In other worlds far less queer than our own, the Necronomicon is, to some, an everyday part of life. Researchers at Miskatonic University in the fictional Arkham, Massachusetts, pore over it almost daily, gazing at secrets too obscene or wild to print in reality. In this particular universe, the Necronomicon is a work of fiction within a work of fiction… or at least it was thought to be.
The whole sordid affair started, I suppose, when the town of Arkham was constructed in the 1990s. I say 'town' in the loosest possible sense, for it was no more a town than the frontier land attraction one would encounter surrounding a wooden roller coaster at a sub-par amusement park. It was constructed as a tribute to the writer Howard Phillips Lovecraft, who I am sure needs no introduction. It was constructed on a vacant area of land in Vermont, not Massachusetts as in Lovecraft's work, and there was no Miskatonic river flowing through it, only an unfinished canal channel.
The pseudo-town attracted fans of Lovecraft's work, and soon, it became what would be called a tourist trap. Several of the general stores were replaced by Cthulhu's Curios and Gifts, the lone ice cream parlor was converted into The Creamery Out of Space, and served flavours such as 'Deep One Delight' and 'Cthulhu Coffee', and jewelry stores selling pendants depicting the visage of dread Cthulhu and the Derlethan Elder Sign.
The town prospered under a man who had taken the name Randolph Carter, after Lovecraft's authorial avatar from his dream cycle and The Statement of Randolph Carter. I do not know if this was the man's actual name, but knowing what I do now, I suspect it is a pseudonym. I hope whatever of the Hellish realms he went to, the demons/devils/daemons/imps are not merciful to that horrid man.
Arkham itself looked like any town built in the late 1700s, with cramped streets made for horse-drawn carriages rather than cars, all cobble rather than paved. The town's centre stands in front of city hall, which was little more than a miniature museum of Lovecraft. At the edges of the town stands its largest building: Miskatonic University. There are only four rooms to the university that were ever completed; a library, where one could read the works of Lovecraft, Derleth, Poe, and others in peace and quiet; a lecture hall, which was used to demonstrate various fabricated occult rites; an entry way, which connected to the two afforementioned areas; and a gift shop, where one could buy Cthulhu plushies and shoggoth blankets and even busts of the author himself, carved out of green soapstone. All in all, it could be described as 'kitschy'.
My involvement in this whole mess began at Chapterhouse 4 in Boston, when Gerald Fitzroy, head of CH4, received a phone call from one Peter Lott, who had been assigned to work at a succubus rehabilitation clinic in Baltimore. Mr. Lott had heard rumors from some of the clinic's patients that a new Lovecraftian cult had started up, centered around the pseudo-town of Arkham. This was nothing new, of course; cults based around Lovecraft's works pop up all the time, but thankfully, all of Lovecraft's work was pure fiction, with the possible exception of Herbert West, Reanimator. So, a Cthulhu cult popping up in the New England area was hardly unique, and they usually dispersed within a month.
What made this case unique is that the cult apparently had a copy of a book they referred to as Al-Azif. For those of you not versed in cosmic horror literature, Al-Azif is the Arabic name Lovecraft gave to the Necronomicon, the Book of Dead Names. The Necronomicon has long been called the Holy Grail of magic, excepting the actual Holy Grail, but it was long thought to be simply a name made up by Lovecraft. Those who have searched for the Necronomicon have found only false leads or copies of the book made by Lovecraft fanatics with no magical properties.
Unfortunately, even if the lead is false, the Horizon Initiative must investigate it. So, Team 15 of Chapterhouse 4 was called upon to take up this task. The team consisted of four people: Jayla Farrow, also known as Jay, an African-American woman who acted as the team leader; Stanley Dyer, an expert with various forms of weaponry; Jacob Nelson, a religious scholar, former member of the Scribe corps; and myself, Herbert Andrew Westbrooke, the youngest, member of the team and scout.
The objective was simple: confer with the cult, retrieve the book, get out, and return it to the Chapterhouse. The missions are never as simple as the objectives, however, as we were soon to learn- what, what are you doing? No, Jay, don't, stop!
For anyone reading this: forgive all the purple prose up there, and I'm sorry for knocking you out, Herbie, but I need to do this too. I have to get it out of my head and onto something, or else I'll go fucking bonkers from it. And was it really necessary to write out "No, Jay, don't, stop?"
This is Jayla Farrow of the Shepherd Corps, American Chapterhouse 4, Team 15. As my colleague stated, we were responsible for recovery of what was believed to be a copy of the Necronomicon, not to be confused with the Necromnomnomicon, the Necromomicon, the Necrololicon, the Ninjanomicon, or Necronomi-Con, the Lovecraft convention in Providence. I am writing this behind enemy lines in the Arkham tourist town in Vermont, writing all of this on the wall of an ice cream parlor that we've barricaded ourselves in in practically microscopic writing.
