Read Cthulhu Attacks!: Book 1: The Fear Online

Authors: Sean Hoade

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Genre Fiction, #Horror, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Science Fiction, #Post-Apocalyptic

Cthulhu Attacks!: Book 1: The Fear (20 page)

BOOK: Cthulhu Attacks!: Book 1: The Fear
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Washington, DC was right in the bottom of a trough, lucky indeed ... for the moment.

Marine Captain Berry, whose lieutenant bars were replaced before he had even received them, sat across from the President’s desk. She was talking about Cthulhu.

“Kevin, I’ve read this entire story five times, and some things aren’t adding up,” Hampton said, tapping her binder holding the printout of “The Call of Cthulhu.” She flipped it open and found one of her pages affixed with a Post-It note. “Are there artists having visions and molding statues of this creature? Information like that could be advantageous to us as we try to fight it.”

Berry shifted in his extremely comfortable seat, the plushness barely noticed in his discomfort. “Madam President—er, Judith—I mean Judy—I don’t believe we have any way of knowing if sensitive and artistically inclined people are making such sculptures. In the story, the artist is considered mentally unwell, even neurotic. Maybe our artist is in an asylum or just unable to create such a sculpture, maybe for lack of materials or … um … you know, being
dead
.”

The light behind the President’s eyes was bright as she raised a finger in an
Ah-HA!
gesture. “But people
are
making them! They
must
be, and we must find them!” she practically shouted and then, more composedly but still with excitement, began reading to Berry from her binder, skipping from relevant phrase to phrase and filling in where needed:

… a thin, dark young man of neurotic and excited aspect had called upon Professor Angell bearing the singular clay bas-relief, which was then exceedingly damp and fresh. His card bore the name of Henry Anthony Wilcox ... [h]e called himself "psychically hypersensitive" ... [and was] now known only to a small group of aesthetes from other towns. Even the Providence Art Club, anxious to preserve its conservatism, had found him quite hopeless.
 

… [Professor Angell] showed some sharpness [when] the sculptor abruptly asked for the benefit of his host's archeological knowledge in identifying the hieroglyphics of the bas-relief. … [He was suspicious because] the conspicuous freshness of the tablet implied kinship with anything but archeology. … [Wilcox] said, "It is new, indeed, for I made it last night in a dream of strange cities."

 

Hampton looked back up with eyebrows raised in expectation. “Do you see?”

As much as he hated to say it, Berry had to tell her “I don’t. See what? Madam Pr—I mean, Judy. Actually, can I please just call you Madam President?”

“No,” she responded flatly. “We are partners in this. You are Kevin and I am Judy. We are the only people who can meet this threat head-on because we are the only ones who understand
the story
, Kevin—
the STORY.
Lovecraft knew—how did he know?—but he
knew
. Do you see now? We must use
the story
to save what’s left of humanity.”

Kevin’s chair could have been made of angel clouds and it still would have felt as uncomfortable to him right then as a seat of razor blades. She could be “Judy” all she wanted—and he was no one to ignore a direct order of the President of the United States, so “Judy” it would be—but she was getting too drawn in by the story, which was just a story, no matter what the thing rising from the ocean looked like. “Judy, would you allow me to play devil’s advocate for a moment?”

“Of course. I need solid advice on this. In fact, in just a few minutes we should have with us a pre-eminent scholar of Lovecraft and his work.”

Thank god.
“Wonderful! Who is it?”

“His name is, ah …” She checked a notepad on her historic desk. “Yes! Martin Storch.”

“Whoa, shit! Excuse me, Madam President—”

She waved it off, both the profanity and the moniker.

“He’s amazing! He uses the most clear and brutal honesty and logic no matter what he’s writing about. He’s the one who let Mother Teresa have it in one of his
Guardian
articles, calling her a fraud for washing the feet of lepers like the Bible says instead of getting them treatment that would vastly improve their lives, maybe even save them! He’s absolutely fearless about the truth.” Berry felt an incredible burden lifted off of him with the news of Storch’s imminent arrival. Kevin had become increasingly worried about the President’s reliance on the literal text of the story.

Just like Mother Teresa with her reliance on
her
literal text, the Bible.

Without Storch, this could be an A-grade fustercluck.

Cthulhu, save me!
he thought, and smiled to himself despite everything

“So, as you were saying,” Hampton said, returning his smile. “Advocate away on behalf of your diabolical client.”

“Oh! Yes. Here’s the thing—there is a lot in ‘The Call of Cthulhu’ that is irrelevant or even in opposition to the anomaly.”

“But there’s a lot that matches almost exactly.”

Those were definitely the words of a textual fundamentalist, Berry realized with a chill, but continued: “Yes, sure, but in the story Cthulhu’s effect is some psychological discomfort, even temporary madness, but nothing like killing millions of people just by his rising from R’lyeh. And there aren’t any Cthulhu cults stepping forward to tell us all ‘We told you so.’ There’s no hidden documents uncovered by professors and scientists, with shadowy figures murdering them. Most of the story has nothing to do with what’s actually going on.”

The President nodded as he spoke, listening respectfully and attentively, but she seemed suddenly
hard
somehow. He had seen this look on television and in the Situation Room as the A/V tech when she was being challenged, and he did not like it at
all
being directed his way. “Am I to understand this as your opinion on the situation?”

“No! I mean, not necessarily. I’m just pointing out some inconsistencies, that’s all—you know, devil’s advocate and all,” he said, tripping over his own words as they rushed out nervously. “I mean, for all we know, these
sensitive
people may have drawn or sculpted depictions of the Old One, but with the highways impassable, maybe they haven’t been able to tell the media, or their local authorities? So we wouldn’t know about it yet, you see?”

