Ever heard of the legend of Bloody Bones? He knocks on your door at night, hoping to catch you alone so that he can wear your flesh!
Better You Believe…
Tony Evans delivers a fantastic collection of short stories based on urban legends and folktales. Each story is unique and powerful, creating a fresh serving of relentless horror told without needless filler and fluff. Tony Evans knows how to frame a story. The aspiring horror author knows how to deliver a story that resonates with people.
I write and publish some short stories in the horror genre using a PEN, and the writer side of me is jealous of Mr. Evan’s simplistic yet unrelenting style. The stories in this collection are phenomenally entertaining. Tony Evans stays on point with tight prose. He writes with confidence. He shows faith in his reader, a trait to be admired in a writer.
We seem to be in an era of horror in which Lovecraftian themes are dominating, but Mr. Evans brings the boogeyman and local haunting tales back to the forefront. This collection is more than a breath for horror fans, it’s a gosh darn gasp of crucial, life-pumping, fresh air. Author Tony Evans and publisher DEADMAN’S TOME knocked it completely out of the park.
I love the way the author gives background history for each of the short stories. The stories themselves pull you in and make you want to know more. It is well written, and perfect for reading scary stories to your kids, if they like that kind of thing, which mine do!
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the home
All the shadows were stirring, all ready to roam;
Offerings were hung by the chimney with care,
bits of bone, and organs, and scalps with some hair.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
when a sharp-bladed axe went clean through their heads;
And mamma all dead now, and I in my mask,
had just now completed my life’s greatest task.
When down in the basement came a blasphemous sound,
I sprang from the room as the noise shook the ground.
Away to the cellar I flew like a flash,
tore open the door and heard something splash.
The ritual had called for killing and chants,
to bring forth the Old Ones, and the powers they grant.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
but a portal, a gate, all roiling and queer.
Now came a limb, writhing, tentacular,
I gazed in excitement, ‘twas something spectacular.
More rapid than eagles more tendrils shot out,
they shrieked and they roared, and I started to shout;
“Yog-Sothoth, the Gate, and also the Key!
On, Dagon, on, Hastur, on, Yig and Gla’aki!
Cthulhu, Great Dreamer, now, Ithaqua, Wind-Walker!
On, Nyarlathotep, and Cthylla, the Daughter!”
And then, with a singularly thunderous boom,
revealed before me, were the bringers of doom.
Indescribable was the place I saw through that portal,
My mind shattered to pieces, for I was but mortal.
And the beings I witnessed, the Masters I’d called,
their millions of eyes, they held me enthralled;
Then a whisper, a word, crept into my brain,
a worm boring deep, causing me pain.
The eyes — how they twinkled! the shrieking how scary!
Their tongues were like serpents, and one was quite hairy!
Their wide yawning mouths seemed to grow and to grow,
And the drool of their chins was as white as the snow.
The most fetid of breath passed right through their teeth,
and the miasma encircled my head like a wreath;
They were hungry for minds to put in their bellies,
That shook, when they screamed like bowlfuls of jelly.
They spoke many a word, all unutterably insidious,
filling me with knowledge, both eldritch and hideous.
And laying a tendril aside of my nose,
the Dreamer, he whispered, and my euphoria rose;
“The time’s now to slay, to tear bone from the gristle,
Then away they all flew out of that gate of abyssal.”
And I heard them exclaim, as they flew out of sight,
“OUR SLUMBER IS OVER, THIS IS YOUR LAST NIGHT!”
Read more Lovecraftian yuletide tales in Cthulhu Christmas Special available for Amazon Kindle, Kindle Unlimited, and Paperback
As kids we’re told that Christmas is a magical time when a mysterious man from a mysterious place sneaks into your home to leave gifts. But only, if you were good. Because this mysterious man, this Santa Clause, has been watching you the entire time. Santa sounds like a pervert. But what if this Santa, isn’t that Santa we were describe as kids? The fat, jolly man with a white beard. Last year, Deadman’s Tome explored the idea that Santa is actually Krampus, and had a great time doing so. This year we’ve drawn our attention to one of the biggest and baddest monsters of all time: Cthulhu. Who else would be capable of watching all, hearing all, and reading the thoughts of all? The real Santa is Cthulhu, and as kids we’ve been duped. Don’t believe me? You will after reading this!
Deadman’s Tome presents Cthulhu Christmas Special and Other Lovecraftian Yuletide Tales – a smooth blend of the holly jolly merry vibes of the holiday season with the dread and unfathomable horror of Cthulhu and Lovecraft. This collection of horror pairs nicely with a glass of eggnog, or if you prefer, a glass of whiskey. With over ten stories, this collection offers plenty for H.P. Lovecraft fans and general horror readers.
Become a patreon member and get access to Deadman’s Tome Cthulhu Christmas Special and other great titles like Monsters Exist and Real American Horror
Deadman’s Tome podcast
Sort of a Gentlemen’s Club for writers, horror fans, and those looking to be entertained. Mr. Deadman and Dynamite Marchese talk about writing, horror, pop-culture, current events, and meet with cool guests like real-life vampires and best-selling authors.
New episodes Mondays and Wednesdays with a live episode on Fridays at 10pm CST
Deadman’s Tome is calling for submissions for a Cthulhu Christmas Special. We’re looking for original short stories and flash fiction pieces (2-5k words) that blend Cthulhu and Christmas with a dash of Lovecraftian prose. If you have something that would meet this criteria, then please send to firstname.lastname@example.org. What do you get in return? Well, you get the that warm feeling that comes with being a part of something special. More importantly, though, you’ll earn royalties from paperback and ebook purchases of the finish product.
Hurry as we’re approaching the deadline: November 15, 2017.
Captain Jonathon Riesner reclined in his bio-chair, staring out the portal into the black seas of infinity – his head throbbed with what had become a never-ending headache. Three crewmembers had died mysteriously over the past five days. Officially, he reported the deaths back to Sector as accidents, but they were not. The crew was on edge. He had slept very little since the first death, tormented by a reoccurring nightmare and the feeling of extreme dread – and he feared it would only get worse. He was not the only one, the ship’s doctor had told him, when pressed that five of the remaining seven crewmembers had come to him complaining of trouble sleeping and seeking his help. The doctor was reticent to say any more when asked further questions, but there was something more to it – as the doctor himself was deteriorating with dark circles under his blood shot eyes and a nervous tic that drew up his mouth on the right side in a grimace, now occurring with greater frequency and severity.
They had only two of the bodies, Science Officer Varda Negrev had opened an air lock – what remained of him was somewhere out in space. Technician Lordis Mason had died of exsanguination, her throat torn out, apparently by her own hands because she was the only one in the pod at the time. Captured on security camera, Payload Specialist Jim Paulson had put a pneumatic driver in his right ear and turned it on. Lieutenant Souder was the only other person he had allowed to see it since he was concerned of the effect it would have on the rest of the crew if they saw it.
He turned on the com unit and made the end of day recording: “Outlander 3, Mission Gamma Circuit, Day 1423, Return to Earth. Fuel Cells at 48%, Food supplies for another 36 days. Three of four water recyclers functioning at optimal levels. At current capabilities should dock at outer Earth station Micron in 33 days. Nothing of significance to report. Captain Jonathon Riesner out.” The ship will make it back – If any of us survive, he thought.
