More “Lovecraftiana”

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Unless otherwise noted, all artists are unknown (Source: Pinterest/tumblr).

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“The Occult Files of Doctor Spektor”–This Early-70s Epic Mod-Gothic Publication Was My First Comic Book Collection! Here Is Issue #1 in Its Entirety…

The Occult Files of Doctor Spektor, Issue 1: Cult of the Vampire! (Gold Key Comics 1973)

Remember The Occult Files of Dr. Spektor? It had a very short run, sadly. But I was an eager 12 year old and this was my cup of brew. In fact, the 1970s publication, which ran for about 20 issues, was my very first comic book collection! And…it was my initiation into the world of the Occult. I’m bringing it to you, now, Dear Reader, every month–an issue at a time…Guess you could say I’m “resurrecting a personal monster”…

Long May He Live!!!

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Remember ‘The Mammoth Books of Best New Horror, ed. by Stephen Jones’?—Here are the Tables of Contents & Covers from ALL 29 BOOKS!

If you’re like me, you love a good horror series. Hell, series are cool, period, right? I remember my 1970s collection of The Occult Files of Doctor Spektor! I treasured those 19 or 20 comics. Add the amazing artwork and illustrations that a series often comes with, and they’re great! Throw in a great editor and the really good writers, telling their most frightening stories—and series are fantastic!!

I have been collecting Stephen Jones’ The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror since around 2003 and I finally have them all in either hard copy or digital editions. But having more isn’t always easier! I’m always going: Where did I place that oneC089D993-CCD7-414C-8192-28266BBD6C47 book with the killer vampire story in it? Or which book was that crazy story about the “sticks” in? you know by Wagner?

Well, now-a-days it’s very easy to look things up and put a quick name to a book to a page number … and find just what you’re looking for. But back in the day? It was a treasure hunt!

But look no further—because here is the ultimate Master List (thank you ISFDB & StephenJoneseditor.com) of Tables of Contents from all 28 anthologies!—and the covers!*—almost three decades of great short horror fiction! “That’s gotta be like forty-eight hundred teeth!”

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Indeed.

(*If an edition had more than one cover, I’ve included both below.)


The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, Vol. 1, 1990

 

Table of Contents

xiii • Introduction: Horror in 1989 • [Horror in … Introductions] • (1990) • essay by Stephen Jones and Ramsey Campbell
1 • Pin • (1989) • short story by Robert R. McCammon
8 • The House on Cemetery Street • (1988) • novelette by Cherry Wilder
33 • The Horn • (1989) • novelette by Stephen Gallagher
57 • Breaking Up • (1989) • short story by Alex Quiroba
66 • It Helps If You Sing • (1989) • short story by Ramsey Campbell
75 • Closed Circuit • (1989) • novelette by Laurence Staig
93 • Carnal House • (1989) • short story by Steve Rasnic Tem
104 • Twitch Technicolor • (1989) • short story by Kim Newman
115 • Lizaveta • (1988) • novelette by Gregory Frost
144 • Snow Cancellations • (1989) • short story by Donald R. Burleson
154 • Archway • (1989) • novelette by Nicholas Royle
176 • The Strange Design of Master Rignolo • (1989) • short story by Thomas Ligotti
189 • …To Feel Another’s Woe • (1989) • short story by Chet Williamson
205 • The Last Day of Miss Dorinda Molyneaux • (1989) • novelette by Robert Westall
236 • No Sharks in the Med • (1989) • novelette by Brian Lumley
275 • Mort au Monde • (1989) • short story by D. F. Lewis
279 • Blanca • (1989) • novelette by Thomas Tessier
303 • The Eye of the Ayatollah • (1990) • short story by Ian Watson
312 • At First Just Ghostly • [Kane] • (1989) • novella by Karl Edward Wagner
370 • Bad News • (1989) • short story by Richard Laymon
383 • Necrology: 1989 (Best New Horror) • [Necrology (Jones & Newman)] • (1990) • essay by Stephen Jones and Kim Newman


The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, Vol. 2, 1991

 

