a modernization by James Hampton Belton
of a story by H. P. Lovecraft
(c) Copyright 2019
“Gorgons, Hydras, and Chimeras—dreadful stories of Celaeno and the other harpies—may reproduce themselves in the superstitious brain—but they were there already. The archetypes are in us, and eternal. Why else would tales of things we know to be false affect us at all? Are we naturally terrified of things able to inflict bodily injury upon us? Not in the least! These terrors are older. They date from before the body. Without the body, they would remain unchanged. That the kind of fear discussed here is purely spiritual, is as strong as it is without a material cause, and predominately occurs during our sinless childhood, is a problem whose solution may give insight into our supernatural condition, and a peep at least into the shadowland of preexistence.”—Charles Lamb: Witches and Other Night-Fears [paraphrased].
If while travelling in north central Massachusetts you take the wrong fork at the junction of the Aylesbury turnpike, just beyond Dean’s Corners, you come upon a lonely and curious country. The ground gets higher, and the stone walls, bordered with thorns, press closer and closer to the ruts in the dusty, curving road. The trees of the frequent green belts seem too large, and the wild weeds, brambles, and grasses reach a luxuriance not often found in settled regions. At the same time the planted fields appear surprisingly few and barren, while the sparsely scattered houses look uniformly aged, squalid, and dilapidated. Without knowing why, you hesitate to ask directions from the gnarled, solitary figures seen now and then on crumbling doorsteps or in the sloping, rock strewn meadows. These folk are so silent and furtive that you feel confronted by forbidden things that it would be better to have nothing to do with. When the road rises, bringing the mountains into view above the deep woods, the feeling of strange uneasiness increases. The summits are too rounded and symmetrical to give a sense of comfort and naturalness, and sometimes the sky silhouettes with special clarity the odd circles of tall stone pillars with which most of them are crowned.
Gorges and ravines of problematic depth intersect the way, and the safety of the crude wooden bridges over them seems dubious. When the road dips again, there are stretches of marshland that one instinctively dislikes, and almost fears at evening when unseen whippoorwills chatter and fireflies come out in abnormal profusion to dance to the raucous, creepily insistent rhythms of stridently croaking bullfrogs. The thin, shining line of the Miskatonic’s upper reaches is oddly serpentine as it winds close to the feet of the domed hills among which it rises.
As the hills draw nearer, one notices their wooded slopes more than their stone-crowned tops. Their sides loom up so darkly and precipitously that you wish they would keep their distance, but there is no road by which to escape them. Across a covered bridge, a small village huddles between the stream and the vertical slope of Round Mountain, and you wonder at the cluster of rotting barn-like roofs from an architectural period earlier than the neighbouring region. It is not reassuring to see, on a closer look, that most of the houses are deserted and falling into ruin, and that the broken-steepled church now harbours the one untidy business of the hamlet. You dread to trust the dark tunnel of the bridge, but there is no way to avoid it. Once across, it’s hard to avoid the impression of a faint, malign odour in the village street, like the amassed mould and decay of centuries. It is always a relief to get clear of the place, and to follow the narrow road around the base of the hills and across the level country beyond till it rejoins the Aylesbury turnpike. Afterwards, you may learn that you have been through Dunwich.
Outsiders visit Dunwich as seldom as possible, and since the events recounted here, all the signs pointing toward it have been taken down. The scenery is uncommonly beautiful, yet there is no influx of artists or summer tourists. Two centuries ago, when talk of witch blood, Satanic worship, and strange forest presences was not laughed at, these were customary given as reasons for avoiding the locality. In our sensible age—since the events of 1928 were hushed up by those who had the town’s and the world’s welfare at heart—people shun it without knowing why.
Perhaps one reason—though it can’t apply to uninformed strangers—is that the natives are now repellently inbred, as is so common in many New England backwaters. They’ve become a race of their own, with the mental and physical stigma of degeneracy and decadence. Their average intelligence is woefully low, while their annals overflow with overt viciousness, half-hidden murders, incest, and deeds of nearly unspeakable violence and perversity. The old gentry, representing the two or three noble families that came from Salem in 1692, have kept somewhat above the general level of decay, though many branches have sunk into the sordid populace so deeply that only their names remain to hint at their disgrace. Some of the Whateleys and Bishops still send their eldest sons to Harvard and Miskatonic, though those sons seldom return to the mouldering gambrel roofs under which they and their ancestors were born.
No one, even those who have the facts concerning the events leading up to the horror of 1928, can say just what is the matter with Dunwich. Old legends tell of unhallowed rites and conclaves of Indians that called forth forbidden shapes of shadow from the great rounded hills and made wild orgiastic prayers that were answered by loud crackings and rumblings from the ground below. In 1747, the Reverend Abijah Hoadley, newly come to the Congregational Church at Dunwich Village, preached a memorable sermon on the closeness of Satan and his imps, in which he said:
The blasphemies of an infernal train of demons are matters of too common knowledge to be denied. The cursed voices of Azazel and Buzrael, of Beelzebub and Belial, have been heard from underground by more than a score of credible witnesses now living. Not more than a fortnight ago, I myself plainly heard the discourse of evil powers in the hill behind my house. A rattling and rolling, groaning, screeching, and hissing came from it that no thing of this earth could raise up, and which must have come from those caves that only black magic can discover, and only the devil unlock.
Hoadley disappeared soon after delivering this sermon, but the text, printed in Springfield, still exists. Noises in the hills continued to be reported year after year, and still puzzle geologists and geographers.
Other traditions tell of foul odours near the circles of stone pillars crowning the hills, and of rushing airy presences heard faintly at certain hours in the bottoms of the great ravines. Still others try to explain the Devil’s Hop Yard—a bleak, blasted hillside where no tree, shrub, or grass will grow. The natives are mortally afraid of the numerous whippoorwills which grow vocal on warm nights. They swear that the birds are psychopomps lying in wait for the souls of the dying, and that they time their eerie cries in unison with the sufferer’s struggling breaths. If they can catch the fleeing soul when it leaves the body, they instantly flutter away, chittering with demoniac laughter; but if they fail, they subside gradually into a disappointed silence.
These tales are, of course, ridiculous; they come down from very old times. Dunwich is incredibly old—older by far than any of the communities within thirty miles of it. South of the village, one may still spy the cellar walls and chimney of the ancient Bishop house, which was built before 1700. The ruins of the mill at the falls, built in 1806, form the most modern piece of architecture to be seen. Industry did not flourish here, and the nineteenth century factory movement proved short lived. Oldest of all are the great rings of rough hewn stone columns on the hilltops, but these are attributed to the Indians rather than to the settlers. Deposits of skulls and bones, found within these circles and around the sizable table like rock on Sentinel Hill, sustain the popular belief that such spots were once the burial grounds of the Pocomtuc tribe, even though many ethnologists persist in believing the remains Caucasian, disregarding the absurd improbability of such a theory.
In the township of Dunwich, in a large farmhouse set against a hillside four miles from the village and a mile and a half from any other dwelling, Wilbur Whateley was born at 5 AM on Sunday, the second of February, 1913. This date was remembered because it was Candlemas, which people in Dunwich curiously observe under the name Imbolc, and because the noises in the hills were heard, and all the dogs in the countryside had barked persistently throughout the night before. The mother was one of the inbred Whateleys, a somewhat deformed, unattractive albino woman of 35, living with her aged and half-insane father, about whom the most frightful tales of wizardry had been whispered in his youth. Lavinia Whateley had no husband, but followed the custom of the region and made no attempt to disavow the child. The other side of the boy’s ancestry, the country folk speculated on widely. Lavinia seemed strangely proud of the dark, goatish looking infant who so differed from her own sickly, pink-eyed albinism, and she was heard muttering curious prophecies about his unusual powers and tremendous future.
Lavinia was a solitary creature, given to wandering amidst thunderstorms in the hills and trying to read the great odorous books that her father had inherited from two centuries of Whateleys, which were fast falling to pieces with age and worm holes. She had never been to school, but was full of disjointed scraps of ancient lore that Old Whateley had taught her. Their remote farmhouse had always been feared because of Old Whateley’s reputation for black magic, and the unexplained death by violence of Mrs. Whateley when Lavinia was twelve years old had not made the place more popular. Isolated among strange influences, Lavinia was fond of wild, grandiose daydreams and solitary occupations. Little of her leisure time was taken up by household chores in a home from which all order and cleanliness had long since disappeared.
Hideous screams echoed louder even than the noises from the hill and the dogs barking on the night Wilbur was born, but no doctor or midwife presided at his birth. Neighbours knew nothing of him until a week afterward, when Old Whateley drove his sleigh through the snow to Dunwich Village and spoke incoherently to the group of loungers at Osborn’s general store. There was a change in the old man—an added element of furtiveness in his clouded brain which subtly transformed him from an object to a subject of fear—though he was not one to be perturbed by any common family event. Despite this, he showed a trace of the pride later noticed in his daughter, and what he said of the child’s paternity was remembered by many years afterword.
“I don’t care what folks think—if Lavinny’s boy looked like his pa, he wouldn’t look like anything you’d expect. You shouldn’t think the only folks are the folks hereabouts. Lavinny’s read some, and has seen some things the most of you only talk about. I’d say her man is as good a husband as you can find this side of Aylesbury. If you knew as much about the hills as I do, you wouldn’t ask for a better church wedding nor hearing. Let me tell you something—some day you folks’ll hear a child of Lavinny’s calling its father’s name on the top of Sentinel Hill!”
