Friday, October 21, 2011

"Saunder's Journal"

First of all.... funny how the brain works. I wanted to write a chilling story for Halloween, and one of my favorite stories is HP Lovecraft's "The Call of Cthulhu". With a little Lovecraftian inspiration and a few days of work, the story was ready to post. So I thought I'd like to my original review (new window) of Call that I wrote for this blog... and realized that I wrote it a year ago today. 

Almost makes me wonder if I wasn't somehow... inspired?

"Saunder's Journal"
Aaron Matthew Smith- October 21st, 2011

Day 1:
I’ve never traveled by freighter before. I’m really excited, because I hate flying and I love the water, plus an airliner wouldn’t let me on with half of my gear. If it turns out to work for me, I might travel by boat all the time.

Day 6:
I hate boats.
I’ve barely kept anything down for the last week, and I can hardly sleep I’m so nauseous. The crew keeps laughing at the sick white guy on board. I guess it’d be funny to me if I were them, too. I hope my sickness doesn’t interfere with my work.

Day 9:
I the dream last night. This time, the island was clear and cold. It’s never cold this close to the equator, but in the dream I was shivering as I was walking to the mountain. All the time, the only thing I could hear was the voice. The same voice that’s haunted my dreams, or maybe my subconscious, for months.
“I wait for you, Dr. Saunders. The king of the stars waits within the queen of heaven.”

Day 10:
We finally arrived at Tristan Da Cunha today. When I could walk again, I was greeted by the head of the Island Council, Christian. I was told that all of the island’s 300 inhabitants were evacuating; Queen Mary’s Peak hasn’t erupted since 1961, but those who were alive for it recognized the signs. I don’t know whether to be honored or intimidated that these people were effectively turning over their whole island to me. There’s plenty of food, and the radios seem to work well enough. I instructed the freighter to come back for me in three weeks time whether they’ve heard from me or not. And unless the volcano goes off, I suppose I’m stuck here until then.

Day 13:
I’d hoped that being on the island would awaken the dreams, but since arriving I haven’t had the slightest premonition. I’ve been monitoring the seismology equipment, but it hasn’t reacted at all. If the indigenous peoples hadn’t all left I could at least fulfill the anthropological portion of my visit, but I’ve had nothing to do since arriving.  I’d rather not been expecting a vacation.
The voice said “The king of the stars waits within the queen of heaven”. I saw this island in my dream, and I identified Queen Mary’s Peak. But am I wrong?

Day 14:
In the home where I’ve been allowed to stay, I’ve found many books and drawings referencing Queen Mary’s Peak. Most are historical or geological in nature, but I’ve found at least two that appear to be religious texts. What English passages there are in the book talk of a great and angry spirit that lives within the volcano. Fairly standard folklore and mythology, but it piqued my interest. I’ll read more deeply into the matter.

Day 15 (morning):
Finally, last night, I had contact.
It was the most vivid dream yet. I found myself lying in the bed on the island, and for a moment I thought that I’d  been roused from my sleep, until the voice spoke to me. I couldn’t follow what it said; it sound more like a series of bass notes on a colossal amplifier. I followed the sound outside. The sky had turned completely red, and as the voice came to me again, I could tell clearly that it was coming from the volcano.
I awoke find myself standing in the doorway of the house, looking at the sun rising across the ocean. I believe it was the first time I’ve ever sleepwalked.

Day 15 (evening):
After the dream last night, I had to go the volcano today. I hiked up the shortest face of Queen Mary’s Peak that I could reach. I was going to set up camp at the edge and study for the day, but I was there only a few minutes when something overcame me. Looking down into the dark, smoking depths of the mountain, a dark chill climbed my spine despite the heat rolling from the mouth. Did I actually hear the voice, or was my dream last night so vivid that I simply relived it?

Day 16:
If I dreamt last night, I don’t remember doing it. But I awoke outdoors again, surrounded by scrawlings in the dirt. I had dirt on my hands and under my nails.
It took hours, but I finally found meaning in what I wrote. The passage was repeated over and over again in the holy book. It took a little cross-referencing, but it said “The king of the stars waits within the queen of heaven”. Somehow, I knew it even before I finished.
I went back to the volcano today, as if compelled. I couldn’t get it out of my mind; no matter which way I turned on the island, I could see it. When I closed my eyes, I could see it.  At the precipice, I could hear the voice again, nearly audible this time. What does it want? How am I supposed to know?

Day 17:
I must have woken several times during the night. I remember climbing the face of the mountain several times, each time finding myself back at the base just as I was sure I’d gotten to the top. One moment I thought I was awake and then found myself back in my bed, covered in sweat and dirt. The sky never seems to stay one color for very long. For a time I forgot what color it was supposed to be. Finally, the sun is rising; I’m at last sure that I’m awake.

Day 22:
I write days now only as a formality; I can’t remember sleeping recently, though I frequently find myself laying in my bed as if I’d just spent a full night there. I can only gauge how much time has passed by phase of the sun and moon, and they seem to move without any sense of chronology, flying across the sky one moment, frozen in place the next. I’ve woken in my bed five times now; I suppose that means five days have passed.
The voice torments me constantly now. It mostly speaks in a language I can’t understand, possibly the same language I wrote on the ground earlier, the sound so loud it rattles dishes in cabinets. I know where it’s coming from; I can’t even look at the mountain now. It only speaks one phrase in English, and always when I least expect it.

Day 24:
I’ve been awake for more than two days now, or I feel like I have anyway. It seems like a better gauge of how much time has passed. Whenever I find myself in the bed, I don’t let myself sleep- I have to stay awake, always moving. Inevitably, I find myself moving toward the mountain. It compels me, not like a moth to flame, but more like iron to a magnet.
I can fight it no longer; my strength is gone. The voice encompasses me like a coffin. I’m going to the mountain. Even in admitting it to myself, the roar seems to laugh at me. It knows it has won. Today, I will meet the king of the stars within the queen of heaven.

The volcano is screaming, like the world itself is crying in the pains of labor. I can feel something down there, as sure I can see the sun in the red sky above me. I can understand it now. I know what it wants. It only wants to be freed. It wants to be born to this world, and I am to be its midwife. I can delay no longer; it waits.


  1. So does 'Call of Cthulhu" end on such a cliffhanger, too? If so, please tell me now so I don't expect closure. But anyway, very suspenseful and dark! Perfect for Halloween!

    Also, I found that Mozilla Firefox knew that I misspelled Cthulhu in the first paragraph, and it knew the correct spelling. L. Ron Hubbard mythos has infiltrated spellcheck.

    (On the other hand, Firefox is telling me that 'mythos' and 'spellcheck' are both misspelled)

  2. It actually doesn't end on a cliffhanger, but several other of his stories do. I'd recommend The Nameless City for a good edge-of-your-seat ending.

    Also, you just mixed up H.P. Lovecraft and L. Ron Hubbard. I'd start heading for the hills now before the mob of internet fanboys finds you.