must have slept long--hence the hours of my
absence.

Of anything strange either seen or experienced I hinted absolutely
nothing--exercising the greatest self-control in that respect. But I
spoke of a change of mind regarding the whole work of the expedition,
and urged a halt in all digging toward the northeast. My reasoning was
patently weak--for I mentioned a dearth of blocks, a wish not to
offend the superstitious miners, a possible shortage of funds from the
college, and other things either untrue or irrelevant. Naturally, no
one paid the least attention to my new wishes--not even my son, whose
concern for my health was obvious.

The next day I was up and around the camp, but took no part in the
excavations. Seeing that I could not stop the work, I decided to return
home as soon as possible for the sake of my nerves, and made my son
promise to fly me in the plane to Perth--a thousand miles to the
southwest--as soon as he had surveyed the region I wished let alone.

If, I reflected, the thing I had seen was still visible, I might
decide to attempt a specific warning even at the cost of ridicule. It
was just conceivable that the miners who knew the local folklore might
back me up. Humouring me, my son made the survey that very afternoon,
flying over all the terrain my walk could possibly have covered. Yet
nothing of what I had found remained in sight.

It was the case of the anomalous basalt block all over again--the
shifting sand had wiped out every trace. For an instant I half
regretted having lost a certain awesome object in my stark fright--but
now I know that the loss was merciful. I can still believe my whole
experience an illusion--especially if, as I devoutly hope, that
hellish abyss is never found.

Wingate took me to Perth on July 20th, though declining to abandon
the expedition and return home. He stayed with me until the 25th, when
the steamer for Liverpool sailed. Now, in the cabin of the Empress, I
am pondering long and frantically upon the entire matter, and have
decided that my son at least must be informed. It shall rest with him
whether to diffuse the matter more widely.

In order to meet any eventuality I have prepared this summary of my
background--as already known in a scattered way to others--and will
now tell as briefly as possible what seemed to happen during my absence
from the camp that hideous night.

Nerves on edge, and whipped into a kind of perverse eagerness by
that inexplicable, dread-mingled, mnemonic urge toward the northeast, I
plodded on beneath the evil, burning moon. Here and there I saw, half
shrouded by sand, those primal Cyclopean blocks left from nameless and
forgotten aeons.

The incalculable age and brooding horror of this monstrous waste
began to oppress me as never before, and I could not keep from thinking
of my maddening dreams, of the frightful legends which lay behind them,
and of the present fears of natives and miners concerning the desert
and its carven stones.

And yet I plodded on as if to some eldritch rendezvous--more and
more assailed by bewildering fancies, compulsions, and pseudo-memories.
I thought of some of the possible contours of the lines of stones as
seen by my son from the air, and wondered why they seemed at once so
ominous and so familiar. Something was fumbling and rattling at the
latch of my recollection, while another unknown force sought to keep
the portal barred.

The night was windless, and the pallid sand curved upward and
downward like frozen waves of the sea. I had no goal, but somehow
ploughed along as if with fate-bound assurance. My dreams welled up
into the waking world, so that each sand-embedded megalith seemed part
of endless rooms and corridors of pre-human masonry, carved and
hieroglyphed with symbols that I knew too well from years of custom as
a captive mind of the Great Race.

At moments I fancied I saw those omniscient, conical horrors moving
about at their accustomed tasks, and I feared to look down lest I find
myself one with them in aspect. Yet all the while I saw the
sand-covered blocks as well as the rooms and corridors; the evil,
burning moon as well as the lamps of luminous crystal; the endless
desert as well as the waving ferns beyond the windows. I was awake and
dreaming at the same time.

I do not know how long or how far--or indeed, in just what
direction--I had walked when I first spied the heap of blocks bared by
the day's wind. It was the largest group in one place that I had seen
so far, and so sharply did it impress me that the visions of fabulous
aeons faded suddenly away.

Again there were only the desert and the evil moon and the shards of
an unguessed past. I drew close and paused, and cast the added light of
my electric torch over the tumbled pile. A hillock had blown away,
leaving a low, irregularly round mass of megaliths and smaller
fragments some forty feet across and from two to eight feet high.

From the very outset I realized that there was some utterly
unprecedented quality about those stones. Not only was the mere number
of them quite without parallel, but something in the sandworn traces of
design arrested me as I scanned them under the mingled beams of the
moon and my torch.

Not that any one differed essentially from the earlier specimens we
had found. It was something subtler than that. The impression did not
come when I looked at one block alone, but only when I ran my eye over
several almost simultaneously.

Then, at last, the truth dawned upon me. The curvilinear patterns on
many of those blocks were closely related--parts of one vast
decorative conception. For the first time in this aeon-shaken waste I
had come upon a mass of masonry in its old position--tumbled and
fragmentary, it is true, but none the less existing in a very definite
sense.

Mounting at a low place, I clambered laboriously over the heap; here
and there clearing away the sand with my fingers, and constantly
striving to interpret varieties of size, shape, and style, and
relationships of design.

After a while I could vaguely guess at the nature of the bygone
structure, and at the designs which had once stretched over the vast
surfaces of the primal masonry. The perfect identity of the whole with
some of my dream-glimpses appalled and unnerved me.

This was once a Cyclopean corridor thirty feet tall, paved with
octagonal blocks and solidly vaulted overhead. There would have been
rooms opening off on the right, and at the farther end one of those
strange inclined planes would have wound down to still lower depths.

I started violently as these conceptions occurred to me, for there
was more in them than the blocks themselves had supplied. How did I
know that this level should have been far underground? How did I know
that the plane leading upward should have been behind me? How did I
know that the long subterrene passage to the Square of Pillars ought to
lie on the left one level above me?

How did I know that the room of machines and the rightward-leading
tunnel to the central archives ought to lie two levels below? How did I
know that there would be one of those horrible, metal-banded trap-doors
at the very bottom four levels down? Bewildered by this intrusion from
the dream-world, I found myself shaking and bathed in a cold
perspiration.

Then, as a last, intolerable touch, I felt that faint, insidious
stream of cool air trickling upward from a depressed place near the
center of the huge heap. Instantly, as once before, my visions faded,
and I saw again only the evil moonlight, the brooding desert, and the
spreading tumulus of palaeogean masonry. Something real and tangible,
yet fraught with infinite suggestions of nighted mystery, now
confronted me. For that stream of air could argue but one thing--a
hidden gulf of great size beneath the disordered blocks on the surface.

My first thought was of the sinister blackfellow legends of vast
underground huts among the megaliths where horrors happen and great
winds are born. Then thoughts of my own dreams came back, and I felt
dim pseudo-memories tugging at my mind. What manner of place lay below
me? What primal, inconceivable source of age-old myth-cycles and
haunting nightmares might I be on the brink of uncovering?

It was only for a moment that I hesitated, for more than curiosity
and scientific zeal was driving me on and working against my growing
fear.

I seemed to move almost automatically, as if in the clutch of some
compelling fate. Pocketing my torch, and struggling with a strength
that I had not thought I possessed, I wrenched aside first one titan
fragment of stone and then another, till there welled up a strong
draught whose dampness contrasted oddly with the desert's dry air. A
black rift began to yawn, and at length--when I had pushed away every
fragment small enough to budge--the leprous moonlight blazed on an
aperture of ample width to admit me.

I drew out my torch and cast a brilliant beam into the opening.
Below me was a chaos of tumbled masonry, sloping roughly down toward
the north at an angle of about forty-five degrees, and evidently the
result of some bygone collapse from above.

Between its surface and the ground level was a gulf of impenetrable
blackness at whose upper edge were signs of gigantic, stress-heaved
vaulting. At this point, it appeared, the deserts sands lay directly
upon a floor of some titan structure of earth's youth--how preserved
through aeons of geologic convulsion I could not then and cannot now
even attempt to guess.

In retrospect, the barest idea of a sudden, lone descent into such a
doubtful abyss--and at a time when one's whereabouts were unknown to
any living soul--seems like the utter apex of insanity. Perhaps it was
--yet that night I embarked without hesitancy upon such a descent.

Again there was manifest that lure and driving of fatality which had
all along seemed to direct my course. With torch flashing
intermittently to save the battery, I commenced a mad scramble down the
sinister, Cyclopean incline below the opening--sometimes facing
forward as I found good hand- and foot-holds, and at other times
turning to face the heap of megaliths as I clung and fumbled more
precariously.

In two directions beside me distant walls of carven, crumbling
masonry loomed dimly under the direct beams of my torch. Ahead,
however, was only unbroken darkness.

I kept no track of time during my downward scramble. So seething
with baffling hints and images was my mind that all objective matters
seemed withdrawn into incalculable distances. Physical sensation was
dead, and even fear remained as a wraith-like, inactive gargoyle
leering impotently at me.

Eventually, I reached a level floor strewn with fallen blocks,
shapeless fragments of stone, and sand and detritus of every kind. On
either side--perhaps thirty feet apart--rose massive walls
culminating in huge groinings. That they were carved I could just
discern, but the nature of the carvings was beyond my perception.

What held me the most was the vaulting overhead. The beam from my
torch could not reach the roof, but the lower parts of the monstrous
arches stood out distinctly. And so perfect was their identity with
what I had seen in countless dreams of the elder world, that I trembled
actively for the first time.

Behind and high above, a faint luminous blur told of the distant
moonlit world outside. Some vague shred of caution warned me that I
should not let it out of my sight, lest I have no guide for my return.

I now advanced toward the wall at my left, where the traces of
carving were plainest. The littered floor was nearly as hard to
traverse as the downward heap had been, but I managed to pick my
difficult way.

At one place I heaved aside some blocks and locked away the detritus
to see what the pavement was like, and shuddered at the utter, fateful
familiarity of the great octagonal stones whose buckled surface still
held roughly together.

Reaching a convenient distance from the wall, I cast the searchlight
slowly and carefully over its worn remnants of carving. Some bygone
influx of water seemed to have acted on the sandstone surface, while
there were curious incrustations which I could not explain.

In places the masonry was very loose and distorted, and I wondered
how many aeons more this primal, hidden edifice could keep its
remaining traces of form amidst earth's heavings.

But it was the carvings themselves that excited me most. Despite
their time-crumbled state, they were relatively easy to trace at close
range; and the complete, intimate familiarity of every detail almost
stunned my imagination.

That the major attributes of this hoary masonry should be familiar,
was not beyond normal credibility.

Powerfully impressing the weavers of certain myths, they had become
embodied in a stream of cryptic lore which, somehow, coming to my
notice during the amnesic period, had evoked vivid images in my
subconscious mind.

But how could I explain the exact and minute fashion in which each
line and spiral of these strange designs tallied with what I had
dreamed for more than a score of years? What obscure, forgotten
iconography could have reproduced each subtle shading and nuance which
so persistently, exactly, and unvaryingly besieged my sleeping vision
night after night?

For this was no chance or remote resemblance. Definitely and
absolutely, the millennially ancient, aeon-hidden corridor in which I
stood was the original of something I knew in sleep as intimately as I
knew my own house in Crane Street, Arkham. True, my dreams shewed the
place in its undecayed prime; but the identity was no less real on that
account. I was wholly and horribly oriented.

The particular structure I was in was known to me. Known, too, was
its place in that terrible elder city of dreams. That I could visit
unerringly any point in that structure or in that city which had
escaped the changes and devastations of uncounted ages, I realized with
hideous and instinctive certainty. What in heaven's name could all this
mean? How had I come to know what I knew? And what awful reality could
lie behind those antique tales of the beings who had dwelt in this
labyrinth of primordial stone?

Words can convey only fractionally the welter of dread and
bewilderment which ate at my spirit. I knew this place. I knew what lay
before me, and what had lain overhead before the myriad towering
stories had fallen to dust and debris and the desert. No need now, I
thought with a shudder, to keep that faint blur of moonlight in view.

I was torn betwixt a longing to flee and a feverish mixture of
burning curiosity and driving fatality. What had happened to this
monstrous megalopolis of old in the millions of years since the time of
my dreams? Of the subterrene mazes which had underlain the city and
linked all the titan towers, how much had still survived the writhings
of earth's crust?

Had I come upon a whole buried world of unholy archaism? Could I
still find the house of the writing master, and the tower where
S'gg'ha, the captive mind from the star-headed vegetable carnivores of
Antarctica, had chiselled certain pictures on the blank spaces of the
walls?

Would the passage at the second level down, to the hall of the alien
minds, be still unchoked and traversable? In that hall the captive mind
of an incredible entity--a half-plastic denizen of the hollow interior
of an unknown trans-Plutonian planet eighteen million years in the
future--had kept a certain thing which it had modelled from clay.

I shut my eyes and put my hand to my head in a vain, pitiful effort
to drive these insane dream-fragments from my consciousness. Then, for
the first time, I felt acutely the coolness, motion, and dampness of
the surrounding air. Shuddering, I realized that a vast chain of
aeon-dead black gulfs must indeed be yawning somewhere beyond and below
me.

I thought of the frightful chambers and corridors and inclines as I
recalled them from my dreams. Would the way to the central archives
still be open? Again that driving fatality tugged insistently at my
brain as I recalled the awesome records that once lay cased in those
rectangular vaults of rustless metal.

There, said the dreams and legends, had reposed the whole history,
past and future, of the cosmic space-time continuum--written by
captive minds from every orb and every age in the solar system.
Madness, of course--but had I not now stumbled into a nighted world as
mad as I?

I thought of the locked metal shelves, and of the curious knob
twistings needed to open each one. My own came vividly into my
consciousness. How often had I gone through that intricate routine of
varied turns and pressures in the terrestrial vertebrate section on the
lowest level! Every detail was fresh and familiar.

If there were such a vault as I had dreamed of, I could open it in a
moment. It was then that madness took me utterly. An instant later, and
I was leaping and stumbling over the rocky debris toward the
well-remembered incline to the depths below.


VII

From that point forward my impressions are scarcely to be relied on
--indeed, I still possess a final, desperate hope that they all form
parts of some daemonic dream or illusion born of delirium. A fever
raged in my brain, and everything came to me through a kind of haze--
sometimes only intermittently.

The rays of my torch shot feebly into the engulfing blackness,
bringing phantasmal flashes of hideously familiar walls and carvings,
all blighted with the decay of ages. In one place a tremendous mass of
vaulting had fallen, so that I had to clamber over a mighty mound of
stones reaching almost to the ragged, grotesquely stalactited roof.

It was all the ultimate apex of nightmare, made worse by the
blasphemous tug of pseudo-memory. One thing only was unfamiliar, and
that was my own size in relation to the monstrous masonry. I felt
oppressed by a sense of unwonted smallness, as if the sight of these
towering walls from a mere human body was something wholly new and
abnormal. Again and again I looked nervously down at myself, vaguely
disturbed by the human form I possessed.

Onward through the blackness of the abyss I leaped, plunged, and
staggered--often falling and bruising myself, and once nearly
shattering my torch. Every stone and corner of that daemonic gulf was
known to me, and at many points I stopped to cast beams of light
through choked and crumbling, yet familiar, archways.

Some rooms had totally collapsed; others were bare, or
debris-filled. In a few I saw masses of metal--some fairly intact,
some broken, and some crushed or battered--which I recognised as the
colossal pedestals or tables of my dreams. What they could in truth
have been, I dared not guess.

I found the downward incline and began its descent--though after a
time halted by a gaping, ragged chasm whose narrowest point could not
be much less than four feet across. Here the stonework had fallen
through, revealing incalculable inky depths beneath.

I knew there were two more cellar levels in this titan edifice, and
trembled with fresh panic as I recalled the metal-clamped trap-door on
the lowest one. There could be no guards now--for what had lurked
beneath had long since done its hideous work and sunk into its long
decline. By the time of the posthuman beetle race it would be quite
dead. And yet, as I thought of the native legends, I trembled anew.

It cost me a terrible effort to vault that yawning chasm, since the
littered floor prevented a running start--but madness drove me on. I
chose a place close to the left-hand wall--where the rift was least
wide and the landing-spot reasonably clear of dangerous debris--and
after one frantic moment reached the other side in safety.

At last, gaining the lower level, I stumbled on past the archway of
the room of machines, within which were fantastic ruins of metal, half
buried beneath fallen vaulting. Everything was where I knew it would
be, and I climbed confidently over the heaps which barred the entrance
of a vast transverse corridor. This, I realised, would take me under
the city to the central archives.

Endless ages seemed to unroll as I stumbled, leaped, and crawled
along that debris-cluttered corridor. Now and then I could make out
carvings on the age-stained walls--some familiar, others seemingly
added since the period of my dreams. Since this was a subterrene
house-connecting highway, there were no archways save when the route led
through the lower levels of various buildings.

At some of these intersections I turned aside long enough to look
down well-remembered corridors and into well-remembered rooms. Twice
only did I find any radical changes from what I had dreamed of--and in
one of these cases I could trace the sealed-up outlines of the archway
I remembered.

I shook violently, and felt a curious surge of retarding weakness,
as I steered a hurried and reluctant course through the crypt of one of
those great windowless, ruined towers whose alien, basalt masonry
bespoke a whispered and horrible origin.

This primal vault was round and fully two hundred feet across, with
nothing carved upon the dark-hued stonework. The floor was here free
from anything save dust and sand, and I could see the apertures leading
upward and downward. There were no stairs or inclines--indeed, my
dreams had pictured those elder towers as wholly untouched by the
fabulous Great Race. Those who had built them had not needed stairs or
inclines.

In the dreams, the downward aperture had been tightly sealed and
nervously guarded. Now it lay open-black and yawning, and giving forth
a current of cool, damp air. Of what limitless caverns of eternal night
might brood below, I would not permit myself to think.

Later, clawing my way along a badly heaped section of the corridor,
I reached a place where the roof had wholly caved in. The debris rose
like a mountain, and I climbed up over it, passing through a vast,
empty space where my torchlight could reveal neither walls nor
vaulting. This, I reflected, must be the cellar of the house of the
metal-purveyors, fronting on the third square not far from the
archives. What had happened to it I could not conjecture.

I found the corridor again beyond the mountain of detritus and
stone, but after a short distance encountered a wholly choked place
where the fallen vaulting almost touched the perilously sagging
ceiling. How I managed to wrench and tear aside enough blocks to afford
a passage, and how I dared disturb the tightly packed fragments when
the least shift of equilibrium might have brought down all the tons of
superincumbent masonry to crush me to nothingness, I do not know.

It was sheer madness that impelled and guided me--if, indeed, my
whole underground adventure was not--as I hope--a hellish delusion or
phase of dreaming. But I did make--or dream that I made--a passage
that I could squirm through. As I wiggled over the mound of debris--my
torch, switched continuously on, thrust deeply in my mouth--I felt
myself torn by the fantastic stalactites of the jagged floor above me.

I was now close to the great underground archival structure which
seemed to form my goal. Sliding and clambering down the farther side of
the barrier, and picking my way along the remaining stretch of corridor
with hand-held, intermittently flashing torch, I came at last to a low,
circular crypt with arches--still in a marvelous state of preservation
--opening off on every side.

The walls, or such parts of them as lay within reach of my
torchlight, were densely hieroglyphed and chiselled with typical
curvilinear symbols--some added since the period of my dreams.

This, I realised, was my fated destination, and I turned at once
through a familiar archway on my left. That I could find a clear
passage up and down the incline to all the surviving levels, I had,
oddly, little doubt. This vast, earth-protected pile, housing the
annals of all the solar system, had been built with supernal skill and
strength to last as long as that system itself.

Blocks of stupendous size, poised with mathematical genius and bound
with cements of incredible toughness, had combined to form a mass as
firm as the planet's rocky core. Here, after ages more prodigious than
I could sanely grasp, its buried bulk stood in all its essential
contours, the vast, dust-drifted floors scarce sprinkled with the
litter elsewhere so dominant.

The relatively easy walking from this point onward went curiously to
my head. All the frantic eagerness hitherto frustrated by obstacles now
took itself out in a kind of febrile speed, and I literally raced along
the low-roofed, monstrously well-remembered aisles beyond the archway.

