I continued, however, to keep a
careful record of the outré dreams which crowded upon me so thickly
and vividly. Such a record, I argued, was of genuine value as a psychological
document. The glimpses still seemed damnably like memories, though I fought
off this impression with a goodly measure of success.
In writing, I treated the phantasmata
as things seen; but at all other times I brushed them aside like any gossamer
illusions of the night. I had never mentioned such matters in common conversation;
though reports of them, filtering out as such things will, had aroused
sundry rumors regarding my mental health. It is amusing to reflect that
these rumors were confined wholly to laymen, without a single champion
among physicians or psychologists.
Of my visions after 1914 I will
here mention only a few, since fuller accounts and records are at the disposal
of the serious student. It is evident that with time the curious inhibitions
somewhat waned, for the scope of my visions vastly increased. They have
never, though, become other than disjointed fragments seemingly without
Within the dreams I seemed gradually
to acquire a greater and greater freedom of wandering. I floated through
many strange buildings of stone, going from one to the other along mammoth
underground passages which seemed to form the common avenues of transit.
Sometimes I encountered those gigantic sealed trap-doors in the lowest
level, around which such an aura of fear
and forbiddenness clung.
I saw tremendously tessellated pools,
and rooms of curious and inexplicable utensils of myriad sorts. Then there
were colossal caverns of intricate machinery whose outlines and purpose
were wholly strange to me, and whose sound manifested itself only after
many years of dreaming. I may here remark that sight and sound are the
only senses I have ever exercised in the visionary
The real horror began in May, 1915,
when I first saw the living things. This was before my studies had taught
me what, in view of the myths and case histories, to expect. As mental
barriers wore down, I beheld great masses of thin vapour in various parts
of the building and in the streets below.
These steadily grew more solid and
distinct, till at last I could trace their monstrous outlines with uncomfortable
ease. They seemed to be enormous, iridescent cones, about ten feet high
and ten feet wide at the base, and made up of some ridgy, scaly, semi-elastic
matter. From their apexes projected four flexible, cylindrical members,
each a foot thick, and of a ridgy substance like
that of the cones themselves.
These members were sometimes contracted
almost to nothing, and sometimes extended to any distance up to about ten
feet. Terminating two of them were enormous claws or nippers. At the end
of a third were four red, trumpetlike appendages. The fourth terminated
in an irregular yellowish globe some two feet in diameter and having three
great dark eyes ranged along its central
Surmounting this head were four
slender grey stalks bearing flower-like appendages, whilst from its nether
side dangled eight greenish antennae or tentacles. The great base of the
central cone was fringed with a rubbery, grey substance which moved the
whole entity through expansion and contraction.
Their actions, though harmless,
horrified me even more than their appearance - for it is not wholesome
to watch monstrous objects doing what one had known only human beings to
do. These objects moved intelligently about the great rooms, getting books
from the shelves and taking them to the great tables, or vice versa, and
sometimes writing diligently with a peculiar rod
gripped in the greenish head tentacles.
The huge nippers were used in carrying books and in conversation-speech
consisting of a kind of clicking and scraping.
The objects had no clothing, but
wore satchels or knapsacks suspended from the top of the conical trunk.
They commonly carried their head and its supporting member at the level
of the cone top, although it was frequently raised or lowered.
The other three great members tended
to rest downward at the sides of the cone, contracted to about five feet
each when not in use. From their rate of reading, writing, and operating
their machines - those on the tables seemed somehow connected with thought
- I concluded that their intelligence was enormously greater than man's.
Aftenvard I saw them everywhere;
swarming in all the great chambers and corridors, tending monstrous machines
in vaulted crypts, and racing along the vast roads in gigantic, boat-shaped
cars. I ceased to be afraid of them, for they seemed to form supremely
natural parts of their environment.
Individual differences amongst them
began to be manifest, and a few appeared to be under some kind of restraint.
These latter, though shewing no physical variation, had a diversity of
gestures and habits which marked them off not only from the majority, but
very largely from one another.
They wrote a great deal in what
seemed to my cloudy vision a vast variety of characters - never the typical
curvilinear hieroglyphs of the majority. A few, I fancied, used our own
familiar alphabet. Most of them worked much more slowly than the general
mass of the entities.
