Glynn Barrass

3rd August 1928, Miskatonic University, Arkham, Mass.

In the small hours of early morning, Dr Henry Armitage awoke from a phantasm-haunted slumber to the sound of fierce barking emitting from Miskatonic University's campus watchdog, the savage and relentless barking increasing in pitch and timbre till it transformed into a frantic and frightened yelping; the loud retort of gunfire cutting the noise off mid howl. For some reason unknown to him, the sudden nullifying silence arriving straight after the echoes of the gunshot chilled Henry Armitage to the very pits of his soul, and left him sat up in bed too frozen with fear to move, till the increasing shouts and commotion on the campus grounds below roused him enough to investigate the events unfolding outside his window.

Quickly dressing in suitable clothing, Armitage rushed across the grounds of the campus to the college buildings, seeing that a large crowd of students and faculty staff had already gathered ahead of him, at the foot of the library steps. As he moved closer to the library building, Armitage realized that the burglar alarm had been activated, its klaxon sounding loud and erratically, signifying something far greater than a mere break-in had occurred. The chill inside Armitage's chest intensified a thousand fold as he neared the small crowd now gathering near the open library window.

To Armitage's fear-filled eyes, the gaping window looked not unlike the wailing mouth of a doomed soul, and plucking up the courage to deal with the situation. Armitage pushed past the crowd of onlookers and climbed in through the open aperture, closely followed by two members of the crowd, his colleagues Professor Warren Rice and Dr Francis Morgan. He had spoken to them only recently in regards to his apprehensions regarding the insistence of the Whateley boy to see and examine the dreaded Necronomicon, the tome Armitage knew was the key to this insidious late night break-in.

The inside of the library was dark and deadly silent, the alarm having been turned off moments before, and like a man hypnotized by fate, Armitage lead the other two men across the hall to the genealogical reading room, which lead to the smaller, locked room where the restricted books were stored. Armitage knew what he would find before getting there, had known this would happen since the time he had last seen the Whateley boy with his crafty, leering, almost inhuman, goat-like countenance.

Flicking on the light switch in the room, Armitage gasped in horror at the sight before his eyes: the wounded campus watchdog lay panting in a disheveled heap on the floor, blood dripping from a gash in its forehead, and the once locked door to the restricted room shattered and asunder, standing precariously on bent and warped hinges. In hindsight, none of this really surprised Armitage in the least, and, as the other men stumbled towards the broken door, he knew which book would be missing, and knew what the sinking feeling in his chest finally meant. It meant the end of the world had come.

* * *

22nd January 1931, Somewhere in the Antarctic

A lone figure dragging a sled stumbled through the desert of snow and ice that was the Antarctic summer, a figure barely discernable through the shimmering haze of icy mist. A normal man would have succumbed to the devilish conditions of this frozen hell long ago, but Wilbur Whateley was no normal man. Standing a full nine feet high, white-bearded with a shock of long white hair, Wilbur walked like a lone Moses in the desert of death, dressed from head to toe in thick black furs, furs which covered something much more alien than human.

Wilbur had survived three months of wandering through this icy wind-blasted hell -- it being four months since he had left Arkham, his seat of power in the new world he had only begun to create. There had been twelve 'men' with him when he'd started his journey; the squat but hardy Tcho-Tcho people Wilbur had brought as his guards and retinue. Over the intervening months all had succumbed in one way or another; the first to go being the six Wilbur had left behind to ambush the annoying pests which had been dogging his steps, and, of course, the black, scaly winged things Wilbur had summoned to pull the sledges had hungered enormously, as had he. The sledge behind him contained the salted remains of his most trusted servant Akoua.

No sled dogs could be found which would go anywhere near Wilbur, and he felt an equal animosity towards them himself, so he'd used the Black Book to conjure up something to perform the work of tugging the sledges instead. They'd been fine substitutes until the fresh meat had run out, then one by one the things had flitted away to whichever hell Wilbur had summoned them from. Not that it mattered now, of course, Wilbur could feel within what answered for bones that he was close to his goal, the fabled city beneath the ice of his darkest dreams.

What had brought Wilbur to the ends of the earth, on a pilgrimage across the miles of sterile white death, was the need to meet with the black things that lurked and blasphemed beneath the dead, ancient city of the Elder Things. Wilbur needed to save his new world, the human vermin spread across the globe having begun to fight back -- the balance was shifting, and Wilbur needed help.

* * *

The motley crew of men and women that had been tracking Wilbur the past months had had no problem using sled dogs to help them on their way and drag their sleds filled with supplies, for, in fact, the ten men and women following him had much more kinship with the sturdy little huskies than the half-human thing they were trying to stop.

