Bryan Beal

Rising Tide

©2022, Bryan Beal

Obsession is a funny thing. Not in the ha ha sense of the word, but in ways that are ironically humorous when you really get down to it. Mine landed me in the Miskatonic Asylum for the Ontologically Bereft. After months of treatment, I have finally been allowed a pen and paper on which to write the scattered thoughts of a fractured mind. That is what they will think. People only see what they are ready to see. Those with eyes to see and ears to hear will understand more. A warning. An augury of what is to come.

College days are times of youthful self expression for most. I was the one hunkered down over obscure tomes into the small hours of weekend nights between essays, reports and exams. Miskatonic University encourages the curious, even though I needed little to slake my thirsty for knowledge. I never read the infamous work of that crazed Arab writer. Even I was not that stupid. Bent over the rabid scribblings of prophets and acolytes of the Great Old Ones, I became more and more consumed by the quest for knowledge and mystical enlightenment.

The scratchings inside the walls of my dorm started about six months after I had read a little known manuscript from the Antipodes called Servants of Ry'leh. I had decided to study it because it promised to be a report on the ancient cult of Cthulhu. It turned out to be more similar to a grimoire or book of rites. Little did I know that merely uttering words aloud imbued them with power. My whispered readings had been heard, though weakly and incompletely. It was still enough to elicit a response.

The scratchings inside the walls kept up and got louder and louder with each passing night. I rarely slept and even when I did, I was awoken every hour or less. After two weeks, my friends (those who remained to me) began to comment about my pallor. I would mumble some excuse. Trevor Bainwright even suggested seeing a doctor. Advice I dismissed as an over-reaction. The sounds, like fingernails being dragged over blackboards, continued into the night, depriving me of slumber all the more. It was not a sound that one could become accustomed to.

Then the dreams began to emerge from the mists that descended during the light dozes that I managed to steal in the small hours. At first, they were impressions and etherealities, nothing more. Over the coming weeks, the dreams coalesced into more concrete forms. And more terrible visages. The immensity of the horror that reached out for me through these nightly visitations was not apparent until about the fifth week, just before All Hallows Eve.

Many cults of various kinds consider the time around All Hallows Eve one of especial closeness between this universe and others. It is precisely this time when the barriers are thinner between us and other entities that the Great Old Ones can begin to send out their calls. When I saw the disfigured monstrosity covered in tentacles and dripping black seawater, I felt my mind distend and warp. Thoughts became fragments of myself flicked into space and time. No anchor. No connection. I could feel the fingers of darkness and the silence of its summoning squeeze into and pry the parts of my self apart.

I knew it was that book. I knew also that it had been my reading aloud. Yet, I could not stop. Page after page, I read and whispered into the night.

Iä! Iä! Cthulhu fhtagn! Ph'nglui mglw'nfah Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!

Sibilant whisperings as if they were spoken in water, bubbling with menace and venom. I was later told that Trevor, worried at my absence from classes for four days, eventually found me howling the above words in an undeciphered tongue in the university's chapel crypt. More embarrassing than anything, I was said to have been utterly naked and unwashed when Trevor stumbled upon my location. What I was doing there, I have not a clue. What I was saying in those words, I have even less idea.

I was committed to this place of healing soon after my sojourn in the chapel. Cthulhu calls and waits. His return is imminent. It can be seen in our world. The seas invade the land. Land sinks into the realm of Cthulhu. Learn to swim.

#CthulhuMythos #Lovecraftian #CosmicHorror #Horror

Photo by Matt Hardy on Unsplash