The long tunnel beneath my house glowed again with the flickering torchlight. I didn’t really think that I even needed it anymore. As if reading my thoughts, father took the torch, and snuffed it out in the mud on the ground.
“Trust your eyes,” he told me.
As soon as the burn of the light faded from my eyes, I realized he was right. I could see the tunnel, as if it were lit up on a moonlit night. I wondered how long I had been in possession of this gift.
I thought to myself that only a mere week ago, I would have laughed or been repulsed, at the thought of myself, walking next to this shambling creature from the deep, as if I was taking a walk in the park with my father.
I thought how absurd that such a creature could even exist, let alone give me life. Reaching the end of the tunnel, we entered the ritual chamber. I knew this would be the way… the way home. I took another look around the room. The glorious carvings, telling the story of… my people. Their rise and fall; the story of Cthulhu; and… my story.
Staring down into the pool in the center of the room, I felt no fear or trepidation; instead, I knew this was a ritual pool, a channel to the island. Built by my uncle and by father--for me.
Father stood to the side, waiting for me to enter first. I threw off my pack, and removed my clothing, which now felt restrictive, hot and uncomfortable.
I jumped in, relishing the cool water encompassing my body. I swam instinctively, as if I had done so all my life. Perhaps I had…
I looked up, seeing father gazing down at me from the edge of the pool, a somewhat ghastly smile on his ichthyic face. He entered the water as well, following me down.
I noticed that the entire chasm in which we swam appeared man-made--or rather, mer-man-made; there were more carvings along the walls here, too. Some of them depicted a man who appeared human, standing amongst the Deep Ones. The “human” man wore a crown. Another carving depicted the man again, this time standing in front of the grand Cthulhu. Both faced the same direction, as if aligned together against some antithetical force.
The chasm curved downwards, and we entered a tunnel that ran parallel to the ground, yet still slowly steeped deeper and deeper into the sea as we went. We swam through for a few miles, noticing carvings along the walls the entire way.
We could see the end of the tunnel in the distance; open ocean lay ahead.
Upon exiting the tunnel, I noticed that straight down was dark, even to my eyes. The deep sea realm of my people. Free, open ocean. I looked behind me to see father swimming up from the mouth of the tunnel. He stopped next to me, and emitted a piercing underwater call: “Ia! Ia… Pht'thya-l'yi… Ia… Ia… Pht’thya-l’yi.” It resembled a strange series of chirps and clicks, thinned out by the water pressure. He gestured upwards. Following his lead, we swam a few leagues back up, to the surface of the sea.
I cannot detail enough what an exhilarating experience it was, swimming in the undersea currents, then emerging head first from beneath, but without the slightest gasp for air. I had all but forgotten that boon to mankind; that aspect that I was no longer concerned about. I wondered if I ever had any reason to worry about that; I had not given my underwater breathing a second thought. I realized that the gills I possessed were situated inside my throat and nasal cavity; they were not outside on the neck, visible to others.
I looked up at the dark, foreboding sky, filled with slowly boiling clouds. A few rays of sunlight, diminishing by the minute, poured through the clouds in front of me. I squinted my eyes just a bit, against the blinding light.
Father’s head popped out of the water next to mine. I noticed that the clouds had now enveloped any remaining rays of sun. “Ahead,” he said, pointing to my left.
Looking in that direction, I saw it--the island. That mysterious island that I had seen so many times in dreams past, and even visited, during the last week, in “dreams”…
We swam towards it, seeing the great towering columns looming in the distance as we drew closer.
Emerging from the water onto the shore, I stood again in awe of the place.
I heard a murmuring from behind me. I turned to see father smiling, as Deep Ones started standing in a sort of formation alongside the rows of columns, more emerging from the water in droves. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
“Vor’li’ka! Dagon…” some of them cried.
My destiny was becoming clear. The Deep Ones--the Pht'thya-l'yi--lined up on either side of me, all the way from the beachhead to the steps of the temple, and even lining up alongside the steps. Some of them appeared to be human hybrids--the offspring of Deep Ones and men. Regardless of purebloods and hybrids, all stood as one, unified, for a single purpose. I couldn’t believe how many there were.
My father still stood beside me. Turning to face me, he spoke in that guttural, croaking voice, so indicative of the race: “Proceed. Proceed to… destiny.”
I walked slowly at first, not sure what destiny he implied. But then, it seemed as if with each step, things became clearer. I quickened my pace until I reached the steps. I heard them begin to chant; a low, throaty chant, which rose higher and higher as I approached the temple. Reaching the temple entrance, I stood there in awe yet again, as in my “dream” before.
There it was--the massive, painted sculpture of grand Cthulhu--reaching toward me.