The only people who saw Wilbur during the first month of his life were old Zechariah Whateley, of the undecayed Whateleys, and Earl Sawyer’s common-law wife, Mamie Bishop. Mamie’s visit was one of curiosity, and her subsequent tales did justice to her observations. Zechariah came leading a pair of Alderney cows that Old Whateley had bought from his son Curtis. This marked the beginning of a series of cattle buys on the part of little Wilbur’s family which ended only in 1928, yet at no time did the ramshackle Whateley barn seem over-crowded with livestock. When people were curious enough to steal up and count the herd that grazed on the steep hillside above the old farmhouse, they never found more than ten or twelve anemic, bloodless-looking specimens. Evidently some blight or distemper, perhaps sprung from the unwholesome pasturage or the diseased fungi and timbers of the filthy barn, caused a heavy mortality among the Whateley animals. Odd wounds and sores looking like incisions afflicted the visible cattle. Once or twice during the early months of Wilbur’s life, callers fancied they saw similar sores about the throats of the grey, unshaven old man and his unkempt, crinkly-haired albino daughter.
In the spring after Wilbur’s birth, Lavinia resumed her customary rambles in the hills, bearing her swarthy child in her illproportioned arms. Public interest in the Whateleys subsided once most of the country folk had seen the baby, and no one bothered to comment on the swift development that the child exhibited. Wilbur’s growth was indeed phenomenal. Within three months of his birth, he had attained a size and muscular power not usually found in infants under a full year of age. His motions and even his vocalizations showed a restraint and deliberateness highly peculiar in an infant, and no one was really surprised when, at seven months, he began to walk unassisted, with falterings which another month was sufficient to remove.
Some time later—on Halloween—a great blaze was seen at midnight on the top of Sentinel Hill, where the old table-like stone stands amidst its barrow of ancient bones. Considerable talk started when Silas Bishop—of the undecayed Bishops—mentioned having seen the boy running sturdily up that hill ahead of his mother about an hour before the blaze was spotted. Silas was rounding up a stray heifer, but he nearly forgot his mission when he fleetingly spied the two figures by the dim light of his lantern. They darted almost noiselessly through the underbrush, and the astonished man thought they were entirely unclothed. Afterward he could not be sure about the boy, who may have had some kind of a fringed belt and a pair of dark blue trunks or trousers on. Wilbur was never seen again seen without complete and tightly buttoned clothes, the disarrangement or threatened disarrangement of which filled him with anger and alarm. His contrast with his squalid mother and grandfather in this respect was thought very notable until the horror of 1928 suggested the reason.
The next January, gossips were mildly interested in the fact that “Lavinny’s black brat” had begun to talk at the age of only eleven months. His speech was remarkable both because of its difference from the ordinary accents of the region, and because it displayed a freedom from infantile lisping of which a child of three or four might well be proud. The boy was not talkative, yet when he spoke he reflected some elusive element wholly unpossessed by Dunwich and its denizens. The strangeness did not reside in what he said, or even in the simple idioms he used, but seemed vaguely linked with his intonation or the internal organs that produced the spoken sounds. His face, too, was remarkable for its maturity. Though he shared his mother’s and grandfather’s chinlessness, his firm and precociously shaped nose united with the expression in his large, dark, almost Latin eyes to give him an air of quasi-adulthood and nearly preternatural intelligence. He was, however, exceedingly ugly, despite his appearance of brilliance. There was something almost goatish or animalistic about his thick lips, large pored, yellowish skin, coarse crinkly hair, and oddly elongated ears. He was soon disliked even more than his mother and grandfather, and all conjectures about him were spiced with references to the bygone magic of Old Whateley, and how the hills once shook when he shrieked the dreadful name of Yog-Sothoth in the center of the circle of stones, a great book open in his arms before him. Dogs abhorred the boy, and he was always obliged to defend himself against their barking menace.
Meanwhile Old Whateley continued to buy cattle without measurably increasing the size of his herd. He also cut timber and began to repair the unused parts of his house—a spacious, peaked-roofed affair whose rear end was buried entirely in the rocky hillside, and whose three least-ruined ground-floor rooms had always been sufficient for himself and his daughter. There must have been prodigious reserves of strength in the old man to enable him to accomplish so much hard labour. Though he still babbled dementedly at times, his carpentry showed sound calculation. It began as soon as Wilbur was born, when the old man suddenly put one of the many tool sheds in order, sided it, and fitted it with a stout fresh lock. Restoring the abandoned upper story of the house, his craftsman was no less thorough. His mania showed itself only in how he tightly boarded up of all the windows in the reclaimed section—though many declared that it was a crazy thing to bother with the reclamation at all. Less inexplicable was his fixing up of another downstairs room for his new grandson—a room which several callers saw, though no one was ever admitted to the boarded up upper story. He lined the boy’s chamber with tall, firm shelving, along which he began gradually to arrange, in apparently careful order, all the rotting ancient books and parts of books that, during his day, had been heaped promiscuously in odd corners of the various rooms.
“I made some use of them,” he would say as he tried to mend a torn black lettered page with paste prepared on the rusty kitchen stove, “but the boy will put them to better use. He ought to have them as well set as he can, for they’re going to be all of his learning.”
When Wilbur was a year and seven months old—in September of 1914—his size and accomplishments were almost alarming. He had grown as large as a child of four, and was a fluent and incredibly intelligent talker. He ran freely about the fields and hills, and accompanied his mother on all her wanderings. At home he would pore diligently over the odd pictures and charts in his grandfather’s books, while Old Whateley would instruct and question him through long, hushed afternoons. By this time the restoration of the house was finished, and those who watched it wondered why one of the upper windows had been replace with a solid plank door. It was in the rear of the east gable end, close against the hill, and no one could imagine why a cleated wooden ramp was built up to it from the ground. At about the time of this work’s completion people noticed that the old tool shed, tightly locked and windowlessly sided since Wilbur’s birth, was abandoned again. The door swung listlessly open, and when Earl Sawyer once stepped within after a cattle-selling call on Old Whateley, he was quite discomposed by the unusual odour he encountered. He swore he had never smelt anything like it in his life except near the Indian circles on the hills, and that it could not come from anything sane or of this earth. Then again, the homes and sheds of Dunwich folk have never been remarkably clean smelling.
Nothing new was seen in the following months, but everyone swore to a slow but steady increase in the mysterious noises from the hills. On Walpurgis night, in the early hours of May 1, 1915 there were tremors which were felt as far as Aylesbury, while the following Halloween produced an underground rumbling queerly synchronized with bursts of flame—”them witch Whateleys’ doin’s”—from the summit of Sentinel Hill. Wilbur’s growth was uncanny; he looked like a boy of ten as he entered his fourth year. He read avidly by himself, but talked much less than before. A settled taciturnity absorbed him, and people began to speak of the dawning look of evil in his goatish face. He would sometimes mutter unfamiliar jargon, and chant bizarre rhythms which chilled listeners with a sense of inexplicable terror. The aversion displayed toward him by dogs became a matter of wide remark, and he was obliged to carry a pistol to traverse the countryside safely. His occasional use of the weapon did not enhance his popularity among the owners of guard dogs.
The few callers at the house would often find Lavinia alone on the ground floor, while odd cries and footsteps resounded in the boarded-up second story. She would not say what her father and the boy were doing up there, though once she turned pale and displayed an abnormal degree of fear when a jocular fish-peddler tried the locked door leading to the stairway. The peddler told the store loungers in Dunwich Village that he thought he heard a horse stamping on the floor above. The loungers reflected, thinking of the door and runway, and of the cattle that so swiftly disappeared. Then they shuddered as they recalled tales of Old Whateley’s youth, and of the strange things that were said to be called out of the earth when a bullock was sacrificed at the proper time to certain heathen gods. Dogs began to hate and fear the whole Whateley place as violently as they hated and feared young Wilbur.
In 1917 the war came, and Squire Sawyer Whateley, chairman of the local draft board, had hard work filling the quota of young Dunwich men fit to be sent to training camp. The government, alarmed at such signs of wholesale regional unfitness, sent several officers and medical experts to investigate; conducting a survey which New England newspaper readers still recall. The publicity surrounding the investigation set reporters on the track of the Whateleys, and caused the Boston Globe and Arkham Advertiser to print flamboyant Sunday stories of young Wilbur’s precociousness, Old Whateley’s black magic, the shelves of strange books, the sealed second story of the ancient farmhouse, and the weirdness of the whole region and its hill noises. Wilbur was four and a half then, and looked like a lad of fifteen. His lip and cheek were fuzzy with coarse dark down, and his voice had begun to break. Earl Sawyer went out to the Whateley place with both groups of reporters and camera men, and called their attention to the queer stench which trickled down from the sealed upper rooms. It was, he said, exactly like the smell he had found in the abandoned tool shed after the house was repaired, and like the faint odours which he sometimes caught near the stone circles on the mountain tops. Dunwich folk read the stories when they appeared, and grinned over the obvious mistakes. They wondered, too, why the writers made so much of the fact that Old Whateley always paid for his cattle in ancient gold pieces. The Whateleys received their visitors with ill-concealed distaste, though they did not dare court further publicity by violently resisting or refusing to talk.
For a decade the annals of the Whateleys sank indistinguishably into the general life of a morbid community used to their queer ways and hardened to their May Eve and All-Hallows rites. Twice a year they would light fires on the top of Sentinel Hill, and the mountain rumblings would recur with greater and greater violence. At all seasons there were strange, ominous doings at the lonely farmhouse. Callers claimed to have heard sounds in the sealed upper story even when all the family were downstairs, and they wondered how swiftly or lingeringly a cow or bullock was usually sacrificed. There was talk of a complaint to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, but nothing ever came of it, since the Dunwich folk weren’t anxious to call the outside world’s attention to themselves.
