April 30th, 2016
Rachel looks out her dorm room window. It’s snowing human skin turned to ashes in the flames that once made up the quiet town of Arkham, Massachusetts. Flashes in the smoke end in screams as blasts of energy connect in the umber fallout light. Some vast coil lifts toward the sky, its bulk hidden yet horribly revealed by the sheer size of that techno-magic appendage. The air thick like a deep-sea scream; oppressed by density and lost in dark. Rachael feels something overcome her and smiles as she looks down and spots her two friends Audrey and Taylor walking and talking in the direction of the cafeteria. Rachel opens her window and yells, “Hey guys, where ya goin’?”
Audrey turns and looks up at Rachel. In the sky above the dorm a great dragon writhes like the jagged cracks of a lightning bolt. Serpents rain from the heavens in its wake as it passes. “We’re going for a walk around campus. Wanna tag along?”
“Works for me. One sec, let me take care of something real fast.” Rachel glances over at her Skype conversation with her girlfriend, Elizabeth. The newest message read: ‘For the love of God get over here now!!!’ Rachel rolls her eyes and types back, ‘Listen Liz, I don’t think this is going to work. I feel like you’re being really controlling, and that’s not cool.’ She presses enter and rushes back to the window, “I’ll be right down.”
Grabbing her phone, she walks out into the hallway. The fire alarm blares as walking corpses bang down her neighbor’s door. Rachel’s phone buzzes, a new email from the President of Miskatonic University. ’In light of the ensuing apocalypse all classes have been canceled until further notice. May God have mercy on your souls. Ia Korirtu, Ia Zshugu-mmal!′ Rachel closes the e-mail and cheers, “Sweet, no Advanced Fiction Workshop today!”
She finds Audrey and Taylor in the midst of another argument, “I don’t see why it’s any of your business if I quit or not.” says Audrey.
“Considering what I had to do to get you that internship,” Taylor replies, “I think I should have a say in this.”
“Please, you got me that job so we could spend more time together.” Audrey quips. A group of white fraternity-bro looters run past, each loaded down with computers, TVs, and game consoles.
“I got you that ‘job’ because an internship at Calway Media is a broadcasting major’s wet dream.” Taylor explains. She looks over to Rachel who is busy texting, “Rachel, tell Audrey that if she finishes this internship she can get any broadcasting job she wants.”
Rachel looks up for only a second, “Hmm, sorry, Kelly was telling me this crazy story about a group of tanks rolling down the highway from Innsmouth. I think she’s been hitting the bottle again.” they begin walking, “Hey I know that it’s so wrong, ethically speaking, but can we get go to the food court and grab some Chick’Fil’A? The last time we got Chinese at the food court it made me sick for a week.”
“Fine, but you have to tell Audrey that she needs to stay at Calway Media.”
Rachel’s head was in her cellphone again Taylor had to give her a good shove to get her attention, “What? Hey, don’t you just work in the mail-room Tay?”
“No, I just got promoted” Taylor says, a smile crossing her lips.
“Oh here we go again.” Audrey groans. In the distance the sounds of machine guns, air-raid sirens, and alien shrieks grows louder as the horrors from the darkest corners of the multiverse focus all of their attention on Arkham.
“For your information Missy, Gaius Calway promoted me himself.” snaps Taylor.
Not looking from her phone Rachel asks, “Neat, when’d that happen?”
“Two weeks ago.” Taylor says, “I dropped off this package to Calway’s penthouse. It was a small crate marked as an urgent delivery. He was up there with his gang of weirdos -you’ve heard the stories of his -kinks- they’re all true. Anyway, he opens it up and it’s just some musty old book. The guy thanks me and says for all my hard work he’s making me Shipping Supervisor, and that I can hire a dozen new interns.”
Audrey raises her hands in the air, “God, enough!” the sky shakes, “I’m tired of you lording over me with your, ‘You outta thank me for giving you this job’ shit.’” She reaches into her backpack for a bottle of water.
A high pitched screaming echos nearby, “Oh Christ, Mikewl!” seconds later a scrawny guy runs out of an alley, a diamond sword in hand; not far behind him an apocalypse of two meter tall walking cacti chase after him with surprising speed. The three girls walk past and turn the corner. Seconds later several explosions ring out, followed by the rumbling of a collapsing building. Rachel turns around. Dust rises into the midnight void where her dorm once stood.