He had taken a Somalune earlier in hopes it would help him sleep and he did feel drowsy. He reclined his chair fully, gave the audio command for the cabin lights to dim, and prayed that he would not dream. The white noise hum of the air recirculator helped him slow his breathing and heart rates to match it, his eyelids fluttered and he soon drifted off.
Great cyclopean cities of titan blocks with mile high monoliths piercing dark skies all dripping with green ooze, sinister with latent horror, something suggestive of ancient and profane cycles of life in which man’s world and his conceptions have no part. A sound reverberated in the distance: thump, thump … thump, thump … growing louder with each passing second – hideous wings flapping – It was coming!
His vital sensor system began its high piercing alarm waking him. It issued an audio warning:
“Warning, Heart Rate at Dangerous Levels, 132 bpm”
He knew if he did not calm himself the cardiac pacemaker that had been implanted in him (as every crewmember had) would shock him to attempt to get back to appropriate levels. His hands were shaking and sweat was dripping from his face. The capacitors in the cardiac assist device, he knew were charging up – he had moments before he would feel the searing pain. If he could control his breathing, he might be able to get his heart rate down. He began breathing in, counting for five seconds, held his breath counting for eight seconds. Exhaled slowly counting for another eight seconds. Repeat.
“Warning, Heart Rate at Dangerous Levels, 128 bpm”
It was coming down but not fast enough. Riesner placed three fingers of his right hand on the carotid artery on the right side of his neck and began a massaging motion stimulating the vagal nerve. He continued with the breathing exercises.
“Warning, Heart Rate Elevated, 118 bpm”
The beeping alarm occurred less frequently – it was working. After about another minute his heart rate was within normal range and the audio signal stopped. He knew that the capacitors would harmlessly discharge.
He lay back and rubbed his eyes. It was the same dream every time he slept except that whatever approached got closer and closer. What was it?
He knew he would not sleep that night. Resigned, he sat up and went to the console, replaying the video that he had seen at least fifty times already. Payload Specialist Jim Paulson, “Pauly”, entered the pod, the camera in the corner looking down. His arms were jerking about his fingers as if some sort of fit of spasms flexing, bending, pointing making unrecognized gestures. He looked briefly up at the camera, his eyes wild, laughed shrilly and chanted: “Ph’glui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagal”. Foam started pouring out of his mouth and he lowered his head. Looking up, he hurriedly went to the tool bench in which all the instruments were strapped down, picked a pneumatic driver, stuck the end of it in his right ear, turned it in and forced it in. Paulson began screaming, but continued to force the device in, blood and gray matter poured out between the shaft of the driver and his now enlarged ear canal. Finally, he jerked wildly and dropped to the ground – with enough damage to his brain done so that his autonomic system shut down, stopping his heart.
They had done analysis on the words and the language was unregistered in the computer. Also, they had interviewed every crewmember to see if anyone had noticed anything strange in the time leading up to the suicide. He had been the first, Lordis Mason killed herself two days later and two days after that Varda Negrev had decided to take a walk into the great unknown. Things had begun soon after they had gone through the wormhole.
Wormhole Gamma breached a tunnel to the Andromeda Galaxy. After the discovery of the element Prometheus on Saturn’s moon Titan, everything changed. The ore, a natural source of exotic baryons, resembled any ordinary ore in its inert form. However, once femto-refined it could stabilize wormholes, even artificial ones. With negative energy density, the exotic baryons could produce a locally mass-negative region of space-time, which allowed faster-than-light travel through the Casimir effect. Artificially produced wormholes were now possible with only an initial investment of energy.
The first manned ship had gone through Wormhole Alpha to the Crab Nebula just twenty-three years ago. The first ship to return to Earth through a wormhole occurred eleven years later with the crew alive. Currently, seven artificial wormholes existed within the Earth’s solar system for interstellar travel as formerly unreachable and sometimes even unknown areas of the universe now became accessible as space exploration consumed humanity. As space-time in the immediate galaxy began to resemble Swiss cheese, many urged caution in poking holes in the universe, as they believed that they were on the verge of some galactic cataclysm. However, the same wander lust that had brought man to new lands on Earth to explore and eventually populate the entire planet now propelled him to risk all to find new worlds overriding rational concerns and fears. The biggest fear – the wormholes can just as easily lead Whatever is out there to here – to Earth and the end of humanity.
An alert sounded and Lieutenant Souder spoke to him in his earpiece, “Captain, Come to engineering … IMMEDIATELY.” The last was in a panicked tone.
The Captain looked at his watch 3:15 AM Ship Time. Ship Time, based on an artificial 30-hour clock to help the crew maintain a regular schedule, established a sleep/wake cycle. Everyone except the duty officer should be in their quarters sleeping.
He left his quarters, hurried down the hallway past the other private quarters, half climbed down, half slid down the ladder to operations level, past the engine bay to engineering. There were two concerned crewmembers standing outside and the wall was in transparent mode so they could see everything. The door slid open and he went immediately to the control and set the wall to opaque.
Technician Tom Bailey had Doctor Kendra’s arms pinned behind his back. The ship’s doctor was thrashing about, his face red, spittle dripping from his mouth yelling, “We can’t bring It back with us!”
Lieutenant Souder was standing to the side, wringing her hands.
“What’s going on?”
“He was trying to sabotage the ship.” The Lieutenant said not believing her own words.
“He was attempting to close the friction valve in the oxygen exchanger.”
“Why?” Riesner moved closer to the two struggling figures. If the friction valve closed the oxygen flow could have ignited in the feed line – fire would have consumed everything and everyone in the ship within seconds.
“Why?” the Captain asked again.
The doctor briefly made eye contact and Riesner’s blood froze – there was a look of shear madness in them.
“Why?” Riesner asked this time more forcefully.
“We can’t bring It back with us!” The doctor shook his head.
“Bring what back?” The Captain asked fearing the answer.
“Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagal” the doctor said.
“What does that mean?”
The doctor shook his head, distraught; eyes closed tightly, “Those are the words I hear in my head.” He stated softly.
“Can I trust you if we release you?”
“Cannot bring It back with us!” the doctor repeated.
“Let’s get him back to his quarters.” The Captain said. “Lieutenant you had medic training can you give him a sedative?”
“Yes, but we should keep him under watch.”
“Yes of course.”
Bailey frog marched the doctor back to his quarters. With the help of the Captain, he placed him on the bed and the Lieutenant gave him an infusion of sedation. The doctor struggled less and less and lay quietly on the bed. The Captain went to the desk. He was stunned at what he saw. The doctor in his spare time liked sketching and painting watercolors. He had beautiful landscapes taped to his walls of idyllic places on Earth but what he saw on the desk was far from beautiful. It was quite alarmingly hideous – It was a watercolor of some foul creature. It was a white polypus thing with red luminous eyes. It could have been part octopus, part mythological dragon and part human. Tentacles hung from the head and it had a scaly grotesque body. Wings spanned out from the back and dramatic claws on hind and front legs. Riesner’s heart skipped a beat – It was what was in his dream, what he never saw but was coming. He knew It was! Riesner rubbed his head.
“What is it?” the Lieutenant asked looking over his shoulder.
“Have you had any dreams? Strange dreams?” The Captain asked not making eye contact.
There was a pause. “Yes, but …” and her voice trailed off.
