“Would you like some coffee?” the waitress asked. I was too absorbed in the strange diary entries to really care or even notice. “Sir?”
“Coffee?” She hadn’t lost her patience with me yet, she was a nice waitress, I would have to remember to tip her. I nodded and she filled my cup.
I turned the paper over to read something written in purple and upside-down from the rest. It read:
Contrary to popular belief, to be ignorant is to be left in the light. For in the darkness truth and madness reign, and once you glimpse the horrible, abominable truth you may never again bask in the blissful illumination which is unknowing. Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn. It made no damn sense… or did it?
I wasn’t really thinking. My head was vacant aside from the relentless pulse of fear. Every now and then the fear would temporarily fade away as I became absorbed in reality but it never failed to resurface. I wasn’t drinking my coffee, either, just staring at it. The half and half swirling in the center. I could see Grace’s reflection in it. Smoke flowed from her cigarette straight into the air for there was no breeze in the diner to make it dance.
“I don’t think you’re allowed to smoke in here,” I said, more to myself than to her. I may as well have said it in my mind because she seemed not to have heard. She took a graceful and long drag, blowing the smoke out of the corner of her lips. Her eyes never left mine but I couldn’t look at her. So I gazed at her reflection in the coffee. The blackness of it made her look like a shadow out of time, eternally sitting here, smoking, staring at me.
How long had it been now? Was it all just a dream? Was I still dreaming then? I couldn’t remember but I didn’t try too hard. She held the smoldering butt out between her fingers, offering it to me. I took it, forgetting that I ever quit. My knuckles were still raw, so were Grace’s. I wanted more than anything to be alone. I hadn’t been alone in… God, who knows…
The thought made me chuckle as I looked at the lipstick smudged on the filter. Then I was confused, what was funny? Maybe that the one thing I wanted was also what I feared most. As if she had read my thoughts, Grace leaned in, forcing me to look up. The smell of her perfume, the burning tobacco, brought back a flood of memories. The passion and desires that were once in my mind tried to force their way into my conscious thought, providing momentary relief from the fear.
“I will never leave you,” she whispered.
Her words floated in the air around the table just like the smoke. I could barely see her eyes through the fog it all created. But I could tell they were staring at me. I looked away and took a drag from the cigarette. The nicotine buzz made my arms tingle.
How long had it been? Weeks? Months? Maybe even a year. Either way it didn’t matter.
I had seen her only a few times before we talked but when we did it was as if the connection between us had been there all along. She said that perhaps we had been lovers in a past life. She said that we fit together like the jigsaw pieces of fate, that it was meant to be. That there was no one else in her world but me. It couldn’t have sounded more right… at the time. It was perfect symmetry, like the vigilant execution of a serial rapist. Finally, after falling for so many of the wrong ones there was a right one. But in little time I would find it was, in a sadistic sort of way, a poetic justice done to me. I would find that sometimes fate makes you pay for crimes you never even knew you were going commit. And lady justice isn’t kind enough to deal out sentences as simple and relieving as death.
The first few weeks were utter bliss. My mind would constantly wander back to Grace. Her eyes. Her body. Her scent. It was a beautiful distraction from the droll ennui of our reality.
We were catching our breath on her bed, staring up at the ceiling. She turned to me. The hazel of her iris were devoured by her oversized pupils, making her look like a black kitten when the clock strikes midnight. Her breasts rose and fell in rhythm with her rapid breaths. She put a hand on my face.
“Do you love me?” she asked.
“I- don’t know.” I responded, suddenly feeling like a turtle without its shell. “Yes, I think so.”
“I’m in love…” She let the word linger and pulled her hand away. “But I’m sorry… I can’t love you.”
“You can’t?” I felt my face blush. She looked at me with remorseful, tripping eyes. I looked away, back to the ceiling patterns. She waited a long while in silence. I could feel her eyes peering through my skin.
“Have you ever loved someone before?”
“I don’t know…” I said again.
I thought back to past relationships with a mask on. They seemed, to me, more like awkward moments that maybe I had seen on television than my own memories.
“I don’t think so,” I told her. She sighed.
“I know you haven’t. I can tell.”
