So this is my first attempt at some Lovecraftian horror. Be harsh with the critique and I hope you enjoy it.
“The sky is a pastel wonderland of vast emptiness. It's still blue illuminated by the warmth of the sun. The large rolling clouds like white fluffy pillows or dark, secretive cloaks. The storms it causes dangerous and wonderful. But how can something that looks so close be so far away? What secrets does the sky hold in its high rising fortress of emptiness? Surely the birds of the world know, if only they could speak the language of men! In my time on this world I have studied the great sky and its vast, beautiful wonder. All around the world, from the bustling cities of modern man, to the dark and primitive forest of forgotten realms does the sky look and act the same.”
-Journal of Sir Francis York, 1873
I will tell you the story as I have told you countless times. It is the most accurate and descriptive turn of events that I can recall. It is a shame about the disappearance of that young man and the mysterious death of his father just outside my castle gates but I assure you that I had caused them no harm in any way at any time they were in my employ. You can choose not to believe me as you so obviously have chosen to do but I swear to you these events are true as best I can remember.
In my later years I purchased a large castle up on a high mountain to be closer to the sky. As high as it was, it was still not enough to wet my appetite of what, if any, secrets the sky could teach us. It was clearer on that mountain, that vast blue wonder that stretched endlessly across mans gaze into the horizon, but I was no closer to unraveling it's secrets than I was in any ancient valley society or deep canyon. Countless summers passed and I was no closer to discovering what, if any, secrets that were held by the sky. As I grew older I even began to doubt myself and started regretting the time I had wasted observing the sky in its vast blue emptiness with such asinine fantasies. Then one day, a particularly clear and pleasant summers day, a strange flicker appeared above one of the southern towers. It was a strange and blurry anomaly that appeared for a few minutes at a time. In that vast blueness a yellow, blurry patch appeared in a rather large circumference and while I wasn't sure, seemed to emit an audible hum. I detailed its exact location, size, and duration meticulously and marked the location that seemed closest on the tower to be able to build up and reach it. It would take some time, and I would need help in my advancing age, but I had finally acquired some concrete evidence of the sky hiding a secret.
After spotting the anomaly in the sky and detailing the event scrupulously in my journal, I set about designing a method to reach the strange spot. Many forms of structure were considered but eventually I settled on a type of scaffolding as it would prove the fastest to build and if built around the inside borders of the tower, should prove sturdy at any height. The servants were called to prepare my vehicle to head into to town so that I could find help in my project. Some of the local townsfolk had grown weary of me and would surely laugh at the idea of building a scaffolding reaching towards the top of the false shielding we so ignorantly called the sky. It was worth the effort though, as anything of concrete evidence on my theories was worth pursuing no matter the cost. I reached town before noon and stopped at one of the nearby diners for a meal before I began my work of recruiting workers. The waitress made sly remarks about me being out, as most of the townsfolk assumed me a hermit of sorts, but took my order and arrived with it quickly. While eating I looked around the diner for any new faces in town, hoping to find someone willing to help with no questions asked and no prior history of my studies. There was no such luck though, and I finished my meal, paid and made some small talk with the owner and headed towards the carpenters shop.
Even if the carpenter himself couldn't help I had hoped he would know of someone who could. The bell on the door rang as it swung open and the carpenter looked up and sighed when he saw who had entered his shop. He looked as if he was bracing to hear a long and inane tale of a rambling old man as I noticed the grinding of his teeth when not talking to me. He nodded, half listening as I told him of my needs of able bodied workers to help add on to the southernmost tower of my castle. No one would even bother if I had told them the true matter of this scaffolding, but the townsfolk probably saw through my facade and were set on ignoring anything I had to say. Sure enough the carpenter informed me that he was much to busy, the lack of the sounds of work and the lounging workmen telling otherwise, to spare any men to help with my project. I bid him good day and turned to leave, him answering with a grunt signaling he'd rather not see me again any time soon.
I approached my vehicle but was stopped by two men from the carpenters shop. They began to inform me that they were looking for side work and would gladly help with my project. Before they could finish their statement they began to burst with uproarious laughter at my expense and headed back into the carpenters shop. It was becoming all the more apparent I would have to find help outside of town or at the very least some of the poorly educated farmhands out in the countryside. I muttered to myself as the vehicle spat and sputtered and decided to head out to the country first and see about acquiring any farmhands, though with it being harvest time I was doubtful there would be anyone of able body to spare.
