“We’ll go this way, you take that passage,” he said, “we’ll cover more ground this way. I don’t want to be here any longer than necessary.”
“You sure?” Helen replied. “Splitting up seems like a bad idea. Like, a really bad idea.”
But Hank snorted and rolled his eyes as he and Beth took the right turn, while we took the left.
We’d gone maybe 50 yards down the passageway when we heard the screams, the desperate calls for help and anguished shrieks of pain. We turned and ran back towards them as fast as we could. By the time we got to the intersection, everything was quiet other than our desperate calls and the pounding of our hearts.
We started walking slowly, cautiously and quietly now. Soon, our flashlights caught the sight of Hank’s hat and one of Beth’s shoes lying in the middle of the tunnel. I moved to get closer but Helen gasped and grabbed me, pulling me backward.
“Back away…slowly…I saw something…inin the floor…” she said, shaking with fear.
“What?” I asked, as I backed away, smart enough to obey my partner even if I didn’t understand. “What did you see?”
These shoggoths have specialized in a specialized form of hunting, using their bodies to form traps and waiting for prey to wander into them. They commonly dig a deep hole or pit in an underground place humans frequent, like a mine, a lonely forest trail, or in half-forgotten catacombs. They then occupy the pit, shaping their forms into hollow bowl-like shapes lining the pit, and create a well-camouflaged cover for the pit with their bodies.
“Doesn’t this seem odd to you?” I asked.
My partner looked at me, tilting his head in confusion. We’d been hiking for six hours with no sign of the missing campers yet. Their last GPS signature from their cellphone put them in this area.
“I mean, what is a vending machine doing way out here? This ranger station doesn’t look like anyones been posted here since the 90s. Who’s coming up here to stock it?”
“Dude!” Doug replied, “stop pissing in my lemonade. It’s here, who cares why. I’m getting a nice cold Moxie; you want one?”
“The coins won’t go in…what the….”
Suddenly the vending machine changed color and shape, as eyes and mouths appeared all along its surface and pseudopods sprung from its body to grab Doug. It grabbed him and pulled him close, tearing him apart with bites, dissolving his flesh with its digestive fluids. I tried to run, but a feeling of vertigo overwhelmed me and I blacked out.
I don’t know for how long I lay there, but when I opened my eyes the night sky was above me and all was still. The vending machine was gone. The only trace of Doug was his backpack.
These small, solitary, and rather cunning shoggoths are usually found in remote places that humans venture into. Places just close enough to civilization that the creatures can remain hidden, but close enough to ensure a ready supply of prey. Humans are these creatures primary source of food. They can go almost a year between needing to hunt. They are content to kill a single human and then return to their underground lairs, where they while away their time until it comes time to feed once more. They kill by luring a human close enough to strike, and then kill their prey quickly before it has a chance to escape or defend itself. This technique of camouflaged ambush predation is common in the animal kingdom, especially in insects, arachnids, and fish.
Janet was a lot different after the procedure. Those first few months were tough, and I hate to say that. You’re torn between being overjoyed that they survived, but the side effects are really troubling. The memory gaps, that odd feeling of detachment, that blank stare and lack of facial expressions. It’s like, “congratulations, your wife beat stage IV pancreatic cancer and now here she is, except she barely remembers who you are, who anyone is, and cognitively most of her brain has gone into reset mode.” Sorry. Yeah, it was hard, but she learned to walk again, learned to read again, remembered more and more about her life, remembered me. Is she the same woman I married? No. Oddly in a lot of ways she’s better. To be honest, but I’m not the same man she married either. Life, in general, changes you, and something like this, being so close to death and then saved by this miracle treatment, yeah, expect some big changes.
Actually a form of proto-shoggoth, symbiotic shoggoths are the creations of experimentation. They are a hybridization of shoggoth protoplasmic matter and human tissue, originally designed to seek out cancer cells in a human body and destroy them. After countless failures, a variety of these specialized cells (named Recaptive-28) were created that did, in fact, remove all traces of cancer from a human body. What no one, not even the scientists who created this treatment understand, is that what most consider “side effects” are actually a new state of being.
We’d been chasing reports of a condor for over week when we saw it, soaring high above us on the thermals rising out of these canyons. It looked massive from here, and our photographer struggled to track it. We needed pictures to see if it was banded, part of a breeding program, or a wild born animal we hadn’t yet identified in our conservation efforts. Suddenly our photographer screamed and dropped his camera. He curled into a ball and started babbling about blinking eyes and slavering mouths. He said it wasn’t a condor. He said a lot of things, but we didn’t believe him then. I wish we had.
“Here, in this desert, there live amid the sand great ants, in size somewhat less than dogs, but bigger than foxes. The Persian king has a number of them, which have been caught by the hunters in the land whereof we are speaking. Those ants make their dwellings underground, and like the Greek ants, which they very much resemble in shape, throw up sand heaps as they burrow.” Herodotus, The Third book of Histories
Despite their name these terrors of the desert are found in many places. They are said to be similar in form to the ants of Greece, aside from their size, which is reported to be larger than a fox but smaller than a dog. They are very territorial and attack any living thing approaching one of their mounds. As many as fifty of these creatures come swarming out of their mounds at the first sign of intrusion.
The Succo were rare even at the height of Stygia’s power, but now only a few remain. These creatures began as the issue of unholy unions between human sorcerers and priests and the Great Old One Atlach-Nacha. They appear to be enormous spiders with a vaguely human like face amid their eight eyes and fangs (females often with long hair, males often with facial hair), and human-like hands at the end of their first pair of legs. These hands are too feeble to wield a weapon, but can be used for fine work, such as opening doors, using fine tools, tying and untying knots, or writing messages on paper of wax tablets. They can speak but only in whispers,
although they can scream and screech quite loudly when enraged.
Once a species of early human, these creatures were driven underground by waves of invaders. In the dark depths of the earth they slowly transformed into a race perfectly suited to a life below the surface of the earth. They appear as grey skinned humanoids, with large black eyes, scraggly white hair, busy eyebrows, and thick beards. They are squat of build, standing at most five feet tall, with broad muscular shoulders. Ordantani see perfectly well in total darkness, but full daylight is now nearly blinding to them. However they suffer no ill effects from torch light, lamps, or diffused sunlight.
These extremely dangerous guardian creatures were created by the wizards of Lomar, to guard the lands of their estates. While the secrets of their creation and the ability to control or command them has been lost to history, those scholars who know of the Fallen Kingdoms and the Shadow War surmise that such monsters were created by magically cross breeding a terrestrial lion with certain unknown extraterrestrial mythos creatures. Luckily, they cannot breed, and no new Nemean lions have been created in millennia. Unfortunately, they are incredibly dangerous, immortal unless slain through violence, and nearly indestructible.
This creature is found far north of the Antonine Wall in the wilds of Caledonia, land of the savage Picts. It is greatly feared in those lands but mostly unknown in other countries. Legends tell that these creatures are created when a normal snake’s head is cut off. If the dying snake finds it’s severed heat the two halves can be rejoined, and the snake then transforms into the dreaded Beithir. It is often called The Lightning Serpent, as the creatures are most often seen after thunder storms.