She reached over my chest and grabbed her pack of Marlboro lights and the BIC off the nightstand. She pulled one out and began to smoke it in bed.
“You don’t even believe in love, do you?” she asked.
“I guess not. I mean I know it exists. But… not for me anyway.” They were the only words that I could think of.
But in hindsight I realized that of course she was right. She could read me, my emotions, my past, like a psychic does a palm. She told me that real love did exist and that the true feeling of it wasn’t even describable. Too eluding of a feeling to be explained with words. So much in life was ineffable to her. It seemed almost as if she existed in a different realm than the rest of us. I couldn’t get her to tell me who she was in love with, if not me. Her lover.
“You wouldn’t be able to understand it. I don’t even understand it, really.” She dropped the butt in a mostly emptied bottle of gin. It sizzled out instantly and she rolled over, snuggling her head in the pillow and breathing deeply. “I’ll show you sometime.”
She fell asleep with ease. I was alone on the bed, angry and thoughtful. But not the good kind of thoughtful, the cannibalistic and self-mutilating kind of thoughtful. After what seemed like hours I finally fell to sleep as well. Never before had a dream disturbed me so. And never sense have I dreamt at all.
The first thing that I could remember was seeing my own sleeping body lying on the bed, Grace asleep just beside it. I felt as if I were trespassing somebody’s home, like I should not be there. I recall a monotonous and rapidly spoken chant coming from somewhere. I had associated it with the nervous rosaries of my deceased grandmother from my mother’s side. She would recite them as effortlessly as breathing. I remembered the howling, sobbing prayers she offered up to God on the day my own mother passed. It had kept me up all through the night and now it was back. Only this time it seemed to be in a different language and aimed towards a different god.
Suddenly I felt a second presence in the room. It was unlike any feeling I had had before. Though I could not see it, I could feel it… feel it looking at me, longing for me. IT could vaguely be compared to the lustful connection shared between lover’s eyes before they kiss and to the hungry licking of lips of the lioness while she stalks her prey. Then everything faded away, and next I could remember seeing was an apparent memory. I stood in the corner of the therapy room. It was group therapy. A girl from my past was explaining in detail the success of her current love affair, how her life has brightened up because of it. I saw myself fidgeting. Then, inexplicably, he got up and left the room. It is quite unsettling to see yourself act so rashly from a third person view. I felt very unloved and abandoned at that point. Like I was alone in the universe.
Next I was amongst the stars. Not the swirling stars one sees after being knocked out, but the stars one sees when they look into a clear night sky in autumn. I could feel the presence from earlier again, it was much more rampant this time, engulfing me so that I was a part of it. I wasn’t afraid this time, for it was beautiful, it was calming, it was where I was supposed to be. It showed me how I should exist. The presence took me in ethereal arms and I knew it loved me, and that the love was forever. It wanted me to stay with it forever, but something was pulling me away. I reached out to grab its hand and linger on in that timeless space but I had already started to fall.
I woke up in a cold sweat, my heart beating a thousand times a minute, Grace’s eyes open and looking at me. I didn’t even know I had been crying until she leaned in and kissed a tear from my cheek. Her finger tips touched my chest lightly, touching my whole world. The cold confusion of the dream world faded away into dreamlike memories, like sand sifting through my fingers until all I held were a few grains.
“You’ve seen him,” she whispered in my ear. She kissed me. “We can be with him. Forever…”
“How?” I kissed her back though my thoughts were not on her but the being I had encountered in my dreams… that god and its ancient love.
The following few days passed by with no sleep. She told me everything she knew about the being, which wasn’t much aside from speculation. I did research on the internet, searching for dreams and gods. One must search diligently to find anything in the waste of worldly knowledge. But what I finally found both titillated my fancy and terrified me to the core. Grace had called the being Orion, a name she had apparently came up with herself, and so did many others who had had similar experiences. Orion, the faceless god, who dwells amongst the stars.
There were many strange personal accounts of the being. Many, under the influence of the powerful hallucinogen DMT, had written of experiences which mirrored my own. They told of the overwhelming sense of love and belonging they felt when encountering the being. It was at that point that I was sure. What I experienced was in fact not a dream, but the true reality. I found that there were people, thousands, that believed that this waking reality was only a secondary experience to the reality experienced in dreams. That idea has been a topic of discussion for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.