I entered the temple itself. As I did so, the chorus rose in pitch again behind me. I saw the altar straight ahead, underneath the sculpture of our dark God.
Walking up to it, I saw a pit just beneath the legs of great Cthulhu; the pit was filled with the skeletal remains of men. It must have been a pit to dispose of those sailors or fisherman unlucky enough to happen across the island and make their way to the temple. This place appeared to be guarded at all times.
I somehow knew what I was to do. I turned from the idol to face the multitude out there. The chanting grew louder. Looking down at the altar, I saw that on top of it was chiseled yet another carving. This one showed the “human” man--myself, I knew--producing the crown I had seen in other carvings from within the altar.
I looked downwards, seeing only stone. Had one of these dead pirates in the bone pit beneath great Cthulhu’s statue pilfered it away? Was it sitting in some house somewhere, revered as a mere trinket by some mortal man? Had that old fool Mustus taken it, and kept it in his filthy house? Somewhat unsure and a bit frustrated, I placed both my hands on the altar, seeing if perhaps there was a way to open it. The stone began glowing a bright, greenish color beneath my hands--and the top layer shattered to shards and fragments. Taken aback, I had no time to marvel at such sorcery, for there it was: the crown of Dagon.
Removing the artifact, I lifted it up from the dust of the disintegrated stone. As I did so, the acolytes’ voices rose higher and higher in their ululations.
Feeling the power I had rightfully gained, I held the crown up above my head, gazing at its silver sheen, its green emeralds. I fitted it to the top of my head. What could only be described as a cacophony of jubilant sound emerged from hundreds of ichthyic throats.
“Ia! Ia… Dagon…” they cried, over and over.
I noticed that as I watched, I felt a slight electrified current cascade through my body. The altar began to slide back. I moved, watching it go. It sunk down, beneath the idol of Cthulhu, and came to rest over the opening of the bone pit. The top of the altar was now flush with the floor. On top, beneath where the crown had rested, was that same strange, black stone, like the one I had found in the attic. It bore the following inscription, in the runes of the Deep Ones--the Pht'thya-l'yi:
“Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl phfnah”.
I heard--and felt--a massive… earthquake? But not an earthquake…
The chants grew more fervent, if such were possible, only this time, the chants became:
“Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl phfnah”.
A tremor shook the island temple. It felt as if some gigantic, Cyclopean machinery was starting into motion, far beneath us… Somewhere down in the hidden depths of the sea…
“In his home in sunken R’lyeh, great Cthulhu awakens.”
News clipping from The Portland Gazette October 21, 1951
The mystery man and the little green men
How’s this story for strange and macabre? This very paper you hold in your hands had hired on a young man from Salt Lake City to write the “Supernatural Corner” feature usually found in the back of this paper. This young man--Ambrose Smith--had some of his previous works already published here, that had earlier appeared in pulp magazines.
It seems as if Mr. Smith has disappeared. Nobody has seen a trace of him. The last we heard, he had mentioned something about green men--and flying saucers over McMinnville. Could they have taken him away?
News clipping from The Portland Daily Post October 21, 1951
Local fisherman disappears along with reporter; police uncover ritual chamber of horrors
Strange and mysterious events have been reported all over the coast as of late.
It seems as if a missing reporter from another paper, and an old fisherman disappearing from his home, have some connection, according to local authorities.
The police found a day ago the lair of possibly Old Nick himself down in the cellar of Mustus Marsh. There were black magic icons everywhere in this underground cavern, as well as an altar of sorts that Marsh had apparently constructed for his ghastly rituals. Even more disturbing was the series of manacles and chains that emerged from the altar, which also had a large pentagram--a symbol used in Satanic worship--right above it, carved into the very rock itself.
Worse still, a human hand, severed off at the wrist, was found encased in the manacle that bound it. The knife used to perform this grisly act was discovered a few feet away. The hand has been identified as having belonged to Marsh.
Authorities suspect Marsh and the young reporter--Ambrose Smith--had met previously to talk about a story the young man was writing for his paper.
Marsh’s home contained a number of strange books and objects, most of which could be for use in magic rituals and other irreligious practices. Among these articles were various bones, including a human skull.
No connection had been made previously to Marsh--who was mostly a recluse--to anything other than tall tales and bigger fish stories.
Smith’s home was also abandoned. His dog was there with food still in its bowl, tipping authorities off that Smith had only left recently.
While Marsh may or may not be dead, foul play of the worst kind has been suspected, though authorities would not offer any comment on whether they thought Smith was also a victim, or the perpetrator; nor if even Marsh himself was to be implicated, despite his apparent maiming.
No other sign of either man has been discovered. Police are still searching and questioning the surrounding townspeople.
~ the End ~