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Quetzacthulhu (Part One)

QUETZACTHULHU

By Set Sytes

 

 

There are stories, but stories are always forgotten.

It would have been better if we had only laughed at them. I am sure we once did, for ridicule is what lies in-between remembering and forgetting. We bury the horror, pushing it under centuries of soil. And, eventually, it was nothing to us.

The priests must have known. Before me, they were the only ones who had been down here in these violent depths, where the slaughter seeps through from above and paints the walls forever red. The walls littered with engravings that told us of what was to come.

They must have known, but they never told. What was it to them? A children’s tale? Or some mythic secret, the secret to end all secrets, that only they must be privy to? Either way, they hold responsibility for what happened to us, to our empire. Those countless deaths are because of their folly and pride.

No matter. They are all dead now.

I crouch here, with only you as company. You who I took captive, you who I whip and beat in the darkness.

I will tell you the tale now. I will tell it all as best I can, and hope at least some of it gets through to you. It matters more than anything that it does.

Listen, greedy wretch! Or I will show you true brutality. You may have the beetle when I am done. Listen with every part of you, carve it into your very soul, for generations hence depend on it.

I will begin.

 

*

 

I wish I could tell you that it began with dark omens and portends.

The priests, they were gathering frequently, taking themselves off into the depths of the temples with their muttering – but this was not anything unusual. Our sacrifices seemed to be particularly numerous, the blood on the altar given no time to dry, but this too was not a rare thing. We had recently defeated a band of Tlaxcalans, and the torn flesh of our captives was providing a merry feast for the gods.

Even if there had been an omen, I know that we could not have interpreted it. How could one interpret the coming of such a thing? And even if we had interpreted it, still it could not have helped us prepare ourselves. But it would have been something.

I wish I could tell you that it all started with a great pyramid of flame, or a burning temple, or strokes of lightning from the gods. Boiling lakes, shooting stars, ghostly wails, strange visions and monstrous deformities – these are all dire things that could have warned of the apocalyptic end to our people.

But I can only tell you that it started with nothing. Nothing but the shake and shiver of the earth.

 

I was out with a hunting party the day it came. We were talking, laughing, clutching spears in our hands – and then everything became preternaturally quiet around us. We stopped speaking, and looked around us, expecting ambush. The ground then began to tremble.

I had not experienced such a thing before, but I had heard stories. We staggered back but it seemed like there was nowhere to run to. The trembling became a rumble, and at once all around us the silence burst as great flocks of birds rose screeching into the sky.

Cracks appeared around our feet, thickening and lengthening faster than we could move. The earth was opening up. A warrior slipped, and before we could get to him he was swallowed by soil. One moment there, wailing, the next moment gone – spasming fingertips were the last we saw of him.

We continued to run as breaches of earth raced in our wake. Eventually we seemed to reach a point when the cracks were thinner, the ground sustaining us without collapse, and we paused and looked back, just at the moment it rose.

I thought it a mountain at first, a mossy mountain thrusting upwards with a sickening roar from the bowels of the earth. That was the last moment I considered it to have some strange but natural origin.

For as I stared, the fungal hide of the thing began to seem fleshy and pustulous, and it swelled outwards as it continued its ascent. A dreadful bile rose within me.

The vomit died in my throat, not out of relief but pure shock, as the foul skin opened up, and a blazing yellow sun near blinded me. I reflexively shaded my face with my hands, and as my pupils shrank I saw through my fingers that in the centre of this giant sun was a hole, a black hole. It was then that I realised with palpitating horror what it was.

It was an eye.

And that was when the second opened up, beyond cyclopean in its enormity, and as it rose upwards far above me, tentacles like huge snakes writhed and ululated from underneath, each as big as a house.

A giant maw opened, a dripping cavern of night to engulf the world. I would say if I could go the rest of my life without seeing such a sight again I could be happy, but it is not true, for that image and many others are burned within my brain forever.

I do not know how I found my feet. I remember little about that first confrontation. I only remember vague images of my brothers falling to their knees, gibbering in hysterical lunacy and tearing at their eyes. And yet, somehow, I must have made it back to Tenochtitlan.

They tell me I was gabbling in a monstrous language not known to man, not even to the priests. I do not remember this, but I believe them, for I have since heard others speaking in this nameless tongue. It is hideous to listen to, and to watch the speaker’s mouth try to contort around such abhorrence; it spreads madness and despair like it was a contagion.

