Midnight Halloween reading of “The Call of Cthulhu” by H.P. Lovecraft

“The Call of Cthulhu”

H.P. Lovecraft

“The Call of Cthulhu” by H.P. Lovecraft

1934 May 11 sketch of statue icon of Old One Great God Cthulhu by HP Lovecraft author creator in short story The Call of CthulhuCosmic horror.
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However phantasmical his narratives may be, Lovecraft’s assertion that it is horrific to ponder what immensities in our universe must lie hidden from us oozes through as profoundly true.
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(R’lyeh might be the capital of North Carolina.)
⁓The Voice before the Void

“The Call of Cthulhu”

H.P. Lovecraft

Of such great powers or beings there may be conceivably a survival… a survival of a hugely remote period when… consciousness was manifested, perhaps, in shapes and forms long since withdrawn before the tide of advancing humanity… forms of which poetry and legend alone have caught a flying memory and called them gods, monsters, mythical beings of all sorts and kinds…
–Algernon Blackwood

I. The Horror in Clay

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.

Theosophists have guessed at the awesome grandeur of the cosmic cycle wherein our world and human race form transient incidents. They have hinted at strange survivals in terms which would freeze the blood if not masked by a bland optimism. But it is not from them that there came the single glimpse of forbidden eons which chills me when I think of it and maddens me when I dream of it. Continue reading

“The Man Who Found Out (A Nightmare)” by Algernon Blackwood, part 3

A weird ending… but what other ending could be possible?
⁓The Voice before the Void

“The Man Who Found Out
(A Nightmare)”

Algernon Blackwood

part 3

5

It was five o’clock, and the June sun lay hot upon the pavement. He felt the metal door-knob burn the palm of his hand.

“Ah, Laidlaw, this is well met,” cried a voice at his elbow; “I was in the act of coming to see you. I’ve a case that will interest you, and besides, I remembered that you flavoured your tea with orange leaves!—and I admit—”

It was Alexis Stephen, the great hypnotic doctor.

“I’ve had no tea to-day,” Laidlaw said, in a dazed manner, after staring for a moment as though the other had struck him in the face. Continue reading

“The Man Who Found Out (A Nightmare)” by Algernon Blackwood, part 2

Knowledge is fearsome to possess, sojourner, but take solace: you shall never possess it.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“The Man Who Found Out
(A Nightmare)”

Algernon Blackwood

part 2

3

A year passed slowly by, and at the end of it Dr. Laidlaw had found it necessary to sever his working connexion with his friend and one-time leader. Professor Ebor was no longer the same man. The light had gone out of his life; the laboratory was closed; he no longer put pen to paper or applied his mind to a single problem. In the short space of a few months he had passed from a hale and hearty man of late middle life to the condition of old age—a man collapsed and on the edge of dissolution. Death, it was plain, lay waiting for him in the shadows of any day—and he knew it.

To describe faithfully the nature of this profound alteration in his character and temperament is not easy, but Dr. Laidlaw summed it up to himself in three words: Loss of Hope. Continue reading

“The Man Who Found Out (A Nightmare)” by Algernon Blackwood, part 1

Summer Vacation Special:
A quintessential weird tale.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“The Man Who Found Out
(A Nightmare)”

Algernon Blackwood

part 1

1

Professor Mark Ebor, the scientist, led a double life, and the only persons who knew it were his assistant, Dr. Laidlaw, and his publishers. But a double life need not always be a bad one, and, as Dr. Laidlaw and the gratified publishers well knew, the parallel lives of this particular man were equally good, and indefinitely produced would certainly have ended in a heaven somewhere that can suitably contain such strangely opposite characteristics as his remarkable personality combined.

For Mark Ebor, F.R.S., etc., etc., was that unique combination hardly ever met with in actual life, a man of science and a mystic.

As the first, his name stood in the gallery of the great, and as the second—but there came the mystery! Continue reading

The Willows by Algernon Blackwood, part 8

Horror.
⁓The Voice before the Void

The Willows

Algernon Blackwood

part 8

It was my firm intention to lie awake all night and watch, but the exhaustion of nerves and body decreed otherwise, and sleep after a while came over me with a welcome blanket of oblivion. The fact that my companion also slept quickened its approach. At first he fidgeted and constantly sat up, asking me if I “heard this” or “heard that.” He tossed about on his cork mattress, and said the tent was moving and the river had risen over the point of the island; but each time I went out to look I returned with the report that all was well, and finally he grew calmer and lay still. Then at length his breathing became regular and I heard unmistakable sounds of snoring—the first and only time in my life when snoring has been a welcome and calming influence.

