The Key of Shub-Niggurath by Fred S. Lubnow and Steve Maschuck

Sometime a key is not just a key.

I will try to tell my story in its entirety; however, I don't know how much longer I will be able to type. The changes are coming faster and faster and I'm afraid I won't be human much longer. Hell, I may not even be human now.

It all started about a year ago when my Uncle Abe died. He was a funny sort of guy. He never married and did a lot of traveling. We use to visit him during the summer and around Christmas when we were kids. Uncle Abe had a huge old house in the Appalachian Mountains of central Pennsylvania. It seemed like he was traveling all the time, but Uncle Abe always made it home for the summer and Christmas for my sister and I to visit him.

Uncle Abe had a lot of bizarre things in his house. Skulls, some that were human and others that didn't "look" human, antiques of all kinds, strange books, ancient artifacts and scientific equipment of all kinds. He even had a mummy in the basement. As a kid, Uncle Abe's house was treasure trove. Each time I visited I found something strange that caught my attention and imagination. And Uncle Abe helped to fuel the fire. He use to tell my sister and I stories of the places he traveled to and the adventures he had. It was hard to tell when Uncle Abe crossed the boundary between fact and fiction with his stories.

I use to ask Uncle Abe what he did for a living. He said he was a scientist and a collector of unique things. Whenever I asked him more questions about his work, like who paid him or did he work for a company, he would just laugh and change the subject.

Once I started college in North Carolina, I stopped visiting Uncle Abe; however, we did periodically stay in touch through letters. Uncle Abe never owned a computer so e-mail was certainly out of the question. After college I started my graduate work at the University of Maine. I was going to visit Uncle Abe for a month the summer before I was to begin my graduate work, but I received a summer scholarship to conduct some research at Woods Hole. I completed my summer research in time for the fall semester and subsequently moved to Maine. Two weeks into my first year at the University of Maine, Uncle Abe died.

No one saw my uncle's body. According to Abe's instructions, his body was immediately cremated. The funeral was small, just the family and a few of his friends and business contacts.

Life continued and in early October, as the leaves began to fall to the ground, I received a package from Uncle Abe's attorney. It contained a small wooden box and a letter. The letter was a series of detailed instructions from my Uncle Abe. Since I am sure I do not have much time, I will paraphrase the letter here.


It should be quite obvious that if you are reading this I am deceased. While our frequent conversations on the afterlife have always been amusing and informative, by now I know what lies in the great beyond. That is, assuming, I am still a sentient being that can recognize my surroundings. In any event, within the next few days you should receive from the lawyers all of the required paperwork to govern my estate. (Make sure those scoundrels work for their money. They cost a fortune!)

It should be no surprise to you nor the other members of the family that I would leave the majority of my collection and other material possessions to you, since you were like the son I never had. Therefore, I do not expect anyone to contest the will (being of sound mind and what's left of my body, etc. . . .). While all of the items from my collection, as well as other more mundane knickknacks and necessities, have been duly noted and cataloged, there is one item of antiquity that the lawyers know nothing about, which is what this note is about.

I was the last of five people who knew this alien artifact was on Earth. By now we are all dead and you are the only one. The item in question is a key. This key opens a portal for an entity of incredible power. Its name is Shub-Niggurath and its power originates from fecundity: the desire and need to reproduce. Its sole purpose of existence is to reproduce, to create a habitat and environment conducive to the Old Ones. The spawn or dark ones of Shub-Niggurath, the entity's offspring, provide the base of the "ecological" food web for the Old Ones. By now I am sure you are completely confused.

At this point you are obviously curious about Shub-Niggurath and want to know more. Indeed, I have conducted an extensive amount of research on Shub-Niggurath and all of my notes and books are in the library. You are more than welcome to review all of this material. However, before you do so, I both demand and beg that you study my notes on mental exercises before you read the literature on Shub-Niggurath. Like all of the Old Ones, Shub-Niggurath can have a undetected yet substantial influence on the human mind. Therefore, to prevent any unwanted "psychic attacks" I have compiled a series of mental exercises from a wide variety of cultures that will serve as a defense. These mental exercises have saved my life many times and I assure you that the reason why I died of natural causes is because I took my responsibilities seriously. These responsibilities are now yours. I am sorry for putting this burden on your; however, the seriousness of this lifelong task was so important that I had to pick someone who I could absolutely trust and who is capable of handling it. I am confident that someone is you.

