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Mr. Napier is an avowed fan of H.P. Lovecraft as am I. Be careful what your read... you are what you...



Barry Napier

            It was the worst and last rain that the island would ever see.  When it came, it came hard, driven in by winds that toppled houses and knocked the power out for three days.  Six inches of rain fell during the first hour and the storm never showed any signs of letting up.  The wind that escorted the rain along brought more water with it, pushing the surrounding sea inland and flooding the houses that had managed to survive the record-breaking winds.

            The storm lasted six and a half hours but had seemed much longer to those that softly wept in the uncertain shelters of their homes.  They peeked out of their windows to survey the damage, watching somberly as currents of sea and rain water churned through their streets.  Despite the tremendous damage, they all let out a collective sigh when it was over; they had survived it and that was the important thing.

            When the water dispersed and the construction crews began to come to the island to give estimates for rebuilding, the residents began to venture out of their homes to not only take in the totality of the storm, but to look for something else; there was something much more important than the hopes and efforts of the construction companies to rebuild their small island town.  They were not at all concerned with rebuilding schedules or insurance quotes.

            There was something more at work here, some hidden purpose behind the storm.

          They found it on a Thursday morning.

            It was found underneath the wreckage of a pier that had been torn apart by the storm.  It had just barely been concealed, as if lazily hiding itself with clear intentions of being found.  There were initially three men at the site just after sunrise on that sad and soggy morning but after making their discovery, they had called others.  By seven o’ clock, there were fifty people huddled around the demolished pier and the treasure that lay beneath it.  They stood on the battered vestige of the beach, casting aside the larger ruins of the pier with caution.

            What they were uncovering seemed to be a granite pillar.  It was perfectly cylindrical in shape and measured three feet across, looking as if it had once been a supporting column for the entrance to some massive building.  It was hard to properly judge from the way it rested in the sand, but many members of the gathered crowd thought that, if the column were to be stood up, it might be as tall as twenty feet.  They stared at it blankly, in awe and a vague understanding, before a man’s voice broke the silence.

            “What is it?” this man asked.

            “No idea,” came one shaky reply.  “Looks like an old column from Greece or something.”

            “What should we do with it?” someone asked from the rear of the crowd.  It seemed like an unnecessary question, but all of them understood the meaning behind it at once.  And although not a single throat answered, they all knew that this was their secret.  The longer they looked at the pillar, the more certain of this they became.  A few sets of eyes had stared long enough to notice the inscriptions that had been carved along the base of the pillar; they looked too intricate to be the result of erosion and too beautiful to have been etched by any human hand.

            The general consensus was to keep quiet about it.  The closest populated area was a small city on the coast seven miles out to sea so they knew that they were capable of keeping the secret.  They had at least another hour before boats would be arriving, boats containing news crews and construction companies, no doubt.  It was decided that the pillar would be tied to the back of a bulldozer, carefully dragged away from the beach and into an abandoned warehouse half a mile up the street.  The warehouse had been abandoned for the last three years and its survival of the storm now seemed like an ominous sign in a way.  Perhaps it had been ordained by the fates that the empty warehouse would stand strong against the storm in order to store their clandestine artifact.

            By the time the first boat pulled into the docks that morning, the pillar had been safely hidden away.

            The people that arrived on the boats gave their condolences and asked how they could help.  The residents of the island feigned sorrow and did their best to seem defeated by the storm.  But they secretly wished that these outsiders would just go away.  Go away and leave them to the gift that the storm had carried in with it.


            Two weeks passed.

            Dean looked out of his window, as he had been doing for the last few days for hours on end, watching the progress of the neighborhood.  The lawns were still soaked and mud covered most of the sidewalks and streets, but the sun was shining down on the entire island as if promising better things.

            Two houses over from his, Dean watched Harriet Thyme walk out into her yard.  Her fifty years of age showed clearly though the thin white robe she wore but she showed no signs of embarrassment.  She walked out into her front yard carrying a bizarre looking silver rod that she plunged into the ground with tremendous effort.  Dean watched as she stepped back to study the rod then reach out to grasp it.

