The Stranger & H'chtelegoth by R.S. Cartwright

Who was this enigmatic stranger?


From shadows amidst the trees, Lawrence Whateley watched the three young people, two men and a woman. It was his fourth night of observation. Each night these three had successively stumbled toward their goal. Whateley knew they were amateurs. He could tell by their hesitant murmuring and chanting. Yet, eventually they would succeed in calling Shub-Niggurath forth from her red-litten world. Their success would solve one problem and create another even larger problem as a result. They would never be able to control Shub-Niggurath; the Black Goat of a Thousand Young would destroy them. One problem solved. The larger problem? Shub-Niggurath would be loosed upon the Earth.

Whateley sighed. Better to stop them now before they present any real danger. He crept closer, concealed amidst the shadows of the trees, until he was on the verge of the circle of light afforded by the burning torches the three novices had set up.

The three young fools continued to stumble over the unearthly words of the chant; their broken, imperfect wording echoed through the darkened woods, carried on the wind, and through the stellar ether toward the red-litten world where Shub-Niggurath dwelt. It was only a matter of time before the Great Black Goat would appear.

* * *

Through the trees a soft shimmering blue mist began to billow. The three young people softened their voices, their eyes wide, then fell silent. It's working! It really is! The young woman was convinced they had succeeded, but just as their unearthly chant had now fallen to silence amidst the trees, they had no idea their chant had already fallen to silence between the stars. Purposely so.

"It's . . . it's the Black Goat!" the woman stammered. "Shub-Niggurath is coming! Just like the book said!"

"Shut up!" one of the two men exclaimed.

The mist billowed into the circle of light. Fearful, the three young people started to back away slowly. In the shadows on the fringe of the circle, Whateley paused, then knelt next to a tree. This isn't right, his thoughts echoed. Shub-Niggurath wouldn't . . . Whateley's thoughts went mute as the blue mist began to dissipate. From tendrils of wispy smoke stepped a tall thin man. He stopped just inside the circle of torch light as the last of the mist faded away, surveyed the scene, then turned his eyes to the young people.

He was dressed in black, head to toe, a black trench coat hanging on his shoulders like curtains on a curtain rod. On his head he sported a black felt hat with a wide floppy brim. He was pale, an albino with pink eyes, with long thin, snow white hair that hung straight over his shoulders in stark contrast to the black clothing he wore.

He grinned mischievously at the young people. Their eyes were wide with fear. Evidently something had gone drastically wrong. This certainly was not Shub-Niggurath. Perhaps the wording of the chant, the unearthly phrasing of syllables that a human voice is wont to reproduce when not structured to do so. Their minds raced with unconvincing ideas, each to their own jagged thoughts as to what had gone wrong, trying to rationalize the sudden appearance of this strange man.

"I am sorry to disappoint you," the Stranger said, his voice musical, floating effortlessly on the night air. "You didn't get the chant right." He stepped toward the three young people, then stopped before them. "I know you were expecting Shub-Niggurath," he added, pausing with a sigh and a shrug of his shoulders. Smiling, he continued, "Well, I just can't allow that. You have no idea what would have happened to you had you succeeded!"

"Who . . . who are you?" the woman questioned with soft uncertainty.

The Stranger ignored her, his eyes darting to the darkened woods. There was a silence in the woods now, a deathly silence, only the crackling of the torch flame softly dancing on the night air. But more than silence, there was a presence in the darkened woods as well, a presence the Stranger could feel, could sense, someone the Stranger was well acquainted with . . . even if the presence was not well acquainted with him.

He dismissed the presence for now and turned his attention back to the three young people. "No flutes, no wind, no singing whippoorwills," he voiced his thoughts aloud, his eyes still scanning the darkened woods. Then suddenly he turned on the young woman, stepping directly before her. She was mesmerized, caught in the blazing gaze of his pink eyes. "No flutes, no wind, no singing whippoorwills," he repeated softly, a smile crawling slowly across his face. "You play a dangerous game, a game that I cannot allow you to play again."

