THE LURKING HORROR
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
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
mostly succeed. Though as a consequence of that person's actions, an
hatched and a mysterious creature flew out of it, vanishing into the
there is no indication that the creature that came from the egg will be
better for humanity ultimately, we can only hope that whatever
of the egg is not as immediate a danger as the other monstrosities.
TECHNICAL INFORMATION (EXTANT
SOURCES / DATING)
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
early 15th century) within the student's journal.
this dormancy of arcane arts, the mention of the automobile, and its
parallels with the Morphius incident, most of those few historians
dare to include this account as reliable history, have suspected that
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
early 1600s around the proximity of the unearthing of the Cluster
BACKGROUND: THE MISSING
STUDENTS & THE GRADUATE STUDENT
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 article.is 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:
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
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."
the conclusion is correct that this was the alchemy
professor's graduate student who used the lab, many scholars
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.
are many mysterious surrounding the origins and intentions
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 UNKNOWN STUDENT
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
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"
"visitor". A poem with its translation
was found, accompanied by woodcut illustrations which were queasily
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?)
viewing a photograph of something that possibly resembled a mouth with
something in it, darkness overcame the student, drawing
fiendish world full of unimaginable horrors:
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
One of the first unusual discoveries was an altar in a renovated cave
attached to other tunnels:
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.
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
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
The plate was iron, about two feet square,
and looked like it could be slid open. A curious feature of
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
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
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.
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:
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 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
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.
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
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.
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.
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:
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
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.
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:
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
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:
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
After trying to unplug the machine to no avail, the student decided to
use a nearby axe to sever the power cord.
whine of the floor waxer slowed, and the maintenance man jerked to
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
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:
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:
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
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
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:
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
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
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
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.
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,
front of me. The rats were caught in the full force of the
squeals could be heard from the midst of the steam cloud, and scalded
past me, all interest in anything but flight forgotten. One of their
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
Afterwards, the student discovered that the coaxial cables were not
what they seemed:
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
Descending even deeper, the student found the missing urchins:
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
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.
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.
some debating and reasoning, the student hesitantly decided to pour a
flask of liquid which had been gathered from elsewhere on campus.
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
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
puddle. It dove beneath the water. But at first, my eyes were instead
drawn to the whitish mass.
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
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
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.
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
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!"
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.
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
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.
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.
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
only to be pondered and debated.