“What is it Rach?” Audrey asks, taking a sip of water.
“Eh, nothing just thought I just saw Gavin run past.” she replies, and resumes texting.
They continue walking; now crossing the quad. Groups of cowering basketball players and frightened fratboys cower about the courtyard. One mad fool stands up and pulls out his phone to record the approach of the four warriors of dementia who heft their tools of destruction. They are all four clad in spiky armor that blends into their writhing flesh. They were human, once, now LED implants beneath their skin glow a pallid green in this final twilight. One hefts a hand that morphs into the barrel of cannon, and fires a blast of superheated plasma into the clutch of cowering athletes. Another opens her mouth in a shout of triumph, her keening voice burns the fratboys like babies on a grill. The third boils like smoke inside its armor, the lines of that meat carapace blurring into a haze. However before the third can attack, the fourth warrior unhooks some black shining orb from a belt that’s fused to his skin, and lifts it for an overhead throw. The orb whistles as it sails through the air and splashes on the camera guy, causing a viscous black liquid to soak into his body and turn him into a column of ash.
“I still think you should reconsider the internship Audrey.” Taylor says.
Audrey pulls at her hair, “Let it go Taylor, I don’t want to work in a fucking mail room.”
A hail of phased energy rips into the first warrior, taking half of his face revealing writhing green tendrils where a brain should have been. The warriors turn toward the source of the attack. On the other side of the quad stand two heraldic figures.
One holds a futuristic looking machine gun, its barrel still smoking. Clad in black ceramic plate armor under a dusty black duster, his head hidden beneath a black metallic helmet with glowing red eyes that looked ripped out of a video game. He points a red gauntleted right hand and yells out at the first warrior, “S’matter Buddy? You look a little-” he turns to his companion, a Japanese woman with flowing waist length hair. She wore similar armor, only in white, “-what’s the word I’m lookin for here Kay?”
The woman in white looks at her companion, “Like a bunch of pawns sent to the slaughter?”
“I was gonna say they look stupid, but that’s,” The black clad hero put his red hand up to his chin, “better.”
“No I won’t let this go,” Taylor replies as the group continues walking along the far side of the quad, completely unaware of the showdown going on in the center, “Not until you tell me why you don’t want an internship that will open the door for any career you want!”
“Hey guys, Kendra says that the tanks are heading toward campus.” Rachel says, “What do you think’s up with that?”
“Just drop it Taylor.” Audrey begs
The second warrior steps forward, “Your mission’s failed Heralds! Soon He-Who-Waits-Behind-The-Walls will pour fourth into this world, and end the tyranny of the Multiverse!”
“Not as long as I draw breath, not as long as the will of humanity clings to freedom,” replies the black clad herald, “Not as long as, BY THE GODS WHAT THE HOLY FUCK-STICK IS THAT!” he points behind them.
“No I won’t drop it.” Taylor says, “Because I’m not about to let you fuck over your future because you don’t want to work in a mail room.”
The four warriors head’s swivel around full a one-eighty. Behind them a tiny Yorkshire Terrier puppy lets loose a long trilling yip of a bark.
The fourth warrior laughs, “This is hardly a tactic one would expect from one of the Five Heralds of Legend.”
The black clad herald laughs, “I know. Sometimes I go too far, I’m the first to admit it. You fucks stand no chance against a Hound of Tindalos like Gonzo here.”
The puppy barks again in agreement, and a pack of nightmarish hell hounds step out of the cracks and corners in the pavement behind it. The Yorkie then shifts its form into one as well. Their fanged maws dripping a putrescent ichor, “Is this supposed to scare us? Mh’ithrha might be a formidable opponent against the likes of Zshugu-mmal, but it and it's pathetic pack are nothing against the chosen of Zalthun such as us!” The first warrior asks, his face growing back.
“Nah, tell ya the truth, I’m just fucking around ’til Kay had enough time to go all ‘Psychic Goddess’ on you bitches. Which should be-”
“Now.” The woman in white says, her arms opening wide. Her skin takes on a blue pebbly texture as she begins to hover in the air. An azure aura surrounds her with micro-singularities, their orbit around her slowing as her eyes light up like two high beams.
“Tell me why you don’t want the job.” Taylor demands.