All this time my own part in the
dreams seemed to be that of a disembodied consciousness with a range of
vision wider than the normal, floating freely about, yet confined to the
ordinary avenues and speeds of travel. Not until August, 1915, did any
suggestions of bodily existence begin to harass me. I say harass, because
the first phase was a purely abstract, though infinitely
terrible, association of my previously
noted body loathing with the scenes of my visions.
For a while my chief concern during
dreams was to avoid looking down at myself, and I recall how grateful I
was for the total absence of large mirrors in the strange rooms. I was
mightily troubled by the fact that I always saw the great tables - whose
height could not be under ten feet - from a level not below that of their
And then the morbid temptation to
look down at myself became greater and greater, till one night I could
not resist it. At first my downward glance revealed nothing whatever. A
moment later I perceived that this was because my head lay at the end of
a flexible neck of enormous length. Retracting this neck and gazing down
very sharply, I saw the scaly, rugose, iridescent bulk of a vast cone ten
feet tall and ten feet wide at the base. That was when I waked half of
Arkham with my screaming as I plunged madly up from the abyss of sleep.
Only after weeks of hideous repetition
did I grow half-reconciled to these visions of myself in monstrous form.
In the dreams I now moved bodily among the other unknown entities, reading
terrible books from the endless shelves and writing for hours at the great
tables with a stylus managed by the green tentacles that hung down from
Snatches of what I read and wrote
would linger in my memory. There were horrible annals of other worlds and
other universes, and of stirrings of formless life outside of all universes.
There were records of strange orders of beings which had peopled the world
in forgotten pasts, and frightful chronicles of grotesque-bodied intelligences
which would people it millions of years after
the death of the last human being.
I learned of chapters in human history
whose existence no scholar of today has ever suspected. Most of these writings
were in the language of the hieroglyphs; which I studied in a queer way
with the aid of droning machines, and which was evidently an agglutinative
speech with root systems utterly unlike any found in human languages.
Other volumes were in other unknown
tongues learned in the same queer way. A very few were in languages I knew.
Extremely clever pictures, both inserted in the records and forming separate
collections, aided me immensely. And all the time I seemed to be setting
down a history of my own age in English. On waking, I could recall only
minute and meaningless scraps of the
unknown tongues which my dream-self
had mastered, though whole phrases of the history stayed with me.
I learned - even before my waking
self had studied the parallel cases or the old myths from which the dreams
doubtless sprang - that the entities around me were of the world's greatest
race, which had conquered time and had sent exploring minds into every
age. I knew, too, that I had been snatched from my age while another used
my body in that age, and that a few of the other
strange forms housed similarly
captured minds. I seemed to talk, in some odd language of claw clickings,
with exiled intellects from every corner of the solar system.
There was a mind from the planet
we know as Venus, which would live incalculable epochs to come, and one
from an outer moon of Jupiter six million years in the past. Of earthly
minds there were some from the winged, starheaded, half-vegetable race
of palaeogean Antarctica; one from the reptile people of fabled Valusia;
three from the furry pre-human Hyperborean
worshippers of Tsathoggua; one
from the wholly abominable Tcho-Tchos; two from the arachnid denizens of
earth's last age; five from the hardy coleopterous species immediately
following mankind, to which the Great Race was some day to transfer its
keenest minds en masse in the face of horrible peril; and several from
different branches of humanity.
I talked with the mind of Yiang-Li,
a philosopher from the cruel empire of Tsan-Chan, which is to come in 5,000
A.D.; with that of a general of the greatheaded brown people who held South
Africa in 50,000 B.C.; with that of a twelfth-century Florentine monk named
Bartolomeo Corsi; with that of a king of Lomar who had ruled that terrible
polar land one hundred thousand
years before the squat, yellow
Inutos came from the west to engulf it.