This, I remember, was the last thought in my mind before dozing off.

A difficulty in breathing woke me, Continue reading

The Willows by Algernon Blackwood, part 7

Climax.
⁓The Voice before the Void

The Willows

Algernon Blackwood

part 7

He had turned ashen white under the tan. He stood bolt upright in front of the fire, stiff as a rod, staring at me.

“After that,” he said in a sort of helpless, frantic way, “we must go! We can’t stay now; we must strike camp this very instant and go on—down the river.”

He was talking, I saw, quite wildly, his words dictated by abject terror—the terror he had resisted so long, but which had caught him at last.

“In the dark?” I exclaimed, shaking with fear after my hysterical outburst, but still realizing Continue reading

The Willows by Algernon Blackwood, part 6

Once you are under Blackwood’s spell, escape is impossible.
⁓The Voice before the Void

The Willows

Algernon Blackwood

part 6

“But you’re quite right about one thing,” he added, before the subject passed, “and that is that we’re wiser not to talk about it, or even to think about it, because what one thinks finds expression in words, and what one says, happens.”

That afternoon, while the canoe dried and hardened, Continue reading

The Willows by Algernon Blackwood, part 5

It is not that some things are unexplainable; it is that the explanations for some things are cognitively unacceptable.
⁓The Voice before the Void

The Willows

Algernon Blackwood

part 5

The sun was high in the heavens when my companion woke me from a heavy sleep and announced that the porridge was cooked and there was just time to bathe. The grateful smell of frizzling bacon entered the tent door.

“River still rising,” he said, “and several islands out in midstream have disappeared altogether. Our own island’s much smaller.” Continue reading

The Willows by Algernon Blackwood, part 4

Things get even weirder on the island in the Danube. Blackwood’s natural world seems wholesome, and his horror — at this point — seems mystical and entrancing.
⁓The Voice before the Void

The Willows

Algernon Blackwood

part 4

As though further to convince me that I had not been dreaming, I remember that it was a long time before I fell again into a troubled and restless sleep; and even then only the upper crust of me slept, and underneath there was something that never quite lost consciousness, but lay alert and on the watch.

But this second time I jumped up with a genuine start of terror. It was neither the wind nor the river that woke me, but the slow approach of something that Continue reading

The Willows by Algernon Blackwood, part 3

Things get weird on the island in the Danube.
⁓The Voice before the Void

The Willows

Algernon Blackwood

part 3

Suddenly I found myself lying awake, peering from my sandy mattress through the door of the tent. I looked at my watch pinned against the canvas, and saw by the bright moonlight that it was past twelve o’clock—the threshold of a new day—and I had therefore slept a couple of hours. The Swede was asleep still beside me; the wind howled as before; something plucked at my heart and made me feel afraid. There was a sense of disturbance in my immediate neighborhood.

I sat up quickly and looked out. Continue reading

The Willows by Algernon Blackwood, part 2

A summer adventure in a canoe down the Danube River…
⁓The Voice before the Void

The Willows

Algernon Blackwood

part 2

The feeling, however, though it refused to yield its meaning entirely to analysis, did not at the time trouble me by passing into menace. Yet it never left me quite, even during the very practical business of putting up the tent in a hurricane of wind and building a fire for the stew-pot. It remained, just enough to bother and perplex, and to rob a most delightful camping-ground of a good portion of its charm. To my companion, however, I said nothing, Continue reading

The Willows by Algernon Blackwood, part 1

Summer Vacation Special:
H.P. Lovecraft’s favorite story of weird horror.
⁓The Voice before the Void

The Willows

Algernon Blackwood

part 1

After leaving Vienna, and long before you come to Buda-Pesth, the Danube enters a region of singular loneliness and desolation, where its waters spread away on all sides regardless of a main channel, and the country becomes a swamp for miles upon miles, covered by a vast sea of low willow-bushes. On the big maps this deserted area is painted in a fluffy blue, growing fainter in color as it leaves the banks, and across it may be seen in large straggling letters the word Sümpfe, meaning marshes. Continue reading