Miskatonic prof tortured by dreams of cyclopean ruins
|The Tower of Noth
My name is Prof Johnathan Black, I am, or more properly was a professor of ancient cultures at the Miskatonic University in Arkham MA. Well established in my field and well respected by my peers. I had studied the languages and customs of hundreds of races, from the Egyptians to the Mayans, and many vastly older. I have poured over ancient tomes and grimoires from Von Junst Nameless Cults, to The Aquatarie Codex witch supposedly was written by the Atlanteans, and I have even delved into the pages of the infamous Necronomicon of the mad Arab Abdul Alhazared, of witch the University still holds an original copy. Prior to my reading of this accursed book, I had thoughtlessly made some joke of switching the book to audio or perhaps digital. Once I had read it however, I realized there was nothing humorous about this book, and it was nothing to be made sport of.
At first, I thought it was the reading of these books of arcane and forgotten lore that had started the dreams, but I was soon to learn that what had begun haunting my sleep was of a far deeper and sinister nature. Looking back, I wish I had never gone looking for the truth. It began in the spring of 2006, random nights of waking up in a cold sweat. Visions of dark cyclopean ruins still dancing in my mind. Though I could never quite remember the details of exactly what I had seen. I marked it up to stress from work, possibly a bad diet as well. Being a collage professor is a fine line of work, but it makes for a busy lifestyle, making one easily forget the little things. Like eating properly. As I considered the matter further I resolved that these things, coupled with my researches and too much coffee must be the problem. But I couldn’t have been further from the truth.
It was shortly before the school year came to a close that I got my first real look at the horror behind my restless nights. A moment that will be forever etched in my mind. It was a Friday night and I was finishing up a paper on my computer. I had poured my self a scotch to help me unwind from the long week. I must have dozed off at my desk at some point for I was suddenly aware that I was not in my office anymore. A foul wind whipped past me as a stared in awe and horror at the ruined ancient scene before me. Dust moved along dark stoned streets of witch I was certain no human hand had made nor feet had tread. The stone was dark, not quite onyx but still deep and seem to have veins of glowing green running throughout them. Tattered structures of unbelievable size and cut of the same stone dominated the area around me. Each structure strange beyond words and faintly glowing with the veins of green light. I moved in slow circles trying to take in all that my eyes and mind could handle. The devastation of the great city was immense and I shuddered to think what could have lain waste to a city of this magnitude. My gaze turned upward to a starless sky dominated by what look to be a black sun. An enormous black disk wreathed in red flames. It looked almost like a giant eye looking down over the devastation. Something on the horizon drew my attention and I spun around quickly. It was the only structure showing no signs of ruin in all the city. A massive tower rising up like a great black splinter shoved up out of the ground. As I stared at the tower I felt as though something was drawing me toward it. It began as a suggestion in the back of my mind and quickly grew to a compulsion. Soon there was little I could do to stop the pull of the tower, like gravity drawing me in...
I started awake in my chair, knocking my glass to the floor with a loud crash. I stood looking panic stricken around my office as I tried to bring my breathing back under control. Cold sweat dripped off my face even as I wiped at it. It was like the other nights, but this time I could remember. I remembered the ruined city with its stones of darkness with green glowing veins. Remembered the ominous dark sun over head in the starless sky, and the tower that had nearly sucked me in. I sat back in my chair still shaking and tried to wrap my mind around what I had seen. In the forefront I was sure it had been a dream, but I could not ignore the reality of it all. The smell of the foul air as it swept over the ruins, the sound and feel of the stone crunching under my shoes. And the terror, the terror had been very real...
The last weeks of school passed by, I gave my lectures and passed out final assignments. All the while trying to keep the thoughts of the ruined city out of my head. Try as I might though I found it increasingly difficult to concentrate, and when I didn’t have work to keep me busy, the images were impossible to ignore. The dreams had not subsided, in fact, they come almost every night now and are always the same. Towering stone ruins, a starless sky and a black sun, and the tower rising like a misshapen monolith on the horizon. I awaken each time as the tower begins to draw me in and I resist with all my strength. For though no obvious threat is in evidence the dreams terrify me.
