Hastur-The-Unspeakable loped ungainly across the bizarre twisted plains of Yoggoth, a bleak and desolate wasteland, broken up in places by great, ugly craters. Not the innocence pock-hole craters that cover Earth's moon, created by the impact of meteorites, but rather insanely gaping rifts in the surface of the planet, where one portion of the planet simply failed to meet up with the next. A consequence of the eerie asymmetry of Yoggoth, whose seven physical dimensions all contradicted and competed with each other rather than adding and building together.
The hairy, tentacled mass of swirling, foaming protoplasmic obscenity known as Hastur, The Not-To-Be-Named One, effortlessly crossed the gaping planetary rifts, part hopping, part loping, part flying across to the other side. Hastur felt no fear of falling down into the empty, bottomless void at the centre of the planet, where by all the known laws of physics, a mass of molten lava should have been, but wasn't.
In one of Hastur's evil maws (either a slimy tentacle or black-clawed talon), he clutched a massive, ancient, yellowing tome, which had been penned continuously down the last ten thousand years, as each chapter of its contents unfolded.
The book was bound in an ancient cribbed hand, in a strange, red ink.
As he loped along, Hastur thought dreamily about his prized possession, and of the many chapters which he himself had helped to bring about. For the tome was a historical record of all the great atrocities that had been perpetrated against the human race over the last ten thousand years or so.
Hastur longed to stop and browse through the forbidden book. Yet he knew better than to take such an enormous risk. No, he would have to keep his impatience in check until he was safely behind the locked doors of his private chambers. True, Hastur was the supreme leader of evil, myth-riddled Yoggoth, which he had ruled unchallenged for countless aeons with his evil bride, Shub-Niggurath, The Goat-With-A-Thousand-Young. But just as truly, even Hastur could be held accountable to the laws which he himself had laid down aeons ago in a bid to establish an order of sorts upon the disorderly inhabitants of Yoggoth. One law being that it was a sin against everything that the Ancient Ones stood for to own or read any book or record from the planet Earth. A sin punishable by death -- as were all sins on Yoggoth.
Yet Hastur had no compunctions about breaking the rules that he himself had put into effect. After all what was the point of being supreme ruler, if he couldn't even break the odd law or two? So Hastur's secret library held copies of all the great books of Earth, among them, the Bible, the Koran, the Torah, the Book of Mormon, Mein Kampf, Ludvig von Prinn's Liber Vermis Mysterious, the Norman-French Livre de Eibon, d'Erlette's Cultes des Goules, Unausspechlichen Kulten by von Juntz, and, of course, the rare Latin version of mad Arab, Abdul Alhazred's Necronomicron. And now, at last his collection was complete. For now he possessed a copy of the greatest (and rarest) work of evil ever written, the much feared and sought after Methuselah Scriptures: the biography of the supreme overlord of Hell, Beelzebub, and of the atrocities that he and all his evil minions had perpetrated against humanity down the ages.
The Methuselah Scriptures were so named because they had been penned by Beelzebub's first lieutenant, Methuselah, and, supposedly had been written using a human finger bone dipped in human blood. Although even Hastur did not know the truth or otherwise of this legend, since Beelzebub had refused to either confirm or deny it.
Along with every other book from the planet Earth, the Scriptures had been outlawed on Yoggoth, as a result of the greatest atrocity ever perpetrated against the human race by Beelzebub.
Hastur had played a vital role in the act that had forced him ultimately to ban the books of Earth. He had half suspected at the time that his actions would drive his kind forever from the face of the planet, but he had had no choice. He had owed his allegiance to Beelzebub, after Hastur had spoilt Old Beelzy's last major foray against humanity:
It had occurred during the Second World War. Beelzebub had worked mightily to put Hitler into power in pre-World War Two Germany, and had helped the Führer scheme to overthrow the free world. But then Hastur had taken it upon himself to attempt to speed things along a bit by bringing the Japanese into the war. The Japanese had then taken it upon themselves to bomb Pearl Harbour, bringing the U.S.A. into the war too soon, and as a consequence Beelzebub's master plan had been defeated along with the Nazis.