I was past being astonished by the familiarity of what I saw. On
every hand the great hieroglyphed metal shelf-doors loomed monstrously;
some yet in place, others sprung open, and still others bent and
buckled under bygone geological stresses not quite strong enough to
shatter the titan masonry.

Here and there a dust-covered heap beneath a gaping, empty shelf
seemed to indicate where cases had been shaken down by earth tremors.
On occasional pillars were great symbols or letters proclaiming classes
and subclasses of volumes.

Once I paused before an open vault where I saw some of the
accustomed metal cases still in position amidst the omnipresent gritty
dust. Reaching up, I dislodged one of the thinner specimens with some
difficulty, and rested it on the floor for inspection. It was titled in
the prevailing curvilinear hieroglyphs, though something in the
arrangement of the characters seemed subtly unusual.

The odd mechanism of the hooked fastener was perfectly well known to
me, and I snapped up the still rustless and workable lid and drew out
the book within. The latter, as expected, was some twenty by fifteen
inches in area, and two inches thick; the thin metal covers opening at
the top.

Its tough cellulose pages seemed unaffected by the myriad cycles of
time they had lived through, and I studied the queerly pigmented,
brush-drawn letters of the text-symbols unlike either the usual curved
hieroglyphs or any alphabet known to human scholarship--with a
haunting, half-aroused memory.

It came to me that this was the language used by a captive mind I
had known slightly in my dreams--a mind from a large asteroid on which
had survived much of the archaic life and lore of the primal planet
whereof it formed a fragment. At the same time I recalled that this
level of the archives was devoted to volumes dealing with the
non-terrestrial planets.

As I ceased poring over this incredible document I saw that the
light of my torch was beginning to fail, hence quickly inserted the
extra battery I always had with me. Then, armed with the stronger
radiance, I resumed my feverish racing through unending tangles of
aisles and corridors--recognising now and then some familiar shelf,
and vaguely annoyed by the acoustic conditions which made my footfalls
echo incongruously in these catacombs.

The very prints of my shoes behind me in the millennially untrodden
dust made me shudder. Never before, if my mad dreams held anything of
truth, had human feet pressed upon those immemorial pavements.

Of the particular goal of my insane racing, my conscious mind held
no hint. There was, however, some force of evil potency pulling at my
dazed will and buried recollection, so that I vaguely felt I was not
running at random.

I came to a downward incline and followed it to profounder depths.
Floors flashed by me as I raced, but I did not pause to explore them.
In my whirling brain there had begun to beat a certain rhythm which set
my right hand twitching in unison. I wanted to unlock something, and
felt that I knew all the intricate twists and pressures needed to do
it. It would be like a modern safe with a combination lock.

Dream or not, I had once known and still knew. How any dream--or
scrap of unconsciously absorbed legend--could have taught me a detail
so minute, so intricate, and so complex, I did not attempt to explain
to myself. I was beyond all coherent thought. For was not this whole
experience--this shocking familiarity with a set of unknown ruins, and
this monstrously exact identity of everything before me with what only
dreams and scraps of myth could have suggested--a horror beyond all
reason?

Probably it was my basic conviction then--as it is now during my
saner moments--that I was not awake at all, and that the entire buried
city was a fragment of febrile hallucination.

Eventually, I reached the lowest level and struck off to the right
of the incline. For some shadowy reason I tried to soften my steps,
even though I lost speed thereby. There was a space I was afraid to
cross on this last, deeply buried floor.

As I drew near it I recalled what thing in that space I feared. It
was merely one of the metal-barred and closely guarded trap-doors.
There would be no guards now, and on that account I trembled and
tiptoed as I had done in passing through that black basalt vault where
a similar trap-door had yawned.

I felt a current of cool, damp air as I had felt there, and wished
that my course led in another direction. Why I had to take the
particular course I was taking, I did not know.

When I came to the space I saw that the trap-door yawned widely
open. Ahead, the shelves began again, and I glimpsed on the floor
before one of them a heap very thinly covered with dust, where a number
of cases had recently fallen. At the same moment a fresh wave of panic
clutched me, though for some time I could not discover why.

Heaps of fallen cases were not uncommon, for all through the aeons
this lightless labyrinth had been racked by the heavings of earth and
had echoed at intervals of the deafening clatter of toppling objects.
It was only when I was nearly across the space that I realized why I
shook so violently.

Not the heap, but something about the dust of the level floor was
troubling me. In the light of my torch it seemed as if that dust were
not as even as it ought to be--there were places where it looked
thinner, as if it had been disturbed not many months before. I could
not be sure, for even the apparently thinner places were dusty enough;
yet a certain suspicion of regularity in the fancied unevenness was
highly disquieting.

When I brought the torchlight close to one of the queer places I did
not like what I saw--for the illusion of regularity became very great.
It was as if there were regular lines of composite impressions--
impressions that went in threes, each slightly over a foot square, and
consisting of five nearly circular three-inch prints, one in advance of
the other four.

These possible lines of foot-square impressions appeared to lead in
two directions, as if something had gone somewhere and returned. They
were, of course, very faint, and may have been illusions or accidents;
but there was an element of dim, fumbling terror about the way I
thought they ran. For at one end of them was the heap of cases which
must have clattered down not long before, while at the other end was
the ominous trap-door with the cool, damp wind, yawning unguarded down
to abysses past imagination.


VIII

That my strange sense of compulsion was deep and overwhelming is
shewn by its conquest of my fear. No rational motive could have drawn
me on after that hideous suspicion of prints and the creeping
dream-memories it excited. Yet my right hand, even as it shook with
fright, still twitched rhythmically in its eagerness to turn a lock it
hoped to find. Before I knew it I was past the heap of lately fallen
cases and running on tiptoe through aisles of utterly unbroken dust
toward a point which I seemed to know morbidly, horribly well.

My mind was asking itself questions whose origin and relevancy I was
only beginning to guess. Would the shelf be reachable by a human body?
Could my human hand master all the aeon-remembered motions of the lock?
Would the lock be undamaged and workable? And what would I do--what
dare I do with what--as I now commenced to realise--I both hoped and
feared to find? Would it prove the awesome, brain-shattering truth of
something past normal conception, or shew only that I was dreaming?

The next I knew I had ceased my tiptoed racing and was standing
still, staring at a row of maddeningly familiar hieroglyphed shelves.
They were in a state of almost perfect preservation, and only three of
the doors in this vicinity had sprung open.

My feelings toward these shelves cannot be described--so utter and
insistent was the sense of old acquaintance. I was looking high up at a
row near the top and wholly out of my reach, and wondering how I could
climb to best advantage. An open door four rows from the bottom would
help, and the locks of the closed doors formed possible holds for hands
and feet. I would grip the torch between my teeth, as I had in other
places where both hands were needed. Above all I must make no noise.

How to get down what I wished to remove would be difficult, but I
could probably hook its movable fastener in my coat collar and carry it
like a knapsack. Again I wondered whether the lock would be undamaged.
That I could repeat each familiar motion I had not the least doubt. But
I hoped the thing would not scrape or creak--and that my hand could
work it properly.

Even as I thought these things I had taken the torch in my mouth and
begun to climb. The projecting locks were poor supports; but, as I had
expected, the opened shelf helped greatly. I used both the swinging
door and the edge of the aperture itself in my ascent, and managed to
avoid any loud creaking.

Balanced on the upper edge of the door, and leaning far to my right,
I could just reach the lock I sought. My fingers, half numb from
climbing, were very clumsy at first; but I soon saw that they were
anatomically adequate. And the memory-rhythm was strong in them.

Out of unknown gulfs of time the intricate, secret motions had
somehow reached my brain correctly in every detail--for after less
than five minutes of trying there came a click whose familiarity was
all the more startling because I had not consciously anticipated it. In
another instant the metal door was slowly swinging open with only the
faintest grating sound.

Dazedly I looked over the row of greyish case ends thus exposed, and
felt a tremendous surge of some wholly inexplicable emotion. Just
within reach of my right hand was a case whose curving hieroglyphs made
me shake with a pang infinitely more complex than one of mere fright.
Still shaking, I managed to dislodge it amidst a shower of gritty
flakes, and ease it over toward myself without any violent noise.

Like the other case I had handled, it was slightly more than twenty
by fifteen inches in size, with curved mathematical designs in low
relief. In thickness it just exceeded three inches.

Crudely wedging it between myself and the surface I was climbing, I
fumbled with the fastener and finally got the hook free. Lifting the
cover, I shifted the heavy object to my back, and let the hook catch
hold of my collar. Hands now free, I awkwardly clambered down to the
dusty floor, and prepared to inspect my prize.

Kneeling in the gritty dust, I swung the case around and rested it
in front of me. My hands shook, and I dreaded to draw out the book
within almost as much as I longed--and felt compelled--to do so. It
had very gradually become clear to me what I ought to find, and this
realisation nearly paralysed my faculties.

If the thing were there--and if I were not dreaming--the
implications would be quite beyond the power of the human spirit to
bear. What tormented me most was my momentary inability to feel that my
surroundings were a dream. The sense of reality was hideous--and again
becomes so as I recall the scene.

At length I tremblingly pulled the book from its container and
stared fascinatedly at the well-known hieroglyphs on the cover. It
seemed to be in prime condition, and the curvilinear letters of the
title held me in almost as hypnotised a state as if I could read them.
Indeed, I cannot swear that I did not actually read them in some
transient and terrible access of abnormal memory.

I do not know how long it was before I dared to lift that thin metal
cover. I temporized and made excuses to myself. I took the torch from
my mouth and shut it off to save the battery. Then, in the dark, I
collected my courage finally lifting the cover without turning on the
light. Last of all, I did indeed flash the torch upon the exposed page
--steeling myself in advance to suppress any sound no matter what I
should find.

I looked for an instant, then collapsed. Clenching my teeth,
however, I kept silent. I sank wholly to the floor and put a hand to my
forehead amidst the engulfing blackness. What I dreaded and expected
was there. Either I was dreaming, or time and space had become a
mockery.

I must be dreaming--but I would test the horror by carrying this
thing back and shewing it to my son if it were indeed a reality. My
head swam frightfully, even though there were no visible objects in the
unbroken gloom to swirl about me. Ideas and images of the starkest
terror--excited by vistas which my glimpse had opened up--began to
throng in upon me and cloud my senses.

I thought of those possible prints in the dust, and trembled at the
sound of my own breathing as I did so. Once again I flashed on the
light and looked at the page as a serpent's victim may look at his
destroyer's eyes and fangs.

Then, with clumsy fingers, in the dark, I closed the book, put it in
its container, and snapped the lid and the curious, hooked fastener.
This was what I must carry back to the outer world if it truly existed
--if the whole abyss truly existed--if I, and the world itself, truly
existed.

Just when I tottered to my feet and commenced my return I cannot be
certain. It comes to me oddly--as a measure of my sense of separation
from the normal world--that I did not even once look at my watch
during those hideous hours underground.

Torch in hand, and with the ominous case under one arm, I eventually
found myself tiptoeing in a kind of silent panic past the draught-giving
abyss and those lurking suggestions of prints. I lessened my
precautions as I climbed up the endless inclines, but could not shake
off a shadow of apprehension which I had not felt on the downward
journey.

I dreaded having to repass through the black basalt crypt that was
older than the city itself, where cold draughts welled up from
unguarded depths. I thought of that which the Great Race had feared,
and of what might still be lurking--be it ever so weak and dying--
down there. I thought of those five-circle prints and of what my dreams
had told me of such prints--and of strange winds and whistling noises
associated with them. And I thought of the tales of the modern
blackfellows, wherein the horror of great winds and nameless subterrene
ruins was dwelt upon.

I knew from a carven wall symbol the right floor to enter, and came
at last after passing that other book I had examined--to the great
circular space with the branching archways. On my right, and at once
recognisable, was the arch through which I had arrived. This I now
entered, conscious that the rest of my course would be harder because
of the tumbled state of the masonry outside the archive building. My
new metal-cased burden weighed upon me, and I found it harder and
harder to be quiet as I stumbled among debris and fragments of every
sort.

Then I came to the ceiling-high mound of debris through which I had
wrenched a scanty passage. My dread at wriggling through again was
infinite, for my first passage had made some noise, and I now--after
seeing those possible prints--dreaded sound above all things. The
case, too, doubled the problem of traversing the narrow crevice.

But I clambered up the barrier as best I could, and pushed the case
through the aperture ahead of me. Then, torch in mouth, I scrambled
through myself--my back torn as before by stalactites.

As I tried to grasp the case again, it fell some distance ahead of
me down the slope of the debris, making a disturbing clatter and
arousing echoes which sent me into a cold perspiration. I lunged for it
at once, and regained it without further noise--but a moment afterward
the slipping of blocks under my feet raised a sudden and unprecedented
din.

The din was my undoing. For, falsely or not, I thought I heard it
answered in a terrible way from spaces far behind me. I thought I heard
a shrill, whistling sound, like nothing else on earth, and beyond any
adequate verbal description. If so, what followed has a grim irony--
since, save for the panic of this thing, the second thing might never
have happened.

As it was, my frenzy was absolute and unrelieved. Taking my torch in
my hand and clutching feebly at the case, I leaped and bounded wildly
ahead with no idea in my brain beyond a mad desire to race out of these
nightmare ruins to the waking world of desert and moonlight which lay
so far above.

I hardly knew it when I reached the mountain of debris which towered
into the vast blackness beyond the caved-in roof, and bruised and cut
myself repeatedly in scrambling up its steep slope of jagged blocks and
fragments.

Then came the great disaster. Just as I blindly crossed the summit,
unprepared for the sudden dip ahead, my feet slipped utterly and I
found myself involved in a mangling avalanche of sliding masonry whose
cannon-loud uproar split the black cavern air in a deafening series of
earth-shaking reverberations.

I have no recollection of emerging from this chaos, but a momentary
fragment of consciousness shows me as plunging and tripping and
scrambling along the corridor amidst the clangour--case and torch
still with me.

Then, just as I approached that primal basalt crypt I had so
dreaded, utter madness came. For as the echoes of the avalanche died
down, there became audible a repetition of that frightful alien
whistling I thought I had heard before. This time there was no doubt
about it--and what was worse, it came from a point not behind but
ahead of me.

Probably I shrieked aloud then. I have a dim picture of myself as
flying through the hellish basalt vault of the elder things, and
hearing that damnable alien sound piping up from the open, unguarded
door of limitless nether blacknesses. There was a wind, too--not
merely a cool, damp draught, but a violent, purposeful blast belching
savagely and frigidly from that abominable gulf whence the obscene
whistling came.

There are memories of leaping and lurching over obstacles of every
sort, with that torrent of wind and shrieking sound growing moment by
moment, and seeming to curl and twist purposefully around me as it
struck out wickedly from the spaces behind and beneath.

Though in my rear, that wind had the odd effect of hindering instead
of aiding my progress; as if it acted like a noose or lasso thrown
around me. Heedless of the noise I made, I clattered over a great
barrier of blocks and was again in the structure that led to the
surface.

I recall glimpsing the archway to the room of machines and almost
crying out as I saw the incline leading down to where one of those
blasphemous trap-doors must be yawning two levels below. But instead of
crying out I muttered over and over to myself that this was all a dream
from which I must soon awake. Perhaps I was in camp--perhaps I was at
home in Arkham. As these hopes bolstered up my sanity I began to mount
the incline to the higher level.

I knew, of course, that I had the four-foot cleft to re-cross, yet
was too racked by other fears to realise the full horror until I came
almost upon it. On my descent, the leap across had been easy--but
could I clear the gap as readily when going uphill, and hampered by
fright, exhaustion, the weight of the metal case, and the anomalous
backward tug of that daemon wind? I thought of these things at the last
moment, and thought also of the nameless entities which might be
lurking in the black abysses below the chasm.

My wavering torch was growing feeble, but I could tell by some
obscure memory when I neared the cleft. The chill blasts of wind and
the nauseous whistling shrieks behind me were for the moment like a
merciful opiate, dulling my imagination to the horror of the yawning
gulf ahead. And then I became aware of the added blasts and whistling
in front of me--tides of abomination surging up through the cleft
itself from depths unimagined and unimaginable.

Now, indeed, the essence of pure nightmare was upon me. Sanity
departed--and, ignoring everything except the animal impulse of
flight, I merely struggled and plunged upward over the incline's debris
as if no gulf had existed. Then I saw the chasm's edge, leaped
frenziedly with every ounce of strength I possessed, and was instantly
engulfed in a pandaemoniae vortex of loathsome sound and utter,
materially tangible blackness.

This is the end of my experience, so far as I can recall. Any
further impressions belong wholly to the domain of phantasmagoria
delirium. Dream, madness, and memory merged wildly together in a series
of fantastic, fragmentary delusions which can have no relation to
anything real.

There was a hideous fall through incalculable leagues of viscous,
sentient darkness, and a babel of noises utterly alien to all that we
know of the earth and its organic life. Dormant, rudimentary senses
seemed to start into vitality within me, telling of pits and voids
peopled by floating horrors and leading to sunless crags and oceans and
teeming cities of windowless, basalt towers upon which no light ever
shone.

Secrets of the primal planet and its immemorial aeons flashed
through my brain without the aid of sight or sound, and there were
known to me things which not even the wildest of my former dreams had
ever suggested. And all the while cold fingers of damp vapor clutched
and picked at me, and that eldritch, damnable whistling shrieked
fiendishly above all the alternations of babel and silence in the
whirlpools of darkness around.

Afterward there were visions of the Cyclopean city of my dreams--
not in ruins, but just as I had dreamed of it. I was in my conical,
non-human body again, and mingled with crowds of the Great Race and the
captive minds who carried books up and down the lofty corridors and
vast inclines.

Then, superimposed upon these pictures, were frightful, momentary
flashes of a non-vistial consciousness involving desperate struggles, a
writhing free from clutching tentacles of whistling wind, an insane,
bat-like flight through half-solid air, a feverish burrowing through
the cyclone-whipped dark, and a wild stumbling and scrambling over
fallen masonry.

Once there was a curious, intrusive flash of half sight--a faint,
diffuse suspicion of bluish radiance far overhead. Then there came a
dream of wind--pursued climbing and crawling--of wriggling into a
blaze of sardonic moonlight through a jumble of debris which slid and
collapsed after me amidst a morbid hurricane. It was the evil,
monotonous beating of that maddening moonlight which at last told me of
the return of what I had once known as the objective, waking world.

I was clawing prone through the sands of the Australian desert, and
around me shrieked such a tumult of wind as I had never before known on
our planet's surface. My clothing was in rags, and my whole body was a
mass of bruises and scratches.

Full consciousness returned very slowly, and at no time could I tell
just where delirious dream left off and true memory began. There had
seemed to be a mound of titan blocks, an abyss beneath it, a monstrous
revelation from the past, and a nightmare horror at the end--but how
much of this was real?

My flashlight was gone, and likewise any metal case I may have
discovered. Had there been such a case--or any abyss--or any mound?
Raising my head, I looked behind me, and saw only the sterile, undulant
sands of the desert.

The daemon wind died down, and the bloated, fungoid moon sank
reddeningly in the west. I lurched to my feet and began to stagger
southwestward toward the camp. What in truth had happened to me? Had I
merely collapsed in the desert and dragged a dream-racked body over
miles of sand and buried blocks? If not, how could I bear to live any
longer?

For, in this new doubt, all my faith in the myth-born unreality of
my visions dissolved once more into the hellish older doubting. If that
abyss was real, then the Great Race was real--and its blasphemous
reachings and seizures in the cosmos-wide vortex of time were no myths
or nightmares, but a terrible, soul-shattering actuality.

Had I, in full, hideous fact, been drawn back to a pre-human world
of a hundred and fifty million years ago in those dark, baffling days
of the amnesia? Had my present body been the vehicle of a frightful
alien consciousness from palaeogean gulfs of time?

Had I, as the captive mind of those shambling horrors, indeed known
that accursed city of stone in its primordial heyday, and wriggled down
those familiar corridors in the loathsome shape of my captor? Were
those tormenting dreams of more than twenty years the offspring of
stark, monstrous memories?