Table of Contents

xvii • Introduction: Horror in 1990 • [Horror in … Introductions] • essay by Stephen Jones and Ramsey Campbell
1 • The First Time • (1990) • short story by K. W. Jeter
14 • A Short Guide to the City • (1990) • short story by Peter Straub
25 • Stephen • (1990) • novelette by Elizabeth Massie
47 • The Dead Love You • (1989) • short story by Jonathan Carroll
60 • Jane Doe #112 • (1990) • short story by Harlan Ellison
70 • Shock Radio • (1990) • short story by Ray Garton
89 • The Man Who Drew Cats • (1990) • short story by Michael Marshall Smith
105 • The Co-Op • (1990) • short story by Melanie Tem
115 • Negatives • (1990) • short story by Nicholas Royle
126 • The Last Feast of Harlequin • [Cthulhu Mythos] • (1990) • novelette by Thomas Ligotti
159 • 1/72nd Scale • (1990) • novelette by Ian R. MacLeod
185 • Cedar Lane • (1990) • short story by Karl Edward Wagner
194 • At a Window Facing West • (1990) • short story by Kim Antieau
205 • Inside the Walled City • (1990) • novelette by Garry Kilworth
222 • On the Wing • (1990) • short story by Jean-Daniel Brèque
230 • Firebird • (1990) • novelette by J. L. Comeau
252 • Incident on a Rainy Night in Beverly Hills • (1990) • novelette by David J. Schow
272 • His Mouth Will Taste of Wormwood • [Cthulhu Mythos] • (1990) • short story by Poppy Z. Brite

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“The Vengeance of Nitocris”—a Vintage Creepy Story by Tennessee Williams, 1928

The Vengeance of Nitocris

Thomas Lanier “Tennessee” Williams, 1928

Originally published in Weird Tales Magazine, August 1928.

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I. OSIRIS IS AVENGED

Hushed were the streets of many peopled Thebes. Those few who passed through them moved with the shadowy fleetness of bats near dawn, and bent their faces from the sky as if fearful of seeing what in their fancies might be hovering there. Weird, high-noted incantations of a wailing sound were audible through the barred doors. On corners groups of naked and bleeding priests cast themselves repeatedly and with loud cries upon the rough stones of the walks. Even dogs and cats and oxen seemed impressed by some strange menace and foreboding and cowered and slunk dejectedly. All Thebes was in dread. And indeed there was cause for their dread and for their wails of lamentation. A terrible sacrilege had been committed. In all the annals of Egypt none more monstrous was recorded.

Five days had the altar fires of the god of gods, Osiris, been left unburning. Even for one moment to allow darkness upon the altars of the god was considered by the priests to be a great offense against him. Whole years of death and famine had been known to result from such an offense. But now the altar fires had been deliberately extinguished, and left extinguished for five days. It was an unspeakable sacrilege.

Hourly there was expectancy of some great calamity to befall. Per-haps within the approaching night a mighty earthquake would shake the city to the ground, or a fire from heaven would sweep upon them, a hideous plague strike them or some monster from the desert, where wild and terrible monsters were said to dwell, would rush upon them and Osiris himself would rise up, as he had done before, and swallow all Egypt in his wrath. Surely some such dread catastrophe would befall them ere the week had passed. Unless—unless the sacrilege were avenged.

But how might it be avenged? That was the question high lords and priests debated. Pharaoh alone had committed the sacrilege. It was he, angered because the bridge, which he had spent five years in construct-ing so that one day he might cross the Nile in his chariot as he had once boasted that he would do, had been swept away by the rising waters. Raging with anger, he had flogged the priests from the temple. He had barred the temple doors and with his own breath had blown out the sacred candles. He had defiled the hallowed altars with the carcasses of beasts. Even, it was said in low, shocked whispers, in a mock ceremony of worship he had burned the carrion of a hyena, most abhorrent of all beasts to Osiris, upon the holy altar of gold, which even the most high of priests forbore to lay naked hands upon!

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“The Will of Claude Ashur”, a Vintage Horror Story by C. Hall Thompson

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The first page of the story as it originally appeared in Weird Tales Magazine in 1947. Art is by renowned pulp illustrator Lee Browne Coye.


