Keli had been criticized her entire life for not finishing projects that she would start. As a child she would begin puzzles, games, books and hobbies and then quit her progress for something else that caught her attention. Her mother would call these her “shiny item moments.” She felt a growing shame for a condition beyond her control. Keli wasn’t able to understand why she would give up. One of her parents would rail on her for wasting their money or time when she wasn’t able to finish what she began. Shame filled the vessel of her self esteem. Keli became hesitant to start anything new. She spent free time sitting by a window wishing that it was possible to see something through to its end. Keli found refuge with her grandfather’s possessions in the attic to avoid her parents criticisms. The attic “junk” offered her the opportunity to move from one adventure to the next without being judged. She assumed her parents approved since they never commented on her play out of their sight.
It would be the first year of her twenties that she would be formally diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder or ADHD as the doctor called it. Medication significantly improved her focus. She wished her parents had looked into this long before her adulthood instead of adhering to online “experts”who claimed ADHD was a hoax. Keli decided that she would prove to all her doubters that she could finish whatever she began. The medication began to take hold, filling her with hope to one day finish a large project on her own.
Her grandfather’s dusty attic was full of curious, old treasure. There was a lifetime collection of clothing, maps, adventure supplies, trunks and everything one could imagine at her fingertips. While she had questions about what her grandfather had done with his youth, it was clear that he spent those years traveling around the world. Keli would spend much of her time alone in the loft away from the criticisms that took place downstairs. She felt fortunate about her parents getting lost in their electronic worlds to give her large swaths of time to explore. The attic was large enough to have stored away a small museum worth of antiques, heirlooms, “finds” and other old artifacts. She put on outfits that hadn’t been worn in a hundred years. Rotting wooden trunks lined the sides of the dusty room. All were able to open but one. One trunk had a lock on it that she was never able to get open. Keli didn’t spend too much time trying to open it during her childhood. The distractions of swinging blood stained sabers or walking around in fancy dresses held more interest than an odd lock. Her interest in the oddity changed when her ADHD medication began working.
The lock was a large piece of round iron with two key holes inches apart. One keyhole was a common slit, the other was semi-triangular in design. Keli had spent years playing with most items in the attic, but this one artifact now held her complete interest. She knew better than to ask her parents about the whereabouts of the keys. They took possession of the house from her grandfather, not caring about his dusty relics when electronic items were always in their hands. Her grandfather forbade the family from purging the attic until he was dead. When they placed her grandfather in the old folks home, he was insistent on seeing the attic once a year to make sure everything was still in place. Keli appreciated this request more than anyone.
She found the first key in a woman’s dress that hung on an iron dress form. The faded white dress was a cotton, satin mix, lined with lace. Splatters of crimson red formed across the front as though someone sprayed red ink across it long ago. This one of the few items that never held much of her interest in its current condition. She never understood why someone would keep a ruined dress. Keli abandoned the question when she found the key in a hidden pocket sewed inside the material. A large, copper key with the oddest key shape that she had ever seen. Most keys had a single row to activate the lock’s tumblers. This key had two sets of teeth to unlock the inside. She brought her find to the chest’s lock. Her trembling hand trembled while she lined up the key to the hole on the right. It was shaped like an “A” with a missing middle line. The key slid in place. Keli turned rotated the key. A distinct noise sounded from within. She could see that the locking mechanism relaxed a bit, yet was clearly still engaged.
Keli made an excuse to visit her grandfather. She spent the first part of their visit listening to him drone on about how Mable takes too many sugar packets and other old people issues. When she knew her time was winding down, Keli inquired about the trunk’s oddly designed lock. Her grandfather explained that the trunk was to remain locked for the good of the world. The sole item inside needed to be kept out of the hands of anyone, that his biggest regret in the world was not leaving the trunk hidden where he found it. He explained that both keys had been in his possession decades ago. A young woman that he was madly in love had stolen one of the keys, a very odd shaped key which he had never recovered. She had died of sheer panic in his arms, after witnessing the brutal murder of her friend by something from the ocean. He pulled a simple key from around his neck, held on a platinum chain. Her grandfather explained that this was the only known key for it to open. The interest in her face compelled him to take it off and hand it to her, believing the other key to be lost to time. She immediately put the necklace over her head, securing its companion under her shirt.
