|Weird Tales 1931.08|
Bear in mind closely that I did not see any actual visual horror at the end. To say that a mental shock was the cause of what I inferred - that last straw which sent me racing out of the lonely Akeley farmhouse and through the wild domed hills of Vermont in a commandeered motor at night - is to ignore the plainest facts of my final experience. Notwithstanding the deep things I saw and heard, and the admitted vividness the impression produced on me by these things, I cannot prove even now whether I was right or wrong in my hideous inference... there was not even a sign that a guest had been there, or that those horrible cylinders and machines had been stored in the study.What in Brown Jenkin's Name..?
Miskatonic's Professor Wilmarth eagerly follows Vermont scholar Henry Akeley's fearful accounts of encroaching alien invasion. However, Akeley soon has a strangely-abrupt change of heart, and Wilmarth is forced to visit Akeley's compound in person.Synopsis:
- In Vermont, a flood produces sightings of strange insect-like cadavers floating in the waters. Wilmarth, a skeptical literature professor at Miskatonic University in Arkham, proposes that these sightings were probably inspired by local, ancient folk legends of winged crab-men, who are supposedly from the stars and mine the hills for valuable minerals.
- Henry Akeley, a reclusive Vermont scholar, writes a letter to Wilmarth in support of the old folk tales, and claims to have met a spy for the “extraterrestrials”. Akeley later sends photos of giant claw footprints, strange hieroglyphics on a black stone, and descriptions of secrets he had learned from the alien spy, mentioning Yuggoth, Great Cthulhu, Tsathoggua, Yog-Sothoth, R'lyeh, Nyarlathotep, Azathoth, Hastur, Yian, Leng, the Lake of Hali, Bethmoora, the Yellow Sign, L'mur-Kathulos, Bran, and the Magnum Innominandum. The two scholars continue corresponding and conclude that the extraterrestrials are related to the Himalayan Mi-Go snow-men (or at least the same order).
- Akeley sends an audio recording of a night ritual where a man and the aliens conduct a ritual, invoking Cthulhu, Tsathoggua, Shub-Niggurath, Azathoth, planet Yuggoth, Nyarlathotep and the Goat with a Thousand Young. Akeley tries to send the black stone to Wilmarth, but it is intercepted by a stranger with seemingly mesmerising powers.
- Some of Akeley’s guard dogs are killed by the aliens and Akeley is forced to use his rifle to repel nightly attacks. Akeley writes that the aliens desire to to take him off planet, and that he feels trapped. He next writes that he had found a torn off limb of one of the crab creatures, but when he photographed it, it didn’t appear on the developed paper.
- Akeley abruptly changes his stance on the aliens, and says that he has met a human representative of the “Outer Ones”. He claims that the Outer Ones are actually benevolent, and that the prior troubles had been caused by “enemy agents” (“linked with Hastur and the Yellow Sign”). He describes the aliens as “fungoid” and from Yuggoth, the 9th planet. He invites Wilmarth to visit immediately, and to bring any sent letters and records with him.
- Despite his suspicions, Wilmarth takes a train to Akeley’s area and is picked up by a strangely-familiar-sounding stranger. At Akeley’s, he sees tracks of the “living fungi from Yuggoth” near the house and notices a profound silence surrounding the farmland.
- Wilmarth enters and finds a seemingly-immobile Akeley. Akeley speaks in a strange whisper, but Wilmarth is unable to see his lips move under his beard. Akeley talks about Yuggoth and of the beings who had lived there prior to the Outer Ones/Mi-go now occupying the planet. He states that the Mi-go crab-creatures had come to Earth in Cthulhu’s era before R’lyeh had sunk. He also drops tidbits about the frog-creature Tsathoggua who had came from underground N’Kai, the Atlantean High Priest Klarkash-Ton, Cthulhu, the Doels, the Hounds of Tindalos, Azathoth and Yig, Father of Serpents. He explains that humans have traveled to other worlds by having their removed brains transported and then transplanted into local bodies. Akeley points out a few of the brain-canisters in the house and Wilmarth follows his instructions to attach an electronic voice to one of the brain-canisters. In the evening, Wilmarth goes upstairs and resolves to escape the horror.
- In the night, he overhears a conference between the aliens, mechanical brains and humans. After all is quiet once more, Wilmarth goes downstairs intending to convince Akeley to flee with him. He is shocked into a manic escape after he finds only Akeley’s face and hands lying on the old man’s chair. Afterwards, he infers that Akeley had days earlier been encased in one of the brain canisters as a helpless prisoner, and that the entity he had been talking to had been an alien disguised as Akeley using his discarded body parts.
* * * * *
"...The Outer Beings are perhaps the most marvelous organic things in or beyond all space and time-members of a cosmos-wide race of which all other life-forms are merely degenerate variants. They are more vegetable than animal, if these terms can be applied to the sort of matter composing them, and have a somewhat fungoid structure; though the presence of a chlorophyll-like substance and a very singular nutritive system differentiate them altogether from true cormophytic fungi. Indeed, the type is composed of a form of matter totally alien to our part of space - with electrons having a wholly different vibration-rate...
