‘The Lost Book’ by guest author Michael Shorde

240px-Oscar_Wilde_portraitI found the book in an old store on the south side of town. It was a book no one would even consider looking at, for it had no interest for most; but that did not include me. I immediately picked it up and brushed the dust from it.

David Rhodes. The Creatures Unseen.

My old friend, David, who had disappeared long ago after writing several books, the last being this one. I often wondered what had happened to my best friend – we spent many nights together in front of the fire talking over all things imaginable and unimaginable. He had a way with words that could oftentimes frighten even me.

I took the book to my flat and gently laid it on the mantle.

Where was David?

I did not at first look at the book. I thought about David, and how he had claimed to have contact with Cthulhu, a thing created by Lovecraft. He told me he had seen things unworldly. I tried to help him, but they took him away to an asylum. This was from where he disappeared, leaving only the body of a nurse. David could not have done this deed, for I knew him well.

I cleaned the book as best I could, but age had taken its toll. The cover was black and sturdy enough, yet the pages were dry, fragile. I browsed through at first, and some of the illustrations confounded me. I did not know David was capable of the intricate patterns, very disturbing, indeed. Perhaps it was his last testament to what he had witnessed.

Perhaps it was meant to be in my hands all along. I wanted more than anything to discover the truth, and as I held it near the firelight, the gold lettering glimmered; I believed it was the key to find my lost friend.

After all that had happened, all he told me, I returned from the States to my cottage outside of London. I had no more reason to stay, and it seems he has followed me on his own sojourn. I tried to prepare myself to experience my own journey, to the place where David lies in wait.

I poured myself a brandy and lit a cigar, sitting near the fire, for it seemed to bring life to the book. I recalled the twisted tale the administrator of the asylum told me:

 

 

“When we first brought David in, he was delusional. He claimed he was seeing…monsters, giant spiders – things only he could see. He had been a student involved in a special study involving the writer, H.P. Lovecraft. I did a little research of my own about this ‘Lovecraft’. Apparently he wrote about creatures of all sorts, in particular, Cthulhu. He claimed he had not only seen this thing, but other things as well,” Dr. Lattimer told me. “He grew agitated. I allowed him some paper and pencils to write on, and that’s how he spent most of his time. I saw everything he wrote – it was the only condition I gave him for having the writing materials.”

Dr. Lattimer seemed sincere; he did not find anything funny about his patients, I realized. “Doctor, just what was David writing about?”

“The creatures he claimed to have seen. As I mentioned, I was to read everything he wrote, but he fooled me.”

“Fooled you?”

“Why yes, he had an entire stack of papers hidden under his mattress. The entire thing was a chronicle, the real truth about what he thought he had seen. The rest was disturbing, but I think he was merely trying to fool me, drawing my attention away from what he was really writing.”

“What happened to his hidden papers?” I asked.

Dr. Lattimer looked at me curiously. “And just what is your interest in all this, Mr. Shorde?”

“He was my best friend,” I said. “He told me everything. In fact, he was my only friend. I am not from the States, and David befriended me, as we were both writers.”

“I see,” Lattimer said, slowly nodding. “I don’t recall him ever mentioning you.”

“One thing David and I had in common was that we were both introverts. We never went anywhere unless it was absolutely necessary. And besides, I could not bear to see my friend locked away here because everyone thought he was crazy.”

“We don’t like to use that term, Mr. Shorde. David was…disturbed, obsessed. I never thought he had it in him to harm anyone, but the nurse…the most horrible sight I have ever seen. David had gone over the edge.”

“He didn’t do it,” I boldly stated, and Dr. Lattimer sat up straight.

“If he didn’t do it, who did?”

“I’m not sure – but I know it wasn’t David. Did he ever mention Dr. Stephen Lansing?”

“Yes and Dr. Lansing visited here quite often at first, But eventually seemed to lose interest in the students altogether,” Lattimer said, shrugging.

That last startled me. “Students?”

“Yes,” Lattimer said. “David wasn’t the only one here. Two more of Lansing’s students were here, and are still here. But David was always his main interest.”

I was quite taken aback. “If David and two others were here, what happened to the other seven?”

“The other seven?” Lattimer asked.

I don’t normally get upset to this point, but I stood and leaned over Lattimer’s desk. “The other seven, Doctor! There were ten students in the study. David was number nine – well, that’s he told me. Lansing referred to his students with a number.”

