The Lurking Horror refers to an event at G.U.E. Tech (see estimates of date below) where an indescribable being outside of humanity's understanding was on the cusp of breaking through into our world, aided by the workings of a cult, of which one member might have been an insane professor who was working alchemical experiments to gain an understanding of, and power over, demonic forces. He was partly successful, but at a cost of his life, killed by his own hubris. Using some tools gained from the professor, an unknown G.U.E. Tech freshman combated the imminent awakening of the otherworldly thing, and managed to mostly succeed. Though as a consequence of that person's actions, an egg hatched and a mysterious creature flew out of it, vanishing into the night. While there is no indication that the creature that came from the egg will be better for humanity ultimately, we can only hope that whatever came out of the egg is not as immediate a danger as the other monstrosities.

A strange event, which has either escaped the notice of most historians, or declared as fictional, is referred to as "The Lurking Horror." There is only one single source for this event, a personal journal of a G.U.E. Tech student of unknown name and sex, which is an account of incredible detail. And even this source is missing several leaflets, and thus there are encounters unknown to us (such as a creature that may have had control over the urchins) and the fate of the student after the hatching of an unknown creature.

Judging from the extant material of this mysterious episode, it appears that magic was estranged from the world during the event. For it is certain that magic was not being taught at the university during the period in which this event transpired. But as the scattered magic gradually returned following the First Great Diffusion (1247 GUE), certain isolated regions of Zork began to have minor encounters with magic and demons. One of these was the incident in the Valley of the Sparrows (1647 GUE) where the demon Morphius almost succeeded in building a vast empire and enslaving many in that corner of the world. Since magic was again dissolved, and does not yet seen to have made another resurgence (current year 1699 GUE), this event can be capped at the time of the Second Great Diffusion (1647 GUE). Other dating landmarks include a reference to an automobile (invented in the late 14th or early 15th century) within the student's journal.

Because of this dormancy of arcane arts, the mention of the automobile, and its parallels with the Morphius incident, most of those few historians which dare to include this account as reliable history, have suspected that the this horror lurked in the basements of G.U.E. Tech during a magicless period after the invention of the automobile, that being sometime during the Third Age of Magic (c. 1400~1647 GUE), possibly in the early 1600s around the proximity of the unearthing of the Cluster.

As stated above, the only survival of The Lurking Horror comes from the journal of an unknown G.U.E. Tech freshman. Due to the conflicting controversy of opinions, as well as the mystery surrounding this event, many excerpts will be taken from that student's journal. As this source is extremely detailed, only the most important encounters will be reprinted in this known about the background of this event. Gathering from the journal, there were many recent disappearances beforehand, both of students and urchins. A graduate student of unknown name was missing, until his body was found smashed and broken at the base of the tallest building on campus, having committed suicide after having writing a note, hiding it under the brass plug at the top of Great Dome. The letter and other information from the journal (both he and an alchemy professor being the only two using the lab most nights), leads one to conclude that this suicide victim was in league with the professor:

"I can no longer face what I've been doing. I can't sleep, I start at the slightest noise, and even dulling my senses with alcohol or drugs is no longer enough. I refuse to participate in what he is doing any more. Either he is insane, or I am insane, or (and this is what I fear most) the universe itselfis insane. I have only one final warning: I am the only suicide, but I will not be the final death."

If the conclusion is correct that this was the alchemy professor's graduate student who used the lab, many scholars then conclude that the brass hyrax found in the professor's office belonged to this graduate student. If so, some further conjecture that since that according to the journal that the brass hyrax seemed to have helpful affinity in guiding our hero through the dark caverns, then the mummified hand belonged to this student as well. And since, according to the journal, the tattoo on the hand was the same as the one on the rat, the one on the altar, and the one on the smooth stone, that all of these somehow played into a great scheme. These are all conclusions (some of them very probable), but not entirely conclusive.

There are many mysterious surrounding the origins and intentions of The Lurking Horror itself, possibilities of more than one faction of monsters which may have been opposing one another, the professor's role with the summoning of the creatures, etc. But, as there are too many presumptions, this article has postponed further discussion of these subjects, adhering to factual evidence alone. One is encouraged to read the fragments published in the section below for more information.

The protagonist (if this person may be termed such) of this event is a G.U.E. Tech freshman of unknown name, age, and sex, who is responsible for detailing The Lurking Horror in a journal. The chronology of the student's account begins on a dark and stormy night at the end of term. Having waited until the last minute to finish work on a term paper on modern analogues of Xenophon's 'Anabasis' for Classics in the Modern Idiom, the student found all the TechNet terminals in the dorm occupied. Thus the student braved a snowstorm to reach the G.U.E. Tech Computer Center. Not only was every shadow and sound startling due to the recent disappearances, but the snowstorm turned into a raging blizzard. And, not only practically freezing to death slogging to the Computer Center from the dorm, the massive amounts of snow trapped the freshman in a complex of buildings late at night. Although the wind continued to howl around the monolithic buildings, sending the heavy snow into blinding swirls, the student huddled over the terminal, struggling to complete the twenty page assignment.

