Francis Wayland Thurston, of Boston)
“Of such great powers or beings there may be conceivably a survival...a survival of a hugely remote period when... consciousness was manifested,perhaps, in shapes and forms long since withdrawn before the tide of advancing humanity...forms of which poetry and legend alone have caught a flying memory and called them gods, monsters,mythical beings of all sorts and kinds....”
The Horror in Clay.
The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlateall its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity,and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction,have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge willopen up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shalleither go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety ofa new dark age.
Theosophists have guessed at the awesome grandeur of the cosmic cycle whereinour world and human race form transient incidents. They have hinted at strange survivals interms which would freeze the blood if not masked by a bland optimism. But it is not from themthat there came the single glimpse of forbidden aeons which chills me when I think of it andmaddens me when I dream of it. That glimpse, like all dread glimpses of truth, flashed out froman accidental piecing together of separated things—in this case an old newspaper itemand the notes of a dead professor. I hope that no one else will accomplish this piecing out;certainly, if I live, I shall never knowingly supply a link in so hideous a chain. I think thatthe professor, too, intended to keep silent regarding the part he knew, and that he would havedestroyed his notes had not sudden death seized him.
My knowledge of the thing began in the winter of 1926–27 with the deathof my grand-uncle George Gammell Angell, Professor Emeritus of Semitic Languages in Brown University,Providence, Rhode Island. Professor Angell was widely known as an authority on ancient inscriptions,and had frequently been resorted to by the heads of prominent museums; so that his passing atthe age of ninety-two may be recalled by many. Locally, interest was intensified by the obscurityof the cause of death. The professor had been stricken whilst returning from the Newport boat;falling suddenly, as witnesses said, after having been jostled by a nautical-looking negro whohad come from one of the queer dark courts on the precipitous hillside which formed a shortcut from the waterfront to the deceased’s home in Williams Street. Physicians were unableto find any visible disorder, but concluded after perplexed debate that some obscure lesionof the heart, induced by the brisk ascent of so steep a hill by so elderly a man, was responsiblefor the end. At the time I saw no reason to dissent from this dictum, but latterly I am inclinedto wonder—and more than wonder.
As my grand-uncle’s heir and executor, for he died a childless widower,I was expected to go over his papers with some thoroughness; and for that purpose moved hisentire set of files and boxes to my quarters in Boston. Much of the material which I correlatedwill be later published by the American Archaeological Society, but there was one box whichI found exceedingly puzzling, and which I felt much averse from shewing to other eyes. It hadbeen locked, and I did not find the key till it occurred to me to examine the personal ringwhich the professor carried always in his pocket. Then indeed I succeeded in opening it, butwhen I did so seemed only to be confronted by a greater and more closely locked barrier. Forwhat could be the meaning of the queer clay bas-relief and the disjointed jottings, ramblings,and cuttings which I found? Had my uncle, in his latter years, become credulous of the mostsuperficial impostures? I resolved to search out the eccentric sculptor responsible for thisapparent disturbance of an old man’s peace of mind.
The bas-relief was a rough rectangle less than an inch thick and about fiveby six inches in area; obviously of modern origin. Its designs, however, were far from modernin atmosphere and suggestion; for although the vagaries of cubism and futurism are many andwild, they do not often reproduce that cryptic regularity which lurks in prehistoric writing.And writing of some kind the bulk of these designs seemed certainly to be; though my memory,despite much familiarity with the papers and collections of my uncle, failed in any way to identifythis particular species, or even to hint at its remotest affiliations.
Above these apparent hieroglyphics was a figure of evidently pictorial intent,though its impressionistic execution forbade a very clear idea of its nature. It seemed to bea sort of monster, or symbol representing a monster, of a form which only a diseased fancy couldconceive. If I say that my somewhat extravagant imagination yielded simultaneous pictures ofan octopus, a dragon, and a human caricature, I shall not be unfaithful to the spirit of thething. A pulpy, tentacled head surmounted a grotesque and scaly body with rudimentary wings;but it was the general outline of the whole which made it most shockingly frightful.Behind the figure was a vague suggestion of a Cyclopean architectural background.
The writing accompanying this oddity was, aside from a stack of press cuttings,in Professor Angell’s most recent hand; and made no pretence to literary style. What seemedto be the main document was headed “CTHULHU CULT” in characters painstakingly printedto avoid the erroneous reading of a word so unheard-of. The manuscript was divided into twosections, the first of which was headed “1925—Dream and Dream Work of H. A. Wilcox,7 Thomas St., Providence, R.I.”, and the second, “Narrative of Inspector John R.Legrasse, 121 Bienville St., New Orleans, La., at 1908 A. A. S. Mtg.—Notes on Same, &Prof. Webb’s Acct.” The other manuscript papers were all brief notes, some of themaccounts of the queer dreams of different persons, some of them citations from theosophicalbooks and magazines (notably W. Scott-Elliot’s Atlantis and the Lost Lemuria),and the rest comments on long-surviving secret societies and hidden cults, with references topassages in such mythological and anthropological source-books as Frazer’s Golden Boughand Miss Murray’s Witch-Cult in Western Europe. The cuttings largely alluded tooutré mental illnesses and outbreaks of group folly or mania in the spring of 1925.
The first half of the principal manuscript told a very peculiar tale. It appearsthat on March 1st, 1925, a thin, dark young man of neurotic and excited aspect had called uponProfessor Angell bearing the singular clay bas-relief, which was then exceedingly damp and fresh.His card bore the name of Henry Anthony Wilcox, and my uncle had recognised him as the youngestson of an excellent family slightly known to him, who had latterly been studying sculpture atthe Rhode Island School of Design and living alone at the Fleur-de-Lys Building near that institution.Wilcox was a precocious youth of known genius but great eccentricity, and had from childhoodexcited attention through the strange stories and odd dreams he was in the habit of relating.He called himself “psychically hypersensitive”, but the staid folk of the ancientcommercial city dismissed him as merely “queer”. Never mingling much with his kind,he had dropped gradually from social visibility, and was now known only to a small group ofaesthetes from other towns. Even the Providence Art Club, anxious to preserve its conservatism,had found him quite hopeless.
On the occasion of the visit, ran the professor’s manuscript, the sculptorabruptly asked for the benefit of his host’s archaeological knowledge in identifying thehieroglyphics on the bas-relief. He spoke in a dreamy, stilted manner which suggested pose andalienated sympathy; and my uncle shewed some sharpness in replying, for the conspicuous freshnessof the tablet implied kinship with anything but archaeology. Young Wilcox’s rejoinder,which impressed my uncle enough to make him recall and record it verbatim, was of a fantasticallypoetic cast which must have typified his whole conversation, and which I have since found highlycharacteristic of him. He said, “It is new, indeed, for I made it last night in a dreamof strange cities; and dreams are older than brooding Tyre, or the contemplative Sphinx, orgarden-girdled Babylon.”
It was then that he began that rambling tale which suddenly played upon a sleepingmemory and won the fevered interest of my uncle. There had been a slight earthquake tremor thenight before, the most considerable felt in New England for some years; and Wilcox’s imaginationhad been keenly affected. Upon retiring, he had had an unprecedented dream of great Cyclopeancities of titan blocks and sky-flung monoliths, all dripping with green ooze and sinister withlatent horror. Hieroglyphics had covered the walls and pillars, and from some undetermined pointbelow had come a voice that was not a voice; a chaotic sensation which only fancy could transmuteinto sound, but which he attempted to render by the almost unpronounceable jumble of letters,“Cthulhu fhtagn”.