In 1923, when Wilbur was a boy of ten, though his mind, voice, stature, and bearded face gave the impression of maturity, a second great burst of carpentry took place at the old house. It occurred inside the sealed upper floors, and from bits of discarded lumber people concluded that the youth and his grandfather had knocked out all the interior walls and even removed the attic floor, leaving one vast open space between the ground floor and the peaked roof. They tore down the great central chimney, too, and fitted the rusty range with a flimsy tin stove-pipe to the outside.
In the spring after the construction, Old Whateley noticed a growing number of whippoorwills coming out of Cold Spring Glen to chirp under his window at night. He regarded the circumstance as one of great significance, and told the loungers at Osborn’s that he thought his time had almost come.
“They whistle in tune with my breathing now,” he said, “and I guess they’re getting ready to catch my soul. They know it’s going out, and don’t plan to miss it. You’ll know, boys, after I’m gone, whether they get me or not. If they do, they’ll keep up singing and laughing til break of day. If they don’t, they’ll quiet down. I expect them and the souls they hunt for have some pretty tough tussles sometimes.”
On Lammas Night of 1924, Dr. Houghton of Aylesbury was hastily summoned by Wilbur Whateley, who had lashed his one remaining horse through the darkness and telephoned from Osborn’s in the village. The doctor found Old Whateley in a very grave state, with heart rate and gasping that told of an end not far off. His shapeless albino daughter and oddly bearded grandson stood by the bedside, while from the vacant abyss overhead there came a disquieting suggestion of rhythmical surging or lapping, as of the waves on some level beach. The doctor, though, was chiefly disturbed by the chattering night birds outside. A seemingly limitless legion of whippoorwills cried their endless message in repetitions synchronized diabolically with the wheezing gasps of the dying man. It was uncanny and unnatural—much, thought Dr. Houghton, like the whole of the region he had entered so reluctantly in response to the urgent call.
Toward 1 o’clock Old Whateley regained consciousness, and interrupted his wheezing to choke out a few words to his grandson.
“More space, Willy, more space soon. You grow fast—and that grows faster. It’ll be ready to serve you soon, boy. Open up the gates to Yog-Sothoth with the long chant that you’ll find on page 751 of the complete edition, and then put a match to its prison. Earthly fire can’t burn it!”
He was obviously quite mad. After a pause, during which the flock of whippoorwills outside adjusted their cries to his altered breathing while hints of strange noises came from far off, he added another sentence or two.
“Feed it regular, Willy, and mind the quantity. Don’t let it grow too fast for the place, for if it busts quarters or gets out before you open the way to Yog-Sothoth, it’s all over and no use. Only those from beyond can make it multiply and work. Only the old ones who want to come back….”
His speech gave way to gasps again, and Lavinia screamed at the way the whippoorwills followed the change. He lived for more than an hour before his final throaty rattle came. Dr. Houghton drew the shrunken lids over the glazing grey eyes as the tumult of birds faded imperceptibly to silence. Lavinia sobbed, but Wilbur only chuckled while the hills rumbled faintly.
“They didn’t get him,” he muttered in his heavy bass voice.
Wilbur was by this time a scholar of tremendous knowledge in his one-sided way, and was quietly known by correspondence to many librarians in distant places where rare and forbidden books of old days were kept. He became more hated and dreaded around Dunwich after youths began to disappear, and suspicion was laid vaguely at his door. He was always able to silence inquiry through fear or by using the fund of ancient gold which still, as in his grandfather’s time, went forth regularly and increasingly for cattle-buying. He now appeared fully mature, and, having reached the normal adult height limit, seemed inclined to grow beyond it. In 1925, when a scholarly correspondent from Miskatonic University called upon him one day and departed pale and puzzled, he was fully six foot nine inches tall.
Through the years, Wilbur treated his half-deformed albino mother with a growing contempt, finally forbidding her to go to the hills with him on May Eve and Halloween. In 1926 the poor creature complained to Mamie Bishop that she was afraid of him.
“I know more about him than I can tell you, Mamie,” she said, “and these days there’s more than what I know myself. I vow before God, I don’t know what he wants nor what he’s trying to do.”
That Halloween noises in the hills sounded louder than ever, and fire burned on Sentinel Hill as usual, but people paid more attention to the rhythmic screaming of vast flocks of unnaturally belated whippoorwills which had assembled near the unlit Whateley farmhouse. After midnight their shrill notes burst into a kind of pandemoniac laughter which filled the countryside, and they didn’t finally quiet down until dawn. Then they vanished, hurrying southward where they were a month overdue. What this meant, no one could quite be certain til later. None of the country folk had died, but poor Lavinia Whateley, the twisted albino, was never seen again.
In the summer of 1927, Wilbur repaired two sheds in the farmyard and began moving his books and effects out to them. Soon afterwards, Earl Sawyer told the loungers at Osborn’s that more carpentry was going on in the Whateley farmhouse. Wilbur was closing all the doors and windows on the ground floor, and appeared to be taking out walls as he and his grandfather had done upstairs four years before. He was living in one of the sheds, and Sawyer thought he seemed unusually worried and trembling. People suspected he knew something about his mother’s disappearance, and very few ever approached his neighbourhood now. His height had increased to more than seven feet, and his growth showed no signs of stopping.
The following winter, Wilbur made his first trip outside the Dunwich region. Correspondence with the Widener Library at Harvard, the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, the British Museum, the University of Buenos Aires, and the Library of Miskatonic University at Arkham had failed to get him a book he desperately wanted to borrow. At length he set out in person, shabby, dirty, bearded, and uncouth in dialect, to consult the copy at Miskatonic, which was the nearest to him geographically. Almost eight feet tall, and carrying a cheap new suitcase from Osborn’s general store, he appeared like a dark and goatish gargoyle one day in Arkham in quest of the dreaded volume kept under lock and key at the college library—the hideous Necronomicon of the mad Arab Alhazred—Olaus Wormius’ Latin version—printed in Spain in the Seventeenth Century. He had never seen a city before, but thought only to find his way to the university grounds. There, he passed heedlessly by a great white-fanged watchdog that barked with unnatural fury and enmity, and tugged frantically at its stout chain.
Wilbur had with him the priceless but imperfect copy of Dr. Dee’s English version, which his grandfather had bequeathed him. Upon receiving access to the Latin copy, he at once began to collate the two texts, aiming to discover a certain passage which would have come on the 751st page of his own defective volume. This much he did not refrain from telling the librarian—the same erudite Henry Armitage (A. M. Miskatonic, Ph. D. Princeton, Litt. D. Johns Hopkins) who had once called at the farm, and who politely plied him with questions. He was looking, he admitted, for a kind of formula or incantation containing the frightful name Yog-Sothoth, and it puzzled him to find discrepancies, duplications, and ambiguities which made the search far from easy. As he copied the formula he finally chose, Dr. Armitage looked involuntarily over his shoulder at the open pages. The left-hand one, in the Latin version, contained monstrous threats to the peace and sanity of the world.
Nor is it to be thought [ran the text as Armitage mentally translated it] that man is either the oldest or the last of earth’s masters, or that the common bulk of life and substance walks alone. The Old Ones were, the Old Ones are, and the Old Ones shall be. Not in the spaces we know, but between them. They walk serene and primal, undimensioned and to us unseen. Yog-Sothoth knows the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the key and guardian of the gate. Past, present, and future, are all one in Yog-Sothoth. He knows where the Old Ones broke through of old, and where They shall break through again. He knows where They have trodden earth’s fields, and where They still tread them, and why no one can behold Them as They tread. Men can sometimes know They are near by Their smell, but no man can know Their appearance, except in the features of those They have begotten on mankind. Of those are there many sorts, differing in likeness from human form to that shape without sight or substance which is They. They walk unseen and foul in lonely places where Words have been spoken and Rites howled at their Seasons. The wind gibbers with Their voices, and the earth mutters with Their consciousness. They bend forests and crush cities, yet neither forest or city cannot behold the hand that smites. Kadath in the cold waste has known Them, and what man knows Kadath? The ice desert of the South and the sunken isles of Ocean hold stones upon which Their seal is graven, but who has seen the frozen city or the sealed towers long garlanded with seaweed and barnacles? Great Cthulhu is Their cousin, yet even he can spy Them only dimly. Iä Shub-Niggurath! As a foulness you shall know Them. Their hand is at your throats, yet you do not see Them. Their habitation is one with your guarded threshold. Yog-Sothoth is the key to the gate, whereby the spheres meet. Man rules now where They ruled once. They shall soon rule where man rules. After summer is winter, and after winter summer. They wait patient and potent, for here They shall reign again.
Dr. Armitage, associating what he was reading with what he had heard of Dunwich and its brooding presences, and of Wilbur Whateley and his dim, hideous aura that stretched from his dubious birth to a cloud of probable matricide, felt a wave of fright as tangible as a draft of the tomb’s cold clamminess. The bent, goatish giant before him seemed like the spawn of another planet or dimension, something only partly human, linked to black gulfs of essence and entity that stretched like titanic phantasms beyond the spheres of force and matter, space and time.
Presently Wilbur raised his head and began speaking in that strange, resonant fashion which hinted at sound producing organs unlike the rest of mankind’s.
“Mr. Armitage,” he said, “I believe I must to take this book home. There are things in it I’ve got to try under certain conditions that I can’t meet here, and it would be a mortal sin to let red tape hold me up. Let me take it away, sir, and I’ll swear nobody will know the difference. I don’t need to tell you I’ll take good care of it. It wasn’t me that put this Dee copy in the shape it is.”
He stopped when he saw firm denial on the librarian’s face, and his own goatish features grew crafty. Armitage, half ready to tell him he could make a copy of the parts he needed, thought suddenly of the possible consequences and checked himself. There was too much responsibility in giving such a being the key to such blasphemous outer spheres. Whateley saw how things stood, and tried to speak lightly.
