Dweller in Darkness, The

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Szerző: August Derleth • Év: 1944

Searchers after horror haunt strange, far places. For them are the catacombs of Ptolemais, and the carven mausolea of the nightmare countries. They climb, to the moonlit towers of ruined Rhine castles, and falter down black cobwebbed steps beneath the scattered stones of forgotten cities in Asia. The haunted wood and the desolate mountain are their shrines, and they linger around the sinister monoliths on uninhabited islands. But the true epicure in the terrible, to whom a new thrill of unutterable ghastliness is the chief end and justification of existence, esteems most of all the ancient, lonely farmhouses of backwoods regions; for there the dark elements of strength, solitude, grotesqueness and ignorance combine to form, the perfection of the hideous.”

—H. P. Lovecraft.


Until recently, if a traveler in north central Wisconsin took the left fork at the junction of the Brule River highway and the Chequamegon pike on the way to Pashepaho; he would find himself in country so primitive that it would seem remote from all human contact. If he drove on along the little used road, he might in time pass a few tumbledown shacks where presumably people had once lived and which have long ago been taken back by the encroaching forest; it is not desolate country, but an area thick with growth, and over all its expanse there persists an intangible aura of the sinister, a kind of ominous oppression of the spirit quickly manifest to even the most casual traveler, for the road he has taken becomes ever more and more difficult to travel, and is eventually lost just short of a deserted lodge built on the edge of a clear blue lake around which century-old trees brood eternally, a country where the only sounds are the cries of the owls, the whippoorwills, and the eerie loons at night, and the wind’s voice in the trees, and—but is it always the wind’s voice in the trees? And who can say whether the snapped twig is the sign of an animal passing—or of something more, some other creature beyond man’s ken?

For the forest surrounding the abandoned lodge at Rick’s .Lake had a curious reputation long before I myself knew it, a reputation which transcended similar stories about similar primeval places. There were odd rumors about something that dwelt in the depths of the forest’s darkness—by no means the conventional wild whisperings of ghosts—of something half-animal, half-man, fearsomely spoken of by such natives as inhabited the edges of that region, and referred to only by stubborn head-shakings among the Indians who occasionally came out of that country and made their way south. The forest had an evil reputation; it was nothing short of that; and already, before the turn of the century, if had a history that gave pause even to the most intrepid adventurer.

The first record of it was left in the writings of a missionary on his way through that country to come to the aid of a tribe of Indians reported to the post at Chequamegon Bay in the north to be starving. Fr. Piregard vanished, but the Indians later brought in his effects: a sandal, his rosary, and a prayer-book in which he had written certain curious words which had been carefully preserved: „I have the conviction that some creature is following me. I thought at first it was a bear, but I am now compelled to believe that it is something incredibly more monstrous than any thing of this earth. Darkness is falling, and I believe I have developed a slight delirium, for I persist in hearing strange music and other curious sounds which can surely not derive from any natural source. There is also a disturbing illusion as of great footsteps which actually shake the earth, and I have several times encountered a very large footprint which varies, in shape. . . .”

The second record is far more sinister. When Big Bob Hiller, one of the most rapacious lumber barons of the entire midwest, began to encroach upon the Rick’s Lake country in the middle of the last century, he could not fail to be impressed by the stand of pine in the area near tlie lake; and, though he did not own it, he followed the usual custom of the lumber barons and sent, his men in from an adjoining piece he did own, under the intended explanation that he did not know where his line ran. Thirteen men failed to return from that first day’s work on the edge of the forest area surrounding Rick’s Lake; two of their bodies were never recovered; four were found—inconceivably—in the lake, several miles from where they had been cutting timber; the others were discovered at various places in the forest. Hiller thought he had a lumber war on his hands; laid his men off to mislead his unknown opponent, and then suddenly ordered them back to work in the forbidden region. After he had lost five more men, Hiller pulled put, and no hand since his time touched the forest, save for one or two individuals who took up land there and moved into the area.

One and all, these individuals moved out within a short time, saying little, but hinting much. Yet, the nature of their whispered hints was such that they were soon forced to abandon any explanation; so incredible were the tales they told, with overtones of something too horrible for description, of age-old evil which preceded anything dreamed of by even the most learned archeologist. Only one of them vanished, and no trace of him was ever found. The others came back but of the forest and in the course of time were lost somewhere among other people in the United States—all save a half-breed known as Old Peter, who was obsessed with the idea that there were mineral deposits in the vicinity of the wood, and occasionally went to camp on its edge, being careful not to venture in.

It was inevitable that the Rick’s Lake legends would ultimately reach the attention of Professor Upton Gardner of the State University; he had completed collections of Paul Bunyan, Whiskey Jack and Hodag tales, and was engaged upon a compilation of place legends when he first encountered the curious half-forgotten tales that emanated from the region of Rick’s Lake. I discovered later that his first reaction to them was one of casual interest; legends abound in out-of-the-way plates, and there was nothing to indicate that these were of any more import than others. True, there was no similarity in the strictest sense of the word to the more familiar tales; for, while the usual legends concerned themselves with ghostly appearances of men and animals, lost treasure, tribal beliefs, and the like, those of Rick’s Lake were curiously unusual in their insistence upon utterly outré creatures—or „a creature”—since no one had ever reported seeing more than one even vaguely in the forest’s darkness, half-man, half-beast, with always the hint that this description was inadequate in that it did injustice to the narrator’s concept of what it was that lurked there in the vicinity of the lake. Nevertheless, Professor Gardner would in all probability have done little more than add the legends as he heard them to his collection, if it had not been for the reports—seemingly unconnected—of two curious facts, and the, accidental discovery of a third.

The two facts were both newspaper accounts carried by Wisconsin papers within a week of each other. The first was a terse, half comic report headed: Sea Serpent in Wisconsin Lake? and read: „Pilot Joseph X. Castleton, on test flight over northern Wisconsin yesterday, reported seeing a large animal of some kind bathing by night in a forest lake in the vicinity of Qiequamegon. Castleton was caught in a thundershower and was flying low at the time, when, in an effort to ascertain his whereabouts, he looked down when lightning flashed, and saw what appeared to be a very large animal rising from the waters of a lake below him, and vanish into the forest. The pilot added no details to his story, but asserts that the creature he saw was not the Loch Ness monster.”

The second story was the utterly fantastic tale of the discovery of the body of Fr. Piregard, well-preserved, in the hollow trunk of a tree along the Brule River. At first called a lost member of the Marquette-Joliet Expedition, Fr. Piregard was quickly identified. To this report was appended a frigid statement by the President of the State Historical Society dismissing the discovery as a hoax.

The discovery Professor Gardner made was simply that an old friend was actually the owner of the abandoned lodge and most of the shore of Rick’s Lake.

The sequence of events was thus clearly inevitable. Professor Gardner instantly associated both newspaper accounts with the Rick’s Lake legends; this might not have been enough to stir him to drop his researches into the general mass of legends abounding in Wisconsin for specific research of quite another kind, but the occurrence of something even more astonishing sent him posthaste to the owner of the abandoned lodge for permission to take the place over in the interests of science. What spurred him to take this, action was nothing less than a request from the curator of the state museum to visit his office late one night and view a new exhibit which had arrived. He went there in the company of Laird Dorgan, and it was Laird who came to me.

But that was after Professor Gardner vanished.

For he did vanish; after sporadic reports from Rick’s Lake over a period of three months, all word from the lodge ceased entirely, and nothing further was heard of Professor Upton Gardner.

Laird came to my room at the University Club late one night in October; his frank blue eyes were clouded, his lips tense, his brow furrowed, and there was everything to show that he was in a state of moderate excitation which did not derive from liquor. I assumed that he was working too hard; the first period tests in his University of Wisconsin classes were just over; and Laird habitually took tests seriously—even as a student he had done so, and now as an instructor, he was doubly conscientious.

But it was not that. Professor Gardner had been missing almost a month now, and it was this which preyed on his mind. He said as much in so many words, adding, Jack, I’ve got to go up there and see what I can do.”

„Mali, if the sheriff and the posse haven’t discovered anything, what can you do?” I asked.

„For one thing, I know more than they do.”

„If so, why didn’t you tell them?”

„Because it’s not the sort of thing they’d pay any attention to.”



He was looking at me speculatively, as if wondering whether he could trust me. I was suddenly conscious of the conviction that he did know something which he, at least, regarded with the gravest concern; and at the same time I had the curious sensation of premonition and warning that I have ever experienced. In that instant the entire room seemed tense, the air electrified.

„If I go up there—do you think you could go along?”

„I guess I could manage.”

„Good.” He took a turn or two about the room, his eyes brooding, looking at me from time to time, still betraying uncertainty and an inability to make up his mind.

„Look, Laird—sit down and take it easy. That caged lion stuff isn’t good for your nerves.”


He took my advice; he sat down, covered his face with his hands, and shuddered. For a moment I was alarmed; but he snapped out of it in a few seconds, leaned back, and lit a cigarette.