Lattimer also stood. “You have just answered a question I’ve been trying to figure out for a while now. The other two students referred to themselves as 3 and 6. Now, I finally know. Lansing never told me of this being a closed experiment.”

“What happened to the secret papers David had hidden under his mattress?” I was quite agitated by this time, nearly grinding my teeth in frustration.

“They disappeared, I’m afraid. And right about the time Dr. Lansing stopped visiting David. I thought about calling the police, but thought it would have been hopeless. I had my suspicions, but I knew that wouldn’t be enough. The papers were simply gone.”

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

As I pondered over this, I again grew angry. The doctor at the asylum should have known all this, and that David had shared his notes with the others. They obviously had had experiences of their own, but David seemed to be the key to it all.

Before I had returned to England, I decided to pay a visit to Dr. Lansing. I finally found him – in the oldest cemetery in town, Oak Hills. He had become a permanent resident there, among all the rest, of which there were many. David had taken me there once; he had always been fascinated with cemeteries.

But with the death of Dr. Lansing, the trail ended, and I was left with no other choice but to return to England. I had never visited the other students, as I felt that there had been no good reason to. I only wanted to find my friend.

So many questions…

I opened the book and started to read, and almost immediately some of my questions were answered; it came from something David had written after the first few pages, which were void of any information regarding a publisher, or anything else, for that matter. The pages were simply blank. Yet, knowing David like I had, I was not surprised.

Regardless, I abruptly came upon a page on which was short testimony from David:

 

 

This all came about as a result of the study on Lovecraft that ten of us were involved in, which I now know was not a study at all, but an experiment conducted by Dr. Stephen Lansing. His experiment worked, but with disastrous results.

My mistake was in sharing my personal notes with the others in the group. Three of us ended up committed, and the other seven…well, I don’t know what happened to those poor souls. In any case, I entered the realm of Cthulhu, and was nearly driven mad.

However, there was something that Dr. Lansing had not counted on, and that was the existence of yet another dimension besides that of the Great Old Ones. It seems that I was the one connection he had been looking for – I not only became a part of Cthulhu’s world, but I discovered another, different dimension. It is not one from far away in the universe, and it is not one next to us; it is a part of us. And no one ever knew.

We share the same space, each oblivious of the other’s existence, living our lives surrounded by those unseen. It is not the dimension of Cthulhu, but it seemed to have been the trigger to open the doorway in time and space, and allow me to witness the atrocities.

As we go through our daily lives, we do everything here, and among them. At first, we saw the face of the dreaded Cthulhu, and he attempted to drive us mad, for he knows that the human mind is not ready for such things. And for the others, it ended there. I was too curious, too open minded, and this angered that disgusting beast for I suddenly knew of another world. Perhaps they are a threat to the Great Old Ones, but they are nonetheless here, and I do not know my fate.

This is what this single volume is about – the unseen creatures sharing our space. All the things I have learned and seen, and I know that soon I will be gone. Cthulhu will not accept it, nor will he let any other humans know of it. So, my friend, I have given to you all I know – by now you know that this was meant for your eyes. Only you can help me escape the world in which I am trapped.

But beware, for the unseen creatures are everywhere, and they are aware of us.

To find me, Michael, you will have to find the secret openings to the underground world of Cthulhu and the Great Old Ones. Without doing that, I would never have discovered the other dimension of what I call The Creatures Unseen.

I had thought that Cthulhu’s world would drive a man insane, but this other dimension, which I postulate to be one of many was one that would definitely drive a man insane, was not meant for that purpose. They are creatures that the human mind is not ready to see. Perhaps it was my luck to see part of the world of the Great Old Ones that accustomed my eyes to the horrors that lie ahead.

I still maintain my sanity, but this is unusual for them, and they will not release me. My friend, if you do not choose to follow this path, I lay no blame upon you, for it is frightening at best. If you should choose to explore, bring weapons – it will be your only defense against some of the horrid things that lie below our world. Arm yourself well, for an army of one you shall be. Good luck, Michael.

 

David Rhodes

 

 

I was intrigued and frightened at the same time, considering what had happened to my dear friend. As I began to read, I realized it was a guide fashioned after what he had done in the beginning of Dr. Lansing’s study. It was obvious that David was much more adept with the subject, his mind open wider. I knew then that while the studies had affected all the students, three had entered other realms, especially David. His curious mind and willingness to risk led him among worlds beyond human imagination.