The young woman didn't resist as the Stranger slowly raised his pale hands, resting them to each side of her head, gently covering her ears. He closed his eyes, concentrating, his thoughts passing into the young woman's mind. Her eyes went wide and she opened her mouth as if to scream, but no sound emerged.

In her brain the electrochemical connections between synapses overloaded. Electrical impulses flashed, burning through the connections. The light flashed behind her eyes as certain neurological centers of her brain died. And as the Stranger lowered his hands, the young woman slumped to her knees, a babbling infantile in the world of silence and darkness. Her memory was gone, as was her sight, hearing, and speech. Reduced to a babbling idiot, all that remained was an occasional flash of light behind her dead eyes. On her knees, she was frothing at the mouth as she babbled incoherently.

And the Stranger was grinning as he turned toward the two young men.

Whateley waited in the dark of the woods just beyond the light of the torches. This was far from what he had expected -- this man, this albino Stranger dressed in black. Whateley had fought against the Great Old Ones for better than three centuries now, and knew nearly all the chants and spells that remotely came close to summoning any of the Great Old Ones or their lesser minions. These three young people were on the right track to Shub-Niggurath, although not quite there. Still, this Stranger appeared, and Whateley knew that there was absolutely nothing in their chant that should have produced this man. Whoever or whatever this man may be.

And one after the other, the two young men met the same fate as had the young woman. The Stranger placed his hands to their heads, closed his eyes. In a matter of seconds they crumpled to their knees, babbling incoherently, their minds gone. Whateley had no idea what the Stranger had done to them, what had passed between the Stranger and these three young people. He did know, however, that the three young people certainly wouldn't make another attempt to call on Shub-Niggurath -- or anything else for that matter. But the Stranger . . . What . . . who is . . .

"You can come out now, Lawrence," the Stranger voiced commandingly as he stepped away from the three young people.

His voice was loud enough for Whateley to hear. Mildly surprised that the Stranger knew of his presence, Whateley slowly rose to his feet, his eyes locked on the Stranger. The Stranger slowly turned his head in Whateley's direction, his eyes glaring across the small clearing, sparkling in the light of the torches. He studied Whateley's face for a sign, then subtly probed his thoughts, so subtle his probing that Whateley was not aware of it. There was no fear in Whateley, a fact the Stranger already suspected. Just concern, a concern for the Stranger's sudden appearance, and confusion as to why Whateley hadn't sensed the coming of the Stranger.

The tall, pale, white-haired man suddenly smiled, amused with himself. He had planned it that way -- that no one would know of his arrival, including Whateley, until he . . . arrived. Still, Whateley's presence hadn't been counted on. The Stranger would deal with it. Whateley wouldn't be a problem.

A soft shaft of moonlight cut across Whateley's face as he entered the clearing. He slowly approached he Stranger, his thoughts turning over in his mind, trying to make sense of this sudden unexpected turn of events. Whateley glanced at the three young people sitting on the ground, rocking back and forth, babbling incoherently, and staring through sightless eyes. The Stranger followed Whateley's gaze, then turned his eyes back to Whateley as the short, stocky man stopped before the tall, pale, white-haired stranger. A look of concern suddenly erupted on the Stranger's face as he glanced momentarily at the three young people, then back at Whateley.

"Ah, come on, Larry! You don't agree with what I've done here?" the Stranger said, gesturing to the three young people. "Give me a break, will ya? You know it had to be done! You'd think these people would know better. Like they think the stars are right or something! Well, they're not!"

"What's not?" Whateley questioned.

"The stars," the Stranger replied, then added, pointing to the sky. "Look at them! They're not right. You know that!" The Stranger nonchalantly stepped next to Whateley, placed an arm around his shoulders. They turned away from the three young people, slowly walked across the clearing. "Hey Larry, you know I really didn't expect you to be here, but I did sense your presence just as soon as I . . ."

"You know me," Whateley interrupted.

"Of course I know you!" the Stranger exclaimed. "I've been watching you from . . . eh, afar, let's say, these past three hundred or so odd years that you've been around."