“Tell me about them.”
“They are just dreams.”
“I will tell you about mine.” And he told her about the alien cityscape, the approaching Thing, and the overall sense of dread.
He turned and locked his gaze on hers. She looked down.
“Dreams are only random firings of neurons based on memories and influenced by imagination, they are …”
“Are your dreams similar?”
She swallowed deeply, “… yes …”
Riesner took the watercolor sketch and went to the doctor lying in his bed. Bailey had brought a chair over and sat vigilant. The doctor’s eyes though glassy now because of the drugs still had a look of panic in them. His body lay listless.
“What is this?” the Captain asked the supine doctor showing him the art. The doctor looked away.
“You are a man of science and the sanest person I know, least you were.” The Captain said. When the doctor did not reply the Captain moved closer to him and so that only the two of them could hear, “Tell me John what is this? If the ship and crew are in danger I must know.”
The doctor closed his eyes and the Captain thought he was not going to say anything, then he did,” Cthulhu that is the name associated with It. You would think that It is only someone with a diseased malignant imagination could conceive. It is of eldritch origins – older than humanity. The others – they all have dreams of it. The city under the water, R’lyeh, will rise up and bring a rule of tyranny of madness upon the Earth. It would one day return to Earth when the stars aligned but the wormhole – it created a way for It to return, a path for madness to descend to consume all.”
“How do you know all of this?” The Captain asked, wanting to doubt the doctor’s sanity but somewhere deep inside knew that he was right.
“It communicates through thought, through space. It will enslave the soul of humanity if we do not stop it. “The doctor stopped and Reisner thought he was finished but continued, “I thought at first it was mass hysteria – a mass hallucination, But … “and the doctor shrugged his shoulders, “the madness is real, all the suicides – they are the end result.”
The captain patted the doctor on the chest, “Rest.”
The doctor was not done, “I was mistaken, blowing up the ship will not stop It – we must destroy the wormhole and Its path! “
“Ok, Ok.” Riesner stood and spoke quietly to the Lieutenant, “Put a block on engineering so that only you and I can gain entrance.”
The Lieutenant nodded her head.
To Bailey he said, “Stay here and watch over him.”
Upon exiting the doctor’s private quarters, he met the rest of the crew.
“What’s going on?”
“What’s wrong with the doctor?”
Bombarded with questions, he could no longer hide it from the rest of them, they knew something was wrong, but he needed time to think. “The Doctor is not feeling well. Go back to your rooms and get some rest. We will have a meeting at 8:00 in the galley.” He left and went to his room.
He began pacing.
This is all madness. He thought.
But, it is affecting the entire crew.
What if what the doctor said is true?
He unconsciously went to the overhead compartment above his bed, removed the chain around his neck with the key and took down the bottle – Glen Fiddich 100 year old single malt Scotch whiskey – it was almost empty, he had been going to it more and more lately. He reached for a glass, thought better of it and just began drinking directly from the bottle. He was so exhausted. After a half hour of pacing, he lay on his bed. Just a couple of minutes of rest – just close his eyes.
The greenish skyscrapers of non-Euclidean design reaching towards the poisonous sky. Pestiferous slime dripping from everything and the beating of wings: thump, thump, Thump, Thump, THump, Thump, THUmp, THUmp, THUMp, THUMp,…, No look away! THUMP, THUMP and IT was there before him, descending – the atrocity – the stealer of minds. Blotting out the sky, white phosphorescent slug like body, tentacles twitching about from the face, claws extended, the eyes – NO Do not look into the eyes! No too late! The searing red rending his soul!
Riesner woke with a start. He knew what he must do. As he strode down the hallway, he heard screams and sound of anguish coming from the other quarters. Though concerned he was undeterred from his mission. He went directly to the bridge. Though it should not have been, it was empty. He sealed the door and went to the helm, changed course back to the wormhole.
Within moments, he received a communication from Sector, “Sector to Outlander 3, why have you changed course?”
“Must not allow It through.”
“Must not allow It through.”
“Outlander 3, do not understand, why have you changed course? This is not part of your mission.”
“My mission is to save humanity.”
Riesner turned off the com. Liuetenant Souder was at the bridge door pounding – it would not open its controls fused.
“Captain, what are you doing?”
“Must not let IT through.”
“Captain we will not have enough supplies if we do not dock at base Micron soon.”
“The rest of the crew, you see them, you hear them.”
“Yes but, it is just, …”
“No, It is real, IT IS COMING!”
After about an hour the Lieutenant stopped pounding on the door and pleading and began sobbing. By the time the ship reached the portal to the wormhole she had gone quiet then began chanting “Ph’glui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagal”. The Captain watched over this period as four of the seven remaining crewmembers’ system sensors, which shown on the control panel, flat lined.
The entrance was a glistening sphere showing distorted images of the Andromeda Galaxy on the other side. Upon entering, it was like traveling down the center of a wide tunnel, surrounded by concentric circularly distorted repeats of the same view. An Einstein Ring with the whole view of the Galaxy wrapped into a series of rings that got more and more closely packed together as the Captain looked to the left or right -consequences of general relativity and the curvature of warped space like light viewed from a curved lens. Riesner watched the wondrous view, momentarily forgetting why he was there. But images from the dreams shook him and he choked with the stench of a thousand open graves and the stark reality of what was at stake brought him back.
Riesner projected a hologram of his family into the bridge chamber. He began sobbing uncontrollably then closed his eyes, reached for the key board and began turning off safety overrides. He ejected positive mass-energy into the wormhole and right before it collapsed and became a black hole his eyes rolled back in his head and yelled “Ph’glui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagal”.
As the wormhole became a black hole, masses nearby such as three of the outer moons of Uranus disappeared and the planet wobbled then stabilized. In Whitechapel London a fifteen year old full of teenage angst began spray painting the word “Cthulhu” on the sides of buildings though he did not know what the word meant. In a SOHO studio a painter who was one of the highest paid living artists began painting figures of a great grotesque figure with octopus features on a dragon body though he knew not why. In a South American village, a primitive tribe began dancing wildly around a fire chanting “Ph’glui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagal”. In …
Leave a tip
Feel free to leave a tip. The donation would go towards the upkeep of the website.
Deadman’s Tome is home to Book of Horrors, a horror anthology loaded with terrifying horror short stories that’ll chill you to the bone!
DISCLAIMER: Deadman’s Tome is a dark and gritty horror zine that publishes content not suitable for children. The horror zine proudly supports the freedom of dark creative works and stands against censorship. Hardly any subject matter is too taboo for this horror zine. As a result, Deadman’s Tome may feature content your mother would not approve of. But she doesn’t control your life, right?
I woke to shrill screeching, and my bed shaking like it was the end of the world. Bright sunlight flooded in as the window shade flew up. The digital clock read 2:37 AM.
The rumbling continued, and my heart slowed as I realized what it had to be. I doubted I’d get any more sleep, so I got out of bed, dressed and geared up, and went above deck. I found the Captain of the Norwegian Coast Guard Vessel Svalbard at the bow, looking over the railing to the water, and speaking on a handheld communicator.
“Aksel,” I said to him, interrupting.
He held up a hand, and continued speaking into the walkie, looking over the bow as he gestured vigorously. The engines reversed and the ship backed, turned, and forced its way into the ice at a new angle. It seemed to make better progress.
