Have you ever woken up and just known someone was staring at you as you slept? That strange feeling of intrusion? When I rolled over from my nap after the battle with Dagon and scratched my balls on the couch I realized someone was staring intently at me. I think it was that feeling that caused me to wake up in the first place.
It was Apricus. Of course it was. She waa just staring and not even blinking at me.
“Hey beautiful. I think I fell asleep.”
She continued staring. It was disconcerting.
She proceeded to slap me.
“What the fuck?”
“Why would you do that? You have zero training, zero understanding. Do you realize that it could have killed you without batting an eye? What was going through your mind?”
“It was going to kill you. I didn’t think.”
“You are right you didn’t think. I am beginning to doubt you have ever thought one time in your entire life.”
“A little harsh. Possibly factually accurate but mean nonetheless.”
“Don’t try and deflect with humor. I was in complete control. You are wreckless And not only endangered yourself, but everything we fight for.”
“If you want an apology, it is not going to be an honest one. What is all of creation if you are not by my side? It is nothingness even if the good guys win. So I didn’t think. I acted. I saw an opening and I attacked a big scary dragon to save the woman I love. I would do it again and again of given the choice. I still don’t know how I even did it. We weren’t really there in the village, it was a memory.”
“That was the most dangerous part. You used your power to bring yourself out of the memory and into the past present. Something only a child would try and do due to the next to impossible precision it would require. You could have scattered your atoms through out time. It would have killed you and Jackie.”
“Jackie would have died about a minute after you. She was knocked out in the courtyard. I didn’t even remember I was in a memory. I didn’t see anything but you on the floor and a dragon, a dragon for fuck sake, about to jam a claw through your chest. Explains how Jackie reacted.”
“Explain to me exactly what you did.”
“Hmmm. I screamed in rage and shot lightning like the Emperor. Ran up the things back and grabbed its head and applied a shit ton of voltage until the eyeballs popped. Which was gross. I checked on you. Then we were in the library.”
“So you phase shifted your form enough into the past to allow interaction. That is why Mother unlocked your powers. She would know you would have no clue it was impossible. She knew we were to have died then so she sent you.”
“Whoa. That is some impressive foresight in Her part. But I shot lightning. And saved my damsel from a dragon. Even if I could have, what was it? Scattered my atoms throughout space and time? Badass.”
She just stared at me for a moment. Her lips moving but no words coming out.
“You idiot. You darling fool. Don’t ever do anything that stupid again. Do you hear me? I could have lost you. I could have…”
She feel onto me, sobbing. I was just sort of confused. When in doubt, hold her until the storm passes. I don’t know much, but that is one of those universal truths.
“I’m sorry my love.”
And always apologize. Even if you are unsure why.
“I could have lost you. I just found you and you could have been taken. How would I have gone on? I would have rather died then. My entire life spent searching for you and in an instant you could have died.”
“Then you understand exactly why I did it.”
She lifted Her perfect face and stared at me, tears streaming down those pale cheeks, sorrow written in Her eyes. A simple nod. Enough for the both of us. I rubbed her back as the crying slowly stopped.
I damn well could have died. I didn’t even think about that possibility. Didn’t really think at all. And I would not have done a thing differently.
“I heard you call the dragon Dagon. Any relation to the Lovecraft character?”
“How much of the Lovecraft mythos have you read?”
“Everything I could get my hands on. Second favorite American author.”
“And if you knew he was not a fiction author?”
“He got his hands on a copy of Al Azir when he was a young man. It did… things to his mind. By the time we became aware another copy existed of the text it was too late to save him.”
“Al Azir is the original title of the Necronomicon, correct? I thought it was a fictional book. Was the Mad Arab real as well?”
“Abdul Alhazred was very real. He was a member of the tribe that worshipped Jackie. After the battle with Dagon they were split across the Middle East and Africa. He followed every rumor he could featuring ancient gods hoping to find her. He found things much worse.”
“Oh fuck me. So the mythos Lovecraft created are real? R’lyeh actually exists? Is at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean like the books say? Cthulhu sleeps in the abyss waiting to consume us all.”
“You have to be pulling my leg.”
“I witnessed the fall of R’lyeh. It was a twisted land of dark magic.”
“It is one thing to suspend disbelief, it is another to have childhood belief come true. And you witnessed it. Then again there is a talking meteor in a tower that tells vague hints at the future so what the fuck do I know really.”
I am torn between being super excited and horribly traumatized. My friends and I always talked about Cthulhu. I blame Metallica for introducing me to The Thing That Should Not Be on Master of Puppets. But it was always so much crap. Until it isn’t.
“My dearest, now you understand what we face.”
“And fucking vampires.”
“You have got to let that go.”
“The odds of ever actually seeing a vampire are so miniscule. They have been nearly eradicated.”
