Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Lovecraftian Short Story

I thought I would share this little story with everyone even though it has nothing to do with my Stanzie and Murphy novels.  I read it last night on a windy beach at Galveston under the starlight (and a mini flashlight).  Mine was one of three tales told by moonlight -- all inspired by H.P. Lovecraft.


Some call me demented.  I acknowledge them not.  They, who cannot see because they are, yes, willfully and stubbornly blind, cannot judge one who has dared to plumb the veiled and tantalizingly difficult depths of the true self as have I.  Lost to them are the wonders and savage joys I can see.   And I think not of them who think so little of me.

But judge for yourself, Reader, for you alone, have been presented with the challenge to seek out the strength of heart and mind which will allow you to comprehend my life’s noble work.

Judge and dare to walk the same path I have traveled, that is my Gift to you who risk all to read further. 
I was born during a magnificent and violent rain storm that blotted out the light and the land and left my mother stranded in the twisted angles and planes of the master bedroom my father, an architect of international renown, built for her on the occasion of their marriage. 

Her agonized labor shrieks went unheard by any save herself and the infant that was the yet to be me.  Upon years of sober and logical reflection, I dare to understand something else heard the strident screams and moans of a woman driven utterly mad by pain.  This transfixing agony achieved a resonance with wild forces and incomprehensible energies which somehow resulted in something that Came into Being in response. I know not the origins of the something that heeded my mother’s receptive call, but I do know with intimate knowledge gained over the course of years of serious study and dedicated devotion to the darker arts, the something now lives in the sea outside the angled walls and weird windows of the modern monstrosity my father saw fit to create ,but rarely to reside within.

I suppose he stubbornly believed that if he built my mother a massive house in which to pass the time while he was away, she would be content to stay and explore. Not only the monstrous house, but the mysterious and gloomy seashore which surrounded on all four sides the private island upon which the house reposed. 
My mother resented the ocean.  She detested the muttering noise it made, the noxious smell it produced, the weird thrum of the waves against the shadowed shore that interrupted her thoughts, her sleep, her food, her very existence until in an ecstasy of rage she threw herself into the terrible and tumbling waves, shrieking madly for them to cease. 
Her drowned and bloated body floated to shore three days later and the only witness was the family dog who slunk back to the house on his belly and whined miserably until the housekeeper sent her husband, a surly and thoroughly unlikeable man, who acted as the estate caretaker, to follow him.
The funeral, naturally, was not well attended.  My mother’s family did not deign to appear due to a bitter family feud instigated on the occasion of the marriage when my wealthy father refused to part with a penny to help his impoverished new in-laws.

Impoverished not by circumstance, he averred, but by choice.  Work was not a recognized word in their limited vocabulary and the best, most honorable thing they had ever done was produce the fragile beauty that was my mother.

I was but three years old when she and the sea clashed and she was vanquished forevermore.  My father did return for the funeral but not for me.  Instead he hired a woman to oversee my welfare.  I suppose she could have been called a nanny, but to me she was a witch.  In both spirit and actuality.  Many was the dark night I crept stealthily out of bed and toddled to the gloom shrouded shore to find her dancing wildly about a crackling bonfire, naked , her witch black hair streaming down her back as she whirled and danced about the blazing, terrifying flames.

She shrieked at the ocean much as my mother had, not in defiance, but supplication. Entreaty.
She felt the something.   And feared it.  Her witch’s senses were attuned to the unearthly, uncanny, dark presence. My mother had blamed the entire ocean, but the witch knew it was something in the sea, not the sea itself.

The witch taught me all she knew of the craft.  Together we fashioned sigils and traced them into the rocky sand with sticks of cedar purified in the smoke of sage.  We chanted complicated and involved invocations, her in her deep contralto, me in my lisping soprano.  From the earliest age I could remember, I learned the lore.  At first it was simple repetition and the desire to please her, but as I grew older, I became more cunning and the words combined in my head and heart and made a strange sense that I believe even the witch, in all her earthy wisdom, could not comprehend.