While attempting to access the paper, strange images suddenly appeared on the screen instead of the incomplete assignment. These strange images were part of an ancient manuscript. Finding it impossible to look away, the student read about a "summoning" or a "visitor". A poem with its translation was found, accompanied by woodcut illustrations which were queasily disturbing:

He returns, he is called back (?)
The loyal ones (acolytes?) make a sacrifice
Those who survive will meet him (be absorbed? eaten?)
They will live, yet die
Forever will be (is?) nothing to them (to him?)

His place (lair? burrow?) must be prepared
His food (offerings?) must be prepared
Call him forth (invite him?) with great power
Only an acceptable (tasteful?) sacrifice will call him forth
He will be grateful (satiated?)

After viewing a photograph of something that possibly resembled a mouth with something in it, darkness overcame the student, drawing them into a fiendish world full of unimaginable horrors:

Things moved about on a broken, rocky surface. Harsh sounds split the air. Something sticky grabbed at my feet.  There was no color, everything was drained of brightness, dull and lifeless. A path descended into a shallow bowl of black basalt. From below, a low noise began, and slowly built up. I felt myself drawn downward by the noise, to the bottom of a deeply cut, smooth basalt bowl. Dimly seen shapes crowded me on all sides so that I could barely move, much less walk. Their voices sounded like supplication. Ahead, in the focus of the movement, was a rock platform. It was made of the same rocks as the surrounding terrain. In fact, I could not tell whether it was natural of constructed.

Before I could examine it further, the crowd around me began to sway and groan. They seemed to be expecting something. I was drawn forward to the low platform by the noise. Now I could see that it was more like an afterthought of piled rocks or a glacial moraine than a work of artifice. I was pushed against the pile by the crowd around me. It was then that I saw one small stone standing out in the pile, smooth, shiny, and glowing with a blazing light.

When I took the stone in my hands, the dimness suddenly became darkness, and the crowd around me exploded with excitement. I was jostled and shoved from all sides. A low keening began, building into a deafening, almost mechanical chant. The darkness before me compacted and deepened. As I waited, the darkness before me, now visible, was a creature with a shape not easily grasped. It towered over the now-silent crowd. Smooth and yet scaly, it had too many limbs, and they were not in the right places. To look at it gave me a headache. It also gave off a charnel stetch. The thing jerked this way and that, spraying a foul ichor. Its palps twitched expectantly, then pounded impatiently against the rock. I could feel the smooth stone vibrating in my hand.

Sensing the presence of the stone, the thing turned. It quested almost blindly for it. Those surrounding me thrust me forward. The thing stooped, its mandibles grasping me. I was lifted towards its gaping maw. The stench and the sounds issuing from it were overwhelming, and I fell unconscious.

I was awakened by the thump of my head hitting the terminal in front of me. It must have been a nightmare. Embarrassed, I glanced around. Yes, the hacker was looking in my direction. He must have heard the thump. But as I struggled awake, I found myself clutching the object last seen in the nightmare.

The hacker wandered over, trying to look nonchalant as he took over my chair. "Losing, huh?" he asked wittily. He glanced at my terminal, which displayed a pattern of snow and unusual characters. He appeared somewhat excited. Mumbling under his breath, the hacker began a flurry of activity. First the screen returned to something nearly normal, then windows began popping up like toadstools after a rain. The screen looked a lot like the top of his terminal table (or the bottom of a trash can).

The hacker typed furiously, and the screen displayed what to me looked like an explosion in a teletype factory. After a while he said. "Chomping file system. Your directory has gone seriously west. I fixed it." He checked the screen. "It was mixed up on the file server with some files from the Department of Alchemy." He grunted. "People's names for their nodes are getting weird. This one is called 'Lovecraft.'" He paused. "Your paper is gone, though. Sorry. Maybe they could help you down there." The hacker wandered back to his terminal and returned to his hacking.

With the hacker at some distance away, I examined the stone in my hands. It was a smooth, shiny piece of what might have be obsidian. Scratched on it was a symbol. On close examination, the symbol appeared to have been carved into the stone, perhaps with a claw. The symbol was like nothing I have seen, and yet somehow I knew it had meaning. I tried to discard the stone, going through the motions, but the stone wouldn't leave my hand.

Although dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge, the student now had more on mind than the term paper. As though pulled by a powerful force within the mysteriously acquired object, the student left the computer, bartered with the hacker for the G.U.E. Tech master key. Seemingly bereft of concern for the recent disappearances, the freshman ventured into the dark nether regions of the Institute. For beneath the Institute lay a warren of dimly-lit corridors and storage rooms, some so ancient that they contained only rotting piles of unidentifiable junk. There were miles of decrepit tunnels, crumbling into hazardous piles of timber and brick. But negotiating the terrain was the least of the problems.

Shapes emerged from dark corners. Eerie sounds drew closer. Slimy passageways led to sights so horrifying that they fed the student's nightmares for weeks. For a ghastly presence was at work below, committing unspeakably loathsome acts.

One of the first unusual discoveries was an altar in a renovated cave attached to other tunnels:

At the bottom of the cave I found a huge slab of granite. In the center was a sort of altar. It was carved with strange and disturbing symbols, the largest of which looked very familiar. Some of the symbols were obscured by rusty red stains. Nearby was an iron plate set in the concrete of the floor.

The slab was roughly circular, made of indifferently dressed granite, and about three feet hight. It was carved all over with odd glyphs, symbols, and strange animal (or part-animal?) figures. The top was covered with a brown stain shading to red at the edges. An inexplicable revulsion prevented me from touching it.