The green, colossal hills darted by as I sped along the dirty country roads in my vehicle and my earlier assertions rang accurate, for there in the fields farmers and their sons were hard at work harvesting their crops. All along the road the sight of men hard at work dotted every farmhouse. The road stopped at a dead end and with a sharp turn I headed back towards town but in my hurry almost failed to notice a farmstead that had no hands in the fields. I approached the rather large farmhouse and pulled my vehicle towards the front porch Despite my knockings I could not summon anyone to the door and did not hear the tremble of feet within. With a sigh I headed back to the motor vehicle but was stopped by the creaking of the farmhouse door. A small black child peaked from behind door with a smile on his dirty face. He called for his father and disappeared back inside. Moments later a herculean black man exited the house and asked what I wanted. I told him of my intent, or rather the myth I had concocted to attract workers, and asked if he would be interested in such a job. He stood there for a continued period of time, thinking to himself on the subject. I informed the man I would not be able to pay him much, but that he and his family could share lodgings in my abode, as the castle was indeed quite large and I had little use of most of the rooms. He notified me he would have to talk it over with the family and to come back in a weeks time. We shook hands and I headed back into town and to my spacious abode feeling somewhat satisfied with this turn of events.
The week seemed to drag by as the servants did their duty of cleaning up a guest section of the castle and my research about the luminous spot above my southern tower grew stagnant. The spot was still there in varying degrees of visibility and size. Some days it was almost as bright as a candle in the night while mostly it was a waning whimper of yellow streaks trying to hide behind the clouds. While its fluctuations were interesting to watch and note down, I wasn't getting any farther with my research without reaching it.
Finally the week ended and I headed back towards the farmhouse of the sturdy black man and his family hoping he had decided to take the job. I reached the farmstead around noon, pulled up in the same area as last time, knocked and waited. Heavy footsteps shuffled around behind the door and fumbling with the lock could be heard. The man opened the door and smiled with delight as he saw it was me and invited me in for the lunch that had just been prepared. The meal was a simple but filling meal of roasted chicken, cornbread and water and as we ate the man assured me he had decided to take the job as long as his oldest son could come along. His oldest son was quite sizable and had a similar build to his stout father so I agreed to his proposition. We shook on the agreement and the eldest son brought their things to the car while the father explained to the other children and his wife to watch the place while he was away. He finished his goodbyes and we headed to the car and back to the castle. On the way back to the castle I explained in more thorough detail what we would be doing and how long I expected it to take.
We arrived at the castle near sundown and my two new colleagues stared, mouths agape at their new temporary lodgings. A few of the servants had emerged from their quarters as they heard the rumbles of my automobile pulling closer to the garage. The servants and the black men shook hands and exchanged words while the servants got their bags and led them to their quarters. We would discuss where to acquire our materials and working hours over dinner and I felt like a having a small nap in the meantime. I headed up towards my chambers and without undressing fell into bed.
I was awoken at around six o'clock by one of the servant girls who was informing me that dinner would be ready soon. She had brought a bowl of water and a cloth so that I may wash up and excused herself. As I washed a sudden giddiness swept over me, finally my dreams and research and theories were becoming a reality. Down in the dining hall, my new colleagues were seated and had already begun their meal. The cook had went out of his way to please the gentlemen and various roast birds and soups and breads were placed about the large dining table. I tapped a glass to get the attention of the men, and my ringings became successful as they stopped eating and listened. We discussed what materials would be best to use for taller scaffolding, where to get the materials and if they knew anyone that may be willing to sell materials cheaply. My prodding was more successful than I had imagined and the father informed me of a storage of wooden planks he had cut to furnish an outhouse and that he had cut much more wood than he needed, and that we could at least use that as a base. While I was upset at him and myself for not mentioning this earlier the news was nonetheless good. More wood would have to be required by my own shopping though it seemed. The meal flashed by and the three of us retired to our quarters wanting to rest up and start early tomorrow.