Ph’nglui mglw’nafh . . . That is all I can remember, and much as I try I cannot pronounce it right – perhaps that is a small mercy. I see you shudder at it – good. Now imagine hearing such words and more in their true fell tongue, chanted maniacally at you by family and friends, their eyes rolling back in their heads, their twisting mouths drooling spit to the floor. Then you might have a fraction of the nightmares I will suffer till the day I am released from this world.

 

Quetzacthulhu

I Wish You A Merry Christmas

I’m dreaming…

 

The father of Christmas, December’s paternal watcher, glides through the night. Blooded in green and red, driven by horned beasts that pedal the air with cloven hoofs. If you listen right, you may hear the bells on the wind.

Outside ghouls ice the windows. The wind chases itself through the skeleton trees. On high the moon hangs huge and fat in a nest of ink. Perhaps we will be gifted with the white rug coming down, perhaps not, but all truths of Christmas remain in our heart and our memories, and we can bring these forth in nostalgia, in movies and music, in simple sights and inventions, and in possessions by those Yule spirits that infest even common wood and stone with mulled fireside haunt.

Think of A Christmas Carol, and think of It’s A Wonderful Life. Think of Dickensian London, with snow on every day, feathering down onto black top hats and bonnets, feathering into the mass quilt. Drifts of Yuletide carols pass around gloomlit corners, hang under streetlamps and tip-toe the cobbles.

Think of good things in your life, things that have happened long ago and were good then and will always be good, and good things that will yet come to pass.

If you do not celebrate or officially recognise Christmas, enjoy your own festivities whenever they occur in the year, and leave others to theirs. Do not seek to ruin things that bring others joy or meaning.

Do not focus too much on semantics, or past meanings. The origins of things are never clear cut, nor are they often what they seem. Now, you make your own meaning. Christmas can be as religious as you like, but it need not be so necessary for others. Things change. Things are always changing. Whether your celebration be Christian, pagan, or secular, it is at its heart a festival about sharing.

Yes, you can never hear it enough: Christmas is about sharing; company, food, drink, gifts, cards, love, laughter, and life.

Do not think too much on the commercialisation of Christmas. Where there are gifts to be bought there is always money to be made. Think instead on those receiving such gifts. And remember, the thought is what counts.

To give is to receive.

November is old age, and December is the death of the year. Christmas is the year’s deathbed. A deathbed is no place for grievance, for old hate, for worry, for hubris. It is a place to forgive, to make amends, to make the most of what is left to you.

Hold candles to keep the darkness at bay, or embrace it as an old friend.

Take the time to be thankful for the good things.

If you have a home, be it costly, dirty, and broken, on this day be thankful.
If you have food, be it cheap, tasteless and out of date, on this day be thankful.
If you have a friend, be them unreliable, stubborn and offensive, on this day be thankful.
If you have family, be them difficult, irritating, and stuck in their ways, on this day be thankful.
If you have health, be your nose running, your body exhausted and your head aching, on this day be thankful.

Baubles and tinsel, multi-coloured jewels that glow on green needles. Presents wrapped in bows and glitter huddle together for comfort, gifts awful and brilliant, asked for and unwanted. The December Father looks in at the windows, nods his head. He pulls away the sprites with big eyes and sharp teeth, who remain outside under the knives of winter. You’re under his protection now, just for now, before he retires to his polar battlements, sailing long over seas where blue tentacles of northern Cthulhus whip the waves.

Drink, eat, and be merry.

Do not be an island among islands – calm usual angers and encourage good feeling, good sentiment. Remember the unspoken charities: charity to family, to friends, to strangers and to enemies. Charity can be in mere words.

Reach out. Make effort where you did not before. Think about the lives of others, even those you do not know so well. Think that, at our core, we all share the same experiences: those of life, love, strife, hurt, loss, and confusion. Give a present or card to someone you never gave a present or card to before. A gift does not have to be big or expensive; it could be homemade, and it need not even be a material thing at all.

People want, and need to be thought of, especially at this time of year. Tell someone you love them, you like them, that they are a good person, that they deserve happiness and if you had it in your hand you would give it to them first.

I am a misanthrope most days of the year, and regularly filled with pessimism, cynicism and frustration, and I do not really know what non-romantic love is, and yet on this day I love you all dearly.

If you are with others on Christmas, treat them as well as you are able. Pass over your differences. When a tongue should be held, hold it. When laughter should flow freely, free it.

If you are alone on Christmas, remember that not even in the darkest and most silent of times is there such a thing as true loneliness.
Put your ears to the floor, and listen. Listen carefully.
Do you hear it? Do you feel it?

They are awake, and they are listening back.

Merry f. Christmas,
S.S.