Unholy Dimensions, page 1
“Strange life...may pulsate in the gulfs beyond the stars or press hideously upon our own globe in unholy dimensions which only the dead and the moonstruck can glimpse.”
– H. P. Lovecraft
By Jeffrey Thomas
Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Thomas
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THE BONES OF THE OLD ONES
THE AVATARS OF THE OLD ONES
THE YOUNG OF THE OLD ONES
I MARRIED A SHOGGOTH
THE ICE SHIP
THROUGH OBSCURE GLASS
THE DOOM IN THE ROOM
OUT OF THE BELLY OF SHEOL
ASCENDING TO HELL
THE THIRD EYE
THE FACE OF BAPHOMET
THE HOUSE ON THE PLAIN
THE FOURTH UTTERANCE
THE WRITING ON THE WALL
THE BOARDED WINDOW
WHAT WASHES ASHORE
THE CELLAR GODS
THE BONES OF THE OLD ONES first appeared in the collection “The Bones of the Old Ones”, Necropolitan Press
THE AVATARS OF THE OLD ONES first appeared in the collection “Avatars of the Old Ones”, Imelod Publications
THE YOUNG OF THE OLD ONES is original to this collection
RED GLASS first appeared in the collection “Black Walls, Red Glass”, Marietta Publishing
I MARRIED A SHOGGOTH first appeared in “Midnight Shambler”
THE ICE SHIP first appeared in “The Bones of the Old Ones”
SERVILE first appeared in “Cthulhu Codex”
CONGLOMERATE first appeared in “Midnight Shambler”
BOOK WORM first appeared in “The Bones of the Old Ones”
THROUGH OBSCURE GLASS first appeared in “Avatars of the Old Ones”
THE SERVITORS first appeared in “Space and Time”
THE DOOM IN THE ROOM first appeared in “Eldritch Tales”
OUT OF THE BELLY OF SHEOL first appeared in “Dark Testament”, Delirium Books
ASCENDING TO HELL first appeared in “The Bones of the Old Ones”
THE THIRD EYE first appeared in “Tales of Lovecraftian Horror”
THE FACE OF BAPHOMET first appeared in the anthology “Mythos Tales and Others”, Mythos Books
CELLS first appeared in “Deathrealm”
THE HOUSE ON THE PLAIN first appeared in “The Bones of the Old Ones”
THE FOURTH UTTERANCE first appeared on the “Fangoria Frightful Fiction” web site
THE WRITING ON THE WALL first appeared in “The Nameless Newsletter”
CORPSE CANDLES first appeared in “Cthulhu Codex”
YOO-HOO, CTHULHU first appeared in “2AM Magazine”
LOST SOUL first appeared in “The Bones of the Old Ones”
PAZUZU’S CHILDREN first appeared in “Cthulhu Codex”
THE BOARDED WINDOW first appeared in “The Bones of the Old Ones”
WHAT WASHES ASHORE is original to this collection
THE CELLAR GODS first appeared in the anthology “New Mythos Legends”, Marietta Publishing
The Bones of the Old Ones
On the door to the apartment there was a symbol in red spray paint, crudely rendered and streaking, as if to further complicate interpretation of its meaning. It appeared to portray a star with an eye in its center, though the pupil -- wavy and jagged -- seemed to be a pillar of fire.
At first Bell had thought the paint was blood, but the smell of it was still fresh. Inside the apartment, however, the red streaking down the walls was not paint. He could tell that by the smell, too.
In the hall, a black-uniformed officer had stepped aside to admit him. Inside the apartment, there was a second uniformed forcer and a forensics field man. Bell nodded to them as they met his eyes. A man lying on his back on the living room floor met his eyes, also, but no cognizance showed in them. The man on the floor had been shot through the throat and the belly, his blood soaking into the ratty carpet and spattered on a bookshelf by his head.
“Three more,” said Graf, the forensic tech, shrugging in the direction of a narrow hallway. “One in the kitchen, two in a bedroom. All dead when we arrived.”
“No more children?” Bell asked him.
“Just the one down at p.h..”
Bell nodded, and moved past Graf into the hallway. The kitchen opened directly off it, brightly lit and poorly cleaned. A cairn of dishes had been erected in the twin sinks, and the trash zapper was broken, as evidenced by a conventional waste basket filled to overflowing. There were posters and pages torn from magazines taped or pinned to the walls in here, as there were in the parlor. Some were astronomical charts, others astrological. There were photos of archaeological sites and artifacts. On the aqua Choom-made fridge there were what seemed to be a child’s drawings held by magnets. They were involved designs, crude for having been rendered without benefit of a ruler, and yet obsessively geometrical. Some were like snowflakes greatly enlarged, others like technical blueprints, a strange mix of childishness and sophistication. They had all been drawn in a black marker. Had they been done by the little boy who was now being cared for at the precinct house?