I slept quite soundly that night, except for a terrible nightmare that came in the middle of the night. There we were working towards the shimmering spot, our scaffolding tilting and groaning in the wind. Just as we reached the spot I reached out and touched the strange yellow anomaly. Instantly I was sucked into a strange, horrifying abyss where I could hear the sounds of creatures not of this earth, hissing and spitting vilely in my direction. A dreadful buzzing surrounded me and was what sounded like a perplexing form of communication. I looked around this nightmare landscape but before I could see the creatures clearly I woke in a start, sitting up in a cold sweat and having a hard time catching my breath. What I did see was horrifying, lanky creatures similar to that of a mantis with dirty brown skin and beady black eyes stalked closer towards me as the dream ended. The sun had began to rise behind the clouds and the great clock in the main hall chimed six. I got up still shaken and dressed, headed downstairs to inform the butlers to wake our new guest and meet me at my car. There I waited in the car listening to the grumbling of the engine and a half hour passed before the men came out of the side door and into the vehicle.
We headed back to their house as the father assured me that the wood would be in good shape and there was a cart we could use to haul it back. It was a long drive and we made idle chitchat along the way until we finally reached their homestead. He knocked on the door to talk to his family while his son led me to the shed where the wood was stored. There was more wood than I thought, cut up neatly into planks and stacks that almost reached the ceiling. In the middle of the shed was a large cart that, with the youths help, was attached to the back of the car. The father arrived momentarily and the two men, began to load the wood at a vigorous pace, stacking the cart until it was almost overflowing. It took two and a half trips to get all the wood back to the castle but around noon we had moved it all to garage. We refrained from work for lunch in the main hall. After lunch the men would haul the wood planks up to the southernmost tower while I would return the cart to their homestead.
When I returned home the new hands were hard at work moving the wood up to the tower. They had already moved up half of the supply by the time I got back. At the rate they were going they expected to be done before dinner. I nodded approvingly and headed to the northern tower, not wanting to disturb and dleay their work. My equipment from the last session of sky watching was still where I left it and now was a good time to check the condition of the sky spot. It was barely visible today and between glimpses of it and the workers I grew tired and fancied a nap. I informed my room maid to awake me before dinner and sank into bed where sleep came easily.
We were on top of the scaffolding high up in the sky. The ground was barely visible below us and the chill air snipped at us at the baffling height. The scaffolding swayed and groaned in a wind that had brewed up out of nowhere. The scaffolding swayed as if it was in an earthquake all by itself and a huge gust of wind finally toppled the scaffolding in one large gust. We tumbled towards the ground at an alarming speed but it seemed to take hours and the deafening shriek of the wind blowing by my ears as the ground finally came into view. It grew closer and closer and finally, inches from the ground I woke in a start.
A soft rapping was heard from behind the door of my quarters and the room maid peaked in and informed me that dinner would be ready shortly. I nodded and got out of bed dressing myself quickly still in a bit of a shock from the dream. Down at the table we discussed the days work. The two men had moved all of the wood up to the tower and, barring the weather, work could begin early tomorrow morning. This was good news as I expected that the spot may not stay where it was as it had been waning the past few days without a single flare up. We finished dinner early leaving me time to study the spot in the evening sky. In the pale dusk sky it was almost invisible and only noticeable by a slight flicker now and then. When the sun finally set behind the mountains and the stars peaked out from over the horizon the spot grew more visible. On that dark blue background it was like a yellow web of wires. I scribbled down notes about this new phenomena, never having thought to check it in the night. It danced around in its spot and the strands seemed to twist and turn into each other like a pulsing mass of living wires.
Satisfied the spot was still there and active as ever, I retired to my chambers to get a good nights sleep ready to help with the scaffolding in the morning. There were no dreams that night and I slept soundly until the chamber maid awoke me in the morning for breakfast. The men and I would begin working on the scaffolding as soon as breakfast was over we had decided amongst our small talk. When we were finished we headed up the steps of the southernmost tower and began to work. First a foundation was laid around the parameter of the stones peaking up from the tower then at the four corners we placed a plank straight vertically. The father and son were tall enough to continue the first floor of the scaffolding as I handed them wood to make the process faster. As the first layer of wood formed the skeleton the connection between the first and ground floor was braced even further with a mineshaft like framing. When the first floor was finished, with a small square hole in the middle of the floor, two planks were nailed together and a makeshift ladder was made from cutting up planks and placing them half a foot apart. We climbed up to test the stability of the first floor as the makeshift ladder held strong under our weight. We jumped around and stomped as hard as we could and the floor held strong. We were satisfied with this test and we placed four more planks at the corners and continued making the second floor. Work continued until the sun reached high noon and one of the servants alerted us that lunch was ready. Lunch was eaten briskly as we were excited that work was going so well and we headed straight back to work. We used half our wood supply and had gotten four floors completed in a day.
