It had been an absolute eternity since he had last been on a date. This was only partially by choice; he had a long history of sleeping through appointments, and frankly rarely left his home – at least recently. In fact, he hadn’t anticipated leaving for quite a while, but his dreams had recently been … disturbing. Surprisingly lonely. It had been a stroke of luck that those archaeologists had stopped by and left their device before being devoured, really – since his typical avenues of information-gathering were lost to him, he could resort to these more primitive methods, as need dictated.

The tiny screen had been hard to manage at first, but soon enough, he was able to maneuver as he had seen his most recent lunch do and make changes appear. Miniature images, much like those his worshippers had carved of him throughout the millennia, shifted and shook across the screen. Appalled, he couldn’t find a single image of himself. Surely the world had not drifted so far? Perhaps not – a flame for Cthugha, he thought to himself, pressing a tentacle onto the small flame picture on-screen.

And this was how Cthulhu was first introduced to Tinder.

Thus, he found himself shrunk down to a pitiful human size, sitting in Starbucks (which was absolutely one of his children’s ideas, he was convinced) across from a human selected by one of his followers.

“This one best represents the state of the world,” his high priest had said, “and should give you insight into how best to manipulate the masses of today in preparation for your ultimate coming, O Great Dreamer.”

He had asked Cthylla, his youngest, for advice before his covert operation, but not even she could have prepared him for Nevaeh.

“So like,” the peroxide blonde sitting across from him chattered excitedly, “I can’t believe you happened to be in Rio at the same time as me! Who doesn’t love a vacation romance, right? It’s totally goals, and I’m a sucker for a foreign accent. Where are you from again?”

“I am Cthulhu, master of R’lyeh.”

“Oh, Raleigh? That’s like, so on brand for you. Ever since Safiya and Tyler moved there, it’s been a major hot spot for influencers. I know they’re like, millennials, but my older sister got me into her lipstick making videos. Your Tinder bio said you had like, a bunch of followers, right?”

“I have been worshipped by the masses since time immemorial.”

“Love that for you. You would absolutely LOVE my friend Bella’s TikTok – she is also worshipped for her OOTDs. But like, promise you won’t like any of her thirst traps? Here, give me your phone …”

She held out her hand to him, a vapid smile lined by thick veneers plastered across her mouth and unblinking blue eyes fixed on where she assumed his eyes must be. A pause. Her gaze shifted down to the table where the archaeologists’ device was placed on the tall, round table between them, then back to his ‘face’.

Ah. Phone. Right.

He tentacle-d her the device. Within seconds, her little human fingers were gingerly dancing across the screen, presumably looking for this ‘Insta’ thing she had mentioned, bedazzled coffin nails clicking lightly on the screen protector.

“Like, oh my God! Look at all this star stuff! You didn’t tell me you were into astrology! You probably already guessed my sign – I’m like a textbook Libra. ‘Cause I’m so balanced, you know? Like, I’m smart, but my identity is so much more than that. Wait …”

She clasped a hand to her mouth, face a mask of horror.

“Oh my God, I totally forgot to ask! I am the rudest ever. What are your pronouns?” She paused dramatically, hand moving from her mouth to the right side of her chest, “I’m a she/her.”

“I am beyond your human concept of gender.”

“Yaaass! You high-key pass all vibe checks, babes. Oooh, here’s your Insta … but wait, you don’t have an account? We’ve gotta fix this …”

At this point the conversation lapsed into a comfortable silence as Nevaeh furiously clickety-clacked away at the phone, while Cthulhu observed his surroundings. It was a small Starbucks location in a mall, so it was plenty busy, but few people noticed the Great Old One sitting there – they were mostly staring down at their ‘phones’, aimlessly wandering as their children screeched. He like the screeching – reminded him of his worshippers in R’lyeh. Made him feel a bit more at home.

“Nathan and Clarisse? Nathan and Clarisse?” A heavily Portuguese-accented barista called out from behind the counter, “I have two cake-pops, a brown sugar oat Americano holding the sugar with two pumps of hazelnut and one pump of pumpkin cream, and a black featured dark roast? Nathan and Clarisse?”

Nevaeh perked up.

“Oh, that must be us. I’d know my order like, anywhere. I’m like, a total feminist, so let me get that for us, K?”

All five feet of her jumped up out of the chair, that same smile still smeared across her face, and pranced over to the counter, picking up the tray and returning in record time. Sitting down, she put the phone in front of Cthulhu and held out a pink cake-pop to him.

“An offering?”

“It’s a strawberry cake pop. I know they’re kinda boujee, but, well, I’m kinda extra. My treat.”

Cthulhu appraised the paltry treat, then leaned forward and inhaled it through his gaping maw, stick and all.


“It lacks … fleshiness.”

“More of a savoury guy, huh? That’s ok – it’s cool of you to try it anyway.”

She took a sip of her excessively complex order, eyes rolling back into her head briefly as she ‘ugh-ed’ her enjoyment. Yes. This is the typical reaction to my splendour. He suddenly remembered his mission.


Her face lit up.

“Oh my God, my name sounds so good when you say it! People like, don’t usually use names anymore. You’re so old-school – such a gentleman.”

“How can you look at me and maintain your sanity?”

She put her hand over her right-side chest again, making a kind of ‘awww’ sound and scrunching her face up into an expression of sympathy.

“Don’t hate on yourself! You’re like, totally gorg, babes. And like, don’t even worry – I used to be so shallow and go for all the wrong guys, but like, in therapy, I learned about my innate codependence and that I need to like, become a whole person before I let someone in – and that I should break the patterns of attraction and go for someone who loves me for me, you know? It was a whole thing. But like, you’re so different from the guys I usually meet on here! You like, ask me questions, and like, you try things I like, and you have like a massive following but you’re still like, SO humble, you know?”

