Chaos Crawls

Fue un misterio que dejó una sensación de confusión con todos los que conocían al hombre; nadie fue capaz de averiguar dónde había ido Joseph Hyman. Durante muchos días nadie había visto al joven y talentoso escritor, él, de forma alta y flaca, con los hombros ligeramente más encorvados por las cargas internas que las de por fuera, y el corazón puro pero triste, por ninguna parte, a pesar de su belleza casi misteriosa y la dulzura esencial natural, si pudiera encontrar el amor apasionado que buscaba. Simplemente se había desvanecido en la fría noche de invierno. Ni amigos ni familiares habían recibido ninguna noticia de él; solo había habido un golpe en la puerta de su casera esa fría Nochebuena, y allí en la puerta estaban sus dos queridos gatos en jaulas, acompañados de una nota garabateada que no estaba en la letra de Joséph pidiéndole que cuide de ellos. Cuando se le preguntó, la casera, la señora Kazarian, no tenía idea de dónde pudo haber desaparecido Joseph. En privado, sin embargo, frunció el ceño y murmuró sombríamente sobre los "demonios" y sintió una sensación de creciente temor por el bienestar, tanto del cuerpo como del alma, de "ese pobre hombre querido."

Sus preocupaciones eran muy cercanas a las correctas, porque el joven Joseph Hyman había encontrado algo mucho peor que un demonio del mito humano. Él había mirado a los ojos, y había sido arrastrado a los brazos, de la locura misma; había sido seducido por el mensajero oscuro del vacío, el espíritu habilitador del señor demoníaco sin mente, el terrible Azathoth. Se había encontrado a sí mismo dentro de las garras del caos arrastrándose, Nyarlathotep.

Sin embargo, no temas por él. Él está a salvo por ahora, y las criaturas de la perra en el centro del infinito nunca lo tocarán mientras yo esté aquí para cuidarlo. Donde estoy de guardia, ni siquiera la muerte puede pasar.

I am the life force, and I have had a thousand forms and a thousand names. I have stalked the barren deserts, all muscle and stealth, all teeth and burnished claws, and have sat upon the hearth of many a household as comfort for housewives and small children. For now, you may know me as Zoya. Two golden eyes and four small, swift feet, and senses that allow me to stay alert, to confound even he who sees himself as the ultimate trickster.

Joseph Hyman, named for the biblical interpreter of dreams, was himself a skilled explorer in the realm of dreamland – an admirer of the great dream-questers before him – Alice Liddell, Randolph Carter and so many more… he was both proud and grateful to have the ability to follow in their footsteps, and his sharp wits helped him evade the many dangers that lurk in the domain of slumber for mortal dreamers. When he returned to the waking world, he was inspired by all the beauty and the terror of his nightly visions, and he crafted their raw materials into the jewels that were his stories and his poems.

It was through him that the crawling chaos sought to come into the waking world, and once there, to seek power.

Nyarlathotep had done so once before; he had come out of Egypt at a time when the world was in flux, when crime and violence ruled the streets of great cities to almost as massive an extent as they do now. With the face and burning eyes of an ancient Pharaoh and the shape and grace of a young god, he captivated the great minds of the day with ancient Egyptian lore and modern science. He lured and deceived, spreading insanity far and wide, and so many of the good and talented were swept to the furthest reaches of the universe, cast down as tribute to the shapeless, ravenous Azathoth, the one of whom the righteous and civilised will never speak.

It was another god, one who was old before Nyarlathotep and I were born, who sent him back to the void that time. But that one is lost to this world now, and only I remain to stand against the emissary of the blind devourer, that ultimate fearsome lord.

“What pretentious, romantic rot you’re always talking, Zoya!”

The crawling chaos stands with me now in the dimension between dimensions, the neutral zone that is neither matter nor spirit, but something undefined. We are at stalemate here – neither can mount an attack against the other, and our powers cannot be used at all.

“At least I have something substantial to speak of, when you speak only madness and mockery,” I retort, pacing up and down, hissing between velvet-padded steps. “You’ll never find him, you know. One such as he is too precious to be flung into the maw of your disgusting master.”

“Madness is as madness does, little Ulthar-spawn. And I have other plans for the rainbow-spinner, the beautiful one with his head in the clouds. He is my gateway back to earth. I shall be one with him. I almost was.” Nyarlathotep stalks me as I pace, his eyes cold with fury. “Beware always, lest I do more than singe your little kitty-tail. I have bested gods who are far more powerful than you.”

“As if you could cause any harm at all in this place,” I scoff. “And those gods may have been more powerful, but they weren’t half as clever!”

“We’ll see, Zoya, indeed we shall see. You’ll have to go back to other realms sooner or later. And when you do, I shall track you down… and him.”

Joseph’s intellect was vast, his mind was brilliant and unassailable, and yet his tender heart was as vulnerable as a child’s. For so long he had sought a beloved, standing shy and forlorn at festive gatherings or typing messages out into the ether of the internet, and yet the woman or man that Joseph craved to join his very essence with remained elusive. He found many friends, and many who admired him in the way he bestowed his respect and adulation upon those who were his dream-quest idols. But nowhere seemed to be that one person he could devote his entire life to.

