Saturday, December 11, 2021
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Tuesday, December 7, 2021
Forever ‘Till The End Of Time
Al Bruno III
I must be quick because I am not sure how much time I have left.
It all began the same week that my divorce from Deborah became final. She called me and begged that I come to the house we had shared for over a decade. Just a visit, that was all she wanted. I patiently told her again that there was no hope of a reconciliation.
Reconciliation, however, was the furthest thing from her mind. She told me she had uncovered an original draft of The Zanthu Tablets: A Conjectural Translation. I admit this news surprised and intrigued me. My former wife and I were both academics, experts in the fields of archeology and history; but while I made my living from teaching, Deborah had turned her attention to pure research.
Perhaps that was why she had collected accolades while I had collected dalliances with graduate students.
“Who else but you,” she had said, “who else but you could appreciate this?”
Curiosity won out over common sense and the next night I took the hour long drive to Arkham. As each mile passed my excitement faded and my dread grew. My parting with Deborah had been angry and tearful. I knew that even now, despite everything, she still loved me. Every relationship is like that in the end, with one party caring for the other more; the worshipper and the worshipped.
I found that both my former home and former wife had suffered a swift decline. The lawn was overgrown, the mail and newspapers unclaimed. Deborah herself looked tired and light-starved. She had gained weight, yet her face had become gaunt.
She had barely shut the door behind me before she began talking franticly, stumbling over her words in an effort to tell me everything at once. I had seen her in such frenzies before, discoveries like this caused her to succumb to a kind of madness. Regardless of such considerations I will admit I was impressed. Her researches into the connections between Sumerian and Polynesian mythology had led her to a new understanding of the disturbing legends of Ythogtha and his offspring Ubb the father of worms. Her work would force the academic world to reconsider everything it knew about the Xothic legend cycle.
Each room of the house was a chaos of old books and hastily scrawled notes. There were maps of the ancient and modern worlds tacked on the walls, patterns had been drawn along and through the oceans and continents.
Instead of leading me to her study she asked me to follow her down to the basement.
A foul odor assaulted me as I descended the stairs. Deborah had somehow managed to tear up the concrete floor of the basement. The soil she had revealed was black and uneven, it reeked of sewage and rot. Before I could question her about this I saw an object sitting alone on a long metal table in the center of the room.
It was the kind of idol that we had both read descriptions of over the years. The kind of idols that missionaries had taken care to destroy. Nothing like this was supposed to have survived into the modern age. I should have been excited but instead I felt a cold dread settle around me. The effigy was no more than a foot tall and made from a yellowish stone that gleamed like it might be exuding some kind of sickly inner moisture. This Plathelminthe-like image could only be that of Ubb, the father of worms.
“Ubb is immortal among his kind,” Deborah explained, “raised up by Ythogtha to live and crawl and know. So if he is immortal why were kings and shamans sacrificed to him?”
I backed away from her, afraid of the way her eyes had lit up when she said the word sacrificed. How irrational had she become?
She drew closer to me, reaching out. Her fingertips were darkly stained. “Can’t you see? Ubb ingests but does not digest. He is merciful.”
Was it my legs quaking beneath me or something more? Even now I cannot say.
“How could you love someone else when I can give you forever?”
My revulsion turned to violence and I pushed her away. She fell backwards into the damp dirt and in doing so revealed what had been carelessly buried there.
I have no memory of fleeing what had once been my home or of screaming in the streets until I fainted dead away.
The rest of my story is public knowledge. The authorities were alerted and a search of the house revealed nearly a dozen bodies. Deborah and the statue were never found, considering her final words to me I am not at all surprised.
In the weeks since I have kept to myself, answering whatever questions the authorities might have and refusing all visitors- reporters and old friends alike. Each night I drink myself to sleep hoping to quell the dreams which now haunt me. Those dreams of a great flatworm-like thing burrowing purposefully through the Earth’s mantle and waiting for the stars to be right.
In that dream I am bodiless and weightless, I float close enough to see every detail of its churning body. It glows with an internal bioluminescence. It is blind yet it sees. It is called the father of worms yet it leaves a trail of young in its wake.
