By: Lawrence Rosales
Weightless, his body descended into the deep. The further he went the louder the music. It was not the sound of the ocean in his ears but drums, pounding against skins, relentless, rhythmic, and soothing. This song of the deep was accompanied by words, whispered and without meaning. Tonight he felt he had fallen further than before. That he was reaching levels of the ocean that no human or machine could or had traveled. This far into the black the drums were louder and the words clearer. They seemed to contain a meaning that was just out of his reach.
He sensed something below him. In his mind he saw a city of grandeur, atop a mountain, at the bottom of everything. His brain pulled at his body, begging his eyes to open. The words in his mind were filtered, given life, they tasted ancient. He attempted to repeat them but as they passed his lips, water rushed into his mouth. His mind filled with knowledge, his lungs with water. He couldn’t breathe.
Sam peeled a pillow from the right side of his face. On the left of his face, between his ear, and the mattress, was a telephone. The dial tone hummed in his ear. He slept this way because his mother and father argued, as they did now, downstairs. His mother paced the kitchen staring at her knives, initiating fights that she couldn’t finish. His father hurled curses from his chair in the living room, his mother threw them back from the kitchen. Since he developed his condition they were like two kids throwing a ball back and forth, to see who dropped it first.
He was the reason they fought but it wasn’t his fault. When it happened they went from doctor to doctor, from second opinions, to third opinions, until they were left with only prayers. Finally, his parents quit fighting for him and turned against one another. Sam accepted his fate. He would live here in the dark, blind.
It was five in the morning and his parents were still going at it. All he wanted was sleep. It was all he could think about, the deep, the song, finding meaning in those words. They say when you lose a sense, the other senses are heightened. They don’t tell you the one that enhances most is your mind. Without constant visual stimuli you’re left alone with your thoughts. The dial tone of the phone helped distract his mind. He tried to remember his dream.
He lifted his arms out, his body forming the shape of a “T”, like an abandoned cross tossed into the ocean. As he drifted further into the abyss, he felt tentacles coursing through the veins of his brain. His fist unclenched and he allowed himself to drift and to feel safe in this cocoon of darkness. Sam had been learning to control the dream after weeks of being haunted by it. The more lucidity his mind found the more he embraced it.
He concentrated on that lucidity and opened his mouth and the cold, thick, water, filled his lungs. His heart didn’t beat faster; there was no panic as he consciously drowned himself. His instincts fought against his mind, thrashing, and screaming. He ignored all of it.
He felt his feet touch the bottom, cold marble beneath his toes. He lifted his head and imagined the monoliths from his dreams; he was certain they towered over him. He breathed in another mouthful of water and the feeling of a deep breath made his chest pulsate. He began his journey up the path before him. His hands traced the walls of architecture that ran beside him. Dragging his fingers across the indented surfaces like brail, he could read the story of this forgotten place. Eons of history transcribed into words that could speak the story of everything, in a single moment.
He touched the lines of the buildings and they felt surreal. There were no correlations between what he felt and what he could imagine. He had no point of reference for these shapes from his world. The construction of these citadels was non-Euclidian and straight with sharp edges. With long strides and deep breaths he climbed. To be lost in the dark for so long and to finally come home was exhilarating.
He took one last step and knew he had arrived. Atop this mountain of stairs, he turned to the place he had crawled from. There had never been so clearly a linear line to demark where you came from and where you were going. At the base of the stairs one life had ended and through ascension another had begun.
He stared up and a thought came to him, that the ability to never see again was the greatest gift he had ever received. If his eyes could have seen those pillars of stone, and monoliths of madness, he would have lost his sanity long ago. He turned back to the path before him and walked into the opening of the city. In the middle was a large stone altar. His hands felt the carving upon it and for a moment, for the first time, he felt afraid.
A slow wave skimmed across his face. Standing across the heavy stone, something had spread itself open, hatching, wings separating from one another, causing this ripple to drift through the blackness. The carvings on the altar allowed him to picture what was before him. It was breathing slowly, inhaling his taste, caressing his mind. A sharp claw moved across the side of his face, releasing blood into the water. He focused on the pain, embraced it. Sam’s eyes rolled back, his face contorted into ecstasy, his hands shook and he raised them in praise. A message crawled from the beast, down the skin of his belly, across the marble, into his mind. The words spoken were diseased and would have been only a cacophony of noise to his ear before. His new knowledge transcribed them instantly.