Had I once veritably talked with minds from reachless corners of
time and space, learned the universe's secrets, past and to come, and
written the annals of my own world for the metal cases of those titan
archives? And were those others--those shocking elder things of the
mad winds and daemon pipings--in truth a lingering, lurking menace,
waiting and slowly weakening in black abysses while varied shapes of
life drag out their multimillennial courses on the planet's age-racked
surface?

I do not know. If that abyss and what I held were real, there is no
hope. Then, all too truly, there lies upon this world of man a mocking
and incredible shadow out of time. But, mercifully, there is no proof
that these things are other than fresh phases of my myth-born dreams. I
did not bring back the metal case that would have been a proof, and so
far those subterrene corridors have not been found.

If the laws of the universe are kind, they will never be found. But
I must tell my son what I saw or thought I saw, and let him use his
judgment as a psychologist in gauging the reality of my experience, and
communicating this account to others.

I have said that the awful truth behind my tortured years of
dreaming hinges absolutely upon the actuality of what I thought I saw
in those Cyclopean, buried ruins. It has been hard for me, literally,
to set down that crucial revelation, though no reader can have failed
to guess it. Of course, it lay in that book within the metal case--the
case which I pried out of its lair amidst the dust of a million
centuries.

No eye had seen, no hand had touched that book since the advent of
man to this planet. And yet, when I flashed my torch upon it in that
frightful abyss, I saw that the queerly pigmented letters on the
brittle, aeon-browned cellulose pages were not indeed any nameless
hieroglyphs of earth's youth. They were, instead, the letters of our
familiar alphabet, spelling out the words of the English language in my
own handwriting.



* AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS


I

I am forced into speech because men of science have refused to
follow my advice without knowing why. It is altogether against my will
that I tell my reasons for opposing this contemplated invasion of the
antarctic--with its vast fossil hunt and its wholesale boring and
melting of the ancient ice caps. And I am the more reluctant because my
warning may be in vain.

Doubt of the real facts, as I must reveal them, is inevitable; yet,
if I suppressed what will seem extravagant and incredible, there would
be nothing left. The hitherto withheld photographs, both ordinary and
aerial, will count in my favor, for they are damnably vivid and
graphic. Still, they will be doubted because of the great lengths to
which clever fakery can be carried. The ink drawings, of course, will
be jeered at as obvious impostures, notwithstanding a strangeness of
technique which art experts ought to remark and puzzle over.

In the end I must rely on the judgment and standing of the few
scientific leaders who have, on the one hand, sufficient independence
of thought to weigh my data on its own hideously convincing merits or
in the light of certain primordial and highly baffling myth cycles; and
on the other hand, sufficient influence to deter the exploring world in
general from any rash and over-ambitious program in the region of those
mountains of madness. It is an unfortunate fact that relatively obscure
men like myself and my associates, connected only with a small
university, have little chance of making an impression where matters of
a wildly bizarre or highly controversial nature are concerned.

It is further against us that we are not, in the strictest sense,
specialists in the fields which came primarily to be concerned. As a
geologist, my object in leading the Miskatonic University Expedition
was wholly that of securing deep-level specimens of rock and soil from
various parts of the antarctic continent, aided by the remarkable drill
devised by Professor Frank H. Pabodie of our engineering department. I
had no wish to be a pioneer in any other field than this, but I did
hope that the use of this new mechanical appliance at different points
along previously explored paths would bring to light materials of a
sort hitherto unreached by the ordinary methods of collection.

Pabodie's drilling apparatus, as the public already knows from our
reports, was unique and radical in its lightness, portability, and
capacity to combine the ordinary artesian drill principle with the
principle of the small circular rock drill in such a way as to cope
quickly with strata of varying hardness. Steel head, jointed rods,
gasoline motor, collapsible wooden derrick, dynamiting paraphernalia,
cording, rubbish-removal auger, and sectional piping for bores five
inches wide and up to one thousand feet deep all formed, with needed
accessories, no greater load than three seven-dog sledges could carry.
This was made possible by the clever aluminum alloy of which most of
the metal objects were fashioned. Four large Dornier aeroplanes,
designed especially for the tremendous altitude flying necessary on the
antarctic plateau and with added fuel-warming and quick-starting
devices worked out by Pabodie, could transport our entire expedition
from a base at the edge of the great ice barrier to various suitable
inland points, and from these points a sufficient quota of dogs would
serve us.

We planned to cover as great an area as one antarctic season--or
longer, if absolutely necessary--would permit, operating mostly in the
mountain ranges and on the plateau south of Ross Sea; regions explored
in varying degree by Shackleton, Amundsen, Scott, and Byrd. With
frequent changes of camp, made by aeroplane and involving distances
great enough to be of geological significance, we expected to unearth a
quite unprecedented amount of material--especially in the pre-Cambrian
strata of which so narrow a range of antarctic specimens had previously
been secured. We wished also to obtain as great as possible a variety
of the upper fossiliferous rocks, since the primal life history of this
bleak realm of ice and death is of the highest importance to our
knowledge of the earth's past. That the antarctic continent was once
temperate and even tropical, with a teeming vegetable and animal life
of which the lichens, marine fauna, arachnida, and penguins of the
northern edge are the only survivals, is a matter of common
information; and we hoped to expand that information in variety,
accuracy, and detail. When a simple boring revealed fossiliferous
signs, we would enlarge the aperture by blasting, in order to get
specimens of suitable size and condition.

Our borings, of varying depth according to the promise held out by
the upper soil or rock, were to be confined to exposed, or nearly
exposed, land surfaces--these inevitably being slopes and ridges
because of the mile or two-mile thickness of solid ice overlying the
lower levels. We could not afford to waste drilling the depth of any
considerable amount of mere glaciation, though Pabodie had worked out a
plan for sinking copper electrodes in thick clusters of borings and
melting off limited areas of ice with current from a gasoline-driven
dynamo. It is this plan--which we could not put into effect except
experimentally on an expedition such as ours--that the coming
Starkweather-Moore Expedition proposes to follow, despite the warnings
I have issued since our return from the antarctic.

The public knows of the Miskatonic Expedition through our frequent
wireless reports to the Arkham Advertiser and Associated Press, and
through the later articles of Pabodie and myself. We consisted of four
men from the University--Pabodie, Lake of the biology department,
Atwood of the physics department--also a meteorologist--and myself,
representing geology and having nominal command--besides sixteen
assistants: seven graduate students from Miskatonic and nine skilled
mechanics. Of these sixteen, twelve were qualified aeroplane pilots,
all but two of whom were competent wireless operators. Eight of them
understood navigation with compass and sextant, as did Pabodie, Atwood,
and I. In addition, of course, our two ships--wooden ex-whalers,
reinforced for ice conditions and having auxiliary steam--were fully
manned.

The Nathaniel Derby Pickman Foundation, aided by a few special
contributions, financed the expedition; hence our preparations were
extremely thorough, despite the absence of great publicity. The dogs,
sledges, machines, camp materials, and unassembled parts of our five
planes were delivered in Boston, and there our ships were loaded. We
were marvelously well-equipped for our specific purposes, and in all
matters pertaining to supplies, regimen, transportation, and camp
construction we profited by the excellent example of our many recent
and exceptionally brilliant predecessors. It was the unusual number and
fame of these predecessors which made our own expedition--ample though
it was--so little noticed by the world at large.

As the newspapers told, we sailed from Boston Harbor on September
2nd, 1930, taking a leisurely course down the coast and through the
Panama Canal, and stopping at Samoa and Hobart, Tasmania, at which
latter place we took on final supplies. None of our exploring party had
ever been in the polar regions before, hence we all relied greatly on
our ship captains--J. B. Douglas, commanding the brig Arkham, and
serving as commander of the sea party, and Georg Thorfinnssen,
commanding the barque Miskatonic--both veteran whalers in antarctic
waters.

As we left the inhabited world behind, the sun sank lower and lower
in the north, and stayed longer and longer above the horizon each day.
At about 62° South Latitude we sighted our first icebergs--table-like
objects with vertical sides--and just before reaching the antarctic
circle, which we crossed on October 20th with appropriately quaint
ceremonies, we were considerably troubled with field ice. The falling
temperature bothered me considerably after our long voyage through the
tropics, but I tried to brace up for the worse rigors to come. On many
occasions the curious atmospheric effects enchanted me vastly; these
including a strikingly vivid mirage--the first I had ever seen--in
which distant bergs became the battlements of unimaginable cosmic
castles.

Pushing through the ice, which was fortunately neither extensive nor
thickly packed, we regained open water at South Latitude 67°, East
Longitude 175° On the morning of October 26th a strong land blink
appeared on the south, and before noon we all felt a thrill of
excitement at beholding a vast, lofty, and snow-clad mountain chain
which opened out and covered the whole vista ahead. At last we had
encountered an outpost of the great unknown continent and its cryptic
world of frozen death. These peaks were obviously the Admiralty Range
discovered by Ross, and it would now be our task to round Cape Adare
and sail down the east coast of Victoria Land to our contemplated base
on the shore of McMurdo Sound, at the foot of the volcano Erebus in
South Latitude 77° 9'.

The last lap of the voyage was vivid and fancy-stirring. Great
barren peaks of mystery loomed up constantly against the west as the
low northern sun of noon or the still lower horizon-grazing southern
sun of midnight poured its hazy reddish rays over the white snow,
bluish ice and water lanes, and black bits of exposed granite slope.
Through the desolate summits swept ranging, intermittent gusts of the
terrible antarctic wind; whose cadences sometimes held vague
suggestions of a wild and half-sentient musical piping, with notes
extending over a wide range, and which for some subconscious mnemonic
reason seemed to me disquieting and even dimly terrible. Something
about the scene reminded me of the strange and disturbing Asian
paintings of Nicholas Roerich, and of the still stranger and more
disturbing descriptions of the evilly fabled plateau of Leng which
occur in the dreaded Necronomicon of the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred. I was
rather sorry, later on, that I had ever looked into that monstrous book
at the college library.

On the 7th of November, sight of the westward range having been
temporarily lost, we passed Franklin Island; and the next day descried
the cones of Mts. Erebus and Terror on Ross Island ahead, with the long
line of the Parry Mountains beyond. There now stretched off to the east
the low, white line of the great ice barrier, rising perpendicularly to
a height of two hundred feet like the rocky cliffs of Quebec, and
marking the end of southward navigation. In the afternoon we entered
McMurdo Sound and stood off the coast in the lee of smoking Mt. Erebus.
The scoriac peak towered up some twelve thousand, seven hundred feet
against the eastern sky, like a Japanese print of the sacred Fujiyama,
while beyond it rose the white, ghostlike height of Mt. Terror, ten
thousand, nine hundred feet in altitude, and now extinct as a volcano.

Puffs of smoke from Erebus came intermittently, and one of the
graduate assistants--a brilliant young fellow named Danforth--pointed
out what looked like lava on the snowy slope, remarking that this
mountain, discovered in 1840, had undoubtedly been the source of Poe's
image when he wrote seven years later:

--the lavas that restlessly roll
Their sulphurous currents down Yaanek
In the ultimate climes of the pole--
That groan as they roll down Mount Yaanek
In the realms of the boreal pole.

Danforth was a great reader of bizarre material, and had talked a
good deal of Poe. I was interested myself because of the antarctic
scene of Poe's only long story--the disturbing and enigmatical Arthur
Gordon Pym. On the barren shore, and on the lofty ice barrier in the
background, myriads of grotesque penguins squawked and flapped their
fins, while many fat seals were visible on the water, swimming or
sprawling across large cakes of slowly drifting ice.

Using small boats, we effected a difficult landing on Ross Island
shortly after midnight on the morning of the 9th, carrying a line of
cable from each of the ships and preparing to unload supplies by means
of a breeches-buoy arrangement. Our sensations on first treading
Antarctic soil were poignant and complex, even though at this
particular point the Scott and Shackleton expeditions had preceded us.
Our camp on the frozen shore below the volcano's slope was only a
provisional one, headquarters being kept aboard the Arkham. We landed
all our drilling apparatus, dogs, sledges, tents, provisions, gasoline
tanks, experimental ice-melting outfit, cameras, both ordinary and
aerial, aeroplane parts, and other accessories, including three small
portable wireless outfits--besides those in the planes--capable of
communicating with the Arkham's large outfit from any part of the
antarctic continent that we would be likely to visit. The ship's
outfit, communicating with the outside world, was to convey press
reports to the Arkham Advertiser's powerful wireless station on
Kingsport Head, Massachusetts. We hoped to complete our work during a
single antarctic summer; but if this proved impossible, we would winter
on the Arkham, sending the Miskatonic north before the freezing of the
ice for another summer's supplies.

I need not repeat what the newspapers have already published about
our early work: of our ascent of Mt. Erebus; our successful mineral
borings at several points on Ross Island and the singular speed with
which Pabodie's apparatus accomplished them, even through solid rock
layers; our provisional test of the small ice-melting equipment; our
perilous ascent of the great barrier with sledges and supplies; and our
final assembling of five huge aeroplanes at the camp atop the barrier.
The health of our land party--twenty men and fifty-five Alaskan sledge
dogs--was remarkable, though of course we had so far encountered no
really destructive temperatures or windstorms. For the most part, the
thermometer varied between zero and 20° or 25° above, and our
experience with New England winters had accustomed us to rigors of this
sort. The barrier camp was semi-permanent, and destined to be a storage
cache for gasoline, provisions, dynamite, and other supplies.

Only four of our planes were needed to carry the actual exploring
material, the fifth being left with a pilot and two men from the ships
at the storage cache to form a means of reaching us from the Arkham in
case all our exploring planes were lost. Later, when not using all the
other planes for moving apparatus, we would employ one or two in a
shuttle transportation service between this cache and another permanent
base on the great plateau from six hundred to seven hundred miles
southward, beyond Beardmore Glacier. Despite the almost unanimous
accounts of appalling winds and tempests that pour down from the
plateau, we determined to dispense with intermediate bases, taking our
chances in the interest of economy and probable efficiency.

Wireless reports have spoken of the breathtaking, four-hour, nonstop
flight of our squadron on November 21st over the lofty shelf ice, with
vast peaks rising on the west, and the unfathomed silences echoing to
the sound of our engines. Wind troubled us only moderately, and our
radio compasses helped us through the one opaque fog we encountered.
When the vast rise loomed ahead, between Latitudes 83° and 84°, we knew
we had reached Beardmore Glacier, the largest valley glacier in the
world, and that the frozen sea was now giving place to a frowning and
mountainous coast line. At last we were truly entering the white,
aeon-dead world of the ultimate south. Even as we realized it we saw
the peak of Mt. Nansen in the eastern distance, towering up to its
height of almost fifteen thousand feet.

The successful establishment of the southern base above the glacier
in Latitude 86° 7', East Longitude 174° 23', and the phenomenally rapid
and effective borings and blastings made at various points reached by
our sledge trips and short aeroplane flights, are matters of history;
as is the arduous and triumphant ascent of Mt. Nansen by Pabodie and
two of the graduate students--Gedney and Carroll--on December 13-15.
We were some eight thousand, five hundred feet above sea-level, and
when experimental drillings revealed solid ground only twelve feet down
through the snow and ice at certain points, we made considerable use of
the small melting apparatus and sunk bores and performed dynamiting at
many places where no previous explorer had ever thought of securing
mineral specimens. The pre-Cambrian granites and beacon sandstones thus
obtained confirmed our belief that this plateau was homogeneous, with
the great bulk of the continent to the west, but somewhat different
from the parts lying eastward below South America--which we then
thought to form a separate and smaller continent divided from the
larger one by a frozen junction of Ross and Weddell Seas, though Byrd
has since disproved the hypothesis.

In certain of the sandstones, dynamited and chiseled after boring
revealed their nature, we found some highly interesting fossil markings
and fragments; notably ferns, seaweeds, trilobites, crinoids, and such
mollusks as linguellae and gastropods--all of which seemed of real
significance in connection with the region's primordial history. There
was also a queer triangular, striated marking, about a foot in greatest
diameter, which Lake pieced together from three fragments of slate
brought up from a deep-blasted aperture. These fragments came from a
point to the westward, near the Queen Alexandra Range; and Lake, as a
biologist, seemed to find their curious marking unusually puzzling and
provocative, though to my geological eye it looked not unlike some of
the ripple effects reasonably common in the sedimentary rocks. Since
slate is no more than a metamorphic formation into which a sedimentary
stratum is pressed, and since the pressure itself produces odd
distorting effects on any markings which may exist, I saw no reason for
extreme wonder over the striated depression.

On January 6th, 1931, Lake, Pabodie, Danforth, the other six
students, and myself flew directly over the south pole in two of the
great planes, being forced down once by a sudden high wind, which,
fortunately, did not develop into a typical storm. This was, as the
papers have stated, one of several observation flights, during others
of which we tried to discern new topographical features in areas
unreached by previous explorers. Our early flights were disappointing
in this latter respect, though they afforded us some magnificent
examples of the richly fantastic and deceptive mirages of the polar
regions, of which our sea voyage had given us some brief foretastes.
Distant mountains floated in the sky as enchanted cities, and often the
whole white world would dissolve into a gold, silver, and scarlet land
of Dunsanian dreams and adventurous expectancy under the magic of the
low midnight sun. On cloudy days we had considerable trouble in flying
owing to the tendency of snowy earth and sky to merge into one mystical
opalescent void with no visible horizon to mark the junction of the two.

At length we resolved to carry out our original plan of flying five
hundred miles eastward with all four exploring planes and establishing
a fresh sub-base at a point which would probably be on the smaller
continental division, as we mistakenly conceived it. Geological
specimens obtained there would be desirable for purposes of comparison.
Our health so far had remained excellent--lime juice well offsetting
the steady diet of tinned and salted food, and temperatures generally
above zero enabling us to do without our thickest furs. It was now
midsummer, and with haste and care we might be able to conclude work by
March and avoid a tedious wintering through the long antarctic night.
Several savage windstorms had burst upon us from the west, but we had
escaped damage through the skill of Atwood in devising rudimentary
aeroplane shelters and windbreaks of heavy snow blocks, and reinforcing
the principal camp buildings with snow. Our good luck and efficiency
had indeed been almost uncanny.

The outside world knew, of course, of our program, and was told also
of Lake's strange and dogged insistence on a westward--or rather,
northwestward--prospecting trip before our radical shift to the new
base. It seems that he had pondered a great deal, and with alarmingly
radical daring, over that triangular striated marking in the slate;
reading into it certain contradictions in nature and geological period
which whetted his curiosity to the utmost, and made him avid to sink
more borings and blastings in the west-stretching formation to which
the exhumed fragments evidently belonged. He was strangely convinced
that the marking was the print of some bulky, unknown, and radically
unclassifiable organism of considerably advanced evolution,
notwithstanding that the rock which bore it was of so vastly ancient a
date--Cambrian if not actually pre-Cambrian--as to preclude the
probable existence not only of all highly evolved life, but of any life
at all above the unicellular or at most the trilobite stage. These
fragments, with their odd marking, must have been five hundred million
to a thousand million years old.


II

Popular imagination, I judge, responded actively to our wireless
bulletins of Lake's start northwestward into regions never trodden by
human foot or penetrated by human imagination, though we did not
mention his wild hopes of revolutionizing the entire sciences of
biology and geology. His preliminary sledging and boring journey of
January 11th to 18th with Pabodie and five others--marred by the loss
of two dogs in an upset when crossing one of the great pressure ridges
in the ice--had brought up more and more of the Archaean slate; and
even I was interested by the singular profusion of evident fossil
markings in that unbelievably ancient stratum. These markings, however,
were of very primitive life forms involving no great paradox except
that any life forms should occur in rock as definitely pre-Cambrian as
this seemed to be; hence I still failed to see the good sense of Lake's
demand for an interlude in our time-saving program--an interlude
requiring the use of all four planes, many men, and the whole of the
expedition's mechanical apparatus. I did not, in the end, veto the
plan, though I decided not to accompany the northwestward party despite
Lake's plea for my geological advice. While they were gone, I would
remain at the base with Pabodie and five men and work out final plans
for the eastward shift. In preparation for this transfer, one of the
planes had begun to move up a good gasoline supply from McMurdo Sound;
but this could wait temporarily. I kept with me one sledge and nine
dogs, since it is unwise to be at any time without possible
transportation in an utterly tenantless world of aeon-long death.