The thirty mile ride home took a hundred hours in her head. Her gym shoes couldn’t get up the wooden stairs fast enough. Keli looked at the trunk with the new key in hand. She felt an unexplained energy and power in her immediacy. The final steps forward were taken cautiously to the trunk. Her mind all the time wondering what could be of such importance that her grandfather felt regret for bringing the container out from hiding. The lock was still, with the single key handle perpendicular to the ground. She eased the second key into the remaining hole. Her hand rotated to the right. The lock released its grip, popping open. Keli was unable to maintain her excitement. She tore the open lock off onto the stale floorboards with a thud. The trunk top opened backwards with ease. The smell was of a time, long lost to history. The overhead lighting illuminated a single book at the bottom of the container’s well. The volume was leather bound in a dark tan material, with what appeared to be a face in distress. A cover design that was meant to discourage anyone from opening into its contents. She pulled the ghastly item into her hands. The weight was much heavier than she would have expected for a tome of its size. The book felt like it was simultaneously warm and cold.
She brought the new treasure to her grandfather’s research desk. Keli hastily pushed aside the various maps and notes that he had collected to rest the book on the mahogany top. She had an impression that the book was watching her. She opened the cover with shaky fingers. Keli felt uncomfortable about resting the cover’s “face” on the desk. One of the first inside pages held the title Necronomicon in crimson hand made lettering. Time slowed down for her as the pages turned. She eased into her exploration. The subsequent pages were all written in the same crimson lettering as the title. An odd aroma lifted from the book as she was inundated with all manner of language, pictures and symbols, none of which made sense to her. Diagrams of dreadful creatures, obscene buildings and various manners of horror that made her skin crawl. The contents were arranged to be that like an encyclopedia. Keli wasn’t able to determine if the words were either written descriptions of the drawings or possibly incantations. She completed her journey to the end of the book, a feat that she had never done in one sitting. Her only regret was that her parents weren’t around to witness the success.
The weight of a 1000 years worth of information sat in her brain. Keli didn’t know what to do with an influx of knowledge that she hadn’t understood. As she sat there alone, the words began to start to make sense as if puzzle pieces were individually moving into place. Her first instinct was to put the book back where she found it and reattach the lock. A strange voice eased into her ear that the book must never be under lock and key again. Keli nodded her head. The book was hidden under the hem of the stained, white dress as she went downstairs for dinner.
Dinner was at the table that evening. She ate her food, unconcerned about what it was. She watched both parents focus on their phones while they ate, negating any conversation. She ate her meal in deep reflection. More of the information from the book made sense to her as though sections of the puzzle pieces were coming together. The increasing desire to go back to the book was difficult to ignore. Keli was happy that this week was the first week of a work vacation. She went to bed shortly after dinner, fighting the urge to become more familiar with her find. The need to rest became overwhelming.Her parents didn’t even notice the early time when she said good night, with her mother reminding her to wash her face.
Keli was quickly pulled into the deepest of slumbering dreams. She watched all sorts of horrors happen through the millennia, including a young woman in a white cotton, satin dress becoming covered in a friend’s blood on an English dock decades back. A human-fish hybrid with bloodied teeth and webbed hands dove into the night’s water as the body of her female companion lay bleeding into the ocean below. Keli then saw a community of the same hybrids gathered in a hidden cove eating what looked like the remains of a fishing crew. She was dream-transported underwater to a large, stone city with a lumbering, tentacled creature silently sleeping in the deep. She saw herself bowing at its feet, promising to make the world correct once more. The dream state took her to an unnamed city in the desert, far underground into its phosphorescent caverns. Keli then found herself suspended into the stars gazing upon an entity of such absolute horror that her sleeping body wet the bed in terror.
The sun-filled morning didn’t register to any emotion within her. She went through the day in a walking fog of deep rumination. Keli silently repeated throughout the day, That is not dead which can eternal lie and with strange aeons even death may die. She sat at her bedroom window looking out into a world with knowledge that she was not prepared for. Her eyes began to blink less. Her skin cooled. She lost interest in everything around her throughout the week. The book called to her as she looked out the window. A battle of willpowers played within her to keep from going back for a re-read. Keli feared going to the book would bind her to it for eternity.