Cthulhu wasn’t sure if that had answered the question.

“You’re a total catch. I bet, like, everyone who meets you simps for you.”

‘To simp’ must be to worship.


“It’s the confidence for me, fam.” She snapped her fingers a few times, then took a long gulp of her coffee. Cthulhu then noticed his own coffee and, in an attempt to blend in with the humans, took it in tentacle and tried to inhale just the liquid. Mmm … hot, bitter, but …

“Needs more iron.”

“Oh. My. GOD. A coffee connoisseur AND an anemia activist? Like, how did you even know that I was iron deficient? It must be because I’m pale – even though I’m from the Bay area, everyone always has like, a way better tan than me, and it makes me feel really down … but like, in therapy, I learned to be mindful and accept that social media is not a reflection of reality. Unless you’re Kayleigh – that bitch is totally a main character and has enough guap to actually live like Insta is real life.”

Nevaeh leaned forward, placing her hands on a stray tentacle across the table, eyes lightly watering – possibly from emotion, possibly from the circle lenses. Not even a Great Old One could tell. Cthulhu’s primitive wings fluttered at the unexpected physical contact.

“I feel like you totally get me, you know? You’re such a good listener! I feel like you could totally make my dreams come true.”

“Dreams, no. Nightmares, yes.”

She laughed. It was an awful sound to Cthulhu’s hearing appendages.

“Oh my GOD, I’m weak! You even have a great sense of humour! Like, it’s like you came out of a fantasy.”

She started softly singing something about ‘your wildest dreams’, still clutching his tentacle in her slight hands. Finally, we’re on the right topic.

“Do humans still dream?” His followers did, he knew that much, but the rest of the world had been slipping from his grasp in recent centuries.

She paused, adopting what he presumed to be a thinking face.

“Like, dreams for the future?”

“When they sleep.”

“Hmm … well I know Bayleigh kinda stopped dreaming when her psychiatrist put her on Ativan after her parents broke up. And like, I don’t really remember my dreams after a Xanny, so … maybe?”

Xanny. Ativan. At last, the dwindling of my power is revealed! I must speak to the cultists about these … ‘xannies’ and ‘ativans’. Perhaps Sedmelluq could be persuaded to manipulate outside of the dreams …

“Thul-y,” Nevaeh whined in a baby voice, “why are you single? You like, totally slap, and I don’t understand how you could be single. It’s like fate brought us together, you know?”

“Fate comes for all humans. I shall devour all, in time.”

“God, you’re so romantic, too! Seriously, I would literally die if you ghosted me.”

“Saaitii the Hog is a ghost. I am Cthulhu, The Great Dreamer.”

“Well you’re totally dreamy, I’ll give you that. When can I see you again?”

That’s when the archaeologist’s co-opted phone started ringing. Nevaeh let go of Cthulhu’s tentacle long enough to look under it and see the name on the caller ID.”

“Who’s .. Kassogtha?”

Hmmm … I see I am not the only adopter of this puny human technology. Kassogtha must have employed her cultists as well.

“Kassogtha is my sister.”

Nevaeh’s face suddenly went dark.

“Your ‘sister’, huh? Tell me the truth – she’s your girlfriend, isn’t she?”

“Kassogtha and I have been mated since the dawn of the universe. Together we have spawned Nctosa and Nctolhu. Idh-yaa, my second bride …”

Nevaeh’s eyes suddenly filled with tears as she rose in a huff from the table, flinging the bitty phone at his horrifying mass.

“Of COURSE you’re part of some weird cult. OF COURSE you’re married. You’re too good to be true, so you are. Screw you, Cthulhu. Screw you and your stupid wives!”

She quickly stormed out, sobbing slightly, while Cthulhu, unperturbed, arose and walked past the crowd of unwitting phone zombies, out of the shopping centre, and into the sea, back to R’lyeh and his cultists to perform more research and contact the other Great Old Ones using this strange new device.

“Oh my GOD, Kayleigh – I had another one. These damned married men on Tinder! And he was total commitment material, too! Ugh, this vacation has been the absolute WORST …”

February 14, 2024 22:57

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Vid Weeks
14:03 Feb 23, 2024

Brilliant story, and horrifyingly accurate.


Chrissy Cook
12:02 Feb 24, 2024

Thank you so much! My last contest entry was so dark that I decided to go with a comedic touch this time. Although I agree, as a professor, sometimes I find Gen Z a little terrifying too. ;)


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02:08 Feb 23, 2024

This was an enjoyable romp. You should have chosen sci fi or fantasy as well. The more categories you choose, the more readers. I would read this as a sci fi or fantasy but not as a romance. Except you made a comment on my story so I am checking you out. (Maybe you have been suggested due to critique circle? Need to check my emails.) Just a thought about 'Tinder'. I am not familiar with it and thought it was the name of the date. LOL When you introduced her name, Nevaeh I went back and realized my mistake. Silly me. Is it a Facebook Ap? Is...


Chrissy Cook
12:01 Feb 24, 2024

Thank you! Yes, I got your name through Critique Circles, so you may have seen me through there. That's a great idea about more hashtags - I just think of Cthulhu as such a horror icon that I wouldn't have considered sci-fi. Good idea! Tinder is indeed a dating app! Honestly, I've been married too long myself to have used it, but I guess I overestimated its ubiquity. I'll be sure to specify it more clearly in future versions. I'm glad you found the story silly! My in-laws had a son very late in life, and sometimes their conversation can be...


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