I talked with the mind of Nug-Soth,
a magician of the dark conquerors of 16,000 A.D.; with that of a Roman
named Titus Sempronius Blaesus, who had been a quaestor in Sulla's time;
with that of Khephnes, an Egyptian of the 14th Dynasty, who told me the
hideous secret of Nyarlathotep, with that of a priest of Atlantis' middle
kingdom; with that of a Suffolk gentleman of
Cromwell's day, James Woodville;
with that of a court astronomer of pre-Inca Peru; with that of the Australian
physicist Nevil Kingston-Brown, who will die in 2,518 A.D.; with that of
an archimage of vanished Yhe in the Pacific; with that of Theodotides,
a Greco-Bactrian official Of 200 B.C.; with that of an aged Frenchman of
Louis XIII's time named Pierre-Louis Montagny;
with that of Crom-Ya, a Cimmerian
chieftain of 15,000 B.C.; and with so many others that my brain cannot
hold the shocking secrets and dizzying marvels I learned from them.
I awaked each morning in a fever,
sometimes frantically trying to verify or discredit such information as
fell within the range of modern human knowledge. Traditional facts took
on new and doubtful aspects, and I marvelled at the dream-fancy which could
invent such surprising addenda to history and science.
I shivered at the mysteries the
past may conceal, and trembled at the menaces the future may bring forth.
What was hinted in the speech of post-human entities of the fate of mankind
produced such an effect on me that I will not set it down here.
After man there would be the mighty
beetle civilisation, the bodies of whose members the cream of the Great
Race would seize when the monstrous doom overtook the elder world. Later,
as the earth's span closed, the transferred minds would again migrate through
time and space - to another stopping-place in the bodies of the bulbous
vegetable entities of Mercury. But there
would be races after them, clinging
pathetically to the cold planet and burrowing to its horror-filled core,
before the utter end.
Meanwhile, in my dreams, I wrote
endlessly in that history of my own age which I was preparing - half voluntarily
and half through promises of increased library and travel opportunities
- for the Great Race's central archives. The archives were in a colossal
subterranean structure near the city's center, which I came to know well
through frequent labors and consultations. Meant to last as long as the
race, and to withstand the fiercest of earth's convulsions, this titan
repository surpassed all other buildings in the massive, mountain-like
firmness of its construction.
The records, written or printed
on great sheets of a curiously tenacious cellulose fabric were bound into
books that opened from the top, and were kept in individual cases of a
strange, extremely light, restless metal of greyish hue, decorated with
mathematical designs and bearing the title in the Great Race's curvilinear
These cases were stored in tiers
of rectangular vaults-like closed, locked shelves - wrought of the same
rustless metal and fastened by knobs with intricate turnings. My own history
was assigned a specific place in the vaults of the lowest or vertebrate
level - the section devoted to the culture of mankind and of the furry
and reptilian races immediately preceding it in terrestrial dominance.
But none of the dreams ever gave
me a full picture of daily life. All were the merest misty, disconnected
fragments, and it is certain that these fragments were not unfolded in
their rightful sequence. I have, for example, a very imperfect idea of
my own living arrangements in the dream-world; though I seem to have possessed
a great stone room of my own. My restrictions as a
prisoner gradually disappeared,
so that some of the visions included vivid travels over the mighty jungle
roads, sojourns in strange cities, and explorations of some of the vast,
dark, windowless ruins from which the Great Race shrank in curious fear.
There were also long sea voyages in enormous, many-decked boats of incredible
swiftness, and trips over wild regions in closed projectile-like airships
lifted and moved by electrical repulsion.
Beyond the wide, warm ocean were
other cities of the Great Race, and on one far continent I saw the crude
villages of the black-snouted, winged creatures who would evolve as a dominant
stock after the Great Race had sent its foremost minds into the future
to escape the creeping horror. Flatness and exuberant green life were always
the keynote of the scene. Hills were low and sparse, and usually displayed
signs of volcanic forces.
Of the animals I saw, I could write
volumes. All were wild; for the Great Race's mechanised culture had long
since done away with domestic beasts, while food was wholly vegetable or
synthetic. Clumsy reptiles of great bulk floundered in steaming morasses,
fluttered in the heavy air, or spouted in the seas and lakes; and among
these I fancied I could vaguely recognise lesser,
archaic prototypes of many forms
- dinosaurs, pterodactyls, ichthyosaurs, labyrinthodonts, plesiosaurs,
and the like-made familiar through palaeontology. Of birds or mammals there
were none that I could discover.