This verbal jumble was the key to the recollection which excited and disturbedProfessor Angell. He questioned the sculptor with scientific minuteness; and studied with almostfrantic intensity the bas-relief on which the youth had found himself working, chilled and cladonly in his night-clothes, when waking had stolen bewilderingly over him. My uncle blamed hisold age, Wilcox afterward said, for his slowness in recognising both hieroglyphics and pictorialdesign. Many of his questions seemed highly out-of-place to his visitor, especially those whichtried to connect the latter with strange cults or societies; and Wilcox could not understandthe repeated promises of silence which he was offered in exchange for an admission of membershipin some widespread mystical or paganly religious body. When Professor Angell became convincedthat the sculptor was indeed ignorant of any cult or system of cryptic lore, he besieged hisvisitor with demands for future reports of dreams. This bore regular fruit, for after the firstinterview the manuscript records daily calls of the young man, during which he related startlingfragments of nocturnal imagery whose burden was always some terrible Cyclopean vista of darkand dripping stone, with a subterrene voice or intelligence shouting monotonously in enigmaticalsense-impacts uninscribable save as gibberish. The two sounds most frequently repeated are thoserendered by the letters “Cthulhu” and “R’lyeh”.
On March 23d, the manuscript continued, Wilcox failed to appear; and inquiriesat his quarters revealed that he had been stricken with an obscure sort of fever and taken tothe home of his family in Waterman Street. He had cried out in the night, arousing several otherartists in the building, and had manifested since then only alternations of unconsciousnessand delirium. My uncle at once telephoned the family, and from that time forward kept closewatch of the case; calling often at the Thayer Street office of Dr. Tobey, whom he learned tobe in charge. The youth’s febrile mind, apparently, was dwelling on strange things; andthe doctor shuddered now and then as he spoke of them. They included not only a repetition ofwhat he had formerly dreamed, but touched wildly on a gigantic thing “miles high”which walked or lumbered about. He at no time fully described this object, but occasional franticwords, as repeated by Dr. Tobey, convinced the professor that it must be identical with thenameless monstrosity he had sought to depict in his dream-sculpture. Reference to this object,the doctor added, was invariably a prelude to the young man’s subsidence into lethargy.His temperature, oddly enough, was not greatly above normal; but his whole condition was otherwisesuch as to suggest true fever rather than mental disorder.
On April 2nd at about 3 p.m. every trace of Wilcox’s malady suddenlyceased. He sat upright in bed, astonished to find himself at home and completely ignorant ofwhat had happened in dream or reality since the night of March 22nd. Pronounced well by hisphysician, he returned to his quarters in three days; but to Professor Angell he was of no furtherassistance. All traces of strange dreaming had vanished with his recovery, and my uncle keptno record of his night-thoughts after a week of pointless and irrelevant accounts of thoroughlyusual visions.
Here the first part of the manuscript ended, but references to certain of thescattered notes gave me much material for thought—so much, in fact, that only the ingrainedscepticism then forming my philosophy can account for my continued distrust of the artist. Thenotes in question were those descriptive of the dreams of various persons covering the sameperiod as that in which young Wilcox had had his strange visitations. My uncle, it seems, hadquickly instituted a prodigiously far-flung body of inquiries amongst nearly all the friendswhom he could question without impertinence, asking for nightly reports of their dreams, andthe dates of any notable visions for some time past. The reception of his request seems to havebeen varied; but he must, at the very least, have received more responses than any ordinaryman could have handled without a secretary. This original correspondence was not preserved,but his notes formed a thorough and really significant digest. Average people in society andbusiness—New England’s traditional “salt of the earth”—gave analmost completely negative result, though scattered cases of uneasy but formless nocturnal impressionsappear here and there, always between March 23d and April 2nd—the period of young Wilcox’sdelirium. Scientific men were little more affected, though four cases of vague description suggestfugitive glimpses of strange landscapes, and in one case there is mentioned a dread of somethingabnormal.
It was from the artists and poets that the pertinent answers came, and I knowthat panic would have broken loose had they been able to compare notes. As it was, lacking theiroriginal letters, I half suspected the compiler of having asked leading questions, or of havingedited the correspondence in corroboration of what he had latently resolved to see. That iswhy I continued to feel that Wilcox, somehow cognisant of the old data which my uncle had possessed,had been imposing on the veteran scientist. These responses from aesthetes told a disturbingtale. From February 28th to April 2nd a large proportion of them had dreamed very bizarre things,the intensity of the dreams being immeasurably the stronger during the period of the sculptor’sdelirium. Over a fourth of those who reported anything, reported scenes and half-sounds notunlike those which Wilcox had described; and some of the dreamers confessed acute fear of thegigantic nameless thing visible toward the last. One case, which the note describes with emphasis,was very sad. The subject, a widely known architect with leanings toward theosophy and occultism,went violently insane on the date of young Wilcox’s seizure, and expired several monthslater after incessant screamings to be saved from some escaped denizen of hell. Had my unclereferred to these cases by name instead of merely by number, I should have attempted some corroborationand personal investigation; but as it was, I succeeded in tracing down only a few. All of these,however, bore out the notes in full. I have often wondered if all the objects of the professor’squestioning felt as puzzled as did this fraction. It is well that no explanation shall everreach them.
The press cuttings, as I have intimated, touched on cases of panic, mania,and eccentricity during the given period. Professor Angell must have employed a cutting bureau,for the number of extracts was tremendous and the sources scattered throughout the globe. Herewas a nocturnal suicide in London, where a lone sleeper had leaped from a window after a shockingcry. Here likewise a rambling letter to the editor of a paper in South America, where a fanaticdeduces a dire future from visions he has seen. A despatch from California describes a theosophistcolony as donning white robes en masse for some “glorious fulfilment” which neverarrives, whilst items from India speak guardedly of serious native unrest toward the end ofMarch. Voodoo orgies multiply in Hayti, and African outposts report ominous mutterings. Americanofficers in the Philippines find certain tribes bothersome about this time, and New York policemenare mobbed by hysterical Levantines on the night of March 22–23. The west of Ireland,too, is full of wild rumour and legendry, and a fantastic painter named Ardois-Bonnot hangsa blasphemous “Dream Landscape” in the Paris spring salon of 1926. And so numerousare the recorded troubles in insane asylums, that only a miracle can have stopped the medicalfraternity from noting strange parallelisms and drawing mystified conclusions. A weird bunchof cuttings, all told; and I can at this date scarcely envisage the callous rationalism withwhich I set them aside. But I was then convinced that young Wilcox had known of the older mattersmentioned by the professor.
The Tale of Inspector Legrasse.
The older matters which had made the sculptor’s dream and bas-relief so significant tomy uncle formed the subject of the second half of his long manuscript. Once before, it appears,Professor Angell had seen the hellish outlines of the nameless monstrosity, puzzled over theunknown hieroglyphics, and heard the ominous syllables which can be rendered only as “Cthulhu”;and all this in so stirring and horrible a connexion that it is small wonder he pursued youngWilcox with queries and demands for data.
The earlier experience had come in 1908, seventeen years before, when the AmericanArchaeological Society held its annual meeting in St. Louis. Professor Angell, as befitted oneof his authority and attainments, had had a prominent part in all the deliberations; and wasone of the first to be approached by the several outsiders who took advantage of the convocationto offer questions for correct answering and problems for expert solution.
The chief of these outsiders, and in a short time the focus of interest forthe entire meeting, was a commonplace-looking middle-aged man who had travelled all the wayfrom New Orleans for certain special information unobtainable from any local source. His namewas John Raymond Legrasse, and he was by profession an Inspector of Police. With him he borethe subject of his visit, a grotesque, repulsive, and apparently very ancient stone statuettewhose origin he was at a loss to determine. It must not be fancied that Inspector Legrasse hadthe least interest in archaeology. On the contrary, his wish for enlightenment was promptedby purely professional considerations. The statuette, idol, fetish, or whatever it was, hadbeen captured some months before in the wooded swamps south of New Orleans during a raid ona supposed voodoo meeting; and so singular and hideous were the rites connected with it, thatthe police could not but realise that they had stumbled on a dark cult totally unknown to them,and infinitely more diabolic than even the blackest of the African voodoo circles. Of its origin,apart from the erratic and unbelievable tales extorted from the captured members, absolutelynothing was to be discovered; hence the anxiety of the police for any antiquarian lore whichmight help them to place the frightful symbol, and through it track down the cult to its fountain-head.