"The genus is unique in its ability to traverse the heatless and airless interstellar void in full corporeal form, and some of its variants cannot do this without mechanical aid or curious surgical transpositions. Only a few species have the ether-resisting wings characteristic of the Vermont variety. Those inhabiting certain remote peaks in the Old World were brought in other ways. Their external resemblance to animal life, and to the sort of structure we understand as material, is a matter of parallel evolution rather than of close kinship. Their brain-capacity exceeds that of any other surviving life-form, although the winged types of our hill country are by no means the most highly developed. Telepathy is their usual means of discourse, though we have rudimentary vocal organs which, after a slight operation (for surgery is an incredibly expert and everyday thing among them), can roughly duplicate the speech of such types of organism as still use speech.
"Their main immediate abode is a still undiscovered and almost lightless planet at the very edge of our solar system - beyond Neptune, and the ninth in distance from the sun. It is, as we have inferred, the object mystically hinted at as "Yuggoth" in certain ancient and forbidden writings; and it will soon be the scene of a strange focusing of thought upon our world in an effort to facilitate mental rapport. I would not be surprised if astronomers become sufficiently sensitive to these thought-currents to discover Yuggoth when the Outer Ones wish them to do so. But Yuggoth, of course, is only the stepping-stone. The main body of the beings inhabits strangely organized abysses wholly beyond the utmost reach of any human imagination. The space-time globule which we recognize as the totality of all cosmic entity is only an atom in the genuine infinity which is theirs.
"There are mighty cities on Yuggoth - great tiers of terraced towers built of black stone like the specimen I tried to send you. That came from Yuggoth. The sun shines there no brighter than a star, but the beings need no light. They have other subtler senses, and put no windows in their great houses and temples. Light even hurts and hampers and confuses them, for it does not exist at all in the black cosmos outside time and space where they came from originally. To visit Yuggoth would drive any weak man mad - yet I am going there. The black rivers of pitch that flow under those mysterious cyclopean bridges - things built by some elder race extinct and forgotten before the beings came to Yuggoth from the ultimate voids - ought to be enough to make any man a Dante or Poe if he can keep sane long enough to tell what he has seen.
"But remember - that dark world of fungoid gardens and windowless cities isn’t really terrible. It is only to us that it would seem so. Probably this world seemed just as terrible to the beings when they first explored it in the primal age. You know they were here long before the fabulous epoch of Cthulhu was over, and remember all about sunken R’lyeh when it was above the waters. They’ve been inside the earth, too - there are openings which human beings know nothing of - some of them in these very Vermont hills - and great worlds of unknown life down there; blue-litten K’n-yan, red-litten Yoth, and black, lightless N’kai. It’s from N’kai that frightful Tsathoggua came - you know, the amorphous, toad-like god-creature mentioned in the Pnakotic Manuscripts and the Necronomicon and the Commoriom myth-cycle preserved by the Atlantean high-priest Klarkash-Ton.From Dr. Armitage's Notes:
- 1st Yuggoth, K’n-yan, Yoth and N’Kai (further explored in “The Mound” with Zealia Bishop).
- Mentions Yig, from “The Curse of Yig” (HPL & Zealia Bishop), The Hounds of Tindalos (from Frank Belknap Long story) and Serpent-men of Valusia, from Robert E. Howard’s Kull story “The Shadow Kingdom”. Also mentions Bran (Mak Morn) from Robert E Howard’s “Men of the Shadows”.
- 1st “official” Tsathoggua, from Clark Ashton Smith’s “The Tale of Satampra Zeiros”, writ. 1929, publ. WT 1931.11, 1st cited by HPL in “The Mound” w Bishop (1929, publ 1940).
- K’n-yan, Yoth and N’Kai.
- 1st Hastur from Ambrose Bierce’s “Haita the Shepherd”.
- Arkham Advertiser.
- Nyarlathotep invoked, Azathoth, Shub-Niggurath.
- L’mur Kathulos from Robert E Howard’s “Skull-face”.
- Doels from Frank Belknap Long’s “The Hounds of Tindalos”.
I hope - devoutly hope-that they were the waxen products of a master artist, despite what my inmost fears tell me. Great God! That whisperer in darkness with its morbid odour and vibrations! Sorcerer, emissary, changeling, outsider...that hideous repressed buzzing...and all the time in that fresh, shiny cylinder on the shelf...poor devil... "Prodigious surgical, biological, chemical, and mechanical skill...”
For the things in the chair, perfect to the last, subtle detail of microscopic resemblance - or identity - were the face and hands of Henry Wentworth Akeley.
|Weird Tales 1931.08|
Follow'd by "At the Mountains of Madness".