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The Harbinger (A Lovecraft Tribute)

Short story By: JohnnyRonin
Horror



A story reminiscent of the style of Horror genius H. P. Lovecraft. The story follows Charles Finn, a historian who receives a strange delivery, and an even stranger visitor who reveals a terrifying truth.


Submitted:Aug 31, 2012    Reads: 38    Comments: 0    Likes: 1   


My name is Charles Finn, as I write I am piecing together the last few hours of the night with great effort, much has transpired that would leave a lesser man howling with madness and screaming in perpetual terror. But I... I have overcome the horrors of the night and stared into the fathomless abyss only to return unscathed, or so I think.

even now I feel my mind slipping into darkness from whence I know there is no return, God willing I can record the happenings of the evening before I succumb.

At 7 in the morning I was awakened by a rapping at my door and two rings on the bell signifying that the postman had a delivery. I hastened into my robe and descended the stairs in a sleep deprived delirium, rubbing my eyes as I opened the door. The august weather was deceptively cool at so early an hour but the postman seemed to sweat. He said that I had received a parcel that required immediate opening. Something about his manner was greatly off-putting, he seemed to be in great haste and his eyes darted about as though fear of being watched had overtaken him. He eagerly thrust his pen and paper in my face to sign for the parcel, No sooner had I sloppily penned my signature than I was handed a small box of considerable weight. The postman tipped his hat and left in a great hurry without a further word.

So there I stood, box in hand, rubbing sleep from my eyes and generally mystified at the postman's queer behavior. I ventured back into the warmth of my home and set to opening the box. I broke open the seal with my pen knife and moved back the flaps. inside the box was an odd little note, written in a hasty scrawl. It read: "Dr. Finn, as a connoisseur of arts both fine and strange I hope you'll find this piece to your liking, I'll call on you later in the day." The note was devoid of any signature. I reached in the box and pulled out a small statuette and indeed, it was one of the most bizarre pieces of art I'd ever seen. At first I thought it a novelty, as something made by a curiosity shop as a souvenir. I began to inspect it with utmost care, as I did I became more and more convinced that this small relic was genuine. I retrieved my eyepiece from my study and looked it over thoroughly. The statuette itself was unlike any other item I'd ever seen; a creature of odd shape and not of this world, it sat back on it's haunches like a dog, it's forepaws rested on it's knees and seemed to come to long, hooked fingers at the end. it's torso had muscular groups I had never before seen, resembling a great raptor from a prehistoric age. It had four bulbous eyes, two on each side of it's head and it's snout was distinctly cone shaped and filled with minuscule sharp teeth that were bared, it's lips curled back in a vicious snarl.

Truly I had never seen it's like in all my years as a historian, I was familiar with cultures long dead, their writings, their artwork, their wars, their uprisings and downfalls. as I turned the thing over in my hands I noticed inscriptions on the bottom of the statuette's pedestal. it seemed to be some sort of language although it was a language I'd never before seen. Having examined the statue with all my faculties alert my mind turned to the strange and unsigned note that came with it, I didn't recognize the handwriting and the paper was of a strange texture. I glanced at the wall clock, it was a quarter to eight on a Sunday morning, I decided to perform my ablutions and prepare for the day. I glanced at the statue one more time and at once a chilly feeling of unease washed over me. The statue's bulbous eyes seemed to stare hatefully at me, I couldn't seem to shake the feeling all through the morning, much as I tried to distract myself. I went over my findings several times in my mind, what struck me the most was the writing, it didn't match any language I was familiar with and yet I seem to remember it somehow, the symbols seemed to fill my head and so I ventured into my library and began pouring over books and research papers published by specialist historians. one particular publication caught my eye, though it was only a few papers and a photograph. it spoke of a certain Professor Roger Jones, a man who after his graduation from Oxford devoted his life to studying strange and cryptic things. He was credited with the discovery of several ancient manuscripts that pre-dated some biblical writings. All of it claimed to be written by madmen and demagogues who all referred to something called "The Time." The papers I found spoke of an ancient cult who worshipped and made sacrifices to a strange but powerful god, praying that his otherworldly messenger would one day herald his coming.

I glanced at the photograph and saw who I assume was Professor Jones himself and several colleagues standing next to a prodigious wall covered in carvings and archaic writings, I knew I had seen that writing somewhere before, it bore the same resemblance as the writing on the statuette I'd received not a few hours ago. The characters were different yes, but the style was very much the same. I began to tear through my library in an attempt to find more information, an otherworldly obsession seemed to seize me. I seemed to see the symbols meaning in my mind; an ancient city devoted to strange and blasphemous worship, a cruel deity demanding the sustenance of fear induced sacrifice and countless mentions of "The Time." I rested on my desk when fatigue overtook me, my pocket watch read that it was well past 2 p.m.

