Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Short Story: Glory Days Gone By


Pastiche.

Something you serve on toast?

No.

But something I spent a good deal of time cooking up from Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos Pantheon.

This short story is no exception.

The modern world is rapidly decaying - you would think this perfect timing for a web clawed god to ascent. Yeah. Alas, no.

Ia Ia! Or should that be Oye, Oye!


Glory Days Gone By
by Paul Darcy

From the unfathomable depths of a dank cave slithered a horror beyond the sanity of humanity. A vast amorphous jellified shape, fifteen feet round, reeking of rotting fish and raw sewage, undulated ominously towards the cave mouth overlooking an antediluvian seashore. Its odious shapeless form sprouted uncountable pseudopods like a titanic sea anemone.

Suddenly, with unnatural speed, the syrupy, sponge-like blob leapt upwards with one tumultuous contraction and snatched a sailing frisbee from the air in its oily tentacular grip. Tossing the frisbee from pseudopod to pseudopod with uncanny dexterity, it shrieked, "Tekeli-li, Tekeli-li." The hideous sound, half voice, half flatulence, issued forth from some unseen orifice and sounded like a church organ in desperate need of tuning. After many intricate tricks, the undulating blob spun the frisbee towards the beach head and the monstrous shape waiting there to receive it.

Dagon plucked the frisbee roughly from the air. "Show-off," he growled. His partner, quivering like a bowl of jelly, sensed Dagon’s foul mood and slunk away from the cave mouth and crouched like a spoiled pudding in the shadows.

Play time was over. Dagon hurled the frisbee back into the dank cave and stalked away down the beach, stopping only to check the alignment of the stars. He had procrastinated long enough. It was almost time.

The Esoteric Order of Dagon was purportedly holding its grandest ceremony in decades on the docks of Innsmouth this night and Dagon had decided to attend the festivities personally. It had been a very long time since he had made a personal appearance and this particular night marked the one thousandth year since the order was founded to worship him.

Mother Hydra, always a nag, urged him not to go. "What if it’s a trap," she warned, as if he weren’t old enough to look after himself or think of these things for himself.

He hated when Mother Hydra treated him like a child, planting silly notions in his head. A trap indeed. Still, with the advent of global communications, knowledge of himself, Yog, Shub and the others was ever growing, and the threat of capture or ambush was greatly increased.

But Dagon would not lie low and hide. It was time to show himself again, instill a bit of fear into his worshipers. It would do them good. True, it had been a few decades since he had attended one of these soirees, and the technology of the puny humans had increased since then. But he was Dagon: king of the sea, ruler of the waves, the big fish. What had he to fear from these insignificant beings and their technological toys. And the Deep Ones, ever cavorting beyond the riptides were at his beck and call.

The dilapidated buildings of Innsmouth huddled around the jaw of the bay like decaying teeth. Scum, seaweed, garbage and crumpled pop cans clogged the small desolate cove. Several crooked docks resembling nothing more than felled and rotting trees lay sprawled in the stagnant waters. Dagon hid below the fetid ocean surface a hundred feet out from the main dock; only his fish eyes broke the ocean’s surface. The wait was incredibly boring, but it wouldn’t do to be found sitting on the dock, legs crossed, twiddling his thumbs like a vagrant loitering in a bus shelter.

Appearances were everything. He had to rise menacingly from the waves, striking terror into the hearts of all those foolish enough to gaze directly upon him. Of course, all he cared about was rending and devouring hapless victims, and if this was to be the grandest ceremony in decades, then the sacrifices would be plentiful, plump and tasty. Dagon’s mood improved as he thought of ripe juicy human flesh ripping between his teeth.

Licking his lips, Dagon checked the stars. In a short time their alignment would be perfect, but a few minutes remained. Out of boredom, he gazed towards the center of the universe where a certain point of light was visible this time of year. Azathoth was there, twinkling like the mass of chaos and stupidity that he was, surrounded by mad pipers twittering in that roiling chaos, playing melodies the blind idiot couldn’t hear or fathom. What a joke on the universe, Azathoth so powerful and as stupid as a stick.

A flash of light brought Dagon from his musings. A procession was shambling down the streets from the Esoteric Order of Dagon. His faithful, if foolish, followers. What was it with all this shambling anyhow? Had all his worshipers become idiots and forgotten how to walk? Maybe he should have stayed home. But no, that would have played into Mother Hydra’s claws and he hated that most of all.

As the procession drew closer, Dagon perceived that the leading figure was an absolute buffoon. With his cloak pulled all the way over his head, grimy tome clutched in one hand, torch held aloft in the other, he resembled nothing so much as a deranged monk. He even wore sandals with white socks. This was the cream of his worshipers? This to be the culmination of a thousand years of worship. Disgusting. Rolling his fish eyes in disbelief, Dagon scanned the procession trying to determine who amongst them were sacrifices. No nubile, scantily clad women or chubby little children were obvious under all the dark, tightly cinched cloaks. How he craved the good old days when his followers babbled a few meaningless phrases, tossed down their juicy sacrifices and left shrieking in terror.

The worshipers arrived at the docks. The show was beginning.

Dagon stayed hidden until he heard the worshipers maniacally scream his name. The lead figure was gyrating and tossing about on the rotten dock like an intoxicated whirling Dervish with an inner ear infection, a tome gripped firmly in his hand as if it were a part of his arm. The torch in his other arm flew around wildly trailing sparks like a comet. Dagon rolled his eyes in disgust once more, then rose from the waters. Striking his most fearful pose, he scowled, then strode ominously toward the congregation of his pathetic followers. "Let it end soon," he muttered.