The Will of Claude Ashur

C. Hall Thompson, 1947

One of the earliest “Lovecraft Mythos”* stories to be published after H. P. Lovecraft’s untimely death in 1937 at age 46, “The Will of Claude Ashur” was originally published in Weird Tales Magazine in July 1947—one of only four stories written by C. hall Thomoson, it is considered a fine example of the type of tale Lovecraft’s fiction would inspire in other authors into the 20th century and beyond.
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Original cover of the July 1947 edition of Weird Tales Magazine. Cover art is by Lee Browne Coye.

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I

They have locked me in. A moment since, for what well may have been the last time, I heard the clanking of the triple-bolts as they were shot into place. The door to this barren white chamber presents no extraordinary appearance, but it is plated with impenetrable steel. The executives of the Institution have gone to great pains to ensure the impossibility of escape. They know my record. They have listed me among those patients who are dangerous and “recurrently violent.” I haven’t contradicted them; it does no good to tell them that my violence is long since spent; that I have no longer the inclination nor the strength requisite to make yet another attempted break for freedom. They cannot understand that my freedom meant something to me only so long as there was hope of saving Gratia Thane from the horror that returned from the flesh-rotting brink of the grave to reclaim her. Now, that hope is lost; there is nothing left but the welcome release of death. I can die as well in an insane asylum as elsewhere.

Today, the examinations, both physical and mental, were quickly dispensed with. They were a formality; routine gone through “for the record.” The doctor has left. He wasn’t the man who usually examines me. I presume he is new at the Institution. He was a tiny man, fastidiously dressed, with a narrow, flushed face and a vulgar diamond stickpin. There were lines of distaste and fear about his mouth from the moment he looked into the loathsome mask that is my face. Doubtless one of the white-suited attendants warned him of the particular horror of my case. I didn’t resent it when he came no nearer me than necessary. Rather, I pitied the poor devil for the awkwardness of his situation; I have known men of obviously stronger stomach to stumble away from the sight of me, retching with sick terror. My name, the unholy whisperings of my story, the remembrance of the decaying, breathing half-corpse that I am, are legendary in the winding gray halls of the Asylum. I cannot blame them for being relieved by the knowledge that they will soon shed the burden I have been—that, before long, they will consign this unhuman mass of pulsating flesh to maggots and oblivion.

Before the doctor left, he wrote something in his notebook; there would be the name: Claude Ashur. Under today’s date he has written only a few all-explanatory words. “Prognosis negative. Hopelessly insane. Disease in most advanced stage. Demise imminent.”

Watching the slow, painful progress of his pen across the paper, I experienced one last temptation to speak. I was overwhelmed with a violent need to scream out my now-familiar protest to this new man, in the desperate hope that he might believe me. The blasphemous words welled for an instant in my throat, sending forth a thick nasal sob. Quickly, the doctor glanced up, and the apprehensive loathing of his gaze told me the truth. It would do no good to speak. He was like all the rest, with their soothing voices and unbelieving smiles. He would listen to the hideous nightmare that is the story of Gratia and my brother and myself, and, in the end, he would nod calmly, more convinced than ever that I was stark, raving mad. I remained silent. The last flame of hope guttered and died. I knew in that moment, that no one would ever believe that I am not Claude Ashur.

Claude Ashur is my brother.

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“The Digging at Pistol Key”, a Horror Story by Carl Jacobi

Weird Tales Magazne, July 1947. Cover Art by Lee Brown Coye. Header Art for “The Digging at Pistol Key” byJohn GIunta.

The Digging at Pistol Key

Carl Jacobi

Originally published in Weird Tales, July 1947.

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Although he had lived in Trinidad for more than fifteen years, Jason Cunard might as well have remained in Devonshire, his original home, for all the local background he had absorbed. He read only British newspapers, the Times and the Daily Mail, which he received by weekly post, and he even had his tea sent him from a shop in Southampton, unmindful of the fact that he could have obtained the same brand, minus the heavy tax, at the local importer in Port-of-Spain.

Of course, Cunard got into town only once a month, and then his time was pretty well occupied with business matters concerning his sugar plantation. He had a house on a rather barren promontory midway between Port-of-Spain and San Fernando which was known as Pistol Key. But his plantation sprawled over a large tract in the center of the island.

Cunard frankly admitted there was nothing about Trinidad he liked. He thought the climate insufferable, the people—the Britishers, that is—provincial, and the rest of the population, a polyglot of races that could be grouped collectively as “natives and foreigners.” He dreamed constantly of Devonshire, though he knew of course he would never go back.