"Then who are yo . . ." Whateley began.

"Hey, did you know that I have a good friend who was a personal acquaintance of that young lad in your family?" the Stranger interrupted as he suddenly stopped and turned to face Whateley. The Stranger's voice was animated, excited, like a child about to reveal some deep dark secret to his friends gathered in the backyard tree house. "You know the lad I'm talking about . . . he had quite a reputation back in the late 20's . . . from Dunwich." The Stranger paused as he looked away, his eyes vacant as though he was deep in thought. "His name was, ah . . . ah, Wilbur! Yes, Wilbur Whateley!"

"Wilbur Whateley was a member of my family in name only," Whateley said calmly. "His father wasn't a Whateley."

The Stranger paused, then a slow grin crawled across his face. "Yes, I know," he said softly, almost a whisper, the faint trace of a cackle laced through the words. Then, in a lighter tone of voice, he added: "Of course, as I understand it, Lavinia was quite the woman . . . until her pregnancy."

Incensed, Whateley brushed the Stranger off. He turned away from the pale, white-haired man and slowly crossed the clearing toward the three babbling, mindless young people who were crouched where they had crumpled to the ground. The Stranger remained motionless, a smile on his face as he watched Whateley walk away. The Stranger's words had been an intentional barb, if for no more than to keep Whateley on his toes. The barb had its affect; the Stranger knew. And the Stranger's thoughts began to turn elsewhere -- a place where an event was soon to occur, an event that must be stopped.

"Lavinia was no more a Whateley than Wilbur was," Whateley growled from across the clearing, his eyes trained on the three babbling people. "By name only . . . through marriage." He paused. Deep inside he was fuming over this pale man's mention of his family, a dark chapter of his family at that. Frustrated by his lack of self-control, his inability to sense this pale man, to see into his mind, this man's avoidance of his own identity when questioned, Whateley's thoughts finally exploded. Who in the hell do you think you are! Where do you get off talking . . . "Where do you get off talking about my fam . . .," Whateley voiced his thoughts darkly as he turned to face the Stranger.

But Whateley's words fell away into silence. The Stranger was gone. Vanished. And Whateley hadn't even heard him go.

* * *

The Stranger paused in his walk through the woods. Up ahead, off to the left, was a house, an old farmhouse. He knew it well although he had never been there. He'd seen it in his mind, in his thoughts and dreams as they wove in and out of the fabric of time and space. He knew the family that lived there, the man who died just over a year before in his botched attempt to call a Great Old One forth from his lair. It had happened in a clearing near the old house, the same clearing in which an attempt was soon to be made.

This new attempt would be like any other, no different than any of the feeble attempts to draw the Great Old Ones from their dreaming exile. No matter the bumbling attempts of feeble minded humans who thirsted for power and glory, or the dream sendings of the Great Old Ones themselves, the Stranger knew they had to be stopped. Things of late were chaotic, had gotten out of control, and of all people, the Stranger knew it, understood it. It was time to put things right, to make sure things would go as planned, as destined. After all, the Stranger knew what would be, and . . . when. For now things had to be put right. It would start here -- in this small clearing near this old farmhouse.

There was an absolute stillness in the woods as the Stranger continued toward the clearing. There were no sounds, no wind, no tittering night creatures. The Stranger cackled at the thought. He knew why all had gone silent; he knew the fear of the night creatures at his passing, knew the fear that the natural order of things held for him. And his cackle turned to boisterous laughter. "At least Whateley wasn't afraid of me!" he laughed aloud, his thoughts turning momentarily to the man he had suddenly left standing in another clearing eleven miles away. "Then again, he never guessed who I am!" And the Stranger roared with laughter as he crossed the threshold of the woods into the clearing near the old farmhouse.

