Fiction: The Atrocity Film

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By Allen Griffin

The abandoned home looked like a crackhouse, gutters hanging like strays on a bad hair day, half-broken windows like carnivorous teeth. If not constructed from brick, the structure would have succumbed to collapse long ago.

I squatted the building for three days, spray-painting sigils on the interior walls and burying witch ladders in the yard, constructing cut-up texts from the DNA of occult texts and classified intelligence reports. These were nailed to all the doors in the house and the garage, also.

(Old Bill Burroughs gave us the techniques, now commonly assumed to have been taught to him by otherworld intelligences, although there is no doubt he was a master adept, if not an incredibly high ranking agent himself. Maybe Brion Gysin met Azazel in Algeria, had themselves a sit-down.)

When one was walking through the everyday world, it certainly appeared that no one knew what really went on, but, when the ritual space was put together, they couldn’t seem to stay away. One must evoke often and without prejudice, casting gray matter into the stars and throwing paint on the walls of the cosmos, protesting the terrible Black Iron Prison.

The house with the fanged windows became a crib waiting for a child, a canvas yearning for paint. Broadcasts emanated into the night and the ears of a thousand entities perked up.

The house with the fanged windows became a crib waiting for a child, a canvas yearning for paint. Broadcasts emanated into the night and the ears of a thousand entities perked up. Gray-and-black muzzles perched over mouths full of dagger-teeth sniffed the aethyr, ready to indulge in the bacchanalia of hunts and celebrations.

Nyarlathotep arrived after the living room was already full of people, faces of street denizens spectral in the candlelight. He set up a projector and it whirred to life instantly, casting images of atrocities on the stained wall. The sound was not unlike a twig stuck in bicycle spokes, great wheels turning, grinding. He began to lecture on various blasphemies and dissonances, his voice rising above the click of the spinning film and the sine wave soundtrack. We sat on the floor and listened intently.  The sound of a bone flute resonated throughout the house.

I felt as if only I understood the subtext to the lecture. I existed as a thief hovering in the no man’s land of a battlefield, flanked by Elder Gods on one side and Outer Ones on the other. If fate swung like a pendulum between slavery and extinction, the space in between was human freedom, as inconsequential as that might be. I have always ridden the metronome, throwing my weight one way then another, striking the perfect balance between two fates.

On my left sat a pink-haired girl who had introduced herself earlier as ‘Lita’ and on the other side of her a boy named ‘Rat.’ She held his hand and with her other, she touched my leg suggestively. Rat didn’t seem to mind. She leaned over and whispered in my ear:

“They live on fear.”

And later:

“A void blacker than death…”

The lecture continued on for hours, a tunnel into the endless night, the film reel never running out. Nyarlathotep droned on about the End Times with such eloquence that an old fire-and-brimstone preacher would surely blush. The whole thing stank of death-eroticism, Eros and Thanatos, almost but not quite acknowledging humanity’s pathetic existence, grains of sand swept along by cosmic tides.

From time to time, audience members rose and climbed the stairs, escorted by Nyarlathotep’s thugs to a back bedroom. I knew a Mi-Go waited, chanting its master’s name though its ellipsoid head, ready to prepare the brain stems for transport. Total lobotomy death worship.

When Lita and Rat went hand-in-hand up the steps, I decided it was time to make my move.  I excused myself from the lecture and went to the study. Sigils glowed in the darkness, transmitting a crimson hue onto the clutter of Nyarlathotep’s infernal devices. I rooted through the clutter of bound wires, bones, hair, and so much other debris until I pulled out a small pyramid about the size of a baseball and slipped it into my pocket. I looked around to make sure I was still alone.

I went back into the main room and considered the theft undetected until Nyarlathotep cast a knowing glance my direction. I understood the theft was an act of semiotic terrorism. I slipped out the front door without protest.

 

*

I once met a man who claimed to be Aleister Crowley. We traded shots of vodka and Habanero peppers at an old ranch in West Texas. The stars blinked on and off above us. Strange creatures howled like carrion hounds, sending lamentations to the red moon and The Tower tarot.

He talked a lot about climbing mountains and abusing chirpas, about how he constructed complex ritual spaces strictly in his mind, carried out vast imaginary ceremonies while poised on the sides of mountains.

I showed Master Therion Nyarlathotep’s artifact. He picked up on a new conversational thread, discussing incomprehensible weapons and oblique strategies.

“It is not our place to understand, only to act. There is no way but The Way; Do What Thou Wilt Shall Be the Whole of the Law.”

I interrupted him and pointed out that Aleister Crowley died in 1947. He gave me a baby-faced old man scowl and then broke the tension with a smile. He said to me:

“And with strange aeons, even death may die.” He laughed like a beast, but I eventually joined him, for these truths we hold to be self-evident.

 

*

I walked around for days, Nyarlathotep’s artifact in my pocket, waiting until I knew what to do with it. It morphed several times into a cube and then back into a pyramid. I tried to catch it in the act of changing, but was unsuccessful. It seemed to consciously transform only when my attention was directed elsewhere.

Finally, I rented a locker at the bus station and left the object inside. I stuck the key in my backpack and took a cab back out to the suburbs. From there, I hitchhiked out of town and headed towards Columbus. The skies expanded and the clouds took on a greater repertoire of color the further west I went.

