At the Mountains of Madness, 2

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Agnes Baker sat cross-legged upon her oriental rug. A steaming cup of coffee and a French pastry were within easy reach. She traced her finger along the rug’s pattern, brushing gently to and fro through its thick pile.

A fly buzzed insistently, it was trapped against the window pane. When she went to open the window to free the insect the corner of her eye caught sight of an electric blue line, it ran along the rug’s swirls; her mind flooded with memories of forgotten lore…

There was a knock on her apartment door.

“It’s me, Agnes, it’s Arthur, would you like to go for a picnic in the woods?”

She opened her apartment’s door, still smoothing out the creases in her dress from when she had been shaking uncontrollably just a moment before, like she had had a fit. “Mr. Danforth, yes—yes I would love to.”

~

Arthur Danforth unfolded the checkered cloth with a flourish, it floated down upon the grass. Agnes unloaded the wicker basket, there were tea cups and plates, cucumber sandwiches, and little pink cakes.

“All quite perfect, thank you, Mr. Danforth.” Leaning on one arm, she admired the array of forget-me-nots growing beneath an oak tree. She glanced up at Arthur. “Mr. Danforth, whatever is the matter?”

“I was just thinking about the Miskatonic University expedition to Antarctica,” he answered, “there has been no radio communication with them for a while now.” For a moment they looked at each other in silence, Agnes at a loss. Arthur explained: “My brother is with the expedition.”

“I’m sorry to hear that, Arthur.” She placed her hand upon his.

In the silent moments that followed Agnes spotted some scrapings on the oak tree trunk, she presumed that two sweethearts had engraved their initials. She went over to them, could she guess who they are? WB 4 UD she read. Beyond the oak tree was a camp-fire, it was encircled by logs. “Just kids, having a party,” and she smiled at her thought, remembering good times from her youth.

A pile of branches, cut recently because of their curling, green leaves, lay beside the camp fire. She scuffed, with her sandals, at the saw-dust powdered grass.  Movement—the pile of branches moved! Agnes opened her mouth to shout to Arthur that she’d discovered a raccoon—

A naked hag rose up before Agnes, it was utterly unbelievable. Its mouth opened in a silent scream, and then it lunged at Agnes, its decayed, wicked-looking claws scraped down her leg. Agnes screamed too. And she fainted, falling flat upon the flowers; in that instant she dreamt of a cathedral-like hall filled by a vaporous, many-armed monstrosity.

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