„You know those legends about Rick’s Lake, Jack?”

I assured him that I knew them and the history of the place from the beginning—as much as had been recorded.

„And those stories in the papers I mentioned to you.”

The stories, too. I remembered them since Laird had discussed with me their effect on his employer.

„That second one, about Fr. Piregard,” he began, hesitated, stopped. But then, taking a deep breath, he began again. „You know, Gardner and I went over to the curator’s office one night last spring.”

„Yes, I was east at the time.”

„Of course. Well we went over there. The curator had something to show us. What do you think it was?”

„No idea. What was it?”

„That body in the tree!”


„Gave us quite a jolt. There it was hollow trunk and all, just the way it had been found. It had been shipped down to the museum for exhibition. But it was never exhibited, of course—for a very good reason. When Gardner saw it, he thought it was a waxwork. But it wasn’t.”

„You don’t mean that it was the real thing?”

Laird nodded. „I know it’s incredible.”

„It’s just not possible.”

„Well, yes, I suppose it’s impossible. But it was so. That’s why it wasn’t exhibited—just taken out and buried.”

„I don’t quite follow that.”

He leaned forward and said very earnestly, “Because when it came in if had all the appearance of being completely preserved, as if by some natural embalming process. It wasn’t. It was frozen. It began to thaw out that night. And there were certain things about it that indicated that Fr. Piregard hadn’t been dead the three centuries history said he had. The body began to go to pieces in a dozen ways—but no crumbling into dust, nothing like that. Gardner estimated that he hadn’t been dead over five years. Where had he been in the meantime?”

He was quite sincere. I would not at first have believed it. But there was a certain disquieting earnestness about Laird that forbade any levity on my part. If I had treated his story as a joke, as I had the impulse to do, he would have shut up like a clam, and walked out of my room to brood about this thing in secret, with Lord knows what harm to himself. For a little while I said absolutely nothing.

„You don’t believe it.”

„I haven’t said so.”

„I can feel it.”

„No. It’s, hard to take. Let’s say I believe in your sincerity.”

„That’s fair enough,” he said grimly. „Do you believe in me sufficiently to go along up to the lodge and find out what may have happened there?”

„Yes, I do.”

„But I think you’d better read these excerpts from Gardner’s letters first.” He put them down on my desk like a challenge. He had copied them off onto a single sheet of paper, and as I took this up he went on, talking rapidly, explaining that the letters Had been those written by Gardner from the lodge.

When he finished, I turned to the excerpts and read:


„I cannot deny that there is about the lodge, the lake, even the forest an aura of evil, of impending danger—it is, more than that, Laird, if I could explain it, but archeology is my forte, and not fiction. For it would take fiction. I think to do justice to this thing I feel. . . . Yes, there are times when I have the distinct feeling that someone or something is watching me out of the forest or from the lake—there does not seem to be a distinction as I would like to understand it, and while it does not make me uneasy nevertheless it is enough to give me pause. I managed the other day to make contact with Old Peter, the half-breed. He was at the moment a little the worse for firewater, but when I mentioned the lodge and the forest to Him, he drew into himself like a clam. But he did put words to it: he called it the Wendigo—you are familiar with this legend, which properly belongs to the French-Canadian country.”


That was the first letter, written about a week after Gardner had reached the abandoned lodge on Rick’s Lake. The second was extremely terse, and had been sent by special delivery.


„Will you wire Miskatonic University at Arkham, Massachusetts, to ascertain if there is available for study a photostatic copy of a book known as the Necronomicon, by an Arabian writer who signs himself Abdul Alhazred? Make inquiry also for the Pnakotic Manuscripts and the Book of Eibon, and determine whether it is possible to purchase through one of the local bookstores a copy of The Outsider and Others by H. P. Lovecraft, published by Arkham House last year. I believe that these books individually and collectively may be helpful in determining just what it is that haunts this place. For there is something; make who mistake about that; I am convinced of it, and when I tell you that I believe it has lived here not for years, but for centuries—perhaps even before the time of man—you will understand that I may be on the threshold of great discoveries.”


Startling as this letter was, the third and last, was even more so. For an interval of a fortnight went by between the second and third letters, and it was apparent that something had happened to threaten Professor Gardner’s composure, for his third letter was even in this selected excerpt marked by extreme perturbation.


„Everything evil here. . . . I don’t know whether it is the Black Goat With a Thousand Young or the Faceless One and/or something more that rides the wind. For God’s sake . . . those accursed fragments! . . . Something in the lake, too, and at night the sounds! How still; and then suddenly those horrible flutes, those watery ululations! Not a bird, not an animal then—only those ghastly sounds. And the voices! . . . Or is it but dream? Is it my own voice I hear in the darkness? . . .“


I found myself increasingly shaken as I read those excerpts. Certain implications and hints lodged between the lines of what Professor Gardner had written were suggestive of terrible, ageless evil, and I felt that there was opening up before Laird Dorgan and myself an adventure so incredible, so bizarre, and so unbelievably dangerous that we might well not return to tell it.

Yet even then there was a lurking doubt in my mind that we would say anything about what we found at Rick’s Lake.

„What do you say?” asked Laird impatiently.

„I’m going.”

„Good! Everything’s ready. I’ve even got a dictaphone and batteries enough to run it. I’ve arranged for the sheriff of the county at Pashepaho to replace Gardner’s notes, and leave everything just the why it was.”

„A dictaphone,” I broke in. „What for?”

„Those sounds he wrote about—we can settle that for once and all. If they’re there to be heard, the dictaphone will record them; if they’re just imagination, it won’t.” He paused, his eyes very grave „You know. Jack, we may not come out of this thing?”

„I know.”

I did not say so, because I knew that Laird, too,” felt, the same way I did: that we were going like two dwarfed Davids to face an adversary greater than any Goliath, an adversary invisible and unknown, who bore no name and was shrouded in legend and fear, a dweller not only in the darkness of the wood but in that greater, darkness which the mind of man has sought to explore since his dawn.




Sheriff Cowan was at the lodge when we arrived. Old Peter was with him. The sheriff was a tall, saturnine individual clearly of Yankee stock; though representing the fourth generation of his family in the area, he spoke with a twang which doubtless had persisted from generation to generation. The half-breed was a dark-skinned, ill-kempt fellow; he had a way of saying little, and from time to time grinned or snickered as at some secret joke.

„I brung up express that come some time past for the professor,” said the sheriff.

„From some place in Massachusetts was one of ‘em and the other from Sac Prairie, down near Madison. Didn’t seem t’ me ‘twas worth sendin’ back. So I took and brung ‘em with the keys. Don’t know that you fellers’ll git anyw’eres. My posse and me went through the hull woods, didn’t see a thing.”

„You ain’t tellin’ ‘em everything,” put in the half-breed, grinning.

„Ain’t no more to tell.”

„What about that carvin’?”

The sheriff shrugged irritably. „Damn it, Peter, that ain’t got nothin’ to do with the professor’s disappearance.”

„He made a drawin’ of it, didn’t he?”

So pressed, the sheriff confided that two members of his posse had stumbled upon a great slab of rock in the center of the wood; it was mossy and overgrown, but there was upon it an odd’ drawing, plainly as old as the forest—probably the work of one of the primitive Indian tribes once known to inhabit northern Wisconsin before the Dacotah Sioux and the Winnebago.—

Old Peter grunted with contempt. „No Indian drawing.”

The sheriff shook this off and went on. The drawing represented some’ kind of creature, but no one could tell what it was; it was certainly not a man, but on the other hand, it did not seem to be hairy, like a beast. Moreover, the unknown artist had forgotten to put in a face.

„‘N beside it there wuz two things,” said the half-breed.

„Don’t pay no attention to him,” said the sheriff then.

„What two, things?” demanded Laird.

„Jest things,” replied the half-breed, snickering. „Heh, heh! Ain’t no other way to tell it—warn’t human, warn’t animal, jest things.”

Cowan was irritated. He became suddenly brusque; he ordered the half-breed to keep still, „and went on to say that if we needed him, he would be at his office in Pashepaho. He did not explain how we were to make contact with him, since there was no telephone at the lodge, but plainly he had no high regard for the legends abounding about the area into which, we had ventured with such determination. The half-breed regarded us with an almost stolid indifference, broken only by his sly grin from time to time, and his dark eyes examined our luggage with keen speculation and interest. Laird met his gaze from time to time, and each time Old Peter shifted his eyes indolently. The sheriff went on talking; the notes and drawings the missing man had made were on the desk he had used in the big room which made up almost the entire, ground floor of the lodge, just where he had found them; they were the property of the State of Wisconsin and were to be returned to the sheriff’s office when we had finished with them.

At the threshold he turned for a parting shot to say he hoped we would not be staying too long, because „While I ain’t givin’ in to any of them crazy ideas—it jest ain’t been so healthy for some of the people who came here.”

„The half-breed knows or suspects something,” said Laird at once. „We’ll have to get in touch with him sometime when the sheriff’s not around.”

