Here, we jump into a story that at first glace seems to be traditional horror fare from Lovecraft. We have our monster hunter/ ghost hunter narrator (who is made to be unreliable because of his ambiguous motives. He is surrounded by death, and every person he recruits to help him dies, or mysteriously dispersal, but yet he soldiers on, for reasons unknown) who is seeking out his “Lurking Fear” whom he thinks is using an the old Martense Mansion as it’s diabolical abode.
He hires some muscle, whom he has been with before on different cases. And they go to the Mansion. While sleeping there, they disappear. Then he hires another man, and while they look out into the forest, the helper stands at the window and is unresponsive. When our narrator shakes him, thinking him asleep, he discovers that something ate his face off whilst he looked out the window.
Then our narrator is convinced that the perpetrator is the ghost of one of the previous residents of the Mansion, Jan Martense, whom supposedly died by lightning strike. Our narrator finds nothing during his exhumation except for ashes. But he does find a passageway, some deep tunnel that he sees a horrible paw of some unknown creature.
During this time there is another storm and a shack is burned to the ground. The squatters who lived there tell our narrator that a creature burned up in the shack and it had one victim. Searching the ashes, our narrator finds the squatter victim, and what looks like a human skull. Curious.
He goes back to the Mansion, and during another Thunder storm, he finds a tunnel, at the base of the chimney, and while he is standing there, hundreds and thousands of these creatures come out, some with tentacles, or just what look like tentacles. He shoots one as they exit and finds that they have the same genetic mis-colored eyes of the Martense’s.
Seems like a normal monster story, but then when we dig deeper we find that it is indeed a cosmic horror story.
The first an most obvious connection is the tentacles. This is a Lovecraftican trope, and though I haven’t seen it too much in his stories, the image of Cthulhu is enough.
The second is the fact that the monsters are Cthonic (meaning dwelling underground. Funny how that and Cthulhu are so similar, no?). The Elder Gods are buried in the earth and they await being awakened, so it bears to reason that their followers would dwell under the ground.
The final connection is in the lightning and thunder. Something that connects the heavens to the earth. The Outer Gods and the Elder Gods communicating…Or even coming to earth?
What makes all this so interesting is that, in the story, the creatures don’t begin to appear until Jan Martense is supposedly struck down by lightning. Could this be a ritual that the Martense clan had found? Did their ritual call down the lightning and thunder and transform their brood?
Provocative and fun stuff.
Join me on Thursday for a Blind Read Through of “Dagon” and let me know what you think!
This was the last story in the Del Rey edition of The Doom That Came to Sarnath, and it was a surprising one. There is a disclaimer on the first page that this story was written in conjunction with Harry Houdini, and what makes that so intriguing is that now we finally have a face for a narrator.
The story begins innocuously enough, with Houdini and his wife exploring Cairo, but progressively getting more and more bored with the watering down of the Egyptian culture in the tourism culture (this story takes place in 1910…it’s good to know that things don’t change). They find a new guide, a man named Abdul Reis el Drogman, and immediately his moniker, and thus his plausibility is called into question. “Reis” is apparently a name for someone in power. “Drogman” is apparently a “clumsy modification” of the name for the leader of the tourist parties “Dragoman”. He also looks suspiciously like a Pharaoh (This in and of itself is suspicious. How does one look like a Pharaoh? This is just Lovecraft’s clumsy, whimsical, and adorable foreshadowing).
They go around town and go on a few adventures, then they make mention that they don’t trust magic. That that has been cast down as evil. So a group of Arabs tie Houdini up (presumably to see if he can escape) and throw him down into a tomb.
Thus far this has been the longest of the stories that I’ve gone through the blind read. Throughout this story, nothing untoward had happened, and even when they throw him down the tomb, there are some strange happenings, but Houdini is in and out of consciousness, so there is a little call to unreliable narrator. Then Lovecraft comes in full force, and we see more of the creatures that Lovecraft is so known for in the last few pages. We also see one huge deity, of which we only see one single paw.
This goes along with the whole cannon of Lovecraft, I’m not sure exactly where this deity fits in yet, but it is a Cthonic creature, which follows with the established world.
This story also gives a certain credence to Lovecrafts mythos, because now it is the famous Harry Houdini who is experiencing the cosmic horror, even though the very last line, denies such experiences, by telling the audience that it was only a dream. Oddly enough this is the one story that I truly believe the narrator experienced it, specifically because he presupposes that it was a dream.
Join me again next Tuesday as I start doing a Blind Read of The Lurking Fear, also by Del Rey. We’ll jump right into the story “The Lurking Fear”