Bell frowned at these imaginative designs, then down at the woman splayed grotesquely at his feet. She wore an oriental robe, imitation satin with a colorful dragon embroidered on the back. One of her well-worn slippers had come off and lay apart from her. It was a pathetic little detail of the sort Bell often noticed and focused on and wished he wouldn’t. Madness had entered amongst these mundane, everyday objects and personal possessions, subtly transforming them into sad, orphaned things. A crime scene to Bell was like a still life in which a skull had been set down in the midst of the flowers and fruit.
The woman’s lips were squashed open against the dirty floor and her face was half-enveloped in a caul of blood which had poured from the ragged entrance wound in her scalp. A door of skull had opened on a hinge of skin and much of her brain had been added to the mess already in the sinks.
Bell proceeded along the murky hall toward the bedrooms lightly, as if he expected the murderer of these people to suddenly spring at him from me of these doors...even though he knew that man was down at the precinct house right now, also, safely jailed behind a barrier of magnetic force.
The bathroom was empty if filthy. It stank of urine and wine- tinged vomit. At the end of the hall were two bedrooms facing each other. One was empty, the furnishings spare and the bed a mere mattress. There was a small mattress for a child fitted in a large closet with its louvered doors open. Nearing the closet, Bell poked his head in and saw more of those odd drawings taped to the walls. There were few toys. Under the mattress, Bell found a dagger. Had the boy hidden it away, meaning to use it to escape from these people, or had they given the weapon to him?
Well, this was Paxton after all, and far from being a town of peace, as its name might indicate, it was a place in which it might be wise to give
In the other bedroom lay the last two bodies; a man shot through the hand and right eye and a woman shot through the jaw and neck. Both wore the perplexing vapid smiles of the dead. There was a second forensics tech in the room and she merely glanced up at Bell. His heart had flinched a little in his chest when he’d seen a living person in here. This was hardly Bell’s first homicide case, but there was an unsettling feel to the scene. It had more to do with the identity of the murderer, he thought, than anything else. His identity, and the mysteriousness of his motives.
Bell knelt by the man and lifted the sleeve of his white T- shirt a bit to better see a half-exposed tattoo. It was a design done in metallic silver ink: a series of concentric circles, with rays radiating out from the center. A target? An eye?
When he stood, Graf was there beside him. Graf was a Choom, a native to this planet called Oasis, indistinguishable from humans save for the wide dolphin-like mouth which split his face from ear to ear. His heavy jaws were full of rows of molars evolved for the mastication of Oasis’s hardy roots, though right now he was chewing on the end of a pen. He talked around it as if it were a cigarette.
“You know this Kaddish guy, huh?” he asked.
“Yes,” said Bell.
“Why would he do this?”
“I don’t know.”
“There are weapons in the place,” Graf said. “Guns, knives, but Kaddish took them all by surprise so it wasn’t self defense. He’s a hired investigator, John, but do you think he’d take on a hit for money?”
“No. I don’t believe he would.”
Graf shrugged, watched the tech as she worked over the female corpse, utilizing a small vidcam to record the body in full and the wounds in extreme close-up for the lab records and for courtroom use as needed. “These people weren’t too normal themselves. Looks like a kind of cult. There’s some sort of an altar in the living room; you should take a look.”
Bell grunted and followed the Choom back down the hall and into the parlor. In here, the vidtank which nearly took up one wall was filled with static as if it were a sand storm raging in a giant aquarium. Its hissing was low in the background. The uniformed man turned to Bell. “We’ve IDed them all, sir. But for the kid; he doesn’t show in any station files, though he does bear a physical resemblance to this man here, and the woman in the kitchen.”
“This one, Willy Pugmire. His wife in the kitchen is Ingrid Hobbs-Pugmire. Both unemployed -- laid off from Polyform Ceramix for two and a half years; on extended benefits. The two in the bedroom are Jesus da Favela and Wanda Macumba, both collecting welfare benefits. We cross-referenced them with the perpetrator and nothing linked up.”
“Thanks,” Bell murmured, brushing past the young officer, the altar Graf had mentioned having caught his eye.
A table had been made of a thick, oblong slab of gray stone resting atop two piles of ceramic foundation blocks stolen from some construction site. Various items needed for rituals were stored in the hollows of the blocks; candles, a lighter, a sheath of papers rolled in a tube. Bell withdrew this and opened the papers like a scroll. He grimaced. “What is this, another language translated into English?”
Graf peered over his shoulder. “Tikkihotto?”
“I don’t think so. We’ll have to run a scan on it.” He shoved the tube back into its slot, from another removed a clear vial containing a green powder which sparkled like pulverized emeralds. It was a trendy new drug nicknamed absinthe, popular with artistic types. He passed it to Graf. “Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder.”
“Your friend Kaddish isn’t involved in drug running, dealing, like that, is he?”
“No. Drink. A lot of drink. But no chemicals.”
“Well, you don’t know. He’s obviously changed since last you knew him, John.”
