Elder: Eon of Monsters (Prologue)
Prologue: Out of the Dark
For Samuel Eastman the first sensation was pain. Throbbing rivers of agony reeducated his body about what it was to be alive; to be an entity in time and space. Brief snippets of life flashed before his eyes precipitated by some outside light source piercing the veil of his sight. Filthy hands painted with dried blood sat in front of silently sobbing eyes as the man once known as Doctor Samuel Eastman realized his fate.
He could see the vague outlines of dark figures. Like delicate ripples in dark waters someone or something moved about on the edge of his vision – at the edge of that dim and intermittent light. Eastman put his hands down against the cool stones and felt the pain rush up his arms, small black thorns biting into his flesh. In vain he tried to touch his face, to dig out the source of the venomous sting with his teeth but the ropes that bound his hands would not allow it.
“How can you even be awake?” a whisper entered his thoughts... or was it spoken by the thing that still stalked him, “The bullet ended you.”
A flash of light and with it a memory – pale silver sand wearing the blood-splatter of his brain matter exiting his skull at the impact of a bullet. There had been such weightlessness in that moment. Release had found him as the lighter-than-Earth gravity had carried him to the lunar sand below – there was no doom left to descend upon the Earth. The emptiness of death was surely a comfort and Eastman had been sure that no dark ritual or superstitious interference would ever pull him from the hungry mouth of the grave he had fled into.
“The mark on your head is that of a slave,” another voice groaned, “And yet you resist transformation.”
Eastman felt a hand against his forehead though he could not see it as it applied some warm liquid scrawling with a thumb some symbol he vaguely recognized. The chanting started to swell through the fetid angry air of the chamber as the miasma choked his lungs. His mind sang out in protest and in terror at the thought of what was happening as the shadow before him became a crowd, a throng of happy celebrants all in unison. Demoniacal grins grew across their half-shrouded faces as they took on their familiar shapes.
“Uria Parl,” Eastman found himself recalling, “Yes now I remember.”
“You have to run,” Another voice – or was it his own? - whispered, “You always have to run.”
The choir was singing all as one now and below them in the strange vista he was shown Eastman could make out the shapes of hundreds of others dancing and singing around the standing stones of the ancient cities and sites. One breath is all it would take to snuff the candle out. One crack is all it would take to let the darkness swallow up every flicker that had clawed its way onto the Cosmic surface. All that promise and all that life would be lost because he failed.
The choir was singing all in unison now, no longer silent, no longer beyond the void.
The bullet hadn't changed the choice he'd made. But then that fact hardly explained why he was still alive.
Out of the darkness of his mind the singing fled like a torrent of water, a gasp of air, driven from his mind by the arrival of the present moment.
“A memory,” he said, for the first time using his own voice.
“He's stable,” a second voice whispered to a third. In a moment of pure feral rage Eastman looked up to see the shadow that had rippled. He snarled like a wild animal. It was no longer a shadow but a fully corporeal flesh and blood man, “Relax Doctor Eastman. I'm not sure how they managed to find you but they did. I'm going to cut you loose now.”
Eastman's heart drummed so loud he could barely hear the man. Adrenaline rushed through his body, his senses seemed to shutter to a halt and then reboot themselves one at a time. Finally, as the man approached with a curved knife in hand, Eastman felt the final arrival, the final weight, of all the pain he was in. His arms slipped down one at a time as the ropes were cut and he began to rise to his feet feeling his long unkempt toe nails scrape sickeningly along the excrement covered stone floor.
“How long was I here?” the words weakly left his lips as he turned to look at the man who had set him free.
“We're not sure exactly, a few months at least,” the man patted Eastman on the shoulder and handed him the curved sacrificial dagger, “you'll be needing this back I think.”
“We?” Eastman asked still a few steps behind the enthusiastic man. As his pained and tired eyes looked around the room he saw no signs of anyone else, just the oddly dressed man in the red flannel shirt. Everything about the man was strange. For one his eyebrows were strangely absent without even the telltale stubble of having been shaved off. Besides the red and white flannel pattern jacket the man was also wearing some kind of silky material beneath that and while his pants were an ordinary pair of white jeans they were covered with maroon markings.
Eastman turned his attention back to the dagger for a moment feeling a wave of recognition cross his mind when he squeezed the cool metal of the pommel and tilted it to catch the light. The metal was a strange bluish gray, not quite gunmetal, too dark for that, and it too bore several etched glyph marks one of which was clearly added later while the others had clearly been made carefully by an experienced hand.
The man jarred Eastman from his concentration to hand him a decorative sheath. Eastman slid the blade inside feeling an odd satisfaction at having reunited the two objects, as if there was some significance he was missing.
He shook his head, which only added to the throbbing pain, and started for the chamber's exit, a thick wooden door that seemed utterly out of place. It was far too sturdy for the cheap cinder-blocks and haphazardly stacked stone bricks that made up the makeshift dungeon they were in. The man without the eyebrows gave him a worried look as he glanced between Eastman and the door several times.
“It should be alright,” the man mumbled to himself, “last I checked it was daytime out there anyway, so it should be alright.”
“James,” Eastman barked with a light going on in his brain, “James, where is my shotgun?”
