The Eldritch Author

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Contently Deranged Travelers


Our nameless hero enjoys yet another glorious day at University with the charming, amazing Professor Hollisch where nothing ever will or ever can go wrong. Ever.

Submitted: June 01, 2018

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Submitted: June 01, 2018

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“Heroes have no place in horror.”
 
I arrived early to class that day.  Even an hour before it began, Professor Hollisch already prepared his opening statement on the dry erase board.  Rather than surprise, he greeted me with his default expression of a vastly unimpressed smile.
 
Hollisch was the head of the University’s Literature department.  While most of his peers and students saw him as a quiet man in his late forties, I saw a trait he shared with my father.  Tired eyes behind dusty spectacles coupled with a smile filled to the brim with weariness and pity.  To me, he always gave me the impression of an old man who lived a long, dull, unfulfilled life.
 
I took my usual seat in the back.  No one bothered me there and I prefer to be left alone.  Everyone else would huddle around the front rows.  As long as I could hear the Professor’s lecture, my grades performed just fine.  There were only a small handful of others taking the course anyway.
 
As the hour ticked toward the beginning of the lecture, silence thickened the air.  I couldn’t quite explain it further other than it was like noise was afraid to enter the room.  I knew that sounded utterly ridiculous when said aloud, but that’s the best way I could describe it.
 
No one else showed up for the lecture.  Hollisch glanced at the door, pitiful smile still on his face, and turned to me.  The skin around the corner of his eyes wrinkled as he attempted to smile a little harder.
 
“Let’s begin,” he rasped quietly.
 
Hollisch began his lecture, as per usual, in reference to the sentence he left on the board.
 
“Do you understand the meaning behind it?” he asked.
 
Entirely uninterested, I replied with a simple, “I guess.”
 
 
He held his forced smile at me, his tone and disposition akin to a grandparent trying too hard to not sound annoyed.
 
“Guesses are for lotteries and poker.  Can you tell me what it means?”
 
His tone was cool and collected, but I recognized the condescension.  My father was the same way.  Whether out of respect or spite, I refused to answer.  He sighed before he continued.
 
“Last week we covered H. P. Lovecraft and the views cosmicism.  Traditional heroes don’t feature in his work.  Why?”
 
 
I was sure he would tell me if I remained silent.
 
“Because it goes against what cosmicism proposes.  An uncaring universe wouldn’t care about good guys or bad guys, let alone the conflicts between good and evil.  It’s apathy would cycle on without morales to restrict it.  In Lovecraft’s “The Call of Cthulhu”, this is touched upon when they try to ram the boat into…”
 
He continued his lecture without my involvement the entire time.  I understood everything he touched on, but the details were clouded by agitation I couldn’t shake.  I didn’t like being talked down to.  I couldn’t wait for the day to be over.  Clocks never cooperate when stared at for so long.
 
“...due by next week’s class.”
 
I shot my attention back into reality.  The Professor stared at me, his eyelids low.  It was the closest I’d ever seen him being visibly annoyed.  He mentioned something about an assignment to be done.
 
“Please repeat what the assignment is,” I requested.
 
He took his glasses from his face with one hand and a white cloth from his pocket with the other.  He said nothing as he carefully cleaned them.  He didn’t answer me until he was done and his spectacles returned to the ridge of his nose.
 
“I want you to write about a Lovecraftian horror of your own design -- a thorough description of what it looks like, its behaviors, how others perceive it, and so on.  Any number of pages is fine.  Oh, and let’s make it interesting: no tentacles.  Every semester it’s the same, old, tentacle-blob.  Make it original, or as original as you can.”
 
I decided to ignore that last snark.  One week was plenty of time to make something impressive enough to shut his trap.  I’d read plenty of horror stories.  The assignment would be a snap.
 
Unlike most college students, I was the type to get my homework done right away.  I sat at my desk in my apartment’s bedroom, blank document open on my laptop, and ready to get to writing.  I entertained a few concepts in my head, but I couldn’t bring myself to type any of it out right away.  I needed to be sure he never read something like it before.
 
I entered the general ideas in a search engine to see if they were unique.  Sure enough, all of my ideas were already thought of.  Mist entities, extra-dimensional critters, madness-inducing viruses, etc.  The list could continue for centuries, and don’t even get me started on the phenomenon that is “tentacle-based monstrosities”.  Lovecraft definitely made a pop culture impact with that one.
 
I scratched my head furiously.  In a world where something as damnedable as the internet exists, any idea being wholly unique was unique in and of itself.  I searched for hours on my browser for something that no one thought of before.  It was almost morning by the time I was ready to admit defeat.
 
