‘Cthulhu Rose’ by Guest Author David Rhodes

Guest Author David Rhodes

Part One

 

I write this chronicle with simple pencil and paper from my room in the state hospital known as Stormy Haven. I am on the third floor, and I have not been allowed to leave my room in thirty-three days. I am considered dangerous.

And yet, they brought in a small table and chair at my request, this after thirty days of being docile, showing no sign of danger to anyone. I was grateful for the gesture, though the doctor was against it from the beginning. I don’t think I would ever have had anything but my simple bed, had it not been for another doctor from the first floor who came and interviewed me. Their names are of no consequence to what I am about to tell you, and it is probably for the best, lest the evil invade their lives as well.

I can only tell you the truth, and let you decide. For this truth, I have been judged insane. Perhaps now I am, for it was said years ago that this truth could take a man’s mind. I thought it fiction, as everyone else who read Lovecraft’s work.

But I tell you now, I warn you, beware…

 

I stumbled in for a coffee; not bothering with the light, for the morning was supplying enough light although the sun had not yet risen. I was grateful, for I had slept late, and father had filled the pot with fresh coffee. As I filled my cup, I felt a presence behind me, yet multiple presences, horrid things. As I turned, I saw nothing, and thought maybe madness had overcome me.

I knew it was there and yet, could not see it. It was taunting me, haunting me, and I walked back to my room, trying not to spill coffee along the way, as my hands shook at the thought of it following me.

As I entered my room, I felt it stronger than ever; I knew what it was, for I had been studying it intensely, knew everything about it. But I did not expect it to expose itself to me. I turned quickly, splashing coffee over the rim of the cup, and for a fleeting moment, I saw it. I dropped the cup onto the floor and stared, frozen in my tracks.

The vision was quick; barely enough to see the thing, to know what is was, before it vanished. I cannot describe it fir it is beyond description. And yet, the face, that horrid face I shall never forget. Large it was, tentacles reaching out around a round maw lined with jagged teeth. I saw this for just that instant, for it was so close I cannot describe its body.

One of the tentacles seemed to touch me, as if an electric shock, and then it was gone. Again, I was frozen on the spot, unable to move for a long time. When I was able to move, I quickly sat down in my chair, and one thought came to me: Cthulhu.

 

Part Two

 

I sat for a long time, almost as if in sleep, and finally I shook myself to wakefulness, and glanced down on the floor at the pile of notes I had gathered of Lovecraft. They were filled with the Mythos he had created of things the mind would surely go insane if seen. I thought about destroying them, perhaps crumpling them up and tossing them out, or even burning them. Yet, I could not.

Lovecraft claimed that if man were to realize all the knowledge yet unknown, he would go insane. The mind was only meant to know certain things, and no matter how hard we try, we still only use part of the mind.

  Had I experienced something my mind was not supposed to see?

I picked up the notes and stared at the words, at the notions Lovecraft had created from some part of his mind. Had he experienced the same as I? Or perhaps more; where did this idea of The Old Ones come from?

I set down my notes and sat thinking about the possibility of what he wrote: was there actually the existence of other beings here?

I grew tired, and lay down. I dreamt…

 There was a mountainous landscape void of any life, and as I stumbled over rocks I saw a cave in one of the hills. As I approached, I saw the same thing I had seen for that instant before and yet, this time it did not vanish.

Its facial tentacles swayed, and I saw a large, slimy body with two arms and very large legs crouched as if in support of its weight. I was frightened, and yet, I had seen this before – it was when the others appeared behind it that I truly became frightened, for these were not things for the human eye to see.

I called out from sleep, drenched in sweat. Father came into the room, and asked if I was alright. I told him it was one of my nightmares, of which have haunted me most of my life.

After a short while, I slept dreamlessly…

Here lay the beast that lives between dimensions, awaiting rebirth, waiting for the one; the bearer of the sacred Neronimcon shall call forth the old ones. Cthulthu closing in, followed by the legion of The Unspeakable – one such glance upon merely one of the foul creations immediately cripples one with insanity.

