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Fiction Horror Thriller

Judith had full access to the library’s basement vault as Assistant Head Librarian. The items located here were meant for storage or were in transition from one library to another. A sealed crate in the far back of the room caught her attention. The large, spray painted words MISKATONIC UNIVERSITY and DO NOT OPEN were stained across the wooden boards on each side of the box. Judith took a walk around the oddity. She tried to imagine what was so important to justify such warnings. The thick layer of dust on its top indicated how long the crate had been in storage. Her curiosity spiked. Judith thought about when Alice made her travels into Wonderland. Curiouser and Curiouser. Her hand extended through the stale air closer to the wood perimeter. The hanging neon lights created an elongated shadow. The oak color plank was oddly cool to the touch. Judith couldn’t find any reason for the sensation. The word magenta manifested in her mind. Her library walkie-talkie interrupted further investigation. Judith dutifully answered the call, bothered that she was needed. She exited the sub-basement for upstairs. The mystery remained in her mind throughout the day. 

She lay sleepless in bed that night. The box and its unknown contents consumed her thoughts. Judith contemplated asking Marion about the container. She then imagined her boss shipping the crate off due to the question. Judith resolved not to ask, promising herself to open the crate. This thought was enough to put her at peace into a deep sleep. In her dream she was back in the vault, appearing like a cartoon Alice in Wonderland. The surrounding dimensions looked all wrong. The walls and floor bent and heaved without attention to physical laws. She was unable to determine the room colors, as though they didn’t naturally exist in this world. The room slowly expanded into a larger version of itself. A shadowed form, dressed all in yellow wearing a crown, sat on a rocking chair in the corner. She identified him as Hastur, the King in Yellow. He waved her to the box, as if allowing permission to breach the seal. She took her attention back to the wooden object which was now the sole item in the over expanded room. Judith looked at her cartoon hands to see them holding a comical hammer and shimmering crowbar. She brought her eyes up once more to find a large neon arrow pointing downwards at the box from above. The ceiling opened up as the downward pointing arrow now hung from nothing.

A single spotlight, without source, illuminated the container. A large humanoid with tentacles hanging from its face looked at her in the distance. This individual she knew to be the great Cthulhu. Judith could see the expanse of time and space above her. Terror flooded through her sleeping form. She looked with shattered awe at a massive form of tentacles and teeth high above watching with great interest. Her resolve to open the crate intensified. Her cartoon self moved to the box. King Hastur watched from his chair. Animated Judith found herself by the container. More indistinct creatures made their way about the room. She thrust the crowbar between the wooden slots until it was deep into the groove. Her hand brought back the oversized hammer. She struck the crowbar flush against the metal. The crate top broke free. A dark light of unimaginable energy poured out of the open box deep into the sky. The King in Yellow stood in place with arms raised in cheer. The Great Cthulhu rose to full height, spreading dark emerald wings as he roared with the might of a thousand elephants.

Judith awoke startled in a sheen of sweat. She had never experienced a dream so vividly real. She looked down at her hands to make sure they were her human hands. Her body felt energized as though she had rested for a hundred years. The vision of the King in Yellow haunted her throughout the errands of her day off. Judith couldn’t fully explain to herself why she felt a driving compulsion to buy a small crowbar and hammer. They took residence in her trunk. She longed to return to the library with her new tools to free the contents of the dusty crate. Her mind became consumed with knowing what secrets the box contained. Thoughts of paranoia and intrigue filled her evening. The television played its usual cascade of programming in front of her eyes as her mind focused on her plan. She thought deeper and deeper about freeing the mystery. That night Judith had the exact same dream. This time waking, she was at peace with no exacerbation. Her morning routine was silent without the usual talk radio. Judith thought she saw a yellow figure out of the corner of her peripheral.

The Assistant Head Librarian arrived to her assigned parking spot. She felt as though she was walking in a trance. The tools were hidden in a large bag. Judith went to her office without any fanfare. The library secretary updated her on the needs of the day, informing her that the head librarian was out of the office for an impromptu meeting with their Board of Directors. Judith hid her elation about the news. She had worried that her boss would put her to work on a project that would keep her out of the vault. At the conclusion of their conversation, Judith informed the secretary that she would be in the sub-basement working on a long, overdue inventory of the vault’s contents. The secretary promised that there wouldn’t be disturbances unless necessary. Judith spent the next hour going through time sensitive tasks. She hurried through them without the due diligence that normally came with her work. She hid the tools within her waistband and left the confines of her office. The stairs down into the vault felt to be twice as extensive as normal.