“And the idea I went back in time to witness an event and ended up slaying dragon to save the woman I love is probably just as minute. Don’t take this from me. I have always wanted to meet a nice vampire. And possibly a werewolf.”
“Hmmm. Fair. You did slay a dragon to rescue your beloved. My knight in shining armor.”
“Heavily tarnished armor. Actually a pair basketball shorts and a ratty t-shirt. I should get extra points for that alone. Wait a second, were the Kingths of the Round Table real as well?”
“A more pompous group of arrogant assholes will never exist.”
“That sounds about right. So it is fair to assume most fairy tales have a basis in reality? Was the wolf in Red Riding Hood a werewolf? I have always had this theory that it is the only thing that makes sense.”
“It was a Lycan. The Brothers Grimm were the only fictional parts of the tales.”
“Is Stephen King recounting true stories?”
“No. He is just very twisted. We did an intense look into him. Cocaine was the source of his powers. Do not mention him to Jackie. She is not a fan.”
“Honestly after around eighty-five I am not sure anyone really is.”
“You and her will get along well on that. Do you feel up to some lunch?”
“That sounds delightful.”
“Change out of your dragon slaying gear and meet me in the library. Jackie wants to have a talk with you. I shall have Gwen make something for us.”
“Jackie doesn’t eat flies does she?”
“No. And don’t ask her if she does. She gets quite hurt at comments like that. She is quite fan of curry, the spicier the better.”
“An arachnid after my own heart. I will be there shortly.”
I waited until she shut the door and I felt her presence grow far enough away before freaking out a little. This was heavy as hell to hear. The Lovecraft mythos was some deep and dark shit. Regular monsters were something I could wrap my head around, but the mythos were specifically designed to be beyond human comprehension. That was what made them so frightening. One of them is called the Nameless Horror for fucks sake.
So I did what anyone would do. I took a long shower and tried to cry the fear out. I was alone and no one was there to see or judge me. It was a good long shower.
I felt better after decompressing from the events of the day so far. From the newly acquired knowledge as well. What had I gotten myself mixed up in? And how was I supposed to do anything to help?
I wonder if writers think these things as they stick the hero into insurmountable situations? Probably not. Bunch of uncaring bastards are just trying to sell more books. Made me really feel for the fictional bastards. I hope whoever is writing my story has an ounce of decency and let’s me live happily ever after.
Doubt it. If there is someone writing the story of my life I bet he or she is a real bastard.
As I dressed I looked at through my bookshelves. Where was it? There. A leatherbound complete Lovecraft. This was a gift from Chad last year. He sent it to me as belated birthday present. I had yet to crack the spine on it, ever since I went with a kindle I just read with that. It was a nice edition, seemed far older than I had thought. As I flipped through the pages and read passages seeing the words in a different light. Innsmouth the home to the temple of Dagon. Miskatonic University home of the library filled with evil tomes and Dr West, the Reanimator. Dunwich, home of the son of Yog Sothoth also known as the Dunwich Horror. And all of it supposed to be real.
A chill crept down my spine.
Give me a vampire any day of the week.
I had taken far longer in the shower and flipping pages. Apricus was waiting for me. The food was probably getting cold. I decided to teleport there and shave a few minutes off my time.
The world shifted, colors flowing and swaying. When it stopped I found myself not in front of the tower that houses the library. Instead I stood at the shore of a huge lake. But no lake I had ever seen. It seemed made out of clouds. Great waves of cloud banks swept to the shore, wispy mist that ebbed and flowed like water but not. A mountain range stood to my left, swirling black clouds and a cacophony of purple lightning strikes sending rumbling stone down their craggy face. And to the my right a great city.
The city was unlike any I had ever seen. All of the buildings black, shaped of black darker than black, absorbing the brackish light coming through green tinged clouds. Spires, sharpened like knives, stabbed the sky. I recognize this but I could not say where. The clouds almost hung like a malaise over the dark city. A sense of foreboding swept through me and I knew this was a place of great evil.
The ground around me lay strewn with broken tools covered with a sickly green moss. They appeared discarded haphazardly, as if the workers that built the city dropped them and threw themselves into the lake of clouds. I wondered of there was a bottom to the great lake.
From the distance I could see no signs of life from the city. Curiosity took me and I found myself walking towards the gates of the obsidian metropolis. Scrappy bush covered the ground around me, a harsh bit of too late that seemed more an affront to life than a celebration of it. A lone tree, gnarled and twisted stood in the midst of the brush, seemingly grown from a split stone at its wide base. The closer I got to the tree the clearer it grew the stone from which it grew was a marker of sorts. Closer and closer I came only to see that the stone was a headstone of sorts.
Of course it is. I should head back to the castle. But the city seems so familiar. A noise from behind me caused a slight squeal of terror. I slowly turned, feeling the power coursing through my hands. A medium sized cat with pointy ears looked warily at me before bouncing off through the village.