Inspector Legrasse was scarcely prepared for the sensation which his offeringcreated. One sight of the thing had been enough to throw the assembled men of science into astate of tense excitement, and they lost no time in crowding around him to gaze at the diminutivefigure whose utter strangeness and air of genuinely abysmal antiquity hinted so potently atunopened and archaic vistas. No recognised school of sculpture had animated this terrible object,yet centuries and even thousands of years seemed recorded in its dim and greenish surface ofunplaceable stone.
The figure, which was finally passed slowly from man to man for close and carefulstudy, was between seven and eight inches in height, and of exquisitely artistic workmanship.It represented a monster of vaguely anthropoid outline, but with an octopus-like head whoseface was a mass of feelers, a scaly, rubbery-looking body, prodigious claws on hind and forefeet, and long, narrow wings behind. This thing, which seemed instinct with a fearsome and unnaturalmalignancy, was of a somewhat bloated corpulence, and squatted evilly on a rectangular blockor pedestal covered with undecipherable characters. The tips of the wings touched the back edgeof the block, the seat occupied the centre, whilst the long, curved claws of the doubled-up,crouching hind legs gripped the front edge and extended a quarter of the way down toward thebottom of the pedestal. The cephalopod head was bent forward, so that the ends of the facialfeelers brushed the backs of huge fore paws which clasped the croucher’s elevated knees.The aspect of the whole was abnormally life-like, and the more subtly fearful because its sourcewas so totally unknown. Its vast, awesome, and incalculable age was unmistakable; yet not onelink did it shew with any known type of art belonging to civilisation’s youth—orindeed to any other time. Totally separate and apart, its very material was a mystery; for thesoapy, greenish-black stone with its golden or iridescent flecks and striations resembled nothingfamiliar to geology or mineralogy. The characters along the base were equally baffling; andno member present, despite a representation of half the world’s expert learning in thisfield, could form the least notion of even their remotest linguistic kinship. They, like thesubject and material, belonged to something horribly remote and distinct from mankind as weknow it; something frightfully suggestive of old and unhallowed cycles of life in which ourworld and our conceptions have no part.
And yet, as the members severally shook their heads and confessed defeat atthe Inspector’s problem, there was one man in that gathering who suspected a touch ofbizarre familiarity in the monstrous shape and writing, and who presently told with some diffidenceof the odd trifle he knew. This person was the late William Channing Webb, Professor of Anthropologyin Princeton University, and an explorer of no slight note. Professor Webb had been engaged,forty-eight years before, in a tour of Greenland and Iceland in search of some Runic inscriptionswhich he failed to unearth; and whilst high up on the West Greenland coast had encountered asingular tribe or cult of degenerate Esquimaux whose religion, a curious form of devil-worship,chilled him with its deliberate bloodthirstiness and repulsiveness. It was a faith of whichother Esquimaux knew little, and which they mentioned only with shudders, saying that it hadcome down from horribly ancient aeons before ever the world was made. Besides nameless ritesand human sacrifices there were certain queer hereditary rituals addressed to a supreme elderdevil or tornasuk; and of this Professor Webb had taken a careful phonetic copy froman aged angekok or wizard-priest, expressing the sounds in Roman letters as best he knewhow. But just now of prime significance was the fetish which this cult had cherished, and aroundwhich they danced when the aurora leaped high over the ice cliffs. It was, the professor stated,a very crude bas-relief of stone, comprising a hideous picture and some cryptic writing. Andso far as he could tell, it was a rough parallel in all essential features of the bestial thingnow lying before the meeting.
This data, received with suspense and astonishment by the assembled members,proved doubly exciting to Inspector Legrasse; and he began at once to ply his informant withquestions. Having noted and copied an oral ritual among the swamp cult-worshippers his men hadarrested, he besought the professor to remember as best he might the syllables taken down amongstthe diabolist Esquimaux. There then followed an exhaustive comparison of details, and a momentof really awed silence when both detective and scientist agreed on the virtual identity of thephrase common to two hellish rituals so many worlds of distance apart. What, in substance, boththe Esquimau wizards and the Louisiana swamp-priests had chanted to their kindred idols wassomething very like this—the word-divisions being guessed at from traditional breaks inthe phrase as chanted aloud:
“Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’naglfhtagn.”
Legrasse had one point in advance of Professor Webb, for several among hismongrel prisoners had repeated to him what older celebrants had told them the words meant. Thistext, as given, ran something like this:
“In his house at R’lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.”
And now, in response to a general and urgent demand, Inspector Legrasse relatedas fully as possible his experience with the swamp worshippers; telling a story to which I couldsee my uncle attached profound significance. It savoured of the wildest dreams of myth-makerand theosophist, and disclosed an astonishing degree of cosmic imagination among such half-castesand pariahs as might be least expected to possess it.
On November 1st, 1907, there had come to the New Orleans police a frantic summonsfrom the swamp and lagoon country to the south. The squatters there, mostly primitive but good-natureddescendants of Lafitte’s men, were in the grip of stark terror from an unknown thing whichhad stolen upon them in the night. It was voodoo, apparently, but voodoo of a more terriblesort than they had ever known; and some of their women and children had disappeared since themalevolent tom-tom had begun its incessant beating far within the black haunted woods whereno dweller ventured. There were insane shouts and harrowing screams, soul-chilling chants anddancing devil-flames; and, the frightened messenger added, the people could stand it no more.
So a body of twenty police, filling two carriages and an automobile, had setout in the late afternoon with the shivering squatter as a guide. At the end of the passableroad they alighted, and for miles splashed on in silence through the terrible cypress woodswhere day never came. Ugly roots and malignant hanging nooses of Spanish moss beset them, andnow and then a pile of dank stones or fragment of a rotting wall intensified by its hint ofmorbid habitation a depression which every malformed tree and every fungous islet combined tocreate. At length the squatter settlement, a miserable huddle of huts, hove in sight; and hystericaldwellers ran out to cluster around the group of bobbing lanterns. The muffled beat of tom-tomswas now faintly audible far, far ahead; and a curdling shriek came at infrequent intervals whenthe wind shifted. A reddish glare, too, seemed to filter through the pale undergrowth beyondendless avenues of forest night. Reluctant even to be left alone again, each one of the cowedsquatters refused point-blank to advance another inch toward the scene of unholy worship, soInspector Legrasse and his nineteen colleagues plunged on unguided into black arcades of horrorthat none of them had ever trod before.
The region now entered by the police was one of traditionally evil repute,substantially unknown and untraversed by white men. There were legends of a hidden lake unglimpsedby mortal sight, in which dwelt a huge, formless white polypous thing with luminous eyes; andsquatters whispered that bat-winged devils flew up out of caverns in inner earth to worshipit at midnight. They said it had been there before D’Iberville, before La Salle, beforethe Indians, and before even the wholesome beasts and birds of the woods. It was nightmare itself,and to see it was to die. But it made men dream, and so they knew enough to keep away. The presentvoodoo orgy was, indeed, on the merest fringe of this abhorred area, but that location was badenough; hence perhaps the very place of the worship had terrified the squatters more than theshocking sounds and incidents.
Only poetry or madness could do justice to the noises heard by Legrasse’smen as they ploughed on through the black morass toward the red glare and the muffled tom-toms.There are vocal qualities peculiar to men, and vocal qualities peculiar to beasts; and it isterrible to hear the one when the source should yield the other. Animal fury and orgiastic licencehere whipped themselves to daemoniac heights by howls and squawking ecstasies that tore andreverberated through those nighted woods like pestilential tempests from the gulfs of hell.Now and then the less organised ululation would cease, and from what seemed a well-drilled chorusof hoarse voices would rise in sing-song chant that hideous phrase or ritual:
“Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’naglfhtagn.”
Then the men, having reached a spot where the trees were thinner, came suddenly in sight ofthe spectacle itself. Four of them reeled, one fainted, and two were shaken into a frantic crywhich the mad cacophony of the orgy fortunately deadened. Legrasse dashed swamp water on theface of the fainting man, and all stood trembling and nearly hypnotised with horror.
