Coming soon, GRETCHEN’S WOOD, 2nd edition. Here a little taste; an excerpt from my story “Summoning Tsathoggua.”
…….The brush, weeds, and vines had been cleared from the obelisk. Winded from the work, Nancy’s body glistened with perspiration. Her long hair was wet and matted with sweat and soil. She leaned back against the obelisk, head upturned, eyes closed, arms splayed out from her sides. Seemingly entranced, she muttered an unintelligible chant as she rolled her head side to side.
……. “Ia. Ia. N'ggah-kthn-y'hhu,” she chanted softly. She paused, cackled, and then continued, “Ia. G'llh-ya, Tsathoggua. Y'kn'nh, Tsathoggua.”
…….Nancy called out to her god. He answered. Tsathoggua’s slumbering thoughts tore into her mind, and sliced through her thoughts. The mind of the toad god reached into the smallest cell of Nancy’s body, and probed her. Uncounted needle-like prickling sensations raced through her, sending her into convulsions. In uncontrollable fits she flopped against the stone obelisk like a fish out of water, her body racked by escalating simultaneous sensations of pain and pleasure. Then just as suddenly as the toad god had slammed into Nancy’s thoughts and body, he was gone. All that remained was a single word that Tsathoggua had left in her mind.
…….She cackled, sighed, and then slowly opened her eyes and stared at the darkening sky. “A sacrifice...,” she whispered, and started to laugh haltingly in a soft voice of madness. “A sacrifice!” Her mad laughter echoed through the woods as she slid down the face of the obelisk to the ground. Rolling over on her back, she stared up at the sky. The stars were beginning to come out.
…….Dusk gave way to night. The moon rode high in the black sky. The surface of Beaver Creek glistened in its light. Sounds of night echoed through the woods, including the strange songs of toads and frogs. A frog on the creek bank suddenly hopped into the water as something made its way through the woods. Then another frog hopped into the water. More and more frogs and toads, singing their songs, hopped into the water. They were on the move through the brush and creek, all moving in the same direction.
…….Don paid them no heed. “Nancy! Nancy!” he was shouting. “Where are you?” He paused and listened for a reply. There was none. Only the singsong of frogs and toads; more than usual, he noted. “I know you’re here! Nancy!”
…….He continued through the woods. All about him was a rustling of underbrush. He paused, glanced around, and then up at the night sky. He sighed as he rested his hands on his hips. “Well Nance, guess you’re gonna have to find out the hard way,” he voiced his thoughts. He shook his head and continued on. “Nancy! Come on, dammit!”
…….Thousands of tiny eyes watched Nancy from the dark. She sat passively on the south bank of Beaver Creek’s west fork just below the little hamlet of Williamsport. She had left the clearing and the obelisk. Tsathoggua whispering to her thoughts had taxed her. She needed rest to restore her energy, her vitality. She needed to collect her thoughts and plot a course of action.
…….So, she had left the clearing and disappeared into the night. Now she sat cross legged, her eyes closed, her hands resting in her lap. She was smudged in sweat and dirt. Moonlight glistened on her skin. Her hair was stringy and matted. She had left her shredded blouse behind in the clearing and now sat naked from the waist up.
…….The water of the creek trickling by. Water, the life blood of her god. The sound of the gently rolling water was soothing, comforting. She felt an awkward kinship, a bond with the water. The water was her connection to Tsathoggua.
…….Her thoughts turned to the whispered words of her god. He had said that a sacrifice was needed. She grinned at the thought. “Yes a sacrifice. Don Chambers.” She chuckled softly. “Why not?” She knew he wouldn’t go gladly. But it didn’t matter. He needn’t know, not until it was much too late. Not until the end.
…….In the dark the tiny eyes watching Nancy blinked. In pairs they disengaged themselves from the shadows and hopped into the silver light of the setting moon. They came from the woods, from the underbrush, from the waters of the creek. They gathered around Nancy, keening their songs to her. She opened her eyes.
…….The moonlight danced across her exposed skin and sparkled in her eyes. She appeared ghost like and gray in the moonlight. A multitude of gray toads and frogs gathered about her in servitude. They were offering themselves to her for guidance just as she had offered herself in servitude to her god.
…….By the thousands they came, hopping around Nancy, into her lap, onto her folded legs, onto her shoulders. She smiled at them and cackled madly in the dark. Her blood ran hot, surging through her. These toads and frogs - this was a sign, she knew, a sign of acceptance. Her god saw that all things were good. She would lead this multitude to meet her god, and their god, when the time was right.