Lake's sub-expedition into the unknown, as everyone will recall,
sent out its own reports from the shortwave transmitters on the planes;
these being simultaneously picked up by our apparatus at the southern
base and by the Arkham at McMurdo Sound, whence they were relayed to
the outside world on wave lengths up to fifty meters. The start was
made January 22nd at 4 A.M., and the first wireless message we received
came only two hours later, when Lake spoke of descending and starting a
small-scale ice-melting and bore at a point some three hundred miles
away from us. Six hours after that a second and very excited message
told of the frantic, beaver-like work whereby a shallow shaft had been
sunk and blasted, culminating in the discovery of slate fragments with
several markings approximately like the one which had caused the
original puzzlement.

Three hours later a brief bulletin announced the resumption of the
flight in the teeth of a raw and piercing gale; and when I dispatched a
message of protest against further hazards, Lake replied curtly that
his new specimens made any hazard worth taking. I saw that his
excitement had reached the point of mutiny, and that I could do nothing
to check this headlong risk of the whole expedition's success; but it
was appalling to think of his plunging deeper and deeper into that
treacherous and sinister white immensity of tempests and unfathomed
mysteries which stretched off for some fifteen hundred miles to the
half-known, half-suspected coast line of Queen Mary and Knox Lands.

Then, in about an hour and a half more, came that doubly excited
message from Lake's moving plane, which almost reversed my sentiments
and made me wish I had accompanied the party:

"10:05 P.M. On the wing. After snowstorm, have spied mountain range
ahead higher than any hitherto seen. May equal Himalayas, allowing for
height of plateau. Probable Latitude 76° 15', Longitude 113° 10' E.
Reaches far as can see to right and left. Suspicion of two smoking
cones. All peaks black and bare of snow. Gale blowing off them impedes
navigation."

After that Pabodie, the men and I hung breathlessly over the
receiver. Thought of this titanic mountain rampart seven hundred miles
away inflamed our deepest sense of adventure; and we rejoiced that our
expedition, if not ourselves personally, had been its discoverers. In
half an hour Lake called us again:

"Moulton's plane forced down on plateau in foothills, but nobody
hurt and perhaps can repair. Shall transfer essentials to other three
for return or further moves if necessary, but no more heavy plane
travel needed just now. Mountains surpass anything in imagination. Am
going up scouting in Carroll's plane, with all weight out.

"You can't imagine anything like this. Highest peaks must go over
thirty-five thousand feet. Everest out of the running. Atwood to work
out height with theodolite while Carroll and I go up. Probably wrong
about cones, for formations look stratified. Possibly pre-Cambrian
slate with other strata mixed in. Queer skyline effects--regular
sections of cubes clinging to highest peaks. Whole thing marvelous in
red-gold light of low sun. Like land of mystery in a dream or gateway
to forbidden world of untrodden wonder. Wish you were here to study."

Though it was technically sleeping time, not one of us listeners
thought for a moment of retiring. It must have been a good deal the
same at McMurdo Sound, where the supply cache and the Arkham were also
getting the messages; for Captain Douglas gave out a call
congratulating everybody on the important find, and Sherman, the cache
operator, seconded his sentiments. We were sorry, of course, about the
damaged aeroplane, but hoped it could be easily mended. Then, at 11
P.M., came another call from Lake:

"Up with Carroll over highest foothills. Don't dare try really tall
peaks in present weather, but shall later. Frightful work climbing, and
hard going at this altitude, but worth it. Great range fairly solid,
hence can't get any glimpses beyond. Main summits exceed Himalayas, and
very queer. Range looks like pre-Cambrian slate, with plain signs of
many other upheaved strata. Was wrong about volcanism. Goes farther in
either direction than we can see. Swept clear of snow above about
twenty-one thousand feet.

"Odd formations on slopes of highest mountains. Great low square
blocks with exactly vertical sides, and rectangular lines of low,
vertical ramparts, like the old Asian castles clinging to steep
mountains in Roerich's paintings. Impressive from distance. Flew close
to some, and Carroll thought they were formed of smaller separate
pieces, but that is probably weathering. Most edges crumbled and
rounded off as if exposed to storms and climate changes for millions of
years.

"Parts, especially upper parts, seem to be of lighter-colored rock
than any visible strata on slopes proper, hence of evidently
crystalline origin. Close flying shows many cave mouths, some unusually
regular in outline, square or semicircular. You must come and
investigate. Think I saw rampart squarely on top of one peak. Height
seems about thirty thousand to thirty-five thousand feet. Am up
twenty-one thousand, five hundred myself, in devilish, gnawing cold.
Wind whistles and pipes through passes and in and out of caves, but no
flying danger so far."

From then on for another half hour Lake kept up a running fire of
comment, and expressed his intention of climbing some of the peaks on
foot. I replied that I would join him as soon as he could send a plane,
and that Pabodie and I would work out the best gasoline plan--just
where and how to concentrate our supply in view of the expedition's
altered character. Obviously, Lake's boring operations, as well as his
aeroplane activities, would require a great deal for the new base which
he planned to establish at the foot of the mountains; and it was
possible that the eastward flight might not be made, after all, this
season. In connection with this business I called Captain Douglas and
asked him to get as much as possible out of the ships and up the
barrier with the single dog team we had left there. A direct route
across the unknown region between Lake and McMurdo Sound was what we
really ought to establish.

Lake called me later to say that he had decided to let the camp stay
where Moulton's plane had been forced down, and where repairs had
already progressed somewhat. The ice sheet was very thin, with dark
ground here and there visible, and he would sink some borings and
blasts at that very point before making any sledge trips or climbing
expeditions. He spoke of the ineffable majesty of the whole scene, and
the queer state of his sensations at being in the lee of vast, silent
pinnacles whose ranks shot up like a wall reaching the sky at the
world's rim. Atwood's theodolite observations had placed the height of
the five tallest peaks at from thirty thousand to thirty-four thousand
feet. The windswept nature of the terrain clearly disturbed Lake, for
it argued the occasional existence of prodigious gales, violent beyond
anything we had so far encountered. His camp lay a little more than
five miles from where the higher foothills rose abruptly. I could
almost trace a note of subconscious alarm in his words--flashed across a
glacial void of seven hundred miles--as he urged that we all hasten
with the matter and get the strange, new region disposed of as soon as
possible. He was about to rest now, after a continuous day's work of
almost unparalleled speed, strenuousness, and results.

In the morning I had a three-cornered wireless talk with Lake and
Captain Douglas at their widely separated bases. It was agreed that one
of Lake's planes would come to my base for Pabodie, the five men, and
myself, as well as for all the fuel it could carry. The rest of the
fuel question, depending on our decision about an easterly trip, could
wait for a few days, since Lake had enough for immediate camp heat and
borings. Eventually the old southern base ought to be restocked, but if
we postponed the easterly trip we would not use it till the next
summer, and, meanwhile, Lake must send a plane to explore a direct
route between his new mountains and McMurdo Sound.

Pabodie and I prepared to close our base for a short or long period,
as the case might be. If we wintered in the antarctic we would probably
fly straight from Lake's base to the Arkham without returning to this
spot. Some of our conical tents had already been reinforced by blocks
of hard snow, and now we decided to complete the job of making a
permanent village. Owing to a very liberal tent supply, Lake had with
him all that his base would need, even after our arrival. I wirelessed
that Pabodie and I would be ready for the northwestward move after one
day's work and one night's rest.

Our labors, however, were not very steady after 4 P.M., for about
that time Lake began sending in the most extraordinary and excited
messages. His working day had started unpropitiously, since an
aeroplane survey of the nearly-exposed rock surfaces showed an entire
absence of those Archaean and primordial strata for which he was
looking, and which formed so great a part of the colossal peaks that
loomed up at a tantalizing distance from the camp. Most of the rocks
glimpsed were apparently Jurassic and Comanchian sandstones and Permian
and Triassic schists, with now and then a glossy black outcropping
suggesting a hard and slaty coal. This rather discouraged Lake, whose
plans all hinged on unearthing specimens more than five hundred million
years older. It was clear to him that in order to recover the Archaean
slate vein in which he had found the odd markings, he would have to
make a long sledge trip from these foothills to the steep slopes of the
gigantic mountains themselves.

He had resolved, nevertheless, to do some local boring as part of
the expedition's general program; hence he set up the drill and put
five men to work with it while the rest finished settling the camp and
repairing the damaged aeroplane. The softest visible rock--a sandstone
about a quarter of a mile from the camp--had been chosen for the first
sampling; and the drill made excellent progress without much
supplementary blasting. It was about three hours afterward, following
the first really heavy blast of the operation, that the shouting of the
drill crew was heard; and that young Gedney--the acting foreman--
rushed into the camp with the startling news.

They had struck a cave. Early in the boring the sandstone had given
place to a vein of Comanchian limestone, full of minute fossil
cephalopods, corals, echini, and spirifera, and with occasional
suggestions of siliceous sponges and marine vertebrate bones--the
latter probably of teleosts, sharks, and ganoids. This, in itself, was
important enough, as affording the first vertebrate fossils the
expedition had yet secured; but when shortly afterward the drill head
dropped through the stratum into apparent vacancy, a wholly new and
doubly intense wave of excitement spread among the excavators. A
good-sized blast had laid open the subterrene secret; and now, through
a jagged aperture perhaps five feet across and three feet thick, there
yawned before the avid searchers a section of shallow limestone
hollowing worn more than fifty million years ago by the trickling
ground waters of a bygone tropic world.

The hollowed layer was not more than seven or eight feet deep but
extended off indefinitely in all directions and had a fresh, slightly
moving air which suggested its membership in an extensive subterranean
system. Its roof and floor were abundantly equipped with large
stalactites and stalagmites, some of which met in columnar form: but
important above all else was the vast deposit of shells and bones,
which in places nearly choked the passage. Washed down from unknown
jungles of Mesozoic tree ferns and fungi, and forests of Tertiary
cycads, fan palms, and primitive angiosperms, this osseous medley
contained representatives of more Cretaceous, Eocene, and other animal
species than the greatest paleontologist could have counted or
classified in a year. Mollusks, crustacean armor, fishes, amphibians,
reptiles, birds, and early mammals--great and small, known and
unknown. No wonder Gedney ran back to the camp shouting, and no wonder
everyone else dropped work and rushed headlong through the biting cold
to where the tall derrick marked a new-found gateway to secrets of
inner earth and vanished aeons.

When Lake had satisfied the first keen edge of his curiosity, he
scribbled a message in his notebook and had young Moulton run back to
the camp to dispatch it by wireless. This was my first word of the
discovery, and it told of the identification of early shells, bones of
ganoids and placoderms, remnants of labyrinthodonts and thecodonts,
great mosasaur skull fragments, dinosaur vertebrae and armor plates,
pterodactyl teeth and wing bones, Archaeopteryx debris, Miocene sharks'
teeth, primitive bird skulls, and other bones of archaic mammals such
as palaeotheres, Xiphodons, Eohippi, Oreodons, and titanotheres. There
was nothing as recent as a mastodon, elephant, true camel, deer, or
bovine animal; hence Lake concluded that the last deposits had occurred
during the Oligocene Age, and that the hollowed stratum had lain in its
present dried, dead, and inaccessible state for at least thirty million
years.

On the other hand, the prevalence of very early life forms was
singular in the highest degree. Though the limestone formation was, on
the evidence of such typical imbedded fossils as ventriculites,
positively and unmistakably Comanchian and not a particle earlier, the
free fragments in the hollow space included a surprising proportion
from organisms hitherto considered as peculiar to far older periods--
even rudimentary fishes, mollusks, and corals as remote as the Silurian
or Ordovician. The inevitable inference was that in this part of the
world there had been a remarkable and unique degree of continuity
between the life of over three hundred million years ago and that of
only thirty million years ago. How far this continuity had extended
beyond the Oligocene Age when the cavern was closed was of course past
all speculation. In any event, the coming of the frightful ice in the
Pleistocene some five hundred thousand years ago--a mere yesterday as
compared with the age of this cavity--must have put an end to any of
the primal forms which had locally managed to outlive their common
terms.

Lake was not content to let his first message stand, but had another
bulletin written and dispatched across the snow to the camp before
Moulton could get back. After that Moulton stayed at the wireless in
one of the planes, transmitting to me--and to the Arkham for relaying
to the outside world--the frequent postscripts which Lake sent him by
a succession of messengers. Those who followed the newspapers will
remember the excitement created among men of science by that
afternoon's reports--reports which have finally led, after all these
years, to the organization of that very Starkweather-Moore Expedition
which I am so anxious to dissuade from its purposes. I had better give
the messages literally as Lake sent them, and as our base operator
McTighe translated them from the pencil shorthand:

"Fowler makes discovery of highest importance in sandstone and
limestone fragments from blasts. Several distinct triangular striated
prints like those in Archaean slate, proving that source survived from
over six hundred million years ago to Comanchian times without more
than moderate morphological changes and decrease in average size.
Comanchian prints apparently more primitive or decadent, if anything,
than older ones. Emphasize importance of discovery in press. Will mean
to biology what Einstein has meant to mathematics and physics. Joins up
with my previous work and amplifies conclusions.

"Appears to indicate, as I suspected, that earth has seen whole
cycle or cycles of organic life before known one that begins with
Archaeozoic cells. Was evolved and specialized not later than a
thousand million years ago, when planet was young and recently
uninhabitable for any life forms or normal protoplasmic structure.
Question arises when, where, and how development took place."

"Later. Examining certain skeletal fragments of large land and
marine saurians and primitive mammals, find singular local wounds or
injuries to bony structure not attributable to any known predatory or
carnivorous animal of any period, of two sorts--straight, penetrant
bores, and apparently hacking incisions. One or two cases of cleanly
severed bones. Not many specimens affected. Am sending to camp for
electric torches. Will extend search area underground by hacking away
stalactites."

"Still later. Have found peculiar soapstone fragment about six
inches across and an inch and a half thick, wholly unlike any visible
local formation--greenish, but no evidences to place its period. Has
curious smoothness and regularity. Shaped like five-pointed star with
tips broken off, and signs of other cleavage at inward angles and in
center of surface. Small, smooth depression in center of unbroken
surface. Arouses much curiosity as to source and weathering. Probably
some freak of water action. Carroll, with magnifier, thinks he can make
out additional markings of geologic significance. Groups of tiny dots
in regular patterns. Dogs growing uneasy as we work, and seem to hate
this soapstone. Must see if it has any peculiar odor. Will report again
when Mills gets back with light and we start on underground area."

"10:15 P.M. Important discovery. Orrendorf and Watkins, working
underground at 9:45 with light, found monstrous barrel-shaped fossil of
wholly unknown nature; probably vegetable unless overgrown specimen of
unknown marine radiata. Tissue evidently preserved by mineral salts.
Tough as leather, but astonishing flexibility retained in places. Marks
of broken-off parts at ends and around sides. Six feet end to end,
three and five-tenths feet central diameter, tapering to one foot at
each end. Like a barrel with five bulging ridges in place of staves.
Lateral breakages, as of thinnish stalks, are at equator in middle of
these ridges. In furrows between ridges are curious growths--combs or
wings that fold up and spread out like fans. All greatly damaged but
one, which gives almost seven-foot wing spread. Arrangement reminds one
of certain monsters of primal myth, especially fabled Elder Things in
Necronomicon.

"Their wings seem to be membranous, stretched on frame work of
glandular tubing. Apparent minute orifices in frame tubing at wing
tips. Ends of body shriveled, giving no clue to interior or to what has
been broken off there. Must dissect when we get back to camp. Can't
decide whether vegetable or animal. Many features obviously of almost
incredible primitiveness. Have set all hands cutting stalactites and
looking for further specimens. Additional scarred bones found, but
these must wait. Having trouble with dogs. They can't endure the new
specimen, and would probably tear it to pieces if we didn't keep it at
a distance from them."

"11:30 P.M. Attention, Dyer, Pabodie, Douglas. Matter of highest--
I might say transcendent--importance. Arkham must relay to Kingsport
Head Station at once. Strange barrel growth is the Archaean thing that
left prints in rocks. Mills, Boudreau, and Fowler discover cluster of
thirteen more at underground point forty feet from aperture. Mixed with
curiously rounded and configured soapstone fragments smaller than one
previously found--star-shaped, but no marks of breakage except at some
of the points.

"Of organic specimens, eight apparently perfect, with all
appendages. Have brought all to surface, leading off dogs to distance.
They cannot stand the things. Give close attention to description and
repeat back for accuracy Papers must get this right.

"Objects are eight feet long all over. Six-foot, five-ridged barrel
torso three and five-tenths feet central diameter, one foot end
diameters. Dark gray, flexible, and infinitely tough. Seven-foot
membranous wings of same color, found folded, spread out of furrows
between ridges. Wing framework tubular or glandular, of lighter gray,
with orifices at wing tips. Spread wings have serrated edge. Around
equator, one at central apex of each of the five vertical, stave-like
ridges are five systems of light gray flexible arms or tentacles found
tightly folded to torso but expansible to maximum length of over three
feet. Like arms of primitive crinoid. Single stalks three inches
diameter branch after six inches into five substalks, each of which
branches after eight inches into small, tapering tentacles or tendrils,
giving each stalk a total of twenty-five tentacles.

"At top of torso blunt, bulbous neck of lighter gray, with
gill-like suggestions, holds yellowish five-pointed starfish-shaped
apparent head covered with three-inch wiry cilia of various prismatic
colors.

"Head thick and puffy, about two feet point to point, with
three-inch flexible yellowish tubes projecting from each point. Slit in
exact center of top probably breathing aperture. At end of each tube is
spherical expansion where yellowish membrane rolls back on handling to
reveal glassy, red-irised globe, evidently an eye.

"Five slightly longer reddish tubes start from inner angles of
starfish-shaped head and end in saclike swellings of same color which,
upon pressure, open to bell-shaped orifices two inches maximum diameter
and lined with sharp, white tooth like projections--probably mouths.
All these tubes, cilia, and points of starfish head, found folded
tightly down; tubes and points clinging to bulbous neck and torso.
Flexibility surprising despite vast toughness.

"At bottom of torso, rough but dissimilarly functioning
counterparts of head arrangements exist. Bulbous light-gray
pseudo-neck, without gill suggestions, holds greenish five-pointed
starfish arrangement.

"Tough, muscular arms four feet long and tapering from seven inches
diameter at base to about two and five-tenths at point. To each point
is attached small end of a greenish five-veined membranous triangle
eight inches long and six wide at farther end. This is the paddle, fin,
or pseudofoot which has made prints in rocks from a thousand million to
fifty or sixty million years old.

"From inner angles of starfish arrangement project two-foot reddish
tubes tapering from three inches diameter at base to one at tip.
Orifices at tips. All these parts infinitely tough and leathery, but
extremely flexible. Four-foot arms with paddles undoubtedly used for
locomotion of some sort, marine or otherwise. When moved, display
suggestions of exaggerated muscularity. As found, all these projections
tightly folded over pseudoneck and end of torso, corresponding to
projections at other end.

"Cannot yet assign positively to animal or vegetable kingdom, but
odds now favor animal. Probably represents incredibly advanced
evolution of radiata without loss of certain primitive features.
Echinoderm resemblances unmistakable despite local contradictory
evidences.

"Wing structure puzzles in view of probable marine habitat, but may
have use in water navigation. Symmetry is curiously vegetablelike,
suggesting vegetable's essential up-and-down structure rather than
animal's fore-and-aft structure. Fabulously early date of evolution,
preceding even simplest Archaean protozoa hitherto known, baffles all
conjecture as to origin.