I fought the urge to look, to finally gaze upon one of the indescribable.

 

Part Three

 I do not know how much time had passed – I awoke into darkness and cold; a cool breeze forced its way through the crack in my window, and I arose to shut the window and latch it. Lost in sleep and the haze of fading dreams, I donned my coat and hat. I craved a cigarette, and could wait no longer, and weaved my way through the darkness of my apartment, hearing only silence. My father must have been asleep. The darkness engulfed me. I was confused, for the last I recalled was daylight.

I precariously made my way down the steps to the entrance of the building, pushed open the door, and stepped outside into the early morning air (presuming it was early morning – it seemed a strange time that mirrored night or early morning). A crow atop a nearby building announced my presence and took flight, its large wings like that of sheets flapping in a strong wind.

I lit my cigarette and stood gazing at the small garages on the other side of the parking lot. The lot was small; the only cars were parked in line in front of the building. Toward the back, the garages, some used only for storage, stood steadfast against the wind. It was just a mere straight line of a building, a few of the doors hanging crookedly. I considered the building as I smoked, and that is when I saw the object.

On the upper left-hand corner of one of the doors, I saw a dark mass in the shadow. As I studied it, I noticed that it had extensions. Twenty or more, marking the edges of the mass. And then they moved, quivering, growing until they were much longer than I had first seen, and it was easily a foot and a half across. The dark mass suddenly took on the semblance of a spider. I held my cigarette to my mouth for another drag, watching the object twitching around in the shadows.

I dropped my cigarette, transfixed by the object. It seemed to move to a crack in the wood and disappear, only to reappear again, and in enforced motion. It moved into full view, yet still only a shadowy mass encompassing no body I could see, only the quivering legs that sent shivers down my spine.

Try as I may, I could not make out the exact shape of the thing in the dark, and it seemed to stay in a long shadow alongside one of the garage doors. It flitted upward to the roof, and out of sight, the bizarre network of legs moving swiftly.

I moved slowly farther out into the parking lot, closer to the small building. In the darkness, I saw it moved down again, and my heart jumped – the thing found the crack in the wood and all but vanished into it. By this time, I was more than shocked at what I was seeing. This was no spider, for I knew of no spider that spanned nearly two feet across, with a body that was indiscernible, almost as if there was no body. Simply a mass of legs, jointed in their middles. It sickened me, and I ran inside my apartment for shelter from this thing that was crawling around on the garage building.

I paused for a moment near my desk. There, I kept a small flashlight. I grabbed it and went outside one more time. I switched it on and aimed it toward the spot where I had seen the creature. The light, however, was too dim. I moved closer. I thought of all those legs wrapped around my head and face, something biting into my face; I could not bring myself closer, even though I was still quite far from the spot.

I saw it again, drawing close to the crack in the wood and apparently going inside, and then out again, the legs twitching around as if excited. I fled for the safety of the indoors and stayed for an intermediate amount of time before returning outside. I then saw nothing. The thing was gone.

Or so I thought so; for I saw a flurry of legs scuttling across the parking lot toward me. I dashed inside, letting the thick security door shut behind me as I returned to my apartment, and into my room. My computer stood waiting for me, the words in the exact place I had left them.

I had been writing about Cthulhu for hours that day, and since yesterday, and I thought maybe the content was affecting my thoughts. My brief studies had brought nothing but curiosity, and now that I was actually writing a fictional account, something real seemed to be entering my thoughts.

I began to write, staring at the words, and then I was no longer there. Yet, I was there; I was aware of myself sitting upright in front of the screen, my hands poised above the keys as if ready to type. My mind wondered…

I saw a man’s head, the skin torn away, leaving only bone and sinew and muscle contorted as if he were screaming. I was terrified at the sight. The man’s mouth opened wider than any human I had ever seen, and his eyes looked down in terror as small versions of the spider-like entity crawled from his open mouth and onto his face. His countenance was pure fright as more of the multi-legged animals emerged from his mouth. I found myself wanting to scream.