“Authors.”
 
I almost fell out of my chair as I spun around.  I could’ve sworn I heard a voice in my ear, but when I checked there was no one there.  After my heartbeat calmed down I looked at the time on my laptop.  It was already five in the morning.
 
I had to be at work in an hour.  I cursed under my breath as I chugged an energy drink and dragged myself into my uniform.  Sleep would have to wait until I got back.
 
I worked the morning shift as a cook at a small diner down the street from my apartment.  When I arrived, only one of the waitresses was on shift with me.  I barely had the energy to greet her, although I wasn’t known for my workplace pleasantries either way.  I sunk into my station and waited for customers to show up, get pissed at their orders, and whatever other nonsense I would have to deal with.
 
The whisper from that morning occupied my thoughts heavily.  Delirious or not, I found it strangely interesting.  Maybe my inner muse gave up on waiting for me to figure it out and decided to blurt a good idea.  Or maybe I was just sleep deprived.  The shift was long and I didn’t have time to think on it long enough.
 
The customer turnout was low that day.  Toward the end of my shift, an order came in from the last table before my replacement was expected to arrive.  The waitress, whatever her name was, hung their order by my station for me to retrieve.  I sloppily grabbed at the paper.
 
I must have been exhausted, because it managed to slip through my fingers and gracefully fluttered onto the hot stove.  Panicked, I reached for it without thinking.  I only burned my thumb and the writing was still eligible.  I skimmed it to begin their order.
 
“One monster writes to create monsters.”
 
I was immediately confused.  I called out to her, and when she walked back into the kitchen I demanded an explanation.  She appeared as perplexed as I was.
 
“What’s wrong with it?” she asked.
 
I was livid at her response.
 
“This!  What you wrote.  What the hell is-”
 
I read the slip again to recite the nonsense back to her.  I froze, flustered and even more confused than before.  My eyebrows furrowed hard at it.
 
“...one honey mustard fries... two cream custards?”
 
“Yeah,” she responded, “Is that all?”
 
I slowly nodded my head, my eyes unmoved from the writing.  There was no way I was that tired.  She definitely noticed my vacant stare.
 
“You look tired, sweety.  Why don’t you head out?  Next shift just came in.”
 
I was like a zombie as I left the diner.  To add to my bewilderment, there appeared to be no customers seated at any table when I proceeded to the front door.  The waitress didn’t seem to know either.
 
I returned to my apartment and sank into my bed.  I breathed out an exasperated groan.  The previous twenty-four hours were painful in a profound sort of way, but at least I could welcome a sleep well deserved.  I closed my eyes, ready to be floated far away from reality’s pains.
 
Ten minutes passed with little progress.  Ten minutes turned into twenty.  Twenty minutes turned into an hour.  An hour turned into two.  I was genuinely drained, but I couldn’t fall asleep.  Nothing could help me escape from the eerie things I heard and read.
 
“Authors.”
 
“One monster writes to create monsters.”
 
Hours into my failure to sleep, everything clicked into place.  Lovecraftian stories exist in a universe where nothing and no one matters.  In such a world, we are like fictional characters in a book and the book is the universe.  Lovecraft himself could easily be the uncaring god of his own characters and worlds.  An author would make a great Lovecraftian horror!
 
I lunged out of my bed and clumsily dropped into my desk chair.  Fired up with the fuel of inspiration, I masterfully crafted an entity of terrible proportions.  It read as such:
 
No man or beast alive can comprehend the origins of such an entity.  It could have been a human of mystical genius who grew bored of the mundane, or likewise a lonely god in desperate need of entertainment.  Its comings and goings further prove an enigma to its existence.  Could it have created the universe to house the monstrosities it crafts?  Or did the universe already exist as the perfect parchment to breathe life to the darkness spawned from its pen?
 
It has no proper name of its own aside from one: the Eldritch Author.  Too few know or understand its existence for titles beyond that.  Its true form is unknowable, just as the characters of a story are forever unaware of the mind that brought their tale to life on paper.
 
Should its deranged sense of divine intervention be required, it appears as a named character like the rest -- albeit with omniscient knowledge of and influence over the story of the world.  Fortunate for mankind, it seems to despise the concept of deus ex machina with few exceptions.
 
The Eldritch Author has spawned many disturbing entities, possibly countless.  Those known are all terrifying to behold.  Whether born of tragedy, cosmic ideology, or some deranged inspiration, each are entirely beloved by the Author in some twisted form of its understanding of love.
 