“Ja?” Captain Aksel Falk was in full uniform, and looked back over his shoulder at me as the ship shuddered as it cut into the frozen sea.
“We are making progress north; we’ve hit pack ice, about five hundred kilometers north of Longyearbyen, a little over eight hundred from your destination.”
“The North Pole is solid ice this time of the year.” At my look, he shrugged. “This year, anyway. We will have to see how close we can get before you will take a helo from the ship to your goal.”
I closed my eyes and turned my face upwards. I could feel the ‘midnight’ sun warm against my lids, turning them bright red, and the color triggered an awful memory which lay too near the surface. In my mind’s eye, I saw Cerise’s torn body, her blood staining our bed the same color, and I shuddered. My lover, my truest companion upon my mad quest to struggle on against the return of insane, alien horrors had been murdered despite all I could do. Her last reading had brought me to this point, on my way to defeat the Windwalker before its cosmic conjunction arrived and gave it the power to manifest.
I opened my eyes to a sudden sense of dislocation. Aksel was gone. What…?
Cries from far behind me. Calls. Shouting. And then I saw a streak of blood at the railing before me! The ship lurched as it went into reverse, and as we pulled back from the ice I saw the Captain’s body lying on the pack ice, blood splashed around him. I saw a greyish black rope around his chest, and my first thought was how out of place it seemed. Then the thing squirmed and I realized it was a tentacle, come up through a crack in the ice and pulling my friend further away from the Svalbard.
I looked around as the ship lurched again, this time to a sudden stop. A glance over the side showed more tentacles from the water on both sides of the bow, clutching at the Svalbard, weaving their way up to the decking. They were far too long to belong to a shoggoth such as had attacked Cerise and me just over a month ago, but we were sailing roughly two and a half miles above the Amundsen Basin, the deepest point of the Arctic Ocean.
Home to polypoid deep ones and to their Master, the Great Old One, Othuum.
But it made no sense! First, it would have to be aware of me, and I was only mortal, my successes to this point of minimal impact. Pyrrhic, in fact, considering how I’d lost Cerise–my love, my Oracle only months before.
The ship shuddered again. I heard a helicopter’s blades begin whirling from the flight deck. An alien god’s minions versus a modern, top of the line war machine- I had no idea how it would turn out. But the Captain might not be dead, and I still had to get to the North Pole to stop the Windwalker in order to prevent that catastrophe.
I backed up for a running start, and another disturbing thought crashed into my mind. Had this Old One sent the shoggoth to slaughter my love? Had it known of me? Of us and our war against their kind, and my coming north?
There was no time to consider all this now, not if I was going to help the Captain. I ran for the rail and vaulted it, leaving the deck of the Svalbard for the bloodstained pack ice where Aksel’s body lay.
My right foot plunged through the crumpled ice as I landed, and I sank in up to my thigh. The knee-high arctic muck boots I wore didn’t stop the shock of the frigid water as it soaked through the pants and rushed in to freeze my foot. I braced myself on the slippery surface to pull it back up, then felt something under the ice grab and wrench me back downwards.
I sank to my crotch as the ice crunched beneath me and couldn’t stop the involuntary shout at the pain and surprise. The muscles in my upper leg began to spasm as I fought the pull, and then I heard a muffled *crump* behind me. I turned in time to see a missile dart from one of the airborne helicopters into the water where it then exploded. Blood and chunks of meat burst into the air, and the water boiled angrily around us. Several tentacles, ravaging at the bow of the ship, suddenly recoiled into the water. The pressure pulling me downwards also vanished, and I fell forward onto my stomach with the abrupt release. I crawled along the pack ice and pulled my numbed leg out of the water.
I heard another helo take off, and then the deck guns of the Svalbard opened up into the water as well. I began scrambling towards the Captain, and then a huge explosion slapped the air behind me, pushing me forward in a helpless slide. A fireball rolled in my direction, hissing over the edge of the ice before dissipating far too close to me. When it cleared, I saw one of the helicopters motionless, lying ninety degrees to the vertical and impaled on a scorched tentacle for just a moment before both dropped into the ocean and were gone.
I got to Aksel just as I saw him jerk suddenly upright. Like the doomed helo, he, too, was transfixed on an oozy, grey tentacle.
Then his throat moved and a grotesque parody of his voice emerged:
This was not so not good. My gaze was frozen on the horror my friend and ally had become, even as the sounds of hyperwar went on behind me.
You have become emboldened by success and your dreams reek of your self-assurance I care not what victories you win over others but your fear and pain and despair taste far sweeter You will fall to chance or to error or to horror or to the elements or to time and your task will remain undone while I endure I offer this gift to feed your nightmares…
… and Aksel’s body fell to the ice before me as the tentacle whipped downward out of his body and into the sea.
I turned back to see the other ropy limps disengage from the Svalbard and also slide into the water. The cutter had sustained significant damage to the upper superstructure and the railing, and fresh scoring along the steel hull was apparent. One surviving helo flew tight circles around the ship, nose down like it was sniffing for signs of the disappeared enemy. I waved to get the attention of its crew, and it lifted to level and flew my way.
The muscles of my leg still spasmed and cramped, but I forced myself upright, and then to Aksel to lift his corpse from the ice. I turned back, unsteady on my feet, to see a harness lowered for us from the helicopter. I strapped the Captain’s body tightly, and it was winched up as I waited my turn. My teeth chattered and my leg ached, and I knew that neither of those things could be blamed completely on just the cold.
Back aboard the Svalbard, the medical clinic was rife with the sound of pain when I reached it. As battered and chilled as I felt, I was in much better shape than several of the Norwegian crew seeking attention. So instead of going in, I went past it to the bridge and walked in on a heated discussion which stopped when the officers saw me.
Since they looked both shaken and angry, I thought it best to speak first. “What’s the current situation, gentlemen?”
The First Officer looked at the others before answering me in a sharp-toned, heavily-accented English. “We have sustained casualties, lost a helicopter, and the ship is damaged. What the hell was that thing which attacked us?”
I reached for calm before I spoke. “Arctic sea life.”
“That is just so much shit.” He looked at his fellow officers, then at me with disgust. “We’ve never heard of anything like it, and we’re all career in the Coast Guard.”
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you, Commander Adamsen. But Captain Falk did explain the purpose of this mission to you and your men?”
“Only in general terms, I am afraid. That you have connections which made it possible to have our top-of-the-line Cutter available to take you, an American, to the North Pole, was clear enough.”
I didn’t like that past tense of ‘made’. “Do I still have your support?”
“Sir! We must turn back. We have injured who need far more care than we can give them here, and we’ve lost a helo, expended ordnance…”
“No. I’m afraid it’s an absolute priority that we proceed onward to the Pole.”
An angry conversation broke out in hurried Norwegian among the officers. I waited.
The Commander silenced the others and turned back to me. “Out of the question. We have a duty to those who are wounded and to the families of those we’ve lost, and to report what has happened.”
I held up a hand. “Who will assume command with Aksel dead?”
Everyone looked at the Commander expectantly. He collected their gazes, exhaled deeply, then nodded in my direction. “Me.”
“Then I need to speak with you alone,” I told him.