“Well, all right, if you feel that way about it, maybe Harvard won’t be as fussy as you are.”
Without saying more he rose and strode out of the building, stooping at each doorway. Armitage heard the savage barking of the great watchdog, and studied Whateley’s gorilla-like lope as he crossed the bit of campus visible from the window. He thought of the wild tales he had heard, the old Sunday stories in the Advertiser, and the lore he had picked up from Dunwich rustics and villagers during his visit there. Unseen things not of the earth—or at least not of the tridimensional earth—rushed stinking and horrible through New England’s glens, and brooded obscenely on the mountain tops. Of this he had long felt certain. Now he sensed the close presence of some terrible intruding horror, and glimpsed a hellish advance in the black dimension of the ancient and once passive nightmare. He locked away the Necronomicon with a shudder of disgust, but the room still reeked with an unholy and unidentifiable stench. “As a foulness you shall know them,” he quoted. The odour was the same one that had sickened him at the Whateley farmhouse less than three years before. He thought of Wilbur, goatish and ominous, once again, and laughed mockingly at the village rumours of his parentage.
“Inbreeding?” Armitage muttered half aloud to himself. “Great God, what simpletons! Show them Arthur Machen’s Great God Pan and they think him the result of a common Dunwich scandal! But what thing—what cursed shapeless influence on or off this three-dimensioned earth—was Wilbur Whateley’s father? He was born on Candlemas, nine months after May Eve of 1912, when talk of the queer noises from the earth reached clear to Arkham. What walked on the mountains that May night? What horror fastened itself to the world in half-human flesh and blood?”
In the following weeks, Dr. Armitage began to collect all data on Wilbur Whateley and the formless presences around Dunwich. He contacted Dr. Houghton of Aylesbury, who had attended Old Whateley in his last illness, and found much to ponder over in the grandfather’s last words as quoted by the physician. He visited Dunwich Village and failed to find much that was new, but a close survey of the Necronomicon, especially those parts which Wilbur had sought so avidly, supplied new and terrible clues to the nature, methods, and desires of the strange evil that vaguely threatened the planet. Talks with several students of archaic lore in Boston and letters to many others elsewhere left him in growing amazement, which passed slowly through degrees of alarm to a state of acute spiritual fear. As the summer drew on, he began to feel that something needed to be done about the lurking terrors of the upper Miskatonic valley, and the monstrous being known to the human world as Wilbur Whateley.
The Dunwich horror itself came between Lammas and the fall equinox in 1928, and Dr. Armitage was to witness the events that presaged it. He heard of Whateley’s trip to Cambridge, and of his frantic efforts to borrow or copy from the Necronomicon at the Widener Library. Those efforts had been in vain, since Armitage had sent warnings of the keenest intensity to all librarians in charge of copies of the dreaded volume. Wilbur had been shockingly nervous at Cambridge; anxious for the book, but almost equally anxious to get home again, as if he feared being away for too long.
Early in August, what he had half-expected happened. In the small hours of the third, Dr. Armitage was awakened suddenly by the wild, fierce cries of the savage watchdog on the college campus. Deep and terrible, the snarling, half-mad growls and barks continued, mounting in volume, but with hideously significant pauses. Then a scream from a wholly different throat rang out—a scream that roused half the sleepers of Arkham and haunted their dreams ever afterwards—a scream that could come from no being born of earth, or wholly of earth.
Armitage hastily threw on clothing, rushed across the street, and crossed the lawn to the college buildings, seeing that others were ahead of him. He heard the echoes of the burglar-alarm still shrilling from the library. An open window showed black and gaping in the moonlight. An intruder had completed his entrance. The barking and screaming, now quieting into low growling and moaning, came unmistakably from within. Some instinct warned Armitage that what was taking place was not something for all to see, so he backed off the crowd with authority as he unlocked the vestibule door. Among them, he saw Professor Warren Rice and Dr. Francis Morgan, men to whom he had told some of his conjectures and misgivings, and motioned for these two to accompany him inside. The sounds inside, except for a watchful, droning whine from the dog, had by this time subsided. Armitage perceived with a sudden start that a loud chorus of whippoorwills among the shrubbery had commenced their damnably rhythmical piping.
The building was full of the frightful stench which Dr. Armitage knew too well, and the three men rushed across the hall to the small genealogical reading-room from which the low whining came. For a second, nobody dared to turn on the light. Armitage summoned up his courage and snapped the switch. One of the three—he was not certain which—shrieked aloud at what sprawled before them among disordered tables and overturned chairs. Professor Rice later declared that he wholly lost consciousness for an instant, though he did not stumble or fall.
The thing that lay half-bent on its side in a fetid pool of greenish-yellow ichor and tarry stickiness was almost nine feet tall, and the dog had torn off all of its clothing and some of its skin. It was not quite dead, but twitched silently and spasmodically, while its chest heaved in monstrous unison with the mad piping of the whippoorwills outside. Bits of shoe-leather and fragments of clothing were scattered about the room, and just inside the window an empty canvas sack lay where it had evidently been thrown. Near the central desk a revolver had fallen, a dented but undischarged cartridge later explaining why it had not been fired. The thing itself, however, crowded out all other images at the time. No human pen could describe it; it could not be vividly visualized by anyone whose ideas of appearance and contour are too closely bound to the common life-forms of this planet and of the three known dimensions. It was partly human, beyond a doubt, with very manlike hands and head, and the goatish, chinless face had the stamp of the Whateleys upon it. But the torso and lower parts of the body were fabulously malformed, so that only generous clothing could ever have enabled it to walk on earth unchallenged or uneradicated.
Above the waist it was semi-anthropomorphic, though its chest, where the dog’s rending paws still rested watchfully, had the leathery, knobby hide of a crocodile or alligator. The back was dappled yellow and black, and dimly suggested the scaly skin of a snake. Below the waist, though, was the worst, for here all human resemblance left off and sheer fantasy began. The skin was covered with thick, coarse, black fur, and from the abdomen, a score of long greenish-gray tentacles with red sucking mouths protruded limply. Their arrangement was odd, seeming to follow the symmetries of some cosmic geometry unknown to earth or the solar system. On each of its hips, deep set in a kind of pinkish, ciliated ring, was what looked like a rudimentary eye. In lieu of a tail, there hung a kind of trunk or feeler marked with purple rings, which looked like an undeveloped mouth or throat. The limbs, save for their black fur, roughly resembled the hind legs of prehistoric earth’s giant sauropods, and terminated in ridged, veined pads that were neither hooves nor claws. When the thing breathed, its tail and tentacles rhythmically changed colour, as if from some circulatory cause normal to the non-human side of its ancestry. In the tentacles this was observable as a deepening of the greenish tinge, while in its tail, it manifested as a yellowish colour which alternated with a sickly grayish-white in the spaces between the purple rings. There was no genuine blood, only a foul smelling greenish-yellow ichor which spread out over the painted floor beyond the radius of the stickiness, leaving a curious discoloration behind it.
The presence of the three men roused the dying thing, and it began to mumble without turning or raising its head. Dr. Armitage made no written record of its mouthings, but later asserted confidently that nothing in English was uttered. At first the syllables defied all correlation with any language of earth, but toward the end there came some disjointed fragments evidently taken from the Necronomicon, that monstrous blasphemy in quest of which the thing had perished. Those fragments, as Armitage recalls them, ran something like “N’gai, n’gha’ghaa, bugg-shoggog, y’hah; Yog-Sothoth, Yog-Sothoth.” They trailed off into nothingness as the whippoorwills shrieked in rhythmical crescendoes of unholy anticipation.
The gasping halted, and the dog raised his head in a long, mournful howl. A change came over the yellow, goatish face of the prostrate thing, and its great black eyes fell in appallingly. Outside the window the shrilling of the whippoorwills had suddenly ceased, and above the murmurs of the gathering crowd, there was the sound of panic-stricken whirring and fluttering. Against the moon, vast clouds of feathery watchers rose and raced from sight, frantically chasing that which they had sought for prey.
All at once the dog started up, gave a frightened bark, and leapt out the window though which it had entered. A cry rose from the crowd, and Dr. Armitage shouted to the men outside that no one must be admitted till the police or the medical examiner came. He was thankful that the windows were too high to permit peering in, and carefully drew the dark curtains down over each one. By this time two policemen had arrived. Dr. Morgan, meeting them in the vestibule, urged them for their own sakes to postpone entrance to the stench-filled reading-room until the examiner came and the prostrate thing could be covered up.
Meanwhile frightful changes were taking place on the floor; terrible shrinkage and disintegration occurred before the eyes of Dr. Armitage and Professor Rice. Aside from the external appearance of face and hands, the truly human elements of Wilbur Whateley must have been very small. By the time medical examiner arrived, there was only a sticky whitish mass on the painted boards, and the monstrous odour had nearly disappeared. Apparently Whateley had had no skull or bony skeleton, at least, in any true or stable sense. He must have taken after his unknown father.
All this was only a prologue to the actual Dunwich horror. Formalities were observed by bewildered officials, abnormal details were kept from the press and the public, and men were sent to Dunwich and Aylesbury to look up property and notify any who might be heirs of the late Wilbur Whateley. They found the countryside in great agitation, both because of the growing rumblings beneath the domed hills, and because of the unwanted stench and the surging, lapping sounds which came increasingly from the great empty shell of Whateley’s boarded-up farmhouse. Earl Sawyer, who tended the horses and cattle during Wilbur’s absence, had developed a woefully acute case of nerves. Officials devised excuses not to enter the noisome boarded place, and were glad to confine their survey of the deceased’s living quarters, the newly mended sheds, to a single visit. They filed a voluminous report at the court-house in Aylesbury, and litigation concerning inheritence slowly progressed among the innumerable Whateleys, decayed and undecayed, of the upper Miskatonic valley.