The carvings were in a variety of styles. Some were almost like graffiti, and had carved dates almost as early as the institution's founding, and as recent as last year. Some were creatures, or people, or combinations of the two. Some were obscene, or revolting, or just indescribable. One was a strange incised symbol. Most were at least partly spotted with brown stains.

The symbol appeared to be the oldest thing carved on the altar. It was beautifully incised in the rocks. Its age was apparent from its wear and the overlay of newer carvings and scratchings over it. It seemed similiar to the symbol that had been carved upon the stone I had mysterious acquired after the dream. Upon comparing them, apart from the different media in which the symbols were executed, they were identical.

The plate was iron, about two feet square, and looked like it could be slid open. A curious feature of the plate was that it had upward projecting dents in it which appeared to have been punched from below. I could hear very faint noises through the closed panel. I slid it open, revealing a dark pit below. Immediately, there was a response from below. Disturbing noises issued from the opening: low, guttural, groaning and snarling. I peered through the hole, shining my lightinto the stygian darkness below. At first I saw nothing, so I decided to drop a piece of my leftover food. Sounds of ghoulish excitement issues from the opening in reprisal. The commotion below increased in intensity, and suddenly I caught a glimpse of things moving in the pit. Without consciously realizing I had done it, I slammed the panel shut, reeling away from the source of such images. Now I knew what had been done with the missing students. And I now understood the stains on the altar.

Hoping to find the highest point away from the lair, the student quickly withdrew and ventured to the top of the Brown Building, inside the dome. While idly pondering the horrifying sights and what course of action to take, the student was shocked to discover a strange object within a tub of dirt:

I rooted around in the dirt for awhile, when I encountered something hard. Further exploration revealed it to be a dried, chewed looking human hand. It was very old. It was dry and very light, mummified in fact. There were stains, scars, and dried blood on it. The hand appeared to have been severed by the application of very sharp teeth, perhaps an animals. I noticed a tattoo on the back of it. Sure enough, it was fully identical to the carved symbol on the stone and the incised symbol that had been upon the altar.

Seeking the need for a quick breath of fresh air, I stepped outside. I was just about to withdraw from the cold when suddenly, I heard the strange confusion of wings. And then something dark and shapeless smashed against the dome. I turned and saw a dark shape clinging to the outside of the structure. It moved. Above the howl of the wind I heard a high-pitched keening noise. The dark shape dropped, crunching into the snow almost next to me. Its scaly head turned towards me, eyes like coals staring into mine. The shape rose, bearing needle-sharp teeth and pumping its wings painfully in the gale.

At this moment I was able to have a clear view of the dark flier. Like a black sheet flapping in the wind, it was hard to see. Red eyes glowed like coals on its scaly, bullet-shaped head. Human-like hands clenched and unclenched. Its teeth projected wickedly from its twisted blood-red jaw.

The creature was quiet as a graveyard as it approached, then suddenly began to hiss and scream viciously at me as it neared. The dark shape, its foul strench overpowering in the wind (which was that of a foul eater of carrion, overlaid with another smell that I couldn't place, but which was even less appetizing) reached out with its claw to grasp and rend. I threw an object at the beast, but screeching, the creature fended off my attack. Its head jerked from side to side, watching me. The noisome creature jabbed at me with its beak, but then suddenly pulled back.

At first I could not understand what had caused the creature to recoil. But then I realized that it seemed unwilling to approach the stone which I carried. Holding it out, it withdrew slightly. Fearing I had no other option to save myself, I threw the stone. It hit the dark beast, and appeared to go completely through it as though the creature were made of air. The smooth stone disappeared over the south edge of the building, and creature followed it, screaming frustration into the storm. It had disappeared as though it never was.

The student quickly fled from top of the Brown Building and was able to recover the stone at its base, which has been mysteriously neglected by the dark flier. Hoping to find a more appropriate place of shelter, the student headed to the Great Dome which was near the Infinite Corridor. Here is another journal excerpt:

From stories of Tech Exploring trips, I recalled that there was supposed to be a ladder here. On the other hand, there was a shiny rope-like thing hanging near where the ladder used to be. When I touched the strand, it was wet, and twitched a little. I started to climb up the strand, but the glistening wet stuff began to burn my hands. I was only able to climb a few feet before the pain was too much, and I dropped back to the floor. Putting on the pair of gloves I carried, I tried again. This time the wet stuff on the strand stuck to the gloves, but otherwise had no affect. I had a little trouble climbing up to the metal catwalk, but grabbed the trail just before my strength could give out. I heaved myself up onto the catwalk. I stood up on the catwalk to catch my breath. I was inside the Great Dome, near the top, where the catwalk was precariously perched.

My eyes strayed along the strand I climbed. It trailed from the catwalk, where it joined to something large and squishy squatting at the far side. A single, bright-blue eye opened in the squishy mass, and the tentacle (for that's what it was) retracted. The mass almost flowed through the spaces in the catwalk railing and dropped to the floor fifteen feet below. Before I could react, it was gone. Hoping to have gotten away from the terror which lurked below, I now had found the resting place of another. Panicking, I rushed for a small metal door that was set inside the dome.