Whether it was due to this brooding or his savage temper, the fact remained that he had the greatest difficulty in keeping house-servants. Since his wife had died two years ago, he had had no less than seven; Caribs, quadroons, and Creoles of one sort or another. His latest, a lean, gangly black boy, went by the name of Christopher, and was undoubtedly the worst of the lot.

As Cunard entered the house now, he was in a distinctly bad frame of mind. Coming down the coast highway, he had had the misfortune to have a flat tire and had damaged his clothes considerably in changing it. He rang the antiquated bell-pull savagely.

Presently Christopher shambled through the connecting doorway.

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To Walk the Night–A Vintage Horror Novel by William Sloane…Keep the Light On!

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To Walk the Night

William Sloane

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Art by William Rose for a later pb edition (Pinterest).

‘The form in which this narrative is cast must necessarily be an arbitrary one. In the main it follows the story pieced together by Dr Lister and myself as we sat on the 

terrace of his Long Island house one night in the summer of 193–. But in retelling it I have not tried to follow exactly the wording of our conversation. To do so would leave many things obscure to readers who did not know Selena, Jerry, and the rest of us. Therefore I have allowed myself the liberties of adding certain descriptions of people and places, and of attempting to suggest now and again the atmosphere of strangeness, even of terror, which was so much a part of my life while these events were in progress.

My belief is that this story is unlikely to attract much attention. Essentially it is concerned with people whose very names, with one exception, are unknown to the general public. One of them is now dead and another is alive merely in the physical sense of the word. The evidence which I can bring forward in support of its truth is almost wholly indirect, and psychological rather than circumstantial.

With some hesitation I submitted galley proofs of this book to Alan Parsons, who worked on the LeNormand case from its beginning. The letter he sent in reply is confidential, and I am not free to print it here. Thanks, however, to valuable suggestions from him the presentation of the facts has been revised in several places, and where my narrative touches upon the evidence in the official records it is at least accurate. Its interpretation, of course, is entirely Dr Lister’s and mine. What Parsons may have thought of it I cannot tell for certain. But some weeks ago, in making a final check on the transcripts of parts of the evidence, I went to his office at New Zion. When his secretary brought me the case folders I observed that she took them out of a file drawer labeled “closed.”

I am not sure that it is wise to make this story a matter of public record. Dr Lister and I have hesitated before doing so. Our ultimate decision is based upon the belief that it is never expedient to suppress the truth. We do not expect it to secure immediate acceptance. There are some experiences which are alien to everyday life; they are “doomed for a certain term to walk the night” before the mind of man either recognizes them for what they are or dismisses their appearance as fantasy.’

Berkeley M. Jones
Long Island, 1954


And mind alone is never whole,
But needs the body for a soul.

– Struthers Burt: Pack-Trip: Suite


Chapter One: End of Evening

THE driveway began to dip to the long pitch of the bluff. The old taxi lumbered around curves and dropped heavily down the slope, its tires making a strong, harsh noise as they rolled over the gravel. The sound told me, without my having to open my eyes, how close we were to the house. Only a minute more to lie back in the refuge of this dilapidated sedan and be carried along without effort and without thought. Then the narcotic of traveling, of surrendering myself to the mere forward motion of train and automobile, would wear off. For twenty-five hundred miles and three days I had tried to imagine what I would do when the wheels under me stopped rolling and I should have to rouse myself to action.

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Does Lovecraft Matter? What Do the Critics Say?—Part 1 of a Series on the Literary Importance of the Work of H. P. Lovecraft

Does Lovecraft Matter? What Do the Critics Say?

Lovecraft, Howard Phillip (1890–1937)

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Author, H. P. Lovecraft.

‘Virtually unknown during his lifetime, the writer and critic Howard Phillips (H. P.) Lovecraft attracted a huge readership for cult science fiction, fantasy, and Gothic terror. According to the author and critic Joyce Carol OATES, the posthumous publication of his collected stories made the greatest impact on HORROR NARRATIVE since the writings of Edgar Allan POE. Born in Providence, Rhode Island, to a deranged mother and syphilitic father, Lovecraft developed verbal acumen in childhood and retreated into a fictive world of terror and extraterrestrial phantasms inspired by the fantastic Pegana tales of Edward Plunkett, Lord Dunsany.