She became more and more overcome with anticipation. She worked the door lock, privately fearing that the crate would somehow be gone. The lights illuminated the vast storage room. Judith froze on the stone floor. It was as if her dream was coming to life. A long, yellow coat she had never seen in all her time working in the vault was resting on the back of a desk chair. She moved to the far end of the area. To her right the shadows cast on the wall almost looked like a large humanoid in the shadows. Her rational mind snapped back into control. No, leave, go back to work. Judith looked at the crate. The impulse to break its seal slammed her back into trance. Curioser and Curioser, she thought.

She took out the small crowbar and hammer from under her clothing. Her closing steps to the crate were cautious. Judith edged the flat end of the crowbar between the wood pieces with her right hand. The wood planks groaned at the forced intrusion. The room felt as if it was electrically charged around her. Judith’s heart raced as she caught her shallow breaths. Time slowed to a crawl. Her left hand brought back the hammer into position. Do it, crossed into her active thoughts from somewhere deep in her mind. Judith swung the hammer’s head forward. The flat, metal end slammed into the hardened crowbar driving the edge inward. Judith was immediately recused into a place she didn’t understand. Sounds of violence filled the magenta space around her. Visions of floating stairs, columns and rocks were everywhere. In the distance she saw the clearest night sky with galaxies larger than anything she could have imagined. Her body felt lightweight, floating in the ether. Judith could see millennia of astrological events pass before her. A large, wooden rocking chair moved across her horizon. Waves of invisible electricity passed through her. She was elated and terrified with each second that lasted forever. Judith panned her head around. Massive, stone temples became scattered in the floating abyss. She could see their vague outlines of creatures around them from the distance. An immense boom clacked behind her. She spun to identify the noise.

 Judith woke up on the vault stone floor holding a large book. Her eyes slowly adjusted to the lights. The crowbar and hammer lay on the ground by the box. She looked up at the crate to get her bearings. The wooden top wasn’t on as flush as it had been before. She released her grip and looked down at the book. The cover was bound in a red-brown leather with a design that suggested a howling face among the physical creases. The book was wider than most textbooks with an unsettling cool feel. Her mind became alive with thought. Judith immediately realized that she had no recollection of how she freed the book, nor how long she had been out. She spun her wrist around. Roughly forty-five minutes from when she entered the room. The book radiated an energy she couldn’t understand. Judith closed her eyes to settle her nerves. She was transported back to the floating nether. New, indescribable objects and cities floated past her line of sight. Nothing made sense among the magenta aura. A boom called her attention below. Her vision moved to the nothing below her shoes. She awoke once again. Eleven minutes had passed.

Judith stowed the tools behind other long term storage containers. She forced the book into a makeshift bag. The desire to leave the library was overwhelming. She also wanted to escape without raising any concerns that might tip off the head bookkeeper when the gossips talked to her tomorrow. She made her way to her car as the busy staff moved on with their daily tasks. Judith slid her wrapped prize under a backseat blanket. She decided to stay for an hour before making up the story of a migraine to leave early. Judith was antsy with anticipation as the hour dragged across her watch. Nothing she did was enough to distract her push to leave. She approached the secretary with the migraine cover story. Ethel conveyed a sincere sympathy with an assurance that any issues would be cared for until tomorrow. Judith thanked her cooperation and left for her car. The ride home was a blur as she imagined what could be in a book of such importance. She didn’t remember pulling her car into the driveway.

She rested the book on her table in front of her couch. The cover’s gruesome design and texture fascinated something primal inside her. Her fingers went to the cover’s edge with caution as though it might bite her hand. Judith opened the book to a random, middle page. The paper felt oddly rigid to her as if made from some hardened, ancient papyrus. Judith had experienced books made of many different substances. This book was something different. She forced herself to reject the possibility that human flesh could carry words under the right circumstances. The page she chose appeared to be a lab book description of some horrid monster as though the book was a catalog of some type. the hand drawings were enough to reveal the book’s purpose even she was unable to read the script. Hours passed by as if mere minutes. The sun’s light shifted through her back windows, casting walking shadows inside of her home. Judith became entirely engrossed with the material before her. She pushed away her body’s call for food and water. She refused to budge for the bathroom, ruining her slacks and couch with a wide, wet puddle around her. Nothing could adjust her attention of such a discovery. The waning sun slipped behind the horizon. Judith found that internal light wasn’t necessary. She wasn’t sure how the book stayed illuminated with a magenta hue. Her continuous attention pushed back against her reasonable logical thoughts.Judith didn’t remember moving to her bed for sleep. The book lay open on her coffee table as she rested.