I have been to a specialist who works with patients suffering from debilitating nightmares. He has recommended some techniques to help me control the dreams. “For” as he says, “if you can control the dreams, they will lose there power over you.” I prey he is right, but in the back of my mind I fear that it will not be that simple. He believes the dreams are brought on by stress and perhaps some hidden reservoir of creativity that is straining to be free. He recommend keeping a chronicle of my dreams so that I may look over what I have seen and perhaps piece together some details I don’t notice when awaking in terror. The idea doesn’t exactly sit well with me but I purchase a notebook anyway and leave it by my bed side. Iv made a few notes and doodles in it, just to make an effort, but it doesn’t alleviate the anxiety.
On the final day of school I find myself in the library, immersed in books on dream interpretation. They are of little use as they are frustratingly generic, telling in great detail what a ruined city represents and what a tower represents, but nothing more. With great reluctance I delve once more into the pages of the Necronomicon. It speaks in detail of Cthuhu and Dagon and the sunken city of Rlyeh, of Yoggoth and even of the nameless cities, but none match the descriptions of what I have seen, I sit for a long while in the quiet of the library, considering many things. Is it possible that my studies in arcane knowledge have pushed me to this, have I absorbed more then is safe of the dark side of our world. Looking at the closed cover of the Necronomicon, I cant help but think, am I to be driven as mad as Alhazered himself? I shook my head, this line of thinking was neither helpful nor comforting and I resolved that, If I was sane enough to consider the possibility of my insanity, then I was still safe, at least for now.
My thoughts suddenly crystallized and all came into focus, if I was to ultimately fall to madness then I would not fall without a fight. With that thought, I began to plan my strategy out that evening, I was determined now. Being tormented by these dreams for months with no answers, not even clues to set me on the right path. Perhaps it was desperation or perhaps something had finally snapped in my head. All I knew was someone or worse something was playing games with me and I was determined to bring it to an end.
I lie in bed, the room in darkness save for candles I had lit on the nightstand for relaxing effect, the doctor says it helps, and the note book I purchased to record what I see when I awake. Concentrating on my breathing and trying to keep my mind as clear as possible. My eyes still open for the moment as I watch the candle flames reflection dance along the ceiling. With each slow and steady breath I let the world around me slip away, and then it happens...
I didn’t actually feel the change, one moment I was in my room staring at my ceiling and the next I was somewhere else. I looked around and the desolated cityscape, if truly that was what it was, for I was more certain no human had made these buildings, never mind lived in them. As I look closer at the dark stone work with its veins of glowing green I realize that I have something in my hand this time. I look to find the notebook I had lain on my nightstand
before I went to sleep. It was solid and real, as was the pen that I had also placed beside it. My study of dreams had left me with many new ideas about what objects represent in the dream world but I must confess that I was ignorant of what the notebook could mean. But being the practical man I like to think I am, I took it for what it was and started to keep notes.
As I move along the strange stone streets I become increasingly sure that nothing of my world had any validity here, for this place had not been crafted by any human nor sane hand. Crumbling walkways the were clearly never tread by the foot of man. Buildings that look as though they were meant to hold something the size of a humpback whale rather then something of my meager form. As I continue I began to notice the sensations of the dream were becoming disturbingly more solid. The feel of the wind on my face and its unpleasant smell. The impact of my feet on the uneven ground. I note these in my book hoping that it will aide my ability to recall things when I awake. The smell I note has an odd quality to it. Its is appalling, as though something were in the process of dissolving something made of meat. I found these sensations fairly unsettling, for I could not recall in any of the books I had read, any experiences of dreamers being so detailed. One case came to mind, that of a Mr Carter, though there were also notes of his questionable sanity.
Remembering my previous experience I turned my gaze upward and stared in shock and horror at the purplish sky and the black sun that dominated it. I quickly realized however that it was not a sun, not a sun at all. The outer edged burned with the fires of hell but the were swallowed up by the darkness of the center. All at once I knew full well what this great beast was. I could not be mistaken, for it could only be the maw of an enormous black hole. No doubt the star of this bizarre world had at some point collapsed in on its self and this was the resulting devastation. As I continue down the path, the wind and stirring dust gave the impression of things moving in the desolated ruins adding to my unease. I note as much in my book. Directly below the spiraling void the tower pierces the horizon. I have not yet felt the pulling force that has assailed me on so many other visits. Perhaps because my goal is to reach the tower this time, the force has no need to compel me.
