The Cold Wastes

Knowing my love of Lovecraft, a friend mentioned the Favourite work as if written by Lovecraft meme to me this morning, and asked what I might pick. Which turned out to be a real brain teaser, because the many of my favourite works are Mythos. However, I finally found an answer.

Having dismissed all those works which are already after-Lovecraft, my immediate thought was that I also love Dan Abnett’s work for Black Library. However, both Warhammer Fantasy and 40K are set in a universe where dark gods lurk in some other realm, aiding and destroying in accord with some sanity-defying plan; which again would not really notice the addition of cosmic dread.

And thus also Pratchett, with his Dungeon Dimensions, fell also. And Grant Morrison. And so on.

Even my other favourite theme, the vampire, is – when the veil is drawn back – a tale of excluded scholars waging war against an undying evil while denizens of the other world cleave to disbelief or tumble into madness.

I began to wonder whether I had in fact exposed a cold pattern beneath the assumed comfortable randomness of my own life. A fear that crept closer still as I realised that – whilst I might with ease say I, in at least one sense, favour my work – I too write works tinged with the indifference of an uncaring universe.

Save for one redeeming light: the pure visceral hatred of Topik for all life. His evil is the comforting evil of one who acts against something he notices rather than that of a person brushing away a cobweb and thinking no more. So, for your delectation, I have rewritten Josie’s awakening from Season 1, Episode 1 as Lovecraft:

“Cs’uhn ph’kadishtu.”

Joseph cracked open his eyes, but clamped them shut again as darkness oozed over his retinas. He blinked, trying to penetrate the eldritch obfuscation. The whole ceiling above him seemed a Cyclopean void. “Good day?”

“Shtunggli ftaghuagl… a terrible accident, but you are… healthy, now.” The voice was flat and yet jagged. Somehow, it reminded him of an ill-fated trip taken once to Essen by train.

Squinting, he looked around him. He lay upon a platform of some unknown stone, close to soapstone yet hard and warm. He struggled upright. The platform jutted from the middle of a room formed of triangular stone blocks, no one bearing the same angles as another. Odd metal devices lay on jutting shelves, their order and cleanliness adding to his sense of dread. Despite straining his eyes into the utmost shadow, he perceived no other within the room. “Who are you?”

“You have slept many years,” the crackling voice continued. “The year is 3535 CE. You slumbered in the chill void for one thousand four hundred and fourteen years.”

“What?” A further wave of dread surged through Joseph’s head. He clasped the one point of certainty. “I need to see my son. His tutor reported him absent.”

An odd barrel shape appeared in the centre of the floor, equally spaced, rugose channels running up its sides. Each end tapered to a five-lobed protrusion, the one at the base etiolated yet bearing the full weight of the bulging impossibility.

Joseph craned forward, staring. It seemed desiccated, veins threading leathery sides. Yet some unknown sense within him forced the acceptance it not merely lived, but saw and thought like a man.

He rose from the platform and approached warily. The creature, for creature it was, did not move. He stretched out one hand expecting a roughness to match the seeming texture. Yet he felt nothing, his fingers disappearing through the beast.

He reeled backwards, senses slipping from him.

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