„Didn’t Gardner write that he was pretty close-mouthed when it came to concrete data?”

„Yes, but he indicated the way out. Firewater.”


We went to work and settled ourselves, storing our food supplies, setting up the dictaphone, getting things into readiness for a stay of at least a fortnight; our supplies were sufficient for this length of time, and if we had to remain longer, we could always go into Pashepaho for more food. Moreover, Laird had brought fully two dozen dictaphone cylinders, so that we had plenty of them for an indefinite time, particularly since we did not intend to use them except v/hen we slept—and this would not be often, for we had agreed that one of us would watch while the other took his rest, an arrangement we were not sanguine enough to believe would hold good without fail, hence the machine. It was not until after we had settled our belongings that we turned to the things the sheriff had brought, and meanwhile, we had ample opportunity to become aware of the very definite aura of the place.

For it was not imagination that there was a strange aura about the lodge and the grounds. It was not alone the brooding, almost sinister stillness, not alone the tall pines encroaching upon the lodge, not alone the blue-black waters of the lake, but something more than that: a hushed, almost menacing air of waiting, a kind of aloof assurance that was ominous—as one might imagine a hawk might feel leisurely cruising above prey it knows will not escape, its talons. Nor was this a fleeting impression, for it was obvious almost at once, and it grew with sure steadiness throughout the hour or so that we worked there; moreover, it was so plainly to be felt, that Laird commented upon it as if he had long ago accepted it, and knew that I too had done so! Yet there was nothing primary to which this could be attributed. There are thousands of lakes like Rick’s in northern Wisconsin and Minnesota, and while many of them are not in forest areas, those which are do not differ greatly in their physical aspects from Rick’s; so there was nothing in the appearance of the place which at all contributed to the brooding sense of horror which seemed to invade us from outside. Indeed, the setting was father the opposite; under the afternoon sunlight, the old lodge, the lake, the high forest all around had a pleasant air of seclusion—an air which made the contrast with the intangible aura of evil all the more pointed and fearsome. The fragrance of the pines, together with the freshness of the water served, too, to emphasize the intangible mood of menace.

We turned at last to the material left on Professor Gardner’s desk. The express packages contained, as expected, a copy of The Outsider and Others, by H. P. Lovecraft, shipped by the publishers, and photostatic copies of manuscript and printed pages taken from the R’lyeh Text and Ludwig Prinn’s De Vermis Mysteriis—apparently sent for to supplement the earlier data dispatched to the professor by the librarian of Miskatonic University, for we found among the material brought back by the sheriff certain pages from the Necronomicon, in the translation by Olaus Wormius, and likewise from the Pnakotic Manuscripts. But it was not these pages, which for the most part were unintelligible to us, which held our attention. It was the fragmentary notes left by Professor Gardner.


It was quite evident that he had not had time to do more than put down such questions and thoughts as had occurred to him, and, while there was little assimilation manifest, yet there was about what he had written a certain terrible suggestiveness which grew to colossal proportions as everything he had not put down became obvious.

„Is the slab (a) only an ancient ruin, (b) a marker similar to a tomb, (c) or a focal point for Him? If the latter, from outside? Or from beneath? (NB: Nothing to show that the thing has been disturbed.)”

„Cthulhu or Kthulhut. In Rick’s Lake? Subterrene passage to Superior and the sea via the St. Lawrence? (NB: Except for the aviator’s story, nothing to show that the Thing has anything to do with the water. Probably not one of the water beings.

„Hastur. But manifestations do not seem to have been of air beings either.

„Yog-Sothoth. Of earth certainly—but he is not the ‘Dweller in Darkness.” (NB: The Thing, whatever it is, must be of the earth deities, even though it travels in time and space. It could possibly be more than one, of which only the earth being is occasionally visible. Ithaqua, perhaps?)

„‘Dweller in Darkness.’ Could He be the same as the Blind, Faceless One? He could be truly said to the dwelling in darkness. Nyarlathotep? Or Shub-Niggurath?

„What of fire? There must be a deity here, too. But no mention. (NB: Presumably, if the Earth and Water Beings oppose those of Air, then they must oppose those-of-Fire as well. Yet there is evidence here and there to show that there is more constant struggle between Air and Water Beings than between those of Earth and Air. Abdul Alhazred is damnably obscure in places. There is no clue as to the identity of Cthugha in that terrible footnote.

„Partier says I am on the wrong track. I’m not convinced. Whoever it is that plays the music in the night is a master of hellish cadence and rhythm. And, yes, of cacophony. (Cf: Bierce and Chambers!”)

That was all.

„What incredible gibberish!” I exclaimed.

And yet—and yet I knew instinctively it was not gibberish. Strange things had happened here; things which demanded an explanation which was not terrestrial; and here, in Gardner’s handwriting, was evidence to show that he had not only arrived at the same conclusion, but passed it. However it might sound, Gardner had written it in all seriousness, and clearly for his own use alone, since only the vaguest and most suggestive outline seemed apparent. Moreover, the notes had had a startling effect on Laird; he had gone quite pale, and now stood looking down as if he could not believe what he had seen.

„What is it?” I asked.

„Jack—he was in contact with Partier.”

„It doesn’t register,” I answered, but even as I spoke I remembered the hushhush that had attended the severing of old Professor. Partier’s connection with the University of Wisconsin. It had been given out to the press that the old man had been somewhat too liberal in his lectures in anthropology—that is, that he had „Communistic leanings!”—which everyone who knew Partier realized was far from the facts. But he had said strange things in his lectures, he had talked of horrible, forbidden matters, and it had been thought best to let him out quietly. Unfortunately, Partier went out trumpeting in his contemptuous manner, and it had been difficult to hush the matter up satisfactorily.

„He’s I living down in ‘Wausau now,” said Laird.

„Do you suppose he could translate all this?” I asked and knew that I had echoed the thought in Laird’s mind.

„He’s, almost a day away by car. We’ll copy these notes, and if nothing happens—if we can’t discover anything, we’ll go to see him.”

If nothing happened—!


If the lodge by day had seemed brooding in an air of ominousness, by night it seemed surcharged with menace. Moreover, events began, to take place with disarming and insidious suddenness, beginning in mid-evening, when Laird and I were sitting over those curious photostats sent out by Miskatonic University in lieu of the books and manuscripts themselves, which were far too valuable to permit out of their haven. The first manifestation was so simple that for some; time neither of us noticed its strangeness. It was simply the sound in the trees as of rising wind, the growing song among the pines. The night was warm, and all the windows of the lodge stood open. Laird commented on the wind, and went on giving voice to his perplexity regarding the fragments before us. Not until half an hour had gone by and the sound of the wind had risen to the proportions of a gale did it occur to Laird that something was wrong, and he looked up, his eyes going from one open window to another in growing apprehension. Then I, too, became aware.

Despite the tumult of the wind, no draft of air had circulated in the room, not one of the light curtains at the window was so much as trembling!

With one simultaneous movement, both of us stepped out upon the broad veranda of the lodge.

There was no wind, no breath of air stirring to touch our hands and faces. There was only the sound in the forest. And both of us looked up to where the pines were silhouetted against the star-swept heavens, expecting their tops would be bending before a high gale; but there was no movement whatever; the pines stood still, motionless; and the sound as of wind continued from all around us. We stood on the veranda for half an hour, vainly attempting to determine the source of the sound—and then, as unobtrusively as it had begun, it stopped!

The hour was now approaching midnight, and Laird prepared for bed; he had slept little the previous night, and we had agreed that I was to take the first watch until four in the morning. Neither of us said much about the sound in the pines, but what was said indicated a desire to believe that there was a natural explanation for the phenomenon, if we could establish a point of contact for understanding. It was inevitable, I suppose, that even in the face of all the curious facts which had come to our attention, there should still be an earnest wish to find a natural explanation. Certainly the oldest fear and the greatest fear to which man is prey is fear of the unknown; anything capable of rationalization and explanation cannot be feared; but it was growing hourly more patent that we were facing something which defied all known rationales and credos, but hinged upon a system of belief that antedated even primitive man, and indeed, as scattered hints within the photostat pages from Miskatonic University suggested, antedated even earth itself. And there was always that brooding terror, the ominous suggestion of menace from something far beyond the grasp of such a puny intelligence as man’s.


Thus it was with some trepidation that I prepared for my vigil. After Laird had gone to his room, which was at the head of the stairs, with a door opening upon a railed in balcony looking down into the lodge room where I sat with the book by Lovecraft, reading here and there in its pages, I settled down to a kind of apprehensive waiting. It was not that I was afraid of what might take place, but rather that I was afraid that what took place might be beyond my understanding. However, as the minutes ticked past, I became engrossed in The Outsider and Others, with its hellish suggestions of aeon-old evil, of entities co-existent with all time and conterminous with all spaces, and I began to understand, however vaguely, a relation between the writings of this fantasiste and the curious notes Professor Gardner had made. The most disturbing factor in this cognizance was the knowledge that Professor Gardner had made his notes independent of the book I now read, since it had arrived after his disappearance. Moreover, though there were certain keys to what Gardner had written in the first material he had received from Miskatonic University, there was growing now a mass of evidence to indicate that the professor had had access to some other source of information.