            She stood there for three minutes without moving, smiling an idiot smile and staring into the sky.  Bored with Mrs. Thyme, Dean peered in the other direction and studied the house directly across the street from his own.

This was the Peeks residence and he knew that if he watched long enough, he might see something of interest.  The Peeks’ yard was littered with the wood and glass that had once been their front windows.  Among this mess there were also a few other peculiar objects: there was what looked like a curling iron, a demolished microwave and several articles of Mrs. Peeks’ clothing scattered around amongst the fragments of their living room and kitchen windows.

            From behind him, Dean heard his wife mutter his name.  It was weak and almost breathless and Dean rolled his eyes at the sound of it.  He left his post by the living room window and walked down the hall, towards the bedroom.  Lillian had been in there for the last four days without speaking a word.  When he entered the room, Dean was not at all surprised to see her lying in the floor in a fetal position.  Her hair was a mess and her eyes looked puffy and tired from lack of sleep.

            “What are you doing in the floor again?” Dean asked.

            “Dunno,” Lillian answered.  She shook a bit when Dean bent down to pick her up.

There was a brief instant when he felt her cringe at his touch.  He didn’t know why he was still bothering with her.  He knew that if he put her back into bed, she’d just end up on the floor again.  Still, he put her back onto the mattress and pulled the covers tightly over her frail body.  Even before the storm, Lillian had been having problems with her health, a condition that had only worsened after the residents of the island had stumbled upon the pillar on the beach.  Her mind seemed to be dwindling away alongside her health every day.  It was a situation that both saddened and excited Dean.

            He smiled at her and then turned for the door.  Before he could make his exit, Lillian rasped out from behind him.  “Where are you going?”  Her voice was delicate but haggard, like the sound of a rusty nail being pulled across glass.

            “It’s my time to go to the warehouse,” he said.  “I’ll be back soon.”

            She nodded at him.  Her condition was so bad, her skin so frail and withered, that when she nodded it appeared that her head would fall from her neck completely.  “Could you bring me a glass of water before you leave?” she asked.

            “Certainly.”  He walked back into the kitchen, took a glass from the cabinet and filled it with water from the faucet.  As he filled the glass, Dean looked around the kitchen.  He had begun his work late last week after he had made his first visit to the warehouse to see the pillar.  He had rest his hands upon it and it had told him what to do.

            Dean cut the water off and looked at his work before taking Lillian her water.  He had taken the back off of his AM radio and then spliced a few of the wires.  After this, he had done the same thing to his microwave and then connected the two appliances to the battery that he had taken out of Lillian’s car.  This contraption now sat on the kitchen counter, awaiting further modifications.  The innards of the AM radio seemed to have been made distinctly for this purpose, as if they had been designed to work hand in hand with the microwave and the car battery.  Dean wasn’t quite sure what this experiment would do, but he felt certain that the pillar would tell him today.

            He took Lillian her water.  He handed her the glass and then kissed her on the forehead with little emotion.  He stared at her for a split second before he left, fighting an incredibly brief urge to mourn for her condition.  He easily shrugged this off and left the house.  There were more important things to be concerned about.         

            Outside, he saw that Harriet Thyme was still holding on to the long silver rod that she had put into the ground.  She saw Dean as he passed but neither of them spoke.  Dean took the time to observe the rod, though.  It was made from a television antenna, a large lead pipe and a bizarre composition of bent coat hangers.  A series of thin coiled wires snaked around the rod, all connecting at some central point at the top of the rod.

            Dean continued down the street and saw several more similarly odd scenes.  Two blocks down, he watched a man climbing a ladder to the roof of his house.  During the hurricane two weeks ago, a tree had been blown down onto the roof, caving in the entire right side of the house.  But the fallen tree was not what the homeowner was concerned with.  Instead, the climbing man had taken to building some odd looking device made of metal and wires that he had bolted to the roof.