A lengthy manuscript written in strange characters in a huge ledger, judged to be a diary because of the spacing and the variations in ink and penmanship, presented a baffling puzzle to those who found it on the old bureau which served as its owner’s desk. After a week of debate it was sent to Miskatonic University, together with the deceased’s collection of strange books, for study and possible translation. Even the best linguists soon saw that it was not likely to be unriddled with ease. No trace of the ancient gold with which Wilbur and Old Whateley always paid their debts was discovered.
It was in the dark of September ninth that the horror broke loose. The noises from the hills had been very pronounced during the evening, and dogs barked frantically all night. Early risers on the tenth noticed a peculiar stench in the air. Around 7 o’clock, Luther Brown, the hired boy at George Corey’s, between Cold Spring Glen and the village, rushed frenziedly back from his morning trip to Ten-Acre Meadow with the cows. He was almost convulsing with fright as he stumbled into the kitchen. In the yard outside, the no less frightened herd were pawing and lowing pitifully, having followed the boy back in a panic they shared with him. Between gasps Luther tried to stammer out his tale to Mrs. Corey.
“Up there in the road beyond the glen, Ms. Corey—something’s been there! It smells like thunder, and all the bushes and little trees are pushed back from the road like a house had moved along it. And that ain’t the worst, either. There are prints in the road, Ms. Corey—great round prints as big as barrel-heads, all sunk down deep like an elephant had been along, only there are a sight more than four feet could make. I looked at one or two before I ran, and every one was covered with lines spreading out from one place, like a big palm-leaf fan—but twice or three times as big as any of them are—had been pounded down into the road. And the smell was awful, like it is around Wizard Whateley’s old house.”
Here he faltered, and shivered afresh with the fright that had sent him flying home. Mrs. Corey, unable to extract more information, began telephoning the neighbours, starting the overture of panic that heralded the major terror on its rounds. When she reached Sally Sawyer, housekeeper at Seth Bishop’s, the nearest place to Whateley’s, it was her turn to listen instead of speak. Sally’s boy Chauncey, who slept poorly, had been up on the hill toward Whateley’s, and had dashed back in terror after one look at the place, and at the pasture where Mr. Bishop’s cows had been left out all night.
“Yes, Ms. Corey,” came Sally’s tremulous voice over the party wire, “Chauncey just came back from posting, and couldn’t half talk for being scared! He says Old Whateley’s house is all blown up, with the timbers scattered round like there’d been dynamite inside. Only the ground floor remains, but it’s covered with a kind of tarlike stuff that smells awful and drips down off the edges onto the ground where the side timbers are blown away. And there’s awful marks in the yard, too—great round marks bigger than a hogshead, and all sticky with stuff like what’s on the blown up house. Chauncey says they lead off into the meadows, where a great swath wider than a barn is matted down, and all the stone walls tumbled every which way wherever it goes. He set out to look fer Seth’s cows, frighted as he was, and found them in the upper pasture near the Devil’s Hop Yard in awful shape. Half of them are clean gone, and near half of those that’re left are sucked dry of blood, with sores on them like the ones on Whateley’s cattle ever since Lavinny’s black brat was born. Seth gone out now to look at them, though I’ll bet he won’t care to get very near Wizard Whateley’s! Chauncey didn’t look carefully to see where the big matted down swath led after it left the pasturage, but he says he thinks it headed towards the glen road to the village. I tell you, Ms. Corey, there’s something abroad as hadn’t ought to be abroad, and I for one think that black Wilbur Whateley, who came to the bad end he deserved, is at the bottom of the breeding of it. He wasn’t all human himself, I always said to everybody. I think he and Old Whateley must have raised something in that nailed-up house that ain’t even as human as he was. There’s always been unseen things around Dunwich—living things—that ain’t human and ain’t good for human folks. The ground was talking last night, and towards morning, Chauncey heard the whippoorwills so loud in Cold Spring Glen he couldn’t sleep. Then he thought he heard another faint sound over towards Wizard Whateley’s—a ripping or tearing of wood, like some big box or crate was being opened far off. What with this and that, he didn’t git to sleep at all til sun up, and no sooner was he up this morning, but he got over to Whateley’s to see what was the matter. He saw enough, I tell you, Ms. Corey! This don’t mean any good, and I think all the men-folks ought to get up a party and do something. I know something awful’s about, and feel my time is near, though only God knows just what it is. Did your Luther see where those big tracks led to? Ms. Corey, if they were on the glen road this side of the glen, and ain’t got to your house yet, I reckon they must go into the glen itself. I always say Cold Spring Glen ain’t no healthy nor decent place. The whippoorwills and fireflies there never did act like they were creatures of God, and some say you can hear strange things rushing and talking in the air down there if you stand in the right place, between the rock falls and Bear’s Den.”
By that noon, fully three-quarters of the men and boys of Dunwich were trooping over the roads and meadows between the newly made Whateley ruins and Cold Spring Glen, examining in horror the vast, monstrous prints, the maimed Bishop cattle, the strange, noxious wreck of the farmhouse, and the bruised, matted vegetation of the fields and road-sides. Whatever had burst loose upon the world had assuredly gone down into the great sinister ravine. All the trees on the banks were bent and broken, and a great avenue had been gouged thorugh the precipice-hanging underbrush. It was as though a house, launched by an avalanche, had slid down through the tangled growth on the almost vertical slope. No sound came from below, only a distant, undefinable stench. It’s no wonder that the men stayed on the edge and argued, rather than descend and brave the unknown cyclopean horror in its lair. Three dogs that were with the party barked furiously at first, but seemed cowed and reluctant when near the glen. Someone telephoned the news to the Aylesbury Transcript, but the editor, accustomed to wild tales from Dunwich, did no more than concoct a humorous paragraph about it, an item reproduced by the Associated Press soon afterward.
That night, everyone went home, and every house and barn was barricaded as soundly as possible. Needless to say, no cattle were allowed to remain in open pasture. Around two in the morning, a frightful stench and the savage barking of the dogs awakened Elmer Frye’s household on the eastern edge of Cold Spring Glen, and all agreed that they could hear a muffled swishing or lapping sound from somewhere outside. Mrs. Frye proposed telephoning the neighbours, and Elmer was about to agree, when the noise of splintering wood burst in upon their deliberations. It came from the barn, and was quickly followed by hideous screaming and stamping among the cattle. The dogs slavered and crouched close to the feet of the fear-numbed family. Frye lit a lantern through force of habit, but knew it would be death to go out into that black farmyard. The children and the women-folk whimpered, kept from screaming by some obscure, vestigial instinct of defence which told them their lives depended on silence. At last the noise of the cattle subsided to a pitiful moaning, and a great snapping, crashing, and crackling ensued. The Fryes, huddled together in the sitting-room, did not dare to move until the last echoes died away far down in Cold Spring Glen. Then, amidst the dismal moans from the stable and the demoniac piping of late whippoorwills in the glen, Selina Frye tottered to the telephone and spread what news she could of the second phase of the horror.
The next day, the entire countryside was in a panic. Cowed, uncommunicative groups came and went from the site where the fiendish thing had occurred. Two titanic swaths of destruction stretched from the glen to the Frye farmyard, monstrous prints covered the bare patches of ground, and one side of the old red barn had been completely caved in. Of the cattle, only about a quarter could be found. Some of these were in curious fragments, and all that had survived had to be shot. Earl Sawyer suggested that Aylesbury or Arkham be asked for help, but others maintained it would be no use. Old Zebulon Whateley, of a branch of the family that hovered about half-way between soundness and inbred decadence, made the darkly wild suggestion that rites that ought to be practised on the hilltops. He came of a line where tradition ran strong, and his memories of chanting in the great stone circles were not altogether connected with Wilbur and his grandfather.
Darkness fell upon a stricken countryside too passive to organize for real defence. In a few cases, closely related families banded together and watched the gloom under one roof. For the most part, there was merely a repetition of the barricading of the night before, and a futile, ineffective gesture of loading muskets and setting pitchforks at ready. Nothing occurred except some noises from the hills, and when daylight came there were many who hoped that the new horror had gone as swiftly as it had come. Some bold souls proposed an offensive expedition down into the glen, though they did not venture to set an actual example to the still reluctant majority.
When night fell once more, the barricading was repeated, though there was less huddling together of families. In the morning both the Frye and the Seth Bishop households reported excitement among the dogs and vague sounds and stenches from afar, while early explorers noted with horror a fresh set of the monstrous tracks in the road skirting Sentinel Hill. As before, the sides of the road showed a bruising indicative of the stupendous bulk of the horror. The arrangement of the tracks indicated a passage in two directions, as if a moving mountain had come from Cold Spring Glen and returned to it along the same path. At the base of the hill, a thirty-foot swath of crushed shrubbery and broken saplings led steeply upward, and the seekers gasped when they saw that even the most perpendicular stretches did not deflect the relentless trail. Whatever the horror was, it could scale a nearly vertical stony cliff. When the investigators climbed to the hill’s summit by safer routes, they saw that the trail ended—or rather, reversed—there.
It was here that the Whateleys used to build their hellish fires and chant their hellish rituals by the table-like stone on May Eve and Halloween. Now that stone lay at the centre of a vast space trampled by the mountainous horror. The stone’s slightly concave surface was covered with a thick smelly deposit of the same tarry substance observed on the floor of the ruined Whateley farmhouse from which the horror escaped. The men looked at one another and muttered, then looked down the hill. Apparently the horror had descended by a similar route to that of its ascent. To speculate was futile. Reason, logic, and normal ideas of motivation stood confounded. Only old Zebulon, who was not with the group, might have done justice to the situation or suggested a plausible explanation.