In a natural glade of the swamp stood a grassy island of perhaps an acre’sextent, clear of trees and tolerably dry. On this now leaped and twisted a more indescribablehorde of human abnormality than any but a Sime or an Angarola could paint. Void of clothing,this hybrid spawn were braying, bellowing, and writhing about a monstrous ring-shaped bonfire;in the centre of which, revealed by occasional rifts in the curtain of flame, stood a greatgranite monolith some eight feet in height; on top of which, incongruous with its diminutiveness,rested the noxious carven statuette. From a wide circle of ten scaffolds set up at regular intervalswith the flame-girt monolith as a centre hung, head downward, the oddly marred bodies of thehelpless squatters who had disappeared. It was inside this circle that the ring of worshippersjumped and roared, the general direction of the mass motion being from left to right in endlessBacchanal between the ring of bodies and the ring of fire.
It may have been only imagination and it may have been only echoes which inducedone of the men, an excitable Spaniard, to fancy he heard antiphonal responses to the ritualfrom some far and unillumined spot deeper within the wood of ancient legendry and horror. Thisman, Joseph D. Galvez, I later met and questioned; and he proved distractingly imaginative.He indeed went so far as to hint of the faint beating of great wings, and of a glimpse of shiningeyes and a mountainous white bulk beyond the remotest trees—but I suppose he had beenhearing too much native superstition.
Actually, the horrified pause of the men was of comparatively brief duration.Duty came first; and although there must have been nearly a hundred mongrel celebrants in thethrong, the police relied on their firearms and plunged determinedly into the nauseous rout.For five minutes the resultant din and chaos were beyond description. Wild blows were struck,shots were fired, and escapes were made; but in the end Legrasse was able to count some forty-sevensullen prisoners, whom he forced to dress in haste and fall into line between two rows of policemen.Five of the worshippers lay dead, and two severely wounded ones were carried away on improvisedstretchers by their fellow-prisoners. The image on the monolith, of course, was carefully removedand carried back by Legrasse.
Examined at headquarters after a trip of intense strain and weariness, theprisoners all proved to be men of a very low, mixed-blooded, and mentally aberrant type. Mostwere seamen, and a sprinkling of negroes and mulattoes, largely West Indians or Brava Portuguesefrom the Cape Verde Islands, gave a colouring of voodooism to the heterogeneous cult. But beforemany questions were asked, it became manifest that something far deeper and older than negrofetichism was involved. Degraded and ignorant as they were, the creatures held with surprisingconsistency to the central idea of their loathsome faith.
They worshipped, so they said, the Great Old Ones who lived ages before therewere any men, and who came to the young world out of the sky. Those Old Ones were gone now,inside the earth and under the sea; but their dead bodies had told their secrets in dreams tothe first men, who formed a cult which had never died. This was that cult, and the prisonerssaid it had always existed and always would exist, hidden in distant wastes and dark placesall over the world until the time when the great priest Cthulhu, from his dark house in themighty city of R’lyeh under the waters, should rise and bring the earth again beneathhis sway. Some day he would call, when the stars were ready, and the secret cult would alwaysbe waiting to liberate him.
Meanwhile no more must be told. There was a secret which even torture couldnot extract. Mankind was not absolutely alone among the conscious things of earth, for shapescame out of the dark to visit the faithful few. But these were not the Great Old Ones. No manhad ever seen the Old Ones. The carven idol was great Cthulhu, but none might say whether ornot the others were precisely like him. No one could read the old writing now, but things weretold by word of mouth. The chanted ritual was not the secret—that was never spoken aloud,only whispered. The chant meant only this: “In his house at R’lyeh dead Cthulhuwaits dreaming.”
Only two of the prisoners were found sane enough to be hanged, and the restwere committed to various institutions. All denied a part in the ritual murders, and averredthat the killing had been done by Black Winged Ones which had come to them from their immemorialmeeting-place in the haunted wood. But of those mysterious allies no coherent account couldever be gained. What the police did extract, came mainly from an immensely aged mestizo namedCastro, who claimed to have sailed to strange ports and talked with undying leaders of the cultin the mountains of China.
Old Castro remembered bits of hideous legend that paled the speculations oftheosophists and made man and the world seem recent and transient indeed. There had been aeonswhen other Things ruled on the earth, and They had had great cities. Remains of Them, he saidthe deathless Chinamen had told him, were still to be found as Cyclopean stones on islands inthe Pacific. They all died vast epochs of time before men came, but there were arts which couldrevive Them when the stars had come round again to the right positions in the cycle of eternity.They had, indeed, come themselves from the stars, and brought Their images with Them.
These Great Old Ones, Castro continued, were not composed altogether of fleshand blood. They had shape—for did not this star-fashioned image prove it?—but thatshape was not made of matter. When the stars were right, They could plunge from world to worldthrough the sky; but when the stars were wrong, They could not live. But although They no longerlived, They would never really die. They all lay in stone houses in Their great city of R’lyeh,preserved by the spells of mighty Cthulhu for a glorious resurrection when the stars and theearth might once more be ready for Them. But at that time some force from outside must serveto liberate Their bodies. The spells that preserved Them intact likewise prevented Them frommaking an initial move, and They could only lie awake in the dark and think whilst uncountedmillions of years rolled by. They knew all that was occurring in the universe, but Their modeof speech was transmitted thought. Even now They talked in Their tombs. When, after infinitiesof chaos, the first men came, the Great Old Ones spoke to the sensitive among them by mouldingtheir dreams; for only thus could Their language reach the fleshly minds of mammals.
Then, whispered Castro, those first men formed the cult around small idolswhich the Great Ones shewed them; idols brought in dim aeras from dark stars. That cult wouldnever die till the stars came right again, and the secret priests would take great Cthulhu fromHis tomb to revive His subjects and resume His rule of earth. The time would be easy to know,for then mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild and beyond good andevil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and revelling in joy.Then the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoythemselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom. Meanwhilethe cult, by appropriate rites, must keep alive the memory of those ancient ways and shadowforth the prophecy of their return.
In the elder time chosen men had talked with the entombed Old Ones in dreams,but then something had happened. The great stone city R’lyeh, with its monoliths and sepulchres,had sunk beneath the waves; and the deep waters, full of the one primal mystery through whichnot even thought can pass, had cut off the spectral intercourse. But memory never died, andhigh-priests said that the city would rise again when the stars were right. Then came out ofthe earth the black spirits of earth, mouldy and shadowy, and full of dim rumours picked upin caverns beneath forgotten sea-bottoms. But of them old Castro dared not speak much. He cuthimself off hurriedly, and no amount of persuasion or subtlety could elicit more in this direction.The size of the Old Ones, too, he curiously declined to mention. Of the cult, he saidthat he thought the centre lay amid the pathless deserts of Arabia, where Irem, the City ofPillars, dreams hidden and untouched. It was not allied to the European witch-cult, and wasvirtually unknown beyond its members. No book had ever really hinted of it, though the deathlessChinamen said that there were double meanings in the Necronomicon of the mad Arab AbdulAlhazred which the initiated might read as they chose, especially the much-discussed couplet:
“That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death may die.”
Legrasse, deeply impressed and not a little bewildered, had inquired in vainconcerning the historic affiliations of the cult. Castro, apparently, had told the truth whenhe said that it was wholly secret. The authorities at Tulane University could shed no lightupon either cult or image, and now the detective had come to the highest authorities in thecountry and met with no more than the Greenland tale of Professor Webb.
The feverish interest aroused at the meeting by Legrasse’s tale, corroboratedas it was by the statuette, is echoed in the subsequent correspondence of those who attended;although scant mention occurs in the formal publications of the society. Caution is the firstcare of those accustomed to face occasional charlatanry and imposture. Legrasse for some timelent the image to Professor Webb, but at the latter’s death it was returned to him andremains in his possession, where I viewed it not long ago. It is truly a terrible thing, andunmistakably akin to the dream-sculpture of young Wilcox.