I shook off the vision, and found myself sitting in the same position, hands above the keyboard. What I had seen had shaken me internally, but was not part of what I was writing – and yet, it did seem connected. I read the words already on the screen, and started writing again, determined to finish.

Again, I was drawn away to the hideous face of a woman, her skin and hair stripped from her head. My heart seemed to pound at this new atrocity, and I watched in horror as her mouth opened so wide I thought it would split her head in half. Her eyes rolled in sheer shock as the things crawled from her open mouth and onto the bloody remains of her face. Though I still could not make out a body, I realized that these multi-legged creatures were feeding on her face. She was trying to scream and could not.

I shook my head of these visions, for I felt close to losing my sanity, so abhorrent were these sights, and I had to stand and leave my station at the computer. The visions had been too real, and I had come very close to screaming, had I not escaped when I did.

I lay on the bed, for it had grown late – in fact, several hours had passed of which I was not aware. I fell into a quiet sleep, and awoke later to find it quite cold in my room, and so I rose to turn up the heat. The living room windows revealed morning had arrived; I was too tired and confused to think about time.

I decided to make a trip to the front stoop for the warmth of a cigarette. The visions of the thing from earlier the same morning (I was beginning to get a grasp of time by then) were still fresh in my mind, though the fear had lessened. I absently put on a coat and went outside to find that in only a few hours’ time, frost had layered everything, including the large expanse of lawn next to my building.

It was then that I saw the footprints.

 

Part Four

 

I walked over to the row of garages and saw nothing amiss, until I looked onto that large expanse of lawn. It was the size of a football field. It was then that I saw the footprints in the frost, spread widely apart, making their way off across the grass before vanishing.

I bent down and studied the closest print. It not that of a human, to be sure, as it was much too large. There were toe prints, and I was shocked to count nine all together. I went to the next print and all was the same; something very large had walked across the grass, and then disappeared. How could it be? It was simply impossible.

I started following the prints, step by step, but they were much too far apart to keep in step, and so as I neared the next print I stood in the middle of it before moving onward. The warm spring sun had risen, and already the frost was melting – it was just no match for the sun’s rays.

I walked forward to the next print, and noticed it was becoming misshapen; the outline spreading out as more grass appeared, pushing away the morning frost. I wanted to reach the point where steps ended so I hurried along, stopping only briefly on each print before moving on to the next one. I wondered if anyone at that point, a neighbor or passerby, or perhaps the old man who walked his tall lanky greyhound every morning. Pushing away any self-conscious feelings I may have had, I moved forward even quicker.

I finally reached the last footprint, which had already succumbed to the brightening sun, and was now mostly a round spot on the grass with no impressions of toes. I stood in the middle of the footprint, wondering just how something – something huge – had walked this far only to vanish.

I have to admit, the morning sun did feel good, and I was glad for the arrival of spring. I lit a cigarette and stood in that last footprint as it nearly disappeared; and then I decided that maybe I should just follow the path it had been taking, what this huge thing was – it had to have been much larger than what I had dreamt about (if it had been a dream at all), and it had been alone for I had seen no other prints in the frost.

Nonetheless, I thought I was dealing with more than one creature. I had seen more in my dream, and had seen the spider-like apparitions’ right outside, those jointed legs quivering, forcing the thing around In a hurried fashion. Very frightening, this spectacle was, and I was quite sure I was not asleep.

I took one more step, out of the last footprint of the thing with which I seemed to be obsessed. Why? It had shown me horrors of which I had no desire to witness, and yet I did, and now I felt yearning for more. As I took that last step, I was not longer in the melting frost of the grass, but it a cavern of darkness.

It was large, its sides lined with the remains of the dead; their skeletal mouths opened in terror as if still reliving what had put them there. But as I looked, there were other things of which I had no knowledge – creatures also trapped to the sides, odd things they were, and I stood a while to study them.

I looked back through the cavern, and saw the great opening of light. I felt relief in that I could go back when I wanted, and yet I had found a passage to the home of the Great Old Ones. I walked on slowly, almost marveling, yet horrified at the dead lined along the walls. Was I to be next?