The middle of the thing’s body is swollen and translucent. I can see the shapes that crowd there, half-mummified and unmistakably human, generations of lords and wise men.
This is Ubb and he sees me. I have been marked. Despite knowing this I do not have the courage to take my own life, to choose oblivion over the fate I know awaits me.
Someday soon the father of worms will reach out and drag me down through miles of Earth to join Deborah and together we will live forever in the belly of the beast.
But that's what the Albany PD’s Chief of Detectives believed caused the death of Chad Trevi. He even announced it in an impromptu press conference without the slightest trace of self awareness.
One of the first things wrong with their cockamamie theory was that Chad Trevi wasn’t into My Little Ponies, he was all about My Happy Horses. Now for those of you with lives and families please allow me to explain that My Happy Horses are the Go-Bots of the plastic equine world. In other words they were a cheaply made cash-in product created to flood the dollar stores for the holidays.
Of course as soon as Hasbro found out about My Happy Horses they rained hellfire and lawyers down upon the creatively challenged Tomlande Toys Inc and the My Happy Horses line was shut down before it had barely gotten off the ground. Hundreds of the toys were pulled from the shelves and sent away to be destroyed.
That meant the ones that had actually been sold or slipped through the cracks were very rare and very collectable. A complete set of the twelve different horses were very hard to find but Chad had them all, and then some.
Other toy collectors say he had gone to unethical lengths to get them but then again I have no idea what the ethics of toy collecting are.
It all began when Chad was entertaining Les Spencer, a much wealthier My Happy Horses obsessive. We don’t know what was said but friends knew Chad was eager to show off what he was sure would make his collection the envy of his peers.
The showing must not have gone over well. Neighbors reported shouts and a slammed door. A Denny’s waitress positively identified Les as the man drowning his sorrows in an epic stack of pancakes. Les told the police that he went home right after that but the police believe that he then doubled back on foot, somehow got back into Chad Trevi’s apartment and killed him with a blunt object they had yet to find.
The real story is far, far stranger than that…
…another day, another intrusion into a crime scene. It was two days after Chad Trevi met his untimely and unlikely end. It's funny how inured I've become to police tape, I give it about as much passing thought as you give a clicking on a terms of service agreement.
These days however I am a little smarter in my trespasses. I own a jumpsuit just like the ones the guys at Remediation Crime Scene Clean Up use, so now if someone spots me creeping around the site of a violent death they can dismiss me as some working stiff burning the midnight oil.
How should I describe Chad Trevi's apartment? There was a crappy couch, a filthy TV, a sink brimming with dishes and a bag of rank-smelling laundry near the door. Ordinarily fingerprint powder and chalk outlines would stand out like a grim reminder of our ultimate mortality but here they kind of tied the room together.
I spent a few minutes examining the chalk outline. The boards from the section of floor where Chad’s head had been were pulled up. My sources told me that his skull had been stuck with such force that it had driven fragments of bone into the wood.
I’d seen pictures of the police’s main suspect and let me tell you Les Spencer does not look like the kind of guy that could break anything larger than a potato chip, and according to Les’s brother Tom the guy was so squeamish he’d faint at the sight of a rare steak.
That’s how I got involved in all this. Tom Spencer is a member of the FEAROFTRUTH forum. He posts under the name ‘CaptainTrekker’ and he asked me to try and prove his adopted brother was innocent. I warned Tom that any mysteries I stuck my nose into usually ended up having a body count roughly equal to the final act of Hamlet but ‘CaptainTrekker’ was most insistent.
I turned my attention to the second bedroom of Chad’s apartment, where he kept his collection. Now I have to admit my inner child thrilled a little at the sight of so many GI Joes, Micro Machines and Teenage Mutant Ninja figures displayed on glass paneled white oak shelves but it was obvious the true gem of his collection was the My Happy Horses.
The display was a four-tiered pyramid-shaped shelving structure with the plastic toys arranged in ascending order from the most common, relatively speaking, to the rarest. The space at the top of the pyramid was reserved for his pride and joy - Lil’ Blucifer.