The clearing was awash in the soft gray light of the moon. In the center stood a large black stone altar. The Stranger grinned as he crossed the clearing to the altar. He stopped before it, paused, his eyes scanning the horrid images and symbols that were carved over its four sides. His grin turned to a wide smile. "Such exquisite workmanship," he thought aloud. He sighed contentment, and was surprised at the feeling which was rather new to him. It caused him to chuckle as he turned, hoisted himself upon the altar, and sat. He removed his wide brimmed black hat and rested it in his lap. "Well, perhaps a little entertainment," he voiced the thought softly as he peered around the clearing.

* * *

Tommy Wilkins knelt on the bank of Beaver Creek, his eyes on the placid waters rolling by, the soft moonlight glinting off its surface. Next to him stood his red-eyed goat, Shubby. There was something different about tonight, Tommy knew, and he finally realized what it was. The water of the creek rolled by, but made no sound. He stood up, glanced at the trees. No sound there either, though the bows swayed as if rocking on a soft breeze. Tommy peered around, his eyes scanning the woods. Hmph. Ain't no sound, no sound at all.

He shrugged his shoulders. "Oh well," he voiced softly as he turned away from the creek. He smiled at Shubby who seemed to smile back. "Come Shubby, let's go home." And the two of them started off through the woods toward the old Wilkins farmhouse.

Tommy's mind was deficient, enough to make him indifferent to the lack of sound in the woods. But Tommy was also special in ways that other people weren't. Tommy knew things, could sense things others couldn't. And when the mad piping of flutes and the mad beating of drums began, Tommy paused in the woods and smiled. It had been nearly a year since any sound of any kind had come from that clearing near his house, that same clearing where a little over a year before his father had attempted to call forth H'chtelegoth. But this mad piping and drumming wasn't the sound of H'chtelegoth, the music to summon him, but rather something deeper, more primal, darker . . .

Shubby was smiling again, his red eyes glaring, as Tommy looked at him. Tommy noted the intelligent awareness in Shubby's eyes. "You hear it too, Shubby," Tommy said softly, petting the goat. And Shubby's smile seemed to widen. "It ain't Heshtellagoth music like daddy used," Tommy continued. "I do knowd that much!"

And Tommy's face beamed as he and Shubby continued home.


Whateley sat in the dark of his rented mobile home. Outside, the waters of Beaver Creek trickled past. Across the creek the soft yellow lights of a few homes in the little village of Elkton flickered in the night. Whateley paid them no heed; he could care less. Humanity moved blindly on. Whateley's concerns were of an order humanity would never understand, and with this new development in Whateley's own cause, his own fight, Whateley himself hardly understood. Humanity was playing a minor role in this current pageantry. And the pale Stranger with long white hair had stolen the show.

Never in all his three hundred plus years had Whateley been taken by surprise as he had this night; never had he been so at a loss to explain things, to sort out and correlate facts. Sure, many times his cause against the Great Old Ones had taxed him, strained his abilities, caused him wonder, awe, grief, pain, humility, and triumph. There were times when he wondered if it was all worth the effort, the pain. Every time he concluded it was. He always knew the course, always knew the result would be one way or the other -- no middle ground, no unexpected turns. He'd win or lose. Cut and dry.

But this was different. This was something totally unexpected. Whateley shook his head in the darkness of his mobile home, his thoughts turning dark as he replayed the image of the pale man's sudden appearance. He had been caught unawares; never before had that happened. He always knew when something was to take place, when someone or something was near. Many times he had come up against the minions of various Great Old Ones, their worshippers, their menial slaves. He always knew of them before their appearance, their arrival. And their was Nyarlathotep, the Black God, the Messenger. Confronting the Black God had become a commonplace occurrence with Whateley, almost to be expected. When something was soon to happen, Nyarlathotep, no doubt, was near and involved. Although antagonists, Nyarlathotep and Lawrence Whateley had become quite familiar with one another.

