By David Tubb
After calming myself a little, I remembered the stout box of matches in my pocket. Upon striking a match to see, I noticed that the ink of the imprinted top had smeared somewhat from the damp of my rain-soaked jacket — my attention was momentarily subtracted from the room as I saw that the matchbox was indeed rather old and had, stamped across its top, “Innsmouth General Store”. I was temporarily entertained by the notion of Cranfeld’s lacking use of matches despite persistence to carry them, presumably forgotten, in his coat pocket. This thought caught me for so long that I had to light a second match — I can only suppose the mind moves into these far, harmless tangents when threatened by imminent unease so as to counter any subsequent disruption to its sanity.
The second match brought to the attention of my eyes a thick, wax candle on a sideboard. I lit that, plus one or two others nearby and in their light I was startled, but not displeased, to see a switch for the electric lighting. Initially I was taken aback with the idea of such efforts involved in installing electrical lighting so far down, but conversely it made perfect sense in such deep depths of the house.
I flicked on the switch, pleased with the sharp, warm glow that illuminated the whole of the room. It was merely that of a single bulb which dangled, uncovered, from the ceiling and let out a yellowish smear that glazed the room in a weak, yet adequate, light. Although obviously long disused, the room was not untidy; it was simply neglected — the antiquarian furniture sat weakly under sheets of heavy dust. Some pieces of furniture were protected with large, white dust-covers — the effect of which, on some objects, particularly the grandfather clock, unsettled the logic of my mind with the potential thought that there was someone, something hiding there. The room appeared to be a drawing room with two doors: one behind me through which I had entered, and the other on the far left wall — this door was closed but not fully shut into the frame so that I could see its locking mechanism when I viewed it from the side.
My pleasure of the room’s illumination lasted but a few moments, for I saw something that brought a faintness to my frame. It was something of such total normality, and yet seeing it there in that unutterable room, I was filled with an obvious horror. For despite my descent several floors below the level of the ground, I saw before me a wide and curtained window with the view of the lamp-lit street beyond.
I am, at this point, reluctant to continue, for the stark normality of that displaced window was overwhelmed by what I then saw, and how I wish I could unsee it now to remove the image from beneath my closed eyelids. The sight, I saw not through the mysterious glass of the window, but in its reflection — for there, in the misty light of the corner of the room, was an unnameable, lurking figure standing behind me with mad, nightmarish eyes.
As soon as I looked on those sunken, staring pupils I knew again the indescribable feeling that I should somehow remove myself. From behind, the slumped, strangely inhuman woman opened her jaw and began a long and terrible scream — it was a noise so lurid that I felt as though it sounded not from her, but from through a nameless, cosmic tunnel that stretched far into the distant epochs of endless, inhuman resonance. That maddening sound still reaches me from the depths of time; still crosses great cosmic distances to find me and deprive my mind of much needed sleep.
I made for the door at the end of the room and pulled desperately at the handle; the door swung outwards and I was just about to proceed and slam it behind me, when I felt a grotesque hand clutch around my arm — its tightened grasp brought all terror to the surface of my skin. I dared not look back at the rotting, creaking creature behind me because, more than just the repulsive horror that it was, it had once been a true human woman; that metamorphosis was far more terrifying than any shapeless protrusion, and it added a greater depth to her unrelenting scream. Perhaps, I thought, her cries were not just terrifying for me alone. A mere few seconds had passed since her spectral wailing had begun, but I felt the weight of all her age pressing down into me. Her sharp, writhing fingers were inescapable and so I pulled myself through the door — stumbling into the next room; hoping there to somehow eliminate her from my frame.
Text Copyright (C) - David Tubb, 2014
Image Copyright (C) - Laura Tubb, 2013