The twirling leader stopped when Dagon neared. Several worshipers fell on their faces; some fled screaming. Dagon tried to suppress a smile. He loomed above the worshipers, exposing his head and shoulders and inhaled mightily. His chest expanded outward and with a breath smelling more foul than a hundred overflowing outhouses he bellowed, "Gethug, uguog uka uka yug yug!" It was a language beyond time, a language beyond space, one never taught to man, the language of a select and elite set of ancient gods. It literally meant, "Come on. Come on. Give me the goods, I haven’t got all night."

The leader crouched into a ball and the remaining worshipers followed suit. Dagon waited irritably. By the slimy tentacles of Cthulhu himself, what nonsense was this? He heard the clinking of metal. Their cloaks hid something. Where were the nubile women, the plump children? This was not right. Finally the leader stood up and the tome slipped from his fingers. It dropped with a wet smack to the dock and its cover tore off. Underneath Dagon could see gold letters on a red cover, ‘Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language.’ This was no ancient tome of forbidden knowledge.

Suddenly the leader threw back his hood and held aloft a green glowing five pointed star. The flaming eye in the center of the repugnant symbol glowed orange, giving Dagon an instant headache.

"Oh, this is great," the fish god mumbled. It was a stinking trap. The other fake worshipers were busy tossing aside their cloaks and assembling shining metal sticks. He backed away from the dock. Gunfire erupted. Hundreds of pinpoints of pain stabbed into his hide. Immediately he ducked under the water and dove powerfully toward the pylons holding the rotting dock in place. Dagon was really pissed. He could picture Mother Hydra in her annoying ‘I told you so’ voice when he got back to the cave tonight. She would never let him live this one down.

Infuriated, Dagon summoned the strength of ten whales and rammed the forward pylons of the dock. They splintered like twigs. With his powerful legs he thrust upwards under the dock, propelling it mightily into the air and ripping it asunder. The fake worshipers were flung high and Dagon vented his anger on a couple of them. He swatted so powerfully that they left his claws a mangled, pulped mess. He roared with rage as more gunfire started from the shore. Then, several explosions blasted water into vapor close by him and he knew it was time to retreat.

Dagon stuck two talons into his mouth and blew a horrible warbling whistle louder than any seagoing freighter’s foghorn. The water roiled around Devil’s reef as hundreds of Deep Ones came to his summons. As he was about to submerge, he saw a flaming projectile streaking his way. Dagon couldn’t duck fast enough. Whatever it was hit his shoulder, exploding with a deafening concussion. He belly-flopped ungracefully. How humiliating.

Safely under the water, and with hundreds of Deep Ones swimming past him towards shore, Dagon examined his shoulder. Some flesh had been ripped and he heard a ringing in his left ear, but otherwise he would recover. As he swam out to sea, he reflected on the deterioration of modern times: blasphemous books were churning out of publishing houses by the thousands in mass market paperback editions; Elder Signs were spitting off assembly lines and sold to youngsters as toys in supermarkets; every puny human who wanted an automatic weapon could get one over the counter; he and his kind were frowned upon more and more and worshiped less and less. And that most irrepressible invention, the computer, made it possible for humans from all over the world to converse with each other and uncover all the secrets he and his kind had struggled so long to keep hidden.

Where would it end?

If technology kept jumping he and every one of the others would probably end up in a zoo. ‘Look, Daddy there’s Dagon,’ some snotty nosed little brat would say, tossing a fish through the bars of his cage as if he were a bloody circus dolphin. ‘I want to go look at Yog-Sothoth. Can I have a Yog-Sothoth bubble machine? Please, Daddy? Can I? And after can we go to the Shub Niggurath petting zoo. The thousand goats are so cute. Can I have one, please Daddy? I’ll take it for a walk every day.’ What was the world coming to? Oh, Dagon wished he could be asleep like Cthulhu deep under the ocean, not a care in the world, or blissfully unaware like that idiot Azathoth.

When he arrived at his cave under the sea, Mother Hydra was waiting for him and knitting, her human thigh bone needles clicking. Dagon hid his damaged shoulder from her view. She spun both of her frog eyes in his direction, but instead of reproaching him, simply stated, "Shub called."

Dagon, after his bad night, barked back, "What did she want? Not baby sitting, again? "

"Actually, yes," Mother Hydra answered, putting aside her work, "but I told her no, since we are going on a vacation."

"We are?" Dagon was surprised. Perhaps he had judged Mother Hydra too harshly. "I mean, that sounds like a good idea. After what I witnessed tonight, I need a vacation. A very long vacation."

Dagon stomped to his room and began to pack. He was almost annoyed that Mother Hydra hadn’t badgered him. The stars may be right but puny man had advanced too far, become to smart, outlived the need for he and the others. Perhaps his and the others time was coming to an end. Damn but it had been good while it lasted.

Water dripped from the cracked cave ceiling and fell on his head. He slid open a drawer of rock and it rumbled like thunder. Dagon packed his things. He needed to escape modern man and his toys. Perhaps in time they would revert back to the old ways through some cataclysm. Until then he would wait, bide his time, enjoy his extended vacation.

These modern times couldn’t last forever. After all, he had outlived the Atlantians, hadn’t he?

The End.
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