As I continue I make some notes and sketches of the ruins, of the glowing green veins the move through the stonework, of the starless purple sky and spiraling nothingness overhead. Of the tower witch draws inevitably closer. Though I can not say why, I am almost sure that despite all this devastation and emptiness, something is in that tower, something alive.
Weather within minutes, hours, or days, I cannot say, but I finally reached the bridge at the base of the tower. It sat on a small stone island on an ocean of tar. That is the only word I have to describe the dark oozing undulating substance that surrounded the island and stretched out behind it. A bridge of the dark stone stretched from the ruined city to the towers base and though my heart pounded in my chest and my instincts told me to turn and run, I found myself step by step moving forward. I made further notes in my book of the ocean of sludge and found my mind forming images of what kind of creature would live in an ocean such as this.
Finally I came to the base of the tower and stared up in awe. It was enormous, seeing it on the edge of the ruins, even from across the bridge was nothing compared to standing right next to it. The tower, like the ruins was made of the black stone, but were the stones before were lined with strange glowing veins moving through it, this stone had none. There were marking carved into this stone. Strange symbols that I have never seen duplicated in any culture nor text. They were alien, that is the only way I could describe them. I took several moments to make copies of the symbols in my book, though I knew the chances of ever finding a base to translate them was insane at best. I made crude sketches of the tower as I remembered it from the ruins but my doodles did little to capture its true essence. I can only describe it as a thorn, thrust up out of the ground at a slight angle.
Closing my notebook and taking a deep breath I looked at the center of the towers base. Directly in front of the bridge was, what I could only assume was a door. It was a depressed a few inches from the outer wall and seem to have a basic, if not properly angled, square shape to it. There were a set of the strange runes etched on the door. A title I would guess, perhaps a notice, or even a warning. I traced a finger along the symbols and all at once a unknown voice thunders in my head, “Noth” The word echoed in my head so deeply at first that I felt as though I would pass out from the shock. I’m not sure how long I stood there trying to compose myself, but finally the last echoes of the word faded and I brought myself under control. Slowly, though I do not know what possessed my to do so, I moved my hand along the etching again and all at once the word sounded in my mind again, though it was more manageable this time. Looking back to the marking on the outer wall I ran my hand along them and was instantly flooded with disjointed words and phrases. It was amazing, as near as I could tell, a type of psychic lettering, unreadable to the eye, but readable by contact. A sort of psychic braille it would seem. I made note of this in my book and of the words I could make out. Unfortunately I had no way of reading it all. The runes seem to cover the entire surface of the tower all the way to the top. A top I could never hope to reach.
I turned my attention back to the misshapen door. There was no knob of latch, no visible means of opening it. I traced my hand across the lettering again and listed to the word echo through my mind. After a few tries I leaned closer to the door. “Noth!”
No sooner had the word left my mouth when a rumbling started all around me. I had though to use the word as a means of gaining entrance but could not help but wonder if I had discovered some ancient self destruct program. The rumbling continued for uncounted minutes, but finally began to subside. Then the depression that I had taken for a doorway began to slide open. But it did not slide up, nor down, not sideways, nor forward or back. In all honesty I can not name the direction it moved and it made me dizzy to watch it. Even to this day the memory of that doors disappearance makes me uneasy. When the door had departed the new opening showed only a dull green light, not unlike the glowing veins of the ruins. Taking a steadying breath and clutching my notebook tight, I stepped inside.
The small tunnel lead to an immense chamber, pulsing with the green glowing veins. This allowed enough illumination to make out the basic details of the chamber. Not that there was much to be seen mind you. The chamber was mainly empty save for what looked like a stone pedestal or podium at one side and a raised dais in its center. There was a mound of something atop the dais but I could not make out its details. Making a few quick entries in my notebook I slowly moved further into the chamber. I had taken only a few steps when a sound stopped my short. A metallic scrapping sound, like chains rustling brought my gaze back to the dais. The mound had begun moving, undulating slowly as of something waking from a nap. It raised its self up with a sliding, slurping sound that made me sick to hear. And as it turned in my direction I all but fell to my knees in horror.
