1935 The Haunter Of The Dark

Weird Tales 1936.12, Virgil Finlay
Written 1935.11, published in Weird Tales 1936.12.

Opening Statement:
I have seen the dark universe yawning
Where the black planets roll without aim—
Where they roll in their horror unheeded,
Without knowledge or lustre or name.

      Cautious investigators will hesitate to challenge the common belief that Robert Blake was killed by lightning, or by some profound nervous shock derived from an electrical discharge. It is true that the window he faced was unbroken, but nature has shown herself capable of many freakish performances. The expression on his face may easily have arisen from some obscure muscular source unrelated to anything he saw, while the entries in his diary are clearly the result of a fantastic imagination aroused by certain local superstitions and by certain old matters he had uncovered...
What in Brown Jenkin's Name..?
     After disturbing a strange relic discovered in an accursed chapel, Robert Blake believes he has awakened a diabolical stellar force.
  1. Young horror writer/artist Robert Blake visits Providence (actually his second visit: see Robert Bloch’s “The Shambler From the Stars”) and rents a room. He becomes obsessed with a decrepit, evil-looking, abandoned church and visits it, despite the locals’ fear of it. Breaking in through a cellar window, he explores the church and finds inappropriate paintings, forbidden books (including the Necronomicon and the Pnakotic Manuscripts) and an Egyptian ankh in place of a Christian cross. Blake pockets a record book filled with strange writing.
  2. In an upper, windowed chamber, Blake finds a strange metal box carved with strange alien figures on its surface, and containing an egg-shaped stone object. Nearby, he finds the remains of a reporter (Lillibridge) and his notes which impart a strange history: 
    1. In the 19th century an explorer (Prof. Bowen) returns from an Egyptian expedition. 
    2. With help from  a “Shining Trapezohedron” and a “Haunter of the dark” he establishes the Starry Wisdom cult in the church.  
    3. The evil is apparently afraid of light. 
    4. Disappearances and human sacrifices eventually lead the city to closing evil church.
  3. While reading Lillibridge’s notes, Blake senses an evil consciousness peering at him from the egg-stone. He closes the metal box and dashes home in a panic. Over several months, he decodes the church record book and learns that the stone came from Yuggoth (Pluto), brought to Earth by the Old Ones (Antarctic Elder Things), and eventually found itself in Egypt (probably in connection with Nyarlathotep). The stone houses the Haunter of the Dark, who offers its followers knowledge in return for bloody sacrifices.
  4. Shortly after Blake’s visit, a power outage causes all of the town lights to go out, and something in the creepy church briefly stirs. When the church is later inspected, the metal box and Lillibridge’s skeletal remains are gone. Meanwhile, Blake finds himself unnaturally obsessed with the distant church, and is concerned that the Haunter of the Dark knows where to find him. One night he has a cosmic vision reminding him of Azathoth. He is awakes to find himself somehow in the church steeple (with burn markings). Rushing home, he ties himself to his bed in the nights to follow.
  5. One night, a lightning storm knocks out the city lights again, and a giant, smoky-winged creature breaks out of the church and flies towards Blake’s room, causing some kind of explosion/lightning strike at his residence. Later, Blake is found killed by some kind of electrical shock, despite the room’s untouched window panes. Blake’s last diary entries records his suspicions that the “thing” is an avatar of Nyarlathotep, and describes cloudy memories of flying through space. He begins to confuse his own identity with that of the Haunter’s in the church. Later, the attending doctor retrieves the (mysteriously-returned) metal box and stone from the church and throws it into the bay.
Essential Saltes:
     In a rear vestry room beside the apse Blake found a rotting desk and ceiling-high shelves of mildewed, disintegrating books. Here for the first time he received a positive shock of objective horror, for the titles of those books told him much. They were the black, forbidden things which most sane people have never even heard of, or have heard of only in furtive, timorous whispers; the banned and dreaded repositories of equivocal secret and immemorial formulae which have trickled down the stream of time from the days of man's youth, and the dim, fabulous days before man was. He had himself read many of them- a Latin version of the abhorred Necronomicon, the sinister Liber Ivonis, the infamous Cultes des Goules of Comte d'Erlette, the Unaussprechlichen Kulten of von Junzt, and old Ludvig Prinn's hellish De Vermis Mysteriis. But there were others he had known merely by reputation or not at all- the Pnakotic Manuscripts, the Book of Dzyan, and a crumbling volume of wholly unidentifiable characters yet with certain symbols and diagrams shuddering recognizable to the occult student. Clearly, the lingering local rumours had not lied. This place had once been the seat of an evil older than mankind and wider than the known universe.
* * * * *
     Before he realized it, he was looking at the stone again, and letting its curious influence call up a nebulous pageantry in his mind. He saw processions of robed, hooded figures whose outlines were not human, and looked on endless leagues of desert lined with carved, sky-reaching monoliths. He saw towers and walls in nighted depths under the sea, and vortices of space where wisps of black mist floated before thin shimmerings of cold purple haze. And beyond all else he glimpsed an infinite gulf of darkness, where solid and semisolid forms were known only by their windy stirrings, and cloudy patterns of force seemed to superimpose order on chaos and hold forth a key to all the paradoxes and arcana of the worlds we know.
* * * * *
     Of the Shining Trapezohedron he speaks often, calling it a window on all time and space, and tracing its history from the days it was fashioned on dark Yuggoth, before ever the Old Ones brought it to earth. It was treasured and placed in its curious box by the crinoid things of Antarctica, salvaged from their ruins by the serpent-men of Valusia, and peered at aeons later in Lemuria by the first human beings. It crossed strange lands and stranger seas, and sank with Atlantis before a Minoan fisher meshed it in his net and sold it to swarthy merchants from nighted Khem. The Pharaoh Nephren-Ka built around it a temple with a windowless crypt, and did that which caused his name to be stricken from all monuments and records. Then it slept in the ruins of that evil fane which the priests and the new Pharaoh destroyed, till the delver's spade once more brought it forth to curse mankind.
* * * * *
     Before his eyes a kaleidoscopic range of phantasmal images played, all of them dissolving at intervals into the picture of a vast, unplumbed abyss of night wherein whirled suns and worlds of an even profounder blackness. He thought of the ancient legends of Ultimate Chaos, at whose centre sprawls the blind idiot god Azathoth, Lord of All Things, encircled by his flopping horde of mindless and amorphous dancers, and lulled by the thin monotonous piping of a demoniac flute held in nameless paws.
* * * * *
     What am I afraid of? Is it not an avatar of Nyarlathotep, who in antique and shadowy Khem even took the form of man? I remember Yuggoth, and more distant Shaggai, and the ultimate void of the black planets... 
     The long, winging flight through the void... cannot cross the universe of light . . . re-created by the thoughts caught in the Shining Trapezohedron... send it through the horrible abysses of radiance...
     My name is Blake - Robert Harrison Blake of 620 East Knapp Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin... I am on this planet...

From Dr. Armitage's Notes:
  • 1st Church of Starry Wisdom, Trapezohedron, Haunter of the Dark.
  • Mentions Yuggoth, Elder Things, Nyarlathotep, Yaddith ("Fungi From Yuggoth"), etc.
  • Liber Ivonis is Latin for Book of Eibon (Ubbo-Sathla).
  • Cultes des Goules by Comte d’Erlette from Bloch’s “The Grinning Ghoul” Weird Tales 1934.11.

The Horrible Conclusion:
     I am Robert Blake, but I see the tower in the dark. There is a monstrous odour... senses transfigured... boarding at that tower window cracking and giving way... IƤ... ngai... ygg...
     I see it - coming here - hell-wind - titan blue - black wing - Yog Sothoth save me - the three-lobed burning eye...
Read it here.
Yog Sothoth save me - the three-lobed burning eye...