I oftentimes wonder if he had truly gone insane, or had found a way to keep his sanity, even if it was by but a thread. David was not a young student as were the rest – he was a writer of horrific things, which is one reason we bonded so well, for I, too, write of horrors and nightmares to jostle the imagination and even lead to dreadful dreams during which the dreamer would awake drenched in sweat, breathing heavily. But David always wanted to go one step further.

When he first heard of the study, he immediately went to Dr. Lansing, who promptly turned him down. David, in his usual fashion, pushed on; he explained that he had already studied Lovecraft, the Cthulhu Mythos, and offered Lansing several essays he had written on the subject. I recall David telling me how Lansing had looked up at him in silence for a moment, and said, “Give me your number. We shall, see Mr. Rhodes.” He told me later he knew he would be accepted into the study. And the next day he was.

At first, it seemed simple enough. Ten students, number nine not actually a student, but an explorer. I was not aware of this at first, but when David began to…change…I became worried. I voiced my doubts to him, but he only said he was intrigued with the whole concept of other dimensions, other universes – he wanted to know more.

I began to wonder: was I the teacher, as David would laugh and call me his muse, or was David the teacher, attempting to slowly make me understand the truth as he understood it.

I sat in silence, almost fearful of proceeding further with the book. Nonetheless, it drew me in, and I began to realize the he had, indeed, discovered something that not even the best imaginations could fathom.

I stared at the fire and sipped my brandy. And read:

 

 

They deemed me insane. I almost believed it myself had it not been for the simple trust I had in my mind. I was not insane. I was gifted. Or perhaps gifted is not the right term. Open. That is a better term. I was open to realities that others shunned. I discovered I was not alone, as number three and number six had also experienced that they could not comprehend. In the end, they accepted that they were insane. I would not accept that in myself, for I had been shown the truth of reality. I was not insane.

See here now, Michael, the atrocities I witnessed, and do not turn away, but accept it as truth.

 

 

 

3

 

 

 

I turned the pages and stared blankly at the images David had drawn. Like an artist undiscovered, he had revealed things I could not comprehend. The spiders. Or were they really spiders? Creatures not unlike spiders, yet possessing what seemed like an endless array of segmented legs. I could see no body, yet a stroke of a pencil. Horrid things they were, and I began to wonder myself if they truly existed.

As if I thought these creatures were bizarre enough, I turned a page and witnessed a thing of which no man should see. It had a long tubular-shaped body, with thick short legs and heavy feet of nine toes. It’s face was obscured by tentacles that reached out from a large circular maw lined with jagged teeth. From the tentacles grew more, smaller tentacles, and from those, more. If its design had been crude, I could have gazed upon it with more ease, but its perfection disturbed me to no end.

Below this particular drawing was a short paragraph by David:

 

 

Image this one hundred times this size, my friend. It is Cthulhu, king of the Great Old Ones. It is what holds me prisoner in its dimension. The book you hold now is my only salvation. It cannot destroy the creatures of this realm, but will push them back, as God pushed the Devil into the pit. It is then you can save me. Yet, I have more to show you. Soon, you will follow the same path as I – Godspeed.

 

 

I pondered over this for quite some time, growing weary all the while. Finally, I turned a page to find a drawing of what seemed to be the entrance to a cave of some sort. As I gazed at the drawing, the walls of the cave seemed to move with life, undulating and embracing upon something invisible. I closed my eyes and drifted off…

 

 

I awoke a short time later, the book still unfurled on my lap. I closed it and yawned, listening to the breeze blowing through the open French doors. The flames in the fireplace had grown weak, and fluttered as if about to die altogether. I set the book on the end table, and rose to add more wood to the fire. Rather funny, though, I didn’t recall leaving the doors open. The wind, of course it must have been the wind.

I made to close the glass doors, but hesitated. The breeze was refreshing, and I stepped out onto the patio to survey the grounds along the back of the house. Oddly enough, the greenhouse was lit from the overhead fluorescents, and I went to investigate. I opened the door and glanced inside at all the plants and flora, but the building was otherwise empty. After one more look around, I turned off the lights and decided to retire for the evening. When I returned to the study, I saw David’s book lying on my chair, open to the page with the horrid drawings of the spiders. I shuddered, for I knew I had not left it there.

From behind came light. I turned and saw that the greenhouse was lighted as before – I knew then that David had truly planned on leading me through the strange events he had before experienced. For the first time I was truly frightened. Was I to become victim to the heinous events bestowed upon my friend? Surely, he would not let harm come to me, except to lead me to his astral prison.