Hampton’s face softened. “Ah, all right, I understand where you’re going with this. We must assume, based on the uncannily accurate prediction about Cthulhu rising, that the other parts of ‘Call of Cthulhu’ are accurate, but it isn’t currently possible for us to
confirm
this because of the unprecedented appearance of a powerful alien entity causing psychic distress in humans and thus blocking up much of our infrastructure. Is that what you’re saying? I mean, in your role as devil’s advocate, of course.”

That was not at all

what he was saying. In fact, he could name three simultaneous logical fallacies the President was putting forth, but Martin Storch would join them shortly, and he let no logical slip go unchallenged. And if Berry pushed it, the soothsaying writer wouldn’t be with them for long because he would be saying things contrary to what the (Lovecraftian fundamentalist?) President had now decided was the truth. She would throw him out on his ear the first time he took a logical stance against her. (And the woman had been a
teacher
, for goodness’ sake.) But they had all been affected by the rising of what was apparently Cthulhu—and who was it who told her that the anomaly was Cthulhu in the first place? She couldn’t have become a textual fundamentalist if he hadn’t supplied her with the text.

No, Berry would not speak truth to power. He was a nobody compared to Martin Storch. Let him do it. Berry’s fingers went to his shiny captain’s bars, which he didn’t want to lose. Yes, let Storch tell her she was going too far.

At that moment, the President rose and came out from behind her desk to shake the hand of the man who had just been escorted by the Secret Service into the Oval Office. Reflexively, Captain Berry rose and turned as well.

“Madam President,” Martin Storch said.

They shook hands, Storch introduced Percy and the President introduced Berry. “The Captain and I were just talking about how we must take every word of ‘The Call of Cthulhu’ completely literally if we are to defeat this monster and save humanity.”

“Every word, you say?” He sawed his jaw back and forth a bit, and glanced between Hampton and Berry as if he were actually chewing on the nonsense the President was spewing. He looked around the lush, historic office and then back at the leader of the free world.

Berry let out a breath he wasn’t aware he had been holding and thought,
That’s right, please use your authority, Martin, show her how it can’t

“That seems the most logical course of action to me, Madam President.”

Oh, god.
Berry had to shut his eyes to try to stop the room from spinning. When he opened them, it just got worse.

“Please, call me Judy.”

“Indeed? Then please, I’m Martin. It will be a pleasure to, ah,
collaborate
with you. Our names will go down in history as those who saved the world from the seer Lovecraft’s alien menace.”

“I need to get you to the press room, announce you as my advisor. I think Captain Berry has served us well before your arrival, clueing us in to the nature of the threat that is Cthulhu.”

“I agree,” Martin said, looking at Berry with a very tiny smirk. “Excellent work, young man. I’m glad we had a chance to meet before you returned to your regular duties. I’ve got this in hand now, I believe, Judy.”

“Thank you for your help,” the President said to Berry, shaking his hand before dismissing him from the Oval Office.

I should’ve known
, Berry realized.
Celebrities, both of them, kissing each other’s famous asses.

 

Interstate 95, near Philadelphia, PA

Event + 32 hours

 

Even out of his mind, which Orange Marmalade certainly was, and even driven by bliss, as he was with the thought of being with Master, the bleeding and blisters in his Keds, combined with more than a complete day of walking with no rest, had worn him down. He had walked 90 miles but his journey had scarcely begun if Master was going to remain at the bottom of the Earth. He needed to rest.

Several hours earlier, he had witnessed those still alive inside their cars or standing beside them start screaming and running like they were on fire in the direction from which Orange Marmalade had come, the north. He kept walking, unable to retain any curiosity about them since his every thought was about going to the south.

Would he have to stop and sleep on the grass between the highway lanes? Should he get in an abandoned car on the highway and rest in the back seat? Even a second not spent answering Master’s summons was torture to him.

You are my God
, his brain called, able to form coherent thoughts around his schizophrenia as long as he kept Cthulhu foremost in his mind.
You are my God. So I may serve you, please send a miracle so I may be at your side. If—

“Hey! You! In the scrubs!”

Orange Marmalade whirled around to see an M1 Abrams Heavy Battle Tank (although of course he didn’t know its name) sitting on top of crushed vehicles with a trail of crushed vehicles behind it in the grassy median, moving forward slowly but surely. He raised a hand in greeting to the helmeted soldier standing half out of the top hatch of the tank and holding a half-empty bottle of whiskey.

“You’re the first non-crazy soul we’ve seen in hours! What is everybody running from?”

You may speak
, a voice sounded in Orange Marmalade’s mind,
if you speak only of the Truth
. He usually could talk only in word salad, even though he knew what he meant to say. But now his mouth said these words: “They are scared.”

“Scared? Hell, who isn’t? But they’re all running the wrong way! The only safe place right now is Washington—there’s no way Congress and the President are gonna be in danger. And we’re the
Army
—that’s where we belong, defending freedom and Presidents and whatnot!”

“Washington?” Orange Marmalade said, confused. “Is that … south?”

The soldier looked at him askance. “Unless they moved it. That where you’re headed?”

He nodded. His thoughts were so
clear
. “I need to rest.”

“Well, the United States Army welcomes you to get on in here. We got room—only two of us in here, and we got booze aplenty, my man! The rest of our crew bugged out and started running and screaming and tearing each other apart. I mean, what is this,
Night of the Living Dead?
Lucky Mitchum and myself were already drinking, or else we would’ve freaked out just
watching
the craziness! ‘Don’t drink on duty,’ my sweet Aunt Sally. It’s the only way to stay calm these days, isn’t it, Mitch?”

“Damn straight, Staff Sergeant!” a voice came from inside the tank.

“I’m Doucette!” the tank commander shouted to Orange Marmalade. “What’s your name?”

BOOK: Cthulhu Attacks!: Book 1: The Fear
10.17Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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