What was that source?’ Could he have learned something from Old Peter? Hardly likely. Could he have gone to Partier? It was not impossible that he had done so, though he had not imparted this information to Laird. Yet it was not to be ruled out that he had made contact with still another source of which there was no hint among his notes.

It was while I was engaged in this engrossing speculation that I became conscious of the music. It may actually have been sounding for some time before I heard it, but I do not think so. It was a curious melody that was being played, beginning as something, lulling and harmonious, and then subtly becoming cacophonous and demoniac, rising in tempo, though all the time coming as from a great distance. I listened to it with growing astonishment; I was not at first aware of that sense of evil which fell upon me the moment I stepped outside and became cogni2ant that the music emanated from the depths of the dark forest. There, too, I was sharply conscious of its weirdness; the melody was unearthly, utterly bizarre and foreign, and the instruments which were being used seemed to be flutes, or certainly some variation of flutes.

Up to that moment there was no really alarming manifestation. That is, there was nothing but the suggestiveness of the two events which had taken place to inspire fear. There was, in short, always a good possibility that there might be a natural explanation about the sound as of wind and that of music.

But now, suddenly, there occurred something so utterly horrible, something so fraught with terror, that I was at once made prey to the most terrible fear known to man, a surging primitive horror of the unknown, of something from outside—for if I had had doubts about the things suggested by Gardner’s notes and the material accompanying them, I knew instinctively that they were unfounded, for the sound that succeeded the strains of that unearthly music was of such a nature that it defied description, and defies it even now. It was simply a ghastly ululation, made by no beast known to man, and certainly by no man. It rose to an awful crescendo and fell away into a silence that was the more terrible for this soul-searing crying. It began with a two-note call, twice repeated, a frightful sound: „Ygnaiib! Ygnaiih!” and then became a triumphant wailing cry that ululated out of the forest and info the dark night like the hideous voice of the pit itself: „Eh-ya-ya-ya-yahaaahadahaaahaaaah-ah-ah-ngb ‘aaaa-ngh’ aaa-ya-ya yaa . . .” I stood for a minute absolutely frozen to the veranda. I could not have uttered a sound if it had been necessary to save my life. The voice had ceased, but the trees still seemed to echo, its frightful syllables. I heard Laird tumble from his bed, I heard him running down the stairs calling my name, but I couldn’t answer. He came out on the veranda and caught hold of my arm.

„Good God! What was that?”

„Did you hear it?”

„I heard enough.”

We stood waiting for it to sound again, but there was no repetition of it. Nor was there a repetition of the music. We returned to the sitting room and waited there, neither of us able to sleep.

But there was not another manifestation of any kind throughout the remainder of that night!




The occurrences of that first night more than anything else decided our direction on the following day. For, realizing that we were too ill-informed to cope with any understanding with what was taking place. Laird set the dictaphone for that second night, and we started out for Wausau and Professor Partier, planning to return on the following day with forethought, Laird carried with him our copy of the notes Gardner had left, skeletal as they were.

Professor Partier, at first reluctant to see us, admitted us finally to his study in the heart of the Wisconsin city, and cleared books and papers from two chairs, so that we could sit down. Though he had the appearance of an old man, wore a long white beard, and a fringe of white hair straggled from under his black skull cap, he was as agile as a young man; he was thin, his fingers were bony, his face gaunt, with deep, black eyes, and his features were set in an expression that was one of profound cynicism, disdainful, almost contemptuous, and he made no effort to make us comfortable, beyond providing places for us to sit.

He recognized Laird as Professor Gardner’s secretary, said brusquely that he was a busy man preparing what would doubtless be his last book for his publishers, and he would be obliged to us if we would state the object of our visit as concisely as possible.

„What do you know of Cthulhu?” asked Laird bluntly.

The professor’s reaction was astonishing. From an old man whose entire attitude had been one of superiority and aloof disdain, he became instantly wary and alert; with exaggerated care he put down the pencil he had been holding, his eyes never once left Laird’s face, arid he leaned forward a little over his desk.

„So,” he said, „you come to me.” He laughed then, a laugh which was like the cackling of some centenarian. „You come to me to ask about Cthulhu. Why?”

Laird explained curtly that we were bent upon discovering what had happened to Professor Gardner. He told as much as he thought necessary, while the old man closed his eyes, picked up his pencil once more and, tapping gently with it, listened with marked care, prompting Laird from time to time. When he had finished, Professor Partier opened his eyes slowly and looked from one to the other of us with an expression that was not unlike one of pity mixed with pain.

„So he mentioned me, did he? But I had no contact with him other than one telephone call.” He pursed his lips. „He had more reference to an earlier controversy than to his discoveries at Rick’s Lake. I would like now to give you a little advice.”

„That’s what we came for.”

„Go away from that place, and forget all about it.”

Laird shook his head in determination.

Partier estimated him, his dark eyes challenging his decision; but Laird did not falter. He had embarked upon this venture, and he meant to see it through.

„These are not forces with which common men have been accustomed to deal,” said the old man then. „We are frankly not equipped to do so.” He began then, without other preamble, to talk of matters so far removed from the mundane as to be almost beyond conception. Indeed, it was some time before I began to comprehend what he was hinting at, for his concept was so broad and breath-taking that it was difficult for anyone accustomed to so prosaic an existence as mine to grasp. Perhaps it was because Partier began obliquely by suggesting that it was not Cthulhu or his minions who haunted Rick’s Lake, but dearly another; the existence of the slab and what was carved upon it clearly indicated the nature of the being who dwelled there from time to time. Professor Gardner had in final analysis got on to the right path, despite thinking that Partier did not believe it. Who was , the Blind, Faceless One but Nyarlathotep? Certainly not Shub-Niggurath, the Black Goat of a Thousand Young.


Here Laird interrupted him to press for something more understandable, and then at last, realizing that we knew nothing, the professor went on; still in that vaguely oblique manner, to expound mythology—a mythology of pre-human life not only on the earth, but on the stars of all the universe. „We know nothing,” he repeated from time to time. „We know nothing at all. But there are certain signs, certain shunned places. Rick’s Lake is one of them.” He spoke of, beings whose very names were awesome—of the Elder Gods who live on Betelguese, remote in time and space, who had cast out into space the Great Old Ones, led by Azathoth and Yog-Sothoth, and numbering among them the primal spawn of the amphibious Cthulhu, the bat-like followers of Hastur the Unspeakable, of Lloigor, Zhar, and Ithaqua, who walked the winds and interstellar space, the earth beings, Nyarlathotep and Shub-Niggurath—the evil beings who sought always to triumph once more over the Elder Gods, who had shut them out or imprisoned them—as Cthulhu long ago slept in the ocean realm of R’lyeh, as Hastur was imprisoned upon a black star near Aldebaran in the Hyades. Long before human beings walked the, earth, the conflict between the Elder Gods and the Great Old Ones had taken place; and from time to time the Old Ones had made a resurgence toward power, sometimes to be stopped by direct interference by the Elder Gods, but more often by the agency of human or non-human beings serving to bring about a conflict among the beings of the elements, for, as Gardner’s notes indicated, the evil Old Ones were ‘elemental forces. And every time there had been a resurgence, the mark of it had been left deep upon man’s memory—though every attempt was made to eliminate the evidence and quiet survivors.

„What happened at Innsmouth, Massachusetts, for instance.” he asked, tensely.

„What took place at Dunwich? In the wilds of Vermont? At the old Tuttle house on the Aylesbury Pike? What of the mysterious cult of Cthulhu, and the utterly strange voyage of exploration to the Mountains of Madness? What beings dwelt on the hidden and shunned Plateau of Leng? And what of Kadath in the Cold Waste? Loyecraft knew! Gardner and many another have sought to discover those secrets, to link the incredible happenings which have taken place here and there on the face of the planet—but it is not desired by the Old Ones that mere men shall know too much. Be warned!”

He took up Gardner’s notes without giving either of us a chance to say anything, and studied them, putting on a pair of gold-rimmed spectacles which made him look more ancient than ever, and going on talking, more to himself than to us, saying that it was held that the Old Ones had achieved a higher degree of development in some aspects of science than was hitherto believed possible, but of that, of course, nothing was known. The way in which he consistently emphasized this indicated very clearly that only a fool or an idiot would disbelieve, proof or no proof. But in the next sentence, he admitted that there was certain proof—the revolting and bestial plaque bearing a representation of a hellish monstrosity walking on the winds above the earth found in the hand of Josiah Alwyn when his body was discovered on a small Pacific, island seven months after his incredible disappearance from his home in Wisconsin; the drawings made by Professor Gardner—and, even more than anything else, that curious slab of carven stone in the forest at Rick’s Lake.