I ran into the kitchen and pulled a large steak knife from the wooden cutlery holder on the counter. I made my outside and immediately noticed something odd attached to the glass wall on the inside of the greenhouse. This was no plant, for it scuttled up and down the glass with amazing speed, and it was large. Very large!

A spider!

This most certainly proved David’s sanity. Yet, I felt as if something was trying to sneak into my mind and steal my sanity away. Still clear of mind, I opened the greenhouse door, and warmth and beautiful scents cascaded over me. I started down an aisle, surveying the plants for any sign of the spider-like creature for it was no longer attached to the glass. My mind ran wild. It was waiting for me, waiting to kill me. I was experiencing the same fear David must have felt when he first encountered the freakish things. I held the knife before me and slowly moved toward the end of the aisle. Some of the larger plants brushed against me with large, flat leaves or the thin leaves of the ferns.

I heard a pattering on the floor, and saw a flurry of thin legs as the thing scampered across the aisle at the end. It sickened me to see it, but regardless I picked up my pace. I stopped just short of the end and peeked around the corner. There were three more aisles to contend with if the creature wanted to play a game of cat and mouse all night.

I crept over to the next aisle and moved back toward the front of the greenhouse, where a large counter (I had built this myself, and I was quite proud of it considering I know nothing of woodworking) stood before several tall shelves lined with pots of various sizes and colors. Stacked on the floor were bags of soil and fertilizer.

I reached the front and stood behind the counter as if I was a clerk ready to make a sale. I leaned on my hands and took several deep breaths.

The book you hold now is my only salvation…

I should have brought the book with me to perhaps witness its power over these multi-dimensional beings. As if that very thought had triggered a reaction, the spider emerged from some foliage in the aisle directly in front of me. As it moved toward me, I was almost mesmerized by all those damned legs. My mind could not fathom such a thing, and yet, here it was; I could hear the legs scraping through dust on the floor as it grew near.

 

 

 

4

 

 

 

The spider came close to the counter and stopped. At this point I could not see it, yet I knew it was right below me but I was too afraid to bend over for a look. It abruptly leaped onto the counter top, and my heart leaped in my chest. This abhorrence was even more sickening close up. Those segmented legs were spread out perhaps two feet across, and I saw a cluster of eyes on the front of that slender body. They were tiny and black, reflecting the light, unblinking in its incessant stare.

For a moment, I was at a loss as to what to do.

I had no time to think further; the thing reared up, raising its despicable legs in a commotion of ungodly flesh, revealing the slender underbody. It abruptly split open vertically, and a thin maw opened, displaying tiny jagged teeth that normally would not have seemed too threatening, but considering the source it changed the circumstances.

I was almost shivering with fear, could not take flight, and by reflexes took control of this monstrous apparition. My hand holding the knife thrust forward, straight into the mouth of this insidious creation. The blade entered straight into its mouth, and a thick, black fluid flowed out of either side. As sickening as it was, I drew back the knife and struck again and again.

I stood holding the knife above the dead creature, my chest heaving, and sweat covering my brow. The black fluid that was its blood smeared the counter top. I could smell its dreadful odor as I reached for a rag under the counter and wiped the blade clean. I would leave the other mess for the time being. I ran back inside the house, wanting to know more, wanting more from the book. It was lying on my chair – funny, because I had left it on the end table. I sat to learn more, to learn how to save David.

I looked at the drawing he had made of the tunnel. It was normal, yet grotesque in its fashion. Below it was another paragraph from David:

 

 

By now you have seen the spiders – don’t ask me how I know, I just do. Now your mind is open it is time for you to enter the other dimension where I await you. Beware of the creatures that walk its halls. Arm yourself with the book! It will drive the small ones away, for sure, but it will take all your strength to push Cthulhu back into his world.

My friend, as I mentioned, I have discovered another dimension, another world. It is a world that The Great Old Ones do not want exposed to us, a world which we do not want to see, either. It is a malignant place, full of things that were here before us, before them, and as it did to me, I fear it may be done unto you.

Walk outside your house, and think of the spiders, think of me, and the tunnel will appear. As you walk along, ignore the small creatures that threaten you – they are harmless. Follow the tunnel sharply! Do not sway from its path! If you do, you will find the other place, especially the third cavern on the left. You will not be harmed, but perhaps you may be lost with no way home. If you should decline this invitation, I will most surely understand. Remember, the book is your power…

One last thing – acceptance will save your sanity. Remember, acceptance…

 

 

 

 

David had told me to arm myself well; the mystery of it intrigued and frightened me. I continued perusing through the book, finding sketches of abominations, and excerpts from the Necronomicon. The sketches were that of the other dimension, the creatures that Cthulhu wanted to remain hidden for eternity. I could not look at the drawings for too long, for they seemed to have a strange effect on me.