"Complete specimens have such uncanny resemblance to certain
creatures of primal myth that suggestion of ancient existence outside
antarctic becomes inevitable. Dyer and Pabodie have read Necronomicon
and seen Clark Ashton Smith's nightmare paintings based on text, and
will understand when I speak of Elder Things supposed to have created
all earth life as jest or mistake. Students have always thought
conception formed from morbid imaginative treatment of very ancient
tropical radiata. Also like prehistoric folklore things Wilmarth has
spoken of--Cthulhu cult appendages, etc.

"Vast field of study opened. Deposits probably of late Cretaceous
or early Eocene period, judging from associated specimens. Massive
stalagmites deposited above them. Hard work hewing out, but toughness
prevented damage. State of preservation miraculous, evidently owing to
limestone action. No more found so far, but will resume search later.
Job now to get fourteen huge specimens to camp without dogs, which bark
furiously and can't be trusted near them.

"With nine men--three left to guard the dogs--we ought to manage
the three sledges fairly well, though wind is bad. Must establish plane
communication with McMurdo Sound and begin shipping material. But I've
got to dissect one of these things before we take any rest. Wish I had
a real laboratory here. Dyer better kick himself for having tried to
stop my westward trip. First the world's greatest mountains, and then
this. If this last isn't the high spot of the expedition, I don't know
what is. We're made scientifically. Congrats, Pabodie, on the drill
that opened up the cave. Now will Arkham please repeat description?"

The sensations of Pabodie and myself at receipt of this report were
almost beyond description, nor were our companions much behind us in
enthusiasm. McTighe, who had hastily translated a few high spots as
they came from the droning receiving set, wrote out the entire message
from his shorthand version as soon as Lake's operator signed off. All
appreciated the epoch-making significance of the discovery, and I sent
Lake congratulations as soon as the Arkham's operator had repeated back
the descriptive parts as requested; and my example was followed by
Sherman from his station at the McMurdo Sound supply cache, as well as
by Captain Douglas of the Arkham. Later, as head of the expedition, I
added some remarks to be relayed through the Arkham to the outside
world. Of course, rest was an absurd thought amidst this excitement;
and my only wish was to get to Lake's camp as quickly as I could. It
disappointed me when he sent word that a rising mountain gale made
early aerial travel impossible.

But within an hour and a half interest again rose to banish
disappointment. Lake, sending more messages, told of the completely
successful transportation of the fourteen great specimens to the camp.
It had been a hard pull, for the things were surprisingly heavy; but
nine men had accomplished it very neatly. Now some of the party were
hurriedly building a snow corral at a safe distance from the camp, to
which the dogs could be brought for greater convenience in feeding. The
specimens were laid out on the hard snow near the camp, save for one on
which Lake was making crude attempts at dissection.

This dissection seemed to be a greater task than had been expected,
for, despite the heat of a gasoline stove in the newly raised
laboratory tent, the deceptively flexible tissues of the chosen
specimen--a powerful and intact one--lost nothing of their more than
leathery toughness. Lake was puzzled as to how he might make the
requisite incisions without violence destructive enough to upset all
the structural niceties he was looking for. He had, it is true, seven
more perfect specimens; but these were too few to use up recklessly
unless the cave might later yield an unlimited supply. Accordingly he
removed the specimen and dragged in one which, though having remnants
of the starfish arrangements at both ends, was badly crushed and partly
disrupted along one of the great torso furrows.

Results, quickly reported over the wireless, were baffling and
provocative indeed. Nothing like delicacy or accuracy was possible with
instruments hardly able to cut the anomalous tissue, but the little
that was achieved left us all awed and bewildered. Existing biology
would have to be wholly revised, for this thing was no product of any
cell growth science knows about. There had been scarcely any mineral
replacement, and despite an age of perhaps forty million years, the
internal organs were wholly intact. The leathery, undeteriorative, and
almost indestructible quality was an inherent attribute of the thing's
form of organization, and pertained to some paleogean cycle of
invertebrate evolution utterly beyond our powers of speculation. At
first all that Lake found was dry, but as the heated tent produced its
thawing effect, organic moisture of pungent and offensive odor was
encountered toward the thing's uninjured side. It was not blood, but a
thick, dark-green fluid apparently answering the same purpose. By the
time Lake reached this stage, all thirty-seven dogs had been brought to
the still uncompleted corral near the camp, and even at that distance
set up a savage barking and show of restlessness at the acrid,
diffusive smell.

Far from helping to place the strange entity, this provisional
dissection merely deepened its mystery. All guesses about its external
members had been correct, and on the evidence of these one could hardly
hesitate to call the thing animal; but internal inspection brought up
so many vegetable evidences that Lake was left hopelessly at sea. It
had digestion and circulation, and eliminated waste matter through the
reddish tubes of its starfish-shaped base. Cursorily, one would say
that its respiration apparatus handled oxygen rather than carbon
dioxide, and there were odd evidences of air-storage chambers and
methods of shifting respiration from the external orifice to at least
two other fully developed breathing systems--gills and pores. Clearly,
it was amphibian, and probably adapted to long airless hibernation
periods as well. Vocal organs seemed present in connection with the
main respiratory system, but they presented anomalies beyond immediate
solution. Articulate speech, in the sense of syllable utterance, seemed
barely conceivable, but musical piping notes covering a wide range were
highly probable. The muscular system was almost prematurely developed.

The nervous system was so complex and highly developed as to leave
Lake aghast. Though excessively primitive and archaic in some respects,
the thing had a set of ganglial centers and connectives arguing the
very extremes of specialized development. Its five-lobed brain was
surprisingly advanced, and there were signs of a sensory equipment,
served in part through the wiry cilia of the head, involving factors
alien to any other terrestrial organism. Probably it has more than five
senses, so that its habits could not be predicted from any existing
analogy. It must, Lake thought, have been a creature of keen
sensitiveness and delicately differentiated functions in its primal
world--much like the ants and bees of today. It reproduced like the
vegetable cryptogams, especially the Pteridophyta, having spore cases
at the tips of the wings and evidently developing from a thallus or
prothallus.

But to give it a name at this stage was mere folly. It looked like a
radiate, but was clearly something more. It was partly vegetable, but
had three-fourths of the essentials of animal structure. That it was
marine in origin, its symmetrical contour and certain other attributes
clearly indicated; yet one could not be exact as to the limit of its
later adaptations. The wings, after all, held a persistent suggestion
of the aerial. How it could have undergone its tremendously complex
evolution on a new-born earth in time to leave prints in Archaean rocks
was so far beyond conception as to make Lake whimsically recall the
primal myths about Great Old Ones who filtered down from the stars and
concocted earth life as a joke or mistake; and the wild tales of cosmic
hill things from outside told by a folklorist colleague in Miskatonic's
English department.

Naturally, he considered the possibility of the pre-Cambrian prints
having been made by a less evolved ancestor of the present specimens,
but quickly rejected this too-facile theory upon considering the
advanced structural qualities of the older fossils. If anything, the
later contours showed decadence rather than higher evolution. The size
of the pseudofeet had decreased, and the whole morphology seemed
coarsened and simplified. Moreover, the nerves and organs just examined
held singular suggestions of retrogression from forms still more
complex. Atrophied and vestigial parts were surprisingly prevalent.
Altogether, little could be said to have been solved; and Lake fell
back on mythology for a provisional name--jocosely dubbing his finds
"The Elder Ones."

At about 2:30 A.M., having decided to postpone further work and get
a little rest, he covered the dissected organism with a tarpaulin,
emerged from the laboratory tent, and studied the intact specimens with
renewed interest. The ceaseless antarctic sun had begun to limber up
their tissues a trifle, so that the head points and tubes of two or
three showed signs of unfolding; but Lake did not believe there was any
danger of immediate decomposition in the almost subzero air. He did,
however, move all the undissected specimens close together and throw a
spare tent over them in order to keep off the direct solar rays. That
would also help to keep their possible scent away from the dogs, whose
hostile unrest was really becoming a problem, even at their substantial
distance and behind the higher and higher snow walls which an increased
quota of the men were hastening to raise around their quarters. He had
to weight down the corners of the tent cloth with heavy blocks of snow
to hold it in place amidst the rising gale, for the titan mountains
seemed about to deliver some gravely severe blasts. Early apprehensions
about sudden antarctic winds were revived, and under Atwood's
supervision precautions were taken to bank the tents, new dog corral,
and crude aeroplane shelters with snow on the mountainward side. These
latter shelters, begun with hard snow blocks during odd moments, were
by no means as high as they should have been; and Lake finally detached
all hands from other tasks to work on them.

It was after four when Lake at last prepared to sign off and advised
us all to share the rest period his outfit would take when the shelter
walls were a little higher. He held some friendly chat with Pabodie
over the ether, and repeated his praise of the really marvelous drills
that had helped him make his discovery. Atwood also sent greetings and
praises. I gave Lake a warm word of congratulations, owning up that he
was right about the western trip, and we all agreed to get in touch by
wireless at ten in the morning. If the gale was then over, Lake would
send a plane for the party at my base. Just before retiring I
dispatched a final message to the Arkham with instructions about toning
down the day's news for the outside world, since the full details
seemed radical enough to rouse a wave of incredulity until further
substantiated.


III

None of us, I imagine, slept very heavily or continuously that
morning. Both the excitement of Lake's discovery and the mounting fury
of the wind were against such a thing. So savage was the blast, even
where we were, that we could not help wondering how much worse it was
at Lake's camp, directly under the vast unknown peaks that bred and
delivered it. McTighe was awake at ten o'clock and tried to get Lake on
the wireless, as agreed, but some electrical condition in the disturbed
air to the westward seemed to prevent communication. We did, however,
get the Arkham, and Douglas told me that he had likewise been vainly
trying to reach Lake. He had not known about the wind, for very little
was blowing at McMurdo Sound, despite its persistent rage where we were.

Throughout the day we all listened anxiously and tried to get Lake
at intervals, but invariably without results. About noon a positive
frenzy of wind stampeded out of the west, causing us to fear for the
safety of our camp; but it eventually died down, with only a moderate
relapse at 2 P.M. After three o'clock it was very quiet, and we
redoubled our efforts to get Lake. Reflecting that he had four planes,
each provided with an excellent short-wave outfit, we could not imagine
any ordinary accident capable of crippling all his wireless equipment
at once. Nevertheless the stony silence continued, and when we thought
of the delirious force the wind must have had in his locality we could
not help making the more direful conjectures.

By six o'clock our fears had become intense and definite, and after
a wireless consultation with Douglas and Thorfinnssen I resolved to
take steps toward investigation. The fifth aeroplane, which we had left
at the McMurdo Sound supply cache with Sherman and two sailors, was in
good shape and ready for instant use, and it seemed that the very
emergency for which it had been saved was now upon us. I got Sherman by
wireless and ordered him to join me with the plane and the two sailors
at the southern base as quickly as possible, the air conditions being
apparently highly favorable. We then talked over the personnel of the
coming investigation party, and decided that we would include all
hands, together with the sledge and dogs which I had kept with me. Even
so great a load would not be too much for one of the huge planes built
to our special orders for heavy machinery transportation. At intervals
I still tried to reach Lake with the wireless, but all to no purpose.

Sherman, with the sailors Gunnarsson and Larsen, took off at 7:30,
and reported a quiet flight from several points on the wing. They
arrived at our base at midnight, and all hands at once discussed the
next move. It was risky business sailing over the antarctic in a single
aeroplane without any line of bases, but no one drew back from what
seemed like the plainest necessity. We turned in at two o'clock for a
brief rest after some preliminary loading of the plane, but were up
again in four hours to finish the loading and packing.

At 7:15 A.M., January 25th, we started flying northwestward under
McTighe's pilotage with ten men, seven dogs, a sledge, a fuel and food
supply, and other items including the plane's wireless outfit. The
atmosphere was clear, fairly quiet, and relatively mild in temperature,
and we anticipated very little trouble in reaching the latitude and
longitude designated by Lake as the site of his camp. Our apprehensions
were over what we might find, or fail to find, at the end of our
journey, for silence continued to answer all calls dispatched to the
camp.

Every incident of that four-and-a-half-hour flight is burned into my
recollection because of its crucial position in my life. It marked my
loss, at the age of fifty-four, of all that peace and balance which the
normal mind possesses through its accustomed conception of external
nature and nature's laws. Thenceforward the ten of us--but the student
Danforth and myself above all others--were to face a hideously
amplified world of lurking horrors which nothing can erase from our
emotions, and which we would refrain from sharing with mankind in
general if we could. The newspapers have printed the bulletins we sent
from the moving plane, telling of our nonstop course, our two battles
with treacherous upper-air gales, our glimpse of the broken surface
where Lake had sunk his mid-journey shaft three days before, and our
sight of a group of those strange fluffy snow cylinders noted by
Amundsen and Byrd as rolling in the wind across the endless leagues of
frozen plateau. There came a point, though, when our sensations could
not be conveyed in any words the press would understand, and a latter
point when we had to adopt an actual rule of strict censorship.

The sailor Larsen was first to spy the jagged line of witchlike
cones and pinnacles ahead, and his shouts sent everyone to the windows
of the great cabined plane. Despite our speed, they were very slow in
gaining prominence; hence we knew that they must be infinitely far off,
and visible only because of their abnormal height. Little by little,
however, they rose grimly into the western sky; allowing us to
distinguish various bare, bleak, blackish summits, and to catch the
curious sense of fantasy which they inspired as seen in the reddish
antarctic light against the provocative background of iridescent
ice-dust clouds. In the whole spectacle there was a persistent,
pervasive hint of stupendous secrecy and potential revelation. It was
as if these stark, nightmare spires marked the pylons of a frightful
gateway into forbidden spheres of dream, and complex gulfs of remote
time, space, and ultra-dimensionality. I could not help feeling that
they were evil things--mountains of madness whose farther slopes
looked out over some accursed ultimate abyss. That seething,
half-luminous cloud background held ineffable suggestions of a vague,
ethereal beyondness far more than terrestrially spatial, and gave
appalling reminders of the utter remoteness, separateness, desolation,
and aeon-long death of this untrodden and unfathomed austral world.

It was young Danforth who drew our notice to the curious
regularities of the higher mountain skyline--regularities like
clinging fragments of perfect cubes, which Lake had mentioned in his
messages, and which indeed justified his comparison with the dreamlike
suggestions of primordial temple ruins, on cloudy Asian mountaintops so
subtly and strangely painted by Roerich. There was indeed something
hauntingly Roerich-like about this whole unearthly continent of
mountainous mystery. I had felt it in October when we first caught
sight of Victoria Land, and I felt it afresh now. I felt, too, another
wave of uneasy consciousness of Archaean mythical resemblances; of how
disturbingly this lethal realm corresponded to the evilly famed plateau
of Leng in the primal writings. Mythologists have placed Leng in
Central Asia; but the racial memory of man--or of his predecessors--
is long, and it may well be that certain tales have come down from
lands and mountains and temples of horror earlier than Asia and earlier
than any human world we know. A few daring mystics have hinted at a
pre-Pleistocene origin for the fragmentary Pnakotic Manuscripts, and
have suggested that the devotees of Tsathoggua were as alien to mankind
as Tsathoggua itself. Leng, wherever in space or time it might brood,
was not a region I would care to be in or near, nor did I relish the
proximity of a world that had ever bred such ambiguous and Archaean
monstrosities as those Lake had just mentioned. At the moment I felt
sorry that I had ever read the abhorred Necronomicon, or talked so much
with that unpleasantly erudite folklorist Wilmarth at the university.

This mood undoubtedly served to aggravate my reaction to the bizarre
mirage which burst upon us from the increasingly opalescent zenith as
we drew near the mountains and began to make out the cumulative
undulations of the foothills. I had seen dozens of polar mirages during
the preceding weeks, some of them quite as uncanny and fantastically
vivid as the present example; but this one had a wholly novel and
obscure quality of menacing symbolism, and I shuddered as the seething
labyrinth of fabulous walls and towers and minarets loomed out of the
troubled ice vapors above our heads.

The effect was that of a Cyclopean city of no architecture known to
man or to human imagination, with vast aggregations of night-black
masonry embodying monstrous perversions of geometrical laws. There were
truncated cones, sometimes terraced or fluted, surmounted by tall
cylindrical shafts here and there bulbously enlarged and often capped
with tiers of thinnish scalloped disks; and strange beetling,
table-like constructions suggesting piles of multitudinous rectangular
slabs or circular plates or five-pointed stars with each one
overlapping the one beneath. There were composite cones and pyramids
either alone or surmounting cylinders or cubes or flatter truncated
cones and pyramids, and occasional needle-like spires in curious
clusters of five. All of these febrile structures seemed knit together
by tubular bridges crossing from one to the other at various dizzy
heights, and the implied scale of the whole was terrifying and
oppressive in its sheer gigantism. The general type of mirage was not
unlike some of the wilder forms observed and drawn by the arctic whaler
Scoresby in 1820, but at this time and place, with those dark, unknown
mountain peaks soaring stupendously ahead, that anomalous elder-world
discovery in our minds, and the pall of probable disaster enveloping
the greater part of our expedition, we all seemed to find in it a taint
of latent malignity and infinitely evil portent.

I was glad when the mirage began to break up, though in the process
the various nightmare turrets and cones assumed distorted, temporary
forms of even vaster hideousness. As the whole illusion dissolved to
churning opalescence we began to look earthward again, and saw that our
journey's end was not far off. The unknown mountains ahead rose dizzily
up like a fearsome rampart of giants, their curious regularities
showing with startling clearness even without a field glass. We were
over the lowest foothills now, and could see amidst the snow, ice, and
bare patches of their main plateau a couple of darkish spots which we
took to be Lake's camp and boring. The higher foothills shot up between
five and six miles away, forming a range almost distinct from the
terrifying line of more than Himalayan peaks beyond them. At length
Ropes--the student who had relieved McTighe at the controls--began to
head downward toward the left-hand dark spot whose size marked it as
the camp. As he did so, McTighe sent out the last uncensored wireless
message the world was to receive from our expedition.

Everyone, of course, has read the brief and unsatisfying bulletins
of the rest of our antarctic sojourn. Some hours after our landing we
sent a guarded report of the tragedy we found, and reluctantly
announced the wiping out of the whole Lake party by the frightful wind
of the preceding day, or of the night before that. Eleven known dead,
young Gedney missing. People pardoned our hazy lack of details through
realization of the shock the sad event must have caused us, and
believed us when we explained that the mangling action of the wind had
rendered all eleven bodies unsuitable for transportation outside.
Indeed, I flatter myself that even in the midst of our distress, utter
bewilderment, and soul-clutching horror, we scarcely went beyond the
truth in any specific instance. The tremendous significance lies in
what we dared not tell; what I would not tell now but for the need of
warning others off from nameless terrors.

It is a fact that the wind had brought dreadful havoc. Whether all
could have lived through it, even without the other thing, is gravely
open to doubt. The storm, with its fury of madly driven ice particles,
must have been beyond anything our expedition had encountered before.
One aeroplane shelter-wall, it seems, had been left in a far too flimsy
and inadequate state--was nearly pulverized--and the derrick at the
distant boring was entirely shaken to pieces. The exposed metal of the
grounded planes and drilling machinery was bruised into a high polish,
and two of the small tents were flattened despite their snow banking.
Wooden surfaces left out in the blaster were pitted and denuded of
paint, and all signs of tracks in the snow were completely obliterated.
It is also true that we found none of the Archaean biological objects
in a condition to take outside as a whole. We did gather some minerals
from a vast, tumbled pile, including several of the greenish soapstone
fragments whose odd five-pointed rounding and faint patterns of grouped
dots caused so many doubtful comparisons; and some fossil bones, among
which were the most typical of the curiously injured specimens.

None of the dogs survived, their hurriedly built snow inclosure near
the camp being almost wholly destroyed. The wind may have done that,
though the greater breakage on the side next the camp, which was not
the windward one, suggests an outward leap or break of the frantic
beasts themselves. All three sledges were gone, and we have tried to
explain that the wind may have blown them off into the unknown. The
drill and ice-melting machinery at the boring were too badly damaged to
warrant salvage, so we used them to choke up that subtly disturbing
gateway to the past which Lake had blasted. We likewise left at the
camp the two most shaken up of the planes; since our surviving party
had only four real pilots--Sherman, Danforth, McTighe, and Ropes--in
all, with Danforth in a poor nervous shape to navigate. We brought back
all the books, scientific equipment, and other incidentals we could
find, though much was rather unaccountably blown away. Spare tents and
furs were either missing or badly out of condition.