Thursday night began much like the others. The whippoorwills in the glen screamed with such unusual persistence that many could not sleep, and about 3 AM, all the party-line telephones rang. Those who picked up their receivers heard a fright maddened voice shriek out, “Help, oh, my God!” Some thought a crashing sound followed the exclamation. There was nothing more. No one dared do anything, and no one knew til morning where the call came from. Then, those who had heard it called everyone on the line, and found that only the Fryes did not reply. An hour later, a hastily assembled group of armed men trudged out to the Frye place at the head of the glen. It was horrible, yet hardly a surprise. There were more broken swaths and monstrous prints, but there was no longer any house. It had been caved in like an egg-shell, and among the ruins, nothing living or dead could be discovered, only a stench and a tarry stickiness. The Fryes had been erased from Dunwich.
Meanwhile, in Arkham, the curious manuscript of Wilbur Whateley, delivered to Miskatonic University for translation, had baffled the experts in both ancient and modern languages. Its alphabet, despite a general resemblance to the heavily shaded Arabic used in Mesopotamia, was absolutely unknown to any available authority. The linguists finally concluded that the text was written in an artificial alphabet, effectively a cipher, though none of the usual cryptographic methods furnish any clues, even when applied on the basis of every tongue the writer might conceivably have used. The ancient books taken from Whateley’s quarters, while absorbingly interesting, in some cases even promising to open up new lines of research among philosophers and scientists, were of no assistance whatever in deciphering the diary. One of them, a heavy tome with an iron clasp, was in another unknown alphabet, very different and resembling Sanskrit more than anything else. The diary was at length given to Dr. Armitage, both because of his peculiar interest in the Whateley matter and because of his wide linguistic learning and knowledge of the mystical formulae of antiquity and the Middle Ages.
Armitage thought that the alphabet might be something esoterically used by forbidden cults which have come down from antiquity, which inherited many forms and traditions from the wizards of the Arab world. But it would be unnecessary to know the origin of the symbols if, as he suspected, they were used as a cipher in a modern language. Considering the great amount of text involved, the writer would scarcely have taken the trouble of using a language other than his own, save perhaps in certain special formulae and incantations. Accordingly, he attacked the manuscript with the assumption that the bulk of it was in English.
Dr. Armitage knew, from the repeated failures of his colleagues, that the riddle was deep and complex, and that no simple solution was worth trying. All through late August, he studied the massed lore of cryptography, drawing upon the full resources of his own library, and wading night after night through the secrets of Trithemius’ Poligraphia, Giambattista Porta’s De Furtivis Literarum Notis, De Vigenere’s Traité des Chiffres, Falconer’s Cryptomenysis Patefacta, Davys’ and Thicknesse’s Eighteenth Century treatises, and more modern authorities as Blair, von Marten, and Klüber’s Kryptographik. He interspersed his study of these books with attacks on the manuscript itself, and in time became convinced that he was dealing with one of the subtlest and most ingenious of cryptograms, in which many separate lists of corresponding letters are arranged like a multiplication table, and the message built up with arbitrary key-words. The older authorities seemed more helpful than the newer ones, and Armitage concluded that the code of the manuscript was one of great antiquity, no doubt handed down through a long line of mystical experimenters. Several times, he seemed near daylight, only to be set back by some unforeseen obstacle. Then, as September approached, the clouds began to clear. Certain letters, used in certain parts of the manuscript, emerged definitely and unmistakably. It became obvious that the text was indeed in English.
On the evening of September second, the last major barrier gave way, and Dr. Armitage read a continuous passage of Wilbur Whateley’s annals for the first time. It was a diary, as all had thought, written in a style clearly showing the occult knowledge and general illiteracy of the strange being who wrote it. One of the first long passages that Armitage deciphered, an entry dated November 26, 1916, proved highly startling and disquieting. When it was written, Wilbur would have been a child of only three and a half.
Today I learned the Aklo for the Sabaoth. It ran, which I did not like, it being answerable from the hill and not from the air. The one upstairs is further ahead of me than I had thought it would be, and is not likely to have much earthly brain. I shot Elam Hutchins’s collie Jack when he went to bite me, and Elam says he will kill me if he dies. I guess he won’t. Grandfather kept me saying the Dho formula last night, and I think I saw the inner city at the 2 magnetic poles. I shall go to those poles when the earth is cleared off, if I can’t break through with the Dho-Hna formula when I commit it. The beings of the air told me at Sabbat that it will be years before I can clear off the earth, and I guess Grandfather will be dead by then, so I shall have to learn all the angles of the planes and all the formulae between the Yr and the Nhhngr. Those from outside will help, but they can not take on bodies without human blood. The one upstairs looks it will have the right cast. I can see it a little when I make the Yoorish sign or blow the power of Ibn Ghazi at it, and it is close, like those at May Eve on the Hill. The other face may wear off some. I wonder how I shall look when the earth is cleared and there are no earthly beings on it. He that came with the Aklo Sabaoth said I may be transfigured, there being much of the outside to work on.
Morning found Dr. Armitage in a cold sweat of terror and a frenzy of wakeful concentration. He had not left the manuscript all night, but sat at his table under the electric light turning page after page with shaking hands as quickly as he could decipher the cryptic text. He had nervously telephoned his wife ti tell her he would not be home, and when she brought him a breakfast from the house, he could scarcely eat a mouthful. All day he read on, now and then halting maddeningly as a reapplication of the complex key became necessary. Lunch and dinner were brought to him, but he ate only a small fraction of either. Toward the middle of the next night, he drowsed off in his chair, but soon woke out of a tangle of nightmares almost as hideous as the truths and menaces to man’s existence that he had uncovered.
On the morning of September fourth, Professor Rice and Dr. Morgan insisted on seeing him, before departing trembling and ashen grey. That evening, he went to bed, but slept only fitfully. Wednesday—the next day—he was back at the manuscript, and began to take copious notes both from the current sections and from those he had already deciphered. In the small hours of that night, he slept a little in an easy chair in his office, but was at the manuscript again before dawn. Some time before noon his physician, Dr. Hartwell, called to see him and insisted that he cease work. He refused, implying that it was of the most vital importance for him to complete the reading of the diary, and promising an explanation in due time.
That evening, just as twilight fell, he finished his terrible study and sank back exhausted. His wife, bringing his dinner, found him half comatose, but he was conscious enough to warn her off with a cry when he saw her eyes wander toward the notes he had taken. Weakly rising, he gathered up the scribbled papers and sealed them in a large envelope, which he immediately placed in his inside coat pocket. He had sufficient strength to get home, but was so clearly in need of medical aid that Dr. Hartwell was summoned once more. As the doctor put him to bed, Armitage could only mutter over and over again, “What, in God’s name, can we do?”
Dr. Armitage slept, but was partly delirious the next day. He made no explanation to Hartwell, but in his calmer moments spoke of the imperative need of a long conference with Rice and Morgan. His wilder ravings were startling indeed, including frantic appeals that something in a boarded up farmhouse be destroyed, and fantastic references to a plan for the extirpation of the entire human race and all animal and vegetable life on the earth by some terrible elder race of beings from another dimension. He shouted that the world was in danger, since the Elder Things wished to strip it and drag it away from the solar system and the material universe into another plane of existence from which it had fallen billions upon billions of eons ago. At other times, he called for the dreaded Necronomicon and the Demonolatreia of Remigius, in which he seemed hopeful of finding some formula to combat the danger his mind had conjured up.
“Stop them, stop them!” he shouted. “The Whateleys meant to let them in, and the worst of them all is left! Tell Rice and Morgan we must do something—it’s a blind business, but I know how to make the powder. It hasn’t been fed since the second of August, when Wilbur came here to his death, and at that rate…”
Armitage was physically sound despite his seventy-three years, and slept off his delirium that night without developing a fever. He woke late Friday, clear headed and sober, with gnawing fear and a tremendous sense of responsibility. By Saturday afternoon, he was able to go back to the library and summon Rice and Morgan for a conference, and the rest of that day and evening the three men tortured their brains with the wildest speculation and most desperate debate. Strange and terrible books were drawn from the stacks and from secure storage, and diagrams and formulae copied with feverish haste in bewildering abundance. Neither of the others were skeptical. All three had seen the body of Wilbur Whateley as it lay on the floor in a room of that very building, and after that none of them felt inclined to treat the diary as a madman’s ravings.
Their opinions were divided as to whether to notify the Massachusetts State Police, but in the end they decided against it. There were things which simply would not be believed by those who had not seen evidence with their own eyes. Late at night, they disbanded without a definite plan, but all day Sunday Armitage was busy comparing formulae and mixing chemicals obtained from the college laboratory. The more he reflected on the hellish diary, the more he doubted the power of any material to stamp out the entity that Wilbur Whateley had left behind him—the earth threatening entity which, unknown to him, was about to burst forth and become the Dunwich horror.
Monday was a repetition of Sunday for Dr. Armitage, requiring endless research and experimentation. Further consultation of the monstrous diary brought about several changes of plan, but he knew that even in the end a large amount of uncertainty must remain. By Tuesday he had planned a trip to Dunwich within the week. Then, on Wednesday, the great shock came. Tucked obscurely away in a corner of the Arkham Advertiser was a humorous little item from the Associated Press, laughing at what a record-breaking monster the bootleg whisky of Dunwich had raised up. Armitage, half stunned, telephoned Rice and Morgan. They spoke far into the night, and the next day prepared in a whirlwind. Armitage knew they were meddling with terrible powers, yet saw no other way to undo the deeper and more evil meddling which others had done before them.
