Third day since waking up in hospital (Saturday 1st November 1926), somewhere in the jungle, Haiti
I am alone in the jungle, trying to decide what to next. I find myself narrating events much as Rupert had done before his death. Perhaps this is another symptom of the madness creeping over me with the black scales from the Stone’s wounds. The realisation that my former companions are dead, killed in horrific ways, has thrown my thoughts into confusion. Thankfully, I have no memory of those horrific events; such memories have been masked most thoroughly by my psyche in creating these mental semblances of my former comrades. Yet despite knowing the truth, these voices refuse to disappear. They chatter and bicker distractingly, sowing confusion. Now they talk of trying to control my body, but they are only fragments of memory and experience and have no traction in the real world. I try to ignore them, but the voices persist.
At last their arguing subsides, having decided that they are the spirits of my companions. As one they direct me to continue. The answer will lie ahead in the Star Pools, they say, and I am inclined to agree. They mutter nonsense about being reborn in the Star Pools (the voice I think of as Tobias refers to them as birthing pools), but this is foolishness, however tempting the thought may be that there might be a way to not be forever alone. Besides there is still the unanswered question of what happened to Jack Sterling. Though his friend, my employer, is now dead, he is still unaccounted for and probably about to be sacrificed by these heathen savages. I do not think I would ever be free of these voices, of the guilt or failure to save Herr Sterling if I left here now, never to return. So I continue through the jungle towards the Star Pools. Perhaps within them is a cure to the creeping black malady which now assails me.
There is another, strange voice in my head. It whispers ’it’s almost time’ over and over again. It is not one of the other voices (who insist that they hear it too, of course). Part of me replies and the voice pauses. Louder it asks who I am. Then it says that it is not time yet. This must be some external spirit, perhaps tied to this place, for it is unlike those other voices in my head. I ask it what I am supposed to do.
Have I come early? it asks. I think so, I reply, needing desperately more information than I currently have. It seems to be confused. It says that the body is not ready. Which body? The host it answers. I wonder aloud, am I the host? In another voice I as whether it is inside the host. The voice says no, but that I should be, and that I should be sleeping. I should not yet be born.
A glimmer of understanding occurs to me. The Voice thinks that I am that which is to be born in the ritual, the Crawling Chaos. It confirms that the Crawling Chaos is one of my names. From somewhere unbidden, Tobias’s voice surfaces and says we are not Nyrathlotep. The Voice says then it has nothing more to say and disappears. I wonder whether that was unwise, so I call out that I am Nyrathlotep, but there is no reply.
I have come to the tree-line. It is near sunset and some stars are already in the sky. The path leads to the edge of a very large clearing surrounded by trees. There are six large oval pools surrounding what looks to be an altar. Around the pools stand 10 stone monoliths. These must be the Star Pools. The water is green and cloudy in the centre, but appears quite deep. Ahead and to my left are three huts. I decide that if anyone is here already, they will be in those huts, but I avoid cutting across the middle of the clearing. The Voice announces ‘You are here’ and something emerges from the pool next to me.
Despite it’s hideous appearance, my mind is suitably disturbed by recent events that there is something innately attractive about it. I feel a connection to the hideous beast, which is presumably The Lurker Frau Josephine mentioned. I can feel it’s mind trying to dominate me, but despite my mental incapacities I manage to overcome it. The thing bows down in submission and calls me Master. The power given to me by the Sharp Stone has given me the edge in our encounter, and suddenly I feel more confident.
The Lurker says that the other followers will be here soon, and that the ceremony will commence in a matter of hours (at midnight). It says I (the Floating Horror) will be born at midnight, though the body is not as prepared as it should be. In this early stage I should not be aware yet. It is clear to me that this beast is clever and I must be careful of my responses lest my control slips away.
The Lurker confirms in essence that King Kaliko (the cultists’ leader) ordered Haitians to kill my companions. I ask about the other one who came before, the original host. That body is nearly ready, but somehow I am in this other body. Trying to remain in control I assert that I took it over. I need to know what is going to happen so I question it regarding the ceremony.
When the stars burn in the sky the host body is slit open on the altar (not the pools) and I will emerge. But the Lurker is uncertain what will happen because my body is not prepared.
The voices in my head argue with me about what I should do. I do not want the ceremony to go ahead as clearly this will mean my death. I know I am not the being the Lurker thinks I am. The voices argue that I should force the Lurker to kill the others who come because they betrayed us. The Lurker makes it known that he can hear those voices too. This could be problematic.
The Tobias voice asks where the original host is. The Lurker says it is still sleeping. Could I be born from the original host, though I am in this unprepared hose? The Lurker does not know what will happen.
Undergrowth behind the huts starts to move. I tell the Lurker that the original host should be prepared and quash the Tobias voice which says I should say the first host is unsuitable. If I am subject to the ritual I will die, but if it is Jack Sterling I might be able to prevent it from occurring.