There was suddenly a strong knock at my door. I went to answer it and at once met the man who'd penned the note. "Dr. Finn, how pleasant it is to finally meet you. My name is Roger Jones." At once I recognized him from the photograph in my study. He was slightly shorter than I expected and his hair was considerably more gray, but is was indeed the same man. "Professor Jones, please come in." he removed his hat and crossed my threshold and I was revisited by that ominous feeling of unease I had earlier, or was I simply reminded that it never went away?

"To what do I owe this unexpected visit?" I inquired quickly, hoping to get to the point of his cryptic message and gift. Jones seemed to know his way around my house, he hung his hat and made his way to my living room where I had set that statuette as though he knew it was there. He picked it up and eyed it with great fondness, as though it would pain him terribly should he part with it again. "So, tell me what you think of my little discovery." I motioned him to sit and I took the chair opposite him. "To be honest Professor, I never knew such a thing existed, you've made yet another amazing find." He reclined, tenting his fingers as he set the statuette on the end table beside him, turning it to face me. "You're referring to the wall I uncovered in ancient Sumeria" he cracked a hideous smile, both he and the statuette looked eerily the same at that exact moment. "Of course." I recovered, "I confess I'm not very familiar with your particular field of study." His smile deepened and he waved a dismissive hand. "Not many men of science are familiar with the old ways. But you sir." he pointed a long finger at me, I then became aware of how very long his fingers were "You sir are a man of the arts in your own right. Here we have a piece of ancient art, I'm curious to know your thoughts, what do you think of this little fellow here?" he gestured to the statuette, it's bulbous, lifeless eyes seemed to penetrate me with a cosmic cruelty. "It's unique, seems to have been carved out of some kind of igneous rock that's brittle, almost glass like. the writing on the bottom is of a kind that I'm unfamiliar with." Jones held up a hand as though to stop me, mindlessly I obeyed, in my own home I obeyed! "I don't need your scientific assessment doctor, I know the statue is genuine. I want your opinion, personal and intimate." I looked at him, puzzled. "Then why seek me out?" I asked boldly. Jones' eyes seemed to flash bright red for an instant, I blinked, it was just the reflection of the afternoon sun. "It is because you are a learned man that I seek your opinion, as men who dig up the past we often lose sight of the grand picture, and as such we lose a piece of ourselves." I swallowed hard, he must have sense my nervousness because he smiled that vicious smile again. "It's grotesque, demonic and I feel uncomfortable having it in my home. Though I know not why." Jones looked intently at me.

"I appreciate your honesty doctor, could I trouble you for a glass of water?" I shifted in my seat before standing. "Of course." I made my way to the tap and filled a glass for him. "Thank you, I'm absolutely parched." I sat down and he proceeded to drink the entire glass, letting out a satisfied sigh as he set the glass down on the end table next to the statue. "Despite your disgust in our little friend here, aren't you the least bit curious as to the meaning of the writing you found?" I looked up from my pocket watch before I could tell what time it was for I was indeed curious. "The writing reads 'Here sits The Harbinger, awaiting the call of his Master and the beginning of The Time' rather ominous don't you think?" I thought on his words, they seemed to permeate the very air around us. "Indeed" I said quietly.

We spent the next several hours engaged in conversation of this nature, time seemed to slip by unnoticed by either of us. His words seemed to fascinate and appall me at the same time. He spoke of the ancient texts he discovered, talking about the old religions of the region he studied. About the ancient and primordial gods that walked among mankind amid vast, Cyclopean cities built according to their wishes. How humanity were slaves to those gods and were forced to make what Jones called a 'Sacrifice of Fear' to sate their ever growing appetite. He went on to say that the world didn't really belong to us in the first place, but to them, the ancient ones. Humankind, he said had grown to a great number and through sheer strength of force had overthrown the ancient ones, casting them into the abyss from whence they had come.

As Jones spoke his voice seem to grow ever more excited, an excitement that, at times seemed to border on madness. "Don't you see? my discoveries will usher in a new era. Humanity has grown fat and confident, our constant conflicts only separate us further from one another, we are not united as we were then. There was order in the world, the universe, instead of chaos. Now that The Harbinger has appeared reclamation is nigh at hand!" I had so many things to say, my head was swimming with images, or were they memories? I gazed past Professor Jones out the window at the city, it was bathed in dusk, gaunt skyscrapers rose in the distance, their electric lights seemed to wage a futile war against the coming darkness. "The Harbinger, in fact is already awakened doctor Finn." Jones' words seemed to me like the incoherent buzzing of a fly and he was drown out by a ghostly vision that imposed itself upon my eyes; a vision of great stone buildings behind the familiar skyscrapers I now looked upon. Great, cyclopean cities that seemed to dwarf our own.