Her mind spent much of its focus on better understanding what the book and nightly dreams were telling her. She began repeating the phrase over and over. That is not dead which can eternal lie and with strange aeons even death may die. A new phrase flowed into her understanding and out of her mouth. Yog-Sothoth knows the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the key and guardian of the gate. Past, present, future, all are one in Yog-Sothoth. The book’s information became clearer puzzle pieces to understand. Keli knew she needed days alone with its contents to go deeper into what it meant. Right or wrong, she was determined to see how far down the rabbit hole would take her attention. Her focus eased beyond the basic messages within the book. Keli knew what she had come upon was the deepest evil that one could ever find. She also grew confident that giving up on this task would be all but impossible.
The days passed until she finally went back to the book. Her parents had little regard for what she was up to. They didn’t pay attention as she became more withdrawn, wearing the same clothes for days. Her dreams became adventures with a nocturnal guide that taught her all that there was to understand in the universe. Keli was told that she would soon be tasked to sacrifice herself for the return of the most magnificent creature to walk the land. She was told that in her honor, far off cities would be dedicated and built to what she had done. Her life would have a meaning that no other human could ever comprehend.
It was on a moonless night that Keli opened the book on the town’s highest, empty hill. A location that had a large stone perfect for setting a book to read. The altar was without age or dirt as though it had been recently set there for her. She arrived wearing only the young woman’s attic dress. The air around her was cool. Keli didn’t bother to register such human observations when her greatest achievement was about to be completed. She set the book on the stone, ready to be the conduit for its purpose. Her hand opened the cover with deliberate slowness, savoring the moment. Miles away, her grandfather sat upright in his bed. A single word formed on his lips. No. The care staff found his stiff body the next day. His eyes were wide with terror.
Keli turned page after page, reading the words into the night air. Those common, nocturnal noises of insects and frogs began to silence. The wind slowly gained movement in the distance. Tree branches waved as they were being shaken by unseen hands. A distant screeching took residence over the wind. The single noise increased into a chorus. Keli sounded the passages as if she was the one who had written the words. Achalla halutia venrosium. Chaiytuli buratu chamiallesta hioneph. She felt a power grow shallow in her belly. The air around her became electric. Dancing blue sparks popped outside of her peripheral. She continued one page after another. Keli noticed that with each passing page, her belly began to swell more. Something intrinsic within her warned her not to continue. The message blew away as easily as a leaf in a tornado. The volume of her voice increased. Her body began to take the shape of a developing, pregnant woman. She cried out the passages that were before her. The whites of her eyes darkened into the same crimson of the words and drawings.
Keli was two thirds through the reading when she felt the first movements inside her. She began to be lost with terror until a mother’s instinct overtook her senses. A realization occurred that for her child to survive the pregnancy, the book’s last words must be spoken. Her eyes didn’t need to look down at the language any longer. She called the incantations forward, knowing them from some place deep within. The pages followed pace at their own accord. The movements inside her womb increased. She cried out every sound. She relished in knowing that her body would be the sacrifice for the birth of what was within. The book was nearly at its final pages. Blood ran openly from her nose and ears. Keli’s voice was louder than any sound a human ever made, carrying on the wind into the world.
She managed the endmost words with the last reserves of her persistence. Her cooling body crumpled onto the long grass as her remaining breaths left her chest. A long, slim tentacle eased itself out of her folds, followed by another, obscenely stretching its mother’s corpse. A slender form pushed free followed by more slick tentacles. The monstrosity eased itself into shape upon the blood that pooled before her. The fauna took comfort in its mother’s spoken words that hung in repetition in the air around the stone.
The creature grew exponentially. Dark green tentacles pushed the form upwards, away from the revolting grass. Twelve legs descended down onto the ground, each with a spiked hoof. A clutch of egg sacks began to develop along its rear. Infinitesimally small creatures began to make movements inside each translucent egg. The quickly maturing creature gazed at its mother one last time before savagely devouring her, leaving scattered tissue, bone fragments and shreds of fabric. A scrap of her dress hung on its scaled body as it ran off into the distance to begin a brood of its own. The world soon plunged into a nightmare that the book foretold.