There was one case in particular that disturbed me greatly. An elderly man named Jedidiah Orne from Massachusetts had been married for fifty-seven years to his ideal partner. One day they awoke in bed and his wife had completely changed overnight. It was as if she had been replaced by another woman, identical in every way, but nothing more than a synthetic clone. He wrote that she seemed like zombie or even a puppet on strings. Everything she did seemed to have no motive or feeling to it. The love they shared was no longer there. Lyvinia Orne claimed to be in love with another man, a man named Orion, whom she had seen in her dreams. She had resolved to find this man and be with him, rather than her husband of over fifty years. The woman’s obsession with Orion drove Orne to insanity and he could not stand it anymore, he couldn’t see his wife this way… so he freed her.
The police reports say that they found the man naked on the ground beside the lifeless corpse of his late wife. The man had apparently set up an elaborate arrangement in their bedroom, the way the report read it seemed to be mimicking some kind of Satanic ritual. The woman was tied to the ground, spread eagled across a pentagram which had been meticulously sketched on the floor. Lyvinia’s heart had been cut out and tossed to the side and after doing his wicked deed the man had cut his own wrists in an apparent suicide attempt. The police men were sure that both of the victims were dead.
Jedidiah Orne lived however, and recovered at St. Mary’s Hospital in Arkham, Massachusetts. He was still there now, kept in the psych-ward there. I wish I would have dropped it, dropped the whole thing, forgotten about Grace and that hideous dream and ran for my life. I wish even that before digging any deeper, I’d have put a revolver to my temple and pulled the trigger.
But at long last I decided to drive to Arkham, to visit St. Mary’s hospital and speak with Jedidiah Orne. I hadn’t slept in weeks, Grace said I looked like a junkie. I didn’t care. I was obsessed with uncovering this forbidden knowledge. If anyone knew anything about Orion, and the spiritual connection that drove me mad, then it had to be this man. And if I looked like a junkie, then Orne looked like a living corpse.
It was much more simple to visit the old man than either of us had expected. The orderly told me not to bring anything that could be used as a weapon into the room. He said that the old man was prone to suicide attempts, that they had to keep all sharp objects away from him. But they just took our word, I think they secretly wished the old man would die. And I would soon discover why.
The room was filled with thousands of papers. Scribbled lines that made no sense, written in crayon, they covered everything. It was difficult to get anything out of him, he simply went on babbling. I told him of my dream and of Orion. He looked at me with bloodshot eyes.
“There’s no escape,” the man said. “The dreams of the gods… the love that lives forever. C’tah flegn roc en Rg’lag c’taphn!” The mad man went into a frenzy. He spoke in a random tongue that had no resemblance to any earthly language. “Don’t travel to the dreams of the gods… there is only chaos there. Chaos and fire that consumes FOREVER! Don’t ye go lookin for the accursed lest ye become them.”
“I need to know!” I told him. I grabbed the man by his shoulders and shook him violently. His head bounced back and forth.
“Just tell us how to go to him you old bastard!” Grace said. She was as frantic as I was.
“C’TAH FLEGN ROC EN RG’LAG C’TAPHN! C’TAH FLEGN ROC EN RG’LAG C’TAPHN!”
I think that the fragile old man’s madness was making me mad. Without even realizing it I had put my hands around the old man’s throat, screaming at him. The old man gurgled, a smile crept across his face as he inched closer to death.
“You son of a bitch! Don’t make me kill you! Just tell me!” The old man’s hand rose and a shaky finger pointed to his bed, whereon lied a pile of assorted papers.
Grace rummaged through them, seemed to have found something of significance, folded it and slid it into her bra just before the orderlies burst through the door. I told them that the old man had attacked me, that I was just defending myself. Orne was speaking in the gibberish tongue again, foam appearing around his lips. The orderlies told us to leave the room and they sedated him.
“Are you sure?” I asked, looking away from the grave stone and snatching the folded paper from Grace’s hand. “This feels so wrong…”
“Get over it. C’mon this is the last thing we have to do before we can be with him. Let‘s just get it done with. I didn‘t go through all of this shit just for you to bitch out now.” She was smoking another cigarette, I leaned the shovel on my shoulder and unfolded the paper we had stolen from the crazed man’s quarters at St. Mary’s. Upon further inspection we found that the majority of the sane writing could be classified as some kind of diary.