All Hell had broken out over Hastur's bungling interference when it finally became known. The aeons' old pact between the goat-creatures of Hades and the Ancient Ones (a pact sealed by the marriage of Hastur-the-Unspeakable to the goat creature Shub-Niggurath) had been on the brink of collapse.
Though Hastur held few things sacred, he had decided that the pact could not be allowed to collapse. It had seen too many great evils come and go. It was nearly five billion Earth years ago that the goat creatures had come down to Earth from the outer most reaches of the cosmos, and not too many centuries later that the Elder Gods had come to Earth. The two races had formed an allegiance of sorts, but it had never been completely successful.
When the Ancient Ones ventured down to Earth from Yoggoth, it had been Old Beelzy's army of devils that had helped Hastur to drive the Elder Gods from the land and into the nethermost depths of the oceans:
It had been in Hades that the Ancient Ones had gone for refuge, when the evil, glutinous Nameless Abomination, from the far reaches of the Zagar solar system, had swept across the barren plains of Earth, aeons ago, creating the first spark of life-energy in the lifeless magma that would soon become an ocean teeming with life forms:
With the aid of Iscaron, Beelzebub's Angel of Death, Hastur had helped to establish the slave trade in America and France, then later had suggested the Ku Klux Klan. Although it had been Asmodeus, Beelzebub's Avenging Fist, who had actually led the Klan out upon its first midnight ride.
But then their joint campaign against humanity had almost been spoilt by Hastur's bungling.
Yet at least now Hastur had his copy of the much sought after (and much feared) biography of Old Beelzy. There had only been three copies of the Scriptures produced. The original was held by Beelzebub. The second was retained by Methuselah. And the third had been presented to Hastur, The Not-To-Be-Named One. It was some consolation at least, after having been driven from Earth for ever, just at the moment when the Ancient Ones had seemed to be on the verge of tearing down the barriers that had kept them physically away from the planet for millennia.
The Ancient Ones had only had a physical foothold (or tentacle hold? Talon hold?) on the planet Earth up until shortly after the dawn of mankind, some five million years ago. Then after losing a major battle against the Elder Gods, the Ancient Ones had been banished from the surface of the planet, their only remaining contact with the planet a telepathic link with Beelzebub, Iscaron, Asmodeus, and occasional gifted (or cursed!) humans, who they were able to telepathically control. Still this mind link had been enough to allow Beelzebub and Hastur to plot together to bring about the downfall of the human race, and work to return the Ancient Ones to Earth. Although all of that had been undone now.
Hastur-the-Unspeakable awoke from his reverie to find himself approaching the outside of his obscene parody of a palace. The Ancient Ones had made full use of the seven contradicting dimensions of Yoggoth, to create their cities in such bizarre forms that the mere sight of them would have driven even the most avant-garde Earth architect over the brink into stark, raving insanity.
As he began to enter his evil fortress, Hastur was halted by one of the three lumbering, elephantine night gaunts that patrolled the perimeter. The blind night gaunt had been astute enough to recognise the illicit tome that Hastur carried.
The Not-To-Be-Named One opened the largest of his many gaping mouths and uttered one of the seven obscene words that make up the Litany of Hastur. The gigantic, winged night gaunt stopped still in its tracks, stared sightlessly toward Hastur for a few moments, then rapidly began to decompose into a sickly mass of lifeless, protoplasmic filth. Only Beelzebub, Iscaron, Asmodeus, Eslander (the Lurking Abomination), Great Cthulhu, Shub-Niggurath, and Nyarlathotep (the Haunter of the Dark) had ever heard the voice of Hastur and lived to tell of it.
Although he had been in no danger from the night gaunt, Hastur was not pleased that he had come so close to being detected. Perhaps he had made a mistake in bringing the forbidden book back to his palace? Perhaps Hastur should have taken the book across the great void of space to other lands and other dimensions? Or perhaps back to Earth itself? Back in time, to an era before it had become impossible for Hastur to survive on the planet:
The mystery of time-and-space travel was no mystery to the Ancient Ones. They had solved the hidden codes aeons ago, long before the dawn of the human race. Whereas the feeble humans had never managed to properly control space, let alone time. Mankind had made minor progress against space, admittedly, but had never come to grips at all with time. They hadn't even learnt to master the ageing process in their own puny bodies, as the Ancient Ones had done, let alone travel back and forth through time.
