by Mark Allen Berryhill
A creepy cult, a gargantuan cave, a maelstrom churning in abyssal waters, and you’re there right by my side. The adventure getting here really was something, with all the intrigue and waking nightmares and that orgy that won’t sound nearly as awkward when you’re bragging about it at parties as it really was.
Old Man Cultist led us down here, he has no idea how much we made fun of him behind his back along the way.
“Are you afraid?” He asks. We never decided if his ceremonial robes were completely badass or totally lame.
“Not existentially,” I say.
“I kind of don’t want to be eaten,” you chime in and press yourself to the back of the cavern.
“The sleeper will arise and for a brief—”
“Dude, I know how it works.”
Old Man Cultist clears his throat and says, “His ancient dreams have brought you here. Behold!”
Fuck that, I made this happen.
The elder god Cthulhu rises from the pit. I feel bad wasting space describing this. We’ve all read the stories. He’s big—bigger than you can imagine. Like, your brain isn’t physically capable of imagining this shit.
You don’t want to miss this, but you fear for your sanity.
“It’s cool, you can watch,” I say.
We’ve been over this. The extra dimensions in extra-dimensional are just directions you can’t physically point to. It is all very disorienting. Humans didn’t evolve to deal with non-Euclidian geometries, so it can be hard to wrap your head around it. Don’t worry, you read all those fun books on string theory, so you should be prepared. Ancient peoples would have probably flipped their shit if they knew what my smart phone could do. I don’t go mad, and you don’t go mad, but the nausea isn’t fun.
The elder god towers above us, slimy and nasty, stinking up the room. Fractal distortions hang about him in the air, scattering strange un-light around the cavern.
I brace myself for it, that direct psychic contact. His eyes snap open and the next thing I know I am on my knees. Fucking vertigo got to me. At some point during my heart to heart with the elder god I puked down the front of my shirt.
Cthulhu sighs and looks at his hands. Things get uncomfortable for a moment. I feel bad. He closes his eyes and sinks back into the abyss. Just before his head disappears beneath the swirling waters the elder god snatches Old Man Cultist and stuffs him in his tentacled maw. I have no idea why, I guess that’s just what usually happens.
My shirt is gross so I pull it off, wipe myself down, and then toss it into the water. It goes round and round before being sucked into wherever elder gods live when they aren’t invading other realities.
You grill me during the walk out of that non-Euclidian subterranean labyrinth.
“You wrote yourself into the scene? That is so annoying.”
“It’s only annoying when it sucks.”
“I know, it’s just that I just always wanted to do that.”
“Face down an elder god?”
We’re out of the caves and into the temple. Sometimes we see cultists going around doing cultist things—sweeping, replacing torches, dusting the bas reliefs that clutter practically every wall. The weird geometry isn’t as bad now, but there are still stairwells and hallways where it’s better to just close your eyes and soldier on. Don’t think about it, just put one foot in front of the other.
“So, fan fiction?”
“What? No,” I shrug. “It’s all fan fiction.”
“I guess,” you say, then make that face. “Ugh. That sounds like bullshit.”
“It sounded good in my head.”
“I doubt it.”
The cultists get a little crazy on the upper levels. They come at us with clubs, and daggers, and dangerous incantations. There are too many to wade through, but I’m the protagonist—I do what I want. A bit of action stealth and we have robes of our own.
“You shouldn’t make people imagine you without a shirt.”
“So,” you say, whispering so we don’t blow our cover, “what did you tell him?”
“That’s between me and the elder god.”
“I didn’t really think about it.”
“Bullshit, you’re just lazy.”
“I’m fucking mysterious.”
“Well, it doesn’t really matter.”
“I had a speech planned, but it seemed corny. What could you tell something as iconic as Cthulhu that would depress the shit out of him?”
“That he’s imaginary?”
“Oh shit, that’s good. That’s what I told him.”
“You look good in that robe. Completely badass.”
Is that a smile? Maybe.
The front for the temple is a video rental store. We emerge from a hatch in the cult horror section. The sun rises just above the horizon—of course it does—while dust motes hang frozen within hard shafts of morning light.
“This place is an anachronism,” you say. “How long do you think they can keep this place open without arousing suspicion?”
“Who knows?” I hold the door open for you. You sneeze in the sunlight.
“You smell terrible. What now?”
“Let’s get some grease in us,” I say, “maybe put a gallon of wine in our heads and see what kind of literary trouble we can get ourselves into.”
You sigh or laugh, or both, but you don’t say no.
Mark Allen Berryhill would write himself into The Bible if given the chance. You can read his stuff right now at The Strange Edge and in the anthologies Apoc Donk from Dynatox Ministries and 50 Secret Tales of the Whispering Gash: Queefrotica. You can be his real-life friend by going to and friending him at http://facebook.com/kingmab.