Work continued the next day at a slower pace as I headed into town in search of more lumber for the project. I stopped by the carpenters shop to ask if he had any planks for sale. He was wary of motives and quite surprised that I had “suckered someone into working for me” but at the sight of some money he was eager enough to part with and deliver three carts worth of wood to the castle. When I arrived back at the castle with the carpenter in tow the man and his son had finished another floor and were on the way down for lunch. The carpenter refused to stay, stating he had urgent matters to attend to, and dumped the wood onto the ground haphazardly and left. After lunch I helped the men haul the new wood up to the tower. Work continued progressively the next few days until a week after my project had started, where a dreadful storm threatened to undo the whole thing. Thankfully the structure held and after the wood dried out we continued skyward.
On the tenth day we had made fifteen floors and the spot was visible to the naked eye. It was here when I showed it to the two men and explained the real purpose of this project. The blotch in the sky amazed the two men and they were almost as eager as I was to reach it. On the day of the second week we had reached quite high and one could see over the mountain tops from our little perch. Looking downward was a dizzying site, the ground like a colorful swath of cloth. On the sixteenth day a terrible wind picked up and we decided against working any further after the structure started to groan and sway in the wind at the higher levels. Heavy storms put a stop to any work that would continue for the next three days but the days were spent theorizing what the spot could be and what, if anything, it did. On the third day of rain it stopped in the mid-afternoon and more wood was acquired at the lumber yard, the carpenter now refusing to part with any more wood for my project no matter what I offered to pay. We now had enough wood for an estimated ten more floors and hopefully that would be enough to reach the spots location. The wood was hauled up to the tower, the floors making a makeshift shelter for storage. Our work was discussed over dinner, small talk we'd been making over the past few days and what we expected to find. I theorized it was a break in the time-space continuum and that it could possibly lead to other dimensions or even into the past or future. The father thought this was sound but the son was more interested in thinking it a cloud of magic, and with its color, possibly an infinite supply of gold or other riches.
The weather finally cleared up for a day and a half and work began again. The 21st day was almost disastrous as an abrupt wind started up while we were on the 20th floor. The structure groaned under our weight and swayed horribly. We quickly climbed down the ladders and a crash was heard as the floor collapsed in the wind. Work was delayed until the next day and each floor was secured more firmly to prevent another mishap. The supply of wood was quickly diminishing and more would soon need to be purchased but the floors up to the 20th were reinforced to withstand any strong wind. Finally, on the day of the third week, the spot was within our grasp and it did indeed emit an audible hum as I had theorized. I brought up a wooden pole to test it as it was an unknown substance and touching it with the bare hand would be delayed until it was determined safe. At the pokes and prods of the pole the strange spot was mapped out, it was concave and with hard jabs, bowed in like a stretched sheet over an open window. The tip of the pole was tested and when it was determined that no corrosive or poisonous materials were left on it the spot was first touched with a gloved and then exposed hand. It felt warm and bristly like ones hand would after being sat on and sent a tingling sensation through the body. I tested around the spot and the whole sky seemed to be laced with this material but only here did it expose itself in the yellow-golden pattern. Further testing would have to wait as the day was drawing to a close and it was too dangerous to be up so high at night with no light.
Sleep did not come easily as I was too excited theorizing and coming up with experiments to test the resilience of the sky material and see if it were possible to breach. A knife was brought up to the spot and was jammed into it to see if it could be penetrated. The knife sunk in easily, but withdrawing it took so much effort and force I had to have the men help me. The edge of the blade was dulled and burnt and a crackling sound accompanied it as it slid out of the sky. Explosives were considered next and after acquiring a stick of dynamite from a shady dealer the dynamite was tied to the end of a poker, lit and jammed into the spot. We hurried away as the hissing of the dynamite echoed from the spot and with great force and volume the dynamite ruptured a hole in the spot. The smoke made visible access nigh-impossible but I thought for a moment I could get a gaze inside the spot. A sucking sound soon came from inside the spot and it sealed itself up rather quickly. What I thought I saw should have made me abandon the project immediately but my scientific interest far outweighed any thinking on things that may have been or fancies of horrors. The next and most successful test was with acid which quietly ate away at the spot and kept it open much longer than the dynamite. A ladder was brought up and placed inside the darkness now sticking out of the sky. We were wary about climbing up after remembering what the spot did to the knife but after ten minutes of waiting the spot did not close and destroy the ladder.