            Three houses later there was another man sitting naked in the middle of a large mud puddle, holding a severed leg.  The man stroked the lone appendage as he muttered incoherent phrases to himself and smiled widely to no one.

            Dean did not find the sight of the severed leg disturbing.  Instead, he wondered who the leg had belonged to and how it had been taken from its former body.  After all, the thought of someone chopping off another person’s leg and holding it like some macabre trophy was no less disturbing than the dark thoughts that had crossed his mind while putting his machine together.

            Six blocks later, Dean came to the warehouse.  As he had expected, there was a small line that started at the warehouse entrance and inched into the parking lot.  He passed this small gathering and realized that even though their mouths weren’t moving, he could hear them speaking.  And, as was his reaction to most things that had happened around the island during the last few days, he was not surprised.  He’d heard whispers when he tried to sleep at night, whispers that he knew were coming from Lillian even though her mouth never moved.  He knew that it was some form of telepathy and he also knew that such newfound abilities around the island were getting stronger with the passing of each day.

            He caught fragments of thoughts from the people in line, not liking it because he felt like he was invading their privacy.  Some of what he heard was intriguing while most was rather grim.

            —how long had it been sitting at the bottom of the ocean and where did it come from?  How long ago did—

            —I didn’t mean to kill her, but the hammer…it started floating and it jumped right into my hand and my God, when I hit her in the head, the sound it made was louder than I thought—

            —to see it coursing through that tube, all of that power, when it hits that battery would it really cause the explosion that the pillar is showing me?  Why would it tell me something like that if—

            Dean took his place in the back of the line and looked away from the warehouse.  With his eyes turned away from the people, their voices seemed to disappear completely.  He looked to the left, towards the sea that had deposited the pillar on their beach, and waited his turn in line.


            It looked different every time he saw it.  When they had first found it after the hurricane, it had held an antique white color.  The inscriptions that curved around its surface had been faint and almost not there at all, dulled by time and attrition.  But now the off-white was a shade of blue that was almost silver and the etchings looked as if they had been recently traced over with a fine edged blade.

            With the exception of the pillar and Dean, the warehouse was empty.  It smelled like mildew and some vague rotting smell that wasn’t completely unpleasant.  The only light in the place was coming from a single window at the far end of the building, but the pillar gave off its own subtle light.

            He felt it speak to him.  There was no voice, only a simple demand between its surface and his hand.  It tugged at him with a distinct gravity that existed only among it and his flesh.  Dean obeyed and rested his hands upon it.

            He closed his eyes.  He smelled the mildew all around him, the moist rot and rat droppings within the building mingling with the stench of his own body from not having showered in four days.  And there was something else, something that smelled like the dawning of a storm; it was the electric smell in the air when the sky issues its first complaints of thunder, preparing to throw a storm onto the world.  The scent filled his head the instant his hands touched the column.

            Dean breathed in deeply and could actually feel the pillar’s influence filling his head with instructions.  He forgot them the moment his wits received them but he could feel some databank further back in his mind being filled, storing the information away for future use.

            In a jolt of slight pain and sorrow, the connection between the pillar and Dean was broken.  It had communicated all that it wanted with him and their time was done for now.  Dean glanced around the warehouse for a final moment, his eyes landing on the pillar just before he left.  Like a lovesick child, he did not want to leave.  And in that glance, he was filled with a brief sense of knowledge.  He knew where the pillar came from, what purpose it had served and what purpose it was serving all of them.  But in the same manner as the instructions that he had just received, this knowledge was taken from him and tucked away securely in the darker corners of his mind before he could acknowledge it.


            He made his way back home.  The man that had been crawling up onto the roof was now standing on his front lawn with his wife, both of them looking up to the metal contraption on their house.  Dean paid no attention to them.  He didn’t take more than an instant to study the deep and bloody gashes that he saw along the man’s arms.  He had to get back home.  There was work to be done.