Seven Haitians emerge from the undergrowth behind the hut. The Lurker says that the time is now approaching. I still want to know what will happen to my body anyway. The Lurker does not know, says that the second host may die as I will not be born properly. The seven men notice me and start screaming. I can barely make out that they are saying someone is here, come quick. I command the creature to find out who they are and to protect me.
Seven more men and women emerge. One of these is a large muscled man in dirt white robes. Seeing the the Lurker heading towards him he clutches at a stone amulet hanging around his neck. There is an almighty scream and the Lurker falls to the ground and crawls into the Pools. Suddenly, I feel very vulnerable as the man points at me and the men and women start running towards me. I note the man has a third eye painted in white on his forehead. The screaming of the Lurker resounds in my head, almost, but not quite, drowning out the other voices. The strongest of them is Jonah’s voice urging me to defend myself against the running men. I draw the .38 pistol and fire at the first man, downing him. With little time for guilt at this murder I fire again. Nine others enter the clearing and start towards me.
Desperately, I ready my shotgun. The voices in my head are urging me to escape by jumping into the Pool next to me. It is really the only way out of here. I would not be able to outrun the locals with my bad leg. But I am determined to try to deter them from following me into the pool. As the closest couple of natives come within range I fire the shotgun, downing both of them, then dive into the pool.
The water is cloudy and disorienting. My clothing and boots drag me downward and I struggle to make out the direction of escape. I narrowly miss getting entangled in the vines at the side of the pool and strike out towards the depths. Someone tries to grab me, but I twist free struggling to maintain my breath and for what seems like hours I make no progress. Then I see a tunnel ahead. With all my strength I strike out for it; it leads down and underneath the clearing, presumably connecting all the pools. Still the Lurker screams in my head and I try to command it to aid me, but to no avail. The other voices scream unhelpfully at me to swim faster, but I ignore them. Not long after I enter the tunnel, my breath gives out and I swallow water. I start to drown.
Two men drag me back to the surface. While I gulp in much needed air they tie my hands behind me and drag me towards the hut. There are now nearly forty people in the clearing. As I pass the cleric, I notice the stone he is clutching is dark and greenish like the sharp stone. Then I am thrown into the foremost hut. My weapons are taken and the box with the Sharp Stone is placed on a stool behind me. Two natives stand either side of door, inside the hut, facing me. There is little I can do, watched as I am. I try to move towards the box, but they move to stand between it and I. I resolve to wait for another opportunity to act.
Several hours pass and it gets dark outside the hut. Sounds of celebration can be heard and I can see natives dancing around the Pools. The two men take me outside.
The sky is filled with many many stars, more than there should be, and they appear to be burning. The burning stars are reflected in the Star Pools. The natives are dancing feverishly, while King Kaliko looks on, clutching his amulet, and all the while in the back of my mind, the Lurker screams.
From the last hut, two men emerge supporting another. The third being is man shaped, but covered in black scales, its face elongated and lizard like. It appears to gain consciousness slowly and its eyes open, two yellow eyes and a third, human eye in the centre of the forehead. The third eye looks around in panic as the body joins in with the dancing in a very un-humanlike way. This must be what remains of Jack Sterling. What horror must he be feeling, I shudder to think.
I cannot find a way to prevent what is to happen, bound and held as I am. I watch, helplessly, as the body moves towards the altar. King Kaliko draws a ceremonial dagger. In that instant the screaming stops and I throw out my mind to the Lurker, commanding it to kill king Kaliko. But also in that instant the cleric brings down the blade of the dagger, slitting the front of the body and something bursts forth. It is a mass of blackness and it flies up, up into the sky changing shape and growing with immense speed. The host body watches its passage to the heavens.
But it does not fly away into the night. It stops, floating above the clearing. Huge tentacles appear slashing and tearing at the celebrants who stand welcoming their destruction. The cleansing of Haiti has begun. The Lurker does not respond to my cries, in fact it seems to have disappeared. Unless I too wish to be massacred, I must escape. The guards have released me, awaiting their death, so I run back to the hut. I free my self on the Sharp Stone and crouch in the hut, waiting for the massacre to finish. If I try to leave now I will be ripped to shreds. So I watch the carnage until it ceases.
When I finally emerge from the hut utterly sickened, but numb to the horror, the creature in the sky has gone. I hear, faint in the distance, screams. The creature is attacking Port-au-Prince. No-one in the clearing, save myself, is left alive. I feel a strange pull towards the altar and I follow it.
The body of what was once Jack Sterling lies dead, ripped open by the knife. The third eye, though, still moves in panic. How can this be? Not really knowing why, I touch it. I blink and suddenly it is daylight. The carnage is gone, the sun shines brightly and innocent in the sky. I am surrounded by my companions, living breathing men who examine the clearing with mild curiosity. Yet their voices still resound in my head. What is going on?