It could have been no less then ten feet from base to top. Two muscular appendages protruded from what I could only guess were its shoulders. It had no legs but a long tail, more like a worm or grub then a snake. There was no head to speak of, only a mass of writhing tentacles where its head should be. They wriggled around like worms in soil and I felt my gorge rise as I looked. The things arms were chained to the dais but it did not seem to be straining against the. My mouth agape, I struggled to calm myself while also trying to keep my legs from giving out. A loud vibrating buzz seem come from the creatures tentacles and all at once I could hear a voice in my head. “For great eons the Tower of Noth has stood here. On the edge of the lord of chaos’s realm. Here that witch should not be known is recorded.” I gaped stupidly trying to take in what I had just heard, its voice was like the droning of thousands of insects. The creature seem to sit there facing me, though with no actual head I could not be certain. I struggled to make my mouth work and finally managed to fumble out, “w...who are you” The buzzing noise started again as it replied, “I am the guardian of the tower. I was bound here untold ages ago by the lord of chaos, charged with keeping the secrets of the tower from all, but I betray him. Sending my song out amongst the stars for those with the power to hear it. Now you have come, though I am amazed to see one of your species. Of your kind much is known but of your kind none have reached this place, none have reached the mental level to find this world. To be alive but find a world beyond that of the living, to be dead but dreaming.”
My mind whirled and I found my anger growing inside me, “You lie, I am not dead!” I shouted it before I had time to think about it. “Not dead as you understand the concept,” it said, “a state of being in witch the other realms including that of the dead are made available to you.” Before I could say more it gestured to the pedestal on the far wall of the room. “All the answers lie in there, open it and receive the knowledge witch few have glimpsed and fewer still have understood. For the book of Noth tells of times out of all living memory, but be warned, once it is open it cannot be closed, what is to be learned cannot be unlearned. Inside is the knowledge beyond the shadows and the mists. The secrets of the great old ones and those who came after them. That is, should your mind be strong enough.”
I hesitated as I looked at the pedestal, so unremarkable yet so ominous. I made my way slowly to the the book. “Wait,” I said turning back to the guardian, “how is it all this knowledge is within a simple book?” In my mind I heard what sound like laughter, “the book,” it said, “is only a construct for something much greater, beyond your level of comprehension. It appears to you as a symbol of knowledge”
At the time I wasn’t completely sure what it meant, and at the time, I foolishly believed this all to be still a dream. The strange thing about dreams, there’s always a point where you know your dreaming, and there for the terror seems to drain away. Perhaps it was my own way of working up the courage to open the book, but some how I convinced myself that I was indeed dreaming, and that nothing could harm me. So...I opened the book.
I’m sure I screamed several times in the next few moments, I cannot rightly be sure, nor can I say how long all of this took in retrospective. Upon opening the book a blinding flash took me and I felt as if I was no longer solid. As though I had left my body behind and was moveing freely among the stars. For a few moments it was pleasant enough, but then things began to appear before me. Information began to flood into my head at an alarming and painful level. I saw worlds form, age, and die in moments. I saw the universe, but not the one we know, age over uncountable trillions of eons, I saw it all swallowed by massive black holes then saw them devour each other till there was nothing. Then with a massive explosion it began all over again. This happen several time and each time I could see the way things developed on different worlds, places beyond imagination and beings beyond comprehension.
Finally I saw the beginning of the universe that I knew, though I am not sure how I knew it right then, and in one small corner of the forming universe I saw my home world begin to form. I watched over centuries as cosmic debris came together forming the planets that I had known all my life, and a few that were not known. I also saw great things move in the vacuum of space as though creatures swimming in an ocean. Saw what look to be a massive battle between strange formless shapes and what I almost took for an enormous starfish. The battle ended with the starfish thing becoming trapped within the gravity well of the still forming Jupiter. A planet I would surely never look at the same way again. As the planets began to cool and harden I saw things from out of the blackness of space descend on what would be Earth, and all at once I saw the horrid truth of my world. Creatures, intruders of indescribable hideousness moving about the primordial earth. They conducted some sort of strange experiments, manipulating the young planet and the primordial soup that would give birth to its future inhabitants. They infused the soup with strange energies, forcing evolution forward by billions of year to see what forms may spawn from this simple ooze. Then they began to alter these forms, reworking cells and infusing them with a bizarre element to create horrid apparitions, some even more disturbing then intruders themselves.
When they had created something curious they would let it loose into the newly formed oceans, to see how it would function. I saw the birth of monsters and creatures that were beyond monsters. Then I saw there master experiment, for the element they had used would be infused into Earth itself. I don’t know what name they gave to it for they used no language any human could understand, but given what I saw them do with it, what I saw them give birth to with it I had only one name for it. An element yet undiscovered by humans, they soaked it into everything that made up my world. An element of pure anarchy, a Chaos Element.
