The Evil in the Heart of the Mountain

Prompt Day #296: There’s a campaign afoot to nominate Cthulhu for president [see www.cthulhu.org]. Create a Lovecraftian story that satirizes today’s politics.

This is the post I’ve avoided for a few days. As you can see, I knew it would take some time and wanted to give it the best chance I could.

Admittedly, I haven’t read as much Lovecraft as a true horror fan should, but what I know of his tales is the theme of an ancient evil awakening in a small town and it is often observed and/or narrated by an outsider just traveling through. I did my best to emulate his style. As for satire, I’m not sure it’s as successful on that part of the prompt. You decide. (Spoiler alert: If you are republican, you probably won’t find it as enjoyable as say a democrat will)

The Evil in the Heart of the Mountain

                It was early autumn in the year 2016 when I, in my worldly travels, happened upon a ruined country once rumored to have been a great power. Mountains, a shade of bruised indigo towered over fields of yellowed, desiccated grain. The crunch of dead vegetation beneath my feet announced my arrival to a neglected and avoided village bordered by emptied factories and crumbling homes. The cries of hungry children assured me that what appeared to be a vacated hamlet, was instead inhabited by many unfortunate souls clambering to stay alive with minimal resources to do so.

What had brought me here as a young man exploring this world laid out before me were the stories of what had once been a thriving young realm filled with so many different nationalities and cultures it carried the moniker “The Melting Pot”. Stories were told of a land that welcomed newcomers with unfamiliar ideas and beliefs and gradually assimilated those manners into its own. I wanted to see what had become of such a place, so full of optimism and open-mindedness; to learn from its mistakes, if nothing more could be salvaged from the mortal faults of it’s past.

Beyond this decrepit metropolis towered a series of peaks. Naked grey granite piled in a variety of geometric amalgams devoid of life. The apex of these spires ran wet with melting caps of snow. At the base of these mountains, a lake formed from the run down but no life would be found within it as in its course down the cliffs, it warmed to a point of boiling.

I stood on the boundary of this forgotten Ville, and stared up at the monochromatic bluffs. Near the base of these geologic titans was a deformity both in color and continuity. For a cavern existed there marring the perfect line of the cliff, its entrance highlighted by a sickly green glow. At first, I assured myself that this glow was a trick of the eye, a reflection from the boiling lake projecting a verdant mirage upon the concavity.

“I wouldn’t venture any closer if I were you.”

The voice startled me out of my mental calculations in the physics of light and heat waves. I turned to see an elderly gentleman, short with an ill-fitting and oddly anachronistic suit. His white hair tufted out from his temples life a fledgling bird. His visage amused me, but there was a kind-hearted concern in his eyes that held me back from showing my mirth.

“You are not from this country.” He said. It was not a question. I nodded in agreement.

“Then you mustn’t venture any closer. You are safe with me and most of those left here.” He gestured back towards the small town I had just rambled through. “Are you hungry? Come with me, Let me fill your belly and then I will fill your mind.”

“I haven’t much to pay you, I’ve been traveling long and have come to the end of my time and finances.” I said apologetically.

“Never you mind such a thing.” He assured, “Come, no matter how little we have, there is always enough to share.” I followed him, trusting inherently in his philanthropy.

We ate at his table. His wife prepared a stew with bread I suspected had been made from the crushed seeds of yellowed grain I had passed on my way here. When I was satiated and drowsy eyed, the old man stood.

“It’s time to take you to The Oracle. She has seen many sides of this country and others as well. She has been rejected and accepted, she stands by both right and wrong. She will guide you, she will find a way to help you home. You must listen to her; there is evil all around us. It will call to you, coax you to its den, it will tell you things you want to hear, lies and falsehoods until you are worshipping, bowing before it only to be destroyed because you will never measure up to its ideals.”