„Cthugha,” he murmured then, wonderingly. „I’ve not read the footnote to •which he makes reference. And there’s nothing in Lovecraft.” He shook his head.

„No, I don’t know,” He looked up.

„Can you frighten something out of the half-breed?”

„We’ve thought of that,” admitted Laird.

„Well, now, I advise a try. It seems evident that he knows something—it may be nothing but an exaggeration to which his more or less primitive mind has lent itself; but on the other hand—who can say?”


More than this Professor Partier could not or would not tell us. Moreover, Laird was reluctant to ask, for there was obviously a damnably disturbing connection between what he had revealed, however incredible it might be, and what Professor Gardner had written.

Our visit, however, despite its inconclusiveness—or perhaps became of it—had a curious effect on us. The very indefiniteness of the professor’s summary and comments coupled with such fragmentary and disjointed evidence which had come to us independently of Partier, sobered us and increased Laird’s determination to get to the bottom of the mystery surrounding Gardner’s disappearance, a mystery which had now become enlarged to encompass the greater mystery of Rick’s Lake and the forest around it.

On the following day we returned to Pashepaho, and, as luck would have it, we passed Old Peter on the road leading from town. Laird slowed down, backed up, and leaned out to meet the old fellow’s speculative gaze.


„Reckon so.”

Old Peter got in and sat on the edge of the seat until Laird unceremoniously produced a flask and offered it to him; then his eyes lit up; he took it eagerly and drank deeply while Laird made small talk about life in the north woods and encouraged the half-breed to talk about the mineral deposits he thought he could find in the vicinity of Rick’s Lake. In this way some distance was covered, and during this time, the half-breed retained the flask, handing it back at last when it was almost empty. He was not intoxicated in the strictest sense of the word, but he was uninhibited, and fie made no protest when we took the lake road without stopping to let him out, though when he saw the lodge and knew where he was, he said thickly that he was off his route, and had to be getting back before dark.

He would have started back immediately, but Laird persuaded him to come in with the promise that he would mix him a drink.

He did. He mixed him as stiff a drink as he could, and Peter downed it.

Not until he had begun to feel its effects did Laird turn to the subject of what Peter knew about the mystery of the Rick’s Lake country, and instantly then the half-breed became close-mouthed, mumbling that he would say nothing, he had seen nothing, it was all a mistake, his eyes shifting from one to the other of us. But Laird persisted. He had seen the slab of carven stone, hadn’t, he. Yes—reluctantly. Would he take us to it? Peter shook his head violently. Not now. It was nearly dark, it might be dark before they could return.

But Laird was adamant, and finally the half-breed, convinced by Laird’s insistence that they could return to the lodge and even to Pashepaho, if Peter liked, before darkness fell, consented to lead us to the slab. Then, despite his unsteadiness, he set off swiftly into the woods along a lane that could hardly be called a trail, so faint it was, and loped along steadily for almost a mile before he drew up short and standing behind a tree, as if he were afraid of being seen, pointed shakily to a little open spot surrounded by high trees at enough of a distance that ample sky was visible overhead.

„There—that’s it.”

The slab was only partly visible, for moss had grown over much of it. Laird, however, was at the moment only secondarily interested in it; it was manifest that the half-breed stood in mortal terror of the spot and wished only to escape.

„How would you like to spend the night there, Peter?” asked Laird.

The half-breed shot a frightened glance at him. „Me? Gawd, no!”

Suddenly Laird’s voice steeled. „Unless you tell us what it was you saw here, that’s what you’re going to do.”

The half-breed was not so much the worse for liquor that he could not foresee events—the possibility that Laird and I might overcome him and tie him to a tree at the edge of this open space. Plainly, he considered a bolt for it, but he knew that in his condition, he could not outrun us.

„Don’t make me tell,” he said. „It ain’t supposed to be told. I ain’t never told no one—not even the professor.”

„We want to know, Peter,” said Laird with no less menace.


The half-breed began to shake; he turned and looked at the slab as if he thought at any moment an inimical being might rise from it and advance upon him with lethal intent. „I can’t, I can’t,” he muttered, and then, forcing his bloodshot eyes to meet Laird’s once more, he said in a low voice, „I don’t know what it was. Gawd! it was awful. It was a Thing—didn’t have no face, hollered there till I thought my eardrums’d bust, and them things that was with it—Gawd!” He shuddered and backed away from the tree, toward us. „Honest t’ Gawd, I seen it there one night. It just come, seems like, out of the air and there it was, a singin’ and a wailin’ and them things playin’ that damn’ music. I’ guess I was crazy for a while afore I got away.” His voice broke, his vivid memory recreated what he had seen; he turned, shouting harshly, „Let’s git outa here!” and ran back the way we had come, weaving among the trees.

Laird and I ran after him, catching up easily, Laird reassuring him that we would take him out of the woods in the car, and he would be well away from the forest’s edge before darkness overtook him. He was as convinced as I that there was nothing imagined about the half-breed’s account, that he had indeed told us all he knew; and he was silent all the way back from the highway to which we took Old Peter, pressing five dollars upon him so that he could forget what he had seen in liquor if he were so inclined.

„What do you think?” asked Laird when we reached the lodge once more.

I shook my head.

„That wailing night before last,” said Laird. „The sounds Professor. Gardner heard—and now this. It ties up—damnably, horribly.” He turned on me with intense and fixed urgence. „Jack, are you game to visit that slab tonight?”


„We’ll do it.”

It was not until we were inside the lodge that we thought of the dictaphone, and then Laird prepared at once to play whatever had been recorded back to us. Here at least, he reflected, was nothing dependent in any way upon anyone’s imagination; here was the product of the machine, pure and simple, and everyone of intelligence knew full well that machines were far more dependable than men, having neither nerves nor imagination, knowing neither fear nor hope. I think, that at most we counted upon hearing a repetition of the sounds of the previous night; not in our wildest dreams did we look forward to what we did actually hear for the record mounted from the prosaic to the incredible, from the incredible to the horrible, and at last to a cataclysmic revelation that left us completely cut away from every credo of normal existence.


It began with the occasional singing of loons and owls, followed by a period of silence. Then there was once more that familiar rushing sound, as of wind in the trees, and this was followed by the curious cacophonous piping of flutes. Then there was recorded a series of sounds, which I put down here exactly as we heard them in that unforgettable evening hour:

Ygnaiih! Ygnaiih! EEE-ya-ya-ya-yabaahaaahaaa-ah-ha-ah-ngh’ aaa-ngh’ aaa-ya-yayaaa!

(In a voice that was neither human nor bestial, but yet of both.)

(An increased tempo in the music, becoming more wild and demoniac.)


Mighty Messenger—Nyarlathotep... from the world, of Seven Suns to his earth place, the Wood of N’gai, whither may come Him Who Is Not to be Named. . . . There shall be abundance of those from the Black Goat of the Woods, the Goat with the Thousand Young. . . . (In a voice that was curiously human.)


(A succession of odd sounds, as if audience response: a buzzing and humming, as of telegraph wires.)

Ia! Ia! Shub-Nigguratb! Ygnaiih!

Ygnaiih! EEE-yaa-yaa-haa-haaa-haaaa! (In the original voice neither human nor beast, yet both.)


Ithaqua shall serve thee. Father of the million favored ones, and Zhar shall be summoned from Arctunis, by the command of “Umr At-Tawil, Guardian of the Gate.” . . . Ye shall unite in praise of Azathoth, of Great Cthulhu, of Tsathoggua. . . . (The human voice again.)

Go forth in his form or in whatever form chosen in the guise of man, and destroy that which may lead them to us. . . . (The half-bestial, half-human voice once more.)


(An interlude of furious piping, accompanied once again by a sound as of the flapping of great wings.)

Ygnaib! Y’bthnk . . . h’ehye-n’grkdl’ Ih . . . Ia! Ia! Ia! (Like a chorus.)


These sounds had been spaced in such a way that it seemed as if the beings giving rise to them were moving about within or around the lodge, and the last choral chanting faded away, as if the creatures were departing. Indeed, there followed such an interval of silence that Laird had actually moved, to shut off the machine when once again a voice came from it.

But the voice that now emanated from the dictaphone was one which, simply because of its nature, brought to a climax all the horror so cumulative in what had gone before it; for whatever had been inferred by the half-bestial bellowings and chants, the horribly suggestive conversation in accented English, that which now came from the dictaphone was unutterably


„Dorgan! Laird Dorgan! Can you hear me?”

A hoarse, urgent whisper calling out to my companion, who sat white-faced now, staring at the machine above which his hand was still poised. Our eyes met. It was not the appeal, it was not everything that had gone before, it was the identity of that voice—for it was the voice of Professor Upton Gardner! But we had no time to ponder this, for the Dictaphone went mechanically on.