Having used it to give birth to nightmares I could not even conceive what it would give rise to in the centuries to come. From what I had seen of their manipulations it was likely man itself was spawned from it. In fact, some of the mutations they created from there horrid manipulations bore a disturbing resemblance to human kind.
And as if tuned to my very thoughts the vision showed me the passage of time after the intruders coming. I saw the great monstrosities that they had spawned evolve and give way to new creatures, and the process of life on earth continued down the eons. The information flooding into my brain was maddening and I felt my sanity slipping away. It was to much, to many unknowns and unknowable’s, to many truths that man was not meant to know. Inside my own head I screamed and screamed, unable to cope with what I was seeing, and no matter how much I tried to deny it all, there was no doubt in my mind it was the truth. This horrid secret history that would snap the mind of anyone who knew of it, was the cold and unwavering truth...
I woke in my bed with a scream that echoed though out the whole house. My body and bed were soaked in sweat and my breath came fast and painful. Its was some time before my eyes would focus properly and longer still before I could move myself to sit up properly. When at last my body would cooperate with my wishes I looked around my room. All was as it had been when I lay down to sleep. Looking to the clock on my nightstand it read 3:13am. And confirming the date it would seem that I had only been asleep for a few hours. I began to bring myself under control, and then remembered the notebook sitting on my nightstand. It looked untouched and unmoved, but my hands shook as I reached for it. Taking it in my hands and bringing it to my lap I kept telling myself it was only a dream. When I opened the book though, my comfortable illusion was shattered, and indeed, perhaps a part of me crumbled with it.
Page after page of the notebook was filled with writings and sketch work. The ruins, the tower, the guardian and the book, the other worlds I saw and the constant recreation of the universe. The creatures that did battle in the space above Earth and the ones that descended upon it to do unspeakable things. As each page flew by I felt my grip on reality letting go, it was real, it was all real. It was no persistent dream that haunted me. I remember little else of that night, save that I am sure I wept and eventually slipped into a silent trance like state.
In spite of all that I now know, I feel a strange pride, for I did not loose myself to insanity nor to depression. Over the next few days I transferred what I had written down in the simple notebook to a sturdier, hardcover version. I shuddered in places as I remember what I had seen. Amusingly I wonder if this is how the mad Arab felt when he gave birth to the Necronomicon? Though many would say he was mad, I can not help but wonder, was he indeed mad. Is knowing the truth madness, or dose it simply put one in a different state of mind then the rest of the world? I know that I will likely never be able to show anyone the book that I have been working on. Nor will I ever be able to tell anyone the truth of what I now know, for they would sure dub me insane. Iv seen to many movies and TV programs not to know how this will go. I can not however ignore what I have seen, and what I now know either.
I submitted my resignation to the university about mid summer, claiming that, due to strain and health issues, I would be unable to fulfill my function as a professor. Having a sizable family inheritance and having well invested my fund through the years, I am not worried about my financial situation. As such I have begun purchasing equipment and mapping out routs to far away places. I mean to dig up some physical evidence of what I have been shown. Perhaps so that I can prove it to others, and perhaps in some way so that I may prove it to myself beyond a shadow of a doubt.
Oddly enough, as I contemplating all this, I find myself in a church of all places. Given all that I have seen and now know, places like this seem somewhat pointless. But there is still some strange comfort in this place. Perhaps some part of me still enjoys holding on to the illusions that the rest of man kind holds to so fiercely. The priest, Father Anderson stops next to the pew and smiles sympathetically at me. “You look troubled my son, whats on your mind.” I have known Father Anderson for a long time, he is a good man, and trustworthy to no end, and though I still dare not tell him all that I have seen, I give him the highly watered down version. Bad dreams, some of the details of them, leaving the university. He listens nodding understandingly and sighs when I have finished. “Well my friend” he says, “times like this can be trying, but we must have faith that the good lord has a plan for all of us.”
“Are you sure he is the one with the plan?” It came out before I knew I was saying it and Father Anderson looked at me and smiled. “of coarse I am, for was it not he that made this world and all in it, was it not he who created the very universe itself?”
I smiled sadly and shook my head, “No father, I'm afraid it wasn’t him, it wasn’t him at all...”