That my uncle was excited by the tale of the sculptor I did not wonder, forwhat thoughts must arise upon hearing, after a knowledge of what Legrasse had learned of thecult, of a sensitive young man who had dreamed not only the figure and exact hieroglyphicsof the swamp-found image and the Greenland devil tablet, but had come in his dreams uponat least three of the precise words of the formula uttered alike by Esquimau diabolists andmongrel Louisianans? Professor Angell’s instant start on an investigation of the utmostthoroughness was eminently natural; though privately I suspected young Wilcox of having heardof the cult in some indirect way, and of having invented a series of dreams to heighten andcontinue the mystery at my uncle’s expense. The dream-narratives and cuttings collectedby the professor were, of course, strong corroboration; but the rationalism of my mind and theextravagance of the whole subject led me to adopt what I thought the most sensible conclusions.So, after thoroughly studying the manuscript again and correlating the theosophical and anthropologicalnotes with the cult narrative of Legrasse, I made a trip to Providence to see the sculptor andgive him the rebuke I thought proper for so boldly imposing upon a learned and aged man.
Wilcox still lived alone in the Fleur-de-Lys Building in Thomas Street, a hideousVictorian imitation of seventeenth-century Breton architecture which flaunts its stuccoed frontamidst the lovely colonial houses on the ancient hill, and under the very shadow of the finestGeorgian steeple in America. I found him at work in his rooms, and at once conceded from thespecimens scattered about that his genius is indeed profound and authentic. He will, I believe,some time be heard from as one of the great decadents; for he has crystallised in clay and willone day mirror in marble those nightmares and phantasies which Arthur Machen evokes in prose,and Clark Ashton Smith makes visible in verse and in painting.
Dark, frail, and somewhat unkempt in aspect, he turned languidly at my knockand asked me my business without rising. When I told him who I was, he displayed some interest;for my uncle had excited his curiosity in probing his strange dreams, yet had never explainedthe reason for the study. I did not enlarge his knowledge in this regard, but sought with somesubtlety to draw him out. In a short time I became convinced of his absolute sincerity, forhe spoke of the dreams in a manner none could mistake. They and their subconscious residuumhad influenced his art profoundly, and he shewed me a morbid statue whose contours almost mademe shake with the potency of its black suggestion. He could not recall having seen the originalof this thing except in his own dream bas-relief, but the outlines had formed themselves insensiblyunder his hands. It was, no doubt, the giant shape he had raved of in delirium. That he reallyknew nothing of the hidden cult, save from what my uncle’s relentless catechism had letfall, he soon made clear; and again I strove to think of some way in which he could possiblyhave received the weird impressions.
He talked of his dreams in a strangely poetic fashion; making me see with terriblevividness the damp Cyclopean city of slimy green stone—whose geometry, he oddlysaid, was all wrong—and hear with frightened expectancy the ceaseless, half-mentalcalling from underground: “Cthulhu fhtagn”, “Cthulhu fhtagn”.These words had formed part of that dread ritual which told of dead Cthulhu’s dream-vigilin his stone vault at R’lyeh, and I felt deeply moved despite my rational beliefs. Wilcox,I was sure, had heard of the cult in some casual way, and had soon forgotten it amidst the massof his equally weird reading and imagining. Later, by virtue of its sheer impressiveness, ithad found subconscious expression in dreams, in the bas-relief, and in the terrible statue Inow beheld; so that his imposture upon my uncle had been a very innocent one. The youth wasof a type, at once slightly affected and slightly ill-mannered, which I could never like; butI was willing enough now to admit both his genius and his honesty. I took leave of him amicably,and wish him all the success his talent promises.
The matter of the cult still remained to fascinate me, and at times I had visionsof personal fame from researches into its origin and connexions. I visited New Orleans, talkedwith Legrasse and others of that old-time raiding-party, saw the frightful image, and even questionedsuch of the mongrel prisoners as still survived. Old Castro, unfortunately, had been dead forsome years. What I now heard so graphically at first-hand, though it was really no more thana detailed confirmation of what my uncle had written, excited me afresh; for I felt sure thatI was on the track of a very real, very secret, and very ancient religion whose discovery wouldmake me an anthropologist of note. My attitude was still one of absolute materialism, asI wish it still were, and I discounted with almost inexplicable perversity the coincidenceof the dream notes and odd cuttings collected by Professor Angell.
One thing I began to suspect, and which I now fear I know, is that myuncle’s death was far from natural. He fell on a narrow hill street leading up from anancient waterfront swarming with foreign mongrels, after a careless push from a negro sailor.I did not forget the mixed blood and marine pursuits of the cult-members in Louisiana, and wouldnot be surprised to learn of secret methods and poison needles as ruthless and as ancientlyknown as the cryptic rites and beliefs. Legrasse and his men, it is true, have been let alone;but in Norway a certain seaman who saw things is dead. Might not the deeper inquiries of myuncle after encountering the sculptor’s data have come to sinister ears? I think ProfessorAngell died because he knew too much, or because he was likely to learn too much. Whether Ishall go as he did remains to be seen, for I have learned much now.
The Madness from the Sea.
If heaven ever wishes to grant me a boon, it will be a total effacing of the results of a merechance which fixed my eye on a certain stray piece of shelf-paper. It was nothing on which Iwould naturally have stumbled in the course of my daily round, for it was an old number of anAustralian journal, the Sydney Bulletin for April 18, 1925. It had escaped even the cuttingbureau which had at the time of its issuance been avidly collecting material for my uncle’sresearch.
I had largely given over my inquiries into what Professor Angell called the“Cthulhu Cult”, and was visiting a learned friend in Paterson, New Jersey; the curatorof a local museum and a mineralogist of note. Examining one day the reserve specimens roughlyset on the storage shelves in a rear room of the museum, my eye was caught by an odd picturein one of the old papers spread beneath the stones. It was the Sydney Bulletin I havementioned, for my friend has wide affiliations in all conceivable foreign parts; and the picturewas a half-tone cut of a hideous stone image almost identical with that which Legrasse had foundin the swamp.
Eagerly clearing the sheet of its precious contents, I scanned the item indetail; and was disappointed to find it of only moderate length. What it suggested, however,was of portentous significance to my flagging quest; and I carefully tore it out for immediateaction. It read as follows:
MYSTERY DERELICT FOUND AT SEA
Vigilant Arrives With Helpless Armed New Zealand Yacht in Tow.
One Survivor and Dead Man Found Aboard. Tale of
Desperate Battle and Deaths at Sea.
Rescued Seaman Refuses
Particulars of Strange Experience.
Odd Idol Found in His Possession. Inquiry
The Morrison Co.’s freighter Vigilant, bound from Valparaiso, arrived this morningat its wharf in Darling Harbour, having in tow the battled and disabled but heavily armed steamyacht Alert of Dunedin, N. Z., which was sighted April 12th in S. Latitude 34° 21′,W. Longitude 152° 17′ with one living and one dead man aboard.
The Vigilant left Valparaiso March 25th, and on April 2nd was drivenconsiderably south of her course by exceptionally heavy storms and monster waves. On April 12ththe derelict was sighted; and though apparently deserted, was found upon boarding to containone survivor in a half-delirious condition and one man who had evidently been dead for morethan a week. The living man was clutching a horrible stone idol of unknown origin, about a footin height, regarding whose nature authorities at Sydney University, the Royal Society, and theMuseum in College Street all profess complete bafflement, and which the survivor says he foundin the cabin of the yacht, in a small carved shrine of common pattern.