I have no idea why, but ever since seeing that… thing, both of us have felt the need to write. We managed to find some sidewalk chalk and have started writing down little notes everywhere we could. We may have left a trail right to this place, but if we can record this down, it'll be worth it.
The four of us- Dyer, Nelson, Westbrooke, and myself- came into Arkham approximately 12 hours ago, if my watch is correct. We were prepared to simply find the cult (which we were told convened in their replica of M.U.), negotiate with or neutralize them, take the book, and get the fuck outta dodge. Simple enough of a plan…
And then the fog rolled in. The fog was thicker than my hair after I haven't washed it for a week, and we had neglected to bring any sort of fog light (yes, I know, stupid). So, we went out into the fog with some pen lights, sticking close to buildings and using a map that Herbie had brought up on his smartphone.
…that's weird. I can remember exactly what the hell they said. Let me try to get it down.
"This is feckin' weird," muttered Dyer, his hand on his sidearm. "One second it's as clear as a polished crystal ball, the next, it's like Silent Feckin' Hill."
"Wasn't that smoke and not fog, though?" Nelson clutched the crucifix that hung around his neck. Jake was just here on temporary assignment, and was meant to record down the customs and beliefs of the cult, however specific or non-specific they may be.
Dyer shot him a nasty look. "That was th'movie, ya philistine." I could never place Stanley's accent; I wanted to say it was something British, but occasionally, he swore a phrase that came from Australia, so I just put up his accent as 'ambiguously cultured'.
Herbert was fiddling with the ten rosaries he had at his belt; yes, that's right, ten of them. Our scout is more nervous than… I don't know, something that's really damn nervous. A chinchilla on caffeine, I guess? Anyway, he said a prayer on each of them, and I couldn't help but look at him with something resembling disgust. "Herbie, you know that most of the things that we fight are just gonna laugh at you for having that many rosaries, right?" He started, and frowned at me.
"T-that's not true. V-vampires are repelled by all r-religious symbols… and the crucifix is silver, so that takes care of werewolves, right?" I shook my head and sighed.
"They only work if you have belief in that particular symbol. Take me, for example; I'm Catholic, so the crucifix, for me, is powerful. If I tried to hold up an Islamic crescent to a vampire, he'd be at my jugular faster than you can say 'Bela Lugosi's still undead'." Herbert the paranoid Shepherd groaned, letting the rosaries fall to his side; I knew the man was Episcopalian, so for his purposes, the crucifix would probably work the best.
Most of the trip was made in silence, until- oh, Herbert's waking back up. I think he wants a turn at the chalk. You know what happened next, right?
Indeed I do. From the depths of the fog, we began to see shadows. They looked to be human, but the proportions were… wrong somehow. The arms too long, the legs too short, the head too narrow. They would appear in the mists for a split second, before turning away from us and fleeing.
At this point, we all had our weapons drawn, and were sufficiently skittish. We had our backs up against a dilapidated building marked "Arkham Poor House." We thought we were safe… but poor Nelson failed to account for the window behind him. With a shattering of glass, Nelson was pulled through the window by a green, scaled arm, and gone so quickly we couldn't even aim a shot at the thing that took him.
Dyer swore something unintelligible, and jumped through the window after him, both of us following suit. The shadowy form that had grabbed Nelson had run out the back door, ripping it off its hinges in the process; this was no small feat, considering that the door looked to weigh about 12 pounds, and whatever creature took him was carrying a 250 pound ex-scribe with him.
The path soon led us to be stranded in the fog once more, but this time, with no discernible buildings in sight. Jayla was barely resisting the urge to swear, which would simply give away our position. Instead of swearing, she walked calmly out into the mist…
…and aimed her gun up into the air, firing it once. The reaction was instantaneous; from all sides, scaled beings shot out of the mists, lunging at us, but none of them had Nelson. So, we did what we were trained to do: kick ass for the Lord. Dyer got the most kills, but then again, he may have stolen a few from me; Jayla got the second-most, and of course, I got the least, with only one kill. Still, I speculate it will look nice mounted on my wall… if we ever get out of this damned ice-cream parlour.
Jayla wants to write now, so I shall let her, whilst I go to take watch.
He's exaggerating; there were only six of the things. Stan got three, I got two, and he got one with a lucky-ass sho
Chalk broke. Found some papers in the back, we're writing on those now with a ballpoint. Have to squeeze them in really small, and Herbert's gone to find a clipboard.
