“I’m so excited, Howard,” the woman said to me, and hers was a face I knew. I know not how a foul place such as this can conjure up memories that have been dead for more years than I care to remember — I could just not match the joy in her eyes because an altogether new wave of abhoration flooded my heart; it is one thing to be simply fearful and live through a world of horrors, but to have, pressed into that space, happy memories — the two should never be made to meet and I can only detest this accursed place for somehow knowing the effect of intertwining the two: like dropping a swirl of night-black ink into a glass of pure, clean water; the latter is so slowly and visibly tainted that the image plays repeatedly on the mind until both are unsettlingly inseparable. My dear wife on her birthday.
It was all I could do to make my way to the kitchen door of our home before any more of that stark reality could, through its joyousness, push all joy out of me.
“Where are you going, Howard?”
I tried not to look but I caught the very corner of her smile and I wish I never had.
That door led not to the kitchen in the home of my memory — I was just further enshrouded in the disquieting darkness of another dank corridor. This house, if it could even be called that, was tainted immeasurably with the abnormal — I had no idea as to whether I was now above or below street-level; the labyrinthine routes surrounding me gave no hint as to whether I moved up, down or in any suitable direction forward. I simply pressed on through that ever-present silence of that thick, charnel brickwork which cast an eternal and wearying darkness over my weakening frame. I had left my wife behind — it was as though it was my fault: that she would go from there into the past and find herself in the fire that ended her place in life, and the pain of it burned infinitely memorable in the clawed skin of my escorting arm.
I can scarcely suppose how many hours — days? — I have been down here and can recall hardly any more than that which I have already written. I would not write at all, for the events seem too untrue even to me, if it were not for even the slightest possibility of preventing another from the ill-fated paths I have walked. There is but one more thing I must impart — again, I speak with much reluctance, but I feel I should write now even if just to keep a record of my sanity.
I carried myself and that accursed stone onwards until I reached a dusty, disused corridor with its shutters locked tight. There I found old pencils and pages of lost sheet music, upon the backs of which I write these words — I can only hope the notes on the reverse side of my text are blissful ones set to counter all that I have penned. It was some moments into writing that the night-black thing, weighing so heavily in my jacket, began to whisper to me. Ashamedly I had almost forgotten about it — I suppose I had come to accept its weight against me and bore it as I had the darkness, the damp and the ever approaching thoughts of dismay. It whispered in such a low, secretive tone that I knew the sound could not possibly be formed by the wind or a gap in the brickwork — but being so certain that a sound comes from a source so unnatural, suggests it forms, by definition, an uncertain thought in itself. The whispers were so strange in their speech that they matched nothing I could have ever constructed in my own mind and further: the maddening wails of the old Canton sanatorium were tame as idle talk in comparison to the smoky sounds that emanated from that stone.
“Azathoth… Ngla ygg nagai… Cthulhu fhtagn.”
Text Copyright (C) - David Tubb, 2014
Image Copyright (C) - Laura Tubb, 2013