Outside the dome, hidden inside a socket at the top, the student found a piece of paper from the once-missing student who had recently committed suicide:

"I can no longer face what I've been doing. I can't sleep, I start at the slightest noise, and even dulling my senses with alcohol or drugs is no longer enough. I refuse to participate in what he is doing any more. Either he is insane, or I am insane, or (and this is what I fear most) the universe itselfis insane. I have only one final warning: I am the only suicide, but I will not be the final death."

Returning the main floor, the student attempted to escape from campus by venturing out into the raging blizzard. But after the fatal cold and wind, the student returned indoors only to have another frightening encounter along the Infinite Corridor:

Suddenly I leapt at a ghastly whirring, whining sound from further down the corridor. My hair stood on ends, until I saw a largish machine turn the corner from one of the side halls and begin to approach me. It was a late night maintenance man. I was relieved. I was not alone. But I had to warn him about what was going on. I ran to him in a sprint of excitement and panic. Still from a distance I greeted him. He only snarled at my angrily. The words were strangely guttural and jarring. As he drew near, I saw that he was tired, bored, almost zombie-like.

He passed by me, without even further acknowledging me, in fact, I could have sworn that he never even blinked. Although I knew I sounded like a fool, and that he was obviously very annoyed with me, I raised my voice and told him that what I wanted to tell him was serious, and started to tell him what was going on. He did not react in the slightest, as if I were nothing but mute and invisible.

My body quivered to think that something might be wrong with him as well. The thought of demonic possession filtered through my mind, but I quickly shut it away. He probably was not used to being disturbed by students and just wanted to be left alone. But I needed to warn him, and I was desperate. My eyes followed the cord of his machine to the wall socket.

After trying to unplug the machine to no avail, the student decided to use a nearby axe to sever the power cord.

The whine of the floor waxer slowed, and the maintenance man jerked to alertness. Finally, I thought. Hoping that he now knew that I was serious about what was going on at Tech, I began to apologize. He quickly replied in a language I did not recognize. Growling foul-sounding imprecations, he descended from the floor waxer and headed towards me. He stared at my throat with maniacal intensity. This man certainly was not in his right mind. I took several steps backward, almost tripping over a plastic container of "Frobozz Magic Floor Wax (and Dessert Topping)".

Fearing that he was but another demonic apparation, I wound up and pitched the smooth stone at my new predator. It hit him right between the eyes. He fell to the ground, stunned. There was now what looked like a large burn mark on his forehead. I was about to rejoice, until he ignored it and rose back to his feet. I was not sure what was going to happen, but I branished my knife in one hand and the fire axe in the other.

The maintenance man lurched toward me with surprising speed. The knife was pushed contemptuously aside, barely slowing his advance. But the fire axe chopped into his chest, where it stuck. The force of the blow staggered him a bit. He looked down at the axe with a certain perplexity, then pulled it free, the wound making a sickening sucking sound. There was no stopping this stalwart horror.

As soon as I realized that, he went forth to take me by the throat. I recoiled, tripping over the plastic container of floor wax. My butt hit the floor as the wax cascaded along the floor. The maintenance man's hand whipped by, inches from my throat. But with the wax on the floor, his gait was so jerky, that each time he took a step he fell! His persistence was impressive. I took the opportunity to withdraw, scooting myself back along the floor on a bruised hind. Screaming in frustration, he continued slipping, falling, standing, and so on. He reminded me of a badly made windup toy. Despite my fear, a laugh actually burst out of my mouth. He appeared to shorten and almost dissolve. There was a great commotion, as though he was undergoing a convulsion of some sort, and then he appeared to explode into a crowd of small squealing creatures. These, seeing me, scuttled off in the opposite direction and disappeared. Who was the maintenance man?

The next significant encounter happened just shortly after. For further down the Infinite Corridor, a faint light caught the student's attention. Bathed with fear, the student was not deterred from further investigation. The light came through the opaque window of the door to Department of Alchemy:

I knocked on the door and waited. After a moment, the door opened partway, revealing a professorial man. He was wearing a white lab coat, rather stained with chemicals, and a G.U.E. Tech class ring. It was the professor of the Department of Alchemy. I knew him by face, but could not recall his name. I only prayed that he too was not demonical possessed.

He smiled. "Good evening! I don't get many visitors this late. You're not one of my students, are you?"

After answering him, he invited me inside an office that was clinically clean, shiny, and modern. It looked like something out of a science fiction movie. An open archway lead beyond to the lab. I felt uneasy as he watched me with an ambiguously predatory air. Uncertain of what was going on, and his close locality to the strange maintenance man that I had encountered just outside in the corridor, made me hesitant to reveal any details about what was going on. Perhaps this man was behind some of it?

After speaking of a few vague topics, including Lovecraft and the missing students, the student noticed a sign up sheet on the wall:

Strangely, although few daytime segments were used, almost all of the the nighttimes ones were. Most seemed to have been taken by two different people, the professor and another, presumably one of his graduate students. With a start, I realized that the author of the suicide note that I had found hidden in the Great Dome was the heavy user of the lab. I felt my entire body begin to tremble. I began to grow heavy with suspicious and trepidation.

When he asked me what was wrong, I was coaxed into showing him the suicide note. After reading it carefully, he answered, "White drivel! This just confirms my suspicions. He had clearly gone over the edge. Drug use, drinking, insanity. It's only too bad that I didn't realize what was happening. I might have helped him."