Not so with this Stranger. This pale, white-haired man Whateley didn't know. He couldn't sense the Stranger, couldn't read his thoughts, couldn't see into his mind. This man seemed aloof, carefree, jovial to a point, and deadly serious when called for. The destruction of the three young people was a signature of his seriousness. And stop them he did. Is his fight my fight? Whateley thought. I really don't know. And as his thoughts became more and more confused, Whateley realized that he was truly lost on the point. This man had come, avoided questions to his identity, and perhaps most importantly of all, he knew of Whateley's presence in the shadows bordering the clearing -- evidently able to sense Whateley's presence when Whateley couldn't sense him.

Exasperated, Whateley slammed his closed fists on the arms of the wing-back chair he sat in. "Dammit!" he voiced his frustration, trying to clear his thoughts for a fresh approach to his reasoning. He sighed, turning soft and calculated, as he gave voice to his thoughts, "Something is going on here that I . . ."

A sudden knock on the back door of his mobile home interrupted his train of thought. His head bolted toward the darkened hallway, his eyes wide. Who would be here at this hour, at my back door? I have no acquaintances . . . The knock sounded again as Whateley slowly rose from the chair. He paused, looking down the darkened hallway, then crossed the small living room and into the hallway, turning on the hallway light as he passed by the switch.

His thoughts reached through the door into the surrounding dark night. Although he could sense the people of Elkton all around him, Whateley could sense no one just beyond his back door. That mere fact alone gave him minor cause for concern. Someone had to be there, whomever knocked, and Whateley had a fairly good idea. And as he swung the door open, his idea was confirmed. Standing there in the shadows was the Stranger.

The Stranger smiled as Whateley stared down at him. "Hi, Larry. I hope you don't mind . . . I was in the neighborhood, so I . . .," the Stranger's voice trailed off as he noted the discomfort in Whateley's thoughts. He frowned, then added, "Hey, I may be pale, but I can assure you that I'm no ghost. Aren't you going to ask me in?" And his grin returned as he cocked his head sideways.

"Ah . . . yeah, come in," Whateley said softly as he shook the cobwebs free from his strangled thoughts.

The Stranger stepped up the two stairs, through the back door, and into the hallway. "Do you believe in them? Ghosts I mean?" he said as Whateley closed the door.

"I've never given the matter any serious thought," Whateley replied stoically, glancing up at the Stranger. For the first time Whateley realized just how tall the Stranger was, his head nearly touching the ceiling of the hallway. A good head taller than Whateley; the Stranger's presence, though thin and pale, was imposing.

The Stranger's eyes brightened as he nodded. "Indeed," he chuckled in response to Whateley's comment, then let the subject drop.

Whateley remained indifferent, trying to compose himself in the face of the Stranger, trying to hide his thoughts that he knew the Stranger could easily see through. He turned and led the Stranger down the short hallway to the small living room. He turned on a living room light, glanced at the Stranger, and gestured to a small couch along one wall.

The Stranger smiled as he glanced at the couch, then took a seat. He took off his wide-brimmed black hat, holding it between his legs as he leaned forward. He glanced at the hat as he turned it over in his hands, his disposition one of contemplation. "It does look better on me than it does those fish things, don't you think?" he was nonchalant, staring at his hat.

"Fish things?" Whateley questioned softly as he sat in his wing-back chair.

A grin crawled across his face as he glanced at Whateley. "Why the Deep Ones, of course. This hat; it looks better on me than it does them. You know, many of them wear hats like this."

"Just who the hell are yo . . .," Whateley's guard was breaking, irritation beginning to show.

"Ah yes, hell," the Stranger interrupted, reading Whateley's discomfort. "The place of eternal torment in Christian theology. You know, in some Christian circles they believe that the Son of God is God; God incarnate, come to earth in human form. Silly proposition, don't you think?"

"My immediate concern has nothing to do with Christian theology," Whateley's words were soft, but stern.

"And your immediate concern is?" the Stranger replied with a smile.

"Why are you here?" Whateley questioned, raising his voice slightly.

The Stranger sighed as he sat back, set his hat down next to him, and draped an arm over the back of the couch. "You remember Jacob Wilkins?" the Stranger questioned, his voice soft, his tone serious.

"H'chetelegoth," Whateley voiced the thought softly, his eyes staring and vacant.