Lovecraft created his own mythic cycle popu- lated with MONSTERS such as those that permeate “The Call of Cthulhu” (1928), a murky nether world where titans speak an unknown language. Emphasizing perverse science, NECROMANCY, occultism, LYCANTHROPY, cannibalism, and demonology, he wrote a distinctive brand of horror for the pulp magazines Weird Tales and Astounding Stories. He took the time to admire a peer, poet Walter DE LA MARE, and to lavish encouragement and advice on a field of young, promising Gothic writers, including a contemporary, Clark Ashton Smith, author of “The Hashish-Eater” (1922). Lovecraft was also quick to single out the fakes and flakes, including the American horror writer Robert William Chambers, author of the play The King in Yellow (1895)*, which Lovecraft castigated for its lack of thought.

Like Poe, Lovecraft expressed his debt to ATMOSPHERE. In the critical volume Supernatural Horror in Literature (1945), he extolled the worth of surroundings above plot mechanics as the source of a sensation, a concept introduced by the Gothic master Ann RADCLIFFE in 1794.

As a result of Lovecraft’s control of setting and TONE, he produced unrelentingly pessimistic views of humankind in a world in which evil and savagery prevail, both in reality and nightmares, as found in “The Beast in the Cave” (1905), an early tale in which a tourist in Mammoth Cave kills an albino being resembling a prehistoric human. In a posthumous collection, The Dream Cycle of H. P. Lovecraft: Dreams of Terror and Death (1995), his tales of urban dread fuse midnight phantasms with waking horror. In “Azathoth” (1922) and “The Descendent” (1926), his doomed characters cringe before threatening worlds where fearful, whirling phantasms reach beyond land into sky and sea.

In “The Rats in the Wall,” one of the tales collected in The Best of H. P. Lovecraft (1987), the author exploits the oldest human dread, fear of the unknown. His hapless protagonist digs into the tiled floor of Exham Priory to discover a horror—the remains of people who died in a state of panic: “and over all were the marks of rodent gnawing. The skulls denoted nothing short of utter idiocy, cretinism, or primitive semi-apedom” (Lovecraft, The Best, 33).

The revelation suits a prevalent theme in Lovecraft sagas—the degeneracy of a family into crime, immorality, and madness. Underlying this and other nihilist views is Lovecraft’s atheism and the hopelessness for humanity, themes replicated in Fred Chappell’s Dagon (1968) and in the pessimistic urban Gothic of Leonard Lanson Cline’s The Dark Chamber (1927) and John Ramsey Campbell’s To Wake the Dead (1980) and New Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos (1980).’

*This is incorrect. “The King in Yellow” is a short story written by Robert W. Chambers, in which a play by the same name, when read, drives its reader insane. It is one of a very popular, critically lauded, collection of stories. “The [King in Yellow] is named after a play with the same title which recurs as a motif through some of the stories. The first half of the [collection] features highly esteemed weird stories, and the book has been described by esteemed critics such as E. F. Bleiler, S. T. Joshi and T. E. D. Klein as a classic in the field of the supernatural.” I cannot comment on Lovecraft’s opinion of Chambers/his work. See:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_KingBibliography

Clements, Nicholaus. “Lovecraft’s ‘The Haunter of the Dark,’” Explicator 57, no. 2 (winter 1999): 98–100.
F5A32AF8-0D8E-48C2-9801-1D12E90315E4Heller, Terry. The Delights of Terror: An Aesthetics of the Tale of Terror. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1987.
Lovecraft, H. P. The Best of H. P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre. New York: Del Rey, 1987.
Oates, Joyce Carol. Telling Stories. New York: W. W. Nor- ton, 1998.
Price, Robert M. “H. P. Lovecraft: Prophet of Human- ism,” Humanist 61, no. 4 (July 2001): 26.
Wohleber, Curt. “The Man Who Can Scare Stephen King,” American Heritage 46, no. 8 (December 1995): 82–90.