I reasoned about this; I did not ask to be involved, and yet he knew I would be involved somehow.  David and I have such a close connection; this can be the only answer. He knew I would not abandon him. But just how did he get this volume printed? And how did he know it would end up in my hands?

Fear crept up my spine as a lithesome insect would, sending shivers along my limbs. I poured another brandy and tasted the sour tang of the amber fluid. I stared at the French door to the patio. I would go. I stood and straightened my coat, took a deep breath, and ventured outside.

There stood the greenhouse – the lights were still lit. I walked beyond the greenhouse into a darker part of the back and stood staring into the blackness. My thoughts turned to David, to the spiders, to his ordeal. I concentrated on all those swirling thoughts, and I saw a dim glow in front of me. Here was the cavern, baring itself finally to me. It was the mouth of Hell.

At first glance, it was merely a cave, lit by some source of energy deep within, enough to allow me entry. I carried the book with me, and the knife forced behind my belt. I strolled slowly into the stone maw, viewing no signs of life. Yet, I knew there would be fearsome beasts eventually, as I trusted David’s warnings without fail.

 

 

 

5

 

 

 

As I moved deeper into the cave, the light grew brighter, an unnatural pinkish glow. I discovered a cave to my right, but did not enter for David’s explicit instructions said to avoid the third cavern on the left. As I considered this, a low growl from behind caused me to whirl around to face whatever thing had crept up behind me.

The thing was about half my height and covered with gray, scaly skin. In the center of its face was a large singular eye, just above a mouth exposing pointed teeth of all sizes.  A low guttural growl emitted from its throat as it bared more teeth. I took a few steps back and it followed. I determined that it was attempting to chase me into the cave, or it would have surely attacked me by now.

The book is your power…

I held the book out in front of me, and the thing instantly cowered at the sight of it. “What is wrong, you ghastly thing? You don’t like the book?” I held it facing the atrocious being, and it cringed, trying to hide its face. “Look at me now! Look!”

As it looked, a beam of yellow light shot forth, clothing it in a bright yellow aura. It screeched and tried to run; nonetheless, it was too late. The light absorbed what flesh there was left on the thing, and its bones fell to the ground. The book was warm, nearly hot, yet I was able to hold it. David was right – the book was my power. Tendrils of steam rose up from the bones as I walked farther into the cavern.

The walls began to change color, and the deeper I explored, gray rock had turned into a fleshy pink that undulated and gave off a foul stench. It was more of a throat, a throat to the other Kingdom where David awaited me.

There were things stuck to the sides of the walls as in a spider’s web. These were things I had never seen before, except a one – eyed creature that had managed to find itself trapped. A spider abruptly scurried down and attached itself to the thing, and I heard a sickening sucking sound. The skin of the creature constricted, and its eye burst from its socket. The spider immediately went to the socket and began to suck up the fluid. I could take no more, and I wondered how David had survived the horrors. It must have been the acceptance he spoke of, pure acceptance. I decided I would accept it, too. I would keep my sanity.

I stood steadfastly and took in my surroundings – I purposely stared at the atrocities pinned against the pink surface of these walls – they were no longer hideous. They were simply beings from another place, and my mind, being intelligent as it is, simply accepted all that I saw. I felt strength grow within me, a more powerful me, and I wondered; this must be what David did to keep his sanity. He always did have an open mind, and now it may have saved his life. And if he had not allowed insanity to corrupt his mind, then I, too, can protect myself the same way. These were living, breathing (though I knew not about living and breathing – it was purely conjuncture at this point, but I would treat it as so). These…things, freaks would die no matter what it took.

I realized that it did not take a very strong mind to challenge what lie ahead, only a mind open to such things. I actually envied David for having glanced at these things and retained some kind of sanity. He had even seen another dimension of unthinkable creatures and survived. But now he needed help. Cthulhu must be powerful, indeed – and I was close to meeting this creature face to face.

 

 

 

6

 

 

 

I plodded ahead, the smell pervading my senses, the visions becoming more conventional than I had expected. David had it right all along, for here I was among things not part of our world, yet I became less bothered with each step.