What I inquired, the professor went on in the same manner, "Obviously a nut case. He knew he was going to flunk out, and this is clearly an attempt to put the blame somewhere else."

As the professor was lost in thought, I took the opportunity to take a long gaze into the lab behind him. But he was keen enough to notice.

"Ah! You'd like to see the lab?" the professor asked in a rather unctuous tone. "Come right in!"

He ushered me through the archway into the lab, following quickly behind you and turning on the lights. The lab was an ultramodern, fully equipped chemistry lab. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, I wasn't a chemistry major, so the equipment might as well be magical.

The professor guided me to the center of the lab, where a strange pentagonal symbol is chalked on the floor. He cut one of the chalk lines with a small knife I had not previously noticed, pushed me into the center of the chalked symbol, and redrew the line, muttering softly and rhythmically as he did so. "There, that's done. Don't move from there, it'll only make things worse for you." He made some odd gestures at the archway and then went over to the lab bench.

I sought to escape. My feet approached the chalk line, and then stopped. I couldn't push my way out. As I frantically searched for a solution, the professor prepared something at the lab bench. "Alchemy is my chosen field, and I've gotten ridiculed for it. It's like chemistry, except that chemists don't recognize that some natural laws are enforced by persons, not physics. Some of them will grant power, or knowledge, but they must be placated, or even bribed. They're not of this earth, not demons or devils, and they aren't always friendly. To me it's just an unpleasant necessity on the path to power. When I'm done, they won't laugh anymore!"

I opened my bottle of Blam and poured some of it on the ground. It spread towards the lines of the pentagram. As it reached the nearest line, it began to smoke and boil away, but never quite touched the chalk. At this point, the professor entered another pentagram, and began a highly choreographed ritual.

"This may seem a little silly to you, but the symbology is what's important. Certain alignments, certain aspects. In a few moments, it won't matter anyway," he remarked. "There is very little room for error here, so be calm."

He chanted, brandished strange instruments, moved about inside the pentagram, and occasionally pointed to you. It became clear exactly what he meant by the word "bribe."

From my pocket, I pulled out the knife that I had acquired at the altar, intending to throw it at the professor, but no part of my body could touch the chalklines. Instead, I cut the other lines of the pentagram with it. It no longer completely enclosed me. The professor saw what I'd done out of the corner of his eyes. He stared, horrified. "Stop, don't move!" he says between verses of the chant. The chant took on a pleading tone as it grew more complex, the professor having difficulty with the almost unpronounceable words, with rhythms and cadences that made me want to stop my ears. The room appeared to be getting darker. I pushed my way through a soft spot just over the scuff marks, and was outside the pentagram.

The air was thick and close. A thick black mist began to form in the room. Parts were darker, and parts lighter, and the dark parts formed a disturbing shape. The professor chanted and called more loudly now, clearly terrified of what might happen, and I realized the calls were being answered.

I ran for the archway to escape, but found it barred by a force I couldn't push through. Searching for another way to escape, my eyes went to the chemistry lab bench. It had a marble top, and casters at each corner. Various equipment littered the bench, none of which I recognized apart from a vat. Beneath the bench I could see a metal plate; only part of it was visible. Hoping that the trapdoor was not the gate of the prison of some other nightmare, I began to move it. It was heavy, but it moves, fully revealing the hinged metal trapdoor beneath.

The room was now freezing cold, though the windows were shuttered and tightly curtained. Low, bone-rattling vibrations shook the room in cadence with the chant. The black mist was growing thicker. The professor was alternately looking at me and at the mist.

The trapdoor swung open easily, revealing a metal ladder descending into darkness. The black mist swirled wildly around the room, and a deep base voice gibbered out of thin air. "No!" screamed the professor, and jumped toward me out of his own pentagram. He realized that he had done, and tried to reenter, but the mist grabbed at him. I scurried down the ladder, taking the steps two at a time. The last thing I saw before descending was a thing like a tentacle with a demonic face wrapping slowly around him.

I leapt off the ladder. From above, I heard a thunderous noise, a maniacal scream, and then the sound of equipment smashing. The trapdoor slammed shut, but around it poured a blinding flash of light. Finally I heard an almost inaudible whimper, then nothing. The light faded, leaving me in the dark.

When the student had gained enough courage to open the trapdoor and ascend back into the lab, it was found in shambles:

It looked like something red and sticky had been spread over the walls, ceiling, and floor. Much of the equipment, particularly that near the center of the room, had been destroyed. The only item of interest remaining was the large (couple of liters, at least) glass or pyrex vat. On a label affixed to the container was a longer chemical-sounding name. Below was written in pencil "Elixir of Life."

The student acquired a brass hyrax (which was found later fit upon the finger of the human hand, and probably originally belonged to the man of whose hand it was). When the student discovered that this liquid was able to revive dead things, the mummified human hand was dipped in:

The elixir began to bubble furiously. I couldn't really see the hand, except when a finger poked up every so often. The hand eventually bobbed to the surface. It was odd, but it looked like one of the fingers moved. Then the hand splashed to the surface. The fingers were moving!  The fingers flexed and grabbed at the slipper sides, but in vain. I cautiously grabbed the wiggling hand and drew it forth, newly animated, from the vat. As it emerged, the elixir flowed off. The hand scuttled up my arm and perched quietly on my shoulder. It looked perfectly normal and live, ignoring the fact that there was no arm attached to it. Although I must admit that having a hand on my shoulder was disturbing at first, it seemed to have no intention in causing me harm. And thus I was content not to mind. And over time, I noticed that it relived me of some fear and isolation that I had previously felt, especially when I further ventured into the deepest regions.