Stephen, you have known me your entire life and you know I am not insane. Even up to my death you know through my letters that I did not suffer from any sort of mental disease or disorder such as Alzheimer's. You also know that I have shown you things that can not be explained by current views of science and technology. Therefore, I employ you to take my warning seriously and guard the key with your life. As long as no one, and I mean NO ONE, knows it is on this Earth, we are safe.

Your first task, which may take several years, is to find someone in the world who is intelligent and open-minded enough to deal with the burden I have just placed on you. I do not mean to sound grim; however, if something should happen to you, a "back-up" or "replacement" so to speak, needs to be in order. Your next task is to begin on the mental exercises outlined in my notes. The notebook is in the bottom left-hand drawer of my desk. I suggest you begin the exercises immediately. Remember, master the exercises BEFORE you begin to delve into the text on Shub-Niggurath. I know you can do this Stephen. I have complete faith in you.

Your now deceased Uncle Abe

I always knew my uncle was a bit eccentric, but now I was convinced he was completely off his rocker! True, my uncle was associated with a few case studies and investigations on the paranormal that could not be explained by conventional science, however, alien gods from another dimension planning to take over the world through reproduction? My uncle had to be suffering from some sort of mental illness before his death. At least, that's what I thought at the time. Now I know better.

After receiving the package, I immediately took the rest of the semester off and moved into my uncle's house to put his estate into order.

* * *

Oh God, I lost another finger . . . its getting harder to concentrate as well as type . . . I . . . soon the process will be complete . . . I must finish my story before that happens.

* * *

With leaving graduate school and moving to my uncle's house in Central Pennsylvania, I really had no opportunity to closely examine the wooden box and the "key" it contained until I was settled. However, once I had the time to inspect the key, a number of questions plagued my mind.

If this "key" was so important, why did my uncle wait until he was dead before providing me with the necessary information required for its care? Should he have told me about the key years ago, just in case he met with an untimely and unexpected death? Also, why would he place the fate of the entire world in the hands, at least temporarily, of a lawyer? And not even tell the lawyer! Why has he never mentioned, even cryptically or in the form of a metaphor, Shub-Niggurath before? And then there was the key itself.

I lifted the top off the wooden box and looked inside. The key was wrapped in purple velvet. I removed the velvet and to my surprise there was no key. Instead, a chunk of hardened amber was in its place. Now I was absolutely convinced that the old man was playing a practical joke on me from beyond the grave.

I held the amber up to the light to see if a prehistoric insect or scorpion was encased inside. Peering into the amber, I did not see a key of any type. Instead, the item encased within the amber appeared to be some sort of ring. I couldn't make out much detail; however, it did in fact look like a ring; a small metal ring. Now I was completely confused. My uncle's letter stated that the box contained a key, so if he was playing a trick on me and constructed this chunk of amber, why not put an actual key in the amber instead of a ring?

After toying with the "key" for about five to ten minutes, I decided to turn in and start reviewing the mental exercises my uncle had recommended first thing in the morning. At the time part of me was convinced that my uncle was playing some grand practical joke from beyond the grave; however, a part of me understood to take him very seriously.

That night I had very bizarre dreams. Although the dreams were very strange and disturbing, I would not call them nightmares. That first night I dreamt I was moving through a dense forest, following some chanting I could hear in the distance. I had no idea where I was or where I was going; the only thing I knew was that I had to follow the chanting. Something compelled me to move toward the chanting. After what seemed to be hours of traveling I noticed an opening in the forest. When I reached the edge of a clearing, I saw what appeared to be a large stone altar with figures all around the structure. I call them figures because I don't know what else to call them. They were not human, although most of them faintly resembled humans. The best description may be creatures from Greek and Roman Mythology. Satyrs, nymphs, dryads, centaurs and other strange creatures were moving around the altar chanting. I can't remember the exact wording of the chants, however, some of the phases sounded like a distorted version of old Latin.