As we ascended the ladder into the alien opening the sounds of machinery and the faint glow of electric light greeted us. In the distance the sounds of thunder and running water could be heard. The top of the ladder led to a floor below a small walkway and we climbed in one by one. The sound of footsteps inhuman were getting closer and a small alcove provided a hiding spot. One of the creature from my dreams walked by, its resemblance was uncanny. The son panicked and tried to flee back down the ladder but the mantis-like creature latched onto him. He struggled against the massive strength of the creature. He kicked and screamed but to no avail and with one quick motion from the monster was silenced. The creature dragged the boys carcass away with it and the father, tears in his eyes, muttered his resignation as he fled back down the ladder as soon as the creature was out of sight. I should have abandoned any thoughts of staying too but my scientific curiosity was too overwhelming and the desire to explore this abnormal place was taking over. The metal-work was exceptional and unlike anything of this world. The soft lights emitted a yellow glow and slight hum. I inched my way along being ever cautious of the now confirmed hostile inhabitants that lurked this fortress in the sky. Machines roared and groaned mockingly as they imitated the sounds of nature. The walls were lined with strange tubes and panels that flickered indecipherable symbols. The gurgling of boiling water could be heard in the far off distance and the horrible skittering and buzzing of the creatures that lurked within echoed around every corner. The corridors and passageways of this strange place were seemingly endless and as I edged my way forward the thought of getting lost in here grew ever more realistic. Fortunately for me, the creature dragging the oldest son left a trail in his blood.
Farther and farther still into the vast halls of machinery I crept. The walls blending in and merging into one long corridor until finally I came into a junction splitting into east, west and northern paths. A colossal door blocked the path to the left while ahead of me the lights were completely out and a vast darkness greeted me. The right was dimly lit but still manageable and the blood trail led on this path which I decided to follow, it serving as my only trail in this abyss. As I went down the west path, growing ever dimmer as I inched along, the great door from the east groaned on its hinges. I ducked into a small alcove and hoped that I would not be noticed, or even better the creature would not pass this way but there was no such luck and the horrible abomination staggered by my alcove. It stopped in front of the alcove and I feared it was all over and I would be caught or slain any second now but the creature continued stayed on its path either not seeing or ignoring me. I wanted to let out a sigh of relief but stopped myself, lest I give my position away. After a few minutes to let the creature get some distance and let my heart slow I crawled out and headed towards the door the monster had left open.
What I saw inside was horror beyond imagination and though I have blocked out most of the details I will recall what I can. Men were suspended in tubes in various degrees of dismemberment, tubes full of red liquid which I can only assume were once human remains ran through the room leading off within the complex, but perhaps worst of all was in the deep recesses of the room. There were monitors where similar symbols from the other monitors flashed across that would take a lifetime for even the best archeologist to decipher but on the monitor itself was a symbol of the earth and it being dragged by a large ship towards a distant planet. My fear overwhelmed me and I fled as fast as I could while hiding between the dark alcoves following the blood trail back to the ladder. Fortunately the ladder was still in place and I descended as rapidly as I could. The ladder was pulled away so that my position to the creatures would not be given away, hoping they assumed their new intruder was done with. I did not sleep that night, how could I when the horrible things I had witnessed were still fresh in my mind? A storm rolled in deftly in the wee hours of the night and a loud crack of lightning struck what I would later learn was the scaffolding. The scaffolding was destroyed and from the tower above my study with the telescope the spot was nowhere to be seen amongst the charred remains of the scaffolding.
After these events I relegated myself here to this asylum of my own free will. This is the tale as best I can tell it. While I realize this sounds mad and you can keep me in this asylum all you want, I will stay, here being safer than the castle where they know I once lived. But I warn you, none of us are truly safe.