Adamsen spoke to his men, never breaking eye contact with me. “Hold position here. Try again to establish satellite communications with our base, and wait for me.” He then led me off the bridge and into the Captain’s operational room. Once inside, he closed the door behind us. “Now, who the hell are you, and why are we here? When Captain Falk was in charge, I followed his lead, but now I’m the one who needs to know.”
“My name isn’t important, only my mission.”
He folded his arms. “And that is?”
“To stop bad things from happening.”
“You didn’t stop this ship being attacked!”
“On the scale of bad things to stop, this was nothing.” I saw him about to retort angrily, and interrupted before he did, holding up a placating hand. “I’m sorry, Commander; I didn’t mean that to sound as though I was trivializing your losses. Please know that I’m deeply sorry about Captain Falk and your other casualties, but what we’re doing is necessary in the larger scheme of things. Aksel understood that.”
He deflated a bit, mastering his anger, and it made me respect him more. “Then make me understand, too.”
“Okay. That thing we fought; it’s like nothing you ever saw before, right?” He nodded. “It’s too big, too powerful, and far too intelligent. It’s one of a bunch of such…things, beings, what have you… that the governments of the world have either turned a blind eye towards because they’re a difficult truth to acknowledge, or which they ignore because they’ve already been subverted.”
Adamsen’s eyes bulged. “Conspiracies?”
“Or deliberate ignorance. Look, you saw that thing in action, saw what it did to the chopper you lost, and to this ship. Did you think anything natural could have fought the Svalbard as it did?”
He sat suddenly, as though the strength had fled his legs. “My God! What was it?”
“Ancient. Perhaps alien, or at least so I believe from the Book of Eibon.”
“What was this Eibon?”
“Not a what, but a who. He fought against these beings twenty thousand or so years ago; figured out how to use their power against them, left a lot of instructions. That’s what I do, Adamsen.”
“But, I don’t understand! There was nothing twenty thousand…”
I stepped close and put my hand on his shoulder. “I lost someone very dear to me recently. She was slaughtered by a thing much like that-” the Commander blanched- “only smaller, sent to stop us from heading north on this mission. We need to reach the pole on schedule, to prevent something even more powerful than what we fought today from manifesting fully.”
His face paled and his eyes were wide as he looked up at me. “Worse than that?”
“Much. And, Adamsen–the woman I lost… she was Aksel’s niece. That’s why he knew, why he had agreed to help me.”
His eyes took on an introspective, vulnerable look, and I guessed that he was thinking of his dead Captain at that moment. But he was trained military, and his eyes soon focused back on me. “Tell me everything,” he said in a more firm voice.
“I will, but we still need to go north, and we have to go now.”
I saw the decision in his face when he made it. He stood, opened the door to the bridge and gave orders in Norwegian to the crew there. I listened for arguments, but heard none. Adamsen spoke again, more softly, and I heard the sound of the ship cutting into the pack ice began once again. Finished, he turned back to me. Unconsciously, he straightened his uniform before he spoke. “I need to address the crew, see the wounded, explain why we cannot return to base. I’ll have dinner brought here, and then you’ll explain everything–from the beginning, mind–so that I can understand what I have committed my men to as fully as Captain Falk did.”
I nodded. He left.
Alone in the Captain’s operational room, I reflected on how I’d just recruited the next pawn in the war against the Ancients that I would never stop fighting. Not if it cost the lives of everyone on this ship including mine, and especially not even after the shoggoth had murdered the broken girl who’d been my lover and Oracle.
The costs of my war against the Ancients had already been beyond my once-naive reckoning, and would only escalate from here. But I also knew that the stakes were too high to give up striving against Them. For if I failed to stop the Old Ones from achieving their return to full power during their cosmic conjunctions–as painstakingly laid out in Eibon’s text–all of humanity might end up paying a horrible price.
However painful, victory was necessary, so I’d go on regardless of the toll.
Deadman’s Tome is a growing horror zine that publishes terrifying horror short stories and horror flash fiction whether it’s ghost stories, zombie invasions, bigfoot sightings, slasher sprees, bizarre fiction, classic horror literature or erotica. The darker and grittier the tale the better. If you enjoyed the horror short, or even if you didn’t, leave a comment below as it helps the authors.
Many horror writers say that they write in Lovecraftian style, but only a few actually mean it. S. Alessandro Martinez means it. Read Corruption in the Deep and if the prose does not sound like something lifted from The Rats In The Walls, then I’ll owe you.
Enjoy this interview with a talented horror author and Lovecraft fan!
I have undertaken a journey in search of glory and professional recognition but as I approach my final hours I must recount the hardships I have endured in this quest. I have to say that the sole purpose of these pages is to deter any man from pursuing an expedition such as the one I so naively embarked on. It all started in the fall of 19–; during this time I held a position as a professor of anthropology at the University of Buenos Aires, where I was conducting a lecture on the lexicon and its features. Towards the end of the semester, I was visited by a man that introduced himself as a representative of the Italian Hospital and although he was dressed in fine clothing his eyes evoked a dismal sensation in me. He bore the tragic news of my grandfather’s hospitalization as a result of a heart attack. My grandfather, Dr. Manuel Hernandez, a celebrated anthropologist whose work included the exploration of ancient ruins found in the Galan Mountains, laid the foundation in the field of glyph deciphering. When I reached his bedside, I found him laid strewn across the bed with numerous apparatuses attached to his body. The medical staff informed me that he was brought in after suffering a collapse at a local coffee shop but that his condition was stable. I remained by his bedside that night but noticed that he became restless and began to move around his bed. The incident culminated with my grandfather’s awakening and frantic attempt to get out of bed.
In his delirium, he spoke of megalithic cities and claimed to have seen the remains of a race that lived eons before mankind. The hospital staff and I regarded these tales as mere tricks of the mind, a product of the fever he suffered from. His condition remained stable for several weeks but his physical body would prove to have reached its living capacity and expire a few months later. Before his passing, when I began my career in the field of anthropology, my grandfather gave me a key to his personal archives and asked me not to use the key until after his dead. He claimed that the archives contained his most secretive research and that if it were to fall in the wrong hands, insanity would surely follow the reader.
After the funeral, looking down at the key in my hand, I decided to search for his personal archives. In his office laid a vast collection of books, photographs and various artifacts, which I meticulously rearranged to ease my search. The task took me several days but when I finally narrowed my search to the last pile of boxes my perseverance was rewarded. In the contents of a cardboard box I found a smaller metal box. From the looks of the container, one could deduce that this was not an ordinary box; for it was elegantly decorated with carved images of a humanoid race worshiping what appeared to be chimera gods; part human and part animal. The craftsmanship of the box was impressive, but as I further examined the object I noticed an inscription carved on its edge. The writing was in Latin and it translated to the following: “That is not dead which can eternal lie and with strange eons even death may die”. This inscription could only have alluded to the horrors contained in Pandora’s Box. I proceeded to unlock the box and was astonished when I gazed at the contents. There it lay; bound in human leather, the ancient, mystical and forbidden text known as the al-Azif. Tales of its existence were rumored throughout the ages and phrases from its pages murmured in the whispers of the night. After Pope Gregory IX suppressed and burnt all remaining copies, I could not conceive the idea of how my grandfather obtained a copy of such an ancient work of literature. In the same box, I also found an envelope which was addressed to “my beloved grandson”. The envelope contained a letter in which my grandfather described the events that led to his discovery of the al-Azif.