„Listen to me! Leave this place. Forget. But before you go, summon Cthugha. For centuries this has been the place where evil beings from outermost cosmos, have touched upon Earth. I know. I am theirs. They have taken me, as they took Piregard and many others all who came unwarily within their wood and whom they did not at once destroy. It is His wood—the Wood of N’gai, the terrestrial abode of the Blind, Faceless One, the Howler in the Night, the Dweller in Darkness, Nyarlathotep, who fears only Cthugha. I have been with him in the star spaces. I have been on the shunned Plateau of Leng—to Kadath in the Cold Waste, beyond the Gates, of the Silver Key, even to Kythamil near Arcturus and Mnar, to N’kai and the Lake of Hali, to K’n-yan and fabled Carcosa, to Yaddith and Y’ha-nthlei near Innsmonth, to Yoth and Yuggoth, and from far off I have looked upon Zothique, from the eye of Algol. When Fomalhaut has topped the trees, call forth to Cthugha in these words, thrice repeated: Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthugha Fomalhaut n’ghaghaa naf’l thagn. Ia! Cthugha! When He has come, go swiftly, lest you too be destroyed. For it is fitting that this accursed spot be blasted so that Nyarlathotep comes no more out of interstellar space. Do you hear me, Dorgan? Do you hear me? Dorgan! Laird Dorgan!”

There was a sudden sound of sharp protest, followed by a scuffling and tearing noise, as if Gardner had been forcibly removed, and then silence, utter and complete! For a few moments Laird let the record run, but there was nothing more, and finally he started it over, saying tensely, „I think we’d better copy that as best we can. You take every other speech, and let’s both copy that formula from Gardner.”

„Was it . . .?”

„I’d know his voice anywhere,” he said shortly.

„He’s alive then?”

He looked at me, his eyes narrowed.

„We don’t know that.”

„But his voice!”

He shook his head, for the sounds were coming forth once more, and both of us had to bend to the task of copying, which was easier than it promised, to be for the spaces between speeches were great enough to enable us to copy without undue haste. The language of the chants and the words to Cthugha enunciated Gardner’s voice offered extreme difficulty, but by means of repeated playings, we managed, to put down the approximate equivalent of the sounds. When finally we had finished. Laird shut the Dictaphone off and looked at me with quizzical and troubled eyes, grave with, concern and uncertainty. I said nothing; what we had just heard, added to everything that had gone before, left us no alternative.

There was room for doubt about legends, beliefs, and the like—but the infallible record of the dictaphone was conclusive even if it did no more than verify half-heard credos—for it was true, there was still nothing definite; it was as if the whole was so completely beyond the comprehension of man that only in the oblique suggestion of its individual parts could something like understanding be achieved, as if the entirety were too unspeakably soul-searing for the mind of man to withstand.

„Fomalhaut rises almost at sunset—a little before, I think,” mused Laird—clearly, like myself, he had accepted what we had heard without challenge other than the mystery surrounding its meaning. „It should be above the trees—presumably twenty to thirty degrees above the horizon, because it doesn’t pass near enough to the zenith in this latitude to appear above these pines—at approximately an hour after darkness falls. Say nine-thirty or so.”

„You aren’t thinking of trying it tonight?” I asked. „After all—what does it mean? „Who or what is Cthugha?”

„I don’t know any more than you. And I’m not trying it tonight. You’ve forgotten the slab. Are you still game to go out there—after this?”

I nodded. I did not trust myself to speak, but I was not consumed by any eagerness whatever to dare the darkness that lingered like a living entity within the forest surrounding Rick’s Lake.

Laird looked at his” watch, and then at me, his eyes burning with a kind of feverish determination, as if he were forcing himself to take this final step to face the unknown being whose manifestations had made the wood its own. If he expected me to hesitate, he was disappointed; however beset by fear I might be, I would not show it. I got up and went out of the lodge at his side.




There are aspects of hidden life, exterior as well as of the depths of the mind, that are better kept secret and away from the awareness of common man; for there lurk in dark places of the earth terrible desiderata, horrible revenants belonging to a stratum of the subconscious which is mercifully beyond the apprehension of common man—indeed, there are aspects of creation so grotesquely shuddersome that the very sight of them would blast the sanity of the beholder. Fortunately, it is not possible even to bring back in anything but suggestion what we saw on the slab in the forest at Rick’s Lake that night in October, for the thing was so unbelievable, transcending all known laws of science, that adequate words for its description have no existence in the language.

We arrived at the belt of trees around the slab while afterglow yet lingered in the western heavens, and by the illumination of a flashlight Laird carried, we examined the face of the slab itself, and the carving on it: of a vast, amorphous creature, drawn by an artist who evidently lacked sufficient imagination to etch the creature’s face, for it had none, bearing only a curious, cone-like head which even in stone seemed to have a fluidity which was unnerving; moreover, the creature was depicted as having both tentacle-like appendages and hands—or growths similar to hands, not only two, but several; so that it seemed both human and non-human in its structure. Beside it had been carved two squat squid-like figures from a part of which—presumably the heads, though no outline was definitive—projected what must certainly have been instruments of some kind, for the strange, repugnant attendants appeared to be playing them.

Our examination was necessarily hurried, for we did not want to risk being seen here by whatever might come, and it may be that in the circumstances, imagination got the better of us. But: I do not think so. It is difficult to maintain that consistently sitting here at my desk, removed in space and time from what happened there; but I maintain it. Despite the quickened awareness and irrational fear of the unknown which obsessed both of us, we kept a determined open-mindedness about every aspect of the problem we had chosen to solve. If anything, I have erred in this account on the side of science over that of imagination. In the plain light of reason, the carvings on that stone slab were not only obscene, but bestial and frightening beyond measure, particularly in the light of what Partlef had hinted, and what Gardner’s notes and the material from Miskatonic University had vaguely outlined, and even if time had permitted, it is doubtful if we could have looked long upon them.

We retreated to a spot comparatively near the way we must take to return to the lodge, and yet not too far from the open place where the slab lay, so that we might see dearly and still remain hidden in a place easy of access to the return path. There we took our stand and waited in that chilling hush of an October evening; while Stygian darkness encompassed us, and only one or two stars twinkled high overhead, miraculously visible among the towering tree-tops.


According to Laird’s watch, we waited exactly an hour and ten minutes before the sound as of wind began, and at once there was a manifestation which had about it all the trappings of the supernatural; for no sooner had the rushing sound begun, then the slab we had so quickly quitted began to glow—at first so indistinguishably that it seemed an illusion, and then with a phosphorescence of increasing brilliance, until it gave off such a glow that it was as if a pillar of light extended upward into the heavens. This was the second curious circumstance—the light followed the outlines of the slab, and flowed upward; it was not diffused and dispersed around the glade and into the woods, but shone heavenward with the insistence of a directed beam. Simultaneously, the very air seemed charged with evil; all around us lay thickly such an aura of fearsomeness that it rapidly became impossible to remain free of it. It was apparent that by some means unknown to us the rushing sound as of wind which now filled the air was not only associated with the broad beam of light flowing upward, but was caused by it; morever, as we watched, the intensity and color of the light varied constantly, changing from a blinding white to a lambent green, from green to a kind of lavender; occasionally it was so intensely brilliant that it was necessary to avert our eyes, but for the most part it could be looked at without hurt to our eyes.

As suddenly as it had begun, the rushing sound stopped, the light became diffuse and dim; and almost immediately the weird piping as of flutes smote upon our ears. It came not from around us, but from above, and with one accord, both of us turned to look as far into heaven as the now fading light would permit.

Just what took place then before our eyes I cannot explain. Was it actually something that came hurtling down, streaming down, rather?—for the masses were shapeless—or was it the product of an imagination that proved singularly uniform when later Laird and I found opportunity to compare notes? The illusion of great black things streaking down in the path of that light was so great that we glanced back at the slab.

What, we saw there sent us screaming voicelessly from that hellish spot. For, where but a moment before there had been nothing, there was now a gigantic protoplasmic mass, a colossal being who towered upward toward the stars, and whose actual physical being was in constant flux; and flanking it on either side were two lesser beings, equally amorphous, holding pipes or flutes in appendages and making that demoniac music which echoed and reechoed in the enclosing forest. But the thing on the slab, the Dweller in Darkness, was the ultimate in horror; for from its mass of amorphous flesh there grew at will before our eyes tentacles, claws, hands, and withdrew again; the mass itself diminished and swelled effortlessly, and where its head was and its features should have been there was only a blank facelessness all the more horrible because even as we looked there rote from its blind mass a low ululation in that half-bestial, half-human voice so familiar to us from the record made in the night!

We fled, I say, so shaken that it was only by a supreme effort of will that we were able to take flight in the right direction. And behind us the voice rose, the blasphemous voice of Nyartathotep, the Blind, Faceless One, the Mighty Messenger even while there rang in the channels of memory the frightened words of the half-breed, Old Peter—It was a Thing—didn’t have no face, hollered there till I thought my eardrums ‘d bust, and then things that was with itGawd!—echoed there while the voice of that Being from outermost space shrieked and gibbered to the hellish music of the hideous attending flute-players, rising to ululate through the forest and leave its mark forever in memory!