The legend of Lil’ Blucifer is an obscure one, and considering the legend is attached to an obscure toy line, I had to go all the way to the second page of my Google search to learn about it. Lil’ Blucifer was designed to be an antagonist for the Happy Horses, an equine antagonist if you will. The design of the toy had been based on the 32 foot tall, garish Blue Mustang statue that marks the entrance to the Denver International Airport. Before being completed the statue fell on his sculptor and killed him. From there things went downhill, it was linked to deaths, madness and the Blue Kachina Prophecy of the Hopi Indians.
A strange idea for a cheap knockoff toy manufacturer. I guess someone was trying to be clever.
Trust me, clever people and hipsters will be the death of this world.
My theory was that somehow, the curse of Big Blucifer passed on to his plastic effigies. Somehow that cheap, hard to find toy had called up a supernatural force that pulverized Chad Trevi with a single strike of its hooves. It was the kind of supernatural force that could only be stopped by clever application of that most blasphemous and blessed sigil, the Sign of Ninazu.
A great theory, but the problem was that the toy wasn’t where it belonged, the top of the display was empty. My sources told me the police hadn’t taken any of Chad’s collection into evidence yet. Had some sticky-fingered cop stolen it? It made no sense to me, suddenly none of this made any sense.
I decided a top to bottom search of the apartment was in order. First I checked beneath the couch, I found a remote control, several empty bags of potato chips and one sock of disturbing stiffness. The bedroom and kitchen were no less disgusting and toy free. All I found in the hall closet was a pair of coats, an umbrella, and an indigo-colored stallion of clydesdale-esque proportions. Blazing red eyes glared down at me as I slowly and carefully closed the closet door.
I got clear of the door just as it exploded into splinters. The daemon horse strode out of the closet, the closet that was too small to hold a bicycle much less a horse from Hell, or Denver.
The world seemed to slow down in it’s proximity, the ticking of the clock, the pace of my terrified breathing, the sound of the traffic outside. The whole world had slowed down except for Blucifer.
Did I mention the damn thing was between me in the exit?
It reared up on it’s hind legs, bloodied hooves cut the air. It’s head passed through the ceiling, the solid plaster rippled like the surface of a pond.
With nowhere else to go I ran into the bathroom and in a gesture of hopeless optimism locked the door behind me. I dropped to my knees and dug the charcoal pen from my pocket.
My hand sketched out the lines, crosses and curves of that most blasphemous and blessed sigil with practiced ease. Jasper was the one that had made me practice it again and again. I silently thanked him as I drew and silently cursed him for leaving on a fools errand to Syria without so much as a goodbye argument.
There. I thought as I finished, Fastest Ninazu in the Northeast.
It brought the bathroom door crashing down with a single blow from its hooves. One foot came down on the toilet, shattering the porcelain like it was fine china.
The other foot came down dead center in the sign of Ninanzu…
…what else is there to say? If you’ve seen one satanic horse go down like the Wicked Witch of the West you’ve seen them all. The real kicker is what the shattered toilet revealed to me.
A lump of melted plastic that was a very bright shade of blue.
All the pieces fell into place then.
You see Les did go home after he’d had a bite to eat, he’d gone home to his own Lil’ Blucifer. He’d always assumed his was the only remaining one.
You might wonder why, unlike Chad, he didn’t brag about his amazing acquisition. It’s because he understood what the thing really was, and what it could do.
Les Spencer wasn’t the kind of man to make enemies, but over the last two years some people he didn’t like had died unexpectedly.
An ex-girlfriend, a co-worker and now a rival toy collector all dead from one kind of blunt trauma or another.
Yes, I tried to tell the police.
No, they didn’t believe any of it.
Hell, you probably don’t believe me.
Not that it matters, the Spencer family’s high priced lawyer got all charges dropped this morning. Tom and his parents are going to be bringing him home this afternoon. No one’s told Les yet that some lunatic broke into his apartment and left five heat lamps there all going full blast. His beloved toys have been reduced to goop.
Every single one.
I plan to be there when he finds out. Wild horses couldn’t drag me away.