We arrived at a home that mirrored the shade of grey of the granite cliffs behind it. The color, however gave the impression that it was once white. Its architecture and columns brought to mind the Greek ruins built to worship gods and goddesses I had seen much earlier in my travels. I followed my docent through the vast deteriorating hallways and into an oblong room where the Elder sat. From the window behind her, I could see the roiling lake and the glow of the cave in the mountain that from where I now stood looked like a large wall, a border perhaps protecting but more so isolating the town from outsiders.

“This is a dangerous place for a newcomer. Whatever possessed you to journey here?” The woman asked. While I could see a hard earned wisdom in her eyes, I did not find myself trusting her as I had the old man. She sat with a composure that would have looked strange on my friend, her hair and clothing reminiscent of a once great leader. I would not tell her more than I needed to.

“There is a great mystery about this place.” I said. “Young men, like myself, thirst for answers to all of life’s unknowns. I suppose that was my reason for coming here.” They both nodded. “Do you know what happened?” I asked

“It is not what happened, it is what is happening now as we speak.” She answered.

“Many have already left us and now worship the ancient evils that until recently, have lain dormant within the earth.” He said

“We believe changes in the atmosphere began to awaken them” She added.

“I don’t understand. “ I said. I did not mean to beg ignorance, because I had heard much of the ancient monstrosities that had arisen from the Earth to begin gathering followers in an effort to take over what they believe was once theirs. My bewilderment lay in my understanding of how these beasts managed to garner such a following as to ruin a mighty nation such as this was rumored to be.

“When the snow caps began to melt, winters shortened, and oceans rose, a deep crevasse formed in the mountain behind us. Many journeyed into it out of sheer curiosity. They returned changed, less patient, less…tolerant. We assumed they’d seen a horrific scene that left them in a state of shock, we of course doubted they would return to that place. But instead, the opposite happened. More made their pilgrimage into the caves. We, of course were confused and greatly concerned. Though many returned, few did not.” The Elder female explained.

“Those who managed to return from the cave with their judgment intact, had much to say. They spoke of a large swallowing chamber that thusly spilt into three passages. It seemed that without thinking about it, they were drawn to one in particular. A small minority of the pilgrims chose the far left passage. We’ve been told that this hallway retains the most light from the entrance and is shorter in length than the others. The being you’ll find here looks much like a human. But those who have studied him who have dared to get close, found the skin to be but a mask, thin and almost transparent. Beneath it writhes a larvae still in its pupa stage. Its parasitic appendages strain out to grab hold of any who come near it. We lost some to its falseness. But even those who find comfort in the darkness recognized it for what it is.”

“So it can’t do harm because it is still young? That is something to be optimistic about.” I said. Thus far I had heard nothing too alarming.

“Its light, its misinterpretation is still very dangerous. It draws many to the cave, and while they may ultimately leave the thing unchecked, the temptation will be there to choose one of the other corridors and that is where the real terror resides.” The old man said. His crooked finger pointing to my chest to accent his point.

“Have you seen the other terrors?” I asked them both. I could see in the way they looked at each other but would not meet my gaze with their eyes that they had indeed.

“Yes. When our population began to thin and fewer came back from the cavern, we decided to venture into the mountain ourselves. To confront whatever lay within and attempt to destroy it.” The Elder one said.

It was obvious that they had failed at least in the destruction of whatever resided within, although at least for now, it appeared that they’d managed to keep it at bay.

“There is a lake that boils just beneath the entrance, its heat works on you, wears at your brain until you are weak in both body and mind. When we reached the vestibule we could feel the pull of the large, opulent center channel but we chose the far right instead. The walls were damp, a slime mold grew branching out like vines along the passageway. We creeped along, passing many mindless followers who’d come to worship. A golden glow hovered, beaconing us forward and into the lair of the beast with many faces. Each smiling a toothsome grin that brought chills and gooseflesh to our bodies. The beast sat on a sumptuous throne, a large crucifix hung above his head. Nailed to it was a scroll that was immediately recognizable as this country’s constitution. Our laws. The basis upon which our country was founded. Crucified in the name of the beast’s beliefs all of which he held upon his lap in a great black book bound in the flesh of women.”