For the rest of the dream I stood at the edge of the clearing, watching the creatures move around the altar, chanting the same words over and over. Then, just before I woke up, they all stopped chanting and turned to look straight at me. The next thing I knew, I was in my bed.

The strange dreams only sparked my interest in the key and the next morning I immediately dove into the mental exercises my Uncle demanded I learn before I study the elder lore of Shub-Niggurath. Unfortunately, to my Uncle's disappointment, my will power and attention was not as strong as he hoped. After a few days I became restless and bored with the mental exercises. My mind would constantly drift back to the strange key encased in a chunk of amber. The dreams did not help either. Every night since I first examined the key I had the same dream. I was in a forested glen with all kinds of strange mythological beings dancing, chanting and performing unspeakable acts of pagan lust and desire. The only difference in the dreams was that each night the "ritual" or "act" the beings were performing appeared to progress a little further. To what end I did not know -- but, whatever God or gods exist, help me, for now I know.

On the fourth evening the beings in the wooden glen completed their ritual. Once finished, they all turned to look at me; however, this time I did not awake. Instead I watched as a rather large satyr with glowing green eyes approached me with a book in his clawed hands. The satyr handed me a book and whispered in my ear, "Now you know the way and will of Shub-Niggurath. Become the key and unlock the gate. It is the will of her, mother of all."

To my utter amazement I awoke not in my bed, but in the large stuffed chair in my Uncle's library. I was somewhat confused and disoriented at being in the library, since I distinctly remember going to sleep in the bed. I should have known then and there that I was only being manipulated by powers beyond human understanding, for lying on my lap was a book. And the book looked exactly like the book the strange satyr gave me in my dream!

I only wish that I would have taken that as a sign to destroy the key and leave my Uncle's house; however, I weakly rationalized the situation as an unusual case of sleep walking. The dream must have guided me downstairs to retrieve a book from my Uncle's library. I examined the book as the first rays of dawn began to filter into the library. Indeed, it was one of the volumes my Uncle requested I read after I complete the mental exercises. The temptation was too great. Actually, what temptation? It was a book for God's sake, only a book! What harm in skimming through a few pages? I did not know it at the time, but this moment sealed my fate.

The book didn't have a title and I have already destroyed it by burning it in the fire and throwing its ashes into the autumn winds. I pray to whatever God will hear me that its contents will no longer do any damage. The book appeared to be the notebook of a gentleman by the name of Howard Machen and was published in 1887. Specifically, it was a collection of notes on Shub-Niggurath. Apparently, Mr. Machen devoted his entire adult life studying Shub-Niggurath and this notebook was his "treatise" on the strange and horrible entity. I certainly have no time to delve into the findings of his life long research; however, I will briefly summarize select portions of his data, to serve as a warning on how forbidden knowledge can ruin one's life.

The majority of the book was a compilation of information on Shub-Niggurath, gathered from cultures from all over the world. Based on the majority of these mythologies, Shub-Niggurath was suppose to be some sort of alien god of fertility. She was said to be worshipped by the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Druids and American Indians. Other people or cultures were mentioned that I did not recognize. One of these, which happened to stay in my mind due to its unusual name, was the Tcho-Tchos. Shub-Niggurath was known by several other names including Shupnikkurat and "the Outer God of Fertility"; however, whatever name this god or entity was known as, all cultures also knew her as "the Goat of the Woods" or the "Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young." I could see how druids living in pre-Christian times could refer to a fertility god as a goat of a thousand young; however, I found it particularly strange that ancient Egyptians would use the same reference. While it is most certainly possible that the myth or idea of Shub-Niggurath was spread by the explorers of the day, Mr. Machen's personal theory on the matter went on about the transfer of dreams through disciples of Shub-Niggurath. Such dreams were said to transcend both time and space, meaning that a disciple could at anywhere, at anytime, communicate to other disciples or to those "susceptible" to psychic influence through their dreams.

I read of the thousand young of Shub-Niggurath and of her "twin blasphemies," Nug and Yeb. Cults, both human and non-human, worshipped Shub-Niggurath and her unlimited capacity to reproduce and breed. One account obtained from an obscure tribe located in the mountains of Peru, claimed that reproduction of the thousand young was absolutely necessary prior to the coming of the "Old Ones." This account stated that the thousand young were food or fertilizer for the Old Ones and that the success or failure of their return was entirely dependent upon the availability of this food produced by Shub-Niggurath.