Admittedly, occasionally humans journeyed through time, but always purely by chance, never by design. Hastur remembered a fool named Gilles who had fallen into a time warp and had landed in Yoggoth during the middle of a secret conference by Hastur and his most senior generals. The Ancient Ones had weaned him of every last scrap of his knowledge and had intended to kill him, however, the lucky fool had slipped back through the warp in time. He had tried to alert the people of Earth to the secret of the Ancient Ones, but they had called him insane and had had him locked away in an asylum.
Then, of course, there had been that meddling fool Carter, who had used the Silver Dream Key to get to Yaddith. The Ancient Ones had transformed him into one of their own kind, but somehow he had escaped back to Earth in his time-envelope, just as the gigantic Dholes swarmed across the planet, killing all of the Ancient Ones, except for a few dozen who had escaped to decaying Yoggoth. Carter had returned to Earth to tell his tale, but like Gilles before him had been disbelieved. So in a fit of remorse Carter had thrown himself into a four-dimensional time clock, and had landed in sunken R'lyth, only to be torn asunder by Great Cthulhu.
But all of this was fruitless conjecture Hastur realised. He still had to make a decision about where to venture to read the forbidden Methuselah Scriptures.
After much consideration, he decided to travel to the far distant planet Cretion, in the Megan solar system. The Cretions were a race of weaponless, plant creatures, who could not harm Hastur, or divulge his secret to other Ancient Ones. Also Hastur had already formed an alliance with a Cretion named Meng Zan.
"Good evening, my good friend," said Meng Zan, leafy tentacles waving in the still air, as Hastur-the-Unspeakable shambled into existence in the three-dimensional world of the planet Cretion. "What can I do for you, my good friend?"
Hastur used telepathy to communicate his dilemma, and Meng Zan readily agreed to allow him to leave the forbidden tome with the Cretion for safe keeping.
With Meng Zan's assurance, Hastur folded up into himself (as close as he could come to sitting down), then opened the yellowing tome to the final chapter, "Last Days of the Human race".
Sighing wistfully, Hastur recalled their grand design, the plot so carefully hatched between Beelzebub and himself, to create a nuclear war to devastate the Earth, wiping out the human race in its entirety, to give them both what they sought: Beelzebub six billion more souls to add to his vast collection; Hastur a new home planet to replace the crumbling monstrosity called Yoggoth.
Knowing already where they had gone wrong, Hastur nevertheless turned toward the back of the chapter and read:
All had gone exactly to plan...Or so it had seemed. However, we had made one fatal miscalculation. In the days of Perestroika the Soviet Union had been greatly down-grading its nuclear arsenal, to the point where their once vastly superior arsenal was no more than on par with U.S. nuclear capabilities.
The idea being that if neither superpower possessed superior weaponry, then neither nation would be in a position to actually win the war, and the resulting stalemate would lead to the annihilation of the human race, leaving the surface world for the Ancient Ones and the nether reaches for Beelzebub and his legions.
Our one big error had been in not checking our facts properly before starting the war. If we had done so, we would have discovered that in the years since the overthrow of Mikhail Gorbachev the right-wing regime in the Commonwealth of Independent States had been secretly building a new super bomb: a thermonuclear device too destructive ever to be tested on the surface of the Earth.
The Russian government had been planning to test the bomb by launching it in space from a shuttle, to blow up one of the moons of Jupiter. Instead the super bomb was detonated by accident by an American cruise missile, on Earth....
Looking up into the black void of space, to where the scattered debris of what had once been a planet still orbited the sun between Mars and Venus, Hastur read on:
The resulting explosion completely disintegrated the planet Earth, wiping out the entire human race, as planned. But also obliterating most of Beelzebub's legion of devils. Although a few dozen demons managed to escape with their leader to the lifeless wastes of Mars, whilst Hastur and the Ancient Ones were banished back to decay-ridden Yoggoth.
Sighing wistfully (although what seemed wistful to Hastur was enough to send lesser creatures scampering for cover, shrieking their fear and agony) Hastur handed the forbidden tome to Meng Zan for safe keeping, then stretched his great wings wide and began his epic flight through space and time, back to the forbidden wastes of Yoggoth.
© Copyright 2011
Philip Roberts, Melbourne, Australia