You are my Yog-Sothoth. You are the key, the guardian, the gate. I will Rise.
Awake now, again, for the first time. Sam, put his feet onto the cold floor. This time the surface was wood and not the marble of the city. He stood and walked to the intercom of his bedroom door. He loathed using it. This time would be an exception and a means to never use it again. He pressed the small red button on the intercom, and his mother answered. “Sam, can I get you something?” Sam pressed his lips against the box and spoke the words from the deep. There was a long silence and then a word came back through the box spoken by a voice that used to be his mother, “fhtagn”.
“Thank you, Mother. When Dad gets home I need you to let him know as well. I have work to do now, good-bye.”
Sam returned to the warmth of his bed and picked up the phone. “This is 911, what is your emergency?” The disease slid through the fiber-optics of the telephone line and entered through the other side. “I need you to call dispatch and let the police know to tell everyone”.A long hard breath came through the receiver to Sam, “fhtagn,” came next.
The mayor was sitting on his back patio when he heard sirens. This was an affluent neighborhood and police sirens were not normal here. While there wasn’t much he assumed he could do, it seemed his civic duty. As he walked through the living room, he heard the doorbell.
“Hello, officers I was just headed out to see what the emergency was. Can I help you with something?” The men stared and the siren blared, the expression on the officer’s faces was empty, like dolls with their stuffing ripped out. The mayor was getting nervous. “You do know who I am, don’t you?” The mayor asked.
A quick secession of words was exchanged; the last one was “fhtagn.” The police officers returned to their vehicle. The mayor stepped into his home and went to his desk. He called his secretary at the office and informed her of the situation and what she needed to tell all the citizens who would be calling. He then pulled up his Twitter account and logged in. “Dear citizens, public water will be shut off immediately. If you have ingested any at all, call the Mayor’s office. You could die.”
As the nervous phone calls flooded in, the congregation grew.
A man browsed the internet when he found what he had been looking for. His desire required a young, up-for-anything, cam-girl. He could see her on his screen, staring back at him, her finger in front of her face saying, come on. He typed his credit card in and the session began. “You know what I want you to do?” he said, breathing through his mouth. She leaned into the web-cam showing her filed down piranha like teeth. His dick went limp in his hand as she spoke the words of the deep. He mumbled, “fhtagn”. Logged off and went to find his nail grinder his teeth felt they needed attention.
Across the city, a disease pulsed through the veins of its infrastructure. A woman in a downtown grocery store was searching for the right loaf of bread as her kids went running from aisle to aisle. The PA in the store turned on with a hiss. The patrons listened. An announcement was made by a man who sounded as though he had seaweed stuffed down his throat. Customers left behind half-filled baskets as they filed out the front door, into the streets. In unison the word, “fhtagn”, repeated from their dry mouths.
Across the highways of the city cars were left sitting like obedient dogs. Between the spaces of the abandoned vehicles men in business suits and mothers walked down the pavement, all headed in the same direction. As the flow of bodies crossed an inter-pass some of the weaker stopped. Their minds telling them they could not travel the distance required. They held hands with their brothers and sisters and smiled as they stepped off the ledge of the mix master and descended, smirking. Sirens squawked as bodies made impact, windows smashed, and car alarms screamed at anyone who would listen.
Sam stood at his bedroom window. The followers had gathered in the street. He felt their presence. He laid his ear against the cold glass of the window. The sound from the crowd at first was a low hum but as more arrived on the street it ascended. The sun sunk while the sound shook his window, “Fhtagn. Fhtagn. Fhtagn”.
Sam went down stairs. Wearing his red and blue pajamas, he stepped over his mother and father, and out onto the lawn. With his hands above his head Sam spoke the words of the gate keeper, “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn” As he repeated himself; his congregation spoke as one, regurgitating the words, “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn”, again and again, “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn” over and over.
The chanting continued and Sam returned to his home and climbed underneath the covers. He was proud to think he would no longer need the dial tone of his phone to sleep. He doubted it worked anymore anyways. He closed his eyes and drifted off.
When he awoke, he was back in the deep. The drums pounded with life. The song of the deep, led the way. He wasn’t alone now. He touched the bodies all around him. These were his new brothers and sisters. They, like he, breathed in the water of the deep and what was once human, was now something more. Together they drifted towards the bottom, singing, with water in their lungs and a song in their heart.
They were all going home.