The first time I crept alone to the beach under the midnight moon with the stars aligned above me in an icy configuration of detached logic and unsurpassed beauty, I was twelve.  The witch would have beaten me if she’d known as the incantation I chanted that night, and all the stolen nights after, had nothing to do with puerile supplication or the whining appeasement of the something in the sea, instead I called its dark and dangerous power forth and drew it to me.  I craved its immense force and did not desire to bow or prostrate myself to achieve mastery of it. 

Had not the something responded to my birth? Had it not driven my mother mad and lured her into the faithless waves ? 

For by then I had reasoned she had not died screaming at the sea, but died to save me.  In her own, pitiful warped brain she vaguely comprehended the presence of the something, but her mind and soul would not admit to the majesty of the Self.  She had not the ability to See in the way that I could, in the way the witch could have had she not been also similarly twisted by convention and society and the morality of a dead god who promised much but delivered little.

The witch’s spells and incantations had all been of a cloyingly protective nature.  They had been painstakingly fashioned to keep the something at bay, to convince it to pass by, to create an invisible, impenetrable barrier between it and me.  But what the witch failed to understand in her rather commonplace mind is that I wanted the connection.  I wanted to be more than I was and more than this world would seemingly allow me to be.
It was my purest and most ardent wish to wrest my future from the clenched jaws of conformity and fear and shape it to my will. I do not believe in predetermined destiny. I believe in creating paths and gateways and choices.  I believe I can have a hand in my own fate whereas people like the witch and my mother see only chaos and confusion and rush to embrace the ordered and precise existence as carved out by someone or something else. 

I will not live that way!  I will not let others fashion my very existence for me! 

My first few incantations did not work.  How could they?  For I was young and inexperienced and far too indoctrinated with the taint of the witch’s weak magic, not my own. 

No.  I struggled to ruthlessly strip away all my preconceived fancies and ideas.  I grappled with all my might to shrug off the ridiculous fallacies and escape the shackles of indoctrination in order to uncover my true self. 

It was the labor of years.  Years.    I sent the witch away.  By this time she suspected I was attempting to escape her narrow, bigoted cage of watered down magic, but she was powerless to stop me.
The servants refused after a time to remain in residence.  Fearful peasants.  Their faulty logic and mindless devotion to conformity made it impossible for them to endure my life’s work. They shrank from me as I haughtily passed them by on my relentless path to the shore where I would spend not only the nighttime, nightmarish hours chanting and drawing sigils in the sand, but also by the fierce light of the radiant sun which illuminated everything and produced a friction of heat and energy that caused the entire island to shudder beneath my growing Power.

I had no time for anything but my studies and my single-minded pursuit of the something.  If I could make contact, if I could exchange essence with It, I would only then see myself reflected in the cold luminescence   of the pure logic of unutterable Truth.  I would at long last Be myself, but I needed the key and the key swam the murky depths of the black and terrifying sea.

The something called to me in my dreams, but dreams are capricious and arbitrary things that cannot be examined by logic and assembled into intelligence. They are fraught with ambiguity and by their very vague nature are not tools to be trusted.  For when I would have the truth in my grasp, I would sputter awake and disoriented, the moonlight a cold reproach against my clammy cheek.

Come to me,” urged the seductive voice of the something in the sea in my fantastical dreamstate.  Come to me.”

But never did I hear that Voice while conscious and in command of my senses. 

No matter how many multitudes of brilliant and evocative incantations, no matter the masterful and magnificent intricacy of the many sigils I scratched into the porous sand, the Voice remained inflexibly and infuriatingly silent.

Only in dreams could I hear and in dreams I did not, could not, would not trust.
Products of a fanciful and infantile imagination, how could they herald the truth, how could they possibly begin to converge with the immutable Self, the non-natural something that writhes and squirms beneath our ordered and precisely structured consciousness?

If I could have murdered sleep, I would have strangled it with my bare and furious fists.  Tortured it. Made it suffer exquisite and incalculable agony. For every dream in which I perceived that Voice and resisted its siren song, I drew sixty sigils, no, a hundred sixty.  For each ridiculous and specious dream in which that Voice appealed to me from beyond, I chanted a hundred, no a thousand complex incantations until my own voice was hoarse with them.

