By Rebecca A Wrigley
“Gentlemen, “said Azathoth, “Ladies, thank you for assembling here today.” He looked around the rented conference hall. To describe it gently Azathoth was outside the ordered universe and was that amorphous blight of nethermost confusion which blasphemes and bubbles at the center of all infinity—the boundless daemon sultan, whose name no lips dare speak aloud, and who gnaws hungrily in inconceivable, unlighted chambers beyond time and space amidst the muffled, maddening beating of vile drums and the thin monotonous whine of accursed flutes.1 But today he was heading the council as it should be. He did of course hold court at the center of the universe with the rest of the Outer Gods dancing about him.
“Do any of you know why you’ve been called?”
Lu-Kthu, shrunk down from his regular planetary size for the meeting’s sake, raised one of his tentacles. He seemed a mass of entrails and internal organs. On closer examination he appeared a wet, warty globe, covered with countless ovoid pustules and spider-webbed with a network of long, narrow tunnels. Each pustule bore the larva of a Great Old One.
“Yes Lu?” said Azathoth.
“Human interest is down,” gurgled Lu-Kthu,
“Bingo,” said Azathoth. “Not only that, but fear is utterly gone. We’re passé my friends.”
“Doesn’t anyone read our histories anymore?” asked Yibb-Tstl, a gigantic, bat-winged humanoid with detached eyes, wearing a green robe. Underneath her billowing cloak were a multitude of nightgaunts suckling and clutching at her breasts.
“Are you joking?” spat Yidhra a beautiful naked young woman cloaked in black, various symbols scarred into her pale skin. “I live among them. They’re illiterates now with their cellphones and their ipads. What they do read is rubbish, nothing to make them think too hard. Even the ones who do read our histories don’t take them seriously. The world is too modern for us to seem real.”
The others, amorphous gasses, balls of lava, women that were partially squid, half giants adorned with writhing worms, spiders with human heads…all of them stared into space, brows – or what passed for them -- wrinkled with the uncertainty of the problem. You couldn’t make people read. Couldn’t make them believe or fear what they read.
Their last disciple of any great merit had been H.P. Lovecraft. A mortal who had spread the word about them in books that were read and absorbed. Cults, films, other writers, had taken up the word of their presence and power and they were a subject of fear. But Lovecraft had died long ago and his legacy had faded with him over time. Oh, there was still the odd story written about his “creations” but interest and more important, recognition had waned. People no longer knew who they were. Couldn’t fear what you didn’t know.
Azathoth leaned forward on the head of the table addressing the assembly with a stern expression, “What we need is a new prophet.”
“A writer?” asked Yidhra, incredulously.
“ No,” said Azathoth, “we need to find a more visceral, immediate media.”
“Film,” said a woman with one of her squid tails held to her lips.
“Internet,” burbled a lava ball in a popping bubble.
Azathoth put a finger to where his nose might have been and then pointed it at the lava ball. “You have it my friend. We’re going to film a bit for Youtube that’s going to go viral in minutes. All we need is a human to slaughter for the show.”
“Won’t they yank it if there’s death involved?” asked Lu-Kthu?
“Oh, most certainly they will,” said Azathoth. “But if we get even a few views and some of them may download them to their computers, it will be talked about and that’s what we want.”
“When do we do this?” asked Yibb-Tstl
Azathoth gestured to a small video camera on a tripod across the room, and a laptop computer beside it. “No time like the present. And we’re all here.”
“What about the human?” asked a whirling mass of sucking black hole star swallowing entity.
Azathoth smiled, “We’ll order in. Yidhra, use the hotel phone to have some sodas sent up. Then clothe yourself to answer the door and lead the wait staff in.”
“Just because I look like them,” she muttered.
Yidhra continued to grumble on her way to the phone but it wasn’t in words. She did as told and ordered up the sodas. Then she materialized a saintly white dress to cover her body, sliding out of the black cloak and arranging her long red hair freely about her shoulders.
The buzzer on the conference room door rang promptly and Yidhra answered with a sweet smile. “Thank you so much.”
The girl on the other side smiled widely back and said, “Well, now you sure are welcome ma’am,” in a perfect Texan twang, which was of course the accent of the state chosen for the conference. She held a platter of dewy soda cans on one hand.
“Won’t you come in?” said Yidhra.
The girl nodded and entered as Yidhra opened the door wider for her to pass.
There was an accordion door that split the conference room in half. It had been partially drawn and the girl saw no one on this side of it, just the video camera. “Well my goodness, where is everybody?”
“Oh they’re just waiting for refreshments,” said Yidhra, nodding at the accordion door. “You can set that down over there,” she said gesturing to a table across the room.
When the girl turned around the group had assembled behind her. What the hell? She’d never seen anything like them. Some of them were vomitus – slimy, tentacled, pustules on everything. Some were whirlpools of utter hopelessness with gnashing teeth besides. Some were evil malevolence without flesh. One of them, the woman who had led her in, came forward and maneuvered the video camera on its tripod. She said something in a foreign language to this roiling entity with teeth, burning eyes, and the occasional set of arms.
The girl shrank back against the table. “Oh God what are you?”
“We are the Outer Gods,” said the roiling entity in a heavy accent.
“What do you want?” asked the girl
“Fear,” said the entity, “sacrifice, blood, worship.”
“Please,” begged the girl, “don’t hurt me.”
“You came to us.”
“I was on call. I didn’t come here to be sacrificed!”
“But you are here and we have need of you.”
They tore her flesh creatively from her body. She lived a long time through the process. One of the vortex entities absorbed the sounds of her screams. Yidhra with her human form filmed the whole thing, getting the best angles. She mourned the loss of her own involvement but hoped for return on the investment of her time.
When it was all said and done the girl’s body was torn between two of the whirlpool entities who swallowed her body parts whole. The blood was sucked clean from every surface by Yibb-Tstl’s nightgaunts.
The camera was hooked up to the laptop in seconds and the film was downloaded to the computer’s database. Next they looked up Youtube. Azathoth had already set up an account so they signed in and went to the page for uploading content. In less time than it had taken to devour the girl, they had the footage online.
Not wanting to disperse right away and nervous about how the plan might come out. They milled around the conference room, all of them pointedly not looking at the laptop. Finally Lu-Kthu raised a tentacle.
“So what’s the backup plan here?”
“Backup?” asked Azathoth.
“In case,” Lu-Kthu stammered, “you know, it doesn’t work or something.”
Azathoth grinned unpleasantly. “Then we visit hell upon them. Rip babes from their Mother’s arms to gut and eat. Raise the dead to walk rotting amongst the living. Flay the skin from virgin brides upon their marriage altars – !”
“Well,” snarked Yidhra, “you might have trouble finding virgin brides.”
They knew he was bluffing. If they could do all that they wouldn’t be having this conference.
“Hey!” called Yibb-Tstl. “We’re getting some feedback on the film footage.
The Outer Gods crowded around the laptop computer to read the scroll of remarks building below the still image of their footage.
“It looks fakey! The monsters are all blurry or slimed up with Vaseline!” Read Yidhra.
“I know for a fact that blood isn’t that thick.” Read Lu-Kthu in a wobbly voice.
“I could do better than that in my basement with a bunch of cut up bicycle inner tubes and some leftovers from the butchers’ counter at Safeway.” Read Azathoth in dead tone.
He ate the laptop.
1 H.P. Lovecraft At the Mountains of Madness