It was this state of longing and despair that led his dreaming into darker pathways. A literal seduction, it happened gradually – he was first haunted, then captured in a net of his own curiosity, lust and boundless hunger to be loved. And what human being whose heart is crying for passion could resist a suitor so attractive in face and form, who spoke all the words that any person would most want to hear?

And I really do believe he convinced himself Nyarlathotep could love him. Though of course, such a creature is incapable of love. Sardonic and deceptive, motivated by the narcissism which is in the nature of the Other Gods whose soul and emissary he is, the wild vengeance of the void against all life beyond it is his sole delight.

The initial dreams were innocent enough. Joseph would be taking walks beside the shimmering rivers of dreamland with a stranger who had a mellow voice and soulful eyes, dressed in prismatic robes resembling the attire of the biblical namesake of Joseph himself. He had the air of a priest or a healer about him, and handsome features reminiscent of the Egyptian kings of yore; he was one who passed no judgement upon Joseph and listened intently to everything the youthful dream-quester had to say. Soon merely lending a sympathetic ear had transformed into sweet kisses and sensual caresses, the regal one’s slender fingers stroking Joseph’s pale, smooth chest or winding in his long, dark hair and tugging it sharply as he claimed the pure young man’s tender mouth, his kissing becoming deeper, rougher and more intense.

“Take me, I belong to you.” Joseph would whisper as he stripped himself bare for this wondrous, masterful man who had become his lover, if only in his dreams. And take him the godlike one would, moistening Joseph’s tender entrance with soothing oil and pulling Joseph onto his lap, clasping the dreamer’s slim hips as he thrust up hard into the tightness and heat that engulfed him.

“You do not belong to me just yet, my beauty, but soon you will. Open to me in every way, my pet. Obey me, trust me, and then you will be mine,” Nyarlathotep would whisper before sinking his teeth into Joseph’s neck.

Nyarlathotep began to send the young dreamer visions that were stranger and wilder than any that had gone before – sculpted funeral masks of gold and lapis lazuli, the blazing eyes of jackal-headed Anubis and cold stone tombs where the embalmed dead were waiting to rise. The swirling abyss where howling abominations lurked, their vicious, slobbering needle-toothed mouths striving against the clouds of vapour surrounding them to tear the flesh they caught the scent of. Serpents slithering and coiling in profusion, their fangs slick with deadly venom. All sights designed to goad and provoke the mind, to stimulate the slipping away of sanity. They confused and disturbed young Joseph, but his lover with the face of a god-king always came to reassure him, to make love to him again and tell him once more to trust, to let himself be open. And Joseph would tremble at the terrible things he saw, but reminded himself that his beloved would always be there for him. He would always come when Joseph craved and needed him.

Until that night when the lover became a part of the nightmare territory, and I knew that I must intervene to save this dreamer, and the waking world.

In this dream, a marble altar stood upon a hill-top; Joseph lay naked and bound to it as a sacrifice, with his lover standing above him, robed as a High Priest. The pointed blade of an ivory-handled knife traced from one of Joseph’s nipples to the other, down almost to the swollen hardness between his thighs, then back up over his body to rest against his throat. No cut was made, yet Joseph found himself crying out and struggling against his bonds, terror mingling with desire as Nyarlathotep leaned closer to whisper to him.

“Now is the time, beloved. Leave this mortal life and the waking world behind, and become one with me.”

Joseph opened his mouth to scream, but it was not his voice that cried, “No! Never!” as the cords that bound him snapped, and the calm features of Nyarlathotep twisted in rage and all around him dissolved in chaos and darkness and empty, frozen space.

All the magic that is in me, all the spells and incantations I possess, all of this I set in motion to save the life and soul of Joseph Hyman. It left me somewhat weakened, but I will survive and again grow strong. And so will Joseph Hyman. He is safe for now, and I will strive to keep him so.

His dream-self dwells in my old homeland, Ulthar beyond the River Skai. In a cottage where the jasmine grows and climbs around the windows, and graceful cats, his dear friends and my own little brothers and sisters, wander in and out, rubbing against him and purring. And he has a human companion there now, too, a man with soft brown hair who loves to play music for him and read aloud from books full of ancient love-poems. This new lover has the face of the man who tends to Joseph’s physical form as he rests, comatose until he has recovered enough to wake again, in a dwelling which is not so different from his Ulthar home, a place that smells of herbs and dried hay, flowers and summertime, even in the time of winter chill.

I know that Nyarlathotep still lurks – he will be searching for his former captive and for me. But as long as I am vigilant, he shall find neither of us. He is the trickster, the merciless one who can torment and taunt the mild gods of earth, snatching them away from paradise on a whim. But I am the life force, and cannot be easily defeated.

Where I stand guard, not even Death may pass.

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