by Robert Borski
Because it’s important he not stutter, the young man in the rowboat does not swallow his medication until he is far from shore. As a result, though the waves of the Atlantic are soon crashing about him, inside his mind he is calm and almost at home as much as he is in any of his favorite places: the comic book store, the cafeteria at Miskatonic U., engaging in flame wars on-line. And after one last check for cell phone messages, he begins his mission.
It takes one to know one.
This is the credo of all those who aspire to the Whisperer Clan, whether it’s horses, ghosts, or giant cuttlefish from outer space that need to be gentled. You must imagine what it’s like to be in their hooves, their ectoplasm, their cephalopods. Their aspect and affect — what’s acting as a burr on their souls. Only then will you be able to address their particular variety of rage and negotiate its release.
Suddenly, but to no surprise, the waters part and, seeing the writhing thing before him with its flukes and wings and cruel squid head, the fledgling Cthulhu Whisperer is careful to address it in syllables old when Atlantis was new, but updated in tone, so hierarchies of awe, respect, and compassion dominate. Oprah-speak, in other words. “I know your pain, my brother. I, too, have been unfairly precluded my due. Really, the sunken streets of R’lyeh are not so much different from those of the town I now live in.”
Sluggish but attentive, the Great Old One lifts its tentacles in a semaphore of curiosity, chromatopores shifting toward the red.
“Good, I see I’ve piqued your interest. Like me, you must find it maddening that your current position is held in such low esteem by the world. You could literally rule this marble of dirt and blue piss if you chose to end your somnolent phase, and will again when the stars are right. But who actually knows of you? A few fish-gilled initiates with a passion for pulp literature and maybe a legion of game-wankers with a serious non-grasp of reality and feeble networking skills. Everyone else is much more entranced with arrivistes, whether it’s the tripartite goddess of Britney/Lindsey/Paris or worshipping at the altar of Facebook. Meanwhile, from that anvil of dreams once known as Hollywood, torture porn is now extruded in ever greater quantities, even as its leading monsters grow increasingly mired in sequelitis, like the monarchs of some severely inbred aristocracy. Small wonder you became so riled when your agent stopped returning your calls.”
Tentacles begin to lash wildly. A pulsing crimson strobes along the tail flukes.
“Ahhhh,” says the Cthulhu Whisperer, allowing himself a first faint smile. “I’ve touched a nerve. Forgive me. Perhaps we should continue elsewhere.”
Partially submerging itself, dread Cthulhu flings a pod-arm his way, but stops just short of a scaly towel-snap.
Once again, just as he rehearsed, the young man continues his speech, his attempt at communion. “Then, of course, there’s your ridiculous status as an undocumented alien, as well as your loss in the previous century of your favored human conduit, the gentleman from Providence (himself no fan of the genetically suspect, eh?). Global Positioning Satellites stalk your every move like paparazzi, and the elopement of both Hastur and Shub-Niggurath could not have boded well for this cycle’s bimillennial snog-and-shag. In fact, were I capable of generating tsunami the way you can, there is little doubt a certain local prom would not have ended as placidly as it did. So you see, my brother, I’m down with you; I’ve walked 20,000 leagues in your star boots; I know what it’s like to be dateless and unappreciated, with a face full of barnacles and sea grit.”
Suddenly, all color drains from its pores as Dread Cthulhu sighs like a fumarole.
“What? No. Really? Sure. I might be able to wrangle you a fix-up with Gojira. You fancy her a bit? She reminds me of Bethany, from my spinning class. Except without the braces.”
The gulf that appears is both far and wide, and deeper than the sea. Or perhaps it’s simply his medication beginning to fade. At any rate, soon only a wriggling meter of tentacle remains above the waves.
“Hey, not a problem,” says the young man, easing into rowing position again. “They don’t call me the Cthulhu Whisperer for nothing. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve the last of three Doctor Whos to watch.”
Robert Borski grew up in Wisconsin, not far from Sauk City, home to Arkham House and its founder, August Derleth. Though he has not written much HPL-inspired fiction, he was a contributor to the early Weird Tales fanzine, Etchings & Odysseys. These days he mostly writes poetry.