It was within these dark regions, where the student had the next encounter:

After scanning the dank surrounding, I heard in the distance, a chittering, scratching sound. It grew louder, sounding like small animals. I wondered if they were rats. The sound continued as I waited, and I knew for certain it was rats. As I proceeded down the tunnel, the rat sounds grew louder from behind me, but I still couldn't see any. I followed the tunnel until I saw a  pressure release valve on the steam pipe. Suddenly a troop of rats appeared out of the darkness from the direction where I had come.

There were more rats here than I had ever seen. These were strange. They didn't look like the usual sewer rats. There was more white in their fut, even dirty and encrusted as it was. Some were furless, and others piebald. Many of the older ones were scarred and looked particularly cunning. I caught a sharp odor over the background of damp and sewage. It was metallic, almost stinging. It was the odor of fresh blood.

The rats had been momentarily startled by my presence, but soon the bolder ones began to approach, sounding annoyed and hungry. I backed up against the steam valve. Hoping to distract them, I tossed some scraps of food. A small contingent of rats fell greedily upon it, buting and scratching, fighting desperately for it. The rest of the rats were not distracted, however. As more approached, I brought my foot down upon one of the foremost rats with a satisfying squish, but it was only one of hundred. Then they attacked! Slimy, snarling, and hungry, they swarmed over my feet, biting at my legs and clinging desperately to my feet. I kicked, throwing off a few biting at my foot and leg. These smashed squealing into the wall, but others took their places.

I struck out at the rats, but several clamped onto my hand. The pain was horrible. The rest were all the more frenzied by the drops of blood. Frantically looking for a way to escape, I saw that the opening of the steam value was pointed at the horde of rats. I attempted to turn the valve, but it was too rusty. I pulled and strained, but nothing happened. The troop of rats surged around me, scenting blood and the kill. There were rats clinging all over me, their nasty teeth biting down in a dozen places. I withdrew my crowbar and struck it hard. The valve, with a horrible scream of tortured metal, gave a little, and a small trickle of steam issued forth.

A particularly nasty rat, wise in the ways of death, made it way up my arm to my neck. For a moment it stares at me, its yellow eyes hungry. Just before it would reach my jugular, my hand turned the valve. It screeched open. A jet spray of live steam issued from it, filling the tunnel in front of me. The rats were caught in the full force of the blast. Horrible squeals could be heard from the midst of the steam cloud, and scalded rats charged past me, all interest in anything but flight forgotten. One of their number remained, dead.

I hesitantly went towards the rat. It was the one that had nearly been the death of me. A small trickle of blood had clotted around its mouth. Branded into its neck was a strange symbol. On close exmaination, this symbol appeared to have been scarred into the hide of the rat. There was no hair growing on it, and although it looked like scar tissue, the color was wrong -- a sort of purplish green. The symbol looked oddly familiar. In fact, it was the same symbol that I had seen before. The smooth stone, the altar, the human hand, and the rats were all connected in some way. I was beginning to wonder if by being the stone-bearer, that I was just another pawn in an entire scheme. Was I now an aid in the conspiracy of evil? But try as I might, I could not bring myself to part with the stone, especially considering that it had been an aid to me in fending off the beast that had trapped me on the roof.

Afterwards, the student discovered that the coaxial cables were not what they seemed:

The cable ran overhead in a fat bundle. It looked like the kind I had seen connecting nodes of the local net. This clump was pretty grotty looking, festooned with damp cobwebs, and stained with something that dripped from the ceiling. Something was different, almost alive. I was without doubt that it could be anything but the appendage of some strange creature. I began to sever the cables with the cutters. The inner cables looked different, sort of dead white and slimy. Then I noticed that the cables I had cut were knitting back together. After several more attempts, I realized that there was nothing that I could do.

Descending even deeper, the student found the missing urchins:

The tunnel I came through continued down, barely large enough to enter. It was made of sticky gelatinous mud that had been pushed by something into a semblance of a passage. Descending further, I came to a wide spot in the tunnel, just as wet and muddy as elsewhere. The walls were slimy as well. Numerous slots or indentations about two feet wide and a foot high opened here and there. These narrow burrows were apparently dug by hand out of the mud of the chamber walls. Thin, wire or ropelike growths emerged from a hole further down and entered most of the slots. There was background noise here, almost loud enough to hear clearly. A small, furtive motion attracted my attention to the slots. I began to be quite certain that there was something moving inside the slot I looked at. In fact, there was motion in almost all of them.