It was approximately 4 P.M., after wide plane cruising had forced us
to give Gedney up for lost, that we sent our guarded message to the
Arkham for relaying; and I think we did well to keep it as calm and
noncommittal as we succeeded in doing. The most we said about agitation
concerned our dogs, whose frantic uneasiness near the biological
specimens was to be expected from poor Lake's accounts. We did not
mention, I think, their display of the same uneasiness when sniffing
around the queer greenish soapstones and certain other objects in the
disordered region-objects including scientific instruments, aeroplanes,
and machinery, both at the camp and at the boring, whose parts had been
loosened, moved, or otherwise tampered with by winds that must have
harbored singular curiosity and investigativeness.

About the fourteen biological specimens, we were pardonably
indefinite. We said that the only ones we discovered were damaged, but
that enough was left of them to prove Lake's description wholly and
impressively accurate. It was hard work keeping our personal emotions
out of this matter--and we did not mention numbers or say exactly how
we had found those which we did find. We had by that time agreed not to
transmit anything suggesting madness on the part of Lake's men, and it
surely looked like madness to find six imperfect monstrosities
carefully buried upright in nine-foot snow graves under five-pointed
mounds punched over with groups of dots in patterns exactly those on
the queer greenish soapstones dug up from Mesozoic or Tertiary times.
The eight perfect specimens mentioned by Lake seemed to have been
completely blown away.

We were careful, too, about the public's general peace of mind;
hence Danforth and I said little about that frightful trip over the
mountains the next day. It was the fact that only a radically lightened
plane could possibly cross a range of such height, which mercifully
limited that scouting tour to the two of us. On our return at one A.M.,
Danforth was close to hysterics, but kept an admirably stiff upper lip.
It took no persuasion to make him promise not to show our sketches and
the other things we brought away in our pockets, not to say anything
more to the others than what we had agreed to relay outside, and to
hide our camera films for private development later on; so that part of
my present story will be as new to Pabodie, McTighe, Ropes, Sherman,
and the rest as it will be to the world in general. Indeed, Danforth is
closer mouthed than I: for he saw, or thinks he saw, one thing he will
not tell even me.

As all know, our report included a tale of a hard ascent--a
confirmation of Lake's opinion that the great peaks are of Archaean
slate and other very primal crumpled strata unchanged since at least
middle Comanchian times; a conventional comment on the regularity of
the clinging cube and rampart formations; a decision that the cave
mouths indicate dissolved calcaerous veins; a conjecture that certain
slopes and passes would permit of the scaling and crossing of the
entire range by seasoned mountaineers; and a remark that the mysterious
other side holds a lofty and immense superplateau as ancient and
unchanging as the mountains themselves--twenty thousand feet in
elevation, with grotesque rock formations protruding through a thin
glacial layer and with low gradual foothills between the general
plateau surface and the sheer precipices of the highest peaks.

This body of data is in every respect true so far as it goes, and it
completely satisfied the men at the camp. We laid our absence of
sixteen hours--a longer time than our announced flying, landing,
reconnoitering, and rock-collecting program called for--to a long
mythical spell of adverse wind conditions, and told truly of our
landing on the farther foothills. Fortunately our tale sounded
realistic and prosaic enough not to tempt any of the others into
emulating our flight. Had any tried to do that, I would have used every
ounce of my persuasion to stop them--and I do not know what Danforth
would have done. While we were gone, Pabodie, Sherman, Ropes, McTighe,
and Williamson had worked like beavers over Lake's two best planes,
fitting them again for use despite the altogether unaccountable
juggling of their operative mechanism.

We decided to load all the planes the next morning and start back
for our old base as soon as possible. Even though indirect, that was
the safest way to work toward McMurdo Sound; for a straightline flight
across the most utterly unknown stretches of the aeon-dead continent
would involve many additional hazards. Further exploration was hardly
feasible in view of our tragic decimation and the ruin of our drilling
machinery. The doubts and horrors around us--which we did not reveal--
made us wish only to escape from this austral world of desolation and
brooding madness as swiftly as we could.

As the public knows, our return to the world was accomplished
without further disasters. All planes reached the old base on the
evening of the next day--January 27th--after a swift nonstop flight;
and on the 28th we made McMurdo Sound in two laps, the one pause being
very brief, and occasioned by a faulty rudder in the furious wind over
the ice shelf after we had cleared the great plateau. In five days
more, the Arkham and Miskatonic, with all hands and equipment on board,
were shaking clear of the thickening field ice and working up Ross Sea
with the mocking mountains of Victoria Land looming westward against a
troubled antarctic sky and twisting the wind's wails into a wide-ranged
musical piping which chilled my soul to the quick. Less than a
fortnight later we left the last hint of polar land behind us and
thanked heaven that we were clear of a haunted, accursed realm where
life and death, space and time, have made black and blasphemous
alliances, in the unknown epochs since matter first writhed and swam on
the planet's scarce-cooled crust.

Since our return we have all constantly worked to discourage
antarctic exploration, and have kept certain doubts and guesses to
ourselves with splendid unity and faithfulness. Even young Danforth,
with his nervous breakdown, has not flinched or babbled to his doctors
--indeed, as I have said, there is one thing he thinks he alone saw
which he will not tell even me, though I think it would help his
psychological state if he would consent to do so. It might explain and
relieve much, though perhaps the thing was no more than the delusive
aftermath of an earlier shock. That is the impression I gather after
those rare, irresponsible moments when he whispers disjointed things to
me--things which he repudiates vehemently as soon as he gets a grip on
himself again.

It will be hard work deterring others from the great white south,
and some of our efforts may directly harm our cause by drawing
inquiring notice. We might have known from the first that human
curiosity is undying, and that the results we announced would be enough
to spur others ahead on the same age-long pursuit of the unknown.
Lake's reports of those biological monstrosities had aroused
naturalists and paleontologists to the highest pitch, though we were
sensible enough not to show the detached parts we had taken from the
actual buried specimens, or our photographs of those specimens as they
were found. We also refrained from showing the more puzzling of the
scarred bones and greenish soapstones; while Danforth and I have
closely guarded the pictures we took or drew on the superplateau across
the range, and the crumpled things we smoothed, studied in terror, and
brought away in our pockets.

But now that Starkweather-Moore party is organizing, and with a
thoroughness far beyond anything our outfit attempted. If not
dissuaded, they will get to the innermost nucleus of the antarctic and
melt and bore till they bring up that which we know may end the world.
So I must break through all reticences at last--even about that
ultimate, nameless thing beyond the mountains of madness.


IV

It is only with vast hesitancy and repugnance that I let my mind go
back to Lake's camp and what we really found there--and to that other
thing beyond the mountains of madness. I am constantly tempted to shirk
the details, and to let hints stand for actual facts and ineluctable
deductions. I hope I have said enough already to let me glide briefly
over the rest; the rest, that is, of the horror at the camp. I have
told of the wind-ravaged terrain, the damaged shelters, the disarranged
machinery, the varied uneasiness of our dogs, the missing sledges and
other items, the deaths of men and dogs, the absence of Gedney, and the
six insanely buried biological specimens, strangely sound in texture
for all their structural injuries, from a world forty million years
dead. I do not recall whether I mentioned that upon checking up the
canine bodies we found one dog missing. We did not think much about
that till later--indeed, only Danforth and I have thought of it at all.

The principal things I have been keeping back relate to the bodies,
and to certain subtle points which may or may not lend a hideous and
incredible kind of rationale to the apparent chaos. At the time, I
tried to keep the men's minds off those points; for it was so much
simpler--so much more normal--to lay everything to an outbreak of
madness on the part of some of Lake's party. From the look of things,
that demon mountain wind must have been enough to drive any man mad in
the midst of this center of all earthly mystery and desolation.

The crowning abnormality, of course, was the condition of the bodies
--men and dogs alike. They had all been in some terrible kind of
conflict, and were torn and mangled in fiendish and altogether
inexplicable ways. Death, so far as we could judge, had in each case
come from strangulation or laceration. The dogs had evidently started
the trouble, for the state of their ill-built corral bore witness to
its forcible breakage from within. It had been set some distance from
the camp because of the hatred of the animals for those hellish
Archaean organisms, but the precaution seemed to have been taken in
vain. When left alone in that monstrous wind, behind flimsy walls of
insufficient height, they must have stampeded--whether from the wind
itself, or from some subtle, increasing odor emitted by the nightmare
specimens, one could not say.

But whatever had happened, it was hideous and revolting enough.
Perhaps I had better put squeamishness aside and tell the worst at last
--though with a categorical statement of opinion, based on the
first-hand observations and most rigid deductions of both Danforth and
myself, that the then missing Gedney was in no way responsible for the
loathsome horrors we found. I have said that the bodies were
frightfully mangled. Now I must add that some were incised and
subtracted from in the most curious, cold-blooded, and inhuman fashion.
It was the same with dogs and men. All the healthier, fatter bodies,
quadrupedal or bipedal, had had their most solid masses of tissue cut
out and removed, as by a careful butcher; and around them was a strange
sprinkling of salt--taken from the ravaged provision chests on the
planes--which conjured up the most horrible associations. The thing
had occurred in one of the crude aeroplane shelters from which the
plane had been dragged out, and subsequent winds had effaced all tracks
which could have supplied any plausible theory. Scattered bits of
clothing, roughly slashed from the human incision subjects, hinted no
clues. It is useless to bring up the half impression of certain faint
snow prints in one shielded corner of the ruined inclosure--because
that impression did not concern human prints at all, but was clearly
mixed up with all the talk of fossil prints which poor Lake had been
giving throughout the preceding weeks. One had to be careful of one's
imagination in the lee of those overshadowing mountains of madness.

As I have indicated, Gedney and one dog turned out to be missing in
the end. When we came on that terrible shelter we had missed two dogs
and two men; but the fairly unharmed dissecting tent, which we entered
after investigating the monstrous graves, had something to reveal. It
was not as Lake had left it, for the covered parts of the primal
monstrosity had been removed from the improvised table. Indeed, we had
already realized that one of the six imperfect and insanely buried
things we had found--the one with the trace of a peculiarly hateful
odor--must represent the collected sections of the entity which Lake
had tried to analyze. On and around that laboratory table were strewn
other things, and it did not take long for us to guess that those
things were the carefully though oddly and inexpertly dissected parts
of one man and one dog. I shall spare the feelings of survivors by
omitting mention of the man's identity. Lake's anatomical instruments
were missing, but there were evidences of their careful cleansing. The
gasoline stove was also gone, though around it we found a curious
litter of matches. We buried the human parts beside the other ten men;
and the canine parts with the other thirty-five dogs. Concerning the
bizarre smudges on the laboratory table, and on the jumble of roughly
handled illustrated books scattered near it, we were much too
bewildered to speculate.

This formed the worst of the camp horror, but other things were
equally perplexing. The disappearance of Gedney, the one dog, the eight
uninjured biological specimens, the three sledges, and certain
instruments, illustrated technical and scientific books, writing
materials, electric torches and batteries, food and fuel, heating
apparatus, spare tents, fur suits, and the like, was utterly beyond
sane conjecture; as were likewise the spatter-fringed ink blots on
certain pieces of paper, and the evidences of curious alien fumbling
and experimentation around the planes and all other mechanical devices
both at the camp and at the boring. The dogs seemed to abhor this oddly
disordered machinery. Then, too, there was the upsetting of the larder,
the disappearance of certain staples, and the jarringly comical heap of
tin cans pried open in the most unlikely ways and at the most unlikely
places. The profusion of scattered matches, intact, broken, or spent,
formed another minor enigma--as did the two or three tent cloths and
fur suits which we found lying about with peculiar and unorthodox
slashings conceivably due to clumsy efforts at unimaginable
adaptations. The maltreatment of the human and canine bodies, and the
crazy burial of the damaged Archaean specimens, were all of a piece
with this apparent disintegrative madness. In view of just such an
eventuality as the present one, we carefully photographed all the main
evidences of insane disorder at the camp; and shall use the prints to
buttress our pleas against the departure of the proposed
Starkweather-Moore Expedition.

Our first act after finding the bodies in the shelter was to
photograph and open the row of insane graves with the five-pointed snow
mounds. We could not help noticing the resemblance of these monstrous
mounds, with their clusters of grouped dots, to poor Lake's
descriptions of the strange greenish soapstones; and when we came on
some of the soapstones themselves in the great mineral pile, we found
the likeness very close indeed. The whole general formation, it must be
made clear, seemed abominably suggestive of the starfish head of the
Archaean entities; and we agreed that the suggestion must have worked
potently upon the sensitized minds of Lake's overwrought party.

For madness--centering in Gedney as the only possible surviving
agent--was the explanation spontaneously adopted by everybody so far
as spoken utterance was concerned; though I will not be so naive as to
deny that each of us may have harbored wild guesses which sanity
forbade him to formulate completely. Sherman, Pabodie, and McTighe made
an exhaustive aeroplane cruise over all the surrounding territory in
the afternoon, sweeping the horizon with field glasses in quest of
Gedney and of the various missing things; but nothing came to light.
The party reported that the titan barrier range extended endlessly to
right and left alike, without any diminution in height or essential
structure. On some of the peaks, though, the regular cube and rampart
formations were bolder and plainer, having doubly fantastic similitudes
to Roerich-painted Asian hill ruins. The distribution of cryptical cave
mouths on the black snow-denuded summits seemed roughly even as far as
the range could be traced.

In spite of all the prevailing horrors, we were left with enough
sheer scientific zeal and adventurousness to wonder about the unknown
realm beyond those mysterious mountains. As our guarded messages
stated, we rested at midnight after our day of terror and bafflement--
but not without a tentative plan for one or more range-crossing
altitude flights in a lightened plane with aerial camera and
geologist's outfit, beginning the following morning. It was decided
that Danforth and I try it first, and we awaked at 7 A.M. intending an
early flight; however, heavy winds--mentioned in our brief bulletin
to the outside world--delayed our start till nearly nine o'clock.

I have already repeated the noncommittal story we told the men at
camp--and relayed outside--after our return sixteen hours later. It
is now my terrible duty to amplify this account by filling in the
merciful blanks with hints of what we really saw in the hidden
transmontane world--hints of the revelations which have finally driven
Danforth to a nervous collapse. I wish he would add a really frank word
about the thing which he thinks he alone saw--even though it was
probably a nervous delusion--and which was perhaps the last straw that
put him where he is; but he is firm against that. All I can do is to
repeat his later disjointed whispers about what set him shrieking as
the plane soared back through the wind-tortured mountain pass after
that real and tangible shock which I shared. This will form my last
word. If the plain signs of surviving elder horrors in what I disclose
be not enough to keep others from meddling with the inner antarctic--
or at least from prying too deeply beneath the surface of that ultimate
waste of forbidden secrets and inhuman, aeon-cursed desolation--the
responsibility for unnamable and perhaps immeasurable evils will not be
mine.

Danforth and I, studying the notes made by Pabodie in his afternoon
flight and checking up with a sextant, had calculated that the lowest
available pass in the range lay somewhat to the right of us, within
sight of camp, and about twenty-three thousand or twenty-four thousand
feet above sea level. For this point, then, we first headed in the
lightened plane as we embarked on our flight of discovery. The camp
itself, on foothills which sprang from a high continental plateau, was
some twelve thousand feet in altitude; hence the actual height increase
necessary was not so vast as it might seem. Nevertheless we were
acutely conscious of the rarefied air and intense cold as we rose; for,
on account of visibility conditions, we had to leave the cabin windows
open. We were dressed, of course, in our heaviest furs.

As we drew near the forbidding peaks, dark and sinister above the
line of crevasse-riven snow and interstitial glaciers, we noticed more
and more the curiously regular formations clinging to the slopes; and
thought again of the strange Asian paintings of Nicholas Roerich. The
ancient and wind-weathered rock strata fully verified all of Lake's
bulletins, and proved that these pinnacles had been towering up in
exactly the same way since a surprisingly early time in earth's history
--perhaps over fifty million years. How much higher they had once been,
it was futile to guess; but everything about this strange region
pointed to obscure atmospheric influences unfavorable to change, and
calculated to retard the usual climatic processes of rock
disintegration.

But it was the mountainside tangle of regular cubes, ramparts, and
cave mouths which fascinated and disturbed us most. I studied them with
a field glass and took aerial photographs while Danforth drove; and at
times I relieved him at the controls--though my aviation knowledge was
purely an amateur's--in order to let him use the binoculars. We could
easily see that much of the material of the things was a lightish
Archaean quartzite, unlike any formation visible over broad areas of
the general surface; and that their regularity was extreme and uncanny
to an extent which poor Lake had scarcely hinted.

As he had said, their edges were crumbled and rounded from untold
aeons of savage weathering; but their preternatural solidity and tough
material had saved them from obliteration. Many parts, especially those
closest to the slopes, seemed identical in substance with the
surrounding rock surface. The whole arrangement looked like the ruins
of Macchu Picchu in the Andes, or the primal foundation walls of Kish
as dug up by the Oxford Field Museum Expedition in 1929; and both
Danforth and I obtained that occasional impression of separate
Cyclopean blocks which Lake had attributed to his flight-companion
Carroll. How to account for such things in this place was frankly
beyond me, and I felt queerly humbled as a geologist. Igneous
formations often have strange regularities--like the famous Giants'
Causeway in Ireland--but this stupendous range, despite Lake's
original suspicion of smoking cones, was above all else nonvolcanic in
evident structure.

The curious cave mouths, near which the odd formations seemed most
abundant, presented another albeit a lesser puzzle because of their
regularity of outline. They were, as Lake's bulletin had said, often
approximately square or semicircular; as if the natural orifices had
been shaped to greater symmetry by some magic hand. Their numerousness
and wide distribution were remarkable, and suggested that the whole
region was honeycombed with tunnels dissolved out of limestone strata.
Such glimpses as we secured did not extend far within the caverns, but
we saw that they were apparently clear of stalactites and stalagmites.
Outside, those parts of the mountain slopes adjoining the apertures
seemed invariably smooth and regular; and Danforth thought that the
slight cracks and pittings of the weathering tended toward unusual
patterns. Filled as he was with the horrors and strangenesses
discovered at the camp, he hinted that the pittings vaguely resembled
those baffling groups of dots sprinkled over the primeval greenish
soapstones, so hideously duplicated on the madly conceived snow mounds
above those six buried monstrosities.

We had risen gradually in flying over the higher foothills and along
toward the relatively low pass we had selected. As we advanced we
occasionally looked down at the snow and ice of the land route,
wondering whether we could have attempted the trip with the simpler
equipment of earlier days. Somewhat to our surprise we saw that the
terrain was far from difficult as such things go; and that despite the
crevasses and other bad spots it would not have been likely to deter
the sledges of a Scott, a Shackleton, or an Amundsen. Some of the
glaciers appeared to lead up to wind-bared passes with unusual
continuity, and upon reaching our chosen pass we found that its case
formed no exception.

Our sensations of tense expectancy as we prepared to round the crest
and peer out over an untrodden world can hardly be described on paper;
even though we had no cause to think the regions beyond the range
essentially different from those already seen and traversed. The touch
of evil mystery in these barrier mountains, and in the beckoning sea of
opalescent sky glimpsed betwixt their summits, was a highly subtle and
attenuated matter not to be explained in literal words. Rather was it
an affair of vague psychological symbolism and aesthetic association--
a thing mixed up with exotic poetry and paintings, and with archaic
myths lurking in shunned and forbidden volumes. Even the wind's burden
held a peculiar strain of conscious malignity; and for a second it
seemed that the composite sound included a bizarre musical whistling or
piping over a wide range as the blast swept in and out of the
omnipresent and resonant cave mouths. There was a cloudy note of
reminiscent repulsion in this sound, as complex and unplaceable as any
of the other dark impressions.