The discovery took place during his excavation in the Galan Mountains, where a volcanic upheaval had uncovered the remains of an ancient city. The site was discovered by a resident of the Catamarca Province who had stumbled upon the ancient stonework while grazing his herd. My grandfather was contacted immediately by the University of Buenos Aires and asked to assess the archaeological potential of the site. Upon his arrival a team of locals guided him through the treacherous terrain but by the time they reached the site, twilight was closing in and the team decided to camp and wait till the following morning to commence the assessment. That night, my grandfather’s sleep was perturbed by nightmares of the most bizarre nature and he attributed them as the source of his discovery. In these nightmares, he ran through the desert sands of an ancient city in an attempt to escape from an invisible malignant entity. He sought refuge in the forgotten subterranean passages of the city and during his frantic escape the passages lead him to a stygian crypt. Found in the crypt were the remains of the ancient kings of Irma, preserved in shrouds and riches. As he walked through the tombs, he heard numerous whispers that told him to open one of the ancient caskets. As he opened the casket, a gust of wind emerged from the container and began to absorb his body into the casket. Awakened by these visions he was determined to sleep no more.
The excavation began the following morning and as quickly as it had started; tremors and danger of volcanic activity hindered the progress of the assessment. Although progress was minimal, during the following days my grandfather was able to gather enough archeological artifacts to initiate his initial experiments. The results revealed the stone to be 2.2 million years in age and the artifacts to be thousands of years older than any of the ancient civilizations known today. These results were astonishing, for if the date of these artifacts were accurate, our complete perception of when humanity commenced could change. These were controversial findings and my grandfather decided to run multiple tests before he could confirm his results. With precision, the remaining tests supported the first findings. This was substantial evidence that would forever change the notion of the origins of mankind. Before he concluded this investigation, he decided to conduct a final excavation in the northern part of the site, where he made his most horrifying discovery. There, in an ancient casket, he found 13 jars containing ancient scrolls, some written in Arabic and others in unknown glyphs. After further testing, the scrolls written in Arabic were dated to 730 A.D. The discrepancy with his initial findings was puzzling since the ancient civilizations of Arabia did not flourish during this ancient period of time.
That night, he began his work to decipher the ancient glyphs but the task proved to be more difficult and time consuming than anticipated. After a few weeks he received a notification from the university asking for a progress report, but failed to submit an official report. He needed more time to conclude his experiment and after applying every grammatical and linguistic pattern to the ancient text he felt cheated, for every attempt that brought him close to clarity was quickly discarded as a mismatch. His work persisted for months and the university threatened to terminate his funding if he did not comply with a full progress report. He was not able to fully decipher the text but soon reported to the university his preliminary findings. He became obsessed with the glyphs that he almost forgot about the other scrolls found in the site. He proceeded to dedicate his efforts in analyzing the text in Arabic. By that time he had already returned to Buenos Aires and during the winter of 19– he came to a major breakthrough when he discovered that the texts were remains of the al-Azif. During this time, he recounted to have suffered from nightmares and episodes of sleep paralysis where an unknown presence would hold him in thrall to his bed. The product of his work resulted in the compilation of these scrolls into the al-Azif and the creation of the container holding the book, which illustrations were taken from visions of his nightmares.
His letter did not detail the events following the creation of the al-Azif and with this tale he left my mind perplexed at the events I had just read. After reading my grandfather’s published work and official reports to the university I noticed that he did not mentioned the finding of the al-Azif which led me to focus my attention in the contents of the book and its relation to the ancient scrolls. I began to study the book with the same ardor that carried me through my graduate studies and as a result I increasingly became obsessed with the text. Initially, I began to occasionally miss lectures but my obsession with the book soon pushed me to completely stop going to work. I submitted a leave of absence to the university on grounds of personal conflicts and was granted my petition within a matter of days. With my responsibilities to the university temporarily suspended, I retired to my home where I was able to immerse myself deeper in the study of the text.
My wife began to grow concerned when I started to spend entire days in my office without any food consumption, for she had noticed a rapid decline in my body weight. My daughter began to ask with more frequency the reason for my seclusion and why my appearance seemed to have a somber tone. I tried to appease both of their minds by allowing them to see me during the day for a few hours but my quest for knowledge was stronger than my will and soon found myself withdrawing back to isolation. As the months passed my seclusion intensified to the point that my wife and daughter abandoned me, for they felt that they could no longer live with the stranger I had become. When I finally concluded my studies I realized that my family had abandoned me and although I desired to amend the damage I had caused my family, what I had discovered beckoned me to embark on a voyage to confirm my speculations.
During his preliminary research my grandfather had laid a crude but useful technique which after a few manipulations allowed me to fully decode the ancient scrolls he found in the Galan Mountains. The scrolls were from an ancient race that existed eons before mankind; a race that has been known throughout time as the “lizard people” by the Hopi Indians of North America and the Nāgas by the Hindu in India. This race kept records of the events that had occurred since the formation of the earth and had witnessed the evolution of mankind. This and other gruesome tales were the contents of the ancient scrolls, but the tale that drew my attention told of a relentless ruler that had possession of the al-Azif and during an encounter with an angry multitude the book was torn to pieces and scattered to the most remote places on earth. There were five secret locations but four were found and kept hidden by the descendants of this mysterious race. The last piece was buried in a nameless grave and an altar to the spirits of the desert was erected above it to deter anyone from excavating the site.
This discovery was crucial, for it identified in theory the location of the remaining pages of the book. However, the only way to confirm this hypothesis was to travel to the vast pagan lands of Arabia where I speculated the remaining pieces of the book could be found. I immediately submitted a letter to the university requesting funding to continue my grandfather’s work but concealed my true intentions from the department officials for they would have not supported such a farfetched expedition in search of the al-Azif. I knew that the discovery of this text would be the biggest archeological finding of the century and I wanted to be the one to make this discovery.
With generous funding from the university I was able to reach my destination and commence my expedition. Arriving at Sana’a, I purchased provisions and a camel to travel north east of the city and into the border of the Rub’ al Khali. Upon my arrival I had arranged for a member of the Bedu tribe to meet me at this location. The Bedu have lived on this wasteland since before recorded time and know the land better than anyone. Without the guidance of the Bedu, one should forsake any hope of penetrating the sands of the Rub’ al Khali for its arid hills would swallow any man and leave no traces of his passage. A man with a rugged countenance was waiting for me and introduced himself as Cabd-Al Hadi, the son of a shepherd. During our travel we endured a scorching heat, and withstood suffocating winds that filled our lungs with dust particles. As I recalled, I was on the verge of suffocation when Cabd decided to settle and wait for the winds to abate. He placed our camels next to each other and created a makeshift tent between them using blankets and pieces of cloth. We must have waited the entire afternoon because by the time the sand storm had ceased, twilight had approached our location. We decided to continue our journey in the cool of the night to avoid the blistering heat.