"Yes," the Stranger replied. "And as I recall, you had a hand in bringing that little episode to a close. Nice work."

"But Wilkins is dead," Whateley replied, turning his attention back to the Stranger.

"Yes, Wilkins is dead. H'chtelegoth is not."

"H'chtelegoth was sent back," Whateley said coolly.

"Temporarily," the Stranger replied. He paused as if in thought, then continued as he leaned forward again, a soft harshness in his voice. "There is another, an . . . associate, shall we say?, of Wilkins'. Another attempt is going to be made to bring H'chtelegoth to this plane. I know when it will happen, and where. That is why I am here. To stop it from happening, and to tell you to stay away. Do not get involved."

"You know this for sure?" Whateley was surprised. "When and where? How do you know
. . .?"

"Let's just say that I have my own special gifts," the Stranger interrupted, smiling.

"That's an understatement," Whateley quipped.

"Just as you have yours," the Stranger said, ignoring Whateley's statement. The Stranger paused as he rose from the couch and walked to Whateley's desk. On the desk were Whateley's handwritten notes on the Altuas Fragments. Whateley sat quietly, watching as the Stranger paged through the notes. The Stranger nodded, mumbled under his breath, then turned to Whateley again. "I must admit that you are very thorough in your research. And it's not only that which your read."

"Pardon?" Whateley questioned, confused.

"Your work," the Stranger began, turning back to Whateley's notes. "You are thorough in your fight against the Great Old Ones. But not only in your research. I've already mentioned your gifts . . . a power for reasoning, foresight, and I know you have the capacity to . . . sense things, shall we say? No doubt you will know when the attempt to summon H'chtelegoth begins. Again, do not get involved."

"You ask the impossible," Whateley was incredulous. "You say you know me, then you know I just can't sit idly by and let things happen . . .!"

The Stranger's mind suddenly sensed a presence, dark and menacing, that had caught his attention, fading the words Whateley had spoken. Still, the Stranger caught the trailing end of Whateley's comment. He paused in his review of Whateley's notes, raising his head slowly, keying his thoughts on the presence, masking them at the same time so the presence would not be aware of his probing mind.

A sly and devious smile slowly crawled across the Stranger's face. The presence he knew well, knew it would have arrived sooner or later. It was only a matter of time. The scenario was playing out the way the Stranger expected -- thus far at least. The Stranger was sure that Whateley had felt it as well. And now it was time to go, time to let the presence manifest itself to Whateley as the Stranger knew it would. He grinned as he turned to face Whateley, searching Whateley's mind for a glimmer of awareness of the presence. It was there as the Stranger knew it would be.

"Well, I hate to cut and run," the Stranger chuckled. "But I must go."

"Another disappearing act?" Whateley questioned as he watched the Stranger walk to the couch to retrieve his hat.

The Stranger picked up his hat, plopped it on his head. He was smiling still as he turned to Whateley. "No, I'll just leave the way I came. Through your back door."

Whateley rose to escort the Stranger to the back door. "You still haven't said who you are, how you know me," Whateley said as he followed the Stranger down the short hall to the door.

At the door the Stranger paused, turning to face Whateley. His smile was gone. "You'll know, sooner or later," the Stranger replied, his voice soft, dark. "Remember what I've said. Do not get involved." And he opened the door and was gone into the night before Whateley had time to reply.

"In a hurry," Whateley voiced his thoughts. He smiled as he closed the door. In a hurry the Stranger was, and Whateley knew why. It was the presence he had felt, and was certain the Stranger had felt it too. Whether or not the Stranger recognized the presence, Whateley didn't know, but he had certainly recognized the probing thoughts of Nyarlathotep. Many times they had crossed paths, so much so that Whateley could easily recognize Nyarlathotep's presence when he was near.