Ygnaiih! Ygnaiih! EEE-yayayayayaaahaaahaaahaaahaaa ngh ‘aaa-ngh’ aaa-ya-yayaaa!

Then all was still.

And yet, incredible as it may seem, the ultimate horror awaited us.


For we had gone but halfway to the lodge when we were simultaneously aware of something following; behind us rose a hideous, horribly suggestive sloshing sound, as if the amorphous entity had left the slab which in some remote time must have been erected by its worshippers, and were pursuing us. Obsessed by abysmal fright, we ran as neither of us has ever run before, and we were almost upon the lodge before we were aware that the sloshing sound, the trembling and shuddering of the earth—as if some gigantic being walked upon it—had ceased, and in their stead came only the calm, unhurried tread of footsteps.

But the footsteps were not our own! And in the aura of unreality, the fearsome outsideness in which we walked and breathed, the terrible suggestiveness of those footsteps was almost maddening! We reached the lodge, lit a lamp and sank into chairs to await whatever it was that was coming so steadily, unhurriedly on, mounting the veranda steps, putting its hand on the knob of the door, swinging the door open.

It was Professor Gardner who stood there!

For one cataclysmic moment, we sat open-mouthed and gazed at him as at a man returned from the dead.

Then Laird sprang up, crying, „Professor Gardner!”

The professor smiled reservedly and put one hand up to shade his eyes. „If you don’t mind, I’d like the light dimmed. I’ve been in the dark for so long.”

Laird turned to do his bidding without question, and he came forward into the room, walking with the ease and poise of a man who is as sure of himself as if he had never vanished from the face of the earth more than three months before, as if he had not made a frantic appeal to us during the night just past, as if . . .

I glanced at Laird; his hand was still at the lamp, but his fingers were no longer turning down the wick, simply holding to it, while he gazed down unseeing. I looked over at Professor Gardner; he sat with his head turned from the light, his eyes closed, a little smile playing about his lips; at that moment he looked precisely as I had often seen him look at the University Club in Madison, and it was as if everything that had taken place here at the lodge were but an evil dream.

But it was not a dream!

„You were gone last night?” asked the professor.

„Yes. But, of course, we had the dictaphone.”

„Ah! You heard something then?”

„Would you like to hear the record, sir?”

„Yes, I would,”

Laird went over and put it on the machine to play it again, and we sat in silence, listening to everything upon it, no one saying anything until it had been completed.

Then the professor slowly turned his head.

„What do you make of it?”

„I don’t know what to make of it, sir,” answered Laird. „The speeches are too disjointed—except for yours. There seems to be some coherence there.”


Suddenly, without warning, the room was surcharged with menace; it was but a momentary impression, but Laird felt it as keenly as I did, for he started noticeably. He was taking the record from the machine when the professor spoke again.

„It doesn’t occur to you that you may be the victim of a hoax?”


„And if I told you that I had found it possible to make every sound that was registered on that record?”

Laird looked at him for a full minute before replying in a low voice that of course. Professor Gardner had been investigating the phenomena of Rick’s Lakewoods for a far longer time than we had, and if he said so . . .

A harsh laugh escaped the professor. „Entirely natural phenomena, my boy! There’s a mineral deposit under that grotesque slab in the woods; it gives off light and also a miasma that is productive of hallucinations. It’s as simple as that. As for the various disappearances—sheer folly, human failings, nothing more, but with the air of coincidence. I came here with high hopes of verifying some of the nonsense to which old Partier lent himself long ago—but:—” He smiled disdainfully, shook his head, and extended his hand. „Let me have the record. Laird.”

Without question, Laird gave Professor Gardner the record. The older man took it and was bringing it up before his eyes when he jogged his elbow and, with a sharp cry of pain, dropped it. It broke into dozens of pieces on the floor of the lodge.

„Oh!” cried the professor. „I’m sorry.”

He turned his eyes on Laird. „But then—since I can duplicate it any time for you from what I’ve learned about the lore of this place, by way of Partier’s mouthings—” He shrugged.

„It doesn’t matter,” said Laird quietly!

„Do you mean to say that everything on that record was just your imagination, Professor?”

I broke in. „Even that chant for the summoning of Cthugha?”

The older man’s eyes turned on me; his smile was sardonic. „Cthugha? What do you suppose he or that is but the figment of someone’s imagination? And the inference—my dear boy, use your head. You have before you the clear inference that Cthugha has his abode on Fomalhaut which is twenty-seven light years away, and that, if this chant is thrice repeated when Fomalhaut has risen, Cthugha will appeal to somehow render this place no longer habitable by man pr outside entity. How do you suppose that could be accomplished?”

„Why, by something akin to thought transference,” replied Laird doggedly. „It’s not unreasonable to suppose that if we were to direct thoughts toward Fomalhaut that something there might receive them— granting that there might be light there. Thought is instant. And that they in turn may be so highly developed that dematerialization and rematerialization might be as swift as thought.”

„My boy—are you serious?” The older man’s voice revealed his contempt.

„„You asked.”

„Well, then, as the hypothetic answer to a theoretical problem, I can overlook that.”

„Frankly,” I said again, disregarding a curious negative shaking of Laird’s head.

„‘I don’t think that what we saw in the forest tonight was just hallucination—caused by a miasma rising out of the earth, or otherwise.”

The effect of this, statement was extraordinary. Visibly, the professor made every effort to control himself; his reactions were precisely those of a savant challenged by a cretin in one of his classes. After a few moments he controlled himself and said only, „You’ve been there then. I suppose it’s too late to make you believe otherwise.”

„I’ve always been open to conviction, sir, and I lean to the scientific method,” said Laird.

Professor Gardner put his hand over his eyes and said, „I’m tired. I noticed last night when I was here that you’re in my old room. Laird—so I’ll take the room next to you, opposite Jack’s.”

He went up the stairs as if nothing had happened between the last time he had occupied the lodge and this.




The rest of the story—and the culmination of that apocalyptic night—are soon told.

I could not have been asleep for more than an hour—the time was one of the morning—when I was awakened by Laird. He stood beside my bed fully dressed and in a tense voice ordered me to get up and dress, to pack whatever essentials I had brought, and be ready for anything. Nor would he permit me to put on a light to do so, though he carried a small pocket-flash, and used it sparingly. To all my questions, he cautioned me to wait.

When I had finished, he led the way out of the room with a whispered, „Come.”

He went directly to the room into which Professor Gardner had disappeared. By the light of his flash, it was evident that the bed had not been touched; moreover, in the faint film of dust that lay on the floor, it was clear that Professor Gardner had walked into the room, over to a chair beside the window, and out again.

„Never touched the bed, you see,” whispered Laird.

„But why?”

Laird gripped my arm, hard. „Do you remember what Parties hinted—what we saw in the woods—the protoplasmic, amorphousness of the, thing? And what the record said?”

„But Gardner told us—“ I protested.

Without a further word, he turned. I followed him downstairs, where he paused at the table where we had worked and flashed the light upon it. I was surprised into making a startled exclamation which Laird hushed instantly. For the table was bare of everything but the copy of The Outsider and Others and three copies of Weird Tales, a magazine containing stories supplementing those in the book by the eccentric Providence genius, Lovecraft: All Gardner’s notes, all our own notations, the photostats from Miskatonic University—everything was gone!

„He took them,” said Laird. „No one else could have done so.”

„Where did he go?”

„Back to the place from which he came.” He turned on me, his eyes gleaming in the reflected glow of the flashlight.

„Do you understand what that means, Jack?”

I shook my head.

„They know we’ve been there, they know we’ve seen and learned too much.”

„But how?”

„You told them.”

„I? Good God, man, are you mad? How could I have told them?”

„Here, in this lodge, tonight—you yourself gave the show away, and I hate to think of what might happen now. We’ve got to get away.”

For one moment all the events of the past few days seemed to fuse into an unintelligible mass; Laird’s urgence was unmistakable, and yet the thing that he suggested was so utterly, unbelievable that its contemplation even for so fleeting a moment threw my thoughts into the extremest confusion. Laird was talking now, quickly. „Don’t you think it odd—how he came back? How he came out of the woods after that hellish thing we saw there—not before? And the questions he asked—the drift of those questions. And how he managed to break the record—our one scientific proof of something? And now, the disappearance of all the notes—of everything that might point to substantiation of what he called ‘Partier’s nonsense’?”

„But if we are to believe what he told us?”

He broke in before I could finish. „One of them was right. Either the voice on the record calling to me—or the man who was here tonight.”

„The man!”

But whatever I wanted to say was stilled by Laird’s harsh, „Listen’.”


From outside, from the depths of that horror-haunted darkness, the earth haven of the dweller in dark, came once more, for the second time that night, the weirdly beautiful, yet cacophonous strains of flute-like music, rising and falling, accompanied by a kind of chanted ululation, and by the sound as of great wings flapping.

„Yes, I hear,” I whispered.