We were now, after a slow ascent, at a height of twenty-three
thousand, five hundred and seventy feet according to the aneroid; and
had left the region of clinging snow definitely below us. Up here were
only dark, bare rock slopes and the start of rough-ribbed glaciers--
but with those provocative cubes, ramparts, and echoing cave mouths to
add a portent of the unnatural, the fantastic, and the dreamlike.
Looking along the line of high peaks, I thought I could see the one
mentioned by poor Lake, with a rampart exactly on top. It seemed to be
half lost in a queer antarctic haze--such a haze, perhaps, as had been
responsible for Lake's early notion of volcanism. The pass loomed
directly before us, smooth and windswept between its jagged and
malignly frowning pylons. Beyond it was a sky fretted with swirling
vapors and lighted by the low polar sun--the sky of that mysterious
farther realm upon which we felt no human eye had ever gazed.

A few more feet of altitude and we would behold that realm. Danforth
and I, unable to speak except in shouts amidst the howling, piping wind
that raced through the pass and added to the noise of the unmuffled
engines, exchanged eloquent glances. And then, having gained those last
few feet, we did indeed stare across the momentous divide and over the
unsampled secrets of an elder and utterly alien earth.


V

I think that both of us simultaneously cried out in mixed awe,
wonder, terror, and disbelief in our own senses as we finally cleared
the pass and saw what lay beyond. Of course, we must have had some
natural theory in the back of our heads to steady our faculties for the
moment. Probably we thought of such things as the grotesquely weathered
stones of the Garden of the Gods in Colorado, or the fantastically
symmetrical wind-carved rocks of the Arizona desert. Perhaps we even
half thought the sight a mirage like that we had seen the morning
before on first approaching those mountains of madness. We must have
had some such normal notions to fall back upon as our eyes swept that
limitless, tempest-scarred plateau and grasped the almost endless
labyrinth of colossal, regular, and geometrically eurythmic stone
masses which reared their crumbled and pitted crests above a glacial
sheet not more than forty or fifty feet deep at its thickest, and in
places obviously thinner.

The effect of the monstrous sight was indescribable, for some
fiendish violation of known natural law seemed certain at the outset.
Here, on a hellishly ancient table-land fully twenty thousand feet
high, and in a climate deadly to habitation since a prehuman age not
less than five hundred thousand years ago, there stretched nearly to
the vision's limit a tangle of orderly stone which only the desperation
of mental self-defense could possibly attribute to any but conscious
and artificial cause. We had previously dismissed, so far as serious
thought was concerned, any theory that the cubes and ramparts of the
mountainsides were other than natural in origin. How could they be
otherwise, when man himself could scarcely have been differentiated
from the great apes at the time when this region succumbed to the
present unbroken reign of glacial death?

Yet now the sway of reason seemed irrefutably shaken, for this
Cyclopean maze of squared, curved, and angled blocks had features which
cut off all comfortable refuge. It was, very clearly, the blasphemous
city of the mirage in stark, objective, and ineluctable reality. That
damnable portent had had a material basis after all--there had been
some horizontal stratum of ice dust in the upper air, and this shocking
stone survival had projected its image across the mountains according
to the simple laws of reflection, Of course, the phantom had been
twisted and exaggerated, and had contained things which the real source
did not contain; yet now, as we saw that real source, we thought it
even more hideous and menacing than its distant image.

Only the incredible, unhuman massiveness of these vast stone towers
and ramparts had saved the frightful things from utter annihilation in
the hundreds of thousands--perhaps millions--of years it had brooded
there amidst the blasts of a bleak upland. "Corona Mundi--Roof of the
World--" All sorts of fantastic phrases sprang to our lips as we
looked dizzily down at the unbelievable spectacle. I thought again of
the eldritch primal myths that had so persistently haunted me since my
first sight of this dead antarctic world--of the demoniac plateau of
Leng, of the Mi-Go, or abominable Snow Men of the Himalayas, of the
Pnakotic Manuscripts with their prehuman implications, of the Cthulhu
cult, of the Necronomicon, and of the Hyperborean legends of formless
Tsathoggua and the worse than formless star spawn associated with that
semientity.

For boundless miles in every direction the thing stretched off with
very little thinning; indeed, as our eyes followed it to the right and
left along the base of the low, gradual foothills which separated it
from the actual mountain rim, we decided that we could see no thinning
at all except for an interruption at the left of the pass through which
we had come. We had merely struck, at random, a limited part of
something of incalculable extent. The foothills were more sparsely
sprinkled with grotesque stone structures, linking the terrible city to
the already familiar cubes and ramparts which evidently formed its
mountain outposts. These latter, as well as the queer cave mouths, were
as thick on the inner as on the outer sides of the mountains.

The nameless stone labyrinth consisted, for the most part, of walls
from ten to one hundred and fifty feet in ice-clear height, and of a
thickness varying from five to ten feet. It was composed mostly of
prodigious blocks of dark primordial slate, schist, and sandstone--
blocks in many cases as large as 4 x 6 x 8 feet--though in several
places it seemed to be carved out of a solid, uneven bed rock of
pre-Cambrian slate. The buildings were far from equal in size, there
being innumerable honeycomb arrangements of enormous extent as well as
smaller separate structures. The general shape of these things tended
to be conical, pyramidal, or terraced; though there were many perfect
cylinders, perfect cubes, clusters of cubes, and other rectangular
forms, and a peculiar sprinkling of angled edifices whose five-pointed
ground plan roughly suggested modern fortifications. The builders had
made constant and expert use of the principle of the arch, and domes
had probably existed in the city's heyday.

The whole tangle was monstrously weathered, and the glacial surface
from which the towers projected was strewn with fallen blocks and
immemorial debris. Where the glaciation was transparent we could see
the lower parts of the gigantic piles, and we noticed the ice-preserved
stone bridges which connected the different towers at varying distances
above the ground. On the exposed walls we could detect the scarred
places where other and higher bridges of the same sort had existed.
Closer inspection revealed countless largish windows; some of which
were closed with shutters of a petrified material originally wood,
though most gaped open in a sinister and menacing fashion. Many of the
ruins, of course, were roofless, and with uneven though wind-rounded
upper edges; whilst others, of a more sharply conical or pyramidal
model or else protected by higher surrounding structures, preserved
intact outlines despite the omnipresent crumbling and pitting. With the
field glass we could barely make out what seemed to be sculptural
decorations in horizontal bands--decorations including those curious
groups of dots whose presence on the ancient soapstones now assumed a
vastly larger significance.

In many places the buildings were totally ruined and the ice sheet
deeply riven from various geologic causes. In other places the
stonework was worn down to the very level of the glaciation. One broad
swath, extending from the plateau's interior, to a cleft in the
foothills about a mile to the left of the pass we had traversed, was
wholly free from buildings. It probably represented, we concluded, the
course of some great river which in Tertiary times--millions of years
ago--had poured through the city and into some prodigious subterranean
abyss of the great barrier range. Certainly, this was above all a
region of caves, gulfs, and underground secrets beyond human
penetration.

Looking back to our sensations, and recalling our dazedness at
viewing this monstrous survival from aeons we had thought prehuman, I
can only wonder that we preserved the semblance of equilibrium, which
we did. Of course, we knew that something--chronology, scientific
theory, or our own consciousness--was woefully awry; yet we kept
enough poise to guide the plane, observe many things quite minutely,
and take a careful series of photographs which may yet serve both us
and the world in good stead. In my case, ingrained scientific habit may
have helped; for above all my bewilderment and sense of menace, there
burned a dominant curiosity to fathom more of this age-old secret--to
know what sort of beings had built and lived in this incalculably
gigantic place, and what relation to the general world of its time or
of other times so unique a concentration of life could have had.

For this place could be no ordinary city. It must have formed the
primary nucleus and center of some archaic and unbelievable chapter of
earth's history whose outward ramifications, recalled only dimly in the
most obscure and distorted myths, had vanished utterly amidst the chaos
of terrene convulsions long before any human race we know had shambled
out of apedom. Here sprawled a Palaeogaean megalopolis compared with
which the fabled Atlantis and Lemuria, Commoriom and Uzuldaroum, and
Olathoc in the land of Lomar, are recent things of today--not even of
yesterday; a megalopolis ranking with such whispered prehuman
blasphemies as Valusia, R'lyeh, Ib in the land of Mnar, and the
Nameless city of Arabia Deserta. As we flew above that tangle of stark
titan towers my imagination sometimes escaped all bounds and roved
aimlessly in realms of fantastic associations--even weaving links
betwixt this lost world and some of my own wildest dreams concerning
the mad horror at the camp.

The plane's fuel tank, in the interest of greater lightness, had
been only partly filled; hence we now had to exert caution in our
explorations. Even so, however, we covered an enormous extent of ground
--or, rather, air--after swooping down to a level where the wind
became virtually negligible. There seemed to be no limit to the
mountain range, or to the length of the frightful stone city which
bordered its inner foothills. Fifty miles of flight in each direction
showed no major change in the labyrinth of rock and masonry that clawed
up corpselike through the eternal ice. There were, though, some highly
absorbing diversifications; such as the carvings on the canyon where
that broad river had once pierced the foothills and approached its
sinking place in the great range. The headlands at the stream's
entrance had been boldly carved into Cyclopean pylons; and something
about the ridgy, barrel-shaped designs stirred up oddly vague, hateful,
and confusing semi-remembrances in both Danforth and me.

We also came upon several star-shaped open spaces, evidently public
squares, and noted various undulations in the terrain. Where a sharp
hill rose, it was generally hollowed out into some sort of
rambling-stone edifice; but there were at least two exceptions. Of
these latter, one was too badly weathered to disclose what had been on
the jutting eminence, while the other still bore a fantastic conical
monument carved out of the solid rock and roughly resembling such
things as the well-known Snake Tomb in the ancient valley of Petra.

Flying inland from the mountains, we discovered that the city was
not of infinite width, even though its length along the foothills
seemed endless. After about thirty miles the grotesque stone buildings
began to thin out, and in ten more miles we came to an unbroken waste
virtually without signs of sentient artifice. The course of the river
beyond the city seemed marked by a broad, depressed line, while the
land assumed a somewhat greater ruggedness, seeming to slope slightly
upward as it receded in the mist-hazed west.

So far we had made no landing, yet to leave the plateau without an
attempt at entering some of the monstrous structures would have been
inconceivable. Accordingly, we decided to find a smooth place on the
foothills near our navigable pass, there grounding the plane and
preparing to do some exploration on foot. Though these gradual slopes
were partly covered with a scattering of ruins, low flying soon
disclosed an ampler number of possible landing places. Selecting that
nearest to the pass, since our flight would be across the great range
and back to camp, we succeeded about 12:30 P.M. in effecting a landing
on a smooth, hard snow field wholly devoid of obstacles and well
adapted to a swift and favorable take-off later on.

It did not seem necessary to protect the plane with a snow banking
for so brief a time and in so comfortable an absence of high winds at
this level; hence we merely saw that the landing skis were safely
lodged, and that the vital parts of the mechanism were guarded against
the cold. For our foot journey we discarded the heaviest of our flying
furs, and took with us a small outfit consisting of pocket compass,
hand camera, light provisions, voluminous notebooks and paper,
geologist's hammer and chisel, specimen bags, coil of climbing rope,
and powerful electric torches with extra batteries; this equipment
having been carried in the plane on the chance that we might be able to
effect a landing, take ground pictures, make drawings and topographical
sketches, and obtain rock specimens from some bare slope, outcropping,
or mountain cave. Fortunately we had a supply of extra paper to tear
up, place in a spare specimen bag, and use on the ancient principle of
hare and hounds for marking our course in any interior mazes we might
be able to penetrate. This had been brought in case we found some cave
system with air quiet enough to allow such a rapid and easy method in
place of the usual rock-chipping method of trail blazing.

Walking cautiously downhill over the crusted snow toward the
stupendous stone labyrinth that loomed against the opalescent west, we
felt almost as keen a sense of imminent marvels as we had felt on
approaching the unfathomed mountain pass four hours previously. True,
we had become visually familiar with the incredible secret concealed by
the barrier peaks; yet the prospect of actually entering primordial
walls reared by conscious beings perhaps millions of years ago--before
any known race of men could have existed--was none the less awesome
and potentially terrible in its implications of cosmic abnormality.
Though the thinness of the air at this prodigious altitude made
exertion somewhat more difficult than usual, both Danforth and I found
ourselves bearing up very well, and felt equal to almost any task which
might fall to our lot. It took only a few steps to bring us to a
shapeless ruin worn level with the snow, while ten or fifteen rods
farther on there was a huge, roofless rampart still complete in its
gigantic five-pointed outline and rising to an irregular height of ten
or eleven feet. For this latter we headed; and when at last we were
actually able to touch its weathered Cyclopean blocks, we felt that we
had established an unprecedented and almost blasphemous link with
forgotten aeons normally closed to our species.

This rampart, shaped like a star and perhaps three hundred feet from
point to point, was built of Jurassic sandstone blocks of irregular
size, averaging 6 x 8 feet in surface. There was a row of arched
loopholes or windows about four feet wide and five feet high, spaced
quite symmetrically along the points of the star and at its inner
angles, and with the bottoms about four feet from the glaciated
surface. Looking through these, we could see that the masonry was fully
five feet thick, that there were no partitions remaining within, and
that there were traces of banded carvings or bas-reliefs on the
interior walls--facts we had indeed guessed before, when flying low
over this rampart and others like it. Though lower parts must have
originally existed, all traces of such things were now wholly obscured
by the deep layer of ice and snow at this point.

We crawled through one of the windows and vainly tried to decipher
the nearly effaced mural designs, but did not attempt to disturb the
glaciated floor. Our orientation flights had indicated that many
buildings in the city proper were less ice-choked, and that we might
perhaps find wholly clear interiors leading down to the true ground
level if we entered those structures still roofed at the top. Before we
left the rampart we photographed it carefully, and studied its
mortar-less Cyclopean masonry with complete bewilderment. We wished
that Pabodie were present, for his engineering knowledge might have
helped us guess how such titanic blocks could have been handled in that
unbelievably remote age when the city and its outskirts were built up.

The half-mile walk downhill to the actual city, with the upper wind
shrieking vainly and savagely through the skyward peaks in the
background, was something of which the smallest details will always
remain engraved on my mind. Only in fantastic nightmares could any
human beings but Danforth and me conceive such optical effects. Between
us and the churning vapors of the west lay that monstrous tangle of
dark stone towers, its outre and incredible forms impressing us afresh
at every new angle of vision. It was a mirage in solid stone, and were
it not for the photographs, I would still doubt that such a thing could
be. The general type of masonry was identical with that of the rampart
we had examined; but the extravagant shapes which this masonry took in
its urban manifestations were past all description.


Even the pictures illustrate only one or two phases of its endless
variety, preternatural massiveness, and utterly alien exoticism. There
were geometrical forms for which an Euclid would scarcely find a name--
cones of all degrees of irregularity and truncation, terraces of every
sort of provocative disproportion, shafts with odd bulbous
enlargements, broken columns in curious groups, and five-pointed or
five-ridged arrangements of mad grotesqueness. As we drew nearer we
could see beneath certain transparent parts of the ice sheet, and
detect some of the tubular stone bridges that connected the crazily
sprinkled structures at various heights. Of orderly streets there
seemed to be none, the only broad open swath being a mile to the left,
where the ancient river had doubtless flowed through the town into the
mountains.

Our field glasses showed the external, horizontal bands of nearly
effaced sculptures and dot groups to be very prevalent, and we could
half imagine what the city must once have looked like--even though
most of the roofs and tower tops had necessarily perished. As a whole,
it had been a complex tangle of twisted lanes and alleys, all of them
deep canyons, and some little better than tunnels because of the
overhanging masonry or overarching bridges. Now, outspread below us, it
loomed like a dream fantasy against a westward mist through whose
northern end the low, reddish antarctic sun of early afternoon was
struggling to shine; and when, for a moment, that sun encountered a
denser obstruction and plunged the scene into temporary shadow, the
effect was subtly menacing in a way I can never hope to depict. Even
the faint howling and piping of the unfelt wind in the great mountain
passes behind us took on a wilder note of purposeful malignity. The
last stage of our descent to the town was unusually steep and abrupt,
and a rock outcropping at the edge where the grade changed led us to
think that an artificial terrace had once existed there. Under the
glaciation, we believed, there must be a flight of steps or its
equivalent.

When at last we plunged into the town itself, clambering over fallen
masonry and shrinking from the oppressive nearness and dwarfing height
of omnipresent crumbling and pitted walls, our sensations again became
such that I marvel at the amount of self-control we retained. Danforth
was frankly jumpy, and began making some offensively irrelevant
speculations about the horror at the camp--which I resented all the
more because I could not help sharing certain conclusions forced upon
us by many features of this morbid survival from nightmare antiquity.
The speculations worked on his imagination, too; for in one place--
where a debris-littered alley turned a sharp corner--he insisted that
he saw faint traces of ground markings which he did not like; whilst
elsewhere he stopped to listen to a subtle, imaginary sound from some
undefined point--a muffled musical piping, he said, not unlike that of
the wind in the mountain caves, yet somehow disturbingly different. The
ceaseless five-pointedness of the surrounding architecture and of the
few distinguishable mural arabesques had a dimly sinister
suggestiveness we could not escape, and gave us a touch of terrible
subconscious certainty concerning the primal entities which had reared
and dwelt in this unhallowed place.

Nevertheless, our scientific and adventurous souls were not wholly
dead, and we mechanically carried out our program of chipping specimens
from all the different rock types represented in the masonry. We wished
a rather full set in order to draw better conclusions regarding the age
of the place. Nothing in the great outer walls seemed to date from
later than the Jurassic and Comanchian periods, nor was any piece of
stone in the entire place of a greater recency than the Pliocene Age.
In stark certainty, we were wandering amidst a death which had reigned
at least five hundred thousand years, and in all probability even
longer.

As we proceeded through this maze of stone-shadowed twilight we
stopped at all available apertures to study interiors and investigate
entrance possibilities. Some were above our reach, whilst others led
only into ice-choked ruins as unroofed and barren as the rampart on the
hill. One, though spacious and inviting, opened on a seemingly
bottomless abyss without visible means of descent. Now and then we had
a chance to study the petrified wood of a surviving shutter, and were
impressed by the fabulous antiquity implied in the still discernible
grain. These things had come from Mesozoic gymnosperms and conifers--
especially Cretaceous cycads--and from fan palms and early angiosperms
of plainly Tertiary date. Nothing definitely later than the Pliocene
could be discovered. In the placing of these shutters--whose edges
showed the former presence of queer and long-vanished hinges--usage
seemed to be varied--some being on the outer and some on the inner
side of the deep embrasures. They seemed to have become wedged in
place, thus surviving the rusting of their former and probably metallic
fixtures and fastenings.

After a time we came across a row of windows--in the bulges of a
colossal five-edged cone of undamaged apex--which led into a vast,
well-preserved room with stone flooring; but these were too high in the
room to permit descent without a rope. We had a rope with us, but did
not wish to bother with this twenty-foot drop unless obliged
to--especially in this thin plateau air where great demands were made
upon the heart action. This enormous room was probably a hall or
concourse of some sort, and our electric torches showed bold, distinct,
and potentially startling sculptures arranged round the walls in broad,
horizontal bands separated by equally broad strips of conventional
arabesques. We took careful note of this spot, planning to enter here
unless a more easily gained interior were encountered.

Finally, though, we did encounter exactly the opening we wished; an
archway about six feet wide and ten feet high, marking the former end
of an aerial bridge which had spanned an alley about five feet above
the present level of glaciation. These archways, of course, were flush
with upper-story floors, and in this case one of the floors still
existed. The building thus accessible was a series of rectangular
terraces on our left facing westward. That across the alley, where the
other archway yawned, was a decrepit cylinder with no windows and with
a curious bulge about ten feet above the aperture. It was totally dark
inside, and the archway seemed to open on a well of illimitable
emptiness.