Where was David?

I stopped and opened the book. I heard a strange screeching emanating from farther down, and I swear I heard the screaming of a human. The sound echoed along this passage, this throat, for it seemed exactly what this was – a throat.

Ahead I saw another passage on the left. This was not the passage he spoke of, I was sure of that. Nonetheless, I slowed down as I passed it. There were strange noises coming from within, noises that sounded familiar. I stopped and looked around; the cave/throat was shifting, undulating, and I saw the bodies of people on the sides, stuck as if some slimy glue was holding them in place. Their mouths moved, but I could hear only a slight plea: Help me! Please help me!

There men and women trapped on the sides of the cavern, naked with their arms spread out. Helpless, they were, but I could not resist but to help these poor strangers, especially since I knew not the extent of their suffering. I pulled the knife from my belt and approached a man hanging in the goo. I tried to cut through, and he pulled one arm loose. I recall how he smiled at me just before the pinkish flesh swallowed him up; it had sensed my interference and had slid over the man with a sickening wet noise until the man was gone. I was shocked, taken aback, but tried to hold onto my sanity. There were others begging for help, and I told them, “Please, just wait a little while longer, and I’ll get you out!” They protested with moans and weak appeals. I could do nothing. I shoved the knife back into my belt, and turned my attention to the second cavern. I knew now what the sound was, however, I did not know how I was going to deal with it.

The spiders!

They suddenly appeared, scuttling along all sides of the cavern – they were even moving along the very top. I could not count how many there were, but apparently this was a nest of some kind, for they must have heard me, and those trapped against the wicked walls of this throat.

I held up the book, and a bright spray of light spread out among the spiders, and they started to flame up like fires. Regardless, they kept coming, and I grew frustrated. I thrust the book forward and in my mind I thought, die, you bastards. Die!

There were small flames everywhere, and yet, I spied a few slipping past me to the far wall. They crawled up and bit the people trapped there – I was helpless; I could not use the book for fear of harming the people hanging in the pink goo. I rushed up and grabbed a spider, hurled him to the ground. I pointed the book at him and he burst into flames. One by one, I snatched the spiders off the people and fried them. I felt beaten as I stared at the tiny clusters of flame that soon burned out. I thought I was done with the mayhem, but from the cavern came the snarls of something entirely different.

They appeared in the dim light of the tunnel, far back in the dim glow. They were dogs, and yet not dogs in the normal sense of the word. As they grew closer I became frightened, and yet intrigued that such things could exist.

Their bodies were that of large dogs, yet their heads were bundles of tentacles, waving and twisting around, almost hiding the mouths. One opened its maw wide, and my heart leaped – it was large, seemingly its entire head, with two rows of pointed teeth. It then closed the mouth, tentacles swinging around as if in anger.

I ran down the cavern, aware of the threats behind me. I lifted the book and pointed it at the dogs – the yellow light shot out in thin beams, striking each of them. They whimpered and fell (I believe there were five, but I was a little busy to count), yet each one struggled back to its feet.

I rushed farther down and saw the third cavern on the left. David told me not to enter, lest I get lost, but the dogs were again gaining distance. I glanced around and saw more bodies stuck to the pink, fleshy walls, more of the spider crawling among them and chewing off pieces of skin. It saddened me; I held up the book and thought, destroy those bastards! Fry their legs right off!

And just as I thought would happen, the spiders caught flame, but so did the people. I lowered my head. They were too far gone for it to matter anymore. Large parts of their bodies were gone and yet they still begged. I believed they were begging for death. I used the book and destroyed everything on the wall, scorching even the flesh. It bulged in and out as if in pain, and I heard an ungodly screech from farther down the cavern. Whatever I have done had apparently affected something down there, and I knew what it was.

The dogs came barreling around a corner, tentacles whipping around their moist, black bodies. At the moment, I saw no choice; I ran into the third cave, looking over my shoulder to see if the dog-like things had followed me. They stood at the entrance, eyeing me (though I could see no eyes), and tentacles reaching for something that was not there. They circled around for a while before turning and walking back in the direction from which they had come. I was taken aback by the writhing extremities that made up their heads. I gathered my thoughts, my sanity, and gritted my teeth together to strengthen my mind, my thoughts. I would not let these things weaken me. After they dispersed, I calmed my nerves.