On Friday morning, Armitage, Rice and Morgan set out by car for Dunwich. Now and then on a passing mountain top, a gaunt circle of stones could be glimpsed against the sky. They arrived at the village at about 1 in the afternoon. The day was pleasant, but even in the brightest sunlight, quiet, ominous dread hovered about the strangely domed hills and the deep, shadowy ravines of the stricken region. From the hushed fright at Osborn’s store, they knew something terrible had happened, and soon learned of the annihilation of Elmer Frye’s house and family. Throughout that afternoon they drove around Dunwich, questioning the natives concerning all that had occurred, and saw for themselves with rising pangs of horror the dreary ruins of the Frye home with its lingering traces of tarry stickiness, the blasphemous tracks in the Frye yard, the wounded cattle, and the enormous swaths of crushed vegetation. Armitage found the trail up and down Sentinel Hill ominously significant, and he spent a long time looking at the sinister altar-like stone on the summit.
Apprised of a party of state police from Aylesbury coming in response to telephone reports of the Frye tragedy, the visitors decided to seek out these officers and compare notes. This was more easily said than done, since they could find no sign of the policemen. The five officers had come in a car, which stood empty near the ruins in the Frye yard. The residents of the town who had talked with the policemen at first seemed as perplexed as Armitage and his companions. Then old Sam Hutchins thought of something and turned pale, nudging Fred Farr and pointing to the dank, deep hollow that yawned close by.
“God,” he gasped, “I told them not to go down into the glen, and I never thought anybody’d do it with them tracks, and that smell, and the whippoorwills screeching down there in the dark of noonday.”
A cold shudder ran through natives and visitors alike, and every ear strained in instinctive, unconscious listening. Armitage, now that he had actually seen the monstrous work of the horror, trembled with the responsibility he felt. Night would soon fall, and it was then that the mountainous blasphemy would lumber upon its uncanny course. In his head, the old librarian rehearsed the formula he had memorized–‘Negotium perambulans in tenebris,’– and he clutched a paper on which he’d written alternatives he had not memorized. He made sure his flashlight was working. Rice took a metal insecticide sprayer from a case, while Morgan loaded the big-game rifle on which he would rely, despite his colleague’s warnings that no material weapon would help them.
Armitage, having read the hideous diary, knew what kind of a manifestation to expect, but he kept silent, not wanting to add to the fright of the men of Dunwich. He hoped that the monstrous thing might be conquered without revelatng to the world what it had escaped. As the shadows gathered, the natives dispersed homeward, anxious to bar themselves inside despite the evidence that locks and bolts were useless before a force that could bend trees and crush houses at will. They shook their heads at the visitors’ plan to stand guard at the ruins of the Frye house near the glen, and as they left, few expected to ever see the watchers again.
There were rumblings under the hills that night, and the whippoorwills piped threateningly. Once in a while a wind, sweeping up out of Cold Spring Glen, would bring a touch of an indescribable stench, like the odour all three of the watchers had smelled once before, when they stood ov the dying thing that had passed as human for fifteen years. The looked for terror did not appear. Whatever was down in the glen was biding its time, and it would be suicidal to try to attack it in the dark.
Morning dawned wanly, and the night sounds ceased. It was a grey, bleak day, and now and then a drizzle of rain fell. Heavier and heavier clouds piled themselves up beyond the hills to the northwest. The men from Arkham couldn’t decide what to do. Seeking shelter from the increasing rainfall beneath one of the few remaining Frye outbuildings, they debated whether to wait or to go down into the glen in quest of their nameless, monstrous quarry. The downpour grew heavier, and distant peals of thunder sounded from the horizon. Sheet lightning shimmered, and then a forked bolt flashed near at hand, descending into the accursed glen itself. The sky grew very dark. The watchers hoped that the storm would prove a short, sharp one followed by clear weather.
It was still gruesomely dark when, not much over an hour later, a confused babble of voices came down the road. A moment later, a frightened group of more than a dozen men came into view, running, shouting, and whimpering hysterically. Someone in the lead began sobbing out words, and the Arkham men started violently when his words became coherent.
“Oh, my God, my God!” the man choked out; “it’s moving again, and this time by day! It’s out—it’s out and moving this very minute, and only the Lord knows when it’ll be upon us all!”
The speaker panted into silence, but another took up his message.
“Nigh on an hour ago, Zeb Whateley heard the phone ringing, and it was Ms. Corey, George’s wife, that lives down by the junction. She says their hired boy Luther was out driving in the cows from the storm after the big bolt, when he saw all the trees bending at the mouth of the glen—the opposite side of it—and smelt the same awful smell like he smelt when he found the big tracks last Monday morning. And she says he says there was a swishing, lapping sound, more than what the bending trees and bushes could make, and all on a sudden the trees along the road begun to get pushed to one side, and there was an awful stomping and splashing in the mud. Mind you, Luther didn’t see nothing at all, just the bending trees and underbrush. Then, where Bishop’s Brook goes under the road he heard an awful creaking and straining on the bridge, and says he could tell the sound of wood starting to crack and split. And all the while he never saw a thing, only the trees and bushes bending. When the swishing sound got very far off—on the rpad towards Wizard Whateley’s and Sentinel Hill—Luther had the guts to step up where he’d heard it first and look at the ground. It was all mud and water, and the sky was dark, and the rain was wiping out all tracks, but beginning at the glen mouth, where the trees where moved, there was still some of them awful prints big as barrels like he seen Monday.”
At this point the first excited speaker interrupted.
“But that ain’t the trouble now—that was only the start. Zeb was calling folks up and everybody was listening in when Seth Bishop’s housekeeper Sally cut in, carrying on fit to kill. She’d just seen the trees bending beside the road, and says there was a kind of mushy sound, like an elephant puffing and treading, heading for the house. She spoke of a fearful smell, and said her boy Chauncey was screaming how it was just like what he smelt up at the Whateley ruins Monday morning. And the dogs were all barking an’ whining awful. She let out a terrible yell, and says the shed down the road had just caved in like the storm had blown it over, only the wind wasn’t strong enough to do that. You could hear lots of folks on the wire gasping. All at once Sally yelled again, and said the front yard picket fence bed just crumpled up, though there was no sign of what done it. Then everybody on the line could hear Chauncey and old Seth Bishop yelling, to, and Sally shrieking out that something heavy had struck the house—not lightning or nothing, but something heavy against the front, that kept launching itself again and again, though you couldn’t see nothing out the front windows. And then … and then …”
Lines of fright deepened on every face. Armitage, shaken as he was, had barely poise enough to prompt the man to continue.
“Then Sally yelled out, ‘Oh help, the house is caving in’, and on the wire we could hear a terrible crashing, and a whole flock of screaming, jest like when Elmer Frye’s place was took, only worse.”
The man paused, and another spoke.
“That’s all—not a sound nor squeak over the phone after that. Just stillness. We that heard it got out Fords and wagons and rounded up as many able-bodied men as we could at Corey’s place, and came up here to see what you thought best to do. But I think it’s the Lord’s judgment for our sins, that no mortal can ever set aside.”
Armitage saw that the time for action had come, and spoke to the faltering group of frightened country folk.
“We must follow it, boys.” He said as reassuringly as he could. “I believe there’s a chance of putting it out of business. You men know that the Whateleys were wizards. Well, this thing is a thing of wizardry, and must be put down by the same means. I’ve seen Wilbur Whateley’s diary and read some of his strange old books, and I think I know how to get rid of the thing. Of course, I can’t be sure, but we must take a chance. It’s invisible—as I knew it would be—but there’s enough powder in Rice’s long distance sprayer that we may make it show up for a second. It’s a frightful thing, but it isn’t as bad as what Wilbur would have summoned if he’d lived longer. You’ll never know what the world has escaped. But now, we’ve only got this one thing to fight, and it can’t multiply. It can, though, do a lot of harm, so we must not hesitate to rid the community of it. We must follow it. The way to begin is to go to the place that has just been wrecked. Let somebody lead the way. I don’t know your roads very well, but I’ve an idea there might be a short cut across lots. How about it?”
The men shuffled about for a moment, and then Earl Sawyer spoke softly, pointing with a grimy finger through the steadily lessening rain.
“You can get to Seth Bishop’s quickest by cutting acrost the lower meadow here, wading the brook at the ford, and climbing through Carrier’s mow and the timber lot beyond. That comes out on the upper road mighty near Seth’s, just a little the other side.”
Armitage, Rice, and Morgan, started to walk in the direction indicated. Most of the Dunwich men followed slowly. The sky was growing lighter, and there were signs that the storm had worn itself out. When Armitage inadvertently took a wrong turn, Joe Osborn stopped him and walked ahead to show the right way. Courage and confidence were mounting, though the twilight of the almost perpendicular wooded hill which lay toward the end of their short cut, and among whose fantastic ancient trees they had to scramble as if up a ladder, put them to the test.
At length they emerged on a muddy road to find the sun coming out. They were a little beyond Seth Bishop’s place, but bent trees and hideously unmistakable tracks showed what had passed by. They took a few moments to survey the ruins just around the bend. It was the Frye house. Nothing dead or living was found in either of the collapsed shells which had been the Bishops’ house and barn. No one wanted to stay there amidst the stench; they turned to the line of horrible prints leading toward the wrecked Whateley farmhouse and the altar crowned slopes of Sentinel Hill.
As the men passed the site of Wilbur Whateley’s home, they shuddered visibly, and mixed hesitancy with their zeal. It was no joke tracking down something as big as a house that no one could see, but that had all the vicious malevolence of a demon. At the base of Sentinel Hill, the tracks left the road, and there was a broad swath of freshly bent plants marking the monster’s route to the summit.