Its creations include, if only to name a few:
 
Scissor Jim:  A young man who must ingest prescribed medications every day if he wishes to remain in his own body.  Should he miss a single dose, his consciousness is ejected and replaced by his scissor-wielding, serial killer alter-ego.
 
Timmy and His Bear:  A boy from an orphanage who was bullied for having a misshapen eye.  One day he receives a teddy bear in the mail from an unknown sender, of which is possessed by a shadow monster that devours any who dare to bring harm to its young owner.
 
The Traveler in Green:  A lone wanderer who walks dark streets to avoid hurting anyone.  Robbers and murders end up devoured by his monstrous form under the light of an emerald moon.
 
Daemon Stars:  A group of graverobbers discover the remains of a servant to alien powers.  Although the god-like entities left the earth long ago, the men learn firsthand the dark gifts they left behind.
 
These and many more lurk in the darker corners of the Eldritch Author’s imagination.  As it writes them into being, it delights in the horror they will reap.  More terrifying than those it manufactures, however, is the deadly power it holds over characters doomed to live upon the its pages.
 
Should the Author feel the story is unimpressive, or even diminished in deranged amusement, it can erase any character or plot from the story on a whim.  Its method of doing so is both bizarre and elaborate.
 
In the form of a placeholder character, the Author addresses the world’s true nature to the designated protagonist.  By breaking the fourth wall it destroys any connection the story had with reality.  Entire plot lines become void, developments left unresolved, goals and drives never brought to fruition -- all scrapped and tossed aside for a whole new world of characters and monsters to scribe.
 
I lowered by sore hands into my lap and sighed heavily.  It took the entire week, but my perfect work of literary art was finally complete -- as perfect as it was going to be, anyway.  I didn’t write it all in one sitting, but I didn’t get much sleep because of it.  I rested a few hours here, a few hours there, did my five-days work week, and brainstormed as much as I could muster.  I brushed up on the final grammatical touches the night before class.  When it was one in the morning, I forced myself away from the desk and into my bed.
 
The excitement was too much to ignore.  I imagined the look on Hollisch’s face when he sees my masterpiece of a horror.  If I didn’t know any better, I would think myself a brilliant author.  It could be a fun endeavor, but not until I’m old, gray, and with nothing to do.
 
Just as I drifted into a dreamless sleep, I felt something lightly bounce on my stomach.  I opened my eyes to the darkness of my room.  I squinted as best I could, but I was too tired to try any harder.  My sight barely made out the small silhouette of a teddy bear, faced toward the wall on the right side of my bed.  It turned its head toward me with a button-less eye.
 
I jumped from my bed and swatted the thing to the floor.  It didn’t move from where it landed, left to stare motionless at the ceiling.  I thought someone played a really bad joke on me.  How they got in my apartment was the real matter to worry about.  Surely enough, someone stood in my room several feet from the door.
 
They were short, scrawny, and seemingly timid.  My eyes widened at the trespasser as my pulse threatened to beat my heart out of my chest.  It was just a little boy, but something about him unsettled me.  The little cretin’s presence incited a justifiable rage in me.
 
“What the hell are you doing?  Get out!”
 
“Teddy…” the boy whimpered and sobbed, “You hurt my Teddy Bear…”
 
My anger subsided just enough to allow myself to breathe.  Someone must have put him up to this, I thought.  There was no way a kid as frightened as that was able to break into my apartment alone.  I stepped over the stuffed toy and knelt down to comfort the poor little guy.
 
“Hey, hey.  Don’t cry.  It’s OK.  Did someone make you do this?  What’s your name?”
 
He wiped the tears from his eyes and managed to force a quiet reply.
 
“Timmy.”
 
My heart stopped for a second.  My lunged choked out for just as long.  I didn’t notice it until then, but something was wrong with the kid’s face.  One of his eyes was grossly misshapen.
 
“T-Timmy?” I stuttered.
 
He sniffled a few more times.
 
“Yes, sir.  My name is Timmy.”
 
“And… and that’s your bear?”
 
He nodded and said, “He’s not happy…”
 
I faked a smile as best I could.  I dared not look at where the Teddy Bear rested on the floor.  The implications were too terrifying to test any morbid curiosity.  I could only force myself to console the randomly appeared child in my bedroom, but I was reluctant to even do that much.
 
“O-OK… Why is he not happy?”
 
“You made him cry.”
 
That voice didn’t belong to Timmy.  Of course it didn’t.  The timing was too perfect.  My whole body shook under some unseen pressure that choked the air around me.  The deep, guttural bellow came from the Teddy Bear.
 