So, I decided to explore the cave. I am sure David would have been angry, but my curiosity got the best of me. I traveled onward, seeing nothing out of the ordinary except that of the walls – pulsing, undulating, yet free of any creatures or people for that matter. I was quite pleased at this latter; I did not want to see any more suffering.

 

 

 

7

 

 

 

I began to think I was inside a huge being itself. Alive, aware, and absorbing all the life it could from others. Was this the case?

Now, I cannot promise a true description of what happened, for it was all too surreal. As I was sure the dog-things were gone, I headed for the main chamber. Something grabbed my shoulders and yanked me back, turned me around; I was looking into the face of something indescribable, something I knew that human minds were not prepared for. I surely would have gone insane had David not prepared me.

I felt several pairs of arms grasp my body, yet I could not tell if they were arms or otherwise. This being sure was on the other side of the thin veil of sanity, and I sensed it knew this, and was trying not to inflict harm unto me. It released me, and I moved not, as it had anticipated.

I stared at the creature, trying to comprehend exactly what it was I was looking at. It leaned forward, its face changing all the while into different forms, and I felt it was searching for one I could understand. Finally, it did find one I could understand. I was staring at the face of…

David!

Its shape-shifting body continued to with its swift variants, too swift for me to focus on only one. David’s face whispered to me. “David told you not to come along this path. It would be dangerous.”

“Yes, he told me so, in the book,” I said, holding it out for the being to see.

“Lean forward,” the David face said, and I did as I was told.

Accept, accept. Let that special part of your mind accept what you see as reality, as did David’s.

I emerged as if from a dream, and the thing that stood before me was no longer shifting. It was showing me its true form. And yet, its true form was still something that the human mind would not understand for ages.

“I need to save my friend.”

“We know, and you will. It is why we empowered the book. It will not kill Cthulhu, but it will push him back long enough for you to free David. He is almost one of us now, and he must be the beginning.”

I started to comprehend. I spoke only with my mind. “Can you help me?”

“I cannot. We are not a violent race. The chain of life must take its proper course.”

“But he keeps you trapped in here!”

I sensed a smile, but could not see it. “We are not trapped in here. We stay here until we believe the time is right to expose ourselves, to help humans live again in peace. It is not up to us to stop the wrath of the Great Old Ones. It is up to you. To David.”

“But how do we do that? How do you expect two men to carry out this mission?” I spoke aloud, for I was frustrated. I was confused as to what it was I was supposed to do.

“Take David and he will show you. He has become as us, as you are becoming. Show me the book.”

I stretched out the book, and what I perceived to be hands took hold of it strongly, but not out of my grasp. A white light filled the book that we held between us, lit up the cavern, and I saw others standing around us as if in prayer. I feared not, my mind not confused; in fact, I felt gladness in my mind and heart. I knew all would be fine. I just needed to find David.

“And find him you will,” the being said, reading my thoughts. “I have empowered the book more so than I did with David. You will destroy creatures on your path, and we understand this is the way of humans as we know them now. We do not commend such acts, but realize it is the way to the future.”

I looked around at the tunnel, the flesh, and asked, “What is this? Where are we? This sure is no regular tunnel or path; it is more like a living being.”

The thing twisted, shifted, and said, “You are learning, Michael, for this is a living being. The living being.”

“But-”

“Go! Go now. The book is your power. There are the spiders and dog-things, and others you will encounter. Destroy them with the book. Or with that crude weapon you carry.” I felt behind me in my belt – the knife was still there. “Yes, we know about that. You are only trying to save your friend. He is our friend, too. Go!”

I opened my mouth to speak, but suddenly found myself back in the main cavern. I walked forward, unsure of what to expect in my quest to save David. I only knew it had to be done. My mind was adjusting, remembering: accept, accept. I lowered my face and moved onward.

 

 

 

8

 

 

 

I immediately heard the snarling of the dogs behind me, and I turned, holding up the book as my only weapon. They came swiftly, tentacles reaching out for prey. I held up the book, and a white light engulfed them. They fell dead in their tracks. I recalled what the Others said: the chain of life must take its proper course.

They were not violent, but we were. Our violence would lead to peace one day. The dogs lie dead, and I did not care – I started down the path of the main cavern, or part of a living being as I was told. A one eyed beast appeared, and then another. The first tried to snatch the book from my hand, and in my anger I snatched the knife and thrust it into its eye. It grabbed at its wound and fell trembling to the ground. More appeared, and I was in such a state that I worried not about the book, only my savage instincts. They came at me and I pushed the knife into the closest one. It bent its head to look at its wound, and I stabbed directly into its face. It barely had time to look at me before it fell dead. The others fled as I stood there in defiance.