It was then that I heard the call of Cthulhu. A deep screeching echoing through the cavern. In fear, I again looked back to see the spot of light that led to my world. The sound grew louder, and I knew I was about to come face to face with The Great Old One. Should I stay? My mind said yes, as it had already been assaulted by Cthulhu. My body said no, run for your life. The mind, being more powerful, took control – pushing me onward.

 

Part Five

 

I saw it before me – an atrocity of which I thought no human had ever laid eyes on before me or any living being; I could not move as is placed its tentacles around my head, and spoke to me solemnly, in my language.

“You write of me, and yet you don’t me.”

“I know of you.” I said slowly.

“How did you gain such knowledge?”

“The writings of one person and the Necronomicon.”

The thing said to me, “You have gone insane.”

I crumpled to the ground, and a large black crow flew overhead and perched on the wall, spitting out caw!

“I have not gone insane! Is that what you desire?”

“I shall show you insane, writer of the same.”

The crow landed on my shoulder, and then the images came, things no person should ever see, and yet I saw, and my mind almost burst insanely, but I let the images fly by, terrifying my mind and I struggled not to scream.

I tried to raise my hands to my head, but instead felt the cold, moist tentacles attached to my head.

Blackness.

I arose, and saw before me Cthulhu. It had released the tentacles, and yet the circular maw lined with jagged teeth was close enough to bite off my face.

“Insanity” it said.

“No”

“Leave now.” The crow took flight, crying out through the tunnel of death.

“I am not insane!” I cried.

“You will be,” the creature said, as I made my way toward the light.

“You will be!”

As I left the cavern and entered the light of my own world, I considered its words. Would it be true?

 

 

Part 6

 

I sat still in my quiet room…insanity. What was insanity? Was I visiting something I should not have to begin with? I sat and thought about the tentacles, the words, the visions, and I still claimed sanity. It said I would not have it…yet.

The thing had a hold on me. Cthulhu. I have seen the other side, and yet, it has not driven me mad. I write of things that could frighten you, make you mad – is this my defense? I cannot show you what I was shown; because it would warp your senses, perhaps make you mad. I cannot do that to friends, or readers. And yet, if I was not mad, then it could not have been real.

I have seen the things in dreams that would drive a person, well mad. It has not done this to me, because I accepted these things long ago. My mind is stronger than it thinks, in that respect. Or is it? I thought about how weak I have been in the past, and yet, these were emotional weaknesses. Perhaps my mind was safeguarded in some way because of the frequent nightmares I have experienced most of my life.

I continued my studies most of the day, until night settled. I was drained, and I decided to go outside to smoke. I blew a plume into the air and eyed the suspicious garage door, seeing only shadows growing all along the building.

I thought about discontinuing my work altogether. The air felt tense, filled with a scent I had only known once before. I grew sweaty, though the air was cool, a mellow, breeze relaxing breeze clearing my head. Yes, I think it was time to move on to other areas of study; maybe my mind was getting the better of me, all this thought of things most likely fiction.

Most like it had all been dreams. That was it, all dreams. I have been up early, to bed late. When was I really getting my sleep? I smiled to myself, and decided to talk to my professor the next day. He was a reasonable man – he would probably pull me off the whole project and let the others finish it. I was not alone in this study, as there were nine others. We were not to compare notes, even in passing, as it was a study on the different ways people perceived the same information.

Yes, I would speak to him…

I dropped my cigarette into the receptacle, and was about to return inside when I saw something familiar move in the deepening shadow on the other side of the parking lot. My faint smile faded as fear struck me.

The spider-like legs, several of them reaching from a crack above a garage door.

I stayed my place, as I knew this could not be happening again. My mind was tempting me  – everything else had been only dreams. It could not be real! Nonetheless, more of the spindly, jointed legs appeared, as they had before – when I had been dreaming, of course.

I boldly approached the long, squat building for a closer look. I came to within about ten feet of that particular garage door and watched, fascinated that the thing could squeeze through such thin cracks. The legs stretched out and shivered before drawing the rest of it out. I could now make out a body of sorts, an opaque membrane that pulsed as if breathing.