A pall fell over Whateley's mobile home as he returned to the small living room. The shadows were deeper, the darkness darker. An oppressive feeling of foreboding descended on Whateley -- the same old signs. But he shrugged it off momentarily, knowing Nyarlathotep would manifest himself. As Whateley sat in his chair, the light he had turned on with the arrival of the Stranger suddenly dimmed, but didn't go out. Instead, it shown with a soft eerie luminescence that filtered through the living room, casting oblique shadows which danced across the wall.

One shadow moved, shifted position. Whateley glanced toward the couch where the Stranger had sat minutes earlier. In the soft feeble light of the dimmed lamp, Whateley could clearly see the form sitting there, towering toward the ceiling, the soft shimmer of the scarlet cloak. Whateley leaned forward, shifting his position for comfort, and smiled at Nyarlathotep.

"Well, at least he, whoever he is, had the sense to knock and enter through a door," Whateley said, the comment meant as a barb.

"Who is this pale man who speaks of H'chtelegoth?" Nyarlathotep's voice was deep, resonating.

Whateley's eyes went wide with surprise. "You could not read his thoughts? You do not know?" He suddenly broke out in relieved laughter, realizing that if Nyarlathotep could not read this Stranger, then his own inability to do so was simply a minor imposition. Although it still aggravated him, Whateley was sure that Nyarlathotep's aggravation far surpassed his own. "I'll just bet you're fit to be tied," Whateley added, still laughing.

"The pale man spoke the truth!" Nyarlathotep roared, his sudden anger cutting through Whateley's laughter. "Neither you nor he shall stop H'chtelegoth this time."

Whateley's laughter stopped abruptly, a mask of seriousness crawling across his face. "This time?" His words were soft, deliberate. "You are the one the Stranger spoke about. It was you that aided Jacob Wilkins . . ."

"That time is past," Nyarlathotep said as he flowed to his feet, his cloak billowing about him. "H'chtelegoth shall come. You and your pale friend stay out of my way."

Whateley remained in the chair, looking up at Nyarlathotep. Nyarlathotep stood in front of the couch, leaning forward, taller than the ceiling. Whateley sighed as he sat back, then grinned at Nyarlathotep. "This stranger shows up planning to stop H'chtelegoth, and tells me to stay away. You show up planning on calling H'chtelegoth through his gate, and you tell me to stay away," Whateley chuckled. "I'm beginning to feel I'm not wanted!"

"Heed my words . . ." Nyarlathotep said, the words fading as his cloak began to as well.

Whateley jumped to his feet as he noticed Nyarlathotep beginning to fade. "You sure you don't want to use the door?"

Nyarlathotep ignored Whateley, and in seconds he was gone. Whateley stared at the spot where Nyarlathotep had stood, then sighed. His mind and heart were lightened somewhat with the knowledge that Nyarlathotep could no more read into the mind of the Stranger than he could. He chuckled momentarily, thinking about it. "Well, hmph, I'm not the only one," he voiced his thoughts on the matter.

* * *

The Stranger stood softly laughing in the dark near the creek just beyond Whateley's mobile home. He enjoyed his ability to know what others could not know, to sense others, read their thoughts, and they having no knowledge of his probing mind. It was almost like a game to him now. He felt like a child with mastery over his childhood friends, like a cat playing a game of cat and mouse. What they didn't know, and he did, pleased him most of all. And that was the thought that they had no idea as to his true identity. It made him laugh even harder. If they only knew.

"Oh, in time, you will, all of you will know," he forced his thoughts through his laughter. "And you, my friend -- Nyarlathotep, Messenger of the Great Old Ones, how dare your arrogance! Nothing will stop you this time, you say? That's what you think, my friend." And there in the shadows along Beaver Creek, the Stranger rolled with mad maniacal laughter, his laughter echoing through the night. But no one heard him; he planned it so.


© 2000 Edward P. Berglund
"The Stranger & H'chtelegoth": © 1999 R.S. Cartwright. All rights reserved. Reprinted from the Arkham Shadows website.
Graphics © 1999-2000 Erebus Graphic Design. All rights reserved. Email to: James V. Kracht.

Created: May 16, 2000; Current Update: August 9, 2004