The ground and swamps were constantly
alive with snakes, lizards, and crocodiles while insects buzzed incessantly
among the lush vegetation. And far out at sea, unspied and unknown monsters
spouted mountainous columns of foam into the vaporous sky. Once I was taken
under the ocean in a gigantic submarine vessel with searchlights, and glimpsed
some living horrors of
awesome magnitude. I saw also the
ruins of incredible sunken cities, and the wealth of crinoid, brachiopod,
coral, and ichthyic life which everywhere abounded.
Of the physiology, psychology, folkways,
and detailed history of the Great Race my visions preserved but little
information, and many of the scattered points I here set down were gleaned
from my study of old legends and other cases rather than from my own dreaming.
For in time, of course, my reading
and research caught up with and passed the dreams in many phases, so that
certain dream-fragments were explained in advance and formed verifications
of what I had learned. This consolingly established my belief that similar
reading and research, accomplished by my secondary self, had formed the
source of the whole terrible fabric of
The period of my dreams, apparently,
was one somewhat less than 150,000,000 years ago, when the Palaeozoic age
was giving place to the Mesozoic. The bodies occupied by the Great Race
represented no surviving - or even scientifically known-line of terrestrial
evolution, but were of a peculiar, closely homogeneous, and highly specialised
organic type inclining as much as to the vegetable as to the animal state.
Cell action was of an unique sort
almost precluding fatigue, and wholly eliminating the need of sleep. Nourishment,
assimilated through the red trumpet-like appendages on one of the great
flexible limbs, was always semifluid and in many aspects wholly unlike
the food of existing animals.
The beings had but two of the senses
which we recognise - sight and hearing, the latter accomplished through
the flower-like appendages on the grey stalks above their heads. Of other
and incomprehensible senses - not, however, well utilizable by alien captive
minds inhabiting their bodies - they possessed many. Their three eyes were
so situated as to give them a range of vision
wider than the normal. Their blood
was a sort of deep-greenish ichor of great thickness.
They had no sex, but reproduced
through seeds or spores which clustered on their bases and could be developed
only under water. Great, shallow tanks were used for the growth of their
young - which were, however, reared only in small numbers on account of
the longevity of individuals - four or five thousand years being the common
Markedly defective individuals were
quickly disposed of as soon as their defects were noticed. Disease and
the approach of death were, in the absence of a sense of touch or of physical
pain, recognised by purely visual symptoms.
The dead were incinerated with dignified
ceremonies. Once in a while, as before mentioned, a keen mind would escape
death by forward projection in time; but such cases were not numerous.
When one did occur, the exiled mind from the future was treated with the
utmost kindness till the dissolution of its unfamiliar tenement.
The Great Race seemed to form a
single, loosely knit nation or league, with major institutions in common,
though there were four definite divisions. The political and economic system
of each unit was a sort of fascistic socialism, with major resources rationally
distributed, and power delegated to a small governing board elected by
the votes of all able to pass certain educational
and psychological tests. Family
organisation was not overstressed, though ties among persons of common
descent were recognised, and the young were generally reared by their parents.
Resemblances to human attitudes
and institutions were, of course, most marked in those fields where on
the one hand highly abstract elements were concerned, or where on the other
hand there was a dominance of the basic, unspecialised urges common to
all organic life. A few added likenesses came through conscious adoption
as the Great Race probed the future and copied what it liked.
Industry, highly mechanised, demanded
but little time from each citizen; and the abundant leisure was filled
with intellectual and aesthetic activities of various sorts.
The sciences were carried to an
unbelievable height of development, and art was a vital part of life, though
at the period of my dreams it had passed its crest and meridian. Technology
was enormously stimulated through the constant struggle to survive, and
to keep in existence the physical fabric of great cities, imposed by the
prodigious geologic upheavals of those primal days.
Crime was surprisingly scant, and
was dealt with through highly efficient policing. Punishments ranged from
privilege deprivation and imprisonment to death or major emotion wrenching,
and were never administered without a careful study of the criminal's inotivations.
Warfare, largely civil for the last
few millennia though sometimes waged against reptilian or octopodic invaders,
or against the winged, star-headed Old Ones who centered in the antarctic,
was infrequent though infinitely devastating. An enormous army, using camera-like
weapons which produced tremendous electrical effects, was kept on hand
for purposes seldom mentioned, but obviously connected with the ceaseless
fear of the dark, windowless elder ruins and of the great sealed trap-doors
in the lowest subterranean levels.