One sole survivor now followed Wilbur Whateley by foot, William Dyer, ex-Professor of Geology from what was once Miskatonic University in Arkham. Half conscious and mutilated from frostbite which had bitten into his hands and feet, Dyer gritted his teeth and smiled in triumph as he spied the black dot of Wilbur Whateley in the distance through cracked and battered binoculars.

* * *

Many months ago, back in Arkham, Wilbur had awoke one morning to discover his skin and hair had begun to grow lighter, the pigmentation slowly becoming like that of his mother's, the long dead albino woman, Lavinia Whateley, while outside Wilbur's windows, the sky burned red and things indescribable hunted and scoured the streets for human prey.

Arkham, and indeed much of the rest of America, had changed dramatically since Wilbur had first used the Black Book to bring down those that held kinship to him and his brother to clear the Earth of the human vermin. Thousands of his kin had leveled and destroyed the cities of mankind, and millions of human souls had been broken and destroyed all in the name of his father. The nightmare fertility goddess Shub-Niggurath had come clambering up from beneath the earth, every human she touched with tentacled paws bursting asunder into one of her Dark Young, adding their ranks to Wilbur's army of cleansing death.

R'lyeh had risen from its watery grave in one night, black cyclopean towers polluting the world of man with the stench of eon-old evil. The resultant flood and deluge, swamping the coasts of the world in biblical proportions, the Great Cthulhu and his spawn filled the skies with grim, unwholesome, tentacled death.

Upon the advent of his unforeseen and lamented physiological change, Wilbur consulted some of his most trusted human advisors, the swamp-bred half-castes and cultists who swore allegiance at his goat-hoofed feet. The foremost of these traitors to humanity had informed Wilbur that his mutation towards his mother's genealogical side was due to the rebellion of the humans across the globe, and, indeed, even the small pockets of resistance still lurking in America. The more humanity fought back against the terror of the Old Ones, the more Wilbur's human side would take over; his heart and soul being inexorably tied to this doomed and much desired World. After consulting with his Father, the many-sphered entity know as Yog-Sothoth, Wilbur set about planning a journey to summon more allies to his cause, a journey culminating in a pilgrimage to the dead city deep within the Antarctic Circle.

* * *

When word of Wilbur's plans leaked out to the local resistance in Arkham, a small team of rebels volunteered to follow and sabotage his plan of tipping the balance back in the Old Ones favor. The group sent to track and destroy Wilbur Whateley consisted of Dyer, Francis Morgan, once Professor of Medicine and Comparative Anatomy at Miskatonic University, an ex-student named Danforth, and seven other men and women brave enough to fight the horror of the night consuming the globe. They followed close behind Wilbur across land and sea till finally reaching the wasteland explorers called the Antarctic.

* * *

The frosty mist of ice crystals began to clear from before Wilbur's eyes, and through eyelids rimed with ice and frost he discerned in the distant haze the black-peaked mountains of his dark designs, signaling an end to his hellish, devil-spawned journey.

* * *

The intrepid team of brave men and women sent to follow Wilbur Whateley came to their first major hurdle one month into their trek across the Antarctic wastes. They were ambushed by a group of the vicious little Tcho-Tcho men Whateley had left waiting for them, hidden beyond an ice shelf.

Armed with sharp little knives and greasy black Luger pistols, the attackers made short work of the four hunters seated at the front of the sled team, before the ones at the back opened fire on the screaming yellow devils with rifle and shotgun. They buried their dead with the proper respect and left the dead and dying Tcho-Tcho men to the merciless elements of the Antarctic night.

* * *

Wilbur stood not two miles distant from the jagged foothills beyond which lay the mountains concealing the ancient city of the Elder Things. Stripping himself naked, his massive body shining dazzlingly white against the backdrop of snow and ice, the albino eyes on his face and thighs squinted in concentration as he sent telepathic signals to those that slept beyond those mountains of madness.

The answer he waited for was not long in coming; it began as a slight, twitching feeling at the back of his neck, and a barely discernable vibration thrumming beneath his cloven white-furred feet. The twitching progressed to a humming sound within his inhuman skull, and the humming became a beauteous melody resounding inside his white-maned head, the most beautiful melody he had ever heard in his short but event-filled life, like a choir of dark angels sounding a chorus of the night, making him cry greenish-yellow tears in ecstatic wonder at the glory of the sound.