(Source: Mary Ellen Snodgrass, The Encyclopedia of Gothic Literature, 2005)

“At the Mountains of Madness” by H. P. Lovecraft, 1931–Where Lake Discovers Something Creepy in the Fossil Record (an Excerpt)…

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Great Old One, from H. P. Lovecraft’s “At the Mountains of Madness”. Art by kkkiri @deviantart.com. 

From Chapter II, when Lake, on a separate expedition, discovers peaks over 30,000 feet above sea-level; he has discovered fossilized triangular-shaped “footprints”, and through boring and blasting has located a limestone cave that has not seen the light of day for over 300 million years. In it are bones that are of varying ages and from a variety of creatures—all many millions of years old…In his excitement, Lake begins to wire the news of his findings to the narrator of the story. . .

 


 

‘Lake was not content to let his first message stand, but had another bulletin written and despatched across the snow to the camp before Moulton could get back. After that Moulton stayed at the wireless in one of the planes; transmitting to me—and to the Arkham for relaying to the outside world—the frequent postscripts which Lake sent him by a succession of messengers. Those who followed the newspapers will remember the excitement created among men of science by that afternoon’s reports—reports which have finally led, after all these years, to the organisation of that very Starkweather-Moore Expedition which I am so anxious to dissuade from its purposes. I had better give the messages literally as Lake sent them, and as our base operator McTighe translated them from his pencil shorthand:

“Fowler makes discovery of highest importance in sandstone and limestone fragments from blasts. Several distinct triangular striated prints like those in Archaean slate, proving that source survived from over 600 million years ago to Comanchian times without more than moderate morphological changes and decrease in average size. Comanchian prints apparently more primitive or decadent, if anything, than older ones. Emphasise importance of discovery in press. Will mean to biology what Einstein has meant to mathematics and physics. Joins up with my previous work and amplifies conclusions. Appears to indicate, as I suspected, that earth has seen whole cycle or cycles of organic life before known one that begins with Archaeozoic cells. Was evolved and specialised not later than thousand million years ago, when planet was young and recently uninhabitable for any life-forms or normal protoplasmic structure. Question arises when, where, and how development took place.”

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“Later. Examining certain skeletal fragments of large land and marine saurians and primitive mammals, find singular local wounds or injuries to bony structure not attributable to any known predatory or carnivorous animal of any period. Of two sorts—straight, penetrant bores, and apparently hacking incisions. One or two cases of cleanly severed bone. Not many specimens affected. Am sending to camp for electric torches. Will extend search area underground by hacking away stalactites.”

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“Still later. Have found peculiar soapstone fragment about six inches across and an inch and a half thick, wholly unlike any visible local formation. Greenish, but no evidences to place its period. Has curious smoothness and regularity. Shaped like five-pointed star with tips broken off, and signs of other cleavage at inward angles and in centre of surface. Small, smooth depression in centre of unbroken surface. Arouses much curiosity as to source and weathering. Probably some freak of water action. Carraoll, with magnifier, thinks he can make out additional markings of geologic significance. Groups of tiny dots in regular patterns. Dogs growing uneasy as we work, and seem to hate this soapstone. Must see if it has any peculiar odour. Will report again when Mills gets back with light and we start on underground area.”

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“10: 15 P.M. Important discovery. Orrendorf and Watkins, working underground at 9: 45 with light, found monstrous barrel-shaped fossil of wholly unknown nature; probably vegetable unless overgrown specimen of unknown marine radiata. Tissue evidently preserved by mineral salts. Tough as leather, but astonishing flexibility retained in places. Marks of broken-off parts at ends and around sides. Six feet end to end, 3.5 feet central diameter, tapering to 1 foot at each end. Like a barrel with five bulging ridges in place of staves. Lateral breakages, as of thinnish stalks, are at equator in middle of these ridges. In furrows between ridges are curious growths. Combs or wings that fold up and spread out like fans. All greatly damaged but one, which gives almost seven-foot wing spread. Arrangement reminds one of certain monsters of primal myth, especially fabled Elder Things in Necronomicon. These wings seem to be membraneous, stretched on framework of glandular tubing. Apparent minute orifices in frame tubing at wing tips. Ends of body shrivelled, giving no clue to interior or to what has been broken off there. Must dissect when we get back to camp. Can’t decide whether vegetable or animal. Many features obviously of almost incredible primitiveness. Have set all hands cutting stalactites and looking for further specimens. Additional scarred bones found, but these must wait. Having trouble with dogs. They can’t endure the new specimen, and would probably tear it to pieces if we didn’t keep it at a distance from them.”