A distant echo caught my attention, and when I glanced to the left I saw the opening to the cavern. Something screeched from deep within, and more of the spider-like things appeared, crawling all around the cavern’s edges like ants; and they were abruptly flowing across the ground, a wave of the grotesque atrocities. I wanted to run, but as I turned, the things appeared from under garage doors, cars, and down the sides of the building. There was nowhere to run.

I saw Cthulhu at the cave’s entrance, its huge tentacles waving around a head with no face – only that round mouth lined with the jagged teeth. “You will be insane,” it said, the mouth dripping with a thick, clear drool. I felt the first of the spider legs touching my own.

I tried to run, but they overran my body, biting into my skin. I tripped and fell onto my back, smacking my head on the asphalt hard enough to nearly knock me unconscious. My vision cleared slightly as I felt a twitching set of the thin legs latch onto my head and face, and I looked up to see pincers covered with tiny prongs open and close repeatedly. I felt the horrid sensation over my entire body, crawling, squeezing, a thousand needles piercing. The skin on my face pinched and pulled – I screamed as I was dragged closer to the mouth of the cavern, and the aberrant things within that I had never seen, yet knew were there. The inexplicable that no man was ever meant to see, lest he risk madness.

You will, I promise, you will…

 

Part 7

 

That is how I ended up here, at Stormy Haven, the very least of places at which I thought I would find myself. The first few weeks were confusing, for I had conflicting memories. My mind told me that the creature I had been studying had not only won a battle of the mind, but had abducted me physically from my world to join the ranks of the long lost, the long dead that made up its world.

Yet, the doctor made it all sound so simple. They had found me lying on the parking lot of my building, screaming and trying to claw imaginary things from my body. A neighbor had called the police. One thing led to another, and I had ended up here, a psychiatrist analyzing me, prying into my thoughts.

I had immersed myself too deeply into a fictitious world that had appeared repeatedly in the works of one writer. Once it began invading my dreams, it invaded my conscious world, for it was all I thought about, all I saw. I had been living a lie willingly, for this was what I had wanted. I wanted to see what no others had, and lived to tell about it. I was so obsessed, that my reality meshed with another, chaotic reality. It would take time to heal; the doctor told me all this during the many quiet sessions in his office on the first floor.

I had become disassociated with reality because of the fiction of a long-dead man. The doctor would open the blinds and let in the sunlight, allowing a view of the lawns and flower gardens at the front of the building. He wanted me to see the real world for what it was – what it was before my mind had decided to make changes.

I recall how, at first I had not been convinced. It had really happened. My behavior was erratic, and I would struggle with orderlies to free myself, to run and find the entrance to the cavern and show them.

That had been weeks ago.

I no longer saw anything out of the ordinary, and I calmed (of course, they fed me medications to help with that) myself, finally deciding to do a little writing. I told them that I wanted to write a sort of journal about my stay at Stormy Haven, and the doctor agreed, as long as I did not write about monsters, and H.P. Lovecraft, and a mythical race of beings called The Great Old Ones. They would monitor my work.

In the meantime, I was confined to my room. I was given everything I needed to write, and write I did. The doctor read everything I wrote, and became increasingly pleased with my subject matter. I wrote about some of the others who lived there, the employees, how lovely it was outside, and how I could not wait to be able to walk about in the sun again, enjoying the trees and birds and everything else surrounding me in the real world.

What they did not know, however, was this very chronicle I wrote. I kept it hidden under the mattress, and I became quite active in keeping my room spotless, affording the housekeeper on the third floor a welcomed break. I made my bed as if I were in the military. I kept all garbage in the wastebaskets, kept the sink and toilet as clean as humanly possible, and when the head nurse discovered what I had been doing, she was a little angry at the housekeeper as if she had not been doing her job. I explained to her that the woman still swept and mopped and clean up after me, but I preferred a tidy room.

I soon received a visit from my doctor, who had actually been pleased, and looked upon it as progress.