Bell couldn’t argue with that. If Kaddish could become a ruthless mass murderer in three years, then why not an addict or a dealer?
He took in the altar table’s surface. A black candle had been positioned in each of the four corners of the slab, fixed in a pool of its own dried wax. There was a hollow at the center of the slab, and in it rested a curious decoration sculpted from black crystal marbled with blood red striations. It was an egg-sized gem cut into an odd-angled trapezohedron, though Bell wasn’t familiar with the mineral. He lifted it for closer inspection, and found himself narrowing his eyes as if he thought he might see into its darkness through his reflection on the polished surfaces. A shudder went through him unaccountably, and as he went to set the gem back into its hollow he saw that there was a shape outlined in the surface of the slab.
“Graf, is this a fossil?”
The Choom had been poking around inside more of the ceramic blocks, and straightened up to have a look. “Hm. Yeah. Looks like it. Well...it’s a spiral. Could be an old sculpture of some kind. Mm. No. No, that looks organic. A shell? Some giant shelled mollusk?”
“Did Oasis once have giant shelled mollusks?”
“No, but it doesn’t have to have come from Oasis.”
“Giant is right.” Bell pointed to the edges of the slab. The spiral kept on going, fading off the sides, as if the slab had been cut right out of the middle of it. How much farther would it have continued to extend out from the center, uninterrupted? And it was in that center, in what seemed to be a natural hollow, that the black polyhedron fitted. Bell set it back in place.
“Any idea what the focus of this cult might’ve been?” he asked the Choom.
“Never seen anything like it. The papers there will help us, once we decipher them. They didn’t own a computer but they have books; a bunch of weird occult dung, looks like. Some pseudo-Satanic thing?”
“Doesn't look that simple.”
“Was Kaddish a religious nut? Maybe he felt he had to trash some infidels. His own little jihad...”
Bell was about to say that his old friend Joshua Kaddish was no religious fanatic, but stopped himself. Again, at this point he didn’t know what Josh Kaddish was capable of. He sighed, looked up at the wall mirror which hung directly above the altar. Once they took their absinthe and chanted their chants, with candle glow dramatically under-lighting their features, would the cultists then gaze into this mirror and imagine that their faces were transforming? Would they wait for spiritual visions to appear in their own reflected eyes?
Bell’s reflection showed a man of thirty-one, with sandy short hair neatly cut and brushed back from his forehead. His eyes were blue and far-spaced, his lips too full for his taste though his ex-wife had called them sensuous, back when she was inclined toward such a compliment. He thought himself homely; that his nose was too flat in profile, his teeth too small and his smile too wide. His wife had once called him handsome. There was to his face, oddly, both a boyish quality and a prematurely wasted, haggard aspect. He was slender but it was winter and his black, cloned-leather jacket gave him a little bulk. He thought he looked tired and unhappy. He expected to see no magic transformations, in that regard.
“What do you think happened to the rug over here, Graf?” called the forcer from across the room.
Graf and Bell joined him. The man was pointing to tears in the carpet extending from that corner out into the center of the room. It was as though a heavy bureau with spike-tipped legs had been dragged across the material, ripping it.
In the corner, at the point where the tears began, Kaddish had spray-painted another of those red symbols like the one he had sprayed on the apartment door. They knew he had painted these symbols, as opposed to the cultists themselves, because he had had the paint gun in his possession when apprehended, they’d heard. Bell wondered if Kaddish might indeed have become some sort of religious nut, of a kind violently opposed to the beliefs of this little group.
“Can you turn off that damn vidtank?” Graf grumbled to the forcer.
The uniformed policeman reached out, punched some buttons to shut it off, accidentally changed channels instead. There was a brief glimpse of a broadcaster looking quite serious, and then the man hit the correct button and the tank was emptied.
“What was that?” Bell said. “Put it back on a second.”
The forcer obliged. The broadcaster materialized once more within the vidtank, practically life-sized.
“...absolutely no communications of any kind as of a half hour ago. All emergency communication frequencies have been opened, but as yet, no transmissions are being received from any source, commercial or government. Until the explanation for the communication black-out is investigated and rectified, all teleportation to or from Earth is to be officially put on hold...”
“Earth?” said Graf. “What happened?”
“Try another channel,” Bell said.
The forcer switched past a soap opera and a sitcom rerun, found another grim-looking newscaster: “...the Emergency Lockout System. To repeat this urgent newsbreak: as of thirty-four minutes ago, all communication with Earth has been lost on every frequency and mode of contact, on all government, corporate and civilian bands. Whether the Earth has come under attack or suffered a natural calamity is not known at this time. Colonies as near as those on Earth’s moon also report full loss of contact with Earth, and are conducting probes and scans, with results forthcoming. We will let you know what is found out about this communication failure as soon as the information is relayed to us. Until the reason is understood and safe conditions are assured, no teleportation to or from the Earth are being permitted, all teleportation channels being blocked by the Emergency Lockout System...”
JEFFREY THOMAS SERIES:
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