This man, after recovering his senses, told an exceedingly strange story ofpiracy and slaughter. He is Gustaf Johansen, a Norwegian of some intelligence, and had beensecond mate of the two-masted schooner Emma of Auckland, which sailed for Callao February20th with a complement of eleven men. The Emma, he says, was delayed and thrown widelysouth of her course by the great storm of March 1st, and on March 22nd, in S. Latitude 49°51′, W. Longitude 128° 34′, encountered the Alert, manned by a queer and evil-lookingcrew of Kanakas and half-castes. Being ordered peremptorily to turn back, Capt. Collins refused;whereupon the strange crew began to fire savagely and without warning upon the schooner witha peculiarly heavy battery of brass cannon forming part of the yacht’s equipment. TheEmma’s men shewed fight, says the survivor, and though the schooner began to sinkfrom shots beneath the waterline they managed to heave alongside their enemy and board her,grappling with the savage crew on the yacht’s deck, and being forced to kill them all,the number being slightly superior, because of their particularly abhorrent and desperate thoughrather clumsy mode of fighting.
Three of the Emma’s men, including Capt. Collins and First MateGreen, were killed; and the remaining eight under Second Mate Johansen proceeded to navigatethe captured yacht, going ahead in their original direction to see if any reason for their orderingback had existed. The next day, it appears, they raised and landed on a small island, althoughnone is known to exist in that part of the ocean; and six of the men somehow died ashore, thoughJohansen is queerly reticent about this part of his story, and speaks only of their fallinginto a rock chasm. Later, it seems, he and one companion boarded the yacht and tried to manageher, but were beaten about by the storm of April 2nd. From that time till his rescue on the12th the man remembers little, and he does not even recall when William Briden, his companion,died. Briden’s death reveals no apparent cause, and was probably due to excitement orexposure. Cable advices from Dunedin report that the Alert was well known there as anisland trader, and bore an evil reputation along the waterfront. It was owned by a curious groupof half-castes whose frequent meetings and night trips to the woods attracted no little curiosity;and it had set sail in great haste just after the storm and earth tremors of March 1st. OurAuckland correspondent gives the Emma and her crew an excellent reputation, and Johansenis described as a sober and worthy man. The admiralty will institute an inquiry on the wholematter beginning tomorrow, at which every effort will be made to induce Johansen to speak morefreely than he has done hitherto.
This was all, together with the picture of the hellish image; but what a trainof ideas it started in my mind! Here were new treasuries of data on the Cthulhu Cult, and evidencethat it had strange interests at sea as well as on land. What motive prompted the hybrid crewto order back the Emma as they sailed about with their hideous idol? What was the unknownisland on which six of the Emma’s crew had died, and about which the mate Johansenwas so secretive? What had the vice-admiralty’s investigation brought out, and what wasknown of the noxious cult in Dunedin? And most marvellous of all, what deep and more than naturallinkage of dates was this which gave a malign and now undeniable significance to the variousturns of events so carefully noted by my uncle?
March 1st—our February 28th according to the International Date Line—theearthquake and storm had come. From Dunedin the Alert and her noisome crew had dartedeagerly forth as if imperiously summoned, and on the other side of the earth poets and artistshad begun to dream of a strange, dank Cyclopean city whilst a young sculptor had moulded inhis sleep the form of the dreaded Cthulhu. March 23d the crew of the Emma landed on anunknown island and left six men dead; and on that date the dreams of sensitive men assumed aheightened vividness and darkened with dread of a giant monster’s malign pursuit, whilstan architect had gone mad and a sculptor had lapsed suddenly into delirium! And what of thisstorm of April 2nd—the date on which all dreams of the dank city ceased, and Wilcox emergedunharmed from the bondage of strange fever? What of all this—and of those hints of oldCastro about the sunken, star-born Old Ones and their coming reign; their faithful cult andtheir mastery of dreams? Was I tottering on the brink of cosmic horrors beyond man’spower to bear? If so, they must be horrors of the mind alone, for in some way the second ofApril had put a stop to whatever monstrous menace had begun its siege of mankind’s soul.
That evening, after a day of hurried cabling and arranging, I bade my hostadieu and took a train for San Francisco. In less than a month I was in Dunedin; where, however,I found that little was known of the strange cult-members who had lingered in the old sea-taverns.Waterfront scum was far too common for special mention; though there was vague talk about oneinland trip these mongrels had made, during which faint drumming and red flame were noted onthe distant hills. In Auckland I learned that Johansen had returned with yellow hair turnedwhite after a perfunctory and inconclusive questioning at Sydney, and had thereafter soldhis cottage in West Street and sailed with his wife to his old home in Oslo. Of his stirringexperience he would tell his friends no more than he had told the admiralty officials, and allthey could do was to give me his Oslo address.
After that I went to Sydney and talked profitlessly with seamen and membersof the vice-admiralty court. I saw the Alert, now sold and in commercial use, at CircularQuay in Sydney Cove, but gained nothing from its non-committal bulk. The crouching image withits cuttlefish head, dragon body, scaly wings, and hieroglyphed pedestal, was preserved in theMuseum at Hyde Park; and I studied it long and well, finding it a thing of balefully exquisiteworkmanship, and with the same utter mystery, terrible antiquity, and unearthly strangenessof material which I had noted in Legrasse’s smaller specimen. Geologists, the curatortold me, had found it a monstrous puzzle; for they vowed that the world held no rock like it.Then I thought with a shudder of what old Castro had told Legrasse about the primal Great Ones:“They had come from the stars, and had brought Their images with Them.”
Shaken with such a mental revolution as I had never before known, I now resolvedto visit Mate Johansen in Oslo. Sailing for London, I reëmbarked at once for the Norwegiancapital; and one autumn day landed at the trim wharves in the shadow of the Egeberg. Johansen’saddress, I discovered, lay in the Old Town of King Harold Haardrada, which kept alive the nameof Oslo during all the centuries that the greater city masqueraded as “Christiana”.I made the brief trip by taxicab, and knocked with palpitant heart at the door of a neat andancient building with plastered front. A sad-faced woman in black answered my summons, and Iwas stung with disappointment when she told me in halting English that Gustaf Johansen was nomore.
He had not survived his return, said his wife, for the doings at sea in 1925had broken him. He had told her no more than he had told the public, but had left a long manuscript—of“technical matters” as he said—written in English, evidently in order to safeguardher from the peril of casual perusal. During a walk through a narrow lane near the Gothenburgdock, a bundle of papers falling from an attic window had knocked him down. Two Lascar sailorsat once helped him to his feet, but before the ambulance could reach him he was dead. Physiciansfound no adequate cause for the end, and laid it to heart trouble and a weakened constitution.
I now felt gnawing at my vitals that dark terror which will never leave metill I, too, am at rest; “accidentally” or otherwise. Persuading the widow thatmy connexion with her husband’s “technical matters” was sufficient to entitleme to his manuscript, I bore the document away and began to read it on the London boat. It wasa simple, rambling thing—a naive sailor’s effort at a post-facto diary—andstrove to recall day by day that last awful voyage. I cannot attempt to transcribe it verbatimin all its cloudiness and redundance, but I will tell its gist enough to shew why the soundof the water against the vessel’s sides became so unendurable to me that I stopped myears with cotton.
Johansen, thank God, did not know quite all, even though he saw the city andthe Thing, but I shall never sleep calmly again when I think of the horrors that lurk ceaselesslybehind life in time and in space, and of those unhallowed blasphemies from elder stars whichdream beneath the sea, known and favoured by a nightmare cult ready and eager to loose themon the world whenever another earthquake shall heave their monstrous stone city again to thesun and air.
