on 30 May 2010
Night had descended, silently. I bent over my wee keyboard, attempting to compose my new tale of Lovecraftian horror. Aye, I admit it -- I pen weird fiction "in the tradition" of H. P. Lovecraft. Not a very honourable occupation to some, but it suits me to the core of my soul. You may ponder, why would anyone want to write stories that sound like those of another writer? The trick is to try and be influenced by Ec'h-Pi-El but not rob his fictive grave and rip-off his ideas. So -- I am bent over me keyboard, trying to work on my novel that is a sequel of sorts to "Pickman's Model," and I required a reference. I am trying to express, in a misty suggestive manner, an incident that takes place before the artist's unexplained disappearance. You've read Lovecraft's original tale, no doubt about the queer duck who painted graveyards and their weird inhabitants; painted them with such...conviction...that they seemed to be representations of that which breathes and hungers in actual reality. I was confused over a slight matter, needed elucidation.
I reached for -- The Book.
And I heard an eldritch wailing that sounded like an end to mortal time; and I asked myself, "What dripping eidolon of cacodaemonical ghastliness could sound such a spectral ululation?" The book was in my trembling hand -- its pale purple cover containing a ghostly image of Ye Master of Cosmic Horror -- and he looked every inch a horror author. Oh, it was he that I wished to emulate in mine own humble weird fiction -- it was his titan elbow beneath which I groveled, insignificantly.
I turned to page 204 and read the middle passage:
'PICKMAN, RICHARD, UPTON. In 'Pickman's Model,' a painter, of Salem ancestry, whose paintings of outre subjects are assumed to be the fruits of keen imagination, but are ultimately found to be from real life and from first-hand knowledge of forbidden subjects. He is compared to Gustav Dore, Sidney Sime, and Anthony Angarola. He disappears mysteriously, after emptying his pistol at an unseen monster lurking in the basement of his studio in the North End of Boston during a visit by the narrator of the story. In THE DREAM-QUEST OF UNKNOWN KADATH, Pickman becomes a ghoul, like the subject of many of his paintings..."
Hmm, neither a very imaginative nor satisfying entry, I pondered. I then perused the rather lengthy yet succinct description of the tale that followed as next entry. And I felt a curious longing. For haven't I come to Boston and found this small apartment in the North End exactly because of my obsession with this (as some call it) "minor" weird tale by a Master of supernatural fiction? I clutched The Book to my breast as I walked the cobblestones of Boston, past an antient church, up an inclined series of steps that took me past huddled centuried doorways. I stepped onto the chilly ground of Copp's Hill Burying Ground. What had the editors written concerning this haunted place, which Lovecraft had "peopled" with his ghouls? I flipped through the C section of The Book, squinting at the pages beneath the pale illumination of a distant street lamp -- and I was disappointed to find no reference. The Book was not as thorough as one would have wished.
What is its purpose, then, this nameless tome? Was it naught but a reference of what the editors felt were the bare essentials in names and personae and set places in H. P. Lovecraft's poetry and prose? Perhaps that is the purpose it is meant to serve. I turned to the Preface and examined the line of text -- and read: "A word must now be said on what is NOT included in this volume. One of the most popular aspects of Lovecraft's work is what has come to be known as the 'Cthulhu Mythos' (a term Lovecraft himself never used). His literary pantheon (entities who, in many cases, proved fascinating to readers and writers alike... The 'gods' themselves, with rare exceptions, do not figure as 'characters' in any meaningful sense in the tales, so there are no entries on them." So much for Nyarlathotep, I muttered sadly, for that Crawling Chaos was the "god" with whom I am most obsess'd, to the point where I have just last week completed a 14,000 word novelette that will appear in my book of next year: THE STRANGE DARK ONE AND OTHERS--TALES OF NYARLATHOTEP. Yuggoth, if ANYONE deserved an entry it was Him (It?).
Night had fallen, and the gate to the burying ground would soon be locked. I turned away from it and leaned my back against cold black metal. I flipped through The Book until I found page 190, where I saw:
"'Nyarlathotep.' Prose poem (1,150 words); probably written in November or December 1920. ... Nyarlathotep emerged out of Egypt. He begins giving strange exhibitions featuring peculiar instruments of glass and metal and evidently involving anomalous uses of electricity."
I heard a far-off wailing in dark heaven, accompanied by a singular buzzing sound that vaguely spoke my name. I looked above me, to the lamp post, and I wondered why it looked so queer--so black; and why did its single bulb peer down on me as if it would debauch me? I placed half of The Book into my mouth, grabbed onto the cold metal of the gate and reached down onto the graveyard ground, where I found a bit of broken tombstone littered there, nearby. I took hold of a piece of stone and hurled it at the daemonic single eye of light that scorned me, with such force that I stumbled over my feet and tumbled along the cemetery sod, until I staggered to a tall marker that been had pushed aside, thus revealing a set of earthy steps leading below the quiet earth, into blackness illimitable.
The Book is in my mouth. How strange that I can sense its ink, that liquid stain of darkness, move into my mouth and slip along my tongue. Oh, the language of The Book drips down my parched throat, and upward, to my fevered brain. It is a sentient ichor that seeks to gag my sanity as it slinks into the crevices of my cracked skull. The buzzing above me has ceased, and now I detect another voice, and deep uncanny breathing, within this pit that has swallowed me. I imagine the whispered words: "You fool -- put down The Book. We have other nourishment with which to feed thee."