Another concept on Shub-Niggurath, which seemed directly applicable to me, was the Gof'nm Hupagh. Apparently, the Gof'nm Hupagh were worshippers of Shub-Niggurath who were selected to be emissaries for the Old Ones to this world. Once summoned, one of Shub-Niggurath's "Dark Young" would devour the chosen ones and regurgitate them in a transformed state. Apparently, these transformed worshippers would no longer be human but instead would be some type of sylvan creature from classical mythology. Reading this immediately brought to mind my strange dreams. Was I dreaming of the Gof'nm Hupagh and, if so, why? Was it just an incredible coincidence that I was dreaming of the same subject that I just now found in a book or did I perhaps read about the Gof'nm Hupagh earlier and it just slipped my mind? Now I know the horrible truth and its too late to do anything about it. . . .

As I continued to read the Treatise of Shub-Niggurath, I began to realized that most of Mr. Machen's theories were closer to a set of story drafts for weird fiction than a series of scientific hypotheses. The only hypothesis I found to have some degree of credibility was that the theme of Satan visiting a witches Sabbath in the form of a goat may have stemmed from Christian missionaries trying to convince the Celts that their pagan beliefs were evil.

Another one of Mr. Machen's hypotheses was that all of England's myths and legends on the "little people," such as fairies, gnomes and dwarves, originated from dreams being sent from Shub-Niggurath to humanity. According to Machen, it provided the fertility god with a means of using man's fears and desires to communicate with him. The purpose of this communication was to provide humanity with guidance in the development of cults designed to bring Shub-Niggurath and its "young" into our world.

* * *

Over the next few days I became more and more obsessed with the key. My dreams were becoming more vivid and almost seemed real. Toward the end of this period, it was difficult for me to separate so-called reality from dreams. I tried to master the meditation and breathing exercises my Uncle left for me, but I could not concentrate. I began to read more of Machen's work. I read about how Shub-Niggurath could be summoned through a series of strange pagan rituals that must be conducted on a properly consecrated altar, on May Eve. I still shudder at the mechanical description on how to properly "consecrate" an altar for the summoning of Shub-Niggurath. . . .

I was absolutely obsessed with the key. Days melted into nights and back into days. All I did was read and study about the key and its power, as well as the global mythology of Shub-Niggurath. If I had only spent this time studying the exercises my Uncle had provided, I would not be in my currently horrible state of being.

Each dream over the course of these nights was the same. The woodland minions begging me to open the way with the key. They told me the Fertility Ceremonies could not begin until I unlocked the way for Shub-Niggurath. Any time I would ask them questions about the key or how to unlock the way, they would only scream and chant louder, "The key! Use the key!" Every morning I would wake up completely frustrated and would immediately resume my investigations into Shub-Niggurath.

One evening, while studying a particularly old tome I found in my Uncle's library, I came across a series of chants called the Dto Chon of Leng. Apparently, these incantations were designed to beg Shub-Niggurath to "clear the unclean earth of its poisons" and "allow Shub-Niggurath to populate the soil with her seed for a good harvest." Based on my interpretation, these chants were the fabrication of some ancient Greek society, asking Shub-Niggurath for a blessing on their crops. I don't know why, but I began to closely study and memorize these chants. Into the wee hours of the morning I poured over the chants, murmuring them to myself. I truly believe that these chants prepared me for my horrible fate.

That night, one of the satyrs approached me in my dreams. He was much taller than I imagined, being almost seven feet tall. The creature handed me a club covered in strange runes. The satyr commanded me to smash the amber and release the key. I stood there, staring at the club in his clawed hands.

"Take it!" shouted the satyr. "Seize the chance to become her gateway to your world!"

I looked up and into the satyr's face. His eyes were a bright red. This time he whispered, "Take it. It is time for a new beginning, a new cycle. It is up to you my friend."

I took the club out of his hands. He smiled and said, "It can now begin my friend." That was the last time I ever saw him or any of the other creatures in my dreams. In fact, that was the last dream I ever had.

