I’m sharing some of my writing process here, so today I have a piece I wrote in one sitting after reading a book of stories by H.P. Lovecraft. I’m far from the first to slip into Lovecraft’s skin and take a few tottering steps. Lovecraft has a posthumous following so faithful it makes living authors weep in envy. He’s inspired an entire sub-genre of ‘Cthulu’ writing, much of which is both fun and evoking. So here’s a small contribution to that tradition.
In the Crackling Nothingness
If, for argument’s sake, I have indeed committed the atrocity you describe, then by your own definition, I have done so through no fault of my own. I know nothing of the realms of which you speak, the festering den of slime and cacophony you describe, the wrenching screams of the tortured bounding off the visceral walls of muscles and bone. The place is unknown to me, its whereabouts a mystery and its contents wholly indecipherable. If, as you say, I have brought its gnashing horror to our world then it is by coincidence, accident or completely ineptitude that it has occurred at all.
The night in question I was, as a matter of fact, playing helter skelter as they say with the dials of my interruptor, the machine I alone invented, out of the skin of my own mind and through the cleverness of my own soul, a machine that can speak between worlds. Not travel, mind you! Speak only. It is an important difference. And oh! The voices I have heard, voices that gabble and shriek, voices that bray in the night and echo in cold and hollow rooms of rock and metal and materials out of the reach of even our imaginings and in dimensions beyond our own, voices that speak a thousand different languages and erupt with gut twisting reverberations.
This night, the night in question, the night you seem so hellbent in prying into every moment of, I was in my study, twisting the knobs as I’ve said and I heard for the first time not voices, not insensible growls or the slow, sucking sounds of what might be enormous snails sliding their way through mucus-bound lairs, but indeed a sort of keening, a high pitched continuous sound that seemed to touch my very soul. Then, as I listened, as I adjusted the knobs and switches and dials to hone in on the otherworldly signal, so fastidious am I, so attentive, when I am after a signal, there was, to my utter astonishment, the sound of singing.
To be sure, this was not the lilting tones our our own sopranos nor the rumbling notes of our baritones but something altogether different, alternating as it were, between a sort of hoarse calling and a humming both oddly sweet and harmonious, like that of a small girl finding the limits of her own voice. It was unmistakably the song of an intelligence on par with or, as you will see, far superior to our own.
You ask me how I could know such a thing and the answer is simple: it spoke. The being, this being, began to speak. Not the chattering garbage I was so used to hearing on the Interruptor, but words. Words distinct and perfectly pronounced, none I could understand of course, but not accompanied as many others have been with yips and snarls or gum smacking and gulping but simply spoken whole and perfect. It was as though this being, this person beyond our world, knew it had a listener. It knew I was there. Yes, I believe it knew. Gabriel I am not raving. Now don’t look at me that way!
In any case, the singing and the words paused a moment and I sat still as a stone, craning my ears, the headphones painfully pressed to the side of my skull as tight as a pair or forceps twisting me out of the birth canal. I listened in the crackling nothingness, feeling the distance, the separation, the barrier between me and my performer, for that is what I believed this being to be. Someone performing just for me. Then, all at once, out of that silence came a pair of words spoken clear and aloud, words that boomed through the ether and into my awaiting mind.
Now, I don’t want to speak on it too long, you understand. You believe it is this night and my actions that opened the doorway to this world, revealing the fearsome images you’ve mentioned. I believe the beings you witness and the one I am are different and I can tell you why. For you see, what I heard was not anything that growls or bites or rears up to caw relentless into the night sky. No. I heard, and you may chuckle at this all you want, I heard a person.
No, not a human person, Gabriel, but a person all the same. A being of intelligence, of intellect, self-aware and concerned. Concerned for what, you might ask. Concerned for us. For our well-being, our very survival. For when the gates opened and the horned serrated tentacles pulsed out and took the lives of your brave officers, Jenny and Marcus among them, I believe they were prevented by the being I spoke of, or perhaps many such beings, of wreaking more devastation upon us. They are pulled back from the brink, defeated, foiled in their attempt to breach our world by the work of the very people and yes, dammit, I will call them people, who I listened to over the lines.
For what is more human than song, I ask you, Gabriel? Now do not give me that drivel about elephants mourning and the like! We may well find someday they, too, and the bottleneck dolphin and the chimpanzee and many other mega fauna are persons as well, though you may now laugh if it suits you. For the being on the other end of my machine, the one who knew quite clearly that I was listening warned me, told me of the coming break between our world and the world of horror you describe, the one who felled many a comrade and who might just have destroyed our entire world if not for what I suppose are the brave actions of the beings, our friends, I describe.
There were two words the being, she if I can be so poetic though I doubt they understand or use gender in the ways we do, said to me that convinced me of her connection, her understanding of our plight here, thought I did not understand it fully until later, perhaps until right now in this moment as I describe the events to you. For we are a defenseless dimension open to both the vagaries of chance and the maliciousness of any other dimension able to crest ours and charge down the hill of our reality to slay us all. She said to me Gabriel, and remember these words if you remember nothing else of what I say. She said to me the following in distinct accented words unmistakable even for the vast distances they must have travelled.
Simply this: “They’re coming.”