I tried to relax but a sense of being watched magnified. I slowly turned to the city and saw a shape in yellow standing on a parapet on the largest spire. The wind whipped the yellow cloth and the figure itself stayed motionless. There should be no way anyone could see me in the bushes and by the base of the tree but I swear I was the focus of that attention. I heard another sound, probably the cat again and quickly looked to see nothing. When I scanned the city the person in yellow was gone.
Person in yellow. No. The dawning of where I was hit like a ton of bricks in the stomach. The cloud waves, the black city and the King in Yellow. This must be Carcosa. I must have had it on my mind after paging through the mythos and accidentally come here instead.
And now I have to leave.
I concentrated on the castle and folded space around me. Or tried to at least. The whole spinny color thing happened and I expected to be home. Instead I felt dizzy and still here. I tried again and again and only managed to make myself throw up.
Fine. What would Apricus do? Not come here on accident for one. She was going to be furious. Especially when the I die here. And that is a very real possibility.
I have to learn to be smarter. I did this to myself. My own fucking hubris has me trapped in this place. And it is up to me to figure out a way out.
You are in the middle of a hellscape you thought of as fiction. What do we know? A short story by Ambrose Bierce. Think. Wait, both the cat and the tree were in that tale. So he was a truth sayer as well. What else? True Detective had the villian based on the King in Yellow but that was vague at best. A serial killer in a mask. Nonsensical and a stretch.
Metal bands have made a couple dozen songs but that was all imagery and crap for the most part. It inspired Chambers and was used by Lovecraft. The lake has a name. Think. Think. Haster? Also an ancient one I think. Fuck. Why couldn’t I have accidentally come to Tattooine? I know Star Wars.
Is that real too?
I checked my phone. Of course no service. What good is magic if you cannot get a signal?
A play. Never really fleshed out but everyday the Yellow King repeated the play. And something about black stars. If it was Blackstar, Mos Def and Talib Kweli, I would be somewhat knowledgeable. Jackie was right. I am full of useless information.
The wind picked up and it carried with it the touch of winter. I need shelter. If those clouds decide to do something I am screwed. And I don’t even know what will fall from those clouds if it does.
That leaves the city.
But it is not as empty as I previously thought. And I have no idea what the King in Yellow is. A demon maybe. Or an ancient one. Maybe I can hide out in one of the buildings. I kept low and watched for signs of yellow as I made my way inside the walls of the city.
The cobblestone streets were empty, not even trash blew along them. The winds grew stronger as I slunk down the empty streets, trying doors but all seemed locked or barred from the inside. That made an already uneasy feeling grow worse by leaps and bounds. Did the inhabitants lock themselves in for fear of something that roamed the desolate roads and alleyways?
Occasionally I saw a sign in a language I could not comprehend, alien glyphs with no basis in any on earth. I found myself whispering a silent plea to Mother to get word to Apricus. To send help. To forgive my stupidity.
I finally got lucky after I don’t know how many locked buildings and found one with an unlocked window. I scurried in, maybe not in smoothly but inside finally. I carefully scouted out room after room. Empty. Furniture in disrepair littered the rooms. A kitchen filled with moldy things I had never seen, tuborous vegetables and things so rotted I could only guess they lived at one point.
The temperature was steadily dropping and I longed to start a fire in the fireplace but did not want to give away my position. I gathered linens from the bedrooms upstairs and bundled myself up. And sat in shadows watching carefully out the windows for any signs of life outside.
I must have drifted off. I have a habit of doing that I am coming to notice. I felt for Apricus but she was not any closer than when I first arrived here. A motion outside on the street caught my eye. I slowly got closer to the window. A dog, for lack of better words, was in the road outside. It was the size of a horse, emaciated and had gaping open wounds all over it. It was pacing back and forth, and seemed to grow more agitated as it did. The beast sniffed the air, nostrils flaring and it turned towards the building I sat huddled in. I swear it looked up at the window I was lurking behind. It howled once and leapt away down and around a corner and out of sight. I leaned back and took the breath I didn’t realize I had been holding.
And then I heard a chorus of howls in reply.
Mother, I need help now. Please.
I snuck down the stairs and made sure the window was secure and then returned to me perch and watched for more of those horse sized dogs.
“Why have you come to my city stranger? Who are you to trespass in Carcosa?”
I jerked around to find a man in flowing yellow robes standing in the doorway I had just entered.
“I apologize for my intrusion. It was an accident.”
“An accident? I felt your entrance by the shores of Hali. I watched you. If it was an accident why didn’t you leave? Why trespass on my land, in my city?”
“I can’t. I have been trying but my power isn’t working.”
“Interesting. Still you trespass and the price for that is death.”
“Can we just talk about this for a minute? I will gladly leave. Seriously. If you can just open a portal I will gladly leave right now.”
He stared at me silently, robes billowing in a room with no breeze. From under it something, a tentacle perhaps whipped out and caught me in the jaw.