Regardless, I have to admit now, as is the purpose of these writings, that the entire time I was here, they were here, too. While they did not show themselves to me, I would occasionally catch the foul odor I was so familiar with – the odor that had emanated from the cavern of the ungodly things, the odor of Cthulhu. I knew from the start that there had to have been another entrance into their world somewhere nearby, but no one else seemed to notice a thing.

I oftentimes wondered about my sanity. Had I really gone insane, or was I simply aware of another dimension invisible to most – a dimension that would cause insanity, for Lovecraft had claimed that if man had knowledge of things outside of the reality we all took for granted, it would surely bring insanity. Insanity from this knowledge was imminent, for our minds, having lived only one reality were not ready to take on another reality, another dimension right in front of our eyes, yet invisible.

I knew it was there, for the veil had already been lifted from my mind, my eyes. It is why they did not wait forever to pay me another visit. After all, I was a part of their world now. My time of writing this chronicle was coming to an end.

On the thirty-fourth evening of my incarceration in this dreaded place, I sat at my table, pencil and paper in front of me, and waited – the stench had grown so strong that I knew they were coming for me, perhaps for the last time.

I saw the nurse peek through the small window in my door, and I smiled. As soon as the face vanished, I hurriedly stuffed these papers under my mattress and sat on the bed. The door buzzed and opened slightly, and then the nurse appeared, all prim and proper in her uniform, wearing her lovely smile (a smile she had at first worn as a tool to soothe me, but had eventually turned genuine).

She had a small, white paper med cup in one hand, and a clear plastic water cup in the other. She handed me the water cup, and I filled it halfway from the bathroom sink. I sat on the bed, and she handed me the med cup, remarking on how well I looked that evening, and how it was an absolutely lovely evening.

Always the small talk, but she had been a rather nice person. Had been.

When she approached the bed, the door silently closed behind her, and the lights dimmed. She glanced up at the fluorescents and merely shrugged. I swallowed my meds, and suddenly foulness filled the room – I was not surprised to see the large form materialize behind her, huge nine-toed feet on either side of her. I did not even flinch.

The spindly-legged spiders with their membranous bodies slid from under the door, and I was curious to see them ooze from large pore-like sores on the thing’s body. They crawled across the floor, while some scuttled up Cthulhu’s body

The thick tentacles wavered in the air above the back of her head, and she noticed my eyes switch direction. That was all it took for her to become…aware. Her eyes shifted to one side and she saw the tips of the tentacles swaying near her face. She opened her mouth to scream, but one of the appendages found its way into her mouth, slithering down her throat. Her eyes popped in terror as she gagged; and she gawked at me, at my calmness, at my indifference.

The tentacles spread to reveal the huge maw with its pointed teeth. It widened, and the nurse’s head disappeared into its mouth all the way to her neck. I heard the snap and crunch of bone as it bit down, and for a moment, I thought it would swallow her head whole. Blood coursed down her uniform. The spiders swarmed over her as it spit her head out onto the white tiled floor, some vanishing into her neck cavity. Her body collapsed into the blooming pool of blood next to her head. Her face still had the terror written on it as the spiders started consuming the skin from her countenance. Her white uniform, now stained crimson, bulged and undulated from the things within it, feeding on her human skin.

In my madness, I quickly snatched up my secret papers from under the mattress and rushed to my desk. I glanced over and saw the thick ends of the tentacles attached to where I presumed its face was, and a large eye opened, glaring at me. But it offered no threat to me – we were suddenly one, and I began to write amidst the moist sound akin to that of a million feeding insects.

I put pencil to paper, and as calmly as I could, recreated what happened in my room that evening. I knew this would be my last entry. Someone would end up finding this, and I only hoped it would be the right person’s hands.

The din slowly ended, and I calmly turned and saw that the beast was still watching me with that calm, merciless eye. The spider creatures seemed to be finished with their task – some scurried under the door (which made me wonder just what was happening in the hallway), while others crawled up the body of the beast and nearly folded into themselves as they forced themselves back into the sores on the beast’s body. The watchful eye stared at me.

