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The Vermin From Beneath Pnath


Pilgrim

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“Right this way, Mr. Yorrick. Sorry about the mess, I wasn’t expecting—Hatshiiew! Ugh, excuse me.”

“Bless you. No it’s quite alright. Please, call me William.”

“Right, you keep saying that, and I…Ahh-Atschhiiew! Hetschiiew!”

“Bless you again, doctor. Catching cold?”

“Oh no, it’s just…haah-Ahhh…Atschiiew Ha-Tschiieew Ahhh-Haa-Atschiiiew! I’m allergic to cats.”

William Yorrick looked around the living room of his psychiatrist’s apartment with no small amount of incredulity. He counted no fewer than a dozen cats sitting on and around the furniture, of all shapes and sizes and colors, and there could very well be more upstairs. None had come forward to greet them upon their arrival, and in fact gave Dr. Carolyn Fern a wide berth as she walked through the room to the kitchen, where she began filling various food and water bowls.

“You…but…”

“I know, it’s strange.” Carolyn said, her voice already sounding stuffy. “But it relates to what I was telling you earlier, about your dreams not being so…ohh Ehh-Heehh-Hetchiiew-Hehh-Hiietschiiiew! Ehh-Hetschiiiew! Ugh, sorry, let me finish here first.”

Carolyn continued sneezing and sniffling with hardly any pause until she left the kitchen, where the cats had now gathered, and had to direct William with motions alone towards the study down the hall leading out of the room. Once inside her sneezing began to die down, though she still kept an expensive-looking handerchief dabbing at her running nose and watering eyes, both of which had already begun to turn pink, and scratched at them both while she spoke.

“I’ll be a bit…a-hehhhh…a bit beh-heh-hehhh…*snrfff* a bit better, in this room. I haa-have Hatschhh! Pills, of course, but with s-so many it hardly…does…Haah-Tschhieew Hetschieew! Ah, anything but make me drowsy. Here, have a seat and I’ll show you what I was talking about. HAATSCHIEEW!”

“I still can’t imagine why you’d live with so many cats if you were allergic.” William was puzzled, but sat down in one of the offered chairs as he was told. He peered about the study’s tall bookshelves, all filled to capacity, and the various odd-looking antiques placed in small display cases. Everything was neatly organized, even the mountains of papers and files on the desk, which were stacked and marked with tags in a very orderly fashion despite rising over a foot off its surface, not unlike Carolyn’s desk at her office downtown.

“As I said, it has to do with those dreams,” Carolyn said as she began turning one of a series of combination locks on a very large trunk in a corner of the study. The locks didn’t look particularly complicated, but she had to break from adjusting them every few seconds to wipe at her dripping nose. “Tell me, in those adventures you dreamed of having, did you ever hear of a town called Ulthar, where…”

“…no man may kill a cat.” William finished, to his surprise. He hopped out of his seat. “But, wait, how did…”

“Haataschiew! Haah-Ahhh…Atschieew Ahh-Tschieew! *sniffff* Unnng. Those dreams are not so crazy as you thought they were, William.” Carolyn opened the trunk and from it heaved a huge white stone nearly the size of the trunk itself. The stone appeared to be hollow, and had three holes in it; two small circular ones evenly spaced apart and one large ovular one running the full height of the rock between them, with long pointy protrusions jutting from it.

As a gravedigger, the implications of the stone’s color and features could not elude William for long, and he soon cried out, “But, my god! That’s a skull!”

“Yes, belonging to a Gug as a matter of fact.” Carolyn un-delicately blew her nose twice into her handkerchief and folded it back into her pocket before continuing. “I won’t-ehhhh-overload you by saying exactly why I ehh…Hetschieew! Hehh-Etschieew Etschieew! Suffice to say it was a matter of life and-Tschiieew! Death. You have heard of the Gugs in your travels through the Dreamlands?”

“The giant monsters that live underground…” William slumped back into his chair. “Yes, I remember hearing of them. But then, that means…”

“Yes, William.” Carolyn held a finger underneath her nose so she could deliver her important revelation uninterrupted. “The-hehhh *snff* Dreamlands are a real place, ahh-and all the cities and f-forests *snrk* and seas within are real ahh-ah-also. They are all part of a whole other world hehhh-ehh-ehhh-EH…Ehem, which we may access through dreams and some ahh-other…more…complicated...Ehh-Etschhh Hetschiiew Hehh-Etschiiew Tschiiew Etschieew! Means. HAATSCHIIEW!”

Williams head was swimming. That the sights he’d seen, both horrible and wonderful, were actually real held incredible implications. The existence of another world, one he had visited many times, had learned amazing things from, was an even more mind-rending revelation than his growing suspicion that he’d been growing mad. And yet, one thing remained unexplained.