“Because I’m changing majors! Alright?” Audrey yells as they leave the quad, and the showdown behind them, and continue their quest for delicious homophobia fueled chicken sandwiches. In the distance a monster of vaguely anthropoid outline, but with an octopus-like head whose face was a mass of feelers, with a scaly, rubbery-looking body, prodigious claws on hind and fore feet, and long narrow wings on its back carves a swath across town, toppling over a fifty story building as if it were a house made of straw.
“What do you mean your changing majors?” Taylor screams, “You’re only three semesters from graduating. You can’t change majors now.”
Audrey takes another sip from her water bottle, leaving it about half full, “I don’t care when I graduate. I don’t want to go into broadcasting anymore.”
Their journey takes them past the road to Innsmouth just as a battalion of crimson and gold tanks rumble past; a man wearing a flowing toga and golden Roman centurion armor rides atop the head tank like a colonel leading a cavalry charge. He sees the girls walking and orders his company to stop. He dismounts and runs over to them. “Taylor,” he says, “what are you and your friends doing out here? You should be taking shelter. Can you not see that all is coming to an end?”
Taylor turns and recognizes the man as her boss, “Oh, Mr. Calway, could you tell my girlfriend that changing majors this late in college is a horrible idea.”
Gaius Calway raised an eyebrow and looks quickly at the wanton destruction around him, “Girls I don’t believe that is very, important, right now.”
Audrey turns and points a finger in Taylor’s face, “See, told you.”
Two people walk up from the tanks and towards Gaius. One a woman in black samurai armor, the other a giant muscle bound man with curly blonde hair. The man taps Gaius on the shoulder and says, “Caligula sir, we’ve just got reports that the left flank has fallen to Der Großmann’s proxies.”
“By Janus.” Gaius says, “What about the Vanguard? Can they be routed from Derleth Park, Samson?”
“Doubtful sir,” the man replies, “Otrova’s company is complely surrounded by a joint Majestic-12/Golden Dragon task force.”
“If you don’t care when you graduate then what major could you possibly want to switch to?” Taylor asks.
“Art History.” Audrey says,
“Yeah or sociology, I havn’t made up my mind yet.”
Gaius turns his head to the armored woman, “What about Harper’s forces.”
“Harper hasn’t reported in since the dragon appeared in the sky.” she says, “We have to assume that BSC Mobile Command Site-01 has been shot down with Harper and the brunt of his operatives still aboard. I recommend that we abandon our push towards the Nezperidian Hivemind's gate and mobilize a final defense at Doctor Nasbeth’s location near the Science Building while he finishes the ARC.”
“Hey did you guys know that Marc got a new roomate?” Rachel says showing Taylor and Audrey a picture of a young twenty something standing next to a ten foot tall figure in a dark black suit.
“No way, I thought he was rooming with that Wesley guy?” Audrey says, “Whatever happened to him?”
From over a radio the voice of a British gentleman chimed in, “I concur with the Major on this one. I’ve still a bit of work to do until the conduit is ready, and, well there seems to be an armada of Leng Spiders approaching from Dunwich, and the hoards of the Stillborn King are doing quite an effecient job at tearing down the Sorriano Family’s defenses. Any word from John or Keiko yet?”
A mushroom cloud erupted from the quad, the voice of the masked herald reports, “Does that answer your question Nasbeth? Gods I love the smell of burning cultist in the morning! Except not really, cause something during the transformation between capitalist investment banker to fleshwarped pawn of literal lovecraftian nightmares causes them to smell worse than a sewege treatment plant on a hot Kentucky afternoon."
Another voice, the voice of the woman in white armor chimes in. "Anyway we’re about done here so John and I will meet you all at the science building so we can all go out together like big goddamn heroes.” the transmission cut out.
“Well that settles it. We make our way to Doctor Nasbeth, he’s priority number one at this point.” Gaius orders. He turns back to the girls and says, “Please ladies, get yourselves somewhere safe, the world’s literally coming apart at the seams out here.”
“Hey do you think Marc’s new roomate has a car?” Taylor asks, “I’m tired of driving his ass all over town.”
“I dunno let me ask him.” Rachel replies, “Hey should we cut through the alley between Howard and Lovecraft hall? It’ll cut about five minutes off our trip.”
Taylor looks at her and says, “No it won’t, the fastest way is to cut between Carter and Bloch.”
“Yeah but Liz lives in Bloch and I kinda don’t want to talk to her right now.”