A spider crawled from the mouth of the nurse’s skinless face and chose to squeeze under the door.

That was it then. Was this display for my benefit? I knew Cthulhu wanted my sanity, but he had already taken that. Surely he knew that. The eye was emotionless. Their existence was our madness.

I again wondered what was happening on the other side of the door. I had to finish my chronicle, and then I would see for myself. I bent over my papers and continued – when I looked back, it was gone. I heard harried voices as if in a dream, distant and echoing.

I laid down my pencil, and hid the chronicle under the mattress. As I made my way to the door, I tried to avoid the body, the skinless head, and the blood. I opened the door as the voices grew louder. I then saw what I knew had been there all along. On the other side of the door was the entrance to the cavern, its edges pulsing as if alive, beckoning to me and offering a choice.

I had no choice. 

I entered the darkness and saw the silhouette of tentacles far ahead of me, against distant, smoky flames. The shapes of other abominations became apparent. A large crow flew by, calling out in the dim. It landed on my shoulder and pecked once at the side of my head. And then the panicked voices faded away…

 

Part 8

 

Personal notes, Dr. Stephen Lansing, Professor History/Literature

 

It saddens me to write this, as I meant no harm in instigating this project. Now, the Cthulhu Mythos study has been discontinued, and all materials destroyed. This was actually done under the strict, watchful eye of the Cedar Vale Police Dept. Just prior to this action, a representative from the Department of Education and the Dean paid me a visit to question me about the project, before ordering its halt.

It was only supposed to be a type of experiment surrounding H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos, however, it somehow turned deadly. I shall not divulge the names of the students, only that there were ten involved. Each student was to work on his or her own, not sharing notes or even conversation about the fictitious Lovecraft work, at the end writing a paper revealing the impact the study had on each student.

Of course, by now you know that student #9 had suffered some kind of delusions, hallucinations, and had ended up at Stormy Haven – after a month of confinement, he had somehow murdered a nurse and then vanished. Police are still trying to figure out how someone in his position, having only a pencil and paper, had decapitated the woman. The coroner insists to this day that her head had been bitten off, and if #9 had chewed it right from her body. His notes, or “chronicle” as he had called it had been found, and that had been a mistake from the beginning, to allow him anything with which to write.

And now, it has only recently come to light that #9 had shared some of his notes with several other students, and students 3 and 6 are now residents of the third and fourth floors at Stormy Haven.

Even stranger, student #9 visited me the other night at my home. He simply walked right into the house. I live alone, and he knew there would be no interference. He looked different somehow, as if he was the same person from a different mold. He implored me to let him show me proof that everything he had claimed to have seen had been real.

All he did was place his hands on the sides of my head, and he showed me. By God, my eyes saw through the thin veil between dimensions – I saw them, the Great Old Ones. I saw Cthulhu, and when I saw, it stretched out a tentacle and gently touched my forehead.

Real. It had all been real. #9 left me standing in a daze, and when I awoke from the almost hypnotic trance, he was gone. There was a rotten stench in the air, and I remember opening the front door to air it out. And when I stepped outside, I saw them. The spiders that #9 had been so adamant about – they, too, had been real.

He had left me with one piece of information that I am still waiting to come to fruition – an entrance to the other universe, another dimension where their chaos and horrors were our insanity. They would return. It was only a matter of time before I, too, saw a great opening to a cavern leading to the other side. I shall wait and see. I am still teaching, only we are now working on different, so-called harmless studies, and no one has grown wise to me.

I see the large spider things when I arrive home after work, I see them sometimes early in the morning when I go down the driveway to fetch my paper, and I have seen them scurrying around the back yard just by peeking out my bedroom window.

I know now, I know what #9 saw, and I refuse to let it take my mind. That’s right, it’s not going to drive me insane. The experiment had worked! I cannot remove the grin from my face. I cannot believe my good fortune. And I shall not share with the other professors, lest they try to steal my secret away…

 

“The most merciful thing in the whole world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents… Someday 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.”

–         H.P. Lovecraft