But nothing.  No response.  The Voice, the something, remained obdurately still.

I must have overlooked something vital in my esoteric studies of the darker arts.  I returned to my books and spent night after everlasting, moon drenched night reading and re-reading until my weary eyes rebelled and I saw the world doubled, trebled, in a strange, fantastic blur of blinding color and savage shadow.

The dreams intensified – spinning, colliding, masterful webs of delight and deceit, none of it verifiable, none of it real. 

Come to me,” It sang.  The dark, icy sea soaked into the tones and quality of the Voice. Beyond my bedroom window, the restless mutter of the incomprehensible, horrid waves broke over and over again in monotonous and mind numbing repetition.  Always the same sound, never a variation or a variety. 

At first I shut my window, then bolted it, then covered it with foil, stuffing the cracks with rags. Anything, anything, to stop that monstrous sound!

I set aside my ponderous books.  The knowledge contained within them was burned indelibly upon my brain.  I was immersed in the icy clarity of their words, every shuddering breath I drew, filled my head with more of them, crowding in upon me as I rushed to the shadowed shore to work my magic with sigil and incantation.  Beyond me, the terrible waves crashed with fitful banality to the shore.

That noise, once a fundamental and vigorous counterpoint to my magic, now interrupted it, swelled above it, drowned it with its infernal racket.  Oh, for one moment’s peace! 

Even the untamed crackle of the bonfire could not obscure that frantic noise!

“I have given you everything!” I shrieked, my nails digging bloody furrows down my hectically burning cheeks.  “I have spent my life in the pursuit of higher knowledge and goals of immortality known only to the gods and those who dare to Know Themselves and yet, still, always, ever, I receive nothing in return but that appalling, dreadful noise!”

In a frothing ecstasy of iniquitous rage, I flung flaming chunks of bonfire wood into the cold, incalculable waves.  Hissing steam obliterated the moonlight and half choked me, but still that cacophony continued. 
I thrust blistered hands into the shocking cold water and screamed, but my voice was a pitiful nothing in comparison.

Hunted and plagued, I sought the sanctuary of my bedroom, but one tortured glance at my bed, the blankets drawn down invitingly, the pillows plumped to perfection, and I knew I was doomed. 

Why?  Why should I be denied the very sustenance I so fervently desired? Why after countless hours of study and contemplation, after years of sigils and incantations, of my very life sacrificed on the pitiless altar of Knowledge, should I be thwarted so?

Perhaps I stood balanced on the very threshold?  Could that possibly be the answer?  Did I need just one last, valiant effort and the unimaginable reward would be mine?  Could it be that byzantinely simple?

Come to me,” whispered the Voice in my treacherous dreams again that night.  And for the first time I Saw.  I Knew. I Understood. 

I compose this on the shadowed shore beneath the murky light of a crescent moon.  The stars are thick and icy bright in the vast expanse of space above me.  The earth beneath me shifts and groans under the inexorable assault of the dazzling waves.  Flames from the bonfire spit and roar in defiance of the darkness while the damp midnight splendor of the sea beckons.

When this missive is at last concluded, I shall put it into a small bottle and cork it.  Then it, and I, shall explore the dark and enigmatic depths of the immutable sea.

Let ye who shall read my words dare to follow in my intrepid footsteps.  I am not afraid, I am exultant.  I know now nothing comes of railing against a cruel and merciless fate.  Nor does supplication and appeasement alter the outcome even in the slightest.

For I am not beneath the Voice, nor am I above It.  It is as equals we shall meet in the indecipherable depths . 
Follow me if you dare.  Despair if you dare not for you will never know the Truth of it, nor the wild, incalculable beauty of the True Self.  Of this, and nothing more, am I certain.


  1. Delicious homage. I especially loved bits like this: "and I saw the world doubled, trebled, in a strange, fantastic blur of blinding color and savage shadow."

    Well done. :-)