The patient was gasping for breath, desperately clinging to life as we rushed the only remaining ventilator to his bedside. As we struggled to flip her over and intubate them, they began hallucinating, babbling on about the monster hovering above them, eating their soul. “Can’t you see it! Don’t you see it?!” she screamed. Once the tube was inserted, and we stabilized her breathing, she stopped struggling as much. The lack of oxygen to her brain had to have caused a terrifying hallucination. Strange that the last five patients who died claimed to have seen something similar before they died. The nurse held her hand, and told her she’d be alright now. We all knew that her chances were slim, 1 in 3 at best..
These strange creatures roam the places between dimensions, invisible and incorporeal to beings grounding in a single reality most of the time. They are parasites, feeding on the vapors emitted by slowly dying beings and their radiating pulses of fear and dread. Some say they are a servitor race of the Great Old One Aboth, Source of Uncleanliness, but what their true relationship is to that entity, if anything, remains a mystery.
There was this funny legend that Old Lady Margaret still lives in Margaret Mansion. Silly, isn’t it? Margaret Mansion is called so because it was built by a Lady Margaret two centuries ago! But we were bored so we went to check it out.
What we met there might have been Old Lady Margaret. A skeleton laying on the dining room floor. It might have been dead for two centuries—but it was alive! As we argued what to do about it, lots of women—Ladies Margaret?—appeared around the corpse. Some were quite young, some terribly old, some probably dead. I screamed and ran. The others…I don’t know, I was too frightened to look back. Will you help me find them?
When you look at time from a higher dimension, human life really is a line. Creating a Time-Frozen loops a tiny part of that line into a never-ending circle, but from the point of view of Yog-Sothoth and other forces invoked to create this being, the potential remaining part of the line already exists. Sometimes those forces make a separate entity out of this loose thread—a Time-Tangled.
If ever I should to that moment say – “So beautiful thou art, a little longer stay!” Then I’ll care not who me with chains may bind; Nor if I and my little all to ruin be consign’d; Then let the church-bell toll my funeral knell!
J. W. Goethe, Faust, English by John Wynniatt Grant
Human life goes in a line from birth to death but changing this trajectory is no problem for cosmic powers. Spells invoking the power of Yog-Sothoth to change the course of one’s life were known throughout history and used for many purposes.
One of the most radical effects such spells can cause is the creation of a Time-Frozen. They’re a person trapped in a personal time loop, never aging and constantly reliving one brief moment while the rest of the world moves forward. Some people use this spell on themselves to preserve a moment of perfect fulfilment; others, to escape a terminal disease or some other looming misfortune. Others yet are cursed by someone else.
Master adapters, not every shoggoth attacks to kill. Very rarely, a shoggoth incapacitates a victim, then enters its new host through the mouth, nose, and other orifices. Why the shoggoth does this is unknown. Perhaps it is to explore beyond its accustomed haunts with a degree of anonymity. Whatever the reason, the shoggoth enters the body, seeping into the interstices between the host’s own internal matter, down to the cellular level. Upon coming back to its senses, the host retains its general health, going about its normal business, often unaware that its body has become home to a new tenant. For its part, the shoggoth acclimates to its new environs, absorbing awareness of its host’s bodily and cognitive functions, studying everything the host sees, hears, senses, and does. With its impressive imitative abilities, the shoggoth can soon recreate with near perfection just about any sound that has been heard by the host body.
It was late on Christmas Eve, and I was staying in the town of Cowbridge, when the strange knock came to the quaint rented house. When I answered it a chill wind filled the air around me, colder than the December night air. There it was, a phantom in a white shroud with a horse skull head, glowing eyes, and a crown of holly on its head. Before I could scream or shut the door it started singing. My Welsh was terrible, after so many years living in New York, but I could just make out the lyrics…it wanted something to eat? It wanted to come in? Then I remembered tales my grandmother told me…this could be only one thing…a Mari Lwyd! When it was finished singing, I licked my lips, cleared my throat, and started to sing an answer….