Against the red backdrop of the setting sun the city seemed to be burning, distant cries of anguish filled my ears, I shook my head in an attempt to rid myself of this fear induced lunacy and regain my senses but it was to no avail. The noise that filled my head was ethereal, In the distance I swore I saw great, winged figures zooming through the crimson sky, creatures not conceived by man in myth nor fact. "A man of learning must be sought out first, and his sacrifice shall become the first of many." Jones' voice droned in the background of my mind. Above this alien city I beheld a great rift in the heavens open ever so slowly, and suddenly the most ineffable noise rang in my ears, I covered them with my hands to muffle it but it was into my head that the noise seemed to broadcast itself. I cannot say what it was for sure, even now I dare not say what I thought it was, that horrible, rhythmic noise.

And just like that it was all gone, the vision, the creatures, the massive and strange city. The sun had set and the buildings of my city rose spectrally into the night sky. Jones was still sitting across from me, an inquisitive look on his face. "Doctor, are you feeling ill?" I cradled my head in my hands "I'm fine Professor." it was then that I realized with some horror that I hadn't seen the professor's lips move when he asked me that, it wasn't even Jones' voice I heard just now. I looked up and saw it, the statuette, glaring at me with it's dead, bulbous eyes, it's lips curled back in that ruthless sneer, and there was Jones, sitting beside it, servant to his master. "Your sacrifice will not be in vain Charles, you will be the first of many, you will usher in The Time."

Suddenly Jones produced a long, thin knife from his coat and stood, advancing menacingly on me. I was seized upon then by some other worldly force and felt compelled to remain seated, Jones began to speak in a language I knew not, an old language, the dead language of the ancient ones. He raised the knife high above his head as he spoke the blasphemous litany, I tried to move but the voice in my head was soothing and I felt content to stay still. "I am Charles Finn, I am Charles Finn and this is my home." I repeated this to myself over and over. Jones' voice grew louder and more pronounced. A grim pall of cosmic darkness seemed to encircle us, I fought the voice in my head and with everything I had, I lunged out of my seat at Jones just as he finished the rite and brought the knife down upon me.

I tackled him to the floor and we grappled, he seemed to have such prodigious strength for an older man and tried his utmost to impale me with that horrid black knife of his. we continued to struggle and I grabbed a sizable book from my shelf and bashed him in the head with it. The knife went flying and Jones groaned, still conscious and barely moving. I rose to my feet, my clothes torn and my mind cloudy. I turned and again saw the statue of The Harbinger. At once I was filled with such righteous hatred for so profane a thing. I grabbed it with both hands and was filled with a searing, white hot light that shot through every nerve in my body, it's weight was tremendous as I slowly lifted it off the table. My eyes darted towards the second story window, Yes! I would rid my home of this monstrous relic. The fiery pain was agonizing, the voice of The Harbinger filled my head "We are holder of the six swords! wielder of the black fire, so mortal an ambition you have to destroy us. Fool! We cannot be destroyed, The Time will be ushered in and our god will be birthed anew into this world no matter your vain efforts to stop Him." with every ounce of strength I possessed I flung the abominable thing toward the window.

It sailed through the air and shattered the glass as it flew. Jones had regained himself and in a fit of foaming madness threw himself after it. I sank to the floor weakened because of the sudden change. I no longer felt the white hot pain, just a dull ache in the back of my head. It seemed an eternity I was on that floor and I finally rose and went to the window aghast but relieved at the sight I beheld. The broken and lifeless body of Professor Roger Jones clutched a small piece of the now broken statue that littered the street below.

The police questioned everyone who saw it happen, questioned me. I simply told them that the Professor had tried to catch the statue due to it's value but lost his balance after I had tripped and lost my grip on it in my upstairs living room. But now you know the truth, you know what I know; The Time cannot be stopped for it was merely delayed, I cannot close my eyes without hearing the voice of The Harbinger and that horrific sound I heard during my terrible vision when the sky cracked open. You, reader must deliver this to the world and not think me mad with fright. The Time is coming, and we must prepare, we must prepare now. But alas, the sanest part of me that remains knows that our meager preparation will not be enough to stop Them, to stop Him from coming.





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