Armitage took a powerful pocket telescope and scanned the steep green side of the hill. He handed it to Morgan, whose sight was keener. After a moment, Morgan cried out sharply, passing the glass to Earl Sawyer and indicating a spot on the slope. Sawyer fumbled clumsily for a moment, but eventually focused the lenses with Armitage’s aid. Once he’d done so, his cry was less restrained than Morgan’s had been.
“God almighty, the grass and bushes are moving! It’s going up—slow—creeping up tp the top this minute, heaven only knows what for!”
Panic spread among the men. It was one thing to chase a nameless entity, but quite another to find it. The men began questioning Armitage about what he knew of the thing, and no reply satisfied them. They all felt the close proximity of phases of nature and being utterly forbidden, and wholly outside the sane experience of mankind.
In the end the three men from Arkham—old, white-bearded Dr. Armitage, stocky, iron grey Professor Rice, and lean, youngish Dr. Morgan—ascended the mountain alone. After patiently explaining its focusing and use, they left the telescope with the frightened group that remained on the road. As they climbed, they were watched closely by those who passed the glass around. It was hard going, and Armitage had to be helped more than once. High above the toiling group, the great swath trembled as its hellish maker passed upward with snail-like deliberateness. It became obvious that its pursuers were gaining.
Curtis Whateley was holding the telescope when the party from Arkham detoured radically from the swath. He told the crowd that the men were trying to get to a subordinate peak that overlooked the trampled swath at a point considerably ahead of where the shrubbery was being bent. The party reached the minor elevation only a short time after the invisible thing had passed it.
Then Wesley Corey, who had taken the glass, cried out that Armitage was adjusting the sprayer which Rice held. The crowd stirred uneasily. Curtis Whateley snatched back the telescope and strained his vision to the utmost. He saw that Rice, from the party’s point of vantage above and behind the entity, had an excellent chance of spreading the powder.
Those without the telescope saw only an instant’s flash of gray cloud—a cloud the size of a moderately large building—near the top of the mountain. Curtis, who had held the instrument, let out a piercing shriek and dropped it into the ankle-deep mud of the road. He reeled, and would have crumpled to the ground had not two others seized and steadied him.
“Oh, oh, great God … that … that …” he moaned half inaudibly.
Amid the pandemonium of questions, only Henry Wheeler thought to rescue the fallen telescope and wipe it clean. Curtis was almost incoherent.
“Bigger than a barn … all made of squirming ropes … whole thing shaped like a hen’s egg, bigger than anything, with dozens of legs like hogsheads that half shut up when they stepped … nothing solid about it—all like jelly, and made of separate wriggling ropes pushed close together … great bulging eyes all over it … ten or twenty mouths or trunks sticking out all along the sides, big as stovepipes, and all opening and shutting … all grey, with blue or purple rings … and God in Heaven—that half face on top!”
This final memory proved too much for poor Curtis, and he collapsed completely before he could say more. Fred Farr and Will Hutchins carried him to the roadside and laid him on the damp grass. Henry Wheeler, trembling, turned the rescued telescope on the mountain to. He saw the three tiny figures running toward the summit as fast as the steep incline allowed, but nothing else. Then everyone noticed a strangely unseasonable noise in the deep valley behind them and the underbrush of Sentinel Hill. Unnumbered whippoorwills were piping, their shrill chorus full of tense and evil expectancy.
Earl Sawyer took the telescope and reported that the three men were standing on the topmost ridge, level with the altar-stone but at a considerable distance from it. One of them was raising his hands above his head at rhythmic intervals. The crowd heard a faint, half-musical sound in the distance, as if loud chanting was accompanying the gestures. The weird silhouette on that remote peak was a spectacle of impressive grotesqueness.
“I guess he’s saying a spell,” whispered Wheeler as he snatched back the telescope.
The whippoorwills were piping wildly, in an irregular rhythm quite unlike that of the visible ritual.
Suddenly the sunlight dimmed without the intervention of any discernible cloud. It was a peculiar phenomenon, noticed by all. Rumbling brewed beneath the hills, mixed with rumbling which clearly came from the sky. Lightning flashed aloft, and the wondering crowd looked in vain for signs of another storm. The chanting of the men from Arkham became unmistakable, and Wheeler saw through the glass that they were all raising their arms with the rhythmic incantation. From a farmhouse far away, they heard the frantic barking of dogs.
The daylight faded further, and the crowd gazed about in wonder. Purplish darkness, a deepening of the sky’s blue, pressed down upon the rumbling hills. Then the lightning flashed again, brighter than before, and it showed a mistiness around the altar-stone on the distant hilltop. The whippoorwills continued their irregular pulsation, and the men of Dunwich braced themselves tensely against the imponderable menace that the atmosphere was charged with.
Without warning, they heard deep, cracked, raucous vocal sounds which would never leave the memory of any man who heard them. They were not made by any human throat; the organs of man cannot yield such acoustic perversions. Rather they came it seemed from Hell itself, though their source was unmistakably the altar-stone on the peak. They were hardly sounds at all, since so much of their ghastly, infra-bass timbre was sensed in dim seats of consciousness and terror far subtler than the ear, yet their form was indisputably that of half articulate words. They were loud—as loud as the rumblings and the thunder above which they echoed—yet they came from no visible source. Because their imaginations suggested a source in the world of non-visible beings, the crowd at the mountain’s base huddled closer, and winced as if in expectation of a blow.
“Ygnaiih … ygnaiih … thflthkh’ngha … Yog-Sothoth …” rang the hideous croaking out of space. “Y’bthnk … h’ehye … n’grkdl’lh …”
The voice faltered, as if some frightful psychic struggle were going on. Henry Wheeler strained his eye at the telescope, but saw only the three grotesquely silhouetted human figures on the peak, all moving their arms furiously in strange gestures as their incantation appeared to draw near its culmination. From what black wells of dismal fear or feeling, from what unplumbed gulfs of extra-cosmic consciousness or obscure, long-latent heredity, were those half-articulate croakings drawn? Presently they gathered renewed force and coherence as they grew in stark, utter, ultimate frenzy.
“Eh-ya-ya-ya-yahaah … e’yaya-yayaaaa … ngh’aaaa … ngh’aaaa … h’yuh … h’yuh … HELP! HELP! … FATHER! FATHER! YOG-SOTHOTH …”
That was all. The pallid group in the road, still reeling at the indisputably English syllables that had poured thickly and thunderously down from the frantic emptiness beside the shocking altar stone, never heard such syllables again. Instead, they jumped violently at a terrific boom which rent the hill, a deafening, cataclysmic peal whose source, be it inner earth or sky, no hearer was able to place. A single lightning bolt shot from the purple zenith to the altar-stone, and a great tidal wave of invisible force and indescribable stench swept down from the hill over the countryside. Trees, grass, and underbrush were whipped into a fury. The frightened crowd at the mountain’s foot, weakened by the lethal stench that seemed about to asphyxiate them, were almost hurled from their feet. Dogs howled in the distance, green grass and foliage wilted to a curious, sickly yellow-grey, and over field and forest the bodies of dead whippoorwills were scattered.
The stench cleared quickly, but the vegetation never recovered. To this day there is something strange and unholy about the growth on and around that fearsome hill. Curtis Whateley was only just regaining consciousness when the three men from Arkham came slowly down the mountain in beams of sunlight once more brilliant and untainted. They were grave and quiet, and seemed shaken by thoughts even more terrible than those which had reduced the men of Dunwich to a quivering. In reply to a jumble of questions they only shook their heads and reaffirmed one vital fact.
“The thing is gone for ever,” Armitage said. “It has been reduced into what it was originally made of, and can never exist again. It was an impossibility in a normal world. Only the least fraction of it was really matter in any sense we know. It was like its father, and most of it has gone back to him, to a dimension outside our material universe, an abyss out of which only the most accursed rites of human blasphemy could ever have called him for a moment on the hills.”
After a brief pause, Curtis Whateley put his hands to his head with a moan. Memory picked itself up where it had left off, and the horror of the sight that had prostrated him burst in upon him again.
“Oh, oh, my God, that half face … that half face on top of it … that face with the red eyes and crinkly albino hair, and no chin, like the Whateleys … It was an octopus, centipede, spider kind of thing, but there was a half shaped man’s face on top of it, and it looked like Wizard Whateley’s, only it was yards and yards across.”
He paused, exhausted, as the whole group stared in bewilderment not quite crystallized into fresh terror. Only old Zebulon Whateley, who vaguely remembered ancient things but who had been silent until now, spoke aloud.
“Fifteen years ago,” he rambled, “I heard Old Whateley say how some day we’d hear a child of Lavinny’s calling its father’s name on the top of Sentinel Hill.”
Joe Osborn interrupted him to question the Arkham men.
“What was it, anyhaw, and how did young Wizard Whateley call it out of the air it came from?”
Armitage chose his words carefully.
“It was mostly a kind of energy that doesn’t belong in our part of space, that acts and grows and shapes itself by other laws than those of our nature. We have no business summoning such things from outside, and only very wicked people ever try to. There was some of it in Wilbur Whateley himself—enough to make a devil and a precocious monster of him, and to make his passing a terrible sight. I’m going to burn his accursed diary, and if you men are wise you’ll dynamite that altar-stone up there, and pull down all the rings of standing stones on the other hills. Things like that brought down the beings the Whateleys were so fond of—the beings they were going to let in to wipe out the human race and drag the earth off to some nameless place for some nameless purpose. But as to this thing we’ve just sent back, the Whateleys raised it to take a terrible part in the doings that were to come. It grew fast and big for the same reason that Wilbur grew fast and big—but it surpassed him because it had a greater share of the outsideness in it. You needn’t ask how Wilbur called it out of the air. He didn’t call it out. It was his twin brother. It just looked more like their father than he did.“