Johansen’s voyage had begun just as he told it to the vice-admiralty.The Emma, in ballast, had cleared Auckland on February 20th, and had felt the full forceof that earthquake-born tempest which must have heaved up from the sea-bottom the horrors thatfilled men’s dreams. Once more under control, the ship was making good progress when heldup by the Alert on March 22nd, and I could feel the mate’s regret as he wrote ofher bombardment and sinking. Of the swarthy cult-fiends on the Alert he speaks with significanthorror. There was some peculiarly abominable quality about them which made their destructionseem almost a duty, and Johansen shews ingenuous wonder at the charge of ruthlessness broughtagainst his party during the proceedings of the court of inquiry. Then, driven ahead by curiosityin their captured yacht under Johansen’s command, the men sight a great stone pillar stickingout of the sea, and in S. Latitude 47° 9′, W. Longitude 126° 43′ come upon a coast-lineof mingled mud, ooze, and weedy Cyclopean masonry which can be nothing less than the tangiblesubstance of earth’s supreme terror—the nightmare corpse-city of R’lyeh, thatwas built in measureless aeons behind history by the vast, loathsome shapes that seeped downfrom the dark stars. There lay great Cthulhu and his hordes, hidden in green slimy vaults andsending out at last, after cycles incalculable, the thoughts that spread fear to the dreamsof the sensitive and called imperiously to the faithful to come on a pilgrimage of liberationand restoration. All this Johansen did not suspect, but God knows he soon saw enough!
I suppose that only a single mountain-top, the hideous monolith-crowned citadelwhereon great Cthulhu was buried, actually emerged from the waters. When I think of the extentof all that may be brooding down there I almost wish to kill myself forthwith. Johansen andhis men were awed by the cosmic majesty of this dripping Babylon of elder daemons, and musthave guessed without guidance that it was nothing of this or of any sane planet. Awe at theunbelievable size of the greenish stone blocks, at the dizzying height of the great carven monolith,and at the stupefying identity of the colossal statues and bas-reliefs with the queer imagefound in the shrine on the Alert, is poignantly visible in every line of the mate’sfrightened description.
Without knowing what futurism is like, Johansen achieved something very closeto it when he spoke of the city; for instead of describing any definite structure or building,he dwells only on broad impressions of vast angles and stone surfaces—surfaces too greatto belong to any thing right or proper for this earth, and impious with horrible images andhieroglyphs. I mention his talk about angles because it suggests something Wilcox hadtold me of his awful dreams. He had said that the geometry of the dream-place he sawwas abnormal, non-Euclidean, and loathsomely redolent of spheres and dimensions apart from ours.Now an unlettered seaman felt the same thing whilst gazing at the terrible reality.
Johansen and his men landed at a sloping mud-bank on this monstrous Acropolis,and clambered slipperily up over titan oozy blocks which could have been no mortal staircase.The very sun of heaven seemed distorted when viewed through the polarising miasma welling outfrom this sea-soaked perversion, and twisted menace and suspense lurked leeringly in those crazilyelusive angles of carven rock where a second glance shewed concavity after the first shewedconvexity.
Something very like fright had come over all the explorers before anythingmore definite than rock and ooze and weed was seen. Each would have fled had he not feared thescorn of the others, and it was only half-heartedly that they searched—vainly, as it proved—forsome portable souvenir to bear away.
It was Rodriguez the Portuguese who climbed up the foot of the monolith andshouted of what he had found. The rest followed him, and looked curiously at the immense carveddoor with the now familiar squid-dragon bas-relief. It was, Johansen said, like a great barn-door;and they all felt that it was a door because of the ornate lintel, threshold, and jambs aroundit, though they could not decide whether it lay flat like a trap-door or slantwise like an outsidecellar-door. As Wilcox would have said, the geometry of the place was all wrong. One could notbe sure that the sea and the ground were horizontal, hence the relative position of everythingelse seemed phantasmally variable.
Briden pushed at the stone in several places without result. Then Donovan feltover it delicately around the edge, pressing each point separately as he went. He climbed interminablyalong the grotesque stone moulding—that is, one would call it climbing if the thing wasnot after all horizontal—and the men wondered how any door in the universe could be sovast. Then, very softly and slowly, the acre-great panel began to give inward at the top; andthey saw that it was balanced. Donovan slid or somehow propelled himself down or along the jamband rejoined his fellows, and everyone watched the queer recession of the monstrously carvenportal. In this phantasy of prismatic distortion it moved anomalously in a diagonal way, sothat all the rules of matter and perspective seemed upset.
The aperture was black with a darkness almost material. That tenebrousnesswas indeed a positive quality; for it obscured such parts of the inner walls as oughtto have been revealed, and actually burst forth like smoke from its aeon-long imprisonment,visibly darkening the sun as it slunk away into the shrunken and gibbous sky on flapping membraneouswings. The odour arising from the newly opened depths was intolerable, and at length the quick-earedHawkins thought he heard a nasty, slopping sound down there. Everyone listened, and everyonewas listening still when It lumbered slobberingly into sight and gropingly squeezed Its gelatinousgreen immensity through the black doorway into the tainted outside air of that poison city ofmadness.
Poor Johansen’s handwriting almost gave out when he wrote of this. Ofthe six men who never reached the ship, he thinks two perished of pure fright in that accursedinstant. The Thing cannot be described—there is no language for such abysms of shriekingand immemorial lunacy, such eldritch contradictions of all matter, force, and cosmic order.A mountain walked or stumbled. God! What wonder that across the earth a great architect wentmad, and poor Wilcox raved with fever in that telepathic instant? The Thing of the idols, thegreen, sticky spawn of the stars, had awaked to claim his own. The stars were right again, andwhat an age-old cult had failed to do by design, a band of innocent sailors had done by accident.After vigintillions of years great Cthulhu was loose again, and ravening for delight.
Three men were swept up by the flabby claws before anybody turned. God restthem, if there be any rest in the universe. They were Donovan, Guerrera, and Ångstrom.Parker slipped as the other three were plunging frenziedly over endless vistas of green-crustedrock to the boat, and Johansen swears he was swallowed up by an angle of masonry which shouldn’thave been there; an angle which was acute, but behaved as if it were obtuse. So only Bridenand Johansen reached the boat, and pulled desperately for the Alert as the mountainousmonstrosity flopped down the slimy stones and hesitated floundering at the edge of the water.
Steam had not been suffered to go down entirely, despite the departure of allhands for the shore; and it was the work of only a few moments of feverish rushing up and downbetween wheel and engines to get the Alert under way. Slowly, amidst the distorted horrorsof that indescribable scene, she began to churn the lethal waters; whilst on the masonry ofthat charnel shore that was not of earth the titan Thing from the stars slavered and gibberedlike Polypheme cursing the fleeing ship of Odysseus. Then, bolder than the storied Cyclops,great Cthulhu slid greasily into the water and began to pursue with vast wave-raising strokesof cosmic potency. Briden looked back and went mad, laughing shrilly as he kept on laughingat intervals till death found him one night in the cabin whilst Johansen was wandering deliriously.
But Johansen had not given out yet. Knowing that the Thing could surely overtakethe Alert until steam was fully up, he resolved on a desperate chance; and, setting theengine for full speed, ran lightning-like on deck and reversed the wheel. There was a mightyeddying and foaming in the noisome brine, and as the steam mounted higher and higher the braveNorwegian drove his vessel head on against the pursuing jelly which rose above the unclean frothlike the stern of a daemon galleon. The awful squid-head with writhing feelers came nearly upto the bowsprit of the sturdy yacht, but Johansen drove on relentlessly. There was a burstingas of an exploding bladder, a slushy nastiness as of a cloven sunfish, a stench as of a thousandopened graves, and a sound that the chronicler would not put on paper. For an instant the shipwas befouled by an acrid and blinding green cloud, and then there was only a venomous seethingastern; where—God in heaven!—the scattered plasticity of that nameless sky-spawnwas nebulously recombining in its hateful original form, whilst its distance widenedevery second as the Alert gained impetus from its mounting steam.
That was all. After that Johansen only brooded over the idol in the cabin andattended to a few matters of food for himself and the laughing maniac by his side. He did nottry to navigate after the first bold flight, for the reaction had taken something out of hissoul. Then came the storm of April 2nd, and a gathering of the clouds about his consciousness.There is a sense of spectral whirling through liquid gulfs of infinity, of dizzying rides throughreeling universes on a comet’s tail, and of hysterical plunges from the pit to the moonand from the moon back again to the pit, all livened by a cachinnating chorus of the distorted,hilarious elder gods and the green, bat-winged mocking imps of Tartarus.