The morning sun moved into her front windows. Judith’s eyes opened. She felt more awake than ever before. The sunlight appeared somehow clearer, as though she was able to pick out each blur of color from the spectrum. She felt more confident throughout herself more than anything else. All her normal self doubt, worries and internal criticisms were gone, as though her mind had bulldozed her daily criticisms into a chasm. Judith wondered if this is how gold medal champions and superheroes felt every day. She made her way into the bathroom. The mirror was kinder than it ever had been. Her skin had never looked so flawless and healthy. She played with her hair that lacked its usual split ends. The book, she panicked. Judith ran into her living room. The book rested on the table closed with the cover’s decor seeming to shift in place. She took a deep breath. Something about the moment seemed incorrect. For whatever reason, Judith was certain that she had left the book open to a page she wanted to follow up with in the morning. With the evening being the blur that it had been, Judith convinced herself that she had closed the book after all. The thought of eating and having her usual tea felt foreign in the moment. She threw on the closest set of the day’s clothing, unconcerned with its matching. Even the idea of wearing clothing didn’t sit right with her in the moment. Judith flipped the soiled cushions over and sat before her beloved.

The day moved past at a snail’s pace. She experienced periods of time that were surely longer than her watch told her. Her other clocks confirmed the watch’s telling. A magenta hue began to creep around her peripheral sight. She remained on her couch for the entirety of the morning with one forced bathroom break. Her return to the book found pages she hadn’t ever seen in place of the page she had just been looking at. The two page diagram was of some archaic temple. The usual crimson writing was a larger size than the other pages. The words Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn crossed both pages. Judith began reading the words she didn’t understand. She repeated the words over and over as if unable to stop. Her eyes closed. Judith stood deep underwater among stone structures. A large temple building of unfathomable physics loomed overhead. The edifice was accentuated with a green, slimy substance across the stone. In the distance she saw that which she had dreamed of. The behemoth, tentacled one, Cthulhu sat with eyes closed on his throne. It’s eyelids began to part, showing the darkest of eyes. Judith took in a breath at witnessing such a monstrosity. Immediately she began choking underwater. Judith bolted upright into a sitting position on her couch. Something stirred within her. A feeling that she was unable to identify. She felt a purpose of life that she had never experienced. A purpose that her possessions and passive life choices would no longer fill. Judith had felt as though she witnessed the touch of a god. She thought about how to best serve the great, old one. The sun passed overhead as she paced within her home. How does one serve a deity from a dream? Did she wake his slumber? In an instant she thought about Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn. Judith pushed away her internal distractions. In his house at R'lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming, Judith said aloud. The accomplishment startled her in place. She clamored to understand how it was possible to know this.

For the rest of the day, Judith spoke the words within the book, understanding every bit of material clearer each time she started from the beginning. She learned about forces and powers in the universe beyond mortal comprehension. Judith began to care less and less about the world around her. She felt her body begin to ache as if something was happening within. A passing thought for an aspirin was immediately shut out. Her beautiful skin began losing its glow for a more ashen tone as if the color was evaporating into the air around her.

The moon took oversight in the starry sky. Judith was too involved with her lampless reading to notice her fingernails had all grown a full inch into rounded points. Her dark eyes slowly evolved into a magenta shade not of this world. Her tongue elongated behind rows of oval shaped teeth. Her vocalizations of the blood written words soon became more accurate as to their intent. Judith stood in place with a command of the world she never understood possible. She stretched her newly elongated arms overhead, feeling her spine extend a full two feet. Her clothes tore at the seems, leaving fragments of cloth across her frame. Judith’s full breasts became like airless balloons under the tattered clothing. She looked down at her legs which now bent backwards at the knees. Beyond them were hooves-like feet. Judith took preliminary steps to test her extremities. A leathery tail whipped around her back until finally resting on the tile. She gathered the book in bony her arms. The house felt unnatural to her with its artificial items, none which suited her new form. She longed for the natural world. The creature, once known as Judith, sought a hidden place to forever continue her reading. She burst out of her front door into the pleasure of darkness, never to be seen again. Tales of a creature living deep in the woods with a cryptic book became local folklore. 

April 28, 2021 12:49

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4 comments

Amanda Fox
14:45 May 03, 2021

Yay for Eldritch horror! Nicely done. One minor critique: can you break up some of the longer paragraphs for smaller ones? That helps keep eye fatigue at bay when reading.

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Pako Dunwhile
19:58 May 03, 2021

Try the story "Waking Terror." I look forward to your input.

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Pako Dunwhile
19:55 May 03, 2021

Thank you for the feedback. Will do.

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Pako Dunwhile
11:55 May 05, 2021

You would like "The Great Old Ones Will Arise Again" as well

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