Heaped debris made the entrance to the vast left-hand building
doubly easy, yet for a moment we hesitated before taking advantage of
the long-wished chance. For though we had penetrated into this tangle
of archaic mystery, it required fresh resolution to carry us actually
inside a complete and surviving building of a fabulous elder world
whose nature was becoming more and more hideously plain to us. In the
end, however, we made the plunge, and scrambled up over the rubble into
the gaping embrasure. The floor beyond was of great slate slabs, and
seemed to form the outlet of a long, high corridor with sculptured
walls.

Observing the many inner archways which led off from it, and
realizing the probable complexity of the nest of apartments within, we
decided that we must begin our system of hare-and-hound trail blazing.
Hitherto our compasses, together with frequent glimpses of the vast
mountain range between the towers in our rear, had been enough to
prevent our losing our way; but from now on, the artificial substitute
would be necessary. Accordingly we reduced our extra paper to shreds of
suitable size, placed these in a bag to be carried by Danforth, and
prepared to use them as economically as safety would allow. This method
would probably gain us immunity from straying, since there did not
appear to be any strong air currents inside the primordial masonry. If
such should develop, or if our paper supply should give out, we could
of course fall back on the more secure though more tedious and
retarding method of rock chipping.

Just how extensive a territory we had opened up, it was impossible
to guess without a trial. The close and frequent connection of the
different buildings made it likely that we might cross from one to
another on bridges underneath the ice, except where impeded by local
collapses and geologic rifts, for very little glaciation seemed to have
entered the massive constructions. Almost all the areas of transparent
ice had revealed the submerged windows as tightly shuttered, as if the
town had been left in that uniform state until the glacial sheet came
to crystallize the lower part for all succeeding time. Indeed, one
gained a curious impression that this place had been deliberately
closed and deserted in some dim, bygone aeon, rather than overwhelmed
by any sudden calamity or even gradual decay. Had the coming of the ice
been foreseen, and had a nameless population left en masse to seek a
less doomed abode? The precise physiographic conditions attending the
formation of the ice sheet at this point would have to wait for later
solution. It had not, very plainly, been a grinding drive. Perhaps the
pressure of accumulated snows had been responsible, and perhaps some
flood from the river, or from the bursting of some ancient glacial dam
in the great range, had helped to create the special state now
observable. Imagination could conceive almost anything in connection
with this place.


VI

It would be cumbrous to give a detailed, consecutive account of our
wanderings inside that cavernous, aeon-dead honeycomb of primal masonry
--that monstrous lair of elder secrets which now echoed for the first
time, after uncounted epochs, to the tread of human feet. This is
especially true because so much of the horrible drama and revelation
came from a mere study of the omnipresent mural carvings. Our
flashlight photographs of those carvings will do much toward proving
the truth of what we are now disclosing, and it is lamentable that we
had not a larger film supply with us. As it was, we made crude notebook
sketches of certain salient features after all our films were used up.

The building which we had entered was one of great size and
elaborateness, and gave us an impressive notion of the architecture of
that nameless geologic past. The inner partitions were less massive
than the outer walls, but on the lower levels were excellently
preserved. Labyrinthine complexity, involving curiously irregular
difference in floor levels, characterized the entire arrangement; and
we should certainly have been lost at the very outset but for the trail
of torn paper left behind us. We decided to explore the more decrepit
upper parts first of all, hence climbed aloft in the maze for a
distance of some one hundred feet, to where the topmost tier of
chambers yawned snowily and ruinously open to the polar sky. Ascent was
effected over the steep, transversely ribbed stone ramps or inclined
planes which everywhere served in lieu of stairs. The rooms we
encountered were of all imaginable shapes and proportions, ranging from
five-pointed stars to triangles and perfect cubes. It might be safe to
say that their general average was about 30 x 30 feet in floor area,
and 20 feet in height, though many larger apartments existed. After
thoroughly examining the upper regions and the glacial level, we
descended, story by story, into the submerged part, where indeed we
soon saw we were in a continuous maze of connected chambers and
passages probably leading over unlimited areas outside this particular
building. The Cyclopean massiveness and gigantism of everything about
us became curiously oppressive; and there was something vaguely but
deeply unhuman in all the contours, dimensions, proportions,
decorations, and constructional nuances of the blasphemously archaic
stonework. We soon realized, from what the carvings revealed, that this
monstrous city was many million years old.

We cannot yet explain the engineering principles used in the
anomalous balancing and adjustment of the vast rock masses, though the
function of the arch was clearly much relied on. The rooms we visited
were wholly bare of all portable contents, a circumstance which
sustained our belief in the city's deliberate desertion. The prime
decorative feature was the almost universal system of mural sculpture,
which tended to run in continuous horizontal bands three feet wide and
arranged from floor to ceiling in alternation with bands of equal width
given over to geometrical arabesques. There were exceptions to this
rule of arrangement, but its preponderance was overwhelming. Often,
however, a series of smooth cartouches containing oddly patterned
groups of dots would be sunk along one of the arabesque bands.

The technique, we soon saw, was mature, accomplished, and
aesthetically evolved to the highest degree of civilized mastery,
though utterly alien in every detail to any known art tradition of the
human race. In delicacy of execution no sculpture I have ever seen
could approach it. The minutest details of elaborate vegetation, or of
animal life, were rendered with astonishing vividness despite the bold
scale of the carvings; whilst the conventional designs were marvels of
skillful intricacy. The arabesques displayed a profound use of
mathematical principles, and were made up of obscurely symmetrical
curves and angles based on the quantity of five. The pictorial bands
followed a highly formalized tradition, and involved a peculiar
treatment of perspective, but had an artistic force that moved us
profoundly, notwithstanding the intervening gulf of vast geologic
periods. Their method of design hinged on a singular juxtaposition of
the cross section with the two-dimensional silhouette, and embodied an
analytical psychology beyond that of any known race of antiquity. It is
useless to try to compare this art with any represented in our museums.
Those who see our photographs will probably find its closest analogue
in certain grotesque conceptions of the most daring futurists.

The arabesque tracery consisted altogether of depressed lines, whose
depth on unweathered walls varied from one to two inches. When
cartouches with dot groups appeared--evidently as inscriptions in some
unknown and primordial language and alphabet--the depression of the
smooth surface was perhaps an inch and a half, and of the dots perhaps
a half inch more. The pictorial bands were in countersunk low relief,
their background being depressed about two inches from the original
wall surface. In some specimens marks of a former coloration could be
detected, though for the most part the untold aeons had disintegrated
and banished any pigments which may have been applied. The more one
studied the marvelous technique, the more one admired the things.
Beneath their strict conventionalization one could grasp the minute and
accurate observation and graphic skill of the artists; and indeed, the
very conventions themselves served to symbolize and accentuate the real
essence or vital differentiation of every object delineated. We felt,
too, that besides these recognizable excellences there were others
lurking beyond the reach of our perceptions. Certain touches here and
there gave vague hints of latent symbols and stimuli which another
mental and emotional background, and a fuller or different sensory
equipment, might have made of profound and poignant significance to us.

The subject matter of the sculptures obviously came from the life of
the vanished epoch of their creation, and contained a large proportion
of evident history. It is this abnormal historic-mindedness of the
primal race--a chance circumstance operating, through coincidence,
miraculously in our favor--which made the carvings so awesomely
informative to us, and which caused us to place their photography and
transcription above all other considerations. In certain rooms the
dominant arrangement was varied by the presence of maps, astronomical
charts, and other scientific designs of an enlarged scale--these
things giving a naive and terrible corroboration to what we gathered
from the pictorial friezes and dadoes. In hinting at what the whole
revealed, I can only hope that my account will not arouse a curiosity
greater than sane caution on the part of those who believe me at all.
It would be tragic if any were to be allured to that realm of death and
horror by the very warning meant to discourage them.

Interrupting these sculptured walls were high windows and massive
twelve-foot doorways; both now and then retaining the petrified wooden
planks--elaborately carved and polished--of the actual shutters and
doors. All metal fixtures had long ago vanished, but some of the doors
remained in place and had to be forced aside as we progressed from room
to room. Window frames with odd transparent panes--mostly elliptical--
survived here and there, though in no considerable quantity. There were
also frequent niches of great magnitude, generally empty, but once in a
while containing some bizarre object carved from green soapstone which
was either broken or perhaps held too inferior to warrant removal.
Other apertures were undoubtedly connected with bygone mechanical
facilities--heating, lighting, and the like--of a sort suggested in
many of the carvings. Ceilings tended to be plain, but had sometimes
been inlaid with green soapstone or other tiles, mostly fallen now.
Floors were also paved with such tiles, though plain stonework
predominated.

As I have said, all furniture and other movables were absent; but
the sculptures gave a clear idea of the strange devices which had once
filled these tomblike, echoing rooms. Above the glacial sheet the
floors were generally thick with detritus, litter, and debris, but
farther down this condition decreased. In some of the lower chambers
and corridors there was little more than gritty dust or ancient
incrustations, while occasional areas had an uncanny air of newly swept
immaculateness. Of course, where rifts or collapses had occurred, the
lower levels were as littered as the upper ones. A central court--as
in other structures we had seen from the air--saved the inner regions
from total darkness; so that we seldom had to use our electric torches
in the upper rooms except when studying sculptured details. Below the
ice cap, however, the twilight deepened; and in many parts of the
tangled ground level there was an approach to absolute blackness.

To form even a rudimentary idea of our thoughts and feelings as we
penetrated this aeon-silent maze of unhuman masonry, one must correlate
a hopelessly bewildering chaos of fugitive moods, memories, and
impressions. The sheer appalling antiquity and lethal desolation of the
place were enough to overwhelm almost any sensitive person, but added
to these elements were the recent unexplained horror at the camp, and
the revelations all too soon effected by the terrible mural sculptures
around us. The moment we came upon a perfect section of carving, where
no ambiguity of interpretation could exist, it took only a brief study
to give us the hideous truth--a truth which it would be naive to claim
Danforth and I had not independently suspected before, though we had
carefully refrained from even hinting it to each other. There could now
be no further merciful doubt about the nature of the beings which had
built and inhabited this monstrous dead city millions of years ago,
when man's ancestors were primitive archaic mammals, and vast dinosaurs
roamed the tropical steppes of Europe and Asia.

We had previously clung to a desperate alternative and insisted--
each to himself--that the omnipresence of the five-pointed motifs
meant only some cultural or religious exaltation of the Archaean
natural object which had so patently embodied the quality of
five-pointedness; as the decorative motifs of Minoan Crete exalted the
sacred bull, those of Egypt the scarabaeus, those of Rome the wolf and
the eagle, and those of various savage tribes some chosen totem animal.
But this lone refuge was now stripped from us, and we were forced to
face definitely the reason-shaking realization which the reader of
these pages has doubtless long ago anticipated. I can scarcely bear to
write it down in black and white even now, but perhaps that will not be
necessary.

The things once rearing and dwelling in this frightful masonry in
the age of dinosaurs were not indeed dinosaurs, but far worse. Mere
dinosaurs were new and almost brainless objects--but the builders of
the city were wise and old, and had left certain traces in rocks even
then laid down well nigh a thousand million years--rocks laid down
before the true life of earth had advanced beyond plastic groups of
cells--rocks laid down before the true life of earth had existed at
all. They were the makers and enslavers of that life, and above all
doubt the originals of the fiendish elder myths which things like the
Pnakotic Manuscripts and the Necronomicon affrightedly hint about. They
were the great "Old Ones" that had filtered down from the stars when
earth was young--the beings whose substance an alien evolution had
shaped, and whose powers were such as this planet had never bred. And
to think that only the day before, Danforth and I had actually looked
upon fragments of their millennially fossilized substance, and that
poor Lake and his party had seen their complete outlines. It is of
course impossible for me to relate in proper order the stages by which
we picked up what we know of that monstrous chapter of prehuman life.
After the first shock of the certain revelation, we had to pause a
while to recuperate, and it was fully three o'clock before we got
started on our actual tour of systematic research. The sculptures in
the building we entered were of relatively late date--perhaps two
million years ago--as checked up by geological, biological, and
astronomical features--and embodied an art which would be called
decadent in comparison with that of specimens we found in older
buildings after crossing bridges under the glacial sheet. One edifice
hewn from the solid rock seemed to go back forty or possibly even fifty
million years--to the lower Eocene or upper Cretaceous--and contained
bas-reliefs of an artistry surpassing anything else, with one
tremendous exception, that we encountered. That was, we have since
agreed, the oldest domestic structure we traversed.

Were it not for the support of those flashlights soon to be made
public, I would refrain from telling what I found and inferred, lest I
be confined as a madman. Of course, the infinitely early parts of the
patchwork tale--representing the preterrestrial life of the
star-headed beings on other planets, in other galaxies, and in other
universes--can readily be interpreted as the fantastic mythology of
those beings themselves; yet such parts sometimes involved designs and
diagrams so uncannily close to the latest findings of mathematics and
astrophysics that I scarcely know what to think. Let others judge when
they see the photographs I shall publish.

Naturally, no one set of carvings which we encountered told more
than a fraction of any connected story, nor did we even begin to come
upon the various stages of that story in their proper order. Some of
the vast rooms were independent units so far as their designs were
concerned, whilst in other cases a continuous chronicle would be
carried through a series of rooms and corridors. The best of the maps
and diagrams were on the walls of a frightful abyss below even the
ancient ground level--a cavern perhaps two hundred feet square and
sixty feet high, which had almost undoubtedly been an educational
center of some sort. There were many provoking repetitions of the same
material in different rooms and buildings, since certain chapters of
experience, and certain summaries or phases of racial history, had
evidently been favorites with different decorators or dwellers.
Sometimes, though, variant versions of the same theme proved useful in
settling debatable points and filling up gaps.

I still wonder that we deduced so much in the short time at our
disposal. Of course, we even now have only the barest outline--and
much of that was obtained later on from a study of the photographs and
sketches we made. It may be the effect of this later study--the
revived memories and vague impressions acting in conjunction with his
general sensitiveness and with that final supposed horror-glimpse whose
essence he will not reveal even to me--which has been the immediate
source of Danforth's present breakdown. But it had to be; for we could
not issue our warning intelligently without the fullest possible
information, and the issuance of that warning is a prime necessity.
Certain lingering influences in that unknown antarctic world of
disordered time and alien natural law make it imperative that further
exploration be discouraged.


VII

The full story, so far as deciphered, will eventually appear in an
official bulletin of Miskatonic University. Here I shall sketch only
the salient highlights in a formless, rambling way. Myth or otherwise,
the sculptures told of the coming of those star-headed things to the
nascent, lifeless earth out of cosmic space--their coming, and the
coming of many other alien entities such as at certain times embark
upon spatial pioneering. They seemed able to traverse the interstellar
ether on their vast membranous wings--thus oddly confirming some
curious hill folklore long ago told me by an antiquarian colleague.
They had lived under the sea a good deal, building fantastic cities and
fighting terrific battles with nameless adversaries by means of
intricate devices employing unknown principles of energy. Evidently
their scientific and mechanical knowledge far surpassed man's today,
though they made use of its more widespread and elaborate forms only
when obliged to. Some of the sculptures suggested that they had passed
through a stage of mechanized life on other planets, but had receded
upon finding its effects emotionally unsatisfying. Their preternatural
toughness of organization and simplicity of natural wants made them
peculiarly able to live on a high plane without the more specialized
fruits of artificial manufacture, and even without garments, except for
occasional protection against the elements.

It was under the sea, at first for food and later for other
purposes, that they first created earth life--using available
substances according to long-known methods. The more elaborate
experiments came after the annihilation of various cosmic enemies. They
had done the same thing on other planets, having manufactured not only
necessary foods, but certain multicellular protoplasmic masses capable
of molding their tissues into all sorts of temporary organs under
hypnotic influence and thereby forming ideal slaves to perform the
heavy work of the community. These viscous masses were without doubt
what Abdul Alhazred whispered about as the "Shoggoths" in his frightful
Necronomicon, though even that mad Arab had not hinted that any existed
on earth except in the dreams of those who had chewed a certain
alkaloidal herb. When the star-headed Old Ones on this planet had
synthesized their simple food forms and bred a good supply of
Shoggoths, they allowed other cell groups to develop into other forms
of animal and vegetable life for sundry purposes, extirpating any whose
presence became troublesome.

With the aid of the Shoggoths, whose expansions could be made to
lift prodigious weights, the small, low cities under the sea grew to
vast and imposing labyrinths of stone not unlike those which later rose
on land. Indeed, the highly adaptable Old Ones had lived much on land
in other parts of the universe, and probably retained many traditions
of land construction. As we studied the architecture of all these
sculptured palaeogean cities, including that whose aeon-dead corridors
we were even then traversing, we were impressed by a curious
coincidence which we have not yet tried to explain, even to ourselves.
The tops of the buildings, which in the actual city around us had, of
course, been weathered into shapeless ruins ages ago, were clearly
displayed in the bas-reliefs, and showed vast clusters of needle-like
spires, delicate finials on certain cone and pyramid apexes, and tiers
of thin, horizontal scalloped disks capping cylindrical shafts. This
was exactly what we had seen in that monstrous and portentous mirage,
cast by a dead city whence such skyline features had been absent for
thousands and tens of thousands of years, which loomed on our ignorant
eyes across the unfathomed mountains of madness as we first approached
poor Lake's ill-fated camp.

Of the life of the Old Ones, both under the sea and after part of
them migrated to land, volumes could be written. Those in shallow water
had continued the fullest use of the eyes at the ends of their five
main head tentacles, and had practiced the arts of sculpture and of
writing in quite the usual way--the writing accomplished with a stylus
on waterproof waxen surfaces. Those lower down in the ocean depths,
though they used a curious phosphorescent organism to furnish light,
pieced out their vision with obscure special senses operating through
the prismatic cilia on their heads--senses which rendered all the Old
Ones partly independent of light in emergencies. Their forms of
sculpture and writing had changed curiously during the descent,
embodying certain apparently chemical coating processes--probably to
secure phosphorescence--which the bas-reliefs could not make clear to
us. The beings moved in the sea partly by swimming--using the lateral
crinoid arms--and partly by wriggling with the lower tier of tentacles
containing the pseudofeet. Occasionally they accomplished long swoops
with the auxiliary use of two or more sets of their fanlike folding
wings. On land they locally used the pseudofeet, but now and then flew
to great heights or over long distances with their wings. The many
slender tentacles into which the crinoid arms branched were infinitely
delicate, flexible, strong, and accurate in muscular-nervous
coordination--ensuring the utmost skill and dexterity in all artistic
and other manual operations.

The toughness of the things was almost incredible. Even the terrific
pressure of the deepest sea bottoms appeared powerless to harm them.
Very few seemed to die at all except by violence, and their burial
places were very limited. The fact that they covered their vertically
inhumed dead with five-pointed inscribed mounds set up thoughts in
Danforth and me which made a fresh pause and recuperation necessary
after the sculptures revealed it. The beings multiplied by means of
spores--like vegetable pteridophytes, as Lake had suspected--but,
owing to their prodigious toughness and longevity, and consequent lack
of replacement needs, they did not encourage the large-scale
development of new prothallia except when they had new regions to
colonize. The young matured swiftly, and received an education
evidently beyond any standard we can imagine. The prevailing
intellectual and aesthetic life was highly evolved, and produced a
tenaciously enduring set of customs and institutions which I shall
describe more fully in my coming monograph. These varied slightly
according to sea or land residence, but had the same foundations and
essentials.

Though able, like vegetables, to derive nourishment from inorganic
substances, they vastly preferred organic and especially animal food.
They ate uncooked marine life under the sea, but cooked their viands on
land. They hunted game and raised meat herds--slaughtering with sharp
weapons whose odd marks on certain fossil bones our expedition had
noted. They resisted all ordinary temperatures marvelously, and in
their natural state could live in water down to freezing. When the
great chill of the Pleistocene drew on, however--nearly a million
years ago--the land dwellers had to resort to special measures,
including artificial heating--until at last the deadly cold appears to
have driven them back into the sea. For their prehistoric flights
through cosmic space, legend said, they absorbed certain chemicals and
became almost independent of eating, breathing, or heat conditions--
but by the time of the great cold they had lost track of the method. In
any case they c