“Look right there.” She leaned over my shoulder and pointed to a line of the paper. It was written in red wax. “’The forbidden knowledge held within the pages of the fabled book have been disposed of. Ummmm….. After discovering that it could not be burnt with fire I resolved to had the book buried deep within the Earth. -ancient secrets are dead to this modern world, they died with my wife. Let no man suffer from its forbidden knowledge again, until the Old Ones walk the earth. Let this period of ignorance remain while it still can. Blah blah blah… Jesus, this fucker can go on and on… There!” She found the line she was looking for. “Let all searches of damnable knowledge know that the Necronomicon is cursed and its burial ground is blessed and that if the search for it the sins will linger and they shall never find peace! It’s obvious that it's buried with his wife.” The moment she uttered the name of that hideous scroll a cold gust of wind blew through us and a flock of birds darted from a nearby tree. We were in silence.
“Where are you getting that?” I asked, looking over the writing again but absorbing nothing. I was too distracted by the ever-present pulse of fear and the feeling that we were in great danger. “All I’m getting is that we shouldn’t be doing this.”
“It's just some harmless grave robbing.” She laughed and smacked the back of my head.
“Quit being a pussy, dig.”
So against my better judgment I dug. I dug deep into that cold autumn night, with more than just the stars and moon looking down on me. I could feel more than just Grace’s eyes on me but chose to ignore it, tell myself I was just being paranoid. Plumes of my visible breath continually spouted from the deeper and deeper hole in front of the grave stone which read: Lyvinia Orne, 1953-2010. Dug up October 15th, 2012, I thought with a dark chuckle. Finally, when it passed midnight and into the early hours of the morning of the 16th, I hit something hard. Dropping to my knees, I removed the rest of the dirt with my fingers until the lid of the coffin was entirely uncovered. Grace dropped to her knees six feet above and watched anxiously as I opened the lid.
The smell was too pleasant and unearthly to have come from the corpse. It- it… it cannot, will not be described. All I can say it that it was the smell of them of the other gods or the other world, the ancient smell of death and darkness. The whole world seemed to have gotten much darker. The corpse was shockingly well preserved… it was damn near fresh. And there didn’t seem to be a hole in her chest where he heart could’ve been removed. But then I saw it underneath her folded arms was the black book, that horrible daemonic bible, the curse to all mankind… the Necronomicon. I stared at and could not look away. I understood now, why it was so horrible, without having looked at a single page or word, I could feel the abomination present. The horror overtook me. I heard the sickening CRACK of metal on skull, and the thump of Grace’s body landing at my feet.
I instinctually fell to the ground, trying to hide in the darkness. I could hear a large man walking around of the leaves just above my head. His breaths with deep and raspy. There seemed to be a dog with him too, for I could hear the pitter-patter of an excited for-legged creature and the lapping of its tongue.
“Grrrggg…” the man grunted and snorted and spat into the grave. I heard him light a cigarette. “Got us another one, mum.” The man’s voice was deep. “Whatta do with dis one?” He hocked and spat again into the grave. It landed on my shoulder but I kept dead quiet.
“Just bury the damned thing,” came a shrill and weak voice that might have been have once been an old woman’s. “Quickly! The book must remain buried!”
“Why they’s always coming fer the book, mum?” the man asked. “They’s always comin fer the book an we always gon stop em’, right mum?”
“Yes that’s right. Now fill the hole. And quickly! Before someone comes.”
“Don’t know one come through here at night.”
“Wait!” the shrill voice hissed. “There is another in there!”
I had been looking down the entire time but now I raised my gaze to see my executioner. And when I saw the hideously shaped, crippled, corpse of the true Lyvinia Orne, licking her lips with a tentacle-like tongue, and hollow eye sockets, I fainted.