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“11: 30 P.M. Attention, Dyer, Pabodie, Douglas. Matter of highest—I might say transcendent—importance. Arkham must relay to Kingsport Head Station at once. Strange barrel growth is the Archaean thing that left prints in rocks. Mills, Boudreau, and Fowler discover cluster of thirteen more at underground point forty feet from aperture. Mixed with curiously rounded and configured soapstone fragments smaller than one previously found—star-shaped but no marks of breakage except at some of the points. Of organic specimens, eight apparently perfect, with all appendages. Have brought all to surface, leading off dogs to distance. They cannot stand the things. Give close attention to description and repeat back for accuracy. Papers must get this right.

“Objects are eight feet long all over. Six-foot five-ridged barrel torso 3.5 feet central diameter, 1 foot end diameters. Dark grey, flexible, and infinitely tough. Seven-foot membraneous wings of same colour, found folded, spread out of furrows between ridges. Wing framework tubular or glandular, of lighter grey, with orifices at wing tips. Spread wings have serrated edge. Around equator, one at central apex of each of the five vertical, stave-like ridges, are five systems of light grey flexible arms or tentacles found tightly folded to torso but expansible to maximum length of over 3 feet. Like arms of primitive crinoid. Single stalks 3 inches diameter branch after 6 inches into five sub-stalks, each of which branches after 8 inches into five small, tapering tentacles or tendrils, giving each stalk a total of 25 tentacles.

“At top of torso blunt bulbous neck of lighter grey with gill-like suggestions holds yellowish five-pointed starfish-shaped apparent head covered with three-inch wiry cilia of various prismatic colours. Head thick and puffy, about 2 feet point to point, with three-inch flexible yellowish tubes projecting from each point. Slit in exact centre of top probably breathing aperture. At end of each tube is spherical expansion where yellowish membrane rolls back on handling to reveal glassy, red-irised globe, evidently an eye. Five slightly longer reddish tubes start from inner angles of starfish-shaped head and end in sac-like swellings of same colour which upon pressure open to bell-shaped orifices 2 inches maximum diameter and lined with sharp white tooth-like projections. Probable mouths. All these tubes, cilia, and points of starfish-head found folded tightly down; tubes and points clinging to bulbous neck and torso. Flexibility surprising despite vast toughness.

“At bottom of torso rough but dissimilarly functioning counterparts of head arrangements exist. Bulbous light-grey pseudo-neck, without gill suggestions, holds greenish five-pointed starfish-arrangement. Tough, muscular arms 4 feet long and tapering from 7 inches diameter at base to about 2.5 at point. To each point is attached small end of a greenish five-veined membraneous triangle 8 inches long and 6 wide at farther end. This is the paddle, fin, or pseudo-foot which has made prints in rocks from a thousand million to fifty or sixty million years old. From inner angles of starfish-arrangement project two-foot reddish tubes tapering from 3 inches diameter at base to 1 at tip. Orifices at tips. All these parts infinitely tough and leathery, but extremely flexible. Four-foot arms with paddles undoubtedly used for locomotion of some sort, marine or otherwise. When moved, display suggestions of exaggerated muscularity. As found, all these projections tightly folded over pseudo-neck and end of torso, corresponding to projections at other end.

“Cannot yet assign positively to animal or vegetable kingdom, but odds now favour animal. Probably represents incredibly advanced evolution of radiata without loss of certain primitive features. Echinoderm resemblances unmistakable despite local contradictory evidences. Wing structure puzzles in view of probable marine habitat, but may have use in water navigation. Symmetry is curiously vegetable-like, suggesting vegetable’s essentially up-and-down structure rather than animal’s fore-and-aft structure. Fabulously early date of evolution, preceding even simplest Archaean protozoa hitherto known, baffles all conjecture as to origin. “Complete specimens have such uncanny resemblance to certain creatures of primal myth that suggestion of ancient existence outside antarctic becomes inevitable.” . . .’

“The Purple Cincture”, a Vintage Horror Story by H. Thompson Rich

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