In relating the circumstances of the death of my brothers and my own descent into this terminal madness, I am aware that my current situation must create doubt as to the authenticity of my narrative. But I also know that my clinging hope that some person of learning will read my tale and make something of my ordeal is a futile one.
A sense of duty to science is all that impels me to recall, in these last days of my life, scenes of horror and happenings fraught with an acute terror. Though many years have passed since my incarceration began, a blurred but ineradicable picture remains of what transpired on that day.
I hardly know how to begin my tale, but I will do my best, not even trying to differentiate betwixt the real and the apparent; and praying that if any man of intellect should read this account he will understand that in the darkness there is no sharp distinction.
My own name in this tale is of no consequence, nor of my brothers. What I am about to relate happened more than ten years ago, though it is as if the entire series of events transpired not a week past.
We lived as creatures of comfort with our parents, and we knew no want, and held no fears for our futures. Still, being young and ambitious for adventure we oft spoken of abandoning the safety of home and venturing forth to make our own way in the world. But our parents were vexed by our talk of leaving, and they would tell us of the strange unknown terrors that had their home in the vast black woods that encircled our home, a place wherein walked only daemons and mad things that were no longer men; and of the terrible ravening Thing our mother spoke with great dread, describing with vividness the monstrous toothy clawed menace that lingered in the forest, a beast both cruel and ravenous. She called this thing The Wolf, and she told us that if it was our determination to depart, we must take measures to guard against its terrifying appetite for persons porcine such as ourselves.
But we were not of a mind to give any credence to such warnings. We were restless and eager to see what lay beyond our pretty little land, and our agitation was fuelled by a series of strange dreams I experienced. In my slumbers I would often picture an unknown land with its splendid groves and palaces, of unencumbered cities of gold, a land whose forests were of aloe and sandalwood, where among the trees fluttered gay birds sweet with song. I saw also cities cinctured with golden walls, and with their pavements also of gold. In the gardens of these cities were strange orchids and perfumed lakes whose beds were of coral and amber. I became convinced that what I had perceived was the abode of the gods, and I told my brothers of my vivid visions, convincing them to come with me in search of this wondrous place, in spite of all the warnings of the Elder Ones. I gave my brothers to wonder what new delights there awaited us, and we left the sweet safety of our family home ere sunset one day, beginning our quest for this strange land of my dreams.
It pains me to think that had we only heeded the warnings of our parents and stayed where we were, all that subsequently occurred to me and my doomed brothers might have been avoided. But alas this was not to be!
Our journey was an oppressive one, a battle through a noxious knotted woodland that would not yield a clear path, forcing us to hack through the undergrowth with machetes in order to move even a single yard. Tearing a way through the lethal foliage of the black haunted woods during the course of many wearying days, we at last came to a cut in the forest, a pleasant place of greenery next to a shimmering lake. Here the resolve of my brothers departed. Whereas I was determined to push on in search of the magical lands I had dreamed of, they were demoralised by the journey so far and were content to build their homes in this sweet grove aside of a golden lake, where the birds sang merrily amidst the fair lilies.
Tempted though I was to join them and settle in that pleasant location, I knew it was not the place of my visions, and so I continued on. For three days and nights I toiled alone, hacking a path through the gloom. The forest became for me a place of horror, a cursed place of malformed trees, weathered and discoloured by the mists of generations. Away from the good cheer of my two brothers I found the landscape to be a source of vague horror for me, a seething cauldron of sordid life that oppressed me with a nauseating fear.
When the accursed waning moon shone thinly to reveal a narrow vista carved from the ancient twisted groves of the old forest, I knew I could not go on, and so I established my abode in that cursed clearing.
Ere the waning and fantastically gibbous moon had risen far above the twisted trees of the dread forest on the third day of my arrival, my labours were complete. And what marvels had I created! Before me loomed templed terraces and mighty spires, rich with carven and painted glories, having in their courtyards cool fountains of silver, and walls of marble and porphyry, and a roof of glittering gold that reflected the rays of the sun. And inside this palace, set upon tall pillars of ruby and azure, sat carven figures of gods and heroes, so that whomsoever looked upon my house would seem to gaze upon mighty Olympus itself.
After I had rested awhile, I traced my steps back to find what had become of my brothers.
Little did I know when I left them in that fair grove that they would turn their minds to such fantastically foolish schemes. When I found them, it was to learn that they had erected two feeble and inconsequential shacks as their dwellings: one of straw and twigs, and the other of sticks.
I urged them to reconsider their decision to inhabit such flimsy and ephemeral abodes, reminding them of the dangers that lurked in the nearby woods and of the warnings our parents had given us. But the Fates had already spoken, and the die had already been cast, and so my brothers were not of a mind to listen to my words of caution. I left them with my rebuke ringing emptily in their ears, but had I known what was to come I would not have so quickly abandoned them to their terrible fate.
When I returned to the grove of my brothers the following week it was to find that a damnable green mist had arisen from the nearby lake. It shrouded in a sinister haze the twin houses, and it was only when I came right up to where I knew they should be that I found something, though not what I had anticipated.