So lost was Wilbur in the ecstasy of the sound that he hardly felt the icy floor beneath him shake in a veritable earthquake as his telepathic call was answered wholesale by a multitude of black, bubbling, monstrous things, oozing from the mountains and bursting forth from the ground around him like a gushing torrent of stinking, viscous oil. The rulers of the ice city had come.

Towering over Wilbur in the hundreds, the shoggoth creatures stared down at him through thousands of multi-faceted, green glowing eyes. The mountains around Wilbur resounded with the echoes of the eon-old message he cried in a language the entities of darkness knew and understood, "Na sho ferra gorroth! Teu forra beneth!"

From that moment on, the strange and beautiful singing was no longer restricted to Wilbur's mind, as rudimentary mouths opening across the iridescent monsters' constantly flowing and morphing bodies sang a tribute to the arrival of their albino messiah.

* * *

The second time the team hunting Wilbur came against disaster was a few weeks after the diminished group had been tracking him through the discarded leftovers of his erstwhile crew of Tcho-Tcho men, half eaten and mauled by teeth and less discernable things. Six bodies had been counted in total, scattered breadcrumbs of bone and sinew, before the group had to traverse a small range of icy hillocks. They had great trouble getting the howling and fussing huskies to pull the sleds over the slight but troublesome snowy topography.

Having read the hastily written dossier on Wilbur Whateley's life and habits, the group should have recognized the signs of danger when the dogs began to bark and snarl, hackles rising in fear and distress. The perceptive warning from the animals, however, came too late, as the monster that was Wilbur Whateley burst sneering from behind a small outcropping, before any member of the surprised group could even unholster a weapon. Morgan was the first to fall, his head bashed in by one of Wilbur's huge fists -- the monstrous Whateley boy grabbing two more of them by their throats, throttling them like rag dolls before tossing their broken corpses to the ground. Screaming in fear, the unhinged Danforth ran in terror from the melee into the frozen ice fields beyond.

Pumping shells into his rifle, Dyer raised it to his shoulders to fire as one of the terrified huskies knocked him over, forcing him to tumble down an icy verge. The screaming of men and dogs alike quickly faded from his hearing, as reaching the end of his fall, Dyer banged his head on a chunk of hard icy rock, falling further still into deep, black oblivion.

Upon awaking from unconsciousness, Dyer had found no living soul in the chaotic remains of the fight his fellows had obviously lost; grabbing what undamaged supplies and weapons he could, Dyer steeled himself to the task of resuming Wilbur's trail.

* * *

Wilbur stood before the assembled monsters in anticipation as a large piece of one of the shoggoth creatures separated itself from the whole and slithered and tumbled in his direction, with the intents of bonding its alien DNA to his, thus completing the ritual of bringing the shoggoths to Wilbur's aid. As the black viscid mass reached Wilbur's feet, it began its joining with him in an eldritch, unholy union.

* * *

Less than a hundred yards from Wilbur Whateley's ghastly transformation, his misshapen hands wrapped in cloth and bandages, William Dyer lay clutching a battered Lee-Enfield rifle, as the shoggoth thing seeped into Wilbur's naked flesh.

The sights of the gun aimed steadily at Wilbur's bobbing, white-maned head, Dyer pressed one of his ruined fingers to the trigger and said a silent prayer as he squeezed down on its slick surface, a prayer to the God of all that was wholesome, and a prayer to Doctor Henry Armitage, the man who had carved a tiny branch shaped symbol into each and every bullet the team of rebels had brought with them on this journey of fear and death.

The retort of the rifle echoing through the mountains brought a sudden silence to the assemblage of monstrous beings, as the round removed the back of Wilbur's head. Wilbur slowly slumped forward as the partly conjoined shoggoth struggled to remove itself from his quickly dying frame.

The scene unfolding before Dyer's tired and rime-filled eyes was miraculous in the extreme as the shoggoth creatures shook the icy ground asunder as they slowly departed; their alien minds returning their bulbous black bodies back to their place of slumber, now that the Whateley thing had died.

Dyer and his team had hoped to stop Wilbur Whateley long before he'd reached this point in his journey, and just as time had seemed to run out and all their sacrifices seemed for naught, William Dyer, Professor of Geology, had made a small triumph in the cause of the human race. Dyer knew he wouldn't make it back across the ice fields alive, knew his legs probably wouldn't drag him another fifty yards, but to him, with all the hardship, pain and sorrow he had been through these past months, a short rest where he lay seemed just what he needed.

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© 2006 Edward P. Berglund
"The Horror Out of Dunwich": © 2006 by Glenn Barrass. All rights reserved.
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Created: December 26, 2006