* * *

I'll never forget this. I awoke the next morning lying on the basement floor of my Uncle's house! The overhead lights were on, so I could easily observe the bizarre scene before me. Approximately six feet from where I was lying was a sledgehammer and about ten feet beyond that were the shattered remains of the amber artifact. I could not believe this. Did I shatter the amber with the sledgehammer in my sleep? Is it possible to perform such a strenuous task while sleeping? Was the throbbing and pulsing in my head a physical manifestation of the stress I exerted while trying to break apart the amber artifact?

I suddenly remembered the "key" was entombed in the amber. At that point in time the strangeness of the situation seemed trivial. I got onto my hands and knees and began to search the floor for the key. Now that the amber was shattered, I would be able to closely examine the key. Unfortunately, none of my uncle's warnings entered my mind. The only thing I could think of was the key of Shub-Niggurath.

Quickly scanning the floor, the key was nowhere in sight. However, after a few minutes, I found it underneath a metal storage locker. I stood up and held the key to the fluorescent light. As I mentioned before, it looked more like a ring than a key. It was gold in color with strange lettering or runes on both the inside and outside of the band. The lettering on the ring did not even remotely resemble any current or ancient language familiar to me.

Without hesitation, and apparently without thought, I slipped the "key" on my right-hand ring finger. Pain immediately seized my hand. Intense, sharp pain. I tried to pull the key off, only to exacerbate the pain. I held my hand up to the light and closely examined it while trying to hold my balance. I noticed that a series of extremely thin, tiny needles entered my ring finger from the key. Although I couldn't see it, I could feel some type of liquid enter my body from the needles. It felt like molten lava was being pumped into my blood vessels. I screamed in pain and fell to the ground, clutching my hand. The pain was now slowly spreading from my hand up into my arm. I thought the key was poisoning me and I knew I had to cut my finger off.

I struggled to my knees and started to crawl toward the work bench on the far side of the room, still clutching my hand. Pushing myself up to my knees and using the work bench for support, I grabbed a handsaw, prepared to cut my own ring finger off to stop the intense pain. However, just as I was about to start cutting my own flesh, the pain stopped and the key slipped right off my finger.

I stood there for a good ten minutes, just staring at my finger and the key on the floor. Although there was no blood, a line of bright red pin pricks circled my finger where the key had been. I wrapped my finger up in some paper towels and carefully picked up the key by its outer edge. The needles were no longer visible. Upon closer inspection I saw no holes nor openings for the needles along the inner band of the key. I wrapped the key in another paper towel and raced upstairs.

Once on the first floor, I went into the study and I opened my uncle's safe. The combination was given to me by the lawyer; however, until that moment I had never bothered to open it. I was so nervous and upset over the incident in the basement that it took five tries before I finally opened the safe. The only item in it was the deed to the house. I threw the key in the safe and slammed it closed. I was shaking all over and sweating profusely. The sun was just coming up in the east, bathing the entire house in a strange purple glow. In shear exhaustion I stumbled into the parlor, fell on the couch and immediately slipped into a dreamless slumber. It was the first time since I moved into the house that I did not dream of those pagan rituals or that sinister forest.

When I awoke, the air still had the same purple glow. At first I thought I was only asleep for a few minutes, that is until I realized that the sunlight was entering the parlor from the western window. I obviously had slept the entire day away. I sat up, sighed and realized I was hungry. I decided to make myself a sandwich and went into the bathroom to wash up.

As I turned the hot and cold water on, I looked down and noticed tiny red strings on the ring finger of my right hand. The strings were in the exact place where I had had the red pin prick markings. I tried to wipe them off, but to no avail. I tried pulling one off which resulted in an intense wave of pain shooting up my arm, similar to the kind experienced earlier that morning when I slipped the "key" onto my finger. Then to my absolute horror, I noticed that the tiny red strings were moving!

It was no illusion, nor was it wind blowing through the house. Once I stopped trying to wipe or pull them off, the red strings (or cilia?) began to beat or pulse like the tentacles on a sea anemone. I was in shock and just stood there, watching the little red tentacles move back and forth in synchronicity as if they were passively being tossed back and forth through ocean currents. I felt sick and dizzy so I grabbed onto the side of the sink. I slowly drew my head up to the mirror and to my dismay I had the same tiny red strings on my left cheek!