„Listen closely!”

Even as he spoke, I understood. There was something more—the sounds from the forest were not only rising and falling—they were approaching!

„Now do you believe me?” demanded Laird. „They’re, coming for us!” He turned on me. „The chant!”

„What chant?” I fumbled stupidly.

„The Cthugha chant—do you remember it?”

„I took it down. I’ve got it here.”

For an instant I was afraid that this, too, might have been taken from us, but it was not; it was in my pocket where I had left it.

With shaking hands, Laird tore the paper from my grasp.

„Ph’nglui mglw’najh Cthugha Fomalhaut n’gha-ghaa nafl thagn. la! Cthugha!” he said, running to the veranda, myself at his heels.

Out of the woods came the bestial voice of the dweller in the dark.

„Ee-ya-ya-haahaahaaa! Ygnaiih! Ygnaiih!” „Ph’nglui mglw’najh Cthugha Fomalhaut n’ gha-ghaa nafl thagn! Ia! Cthugha!” repeated Laird for the second time.

Still the ghastly melee of sounds from the woods came on, in no way diminished, rising now to supreme heights of terror fraught fury, with the bestial voice of the thing from the slab added to the wild, mad music of the pipes, and the sound as of wings.

And then, once more, Laird repeated the primal words of the chant.

On the instant that the final guttural sound had left his lips, there began a sequence of events no human eye was ever destined to witness. For suddenly the darkness was gone, giving way to a fearsome amber glow; simultaneously the flute-like music ceased, and in its place rose cries of rage and terror. Then, instantaneously, there appeared thousands of tiny points of light—not only on and among the trees, but on the earth itself, on the lodge and the car standing before it. For still a further moment, we were rooted to the spot, and then it was borne in upon us that the myriad points of light were living entities of flame! For wherever they touched, fire sprang up, seeing which. Laird rushed into the lodge for such of our things as he could carry forth before the holocaust made it impossible for us to escape Rick’s Lake.

He came running out—our bags had been downstairs—gasping that it was too late to take the dictaphone or anything else, and together we dashed toward the car, shielding our eyes a little from the blinding light all around. But, even though we had shielded our eyes, it was impossible not to see the great amorphous shapes streaming skyward from this accursed place, nor the equally great being hovering like a cloud of living fire above the trees. So much we saw, before the frightful struggle to escape the burning woods forced us to forget mercifully the other details of that terrible maddened flight.


Horrible as were the things that took place in the darkness of the forest at Rick’s Lake, there was something more cataclysmic still, something so blasphemously conclusive that even now I shudder and tremble uncontrollably to think of it. For in that brief dash to the car, I saw something that explained Laird’s doubt, I saw what had made him take heed of the voice on the record and not of the thing that came to us as Professor Gardner. The keys were there before, but I did not understand; even Laird had not fully believed. Yet it was given to us—we did not know. „It is not desired by the Old Ones that mere man shall know too much,” Partier; had said. And that terrible voice on the record had hinted even more clearly: Go forth in his form or in whatever form chosen in the guise of man, and destroy that which may lead them to us. . . . Destroy that which may lead them to us! Our record, the notes, the photostats from Miskatonic University, yes, and even Laird and, myself! And the thing had gone forth, for it was Nyarlathotep, the Mighty Messenger, the Dweller in Darkness who had gone forth and who had returned into the forest to send his minions back to us. It was he who had come from interstellar space even as Cthugha, the fire-being, had come from Fomalhaut, upon the utterance of the command that woke him from his eon-long sleep upon that amber star, the command that Gardner, the living-dead captive of the terrible Nyarlathotep had discovered in those fantastic travelings in space and time; and it was he who returned whence he had come, with his earth-haven now forever rendered useless for him with its destruction by the minions of Cthugha!

I know, and Laird knows. We never speak of it.

If we had had any doubt, despite everything that had gone before, we could not forget that final, soul-searing discovery, the thing we saw when we shielded our eyes from the flames all around and looked away from those beings in the heavens, the line of footprints that led away from the lodge in the direction of that hellish slab deep in the black forest, the footprints that began in the soft soil beyond the veranda in the shape of a man’s footprints, and changed with each step into a hideously suggestive imprint made by a creature of incredible shape and weight, with variations of outline and size so grotesque as to have been incomprehensible to anyone who had not seen the thing on the slaband beside, them, torn and rent as if by an expanding force, the clothing that once belonged to Professor Gardner, left piece by piece along the trail back into the woods, the trail taken by the hellish monstrosity that had come out of the night, the Dweller in Darkness who had visited us in the shape and guise of Professor Gardner!


Clark Ashton Smith:
Hasisevő, avagy a Gonosz Apokalipszise, A


Robert E. Howard:
Harp of Alfred, The


Robert E. Howard:
Red Thunder



Howard Phillips Lovecraft:
Cthulhu hívása

Ez az egyetlen történet Lovecraft részéről, amelyben jelentős szerepet kap a szörnyisten, Cthulhu. 1926 későnyarán, kora őszén íródhatott. A dokumentarista stílusban megírt történet nyomozója, Thurston, a szemita nyelvek egyetemi kutatója darabkáról darabkára rakja össze a rejtélyes kirakóst. A fiatal kutató egyre több tárgyi és írásos bizonyítékát leli a hírhedt Cthulhu-kultusz létezésének. A kultisták a Necronomicon szövege alapján a nagy szörnyisten eljövetelét várják. A történetek a megtestesült iszonyatról beszélnek, ami átrepült az űrön és letelepedett a Földön sok millió évvel ezelőtt. Most hosszú álmát alussza tengerborította városában: Ph’ngluimglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn, vagyis R'lyeh házában a tetszhalott Cthulhu álmodik. A Csendes-óceán déli részén néhány bátor tengerész megtalálta a várost és felébresztette a Nagy Öreget. Ennek hatására őrülethullám robogott végig a Földön, több ember lelte halálát ezekben az időkben. A találkozást csak egy tengerész élte túl, de ő is gyanús körülmények között halt meg. A fiatal kutató érzi, hogy ő is erre a sorsra juthat... A novellát nagy részben Lord Tennyson Kraken című költeménye inspirálta: Cthulhu is egy csápos, polipszerű szörny, egy alvó isten (ez a gondolat nagyban Lord Dunsany műveinek Lovecraftra gyakorolt hatásának köszönhető). S. T. Joshi felveti, hogy számottevő hatást váltott ki Lovecraftra Maupassant Horlája és Arthur Machen A fekete pecsét története című története is. Maga Lovecraft e történetet roppant középszerűnek, klisék halmazának titulálta. A Weird Tales szerkesztője, Farnsworth Wright először elutasította a közlését, és csak azután egyezett bele, hogy Lovecraft barátja, Donald Wandrei bebeszélte neki, hogy más magazinnál is érdeklődnek a sztori iránt.


Howard Phillips Lovecraft:
Őrület hegyei, Az; Hallucináció hegységei, A

Egy déli sarki kutatócsoport, köztük a narrátor, William Dyer a Miskatonic Egyetemről az Antarktiszra indul 1930/31 telén. A fagyott környezetben 14, a hideg által konzerválódott idegen lényre bukkannak. Miután a kutatók több csoportra oszlanak, és az egyikről nem érkezik hír, a megmaradt tagok felkeresik az eltűntek táborát, ahol szétmarcangolt emberi és állati maradványokat találnak - néhány idegen létformának pedig mindössze hűlt helyét... Legnagyobb döbbenetükre azonban a kutatás során feltárul előttük egy évmilliókkal régebben épített, hatalmas kőváros, amely a Nagy Öregek egykori lakóhelye lehetett. A kisregényt szokás Poe Arthur Gordon Pym című kisregényének folytatásaként tekinteni, az enigmatikus és meg nem magyarázott jelentésű kiáltás, a "Tekeli-li!" miatt. Eredetileg a Weird Talesbe szánta Lovecraft, de a szerkesztő túl hosszúnak találta, ezért öt éven át hevert a kisregény felhasználatlanul a fiókban. Az Astounding végül jelentősen megváltoztatva közölte a művet, több bekezdést (nagyjából ezer szót) kihagyott, a teljes, javított verzió először 1985-ben látott napvilágot.


Abraham Merritt:
Moon Pool, The

Amikor dr. David Throckmartin elmeséli egy csendes-óceáni civilizáció ősi romjain átélt hátborzongató élményeit, dr. Walter Goodwin, a regény narrátora azzal a meggyőződéssel hallgatja a hihetetlen történetet, hogy a nagy tudós valószínűleg megzavarodott. Azt állítja ugyanis, hogy feleségét és kutatócsoportjának több tagját magával vitte egy "fényjelenség", amely az úgynevezett Holdtóból emelkedik ki teliholdas éjszakákon. Amikor azonban Goodwin eleget tesz Throckmartin kérésének, és társaival a titokzatos szigetre utazik, fantasztikus, megdöbbentő kalandok sorozata veszi kezdetét.



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