After traveling for several nights, we finally came across a sand dune that was unlike any of the ones I had seen in the landscape. This dune towered above all of them and seemed to have been carved out of the sands by the violent winds native to this region. At last I had reached the destination that would bring me the recognition and prestige I craved. I could not contain my excitement and I eagerly began to unload my supplies, but was surprised when I found out that Cabd would not be accompanying me to the other side of the dune. His reason left me wondering about the religious beliefs of the Bedu, for they avoid coming to this forsaken place due to the fear of the evil spirits that dwell here. I disregarded his reasons, for my excitement was greater than any fear a man can experience. I ventured alone into the sands and once at the top I gazed at the landscape as it was illuminated by the light of the moon. I caught a glimpse of a stone protruding from the sands and quickly slid down the sand to inspect the stone. As I examined the stone, I notice that it contained inscriptions that were very similar to the ones I had seen in the box containing the al-Azif. I went back to find Cabd and decided that I would set up camp alone next to the site, since Cabd was frightened to venture beyond the dune. That night, my excitement reached high levels and unable to sleep, I decided to start my excavation. As I uncovered the stonework, a sinister wind blew through my campsite as if an unknown force wanted to prevent me from uncovering the ruins. I disregarded this incident as mere tricks of the mind and continued excavating until my body was exhausted. My excavation lasted for a few nights until I finally exposed the monolith hidden beneath the sands. An entrance lay at the bottom of the monolith and contained steps leading down into the entrails of the earth. If my calculations were correct, this was the entrance to the chamber where the remaining pages of the al-Azif were buried.
I now found myself staring into the abyss; I lit a torch and began my descent into the darkness. The passage was narrow and the steps crumbled with every footstep. As I continued my descent, the passage became increasingly difficult to navigate and the temperature began to drop. The distance I descended was enormous but I could not deduce the exact distance, for the strenuous difficulty of the descent demanded my complete focus on every step I took. When I reached the bottom, I lifted my torch to illuminate the room and realized that I was in the resting chamber of the individual for which this tomb was designed. The chamber was made with rudimentary stonework and at the end of the chamber laid an alcove that showed marks of deterioration due to the passage of time. Inside were the remains of an individual wrapped in shrouds that also showed the same temporal deterioration. I proceeded to remove the shrouds and was astonished by what my eyes beheld. There laid the remains of a man who was holding to his chest the last pages of the al-Azif. I freed the pages from his grasp and began to read the contents.
The pages were written in Arabic and were difficult to read due to their extensive deterioration; however, I was able to decipher the text, which translated to the following:
“I Abdul-Al Hazred have seen the darkest depths of hell and have witness what man can only perceive in his nightmares. These visions have tormented my body and soul, and as a result I now write these pages to warn any mortal about the dark powers contained in the al-Azif. Be warned stranger of the contents of these pages for the evil contained in them knows no bound. What once existed will one day return to its origins, for we are part of Them and They are part of us. Although man is unable to see Them, we can feel their presence in the darkness. They are the sinister whispers we hear in the wind. They are the reason why dogs howl in the late hours of the night. We will soon be reunited once again, ashes to ashes and dust to dust.”
Although I was startled by these words, I disregarded the warning and began reading the forbidden pages. The pages contained various incantations and works of black magic, which as described by the book were once used by necromancers to raise the dead. As I continued to read, I could not have been mentally prepared for the events that were about to unfold in this stygian vault, for they were to be the final seal in my destiny. As I read one of the incantations out loud, “Lords of time and darkness. You are and always will be. Waiting endlessly, drink the wine of the living. That which is eternal, I ask thee to open the gates and let me peer into the darkness” with no anticipation, a gust of wind rushed from the entrance of the tomb and extinguished the fire in my torch. I was startled by the sudden darkness and I frantically began to light my torch. During this process I accidentally struck my finger with the flint stones and began to bleed. The blood from my hands poured into the earth and at the moment I did not realized that a few drops of blood was all the ritual needed to come to a conclusion. I had unwillingly performed one of the ancient rituals. Now, what once lay dead was about to become reanimated. In the darkness I started to hear the beating of the fiend’s heart. It grew louder and louder until it finally culminated with a hellish cry. When I had finally managed to light my torch, I was frozen in fear when I gained sight of the fiend now standing before of me. Still covered in shrouds, there it stood, ancient and decayed. Looking around to see where he was, he soon fixed his glare straight at me and with a voice as deep as the depths in which we found ourselves in, he asked who I was. Although I was frozen by the fear running through my veins, I calmly answered: “It is I, Cabd-Al Hadi” thinking that the cultural familiarity would appeal to the fiend’s submissive side. He was able to see through the lie and answered with the following tale.
“When you become part of Them, you gain knowledge of past, present and future. I know who you really are and that what you seek in this place is founded on greed; a desire for glory and academic recognition. Since you failed to obey the warning in my text, I know the fate that awaits you. However, I know that as a scholar you seek information regarding the origins of the al-Azif and therefore I will tell you how the al-Azif came to be before your fate is sealed.
I flourished during the period of the Ommiade Caliphs in the 8th century and as the son of a shepherd, I lived in poverty. I was a wretch for I did not want to live a life of poverty. What my heart really desired were earthly riches and my peers’ admiration. I was determined to change my situation and sought the easiest way to obtain what I most wanted. I have always believed in the deity and was a devoted follower, but I knew that there were also dark forces that could deliver what my heart desired. I visited the dark shamans of the Al-Sulaba and asked them to help me obtain the wealth I craved for. At the cost of a few dirhams, I obtained their guidance in the blackened arts. They instructed me in various rituals that I performed in my dwelling during the dark of night. After months of practice without any results, I finally made contact with an entity that went by the name Buer. This being did not approach me in his demonic depiction, but rather he presented himself in the form of a man. He was tall and although very handsome, his face was as dead as the desert in which we find ourselves in. The being offered to fulfill my desires in exchange for faithful devotion to his will. I accepted the offer and was instructed in rituals more powerful than the ones I’ve previously learned. I soon learned how to control animals such as dogs and use them to cast calamity on my enemies. During this time, through his teachings I gained forbidden knowledge that I later transcribed into what I called the al-Azif.
To continue my training he required me to perform monthly rituals that first involved the sacrifice of animals such as chickens and dogs, but his demands soon escalated to levels in which the sacrifices required the blood of an infant. I hesitated at first but I had made a commitment that I could not break and began pondering on the various ways in which I was going to obtain this offering. Not far from where I lived a peasant woman had given birth to a baby boy; I decided to visit her in the middle of the night and take the baby by force. When the demon appeared to claim his sacrifice, I told him that I did not want to continue the training but rather that I just desired to become a wealthy man. He did not comply with his end of the deal and as a result the contract that bound us was terminated. I decided to perform one of the ancient rituals I had transcribed in the al-Azif to communicating with an entity that dwelled in lower levels than Buer. The ritual was simple and only required the sacrifice of lesser animals. I executed the ritual for many nights and even offered my own blood as a sacrifice but my efforts were futile. During the last night I attempted the ritual I hopelessly went to sleep, thinking of other ways to communicate with this being. That night, I was surprisingly woken up by footsteps coming from outside my dwelling.
As I rushed outside, I saw a pig standing on his two hind legs looking straight at me. I was astonished by the sight but felt no fear of the creature and asked him who he was. He replied by telling me that he was here to answer my calling and introduced himself as Lucifuge Rofocale. He told me that my efforts have not been in vain and asked me to accompany him into the desert. We walked in silence for miles and finally came across a cave in the sands. He entered and beckoned me to follow. In the darkness of the cave the entity would become both visible and invisible as he taunted my senses. He assured me that he could provide me with the wealth I craved for but that the cost was very high and would have to be delivered immediately. He asked for the life of one of my loved ones and disappeared in the darkness. I exited the cave and while I walked back to my dwelling I asked myself who I could give as an offering. With tears in my eyes, I decided to offer my grandmother, for she was older and had already lived a plentiful life. That same night, I grabbed my blade and while my grandmother was sleeping, I butcher her body. The atrocities I committed were beyond description, but as I stood beholding my deed, the pig appeared once more and confirmed my sacrifice.