I had not time – this I knew, for time here was different. I swiftly entered a large cavern infested by the spiders. I then turned my attention to the book. I held it before me, and saw a shadow far into the cavern. I do not know if it was David or apparition, yet I realized it was one of the older ones. The shadow held its arms up; I knew what it was trying to tell me.

I snatched the book up, held it aloft as the creatures came at me. They were everywhere, crawling along the sides of the cavern, and it was then I saw a figure I thought I would never see again.

It was David!

He was trapped against the pink, fleshy wall, hardly able to move, for he looked at me with sickening terror I have never seen before; he tried to speak, but I had no time. I didn’t know if destroying the spiders would also destroy him.

I quickly retreated as they followed – a swarm of them, I tell you, everywhere. I raised the book and took my stance. Flames shot up from everywhere, scorching my skin. Yet, I held my stance. I did not expect the circumstance – on of the bastards got through somehow and bit me on the arm. I had no alternative.

I struggled for my knife and stabbed it deeply into the center of the predator and into my own arm. Blood was flowing from my wound as the thing released its grasped and fell dead to the cavern floor. I had no choice – I continued forward, and heard a great roar from within the huge cavern. I knew what it was, and I was determined to show it the power of humanity or die trying.

 

 

There it was – Cthulhu. Huge and resolute in destroying me, this I knew. I held the book up once again and forced all my energy at the thing. Its huge tentacles rose to the top of the cavern, coming alive with light. It forced upon me a power I have never felt before; and I was already weakened by my wound. The tentacles, they were everywhere, surrounding me, burning me as I had burned it. They surrounded me an embraced me so tightly, I knew not what to do.

I saw the sad figure of David on the wall, and at the same time saw the gigantic maw of Cthulhu open – I didn’t know what to do, and then I heard a voice…

Into its mouth! Now!

I thrust the only tool I had powerful enough to defeat it into the black throat in front of me – the book.

“DIE!” I screamed, and it released me. It thrust itself back, releasing me; I lost my senses for a time, but I felt the thing dragging me along. I was helpless.

I saw the strange shadow appear again, and I could tell it was smiling. I took my knife from my belt and buried deep into the beast’s head. It released me and retreated to an one known place. I quickly ran up to David and used my knife to carve him from his prison.

He had no injuries I could find, only weakness. He could barely walk; I had to nearly carry him out of this prison of disgust and ungodly creatures. The book was gone. It had served its purpose.  We finally made it to the verges of the cavern, and he tried to speak, but I stopped him. And then we were standing in a light snow flurry – we both looked at the cavern as it vanished. I dragged him inside…

 

 

9

 

 

I took close care of David for a week – bringing him broth and liquids to bring him back. I was only the last night we spent in front of the fire that I learned all.

“Michael, I didn’t kill the nurse in the asylum,” he said. “ It was Cthulhu – I escaped into the being before anything could be done.”

“How? How did you manage to get the book in my hands?”

“I escaped long enough to give him the manuscript. I told him only one copy was needed. I paid him well – in the ensuing days, I didn’t know what would happen.”

“What happened?” I trembled as I spoke. I dropped my drink onto the carpet. “What is happening to me?” I implored David.

“I am not sure, but it’s my turn to take care of you. Off we go.”

 

 

David, under his guiding hand, his insufferable charm, cared for me for several weeks as the wound on my arm grew more pronounced. The doctors who visited had no clue, and just what were we supposed to tell them? I am growing dim now, so I cannot complete this narrative. It is up to one person…

 

 

10

 

 

David Rhodes

Michael has now taken a turn for the worse – his skin turned a beige-green, and he responded to no food or water.

Yet, he still spoke.

“You must do it now, David. End it,” he crackled.

“I can’t, Michael – there must be some other solution!”

I threw the sheets away from him. The appendices were pierced through his skin in every imaginable form, writhing, almost crawling. As his head and body grew smaller, he once last time implored me. “David, it must be now. Now, I say! Hurry!”

I ran downstairs to the kitchen and chose the largest knife I could before hastening back into Michael’s bedroom. His eyes were blackening, and more were forming on his forehead.

“You must do it now!” he exclaimed.

He took his right arm and placed it on his forehead.

The appendices thrust from his body, ruffled the blankets. I raised the tool of death or mercy (whichever you want to call it), and brought it downwards….