Slowly, painfully, things emerged from the slots. They were pale, thin creatures with red mouths and staring eyes. Their clothes were muddy and tattered. They were barefoot in midwinter, and covered with mud. Mold grew in their hair and wirelike streamers (like those I'd been noticing in this area) wrapped their heads and joined a bundle on the floor. Although their eyes were open, they stared catatonically. I realized that these were urchins. They were saying or chanting something repetitive and monotonal, almost machinelike. As I listened more carefully, the noise resolved itself into voices. They were chanting, but the words were unknown to me. The deep-voiced, incomprehensible chant, which they made without moving their lips, never stopped. It resonated deep within their chests. When I spoke to them, they turned to me in unison. They smiled, revealing red, broken teeth.

As they closed in, tried to retreat further down the tunnel, but they lurched, almost as one, into my way, grabbing at me feebly but effectively. I felt their flesh. It was cold and dead. Their pale, limp hands couldn't grab me, but they were able to stop me. There was no way past.

The wires were thin, fibrous, ropy growths. They looked very tough. Seeking to free these urchins, I decided to cut them free by severing the wire. My axe only succeeded in driving the wire into the mud, but then I tried the bolt cutters. I strained and pushed the two handles of the cutters together with all my strength. At first it looked like nothing would happen, but then, with a loud stick, the jaws cut the wire! The wire, as though under tension, rapidly began to curl up, disappearing down the tunnel and away. The effect on the urchins was electric (perhaps literally). They twitched, jerked spasmodically, and fell to the ground almost in unison. They had lost all interest in me.

As I went towards the downward passage, I found something blocking it. It was moving, slowly and painfully, trying to climb up...

Unfortunately, this document is missing a leaf here, and the account of this creature is no longer extant. Instead, the account resumes with the student being lost in narrow, west tunnels burrowing through the mud. It was then that the student decided to place the brass hyrax upon the human hand. It guided the student deeper in the tunnels, by pointing its mutilated ring finger in the appropriate director.

I trusted the guidance of the hand until I finally stood before a curtain of moldy phosphorescent slime that covered the entire south wall. There was something about the slime that made it appear unhealthy, as though the influences here were so bad for anything living. As if convicted from an unseen force, I could not bring myself to touch the slime. But I knew that my destination lay beyond. Hesitantly, I pulled out the empty bottle of Blam, touching the slimy curtain with the bottle cap. Immediately some of the slime attacked, flowing almost intelligently onto it. I quickly tossed the bottle behind me.

After some debating and reasoning, the student hesitantly decided to pour a flask of liquid which had been gathered from elsewhere on campus. Writing further:

The liquid splashed onto the curtain, and a cold mist filled the room. The slime began to freeze. Nearly the entire curtain solidified, shattered, and dropped to the ground, revealing an ancient woode door. Suspiciously checking my surroundings, and testing the door with other objects which I carried, I unlocked the door with one of the keys which I carried. When I detected no immediate consequences, I boldly opened the door and stepped into a place which I can only call "The Inner Lair."

The floor here was a stagnant, slime infested pool of water. It felt to be about six inches deep, though it was difficult to tell through my booted feet. Ropes or wires tumbled down the slope, where they entered a large whitish mass which took up much of the chamber. The noise was loud here, and came from the mass, which undulated in synchrony with the noise. Wan, sourceless light illuminated the chamber. Suddenly, the hand leapt from my shoulder into the slime-encrusted puddle. It dove beneath the water. But at first, my eyes were instead drawn to the whitish mass.

It was strangely, even wrongly shaped. It was hard to get a fix on what was wrong with it, but it didn't look like it could or should have existed in any sane universe. It quivered and bubbled as though air were pumping through it. Many wires, tentacles, and combinations of the two entered the mass from all sides, making it almost fuzzy in appearance. I listened closely to the sounds, which were loud and at first seemed random. The more I listened, the more I sensed a strange regularity to them. I got impressions, one after another, of electronic music, a simple sine wave pattern, and telephone crosstalk. They were all overlaid with speech, or something like speech, nearer random babbling, or many people talking at once. I couldn't understand any of it, but it was so near intelligibility that I felt that if I moved closer, I just might get it. I subconsciously approached the mass, but was rendered from my path of insanity by the sound of the hand as it repeatedly dove and bobbed to the surface in one part of the pool near my feet which was slightly deeper. There seemed to be something in it, but I could not see a thing, as the water was foul and murky. As the hand was not consumed by any slime, as my object hand been when touching the curtain, I trusted that the water would cause me no harm. Reaching into the pool, which felt cold and unpleasant even through my electrician gloves, I rooted around blindly in the gooey, sliming water. I felt something thick and slippery! A tentacle? No, it was cold and dead. It seemed to be a line of some kind, just below the surface. I pulled a length of the line out of the water. It was like holding a large, heavy snake. Now I could see that it was a thick, hard cable. It reminded me of a high voltage power line.

I looked around for where this line might attach. All I found was a metal box set on the wall, incongruous in its surroundings. This apparently standard coax appeared almost spontaneously from high in the wall, and entered into one side of the box where it disappeared from sight. On the other side of the box, a cablelike appendage emerged from the box to the mass in the end of the cave. The cable twitched periodically. I knew this was how the creature was controlling those on the campus.

I released the cable and went forth more closely examine the box. There was a small metal cover with simple finger screws to hold it on. I removed the cover, revealing a plethora of electronic innards. Most prominent were a socket into which the coaxial cable was plugged, and a connector into which the glistening cablelike appendage disappeared. The appendage and its socket blended together indistinguishably. I knew what I had to do.