            When he turned the corner onto his street, he saw that Harriet Thyme was still standing in her front yard holding on to her peculiar staff.  She still gazed into the sky, as if waiting for lighting to strike.  Dean looked at his watch and wondered just how long she had been standing there.  He gave his watch a puzzled look when he saw that the digital characters were making odd shapes, dancing along the face of his watch in rapid horizontal motions.

            He ignored this completely and walked up his sidewalk and through his front door.  His eyes instantly fell on the strange machine he had been working on these last few days.  He didn’t waste time checking on Lillian.  He immediately went to work as his instructions slowly began to reveal themselves.


            Two days later, as he was looking out of the living room window, Dean noticed that the Thyme house was beginning to glow.  The rod was still out in the yard like a random abstract sculpture.  But his eyes trailed from the rod to the enticing glow around the house.  It looked almost exactly like pictures Dean had seen of the Aurora Borealis.  It surrounded the house like an aura, stretching its blue and pink hues weakly into the sky like an alien atmosphere slowly consuming the world.  Its beautiful colors were the only reason Dean gave it more than a moment’s notice.

            He had given Lillian soup, toast and water a few hours ago and when he had seen the bed empty and found her lying on the floor again, he had almost convinced himself to kill her.  Wouldn’t that be the husbandly thing to do?  By putting her out of her misery, wouldn’t he be paying her a great service?  But he shook those morbid thoughts away because he knew they were not his own.  Plus, the bed had looked incredibly enticing.  He had not slept in over three days and felt that he should be allowed a quick nap.

            He slept for two hours and then got back to work.  The machine was almost complete now.  He didn’t know how he knew this and he didn’t even know what the damned thing would do, but he somehow knew that it was almost done.  He also knew that the glowing around the Thyme’s house was a sign of some important untold event.

            He knew these things because the pillar’s hold on him was growing stronger; his telepathy was reaching new strengths.  By simply looking at the houses of his neighbors, he knew what they were thinking and what tasks the pillar has set them at.

The Peeks family, for instance, was in danger.  Gretchen Peeks was having some sort of mental breakdown.  She had been putting rat poison in her husband’s breakfast.  She was doing this because she knew that the pillar had instructed him to build a machine that could warp space and time.  He was going to go back in time when the machine was complete and salvage his first marriage…she was sure of it.

            The Thyme family was doing okay in comparison.  Mrs. Thyme and her husband were working well together and their task was almost complete.  The glowing of their house was the result of their teamwork and when Dean listened really hard, he could hear some sweet musical chord ringing out from the aura around their house.

            The fellow Dean had seen holding the severed leg in the mud was dead now.  His name had been Thom Hailey and Dean felt it in his mind when the man had died.  The leg had belonged to one of the visiting contractors who realized that something peculiar was going on in town.  Haley had stabbed the contractor in the throat with a screwdriver and then carried the body to his basement where he dismembered him with kitchen knives and a circular saw.

            Haley later died when his kitchen exploded during an experiment with his microwave and various household cleaning supplies.

            It was all very depressing and exciting.  Dean had to make sure not to get too sidetracked by it all so that he could finish his project.  He now knew that the machine would be used for the shifting and opening of alternate dimensions.  As his work neared completion and his tests grew more successful, he could catch glimpses into these foreign spaces.  There were creatures in those other places that were waiting to step into his world.  When Dean looked at them, all he saw were wavering shapes, as if his mind could not comprehend or translate what he was seeing.

            He had added a mixture of household chemicals to his machine.  He had them mixed in a small medicine bottle with a hole punched in the top.  Another thin tube, taken from the back of his refrigerator, ran from the medicine bottle into a crudely made filter that was now attached to the dismantled microwave.  He was in the middle of attaching this tube when he heard Lillian behind him.