There must have been about one hundred of those dam strings on my cheek, beating and undulating in unison. I began to cry and threw up in the sink. It was the key. The key that looked like a ring. It did this to me. I somehow stumbled into the parlor, fell onto the couch and drifted into unconsciousness.

* * *

After that first day things only got worse. In addition to tiny red string cropping up all over my body, I began to develop patches of skin that consistently oozed a yellow, viscous substance. The substance was sort of like a bright yellow, watered-down pus. The palms of my hands produced the largest amount of this yellow liquid. I had to constantly wipe my hands with paper towels. Besides the red strings and yellow ooze, the shape of my head actually began to alter. Unlike the other changes, this one was a little more subtle. Yet, nevertheless, if I stared in the mirror long enough, I could actually see my head elongate vertically.

Besides monitoring the changes my body was going through, I spent the day studying my uncle's books with a particular emphasis placed on Machen's Treatise of Shub-Niggurath. I was looking for something, anything, that could tell me about a key or ring. I also scanned the book for any information on the symptoms I was exhibiting. I found nothing. The closest piece of information I found was a description of the Gof'nm Hupagh; however, my symptoms were nothing like those described for the Gof'nm Hupagh.

Apparently, once a worshipper was deemed "worthy," one of the avatar's or "Dark Young" of Shub-Niggurath would actually swallow the worshipper whole and regurgitate him up in a modified form. According to Machen, the Dark Young were huge creatures with three large hoofed legs, with a series of mouths along their torso and a number of tentacles sprouting from the top, where their head should be.

The modified worshipper who was transformed into the Gof'nm Hupagh was typically described as a person with horns, claws and hoofs, a description very similar to many of the beings I observed in my dreams. I again wondered, is this the basis for the ancient myths and legends on satyrs and dryads? Was Pan merely a servant of Shub-Niggurath?

I do not recall ever having contact with one of the Dark Young in my dreams, much less being eaten and thrown up by a giant creature covered in tentacles. Also, my physical changes did not involve horns and hoofs; instead my mutations were more erratic and alien. Finally, how could I be one of the chosen ones if I had never even heard of Shub-Niggurath until I moved into my Uncle's house. Clearly, I was not becoming a Gof'nm Hupagh.

* * *

The physiological rate of change was accelerating and in a state of panic I drove myself to the hospital in town. This was approximately four days after I was "infected" by the key. At this point I could feel my entire body mutating and attributed this to some acute form of cancer. (Cancer indeed! I only wish it was cancer!).

I vaguely remember limping into the emergency room, my overcoat completely buttoned up to hide my external deformities. It was about nine o'clock at night and it was raining, so the wide brim hat I had on, covering most of my face and head, did not necessarily look out of place. I shambled over to the receptionist and complained of several ailments, stating that I needed to see a doctor right away. Now that I look back at the series of events that had lead up to the present, I truly feel this was the only time I was sane through the duration of my metamorphosis.

It was actually a slow night in the ER, only a few people were sitting in the waiting area, so the receptionist said a doctor would be with me shortly. She then asked if I had any health insurance. I quickly rummaged through my pocket, produced my wallet and handed her my HMO card. I handed it to her so quickly that I didn't realize I gave her a little more than the card. At this point in my metamorphosis, I began to excrete copious amounts of the yellow substance from my finger tips and the card was covered with this material. The nurse immediately wiped the material off of her hand with a tissue and told me to take a seat. She said a doctor would be with me as soon as possible.

I assume the yellow substance resulted in the quick response to my request to see a doctor. In spite of the fact that there were about four people ahead of me, the nurse brought the doctor over to see me. She was beautiful. She had shoulder-length blonde hair and deep blue eyes. She smiled at me and said, "Hello Mr. Lockman, I'm Doctor Barnes. Would you like to come with me so we can check you out?"

I mumbled a yes and thank you and followed the doctor to the examining room. As I shambled pass the nurse I could not help but see the look of disgust and fear on her face. Obviously my yellow excretions alarmed the nurse, which facilitated my unusually short wait for a doctor.