This fear of the basalt ruins and
trap-doors was largely a matter of unspoken suggestion - or, at most, of
furtive quasi-whispers. Everything specific which bore on it was significantly
absent from such books as were on the common shelves. It was the one subject
lying altogether under a taboo among the Great Race, and seemed to be connected
alike with horrible bygone struggles,
and with that future peril which
would some day force the race to send its keener minds ahead en masse in
Imperfect and fragmentary as were
the other things presented by dreams and legends, this matter was still
more bafflingly shrouded. The vague old myths avoided it - or perhaps all
allusions had for some reason been excised. And in the dreams of myself
and others, the hints were peculiarly few. Members of the Great Race never
intentionally referred to the matter, and what could
be gleaned came only from some
of the more sharply observant captive minds.
According to these scraps of information,
the basis of the fear was a horrible elder race of half-polypous, utterly
alien entities which had come through space from immeasurably distant universes
and had dominated the earth and three other solar planets about 600 million
years ago. They were only partly material - as we understand matter - and
their type of consciousness and media of perception differed widely from
those of terrestrial organisms. For example, their senses did not include
that of sight; their mental world being a strange, non-visual pattern of
They were, however, sufficiently
material to use implements of normal matter when in cosmic areas containing
it; and they required housing - albeit of a peculiar kind. Though their
senses could penetrate all material barriers, their substance could not;
and certain forms of electrical energy could wholly destroy them. They
had the power of aërial motion, despite the absence of wings or any
other visible means of levitation. Their minds were of such texture that
no exchange with them could be effected by the Great Race.
When these things had come to the
earth they had built mighty basalt cities of windowless towers, and had
preyed horribly upon the beings they found. Thus it was when the minds
of the Great Race sped across the void from that obscure, trans-galactic
world known in the disturbing and debatable Eltdown Shards as Yith.
The newcomers, with the instruments
they created, had found it easy to subdue the predatory entities and drive
them down to those caverns of inner earth which they had already joined
to their abodes and begun to inhabit.
Then they had sealed the entrances
and left them to their fate, afterward occupying most of their great cities
and preserving certain important buildings for reasons connected more with
superstition than with indifference, boldness, or scientific and historical
But as the aeons passed there came
vague, evil signs that the elder things were growing strong and numerous
in the inner world. There were sporadic irruptions of a particularly hideous
character in certain small and remote cities of the Great Race, and in
some of the deserted elder cities which the Great Race had not peopled
- places where the paths to the gulfs below had not been properly sealed
After that greater precautions were
taken, and many of the paths were closed forever - though a few were left
with sealed trap-doors for strategic use in fighting the elder things if
ever they broke forth in unexpected places.
The irruptions of the elder things
must have been shocking beyond all description, since they had permanently
coloured the psychology of the Great Race. Such was the fixed mood of horror
that the very aspect of the creatures was left unmentioned. At no time
was I able to gain a clear hint of what they looked like.
There were veiled suggestions of
a monstrous plasticity, and of temporary lapses of visibility, while other
fragmentary whispers referred to their control and military use of great
winds. Singular whistling noises, and colossal footprints made up of five
circular toe marks, seemed also to be associated with them.
It was evident that the coming doom
so desperately feared by the Great Race - the doom that was one day to
send millions of keen minds across the chasm of time to strange bodies
in the safer future - had to do with a final successful irruption of the
Mental projections down the ages
had clearly foretold such a horror, and the Great Race had resolved that
none who could escape should face it. That the foray would be a matter
of vengeance, rather than an attempt to reoccupy the outer world, they
knew from the planet's later history - for their projections shewed the
coming and going of subsequent races untroubled by the
Perhaps these entities had come
to prefer earth's inner abysses to the variable, storm-ravaged surface,
since light meant nothing to them. Perhaps, too, they were slowly weakening
with the aeons. Indeed, it was known that they would be quite dead in the
time of the post-human beetle race which the fleeing minds would tenant.
Meanwhile, the Great Race maintained
its cautious vigilance, with potent weapons ceaselessly ready despite the
horrified banishing of the subject from common speech and visible records.
And always the shadow of nameless fear hung bout the sealed trap-doors
and the dark, windowless elder towers.
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