            “They’re keeping me awake,” she said.  Her voice sounded inhuman now.  When Dean turned to look at her, it was like seeing a zombie.  Her skin was sagging and he could almost see the perfect shape of her skull through the leather-like skin of her face.  “They keep looking at me and it’s making me ill,” she said.

            “Who?” Dean asked.

            “Those things!  They’re interested in that wretched machine of yours and I can’t stand for their eyes to be on me!”

            Dean was about to remark on this when the world was filled with a deafening explosion.  The house seemed to shake from the inside and Dean made every attempt to make sure that not a single piece of his machine fell or was disturbed.  Pictures fell from the walls, glasses shattered in the cupboards and Lillian fell to the ground like a fluttering autumn leaf.

            Dean ran to the living room window and looked out.  A block over, everything was covered in dust.  As he stared out, he saw that large chunks of wood and brick were falling from the sky.  He thought of the man with the device on his roof and knew instantly that the explosion had been his house.  Dean watched as his neighbors exited their houses, running in swarms towards the destruction.

            Dean chuckled and went back to work.  He worked for fifteen more hours without stopping and never noticed that Lillian had crawled off of the kitchen floor and locked herself in the bedroom again.


            The next day, the creatures were everywhere.  And now they were actually whole, actually there.  There were several of them, roaming the streets and randomly attacking people. Day by day, Dean was seeing them more clearly.  They stood about ten feet tall and looked like the offspring of a wolf and a grasshopper.  They had the head of a large monstrous hornet with a mouth full of fangs.  They walked on two legs that seemed to have no joints and had arms and claws that might have belonged to some prehistoric insect.  If their mere presence weren’t so menacing, Dean thought that they might have actually appeared comical, like the sketches found in the notebook of some disturbed child.

Dean was looking out of his window when he saw one of the things bite Mrs. Thymes in half.  The lower part of her body actually stood without torso and head for about five seconds before it collapsed to the ground.

            Dean somehow knew that as long as he stayed inside, he would be safe from them.  Whatever they were, they were here because of his machine and they appreciated it and the work he had done.

            He watched them from his window and could not tell if they were hunting the residents of the town or if they were merely at play.  He didn’t feel particularly threatened by them, but there was no way that he was leaving his house to test them.

            He thought of the pillar.  He saw it in his mind’s eye and wondered if the creatures outside had ever been in its presence.  Would they be familiar with the etchings along the side of it?  Dean thought so.  And did they know why the glow around the Thyme’s house was growing darker and looking somewhat sinister now?  Probably.

            He watched them all day and then he finally fell asleep at the window.  He slept peacefully until the sound of muffled cries woke him ten hours later.

            The cries were coming from Lillian.  They weren’t strictly cries of pain and Dean found some joy in that.  In fact, there was a nearly sensual quality to her wails.  He opened his eyes and realized that he could also hear light footfalls in the kitchen.  He sat up and immediately thought of his machine.  He stormed into the kitchen and stopped in his tracks when he saw Lillian standing over it.  It wasn’t the fact that she was snooping around the machine that alarmed him—it was the way she looked.

She was naked from the waist up.  Her chest was adorned with several long, thin wires that seemed to come out of her breastbone and then bend upwards where they entered her skull.  There was also a tube running from her nose that curved into her mouth, only it was not plastic or metal.  Whatever it was, it was clear and glassy and he could see a light yellow fluid running through it.

            “You’ve been there,” Dean said.  “You’ve been to the pillar.”

            Lillian nodded in response.  She reached out to the machine and placed her hand on it.  Upon contact, the wires that ran from her chest to her temples began to vibrate.  She then pressed a few buttons on the microwave and clicked the power switch on the AM radio.  There was static from the radio.  The microwave kicked on and began to hum.

            “What are you doing?” Dean asked, terrified and suddenly feeling betrayed.

            “They told us their secrets, told us how to be like them,” Lillian said.  “They gave us a chance, but we weren’t ready.”