“I don’t have a problem with it.” Audrey says, glaring at Taylor.
“Fine,” Taylor says, “but let’s hurry, I’m starving.” They set off again, leaving a flabbergasted Gaius to stare at them in dumbfounded awe.
Audrey took another drink from her water bottle. As they cut across a parking lot, a guy covered in dust shuffles up to them. He drags a diamond sword behind him as he walks. “Please,” he says in an thick British accent, “Could I have some water?”
Rachel looks up from her phone, “Hi Gavin.”
“Hi Rachewl.” he replies.
“Having fun with your class free afternoon?” She asks, her eyes not leaving her phone.
“Wha, um,” he looks around at the fires in the distance, “Not really, no.”
“Gotta live it up Gavin, you’re always working.” Audrey says, “The world could end tomorrow, and what do you have to show for it?”
“I think you might be a day late with your assessment there.” Gavin says, taking in the destruction and chaos around them, “Now do you think I could get a sip of water, I’m literally dying of thirst.”
“Gavin you know Audrey doesn’t let anyone drink after her.” Taylor says, and the three girls walk down the alley, leaving Gavin alone. His sword slips from his hands as he shambles away from them. Only to be scooped up by a mob of green robed cultists led by the University President seconds later. They carry him off toward a sacrificial alter they chanting all the way, “Cast off the flesh, feed the gods, Ia Korirtu, Ia Zshugu-mmal!”
“I can’t believe you Taylor.” Audrey says. Gavin lets loose a blood curdling wail in the distance.
“Can’t believe what?” Taylor asks.
The cultists chant grows lowder, “Korirtu Fhtagn! Ia Korirtu!”
“That you would embarrass me like that in front of Gavin?” Audrey replies.
Gavin’s screams fade off into a gutteral rattle.
“Why do you care what he thinks of you?” Taylor snaps her voice full of jealousy and vinegar.
“I don’t, it’s just the principal of the thing.” Audrey crosses her arms and looks down. She glances over to Rachel, who is still busy texting, “You know what I mean, right Rach?”
A tall slender figure manifests behind Taylor. It appears to be a man in a suit. It is not a man in a suit. Its face is a featureless void of pallid nothingness, and multitudes of inky black tendrils sprout wriggling from its back. It taps Taylor on her shoulder with an elongated finger, she turns to face it and opens her mouth as if to scream as Tendrils wrap around her.
“Hmm, yeah, sure.” Rachael says.
Audrey turns to look back at Taylor, preparing another verbal jab. She’s gone. The alley is bereft of life save for Rachel and herself. No Taylor, no cultists, no creature that is not a man in a suit.
“That bitch.” Audrey says, “She’s dumped us.” Audrey turns around and heads back toward the parking complex. Rachael continues mindlessly onward toward the cafeteria. Reaching the end of the corridor; Audrey is snatched up by a cyclopean green gelatinous claw, and lifted high into the air. The last thing she sees is the octopus-like head of a cosmic being from beyond the stars, and a maw surrounded by blubbery feelers.
Rachael walks in silence now. Unaware of the brave firefight between power armored ultramarines and an unending wave of abhorrent spider-like aberrations. She passes the charred ruin that was once the campus library, now home to an Elysium of Nosferatu chomping on spit roasted infants from the nearby hospital. In the sky the outline of a hover-carrier hurtles toward the city in the smoke beyond the veil of madness. It fires onboard lasers at the great dragon in the sky, in a vain attempt to bring the beast down. On Armitage Avenue an aged wizard in grey slams down a gnarled staff, trying with all of his arcane might to halt the charge of a great spice worm summoned forth from a distant desert planet. Somewhere near the science building, there is a thundering of cannons, a chittering of spiders, and the sounds of a super-science device beyond the likes of average human comprehension.
Rachael walks past it all, and into the blasted remains of the cafeteria. She grabs the last chicken sandwich from the line, places a five dollar bill at the closest register, seemingly unaware that the cashier is a charred and smoking pile of dust. She sits down at a lonely table, and opens her sandwich. Inky black drops fall on the bun. Rachel lets out a long echoing laugh as tears of ebony corruption run rivers down her face, her eyes now hollow voids of nothingness and dispair.
The last words she says before her mouth splits in a wide toothy Glasgow Grin are, “Just as planned.”
Did you enjoy my story? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, Josh MoberlyWrite a Review