The house of straw was no more, and in its place were bundles of grass and twigs darkened by something I thought at first was mud. Likewise the house of sticks was little more than a sunken sepulchre, broken and deathly. The repulsive green mist seemed to disappear for a moment and something white flashed out at me through one of the piles of sticks, and when I came to it I knew what it was. A dark cloud came over my mind as I saw a horror unendurable, a hideous scene which remains burned in my shaken recollection, an unbelievable, unthinkable, almost unmentionable thing. At my feet were the bones of my beloved brothers, and what I had thought of as mud was the dried blood of my brethren splashed madly across the grove; and even as I choked over the remains of the pair I could see great teeth marks on those scattered bones. The picture seared into my soul was one of violence and terror, and of the coming of a beast foul and cruel. The Wolf had arisen.
Something else caught my eye as I crawled in horror through the bloody grass, as an effluence of miasmal gasses rose up from the lake once more. I now saw that before he died, one of my beloved brothers had scrawled upon the ruined door of the house of sticks with coarse and shaky strokes the word “DOOM”.
Of my frantic delirious journey through the wood back to my abode, I can speak little, for I can scarcely recall any part of that mad scrabble through the forest back to my stout fortress.
When I returned I bolted the door and waited, knowing that the Beast would soon come for me. I doubted that my solid dwelling would provide any sort of respite against a hound arisen from the Stygian depths, and I was in the depths of a mortal panic, consumed with the certainty that the wolf would soon be dining on my porcine flesh.
I waited, dreading what must come. What rest I had was broken, my slumber being troubled and dread-infested, and I awoke in a cold perspiration ere dawn, determined to sleep no more.
I shall never forget when first I saw The Wolf. Barely had I arisen and glanced fearfully through my bedroom window, when that slavering beast of death was upon me. My most extravagant imagination could barely imagine this creature from the abyss. Was it a monster, or symbol representing a monster, of a form only a diseased fancy could conceive? Surmounting a grotesque and hairy body was a slobbering and greedy mouth and teeth like blades, the long jaw of the beast a terrible vista of dripping death. Its eyes were like dark caverns, whose black recesses the fading moon would not illumine, and in my terror I realised quickly that I looked upon an escaped denizen of Hell, a stupendous monster of nightmares.
The Thing lumbered slobberingly into sight and gropingly squeezed the door handle. Urged on by an impulse which I cannot definitely analyse, I scrambled with difficulty to lock the door, and only just in time.
Through the keyhole I could smell its breath, which was damp and foul and stank of the crypt.
In a barbarous and disjointed jargon, the creature whispered menacingly. “Little pig, little pig, let me in.”
In spite of my terror I answered firmly. “No, not by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin!”
“Well then, foolish pig,” whispered the beast, with an air of resignation. “You leave me with no choice. For I shall now huff and puff, and BLOW YOUR HOUSE DOWN!”
I now understood that this was how the Beast had destroyed my brothers. The gust exploding from the mighty lungs of this fetid beast was like the cold unwelcome wind of Boreas, and a burst of rancid air was flung from his murdering jaws. As the house rocked, I heard in the air something. I remember clearly the sounds, though I understood them not at the time, and still do not:
Th’ngloi th’rkta wgna’nan ftaglkion Csesthan def’ak
My sturdy walls defeating the Thing, it clambered onto the roof, and I understood immediately what it sought to do. I had left a fire smouldering on the hearth, and as the wolf climbed up onto the chimney I stoked that fire, until the flames were rising like giant fingers.
Knowing what must happen to the flesh of the beast if it was of this world, I threw open the front door, and the tainted outside air of the forest poured its polluted poison through the opening, such that my sturdy little fortress came to resemble in smell more a charnel house than a home.
I heard the laughter of the creature as it descended down the chimney, but as terrifying as the laughter was it could not match the terrible sound that emerged from its slavering mouth as it plunged into the consuming fire. As the Thing burned it put out an unearthly scream the likes of which had not been heard in this world for many aeons. Then, as I stood unable to move my feet, the wolf leapt out of the fire, still aflame, and bounded towards the open door, pushing its wicked immensity through the dark doorway and disappearing forever into the monstrous forest.
But that was not the end of my woes, for the scream of the beast remained to haunt me, and I could not shut my eyes at night without being revisited by that savage hellish dog. And I fancied, as often I lay awake in dread in my sty, that I could hear its murderous howl, and I became convinced every night that the noxious noise was yet louder and closer.
When at last my parents found me they were confronted with what must have appeared as a raving madman, talking without pause of demons and monsters and of murder foully committed. They confined me here, in a locked room in this high tower, ostensibly for my own safety, as if anywhere they put me could ever be safe from the Thing.
Now, as I endure this hell of confinement, I am left to ask myself if it could not all have been some phantasm—a mere freak of fever as I lay in exhaustion and raving after many hours of labouring under the oppressive sun to build my abode of brick.
But the fire burns in me as I remember the screaming of the monster, and as I once more hear the ungodly howling of that ragged beast. In my shame and despair I sometimes scream frantically, begging the dream-creature to release me from my nightly torments, but to no avail.
Wait! Even as I write these few words something is suddenly different. Could it be that the final madness is upon me? Or is this death’s release?
He is close now, so close that were I not so afraid to gaze out the window I feel certain I would see his huge expanse in the courtyard below.
Is he here? I can smell his odious breath, of that I am certain. But will he come for me tonight?
I can hear that strange jumble of sounds again in the screeching wind:
Th’ngloi th’rkta wgna’nan ftaglkion Csesthan def’ak
They are words so terrible that no hearer may endure them. Now I understand what they mean.
“Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?”
I can bear the torture no more and must throw open the window. I am coming!