“Were there women among the followers?” I asked incredulously.

“Oh yes, many. One sat at his right side in fact.” The old man said.

“One face read aloud from the book on his lap while another made promises that he would protect women and their unborn, another face smiled it’s evil grin, while still another handed out guns and weapons to madmen.” The Elder said.

“How did you escape?” I asked, enthralled in my imaginings of such a creature.

“I separated myself from the words in that hateful book. And the old man, he was not interested in the promises handed out by the beast.” She said.

“Did you find the strength to investigate the middle hallway? The one you described as opulent and larger than the others?” I wondered.

“We had no choice. The flood of bodies rushing in carried us both along. We couldn’t fight it. The walls of this tunnel were not granite but iron pyrite.”

“Fool’s Gold.” I muttered.

“Yes, Fool’s Gold.” The Elder said. “But in the darkness, in the absence of good light, it was difficulty to see that it was not pure gold, and I suppose that was the intent of it. The crowd jostled us into a humongous towering cell. Sitting there upon a pile of iron pyrite that was being mined by many outsiders such as yourself, as a thing that pains me to describe for fear that even allowing the thought of the thing in my mind would conjure it here.”

“But you must, please.” I begged. I had listened to the story thus far specifically to hear of this, the most foul of the evil beasts within the granite towers.

“A corpulent thing, globular in form, with tiny sausage like appendages hanging limply from its center stood in the center. Its worshippers bowed to it, chanting its name Trumpthulu. I cannot rightly pronounce it as the proper way is much more guttural, one in which a human’s anatomy was not meant to utter. But it stood with a gaping maw, long, ugly lips curled in opposite directions from its mouth hole. Wrapping up overtop of what can only be called a head for proper understanding, were a number of tentacles and rubbery feelers writhing about seeking out prey that it would then bring forth to be digested within the sickening vortex in the center of its face. Black orbs rolled about this and that untrusting of its surroundings. A deep, echoing noise spilled forth an acidic rhetoric the likes of which I have never heard and hope to never hear again.”

“If it was as bad as you say, why do you think so many were worshipping?” I asked, more confused than when the tale began.

“I can only assume that it is so foreign, so unlike anything they’ve ever seen or heard that they are blinded to the truth of it all. They cannot see the evil around them, they aren’t aware of the effect the heat, close quarters, and the darkness is having on their own good sense.” The old man said. I nodded. “That is why you are in so much danger. You are an outsider, those that chose to stay in that cavern, they’ve turned their backs on their own kind, their own heritage. They will not tolerate anyone who does not think or speak like they do.”

“They certainly will not tolerate your questions, or your desire to understand their mysterious motives. In fact, you should leave now, before it is too late.” The Elder said. “I will hold them off as long as I can, but hate is a power unlike any other. It is a cancer, growing insidiously until it cannot be stopped. Until it destroys its very host.” The woman warned.

“Then it will eventually die out, let it run its course and their hate will be their own undoing.” I said.

“If you think that cancer takes only its maker, then you are a bigger fool than any still inside that mountain.” The woman said.

“And so, how can I escape this place, if I cannot go through the mountain?” I asked

“It is time you turned around and go back from whence you came. Leave us to this battle.” The old man said, but his speech was interrupted by a rumble emanating from the mount behind us. The instability of its jumbled stone architecture threatened to tumble down on top of the brave bodies left behind to carry on.

Go now! Save yourself. Go back to your own country.” The Elder cried and shoved me. There would be no more time for talking, no more answers. Instead I ran, ran through the dead fields, the barren wastelands and begged passage on a fishing vessel back to my homeland.

There is much talk of what happened in the once prospering country but as far as I know, I was the last visitor to boldly set foot upon its shores. I believe there is still a chance if those fighting for its survival prevail over the darkness dragging it to Hell. But until that time, we can only observe from afar and listen for the cries of freedom and tolerance to signal the demise of the evil awakened in its heart.

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