Returning to the power line, I tried to cut the wire with the jaws of the bolt cutter, but they would not open far enough to fit around the line. Frustrated, I decided to try the axe. Striking the line, I make a deep gash in the insulation. My second blow cut through more insulation and into the conductors. With the third strike, the line parted. The two ends began to sink towards the water as they straightened out. The exposed ends of the high voltage line dropped into the water! Sparks and bubbled burst from the electrified water. I thanked God that I had been wearing both the boots and the gloves.

Dragging the line with me towards the socket, I heard noises from outside the door. Then I heard a stumbling noise behind me. I turned and saw the hacker staggering into the cavern. The hacker stared at me, shocked. "It's you! When I gave you my key, I never suspected you'd get this far!"

The hacker stared at the thing in the cave. "I got very suspicious about your problems with the net. I began to trace some coax, found some repeaters and bridges that weren't on the layout charts, and started following them. Anyway, here I am. That thing there, whatever it is, and those wires, are interfaced to the whole campus net. And that means it's tied into all the nets, commercial, government, even military, potentially." He paused a moment. "I guess I better do something. It could be a serious compromise of system integrity if this thing isn't dealt with."

He peered at the mass, as if evaluating it. He then reached into a pocket and pulled out a small pair of wire strippers. The hacker advanced on the mass, apparently planning to cut some of the wires leading into it. As he approached it, the sound stopped completely, and the wires began a frantic, looping, twining dance. The mass began to flow towards the hacker almost as quickly as he walked toward it. They reached each other and began to merge together. He screamed; a long, ululating cry that echoed through the cavern. Then he was engulfed.

The mass was bulging, vibrating, and rippling. It continued for several moments until a huge tear began to form near where the hacker was absorbed. All the time, I quickly proceeded to remove the coaxial cable from its socket within the metal box.

Suddenly, the hacker pulled himself out of the side of the mass. As he did, I thought I could see many pairs of eyes appear briefly in the semitransparent mass, watching curiously. Wires and tentacles trailed from his body, and tiny, almost rat-like creatures clung to his body everywhere, crawling about like ants. He walked slowly, jerkily towards me. "Be one!" he said, haltingly but fervently. He was vacant-eyed and dangerous.

As I struggled to insert the wire into the socket, the hacker grabbed for me. "Join us! Serve the master!" he croaked.

Some of the creatures leapt onto me, biting at exposed skin. With all my strength, I shoved the exposed conductors into the socket, producing a shower of sparks! I was tossed back and shielded my face with my gloved hands.

I watched as the tentacle connected to the other socket began to jerk and twitch spasmodically. The mass it was connected to quivered, and a horrible noise, almost like a huge machine running without oil, issued from the thing. The mass began to change shape, compacting, darkening. I could briefly see human outlines within the gray, gelatinous mass. They surrounded something larger, of a shape not human, not animal, like nothing I've seen before. The hacker screamed soundlessly and dropped into the water.

The gelatinous mass solidified and compacted, leaving behind a litter of smoking debris. In the debris squatted a being. Huge, misshapen, it stared at me with baleful yellow eyes. Its scaly wings beat slowly, driving a fetid stench through the stale air of the cavern. A barbed tongue slid across its broken, daggerlike fangs. The smooth stone vibrated. It started to feel warm. This being was not from any wholesome place. It was the stuff of nightmares! It was the thing that waits in the dark, the thing that scratches at your windows late at night. It is not death, for next to this, death is a friend to be cherished.

I tossed the empty flask at the creature, but it defiantly shrugged off my puny attack. In reprisal, it tensed, preparing to leap. Its mouth opened, revealing not the glistening interior, but a dead-black outline like a hole into nothingness. The smooth stone I held was now glowing with a bright-red heat that nevertheless failed to burn me.

Without hesitation, I tossed the stone at the terror. It smashed into the creature, sticking to its ichorous hide. The thing thrashed about, trying to bite at the stone, which was glowing brighter and brighter. Small hands issued from beneath its scales to tug in vain at the irritant. The creature began to show gaping holes of dark, light-devouring nothingness around the stone. Its wings spread painfully, as though it were trying to fly away, and then fold. It widened its jaw in an almost human scream of agony. The black hole of its maw overwhelmed it, and indeed the creature appeared to be swallowing itself. At last, a gray cloud of greasy smoke surrounded the glowing stone, still suspended in midair. Then even that vanished, and the stone dropped to the ground, no longer glowing. The thing was gone.

The stone sat on a hummock of mud. From here it appeared to have a long jagged crack that almost broke it in half. As I picked it up, I felt it bump to one side. Then, as I was holding it in my hand, something pushed its way out through the crack, breaking the stone into two pieces. Something small, pale, and damp blinked its watery eyes at me. It hissed, gaining strength, and spread membranous wings. It took to the air, at first clumsily, then with increased assurance, and disappeared into the gloom. One eerie cry drifted back to where I stood.

Something rose out of the mud, slowly straightening. The hacker, mud-covered and weak, staggered to his feet. "Can I have my key back?" he asked.

Here the mysterious account of the Lurking Horror of G.U.E. Tech breaks-off. The final sheets of paper are non-extant, leaving the conclusion and what follows only to be pondered and debated.

SOURCE(S): The Lurking Horror