“But wait, what does this have to do with the cats?”

Carolyn struggled to explain through her allergic fit, made more powerful after having been held back. “Hetschiiew! Ehh-Eh…Hetschieew Etsschiiew Hehhh-Etschh Hetschiieeew! Gugs can’t leave the underground…Hehhhh-Eh-Etschh Hetschh Haah-Etschhh! But there are things ehhh-even deeper…Etschiiiew! Ataschiiiew! Ahhh-Ahh…Atschieew HATSCHIEEW! In the earth that can. They live off the-ehhhh bones of the hehh-hairy giants Haaah-Hatschiieew Atschiiiew! Ahhh-Ah-Atschiieew Atschieew! And Gugs do not die often…”

Suddenly all the cats in the house began hissing at once, and there was the sound of scurrying footprints running over the ceiling. A group of four cats ran into the room and stood with their hair on end at each corner of the study, their hair standing on end and their eyes darting around the room as if following unseen enemies. A sudden explosive sneezing fit overcame Carolyn without warning, and she rained spray down on the notes at her desk before she had a chance to bring her handkerchief to her nose.

“HATSCHIIIEW! HAATSCHIIIEW! ATSCHIIEW! Ahhhh-Tschheiw-Etschiiew Ahh-TSCHIIIEIW! Speak of the-TSCHIIIEW devil. Ahhh-Haah-Ah-Atschiiiew Aahh-ATSCHIIIEW!”

“What is it? What’s happening?” William shouted over the din razed by the cats all running throughout the house while hissing and screeching at the top of their lungs, the scuffling footprints that seemed to be moving above and around them, and Carolyn’s sneezing.

“It’s…Itchiiiiew! Ahh-Itschiiieww! Vermin from Pnath! TSCHIIIEW!”

Unsure of what to do, William stood and gripped the back of his chair, ready to wield it as a weapon against whatever was causing the horrendous racket throughout the house. Carolyn attempted to wave him down, but couldn’t speak through her sneezing.

“Hehhh-Hetschieew! Don’t worry-Tschieeew! Ahhh-Ah-ATSCHIIIEW! Ahh-Haaah-Hetschiiew! Hetschiiiew! Cats will take…Ahhh-Ah-Atschieew-Tschieew Atschiiew Ahhh-ATSCHIEEWWW! They can’t haaaah-Hahh-HAH-TSCHIEEW! ATSCHIIEW! AAAH-TSCHIEEEW! Ugh, damn allergies!”

As the ruckus grew louder, with the cat’s howling and pouncing mixing with the scurrying and scratching of whatever they were fighting, William became certain that he ought to do something to help. He picked up the chair and wielded it like a club, exiting the room and cautiously moving down the hall. The cats eyed him with cocked heads, but did not get in his way. Carolyn would’ve tried to stop him if she’d noticed his departure, but her eyes were teary and alternating between partially and entirely squeezed shut as she continued sneezing helplessly, her handkerchief already soaked through, and couldn’t hear his footsteps over the din.

So William exited out into the living room, and saw a profoundly disturbing sight. The cats, of which there were no at least twice as many more as before, all appeared to be wrestling with the air around them. They viciously scratched and bit at nothing whatsoever with violent fervor, as if they’d all gone insane. This might’ve been disturbing enough, but it was the shadows on the walls of the room that would haunt William’s memory after that. For the shadows on that wall did not belong to cats alone; there were some cast by entirely alien figures the size of rats, with the build of something both like a bear and a serpent, and from the arrangement of the shadows were swarming all over the room.

Carolyn saw William many more times after that night, for friendly chats rather than appointments. They would discuss dreams of strange places and stranger inhabitants with bizarre familiarity, as if they’d shared the same dream. And soon William became the owner of quite a few cats himself, much to the dismay of his allergic roommate, whose reproaches were politely but firmly dismissed.

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I must say I like this one even more than the last installment. They're both great, but that Carolyn is fiiiiiiiiine... Plus, even though it does sort of go against a common theme in horror stories like this, I do enjoy that she got a happier ending. I think she just deserved one, I guess. xD

I don't even know if installment is the right word. Are these stories actually in the same continuity, or do they just share similar themes?

Anyway, I really love how you're weaving sneezing in with eldritch lore. I can't wait to see how it plays out in the next one.

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  • 3 months later...

If he's going by the Mythos, which... he is... because lovecraft is AWESOME... then they shouldn't be considered episodic, but just taking place in the same world setting. Just thought I'd try to answer your question since he didn't seem to see your comment. Buried down here. Gugs o_o I hate Gugs... 30 feet tall and their mouth opens the WRONG WAY!

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