By David Tubb
“I have seen the dark universe yawning
Where the black planets roll without aim,
Where they roll in their horror unheeded,
Without knowledge or lustre or name.”
— H. P. Lovecraft
My account begins on the evening of July 22nd 1926 where a heavy, static storm cloud pulled across the sky and pressed into me a sharp, lingering headache so common with that summer weather. I was visiting the home of one Mr Edward Cranfeld on business from the Miskatonic University in Arkham where I work as an archaeologist. Cranfeld had contacted me some weeks previous in response to an advertisement the university had placed in the newspapers. He claimed to have ownership of a rare and elusive artefact only vaguely known to exist, and so it was that I followed him up the darkened stairs of his large house to see for myself. Cranfeld handed me a box of matches, gesturing wordlessly that I should use them to illumine my survey if necessary — I pocketed them while he showed me into his attic with an expression I could only describe as a mixture of impatience and exhaustion. He was a bent man with whitening hair, despite being just middle-aged, and a face half sunken in tiredness.
I listened to the sound of Cranfeld’s departing footsteps clatter weightily down the stairwell until I was left in the near silence of the room. He had hardly said a word since showing me to his upper rooms, and I was a little put out that he had not collected the artefact I had come to see and placed it somewhere with greater accesibility. Still, I must admit that I suspect I would have felt more unease if he had sat with me in his parlour while I examined what I came to see; although the twilit space around me was partially unwelcoming, it held none of the perpetual austerity carried by Mr Cranfeld. There was some unknowable detail about him that unsettled me, and this was certainly not alleviated by the mild fishy odour that seeped from his worn clothing.
The object I had come to see lay at the back of the room on a cushioned pedestal. It was surrounded by clutter, but entirely unshrouded by dust. This bothered me momentarily because whether it was handled often — or whether it had simply been cleaned for my inspection — was against its placement in a dusty, disused environment. I was still feeling a little put out that, despite my kind yet insistent letter, Cranfeld had not only failed to accompany me in discussion of the stone, but had positioned it in a place of such utter disuse, that it was only with great difficulty that I was able to traverse my way over the tangle of furniture and darkness to reach it. As I made my way across, the floor beneath me creaked with every move I made, as if it breathed with me in an ancient and archaic breath. I moved past covered furniture, and pushed half upholstered chairs out of my path; I stepped over old tins, books, a gramophone, a rusty bicycle, and what seemed to be broken children’s toys. Finally, behind a tumbled stack of old crates, I came to the dusty pedestal with its dustless stone.
It was a large, black mineral, some thirty centimetres in length and ten or so wide — it looked like a large seed, though of course it was cut from a sleek rock, something akin to obsidian, but of a kind of darkness I have not before seen. In a way, to view that dark stone one could only see the absence of it, or moreover, the absence of light falling on it. It was carved from such deep shades that it looked like a fallen droplet from a frozen night sky. I could hardly make it out at all in the dimness of the room; I was only able to see the intense void of light where I knew it sat upon that pedestal.
It followed that, within my moment of reaching out to touch the inky surface of that rock, the floorboards must have been far weaker than I had presumed for, with a deep moan, they split and gave way beneath my feet. My movement and my weight, it seemed, had disturbed them. Their rusted nails ripped from the wood and I was shaken sideways into a dark and dusty fall to the floor below.
It took a few moments for the dust to settle and for my eyes to accustom themselves to the evermore protruding darkness that dropped around my head. At that moment, I was distressed by the sudden evacuation of light and would have batted the gloom away like cobwebs had it been possible. Now, I would welcome such a blindness, and I confess I only keep this sight to finish these disturbed scrawls of mine, for I can no longer bare to look upon that which I call myself.
To Be Continued
Image Copyright (C) - Laura Tubb, 2013