The Tentacles of
From the murky depths of time immemorial, the singular course of mortal man’s desire has been the pursuit of forbidden fantasies accessible solely in the realm of dreams. Such was my aim when, having concluded my studies of ancient poetry at a respected university located in the south of my native country, I returned to my ancestral seat in New England to pursue my true vocation by exploring the indescribable poetry to be found in decadent dreams and blasphemous nightmares.
I plunged into the study of theosophy and mystic texts, vainly searching for fragrant visions of poetic inspiration in my nightly slumber. I scoured foetid manuscripts of long-dead cults devoted to the worship of forgotten gods, and at length even dared to seek counsel in the dreadful Necronomicon of the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred. All such quests were in vain, for I remained prey merely to idle fancies and senseless specters of mundane life whenever sleep muted my senses.
Believing a glimpse of lands wild and remote might free me from the extravagance of my debased spirit, I set out for the deserts of Arabia, where unfathomably ancient cities built of cyclopean stones slept in spectral silence. Kazallu, Rapiqum, Yamhad, the cursed Mut-Ashkur, and nameless cities without number lying crumbling and forgotten amid hillocks of sulfurous sand fell under my scrutiny, but yielded no guide in my quest to journey to the realm of the slumbering god Morpheus, where exotic fantasies are made manifest.
At last, despairing and shunned by society, I took refuge in the art of the apothecary and the pharmacist. Hashish and opium became my nightly bedfellows. But even these redoubtable narcotics induced only fever dreams that puzzled and tormented my enfeebled mind.
One day, after a dreamless night that seemed to me the apotheosis of my ghastly impotence, I stumbled across town to a dank, noisome oriental shop in which a clever compounder of sedatives plied his trade. I addressed him in abject tones, begging him to procure for me a tincture more powerful than that of the Virginian hemp weed and the Babylonian poppy. The wizened man was reluctant to lend his assistance to my foolhardy venture and tried to dissuade me from my chosen course.
At length, he was persuaded by my eloquent pleas and drew from the depths of a voluminous sleeve of his silken robe a strange and sinister box.
The surface of the abnormal object was marked with queer hieroglyphs, the sight of which filled me with an indescribable dread. The language was unfamiliar to all men now living, save a handful of scholars of the eldritch Shinto cults driven from Japan in the days of the antediluvian Mikado, and members of the dreaded Yakuza on the forgotten island of Okushiri. The dealer in Asiatic medicaments gazed upon me sharply and cautioned me that I would find precisely what I sought within the malevolent little box; that is, dreams of a poetry so profound as to induce madness in any man who fell under their sway.
I was overwhelmed with uncanny dread at this dire, and yet wholly desirable, pronouncement. I nearly swooned and was obliged to grasp the edges of the filthy counter to steady myself. Excited and disturbed by this premonition of success conjoined with doom, I fixed my gaze upon the box. My desire to journey to the limits of human imagination was beyond my powers of resistance. I seized the box, threw down a few coins, and took my leave with a haste spurred by terrible trepidation.
That night, I prepared for bed as usual. Outside the windows of my lodging place, the rumbling of a storm sounded in the distance beyond the towering mountains that gave shelter to the humble township. I placed the box upon the surface of my desk, sat before it, and pondered it with a grotesque curiosity such as I had never felt before. Upon the smooth surface of the relic were strange symbols etched in bas relief.
They were senseless jibberish to my unlearned eyes. But beneath these peculiar symbols I discovered a jumble of unpronounceable letters that, though in an unfamiliar tongue, sent a chill of nameless repugnance shooting through my veins.
Ryokucha no kaori…Nihon no seihin…Pocky…
A low peal of thunder vibrated my quivering bones. I fancied that the storm was somehow both without and within my gloomy chamber. My trembling finger furtively traced the terrible letters and my lips, as if of the accord of some impulse not my own, began to shape the words. Ryokucha no kaori…Nihon no seihin…Pocky…
An arc of lightning unfurled across the tenebrous heavens. I started in terror at the brilliant fire that briefly illuminated the amaranthine sky. I sought to reassure myself with memories of my inquiries into the meteorological sciences, which I had undertaken while at university, but the steading effect of cool logic failed me.
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I trembled as I reached out a clammy hand and placed it upon the box. There it remained, the fingers shivering upon the frigid surface. I dared not open the box, and yet something unearthly compelled me to do just that, for it was as if I was a marionette dangling from the incomprehensively massive fingers of a cruel god. The storm raged with unfathomable fury as I drew in a fearful breath, tore open the cardboard, and spoke the daemoniac incantation.
“Ryokucha no kaori…Nihon no seihin…Pocky!”
I fancied a voice within the thunder echoed my dreadful pronouncement, coalescing like an auditory whirlwind within the small compass of the box where, to my unutterable terror, a muffled voice replied, “Pocky!”
A loud boom resounded from within the box, as if from the depths of a fathomless abyss, and a terrible voice growled, “Pocky, Pocky, Pocky!” as a multitude of vile, hideous green tentacles shot forth.
I was frozen in a stupefaction of indescribable abhorrence. The tips of the spiny protuberances were coated with a green encrustation of dried primordial ooze, while the lower expanse of each petrified tentacle was as bare as bones picked clean by gruesome scavenger birds. They gleamed like sticks of incense consecrated to an evil god. The tentacles flew at me with a rapidity which equaled that of the lightning that slashed the stygian sky.
I reeled, overcome with ultimate horror of a sort unfelt by man since the pitiless god Pocky dragged his tentacles through the loathsome grime of primordial worlds not our own. As I sank to the ground in a deathlike faint, I begins to dream mad dreams.