Anyway. The fog was finally starting to burn off by the time we got there, and lo and behold, by the time it cleared, we were standing not even 200 yards from Miskatonic U's gift shop. We went right inside… and I forgot about the bell over the shop door. Idiot. We were disarmed in less than 5 seconds, on the floor in 20. Whoever these cultists were, they were good.
We were dragged into the lecture hall of the university, no surprise there. Equally unsurprising was the fact that they had Nelson on an altar up on the stage, and were starting to drag all of us towards it. There were corpses sitting in the seats, their bellies slit open; I suppose they were the previous sacrifices of the cult.
Speaking of the cult, guess what the high priest was holding? A tome, bound in human flesh, black as night. My first thought was that it looked nothing like it did in The Evil Dead. My second thought was to try and break my captor's steely grip, and fling him unceremoniously at the cultist, interrupting the profane ceremony that had been-
And now I'm dipping into the purple prose. Fuck.
Anyway. I couldn't break my guy's grip, so I had to sit there and watch the newest member of our team, Ex-Scribe Jacob Nelson, get his guts ripped out like he was a bull someone was simultaneously barbequing and performing haruspicy with. They started with his intestines, and he reeked of shit and piss as he died, screaming out one final prayer.
They brought Dyer up next. The sonofabitch was smiling, and I couldn't figure out why. The high priest was reading stuff out of the book, but I couldn't figure out what in the frack he was trying to do, other than summon something. Stanley Dyer died with a smile on his face, and even now, about four hours later, I can't figure out why.
The priest raised the dagger, and said some words I was finally able to make out: "Eyhe geb hai! Nogagl ch'ftaghu- Ia! Throd n'ghft Yog-Mosha-Rath!"(No, I do not know how I transcribed all that) A portal to oblivion itself opened behind him, darker than dark. And something began crawling through…
All I remember after that was blood, tentacles, running, shooting, dead cultists, and a sensation telling me to not look at whatever the fuck had just crawled through the portal. After some more running, we ended up here, in an ice cream parlor, The Creamery Out of Bloody Fucking Space. I can hear the thing coming closer… it wants nothing less than to devour. To devour what, I don't know, but…
…it refuses to come any closer to the building we are in. Gashes are forming on its - ia he forces the hand of the world - its leg. Why? Why won't it approach the creamery?
OH SWEET LOVECRAFT'S LICK-SHITTING GHOST ITS SWELLING. Why the fuck? It did it right as I wrote "creamer-" FUCK ITS BIGGER. Okay, don't mention the word "cre-" the place where ice cream is made. SHIT even that's set it off. Now it's shaking… and that sound… fucking Hell, it sounds like a million whales giving birth and dying at the same fucking time.
"I don't think it likes whatever you're writing," says Herbert, who looks like he's about to wet himself.
"No shit it doesn't," I reply in kind, and for some reason, I'm still writing this shit down. "Every time I write the word "creamery-" As soon as I say it, and again when I transcribe it down here, cracks start forming in the behemoth's pink skin. Why the fuck its pink, I don't know, pink isn't actually a damn color.
"…I think it might be allergic," said Herbert; how he jumped to that conclusion, I don't know. "Lactose intolerant, maybe?" Muscle began showing at the sound of the word "lactose", the pink monster thrashing about wildly. "…this is just too weird."
"What?" I asked, the being-from-beyond's skin slowly reforming. "Is… is it allergic to words related to dairy?" The instant I write down the last word, skin begins to flake off. I grinned at Herbert, and wrote more down on the paper.
"If the words related to dairy can weaken it… what will actual ice cream do?" That last sentence sent the thing falling backwards crushing a good half of the town with it. "Herbert?" I say aloud.
"Y-yes, Jay?" He stutters in response.
"THROW THE CHEE
Excerpt from an After-Action report regarding the Arkham incident
Despite the loss of Stanley Upton Dyer and Jacob Fitzwilliam Nelson during recovery and the resultant destruction of the Arkham tourist attraction due to sudden existence failure of an uncatalogued supernatural entity, Jayla Farrow and Herbert Westbrooke were able to recover the alleged copy of Al-Azif from the wreckage of the Miskatonic University attraction. The book was completely unrelated to the Necronomicon, and was instead a translated excerpt of the Pnakotic Manuscripts; due to the relatively low value and high risk, the tome has been incinerated.
Farrow and Westbrooke are currently being treated for Miskatonic Compulsion, and have been withdrawn from active duty for the time being, until proper therapy and medication can be administered. Both are being considered for the Tribunal Star for going above and beyond the call of duty.
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