In the ancient days procuring sacrifices for the Old Gods was a fairly simple matter. One need only capture them from the neighboring tribe, or perhaps purchase them from a slave trader.
With the dawning of the Victorian era the world became infested with ridiculous notions such as the rights of man, watched over by police forces, and filled up with busybodies who care about the “downtrodden”. Things became much more difficult.
Enter Elliot Montgomery, Esquire, doss house owner, entrepreneur, and procurer of sacrificial victims for any number of diabolical conspiracies.
“Bring on the multitudes….to nourish the Artist, stretch their skin upon an easel to give him canvas, crush their bones into a paste that he might mold them. Let them die, and by their miserable deaths become the clay within his hands that he might form…”
– Maxwell Brock, Beat poet
Creating a piece of artwork can be like a particularly difficult birth; more so if the act of creation has resulted in the birth of an iconodule, a foul and hateful entity that lives within a piece of artwork. Iconodules are born of frustration, despair, and envy, fused with human creativity, imagination, and desire to create: a tempestuously fertile ground. Iconodules have been found in sculpture, in paintings, even in the written word, corrupting first the work they hide within, then their creator, and finally others within their sphere of influence.
“Where is Doctor Norris? I heard he didn’t make it.” “He’s in the refrigerated trailer outside, there wasn’t any more room in the morgue.” “No one was out there when I checked.” Just then the alarm went off, and screams could be heard from the COVID-19 isolation ward. Police were called, but none of them dared enter without protective gear. A nurse came running out and explained what was going on…. Dr. Norris had returned for his Tuesday 18-hour shift.
These tragic undead have appeared countless times in history. In ancient Rome, there are accounts of them appearing during the Antonine Plague; they appeared several times across Europe during the various waves of the Black Plague; they appeared in the Americas and Caribbean during the waves of Yellow Fever; then again during the Spanish Flu pandemic. Unfortunately, with the rise of COVID-19 in 2020, they are appearing once more.
Jessica did not look so well so I sent her home early. Our cataloging of the library donations was almost finished and I did not mind staying late. This set of books came from the home of a recently deceased local recluse named August Taylor. Seems his nephew had no interest in keeping his library when sorting out the estate.
It was midnight by the time I had everything recorded and sorted, but when I left, Jessica’s car was still in the parking lot, underneath the light post closest to the front doors. She sat slumped against the driver’s side door. Her skin had gone a sickly gray, and her pale green eyes were glazed over in a yellow film. A sharp wheeze rattled from her throat as she struggled to breath. By the time the ambulance arrived, she was gone. That…thing had already emerged.
Her head cracked open like a brittle egg dropped on the pavement. Something moved amongst the black sludge that drained from the opening. It was a sleek, inky looking thing about the size of a tennis ball. A myriad of tiny eyes glistened in the soft glow of the parking lot light before it rolled or sloshed off into the night.
I had collapsed into hysterics before the paramedics got to the scene, and when they saw Jessica, one of them remarked, “looks like another one. Just like August Taylor.”
It was a shoggoth alright. Not the biggest, but huge. Weird colors for one, tan, brown, plus the typical green. Eyes, mouths, other organs, the standard crap. It was in this giant aquarium, really thick glass, I don’t know why it didn’t just crawl out. The bugs were there, just like we expected. Just the dumb ones thank God, workers. There were a pile of naked human bodies. They put one of them on a conveyer belt, which took it up and fed it into the shoggoth. Didn’t make any sense, so we waited and watched. After about half an hour, the guy surfaced on the other side of the tank, I swear to God, dry as a bone. He didn’t have a drop of shoggoth on him. One of the worker MiGo helped him out, and down to the floor. He went in shot to shit and dead as a doornail. Now, there he stood, smiling and looking down at himself, not a scratch. We had Jim with us, Jim’s body I mean. We had Jim, and he was dead. Jim was dead.
Agent of Project Star: Name, Rank, and Specialty redacted.