“Somewhere in the city we think,” the man, James Caldwell, replied, “We can try to recover it if you'd like Sam.”
Eastman nodded as James hand finally touched the knob of the door and twisted it ever-so-gently. Even from where he was standing about four feet from the door Eastman could physically feel the shift in the air. A sudden gush entered the room from around the crack in the door as the seal was broken. For a moment it looked to Eastman as if a faint red glow was forming around the frame of the door but soon James had swung the whole thing open and hastily ushered him out into the street.
“What time is it?” Eastman asked looking up at the sun he thought it in the right position for two or so in the afternoon and yet despite that fact it was barely as bright as he might expect it to be just before sunset. In the distance he could make out clouds dyed a deep pink and burnt orange more associated with dusk than the early afternoon.
“Not quite three I think,” James replied, “gives us a few hours to make our way into the city and see if we can't find that shotgun of yours Doctor.”
The title dinged dully around Samuel Eastman's brain. It seemed meaningless given what he was currently seeing. The smell was particular unbearable in the alley in which they now stood. An acrid and almost sulfuric odor seemed to blend into a seamless nightmare smell with a scent of rotten fish. Against a nearby dumpster sat a tangled mess of flesh entwined in seaweed that Eastman didn't stop to investigate instead opting to step boldly out into the street.
He soon found that they were only a few hundred feet from the sea although it was clear that sea level had risen to this point since he could see the tops of rows of houses just above the glittering waves. In the distance too he saw an overpass that was just low enough for the waves to be lapping against its underbelly. A flash of recollection crossed his mind, a snippet of being chased through dark alleys by monstrous figures. A surge of disgust entered the pit of Eastman's stomach as he recalled driving his dagger into the throat of one of his attackers as the others tried to corner him.
Suddenly the swirling madness in his head made some more sense when he thought of those pocked marked faces, men without eyelids. Suction cups with sharp hooks. Mouths that unhinged like serpents, bowels that spilled forth with ooze crusted eels with razor teeth. Out beyond that place where the sea had swallowed the city Eastman could see the towers and structures of that otherworld.
Stones floated where sane human building used to stand spitting on the normal laws of physics as they hung motionless above the city. Lightning flashed from burnt orange clouds arcing red and blue down onto the massive monolithic building that now dominated the city. Eastman watched as the tendrils of some elder being swung low from a star-strung portal open above that spire. Some great eyeless mass of swarming slimy serpent arms came seemingly directionless down upon the surface of the earth. It must have been nearly an eighth the size of the monstrous spire that had opt the gate for it and as it's grotesque unnatural maw gaped open Eastman could barely make out the smaller masses being birthed out of it.
Eastman collapsed onto the cracked boards of an old bus stop bench.
“They just keep coming don't they James?” He asked still getting used to the sound of his own voice. Out of the corner of his eye he saw something move and turned to look but there was nothing there. There was no one there. Not even James.
Eastman slipped the cool blue dagger out of it's sheath and thought it quite beautiful the way the blue steel caught the citrus rays of the sun. He chuckled a bit as he drew the sharp edge of the blade against the boards of the bench and noted some rudimentary graffiti left behind during the age when humankind had still owned this world. Laughing hurt, but then so did everything. Eastman stood.
“Come on James,” the Doctor said to no one, “Let's go get our gun back.”
What is this and why am I posting it?
For a while now I have been amassing my own expanded universe of Lovecraftian short-stories many of which I have posted here on hubpages. I want Eon of Monsters to be different because I want it to be novel length, not told from the first person perspective and to be about what would happen if the Old Ones and the monsters from our nightmares actually managed to take over the human world.
I wanted to post the prologue for three main reasons: 1) I just finished it after nearly a year of adding a paragraph here and a paragraph there 2) To see if there is any interest in me continuing the story from anyone here and 3) Because my laptop is dying and it's always nice to have a back-up to something I don't want to lose.
So many games, stories, etc are focused on preventing the end of the world from happening but what happens when the best attempts of our heroes fail miserably and the entire planet is overrun by terrifying monstrosities and crazed cultists?
I have a question for anyone who actually reads through this: is it too confusing? I realize that I am throwing people into this world without any guidance at all on what the hell is going on. Obviously I have a lot of backstory in my head, including the fact that this Samuel Eastman is the same character from The Terror Below, another short-story in this same shared Universe. Obviously this is not a direct sequel to that. Is it too hard to get into the story given the fact that I am just throwing you in without any information or does that element of discovering what has happened at the same time of the character make it interesting?
Anyway, feedback welcome.
Possible Chapter Titles
They try to make you become like them. You have to kill so often you start to enjoy killing. They want to infect you, to make bloodshed become an addiction for you. They want you to revel in it, to rejoice in the adrenaline and in the barbarism of what you are underneath. I've been here for so long... but I refuse to be like them.
Ch3 Reveler's Temple
Ch4 Dead Man's Watch
Ch5 Beneath the Altar
Ch9 Man of Destiny
Ch12 Stormy Weather
Ch13 Cult of Ages
Ch14 Depth Charge
Ch15 Taste of Dying
Ch16 Sorrow's Shadow
Ch17 Obsidian Shard
Ch18 Arkham Heart
Epilogue: Beyond the Black Gate