Out of that dream came rescue—the Vigilant, the vice-admiraltycourt, the streets of Dunedin, and the long voyage back home to the old house by the Egeberg.He could not tell—they would think him mad. He would write of what he knew before deathcame, but his wife must not guess. Death would be a boon if only it could blot out the memories.
That was the document I read, and now I have placed it in the tin box besidethe bas-relief and the papers of Professor Angell. With it shall go this record of mine—thistest of my own sanity, wherein is pieced together that which I hope may never be pieced togetheragain. I have looked upon all that the universe has to hold of horror, and even the skies ofspring and the flowers of summer must ever afterward be poison to me. But I do not think mylife will be long. As my uncle went, as poor Johansen went, so I shall go. I know too much,and the cult still lives.
Cthulhu still lives, too, I suppose, again in that chasm of stone which hasshielded him since the sun was young. His accursed city is sunken once more, for the Vigilantsailed over the spot after the April storm; but his ministers on earth still bellow and pranceand slay around idol-capped monoliths in lonely places. He must have been trapped by the sinkingwhilst within his black abyss, or else the world would by now be screaming with fright and frenzy.Who knows the end? What has risen may sink, and what has sunk may rise. Loathsomeness waitsand dreams in the deep, and decay spreads over the tottering cities of men. A time will come—butI must not and cannot think! Let me pray that, if I do not survive this manuscript, my executorsmay put caution before audacity and see that it meets no other eye.
The story's main theme is that humanity should know its limits and not search beyond them because too much knowledge will be our downfall. Thurston's life is in danger because he has pursued forbidden knowledge.
So far, the full sentence, exact and correctly spelled, "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" has never been mentioned in Marvel Comics in its original spelling.
Call of Cthulhu is a great piece of literature, elegant, thoughtful, faintly disturbing and above all entertaining.
It has no interest in challenging or engaging Lovecraft's racist worldview, and mechanically it's all over the place, but there's enough interesting pieces here to make the journey worthwhile.
Call of Cthulhu's success is in part thanks to video replays that have introduced a new generation of players to the classic RPG.
When focusing on the main objectives, Call of Cthulhu: The Official Video Game is about 8 Hours in length. If you're a gamer that strives to see all aspects of the game, you are likely to spend around 13 Hours to obtain 100% completion.
Hero. I pronounce it : feh-TAUG-en. It is also used in the shortened expression "Cthulhu fhtagn", meaning "Cthulhu dreams". CTHULHU FHTAGN!
In 'Cthulhu' the C is silent, as in 'ctenophore' or 'cthonic'. The intention is that it makes an owl-like sound. This is clear and unambiguous.
The word means "waits", "dreams", or "sleeps".
Cthulhu is a fictional cosmic entity created by writer H. P. Lovecraft. It was first introduced in his short story "The Call of Cthulhu", published by the American pulp magazine Weird Tales in 1928.
At the end of the day, I wouldn't necessarily say Call of Cthulhu is “easy,” but I don't think it's also much more difficult than most other tabletop RPGs. It has a kind of infamous reputation for killing players or driving their characters insane, and I believe that depends heavily on the person running the campaign.
Based on H.P. Lovecraft's classic 1926 occult story, this adventure game is really scary, but it develops the chills in a very slow, plodding way that will appeal only to horror fans.
The Call of Cthulhu game is worth paying $5 for. It's slow, full of tropes, the rpg elements make little difference, and there is zero reason to replay as the endings are just some arbitrary choices you make in the last ten minutes of the game.
Call of Cthulhu is a thriller/horror tabletop role-playing game you can play by having a few papers and d100s. One of the players takes the role of the Keeper (the equivalent to a DM from D&D), while the rest play as different “Investigators“.
"He was the first writer of supernatural literature to understand the psychological consequences of the generations of Puritanism and the warping of the human psyche that resulted." Lovecraft's influence on Moore lay in how the author was able to link the cosmic to the familiar.
There are 18 editions of Call of Cthulhu.
Cthulhu usually refers specifically to the god-like, soul-eating being in the Lovecraft canon, typically depicted with a mouth covered in tentacles (after an original sketch by H.P. Lovecraft). The term can also be used more loosely as a stand-in for any large malevolent entity, especially a terrifying, tentacled one.
The Call of Cthulhu card game is a two player dueling game that can be played using only the contents of this Core Set.
Call of Cthulhu is a story-driven game developed by Cyanide and inspired by H.P. Lovecraft's short story "The Call of Cthulhu" and the 1981 RPG of the same title. There are 14 Chapters and 4 different endings, 2 playthroughs are needed to unlock all of them.
Lovecraft (1890–1937). His work emphasizes themes of cosmic dread, forbidden and dangerous knowledge, madness, non-human influences on humanity, religion and superstition, fate and inevitability, and the risks associated with scientific discoveries, which are now associated with Lovecraftian horror as a subgenre.
Cthulhu, fictional entity created by fantasy-horror writer H.P. Lovecraft and introduced in his story “The Call of Cthulhu,” first published in the magazine Weird Tales in 1928.
H.P. Lovecraft, in full Howard Phillips Lovecraft, (born August 20, 1890, Providence, Rhode Island, U.S.—died March 15, 1937, Providence), American author of fantastic and macabre short novels and stories, one of the 20th-century masters of the Gothic tale of terror.
Cthulhu is a fictional cosmic entity created by writer H. P. Lovecraft. It was first introduced in his short story "The Call of Cthulhu", published by the American pulp magazine Weird Tales in 1928.
It, which King wrote in 1986, is by far the author's most Lovecraftian work, setting up the idea of a Macroverse (later called the “Todash Darkness” of The Dark Tower series), and ancient, otherworldly beings from outer space/a different plane of existence.
Unfortunately, Lovecraft Country will not be returning for a season two. "We will not be moving forward with a second season of Lovecraft Country," HBO said in a statement to Deadline in September.
While it was reported previously that the reasoning behind the cancellation was because the show was too expensive and there wasn't really a vision for Season 2, Miller mentions in the book (via Bounding Into Comics) that this is actually the main reason why HBO canned the show.
He has, like, a million HP and immunity to magic. This is what happens if you wake him up. Every sentient creature on the planet must save or go permanently insane as the Cthulhu's supersentience rips through their own, like a cruise ship powering through a narrow canal.
Cthulhu fhtagn! Ph'nglui mglw'nfah Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!, which translates as; "Hail! Hail! Cthulhu Dreams! In his house at R'lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming." This would make the above magic spell's translation essentially "Hail R'lyea!
He is the great-grandson of the greatest evil in all of the Universe, though he himself is not evil. Cthulhu transcends morality. He is instead the priest of the dormant Old Gods, who can only return upon the proper alignment of the stars.
H.P. Lovecraft was a turn-of-the-20th-century author whose works were a key part of the subgenre of horror that would come to be known as “Weird fiction.” Born in Providence in 1890, Lovecraft grew up with an agonizing fear of both death and mental collapse.
Many readers might recall that Lovecraft attempted to enlist and ended up having that enlistment annulled, and this essay goes into a little more detail about those events, and Lovecraft's other experiences as a civilian during and after the war, and how that helped shape the man and his fiction.
The title originates in a quote from one of Lovecraft's letters (which are estimated to number near the hundreds of thousands), expressing his connection to Providence, RI, and his joy in returning there after living unhappily for several years in New York City, and is also Lovecraft's epitaph.
Powers and Abilities
Being near godlike to humans, Cthulhu is immortal and has great strength and can endure great amounts of damage and can only be killed by a near-omnipotent power.
Family tree. According to correspondence between Lovecraft and fellow author James F. Morton, Cthulhu's parent is the deity Nug, itself the offspring of Yog-Sothoth and Shub-Niggurath.
Cthulhu represents what is to be found in the pages of The Bible of Cthulhu. The self-proclaimed puritans of this belief system believe that Cthulhu descended from the stars literally and slumbers in His house in R'lyeh, communicating His will to H.P Lovecraft through dream.