            Dean watched the machine and noticed the face of the microwave.  The timer read 1:05 and it was counting down.  He did not want to be standing there when it reached zero.  He gave Lillian one last horrified look and then ran shouting out of the kitchen and into the melee of the neighborhood outside.  As his feet hit the yard, he could hear Lillian laughing from inside the house.  It was alarming and beautiful all at once.  No longer did he pity her, wishing for an end to her misery.  Now he wanted to beg her to tell him what she knew about the pillar and what was happening to their island.  But deep down, he already knew.

            He ran, heading for the warehouse and the pillar, catching glimpses of the horrors around him.  Someone’s dog was limping across a parking lot with a human scalp in its mouth.  The dog was walking in maniacal circles and appeared to be attempting to figure out how to walk on two legs.  Across the street, a man and woman were frantically having sex on their front porch as a series of mechanical appendages sprung from their bodies. 

            Dean rounded a corner and heard someone cackling from the next block over.  He turned to find the source and saw one of his creatures toying with the corpse of a woman as if it were a cat and she a ball of string.  Beside the creature, a man wearing an odd helmet on his head was laughing hysterically.

            Behind him there was a thunderous explosion.  This, he knew, had been his house.  The microwave had reached zero.  His house was gone, his wife was gone.  Dean continued to run.

            Finally, he made it to the warehouse.  There were about fifty people standing in the parking lot, fighting one another.  Some had guns and other had simpler things like hammers, axes and chunks of lumber.  Those that were actually making it past the violence and into the warehouse were disappearing.  One moment they were there and when they got close to the entrance, they simply winked out of existence.  Dean surveyed all of this and headed down towards the beach, his mind trembling and beginning to crumble into some deep and dark chasm.  As he ran away, he heard a wet cracking sound as someone was clubbed in the head with a baseball bat. 

            He ran by another house that gave off a glow similar to that of the Thyme’s house.  The lawn in front of the house was alive, crawling with millions of shapeless forms that might have been insects from the same region that the larger creatures had escaped from.  As he passed, one of these miniscule bodies leaped out at him, brushing against his arm as it darted past.

Dean screamed.  He then screamed even louder when he finally passed the house and came to the avenue that rolled out onto the beach.

            The beach seemed like another world.  The water was a beautiful shade of the purest blue he had ever seen, a blue so pure and peaceful that it made him want to weep the instant he saw it.  He could see several odd fish swimming around beneath the water, moving in uncertain motions that reminded Dean of the dog he had seen a few streets back.

            But the worst thing about the beach was that it was littered with countless architectural fragments.  There were at least a dozen of them, some much larger than the pillar.  There were broken arches and columns, cornices and fragments of stairways.  They all had that same ancient whiteness to them and some had golden borders that shined like oil against the evening sun.

            And they were calling to him.

            Some of them were so big that he could not imagine the tide washing them up; it was easier to assume that they had sprung up from the ground overnight.

            Someone screamed in the distance and this was followed by a gunshot and a roar that no human throat could produce.  Helpless, Dean sat down on the beach and looked out to the ocean.

            He thought of Lillian and the wires that had been protruding from her, running from her heart to her brain, and wondered what the pillar had told her it would accomplish.  Had it made her healthier and happier in her final moments of life?  He hoped that whatever purpose it had given her had remained even when she was able to realize that she had been nothing more than a tool.

            Looking around him, he wished that he would have stayed with her in those final moments.  Together, maybe they could have made sense of what this all meant.

            Others began to join Dean on the beach.  They gathered around the scattered debris, returning to the place where their ending had begun.  Waves broke gently at the shore, an ancient tongue licking a fresh wound.

            As another jarring explosion erupted somewhere behind him, Dean found himself looking at the peculiar fish that swam so close to the shore, so close to the death of the island.  He wondered if they swam so close because they knew what was happening.  Maybe they were simply waiting…waiting to evolve, to adapt, waiting for their gills to become lungs, their fins to become legs.  And then perhaps they would stumble ashore one day and place their hands upon the golden debris that had wiped the world clean for them.