I opened my eyes to discover that my waking life had been turned into a nightmare. I awoke screaming and surrounded by screaming. I was in complete darkness, the only total darkness I had ever witnessed in my entire life. I could hardly move. Grace was beside me, pounding at something. I don’t know how long I had struggled and screamed before I discovered a third presence with us. It wasn’t the presence of the corpse, for she was deceased and gave off no aura. But the presence of the black book, which sat somewhere around my mid-section, was overwhelming. I had to get out of there. I had to! I couldn’t be trapped down there with that Satanic book!
We screamed so fiercely and pounded with everything we could but it did no use. Shovel after shovel full of dirt came down on the lid of the coffin, sounding almost like rain. My hands were raw. After an hour we couldn’t hear the dirt being poured anymore. All we could hear was the sound of our own crying. We held each other close atop the decomposing body and wept and kissed and pondered our sad, sad end. I don’t know how much time passed before one of us finally spoke. It wasn’t me, I know that with certainty, so it must have been Grace. But in my delusional state I swore that the voice had come from deep within the chest of the dead woman who we would share a coffin with for eternity.
“Necroooonomicooooooon.” It had seemed to have moaned.
“Yes!” Grace whispered. “Yes that’s it!”
She reached down toward her thighs and produced a lighter. I wished I had closed my eyes when she flicked it. The truth of our damnable situation came all at once as everything was illuminated for me. She grabbed the black bible and searched through its hundreds of pages until the flame from the lighter was nearly out.
“Hurry up!” I said. “Hurry up, please! Fucking Christ, if you don’t find it we’re fucked. We’re going to die. I feel light headed, Grace.”
“It’s here,” she whispered. “It- it's here I found it. It’s ummmm.”
“Don’t worry it’s really simple. ‘To see’st ye faceless god, thy must relinquish thy mortal vision and deny thyself its hideous trapped existence. And thy must utter these words: Cleng en phlagn’roc c’staphn Cthulhu R‘lyeh.’”
She looked up at me in the dying light of the BIC. Then we were in darkness once more. She grabbed my hands and led them to her face, placing my thumbs over her eyelids. Then she did the same with her hand upon my own eyelids.
“What are you doing?” I whispered, terrified of what I knew was going to happen. My heart beat faster and faster as adrenaline poured into my system by the gallon.
“Shhhh… when I say push, then you fucking push. With your thumbs.”
“Shhhhhh. Trust me, it’s the only way.”
“Cleng en phlagn’roc c’staphn …”
“Grace no! WAIT-”
Our screams were the only thing to accompany us as we fell through earth and sky in a spiral. We fell out of the physical existence. We were no longer of this realm. We came to the stars, to that place I had traveled to in my sleep. The cyclopean city out of space and time, where Orion and the Old Ones rest, calling out to us in our dreams. But the inviting feeling, the eternal undying love was no longer there… it had been replaced with malice. The bright stars were replaced with swirling black holes. And we were flung into the Great Abyss by the devourer, Kardoth Sheekah. Experiencing an eternity of suffering in all but an instant.
We awoke in the grounds of the cemetery, dazed and confused like after an intense trip. We had no idea what had happened, or how long we had been laying there. A curious thing however, was that we had dug up poor Lyvinia Orne in the dead of October, but we awoke upon a thick layer of snow. There were no leaves on the trees, and no dogs barking in the distance. We decided that all of the horror had been nothing but a dream, for how else could we have been laying there, perfectly unharmed other than bloodied knuckles and filthy clothes? We didn’t care to ask too many questions, perhaps it was the God had given us a second chance. A chance to redeem ourselves in His eyes from our sins and our brief bout into the dark arts. We stood up and danced and sang and screamed shouts of joy to God and to all mankind and decided to celebrate further with warmth and a hot meal. After leaving the cemetery we found that our eyes were incredibly sensitive to the light. We stole two pairs of sunglasses from a street vendor and found the closest diner.
How long had it been? I just had to know. Though I was happy I couldn’t help but feel that everything was slightly off, like everything in our world had been changed a little bit. Perhaps it was us who had changed? Grace seemed to have read my thoughts for she wandered into the lobby and came back with a newspaper in hand, and a grim look on her face. She pointed to the date. January 16th, 2026.
“More coffee, sir?” the waitress asked me. “Why, you haven’t even touched it… are you alright?”
I looked back at Grace’s eyes… and noticed for the first time that they weren’t hazel. They weren’t even there.