In Columbus, I holed up in a rundown motel for a few days. It looked to be in worse shape than most abandoned buildings, but I was left alone. I placed the key to the bus station locker on top of the television and then let it run on static for hours out a time. The visual snow cleansed the key so it couldn’t be traced by the unintended. I kept the volume down and passed the time in deep meditation.

I experienced a wordless magnetism towards death. My benefits package certainly seemed to include an afterlife and I wondered how much work I really had left to do. These thoughts came and went. When I held the key in my hand again, my direction felt renewed and I immediately checked out of the motel. There was a message waiting for me at the front desk. The clerk was wild-eyed and seemed nervous to see me.

“Don’t ask questions you already know the answers to. Yes, its war, but hasn’t it always been a war. Everyone’s picking sides and no one cares about the insects on the battlefield. They’ll find a way to feed on the carcasses and to advance their own cause.”

I crumpled the note up and shoved it in my pocket.

***

I reached Austin in the early evening and stashed my backpack in a culvert running behind a small apartment building. Luckily, it wasn’t too hot this time of year. I avoided the south whenever possible because I hated the heat, but sometimes, the job forced me to do things I didn’t want to.

I walked the adjoining neighborhood, lulled into a sense of relaxation by the soft light of televisions in living rooms, although the few screen shots I caught through open windows all seemed to show scenes from the atrocity film. Families gathered around to eat dinner and watch genocide for the evening.

It reminded me of my own childhood, gathered around the radio to listen to Little Orphan Annie, followed by a broadcast from the Soviet “Woodpecker,” espionage transmissions of whirling static, blips and bleeps, beamed straight from the steel monstrosity radar arrays of Duga-3, located just outside of Chernobyl. At the time, I didn’t understand the space-time trickery that brought that little nugget into my living room, but I came to understand that the experience pointed to a retroactive initiation. As my future self experienced enlightenment, my psyche projected ripples across the map of space-time. The waves reached me as a child and, thus, they were always there.

My reverie was interrupted by the sound of squealing tires and the sounds of mailboxes and garbage cans falling prey to a rampaging automobile. I stood on the sidewalk and watched as a 50s-era black Cadillac careened down the street and stopped in front of me. Four men sat inside the vehicle; the two in front wore black suits and the two in back wore military uniforms. The man riding shotgun rolled down the window and grinned at me while holding his hand out, palm facing up. The others just kept staring straight ahead.

I pulled the locker key from my pocket and dropped it in his palm. The man’s face appeared to be caked in makeup, like an old lady who wore too much foundation, cracking like baked clay beneath a desert sky. He tossed the key onto the dashboard and then gave me a casual two-finger salute. The tires spun out and the car resumed its tirade into the neighborhood.

***

Time is geography and it was certainly a strange aeon I had wandered into. I stood somewhere south of Highway 10 just outside of Lawrence, lost among the fields, ducking in out of the few groupings of trees that still dotted the solemn landscape. The night sky swam in too many dimensions and my eyes grasped for a point of reference, but the stars were playing hard to get and the darkness was trapezoidal, if not coy.

The tractors were nestled in the barns for the night, but I observed men with black bags pulled over their heads, eye and mouth holes grotesque in their jagged violence, bringing a different kind of beast of burden into the fields. Some held Kalashnikovs while others grasped long poles, poking the Shoggoth into position.

It plowed a deep furrow into the soil, a process both slow and insane in its mockery of locomotion. As it made its way across the field, the Shoggoth began to secrete a thick, viscous liquid, which glowed in the dark. The men used mops to slop the stuff into wheelbarrows, which they then took to the nearest barn.

I had heard of these kinds of drug operations before. They produced a powerful hallucinogenic used to turn populations into gibbering mutant worshippers of Ubbo-Sathla. Entire towns have been eradicated to contain the viral insanity.

I would have called in an airstrike right into the heartland of America to stop the operation, but I suspect that this place had no map coordinates to speak of. These fields nestled themselves neatly into some kind of fold in space-time where they would not easily be found.

I slipped deeper into the trees before I could be spotted, trying to figure out what could be done. I was startled when I found Nyarlathotep standing right behind me. He said nothing, but I knew somehow he shared my concern about the men and their Shoggoth.

He pointed up to the night sky. I looked up and saw that it had become a giant screen and the atrocity film played on the entire horizon. The sine-wave soundtrack and the hideous flute music rained down onto the landscape, causing me to jam my fingers into my ears.

The film displayed its litany of devastation and acted as a mirror of the land below, feeding one another with blood and fire. Nyarlathotep grabbed my arm and placed the small pyramid in my hand and then pointed to an old pickup truck idling on the side of a dirt road that ran along the border of the field. I ran to it and found Crowley waiting behind the wheel.

“The moment is balanced, let humanity revel in its blindness.” He flashed me a mischievous smile and floored the gas pedal. The rocks thrown by the spinning tires landed silently in the abyss that continued to swallow up the landscape.

Allen Griffin is a writer and musician living in Indianapolis. He plays bass for Profound Lore recording artists Coffinworm. His fiction has appeared in such places as Burial Day Books, Indiana Horror Anthologies 2011 and 2012, and many others. He also has pieces forthcoming in several anthologies including Modern Lovecraft and Grave Robbers.

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