H. P. Lovecraft stands as one of the all time masters of the horror story genre. His works have been brought to life in movies and television. He inspired other writers in his own time, and down to the present date. Writers such as August Derleth, Clark Aston Smith, Frank Belknap Long, J. Ramsey Campbell, Brian Lumley, among many, many others, have found inspiration in Lovecraft's writings and have added both to Lovecraft's pantheon of Old Ones and to the names of the forbidden books of lore, which open glimpses onto the realms of the evil gods.
With all due apologies to H. P. Lovecraft I offer this short story about hidden knowledge and the dreaded Old Ones. If the reader has not encountered H. P. Lovecraft's stories, I urge he or she to do so.
I would like to give my undying gratitude to French Lavender for her review, corrections, and input to this story. -- Ballzac
I am now faced with a terrible choice, which no man should have to do, a choice that was brought about by my own hubris. There are no good options left; whatever I do I will doom my eternal soul to the darkness, which surrounds the spheres. I shall be left naked before the wrath of the dark gods. My wife and I thought we had mastered the forbidden knowledge. After all we had performed ancient and terrible rites time and again with success.
My name, not that it matters, is Timothy Ward, and my wife is Ann Warren Ward. We both have shared a fascination of the occult, which has gone far beyond the layman's interest in such matters. We have explored the hidden horizons that are beyond the imagination of most mortals. For most of our youth we diligently studied the occult, by that I mean we have delved far beyond those mundane things such as witchcraft, and so called magic, into paths, which are both esoteric and terrible.
I am 41 years old and Ann is 37, except for our preoccupation with the occult we are a normal couple. Ann is beautiful, her hair is very dark and frames her face, her eyes are hazel green with flecks of brown and gold, and her face is pretty with a slightly upturned nose and full mouth. Her body is petite and her hair flows down to her breasts, which are pale white and full, but not too large, with big nipples, and her legs are slender and her bottom is small.
We have two almost grown children who have no idea of our secret studies. Except for our interest in the dark arts we lead normal, mundane lives. Ann works in a bank and I sell insurance, our combined income allows us to live a comfortable life and has given us the finances to purchase a comprehensive library, which includes some very rare tomes.
We own a small barn in the woods, which we have remodeled to hold our library and to serve as an area where we could conduct our research into certain mystical rites and rituals. The barn was our secret place known only to Ann and me, where we conducted experiments, which produced remarkable results. Using some of the more obscure texts we were able to call up some of the lesser astral beings, nebulous things without form or substance; however, we realized that such practices were but a prelude to even deeper mystical wisdom.
As we delved ever deeper into the depths of the almost forgotten lore, we became aware of the existence of the Old Ones, which predated man by eons, and who dwelled in spheres approximating our own world. These beings had been banished from the cosmos by the Elder Gods ages upon ages ago, but who were ever trying to regain what they once ruled. Their names were whispered among secret sects who practiced blasphemous rites in desolate regions.
Their names ring out as a blight upon all, which mortal man considers holy and normal; Azathoth, Cthulhu, Sub-Niggurath, Nyarlathotep, Tasathoggua, Yog-Sothoth, among others. Extremely rare grimoires, such as the forbidden Necronomicon, the pre-human Pnakotic Manuscripts, the blasphemous Unaussprechlich Kulten, and the dreaded De Vermis Mysteriis hold the keys by which the gateways between the spheres, which separate our reality from the Old Ones, may be opened.
Yet until recently, my wife and I were only able to obtain imperfect copies of such texts; however, I received word through certain contacts of mine about the estate sale of Howard Peabody Dow. Mr. Dow had been a recognized master of the more profound aspects of occult studies. He had dug deep into ancient belief systems and wrote extensively about his findings. The bizarre aspects surrounding the demise of the famed occultist made headlines locally a year ago. He was found in a locked room of his mansion, his neck broken with such force that it had almost been severed from his body; the room was drenched in a coating of slime, which defied analysis and could only be likened to that found as bodily secretions of certain mollusks indigenous to the South Seas.
For about a year his estate had remained sealed as the investigation into his death followed its due course. At last his heirs were allowed to proceed with auctioning off his possessions, which included his vast collection of occult books and scrolls. Once my wife and I heard about the pending auction we were determined to use all our savings to purchase whatever we could from the Dow estate.
On the day of the sale we arrived early having deposited all our savings into our checking account. During the auction we joined bidding on many works, including a reproduction of the famed Doctor Dee's Necronomicon; however, in every case we were out done by other bidders. Finally, a copy of Howard P. Dow's handwritten spell book came up for bid. I was surprised that the other bidders displayed little interest in what I considered to be one of the prizes of the entire estate sale. I suspected that Mr. Dow's spell book had to contain some very rare incantations, which had been carefully gathered from obscure sources not to be found in his personal library. There were only two other people bidding against us, both of whom dropped out of the bidding, allowing us to walk away, with what I felt certain had to be the prize of the day, for only three thousand dollars.
I can hardly express the joy and excitement, which my wife and I felt as we waited for our check to be verified. Had I known then where that damn book would lead us, I would have run away from the place and would have destroyed our secret hideaway in the woods. However, our thoughts at that time were only on finally obtaining a major work of occult significance, which would allow us to plumb deep into the depths of secret wisdom.
Once we had the spell book in our possession, we went directly to our hidden retreat, where I locked it away in a special safe, which contained the rarest tomes of our collection. We allowed ourselves only the briefest of glances at the work; however, in the short time we scanned the book, it became evident to us that our purchase was well worth the money that we had paid for it.
"Tim," my wife said as she turned through the pages of the book, "this is great! There are incantations in here, which say they open the gates between the spheres of existence between this world and the realm of the Elder Gods. If this is true, we have in our hands the key to the gates."
"I am sure it will be of great value to us," I answered, "but we will have to proceed carefully. We have to remember the first rule and not to summon up that which cannot be put down. However, I am sure we are going to learn a vast amount of knowledge from this book."
With reluctance we locked the book away, as the duties of parenthood called. The children would shortly be arriving at home and dinner had to be started, which by mutual agreement would this night be takeout.
After that day, we began a serious and detailed study of the spell book. It proved to be an arduous and almost daunting task, which required ever further research from other sources as we delved into some of the work's more obscure concepts. Luckily our library was a great aid in helping us to define many of the spells; however, some of the incantations were phonic renderings of languages no longer spoken by modern man. Some were ancient Egyptian, of which I had a fair understanding, while others were in Aramaic, Arabic, and what may have been the pre-human tongue of those who wrote the Pnakotic Manuscripts.
During the months, which followed either my wife or I were almost always at our woodland retreat engaged in study. Sometimes we would copy certain passages of the book to bring home for discussion after the children were out of the way. We had long had a habit of keeping our secret life totally separate from our normal existence and only our excitement in the revelations we where uncovering caused us to break our long prohibition. Weekends would find us together working side by side, as we slowly but surely unraveled the complex formulas.
After a time I felt that I had uncovered the spell, which had caused Howard P. Dow his life. I believed it to be an invocation to certain minions of the being known as Cthulhu, who slumbers in a city sunken beneath the waves of the South Seas. Somehow, Dow had done something wrong and his barriers of protection had broken down; although, how such a master could have failed so terribly was not apparent. Certainly something had gone wrong and that something had cost H. P. Dow his life in a most horrible manner. Perhaps his protective fires had gone out, perhaps the warding glyphs had somehow gotten erased, whatever it was something had reached out between the spheres and claimed Howard Dow.
.... There is more of this story ...