The immense thud of two massive arms struck the ground behind me and thundered in my ears.  I still couldn’t look.  I knew what it was.  I also knew I had to get out of there immediately.
 
I pushed Timmy aside and crashed into my bedroom door.  I fumbled the doorknob until my sweat-drenched hands could twist and swing it open.  The razor noise of claws glided in the air and barely touched my feet as I dove into the hall.  I slammed the door behind me as fast as possible and took bittersweet comfort in knowing Timmy’s shadow-friend missed me.
 
Without hesitation, I sprinted down the hall and into the living room.  I didn’t hear my bedroom door open yet.  I just had to make it out of my apartment before it could, but someone stood at the exit -- and they were singing.
 
“Snip, snip, snip away your troubles.  Snip, snip, snip away the gray.  Scissor Jim’s gonna make you grin when he…”
 
He snipped the rusted, bloodied scissors in his hands three times.
 
“...your frown away!”
 
He wore a black jumpsuit, his hair mangled and eyes pinned -- all compounded by a lunatic grin on his face.  He stared directly into me.
 
“Oh my.  This one is petrified!  Whatcha say, Jimmy?  Should we make another smile tonight?”
 
A faint voice, barely audible, called out from somewhere behind the maniac.  They were crying hysterically.
 
“Run!  Please!  I don’t want to kill anymore!”
 
“Shut it, goody-two-shoes!  This one will bleed nicely…”
 
He marched toward me with frantic excitement in his step.  I couldn’t get by him safely, and my apartment wasn’t large enough for me to jump around.  There was a window to my right, and I lived on the second floor, but it was my only chance to escape.  I jumped, broke through, and fell.
 
I landed in some thick bushes on the ground floor.  The odd thought of having plot armor did nothing to make me laugh.  I was still in shock and had to move.  When I stumbled into the parking lot, someone who stood under a street lamp on the other side called out to me.
 
I didn’t care who it was.  They sounded like a normal person, which was good enough for me.  I approached them, and they seemed genuinely concerned for me.
 
“That was some fall.  Are you alright?”
 
Instead of typical clothes, he wore a long, tattered, and sickly green cloak.  I didn’t even bother to question it.  I was sure he wasn’t going to try and kill me, but he wasn’t a normal person either.
 
“Let me guess.  The Traveler in Green?”
 
“I suppose the description fits, but my name is Craindre.”
 
Of course he didn’t know what I actually meant.  I hardly understood any of it myself.  My brief descriptions of monsters in a stupid college assignment came to life and were trying to kill me.  For the time being, he was the only sane thing among them.
 
“What time is it?” I asked.
 
“Time for you to go to class.”
 
I froze there for a second.  It must’ve all been a dream.  There was no other explanation, and a stupid one at that.  If my experience was a story, it would be the most cliche cop-out of a plot twist I ever read.  I never liked those kind of endings, and I especially didn’t enjoy it then.
 
I woke up in my bed.  I didn’t freak out or fall off my mattress, but rather just laid there.  No one was in my bedroom but me.  My assignment was still on the screen of my laptop.  I already knew the day was going to be a bad one.
 
My feet barely dragged me to class that morning.  I was only a few minutes late, and Professor Hollisch already began his lecture.  He stopped what he was doing just to force another sad smile at me.  It pissed me off.
 
“Did you complete the assignment?” he asked.
 
“Yeah.”
 
I shoved it at him.  It was aggressive and rude of me, but I didn’t care.  The other students were there, sure, but they only stared blankly at the board.  At first glance, they appeared more like mannequins than people.  Hollisch placed the paper on his lectern and walked over to me after I sat down at my usual place in the back.
 
“You seem quite frazzled,” he said.
 
“I had a long night.  Just leave me alone.”
 
“I can imagine.”
 
“No, you couldn’t.  No one could.”
 
“Oh?  But I can.  That was quite the escape.”
 
My eyes bulged at my lips quivered.  Something wasn’t right.  There was a chilled echo in his voice that rasped in a deep, otherworldly tone.
 
“The triumphant hero that narrowly evaded death at every turn.  A decent story, I suppose.  However…”
 
Vivid stillness halted everything around me.  Noise vanished entirely from reality.  My skin crawled and clammed.  Everything felt hot and cold.  The paint on the walls peeled and flicked away.  My classmates went limp like marionettes without a puppeteer.  The ceiling flew up and into an endless abyss.  Black ink drained like blood from my eyes, mouth, and ears.  I couldn’t stop myself from shaking under the immeasurable weight of his presence.
 
“...heroes have no place in my horror.”


© Copyright 2018 M. A. Yacone. All rights reserved.

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