Foresaken Lore, 4


Jim found a quiet corner of the cellar. He read aloud the scribbles on the newspaper he had picked up:

“Detenga todos los relojes, corte el teléfono,
Evitar que el perro ladre con un hueso jugoso,
Silence los pianos y con redobles en sordina
Llevar a cabo el ataúd, dejar que los dolientes.”

He repeated the words over and over… and then with a start Jim realised that he had fallen asleep. He felt confused, words echoing in his mind. He clasped his head and whistled slowly through clenched teeth. He thought of the page torn from the esoteric book at Miskatonic University library, Arkham. Pulling the folded paper out from his pocket he read aloud its verse, but, once again, his eyes closed; he dreamt of a stone corridor in which a woman holds up a cross to keep at bay a tentacled demon–but he had mangled the magic words. His brain felt numb. Jim Culver took several swigs at a whisky bottle, gasping with relief.


He paused outside the Cervantes Theatre. A matinee performance of The King in Yellow, in English, was about to commence. He didn’t need to be back aboard ship for several hours–“The cabin boy will be alright, won’t he?”–so Jim stepped inside.

The plush seats were worn, dirty and empty. Jim plonked himself down in the back row. The curtains parted, all went dark, and footlights illuminated a figure.

“I am Lou Cifre, your narrator.” He described an ancient city inhabited by intelligent, pink, insect-like beings. Later, during the play, a scholar, surrounded by thick tomes, is surprised by a monstrous automaton. As the scholar is devoured by the mantis, its mandibles tearing and its pointed legs pricking, the scholar shouted in ecstasy:

“Carl, oh Carl, the burning of a thousand kisses!”


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