Within a few weeks, I was quickly contacted by the servants of Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik and asked to accompany them to the palace. When I arrived Hisham was sitting in his golden throne and revealed the reason for my calling. He claimed to have seen me in a dream where I emerged victorious from a battle against the forces of the east. He took this dream as a premonition for the threat to come and quickly promoted me into the high ranks of the military. During one of the trainings in the northland I was contacted by the demon, now in the form of jackal, and was warned of the civil revolution that was about to unfold. I was also instructed to take sides with the Abbasid rebels in their mission to overthrow the Caliphate. That night, I was confronted by a legion of rebels heading to the Zab River and after being apprehended I offered my loyalty for the cause. They accepted my loyalty and allowed me to join their army. While in battle I was possessed by an unnatural force that prompted me to commit heinous acts against my rivals. My deeds were so horrendous that I dare not mention the details. After the battle in the Zab River, we carried the massacre to Damascus where I murdered nearly all members of the Omayyad clan. The revolution was a success and as a reward for my commitment to the revolution, I was granted dominion over the southwest region where I settled in the city of Sana’a.
During this time, the fury I carried inside me grew to such extreme levels that I sought various ways to satisfy my thirst for gore. I visited the neighboring towns in search for the most beautiful girls and lured them into my palace with promise of employment. When the girls did not come willingly, I proceeded to beat them into unconsciousness and drag them with me. I would keep them captive in the palace to satisfy my brain’s lust and although the atrocities I committed can be seen as the works of a madman, they were a necessity for the preservation of my sanity. Just like an addiction, I would suffer from somatic symptoms that would manifest in the form of nausea and body aches. The discomfort only prompted me to seek relief in the butchering of girls.
As the number of victims started to escalate, a dismal reputation of my palace began to grow in the neighboring towns and my infamy began to spread throughout the land. During this period, the demon appeared to me once again, but this time in the form of a hideous woman. This form, although more familiar, was more frightening than any of the previous ones, for the odd proportions of the facial features gave her a hellish appearance. She was always near, and I could feel her presence everywhere I went. At night, the woman would appear and force me into sexual encounters that would include her and other demons. In the case that I was to refuse to participate, she would punish me with corporal torture. These visits aggravated my mental stability and with it the intensity and savagery of my torture techniques increased.
At this point, the relations we held with the Chinese was deteriorating and culminated with an order from the Caliphate to attack the forces in the east. I departed from the palace and joined our troops at the outskirts of the Talas River. By dawn the carnage began and just as I had experienced before, my knife was frantically taking lives. Although we emerged victorious from the battle, I suffered from bodily injuries that left me in a period of recovery when I returned to the palace. Even though I was recovering, I could not stop my sadistic urges and continued the torture.
These events culminated with the discovery of numerous bodies buried in various locations but, since I was the highest authority in the region I could not be prosecuted. Even so, my deeds were divulged throughout the land and I became known as an infamous butcher who lived his decree to the fullest. Although I now had an abundance of earthly riches, I was not able to enjoy them to the fullest for I would constantly be tormented by the demon. Besides the physical abuse, she would torment my mind to the point that my sanity collapsed. Not even the torture I gave to those girls could maintain my sanity and I knew that my ending was drawing nearer. I decided to write the letter you now hold in your hands, giving a warning to those who seek the dark powers of the al-Azif. Soon after, I suffered from a collapse of the central nervous system and was left in an incapacitated state where I lost complete control of my body. The dark power I had unleashed that faithful night with the al-Azif lead to my demise and one night, a group of rebels broke into the palace to take their revenge upon my earthly body. Although I could not move a single muscle, I still had complete preservation of my tactile senses and was writhing in the throbbing pain. The rebels released their fury in my body and proceeded to drag me outside the palace. What I encountered there was the gruesome sight of the gallows. I was to be tortured and hanged as a punishment for my deeds.
As the rebels extinguished the life left in my body, the town’s elders decided that the al-Azif was to be torn to pieces and each piece to be scattered among the most remote places on earth. I was to be buried with the last piece of the dreaded book and my last written words. In order to deter anyone from finding this forbidden text, the elders decided to seal my tomb within this monolith and asked the spirits of the deserts to guard my tomb. What they did not take into account is that the al-Azif is an entity of its own that cannot be destroyed, for it is alive and through the forces it commands, it can make contact with the living using the dimension we know as dreams. I knew that the al-Azif would make contact with others and that I would soon confront a seeker of the book’s dark powers. I hold my highest level of confidence that you will not be leaving this place with this demonic book, for the spirits of the desert stand guard. As I have already mentioned, we should soon join Them, for we are part of Them, ashes to ashes and dust to dust.”
With these words, the mad Arab returned to his resting place and any traces of reanimation vanished from his body. I soon found myself in complete darkness for my torch ran out of fuel and became extinguished. In the darkness, my ears rang with the morbid tale I had just heard and although my mind had not completely made sense of the event that had unfolded before my eyes, it kept me calm enough to preserve my sanity. I knew I had to get out of that accursed crypt but could not leave without the book I had come for. I palpated through the darkness looking for the al-Azif and when I felt its familiar shape, I quickly placed it in my bag. At this instant a gust of wind came rushing from the entrance of the crypt and filled the chamber with its presence. The mysterious appearance of the wind filled the air with a sinister feeling that prompted me to accelerate my search for the exit. When I finally reached the staircase, the wind had increased its strength. I struggled to climb my way back to the surface, for the darkness and the wind made it increasingly difficult to continue my ascent. The struggle was immense, but a sense of relief filled me when I saw the exit illuminated by the light of the moon.
When I surfaced, I was astounded to see that what once was a surrounded by sand dunes now was a flat wasteland. There were no topographical landmarks, only infinite seas of sand from every direction. I called for Cabd and received no reply, only the sound of emptiness. Under the light of the moon, I stood helpless and alone. I then recalled the warnings of the mad Arab and the legend of the spirits of the desert, which were meant to prevent anyone from attaining these forbidden pages. I wandered aimlessly for many days in hopes of finding my way back to civilization but my attempts were futile. I became a prisoner to the sands from which I had ripped this dreaded book. I knew that my probabilities of survival were miniscule and now that dehydration had deteriorated my body, I began to write these pages before it was too late. I will soon become part of Them and perish in the sands. What it is to become of the al-Azif I do not know, but will soon gain infinite knowledge just like the mad Arab Abdul-Al Hazred. What once existed will soon return to its origins, ashes to ashes and dust to dust.
Become a patron today and support the online magazine!
Deadman’s Tome is a growing horror zine that publishes short stories and flash fiction whether it’s ghost stories, zombie invasions, bigfoot sightings, slasher sprees, bizarre fiction, classic horror literature, lovecraftian literature, or erotica. The darker the tale the better. If you enjoyed the story, or even if you didn’t, leave a comment below as it helps the authors.