Once in the examination room, the doctor closed the door and asked me to take off my coat and shirt. I slowly began to peel my coat off; however, my exertions soiled my shirt and made it difficult for me to remove the coat. After my coat was off I started to unbutton my shirt. My fingers were slippery with the yellow ooze, which made it difficult for me to complete my task. As I fumbled with my buttons I looked at the doctor. She held her composure nicely; however, by the extremely intense look on her face, I could tell she was masking her true feelings with professionalism. What were her true feelings? Disgust and fear like the nurse? Was it scientific curiosity or even the typical pity a doctor has for a suffering patient? I could not tell. The one thing I did know was I certainly had her attention.

I finally unbuttoned the last button and peeled off my ooze-covered shirt. As I pushed the shirt below my back, I heard her gasp. I looked in the examination mirror in front to see what produced this unprofessional response on her part. Looking into the mirror, I was shocked that she hadn't run out of the room screaming in terror. My back was covered in holes, no pores. They were large pores, each one having the diameter of about a dime. The yellow ooze was leaking out of the pores. I looked down at my arms and stomach; I suddenly realized that I had not changed my clothes in the last four days. My arms and stomach were also covered in the pores. I raised my arm to my face and stared at one of the pores. Upon closer examination, the pore looked like a crater with yellow ooze slowly, but steadily, leaking out and onto my skin. Looking a little closer I swear I thought a saw a tiny red worm moving in the opening on my flesh. Looking back into the mirror before me, I noticed a few small pores on my face.

The doctor immediately put on some latex gloves and began to ask me a series of questions. "Mr. Lockman, have you recently been exposed to an unknown chemical or biological agent? Have you recently traveled abroad? Are you currently on any experimental medication?"

She continued to ask more questions and I attempted to answer her the best I could. I then heard another gasp. "There's something in these wounds, maybe some sort of parasite. Mr. Lockman, I am going to get Dr. Jacobs. He is experienced in macroparasites. Please wait here, I will be right back."

After she left I began to hear the voices of the Gof'nm Hupagh. They were angry with me, yelling at me for trying to kill the mother. They told me I should be ashamed at my fear and demanded that I leave at once. At first I ignored their voices; however, the longer I waited for the doctors, the more I believed in the voices. Yes, they were telling me the real truth. Not the pack of lies human doctors would feed me on parasites and diseases. This was no disease. It was a metamorphosis to a higher, more evolved form of consciousness. Those doctors would be envious of my gift.

After a few minutes, I stood up, put my coat on, jammed my shirt into my coat pocket and left the room. The nurse certainly did not try to stop me, either from fear or relief that I was leaving. Obviously, Doctor Barnes had left in such a rush to find the specialist that she did not tell the nurse to detain me. I left the hospital because I was special. No one was going to stop the goal the Great Old Ones gave me. To bring the mother of all, Shub-Niggurath, back. Back to this existence, this reality. I have to complete the task of altering creation for the Old Ones' return. God help me, am I sane now or when I was in the hospital?

* * *

That was last night. I am barely human now and it is getting more and more difficult to type on the keyboard . . .

* * *

As I sit here, trying to complete my account of the strange circumstances that have brought me to this state, I can literally feel the organs within my body move under their own volition. I know . . . I understand what is happening to me. She is telling me . . . in my mind. I am her's. My body is her's to command. I am an organ of Shub-Niggurath. I have been redesigned to be her reproductive organ. She tells me that I am blessed to be awarded such a task. To serve as her method of procreation into this world, this dimension. They are whispering to me, too . . . the ones in my dreams. The ones who have failed before me. I am told I can not fail. . . .

Oh God . . . what is happening to me . . . I can feel my stomach moving up into my chest . . . its trying to get out . . . my neck is beginning to peal . . . my arms . . . my arms are covered in a sticky tar-like substance. It must be some sort of metamorphosis . . . but what am I becoming? Am I really destined to be the reproductive glands of some alien god?

My body is coming apart . . . the connective tissue that holds me together is dissolving . . . I can feel it . . . my body expanding . . . my organs are moving . . . God I should be dead by now . . .

Lost anoither finger . . . and my thumgb is going to fallll off soon . . . blodo and pus are ozzing from every opening in my body . . . yet i kepe typing . . . typing is my onlyd connection to my formal reality . . . i am part of she with the thousand young . . . a ring of tnenlcales have just broke therough my wiast . . . they are hungery . . . hungery for this world . . . i must fee them and procreate for the mother of the thousnand yojng. . . .

Let any fomrer God forgive me for what i am about to do . . . i am not longer humand i am beyong human . . . i now serve her . . . my body is hers . . . hers to bring her young to this reality . . . a am no longer . . .

* * *

Gwen had been knocking on the door for the past five minutes. She was worried about Mr. Lockman, the man had who visited the hospital last night. She was convinced he needed immediate medical attention. The strange sores and cuts on his arms and legs initially appeared to be the result of some sort of intense physical abuse or maybe an accident with some sort of industrial acid.

Gwen checked the door. It was unlocked.

"Maybe I should enter the house," thought Gwen. "I am a doctor and he may need medical attention."

Gwen opened the door and stood at the threshold.

"Hello?" shouted Gwen. "Mr. Lockman? Are you home? Hello?"

Gwen looked around. The house was huge and to the left was an enormous staircase that spiraled up to the second floor.

"I know I shouldn't be here," she lamented to herself, "but this guy needs help."

Gwen slowly walked toward the foot of the stairs.

She put a hand on the rail and shouted, "Hello? Mr. Lockman?"

Gwen was just about to turn away from the stairs and investigate the lower floor when she heard movement upstairs. It was sort of a quick thrashing, like someone was trying to lift something heavy off the ground and twirl it around.

"Hello? Mr. Lockman?"

Gwen slowly moved up the stairs. She continued to hear the movement. Once she reached the top of the stairs, she paused to listen. The movement was coming from a room down the hall towards the left. She cautiously continued to move down the hallway calling Mr. Lockman's name out loud. At the end of the hallway there were doors to her left and right. In front of her was a large window looking out to the west. The sun was already setting behind the trees. In the setting sun, the leafless trees looked like shriveled old hands reaching for the sky.

Movement coming from the room on the right-hand side of hallway broke the spell of the setting sun.

Gwen called out one last time. "Mr. Lockman its me -- Doctor Barnes. I wanted to see how you were doing. You really should come back to the hospital. Mr. Lockman?"

The only answer she received was the continued thrashing, a gurgling noise and the sound of liquid splashing onto the floor.

With one smooth motion Gwen opened the door. At that moment Gwen's perception of reality crumbled around her.

It was a bedroom with a desk and chair on the western side of the room. She noticed a laptop computer on the floor and next to it was the key that unlocked Gwen's insanity. It looked like a giant pink worm. Gwen immediately thought of a polychaete or clam worm one finds at the beach. It must have been ten feet long and a foot in diameter. It thrashed around in the room with a yellow pus-like substance oozing from its sides. Once Gwen opened the door, it stopped thrashing around and stood up on one end. A large mouth opened, displaying rows and rows of sharp needle-like teeth. It screeched like a banshee and Gwen screamed in terror but did not move. She was paralyzed with fear.

Suddenly, the thing produced a set of bat-like wings on either side of its body, quickly spun around and before Gwen knew what was happening, it flew out the open window. The escape was so quick that as it turned to leave, some of its yellow pus flew off its body and splattered onto Gwen's face and chest. She continued to stand there paralyzed with fear.

As Gwen numbly wiped the yellow pus off her face, she watched the winged worm fly off toward the trees, whose branches were reaching toward the setting sun.

* * *

And the only thing the remnants of Stephen Lockman's sentient self could think was, "I must head toward the trees, toward the forest. Prepare. Prepare for the hidden Gof'nm Hupagh. Prepare for the Great Mother of us all. And prepare the meal for the Great Old Ones."

Send your comments to Fred S. Lubnow


© 2001 Edward P. Berglund
"The Key of Shub-Niggurath": © 2001 Fred S. Lubnow and Steve Maschuck. All rights reserved.
Graphics © 1999-2001 Erebus Graphic Design. All rights reserved. Email to: James V. Kracht.

Created: August 14, 2001; Updated: August 9, 2004