The Dweller in the Stars

The Dweller in the Stars

A Story by Marc Cutting
"

A retired accountant who has taken up star gazing as a hobby makes a disturbing discovery.

"

My hand shakes so violently that it can scarcely grip the pen I hold as I attempt to document what exactly happened to me over the last five days and I hope, though most will laugh at my story and call me a madman, it will prove that there are older and more malevolent forces that exist in this world than the young race of humankind has comprehension of. My name is, or I should say was Henry Moore. I was born into a middle class family and lived and worked my whole life in London. My life as an accountant for a moderately successful business was full of routine and I was content. My family I had raised and cherished and my daughter had married into nobility and my son forged a lucrative career in journalism. My wife had recently passed away which had left me the sole inhabitant of the family manor. For years I lived normally without incident yet how could I have possibly known what terrors were soon to beset me with their fiendish fancies?

 

At fifty-three I was an old man and many of my youthful pursuits no longer held any interest to me. I had taken a liking to astrology and star gazing, I had purchased a fine silver telescope and on certain suitably clear and starry nights I would gaze out in wonder at the amazing cosmos.  The first time I beheld that star was on the night of the twentieth of  June 1866 and I was filled with supreme amazement as I noted the luminosity of it through the lens of the telescope, for it was oddly bright even amongst the other stars that dotted the sky. I sat in my chair out in the darkened garden in observance of the strangely glowing star and swiftly became transfixed with it and its fluttering luminescence. It seemed almost to be blinking as if in communication and I hastily jotted this finding down in my notebook as I did with its weird glow. After many long hours of observing the phenomenal star I became weary and swayed on the brink of sleep, as I slumped down in my chair I still kept an eye on the wonder and it seemed to be glowing and blinking ever more rapidly as if urging me to sleep. My head drooped and I was consumed by slumber. I awoke on the morning of the twenty-first inexplicably cold and bathed in sweat. I felt strangely weak as if my limbs were becoming acquainted for the first time with the ground as I stood much like how one feels when getting back on land after swimming. My head swam and my eyes blinked crazily as I was hit by the cool air. I deduced that after having fallen asleep outside I had caught a cruel fever in the night and I resolved to rest the whole day.

 

I slept the daylight hours away and awoke in the middle of the night with no symptom of my earlier condition. Stumbling out of bed I felt oddly attracted to the outside, I moved to my bedroom window and after opening it I beheld the dark night sky outside and my eyes were strangely drawn to the depths of the starry void. It was there again. The luminous blinking star that had aroused wonder in me the night before. It was glowing with a stronger degree of luminosity now and blinked at regular intervals and to my weary mind it seemed as if it was moving closer with each blink. I fumbled around in the dark seeking to find my bureau and inside, my notebook to jot down this new finding. However, after acquiring the little book and returning to the window and the sky outside I observed that the glowing star had disappeared. I could not discern if it had truly disappeared or if it was my mind still delirious from the earlier fever. Feeling slightly strange myself and more than a little confused I went back to sleep.

 

It was that night, the night of June the twenty-first that those horrible dreams assailed my sleeping mind. Although now I doubt they were dreams, my mind was more solid then and I comforted myself by calling them dreams. For in them, the first of which I was disembodied and in some astral state, the void was before me and the twinkling stars drifted past as if I were travelling to some unknown destination. Gaseous clouds came and passed and spoke to me in all the languages of the known world, they told me of great terrors and unspeakable places in the spaces between dimensions. As I drifted on for what seemed like an eternity yet at the same time mere minutes I observed less and less of the gaseous beings and eventually I encountered no other life form as I passed into the edges of space. Suddenly I heard sounds, sounds of iron hitting against rock as if near a mine yet there was nothing but space around me. The sounds grew louder and louder though by this time I was still, the mining grew louder and louder until it threatened to deafen me even in my own dream. The noise became unbearable and I made to scream but only a cruel inhuman laugh came out. I awoke drenched in cold sweat as the daemonic cacophony of laughter still played in my mind. I fear I went mad then.

 

That morning I paced about the manor after eating breakfast and noted my movements were slower than usual and I was constantly shivering though I was not cold. I paced to and fro in my study after pouring through every book of astrology I possessed and found nothing that fitted the description of that strange star. Although I had no evidence to suggest it, I suspected that the glowing star was responsible for my weird dream. That I could not find any evidence of that star in any of those books confounded me greatly and served to heighten my growing fear of which I was harbouring. Nervously I awaited nightfall for I suspected the star would show itself again, any sane person reading this will note that there was no reason I should become so enthralled by that star but enthralled I was and at the time I paid no heed to anything else except that star. Night came and draped itself across the land and I took my position in the garden with my telescope for my suspicions were correct and that star of wonder was flickering out in the blackness once more. I peered at it from behind my telescope and was wrought with a sudden drowsiness, as I struggled to keep my eyes on that enigmatic object sitting in space I thought I saw it change shape and thus all my notions of science and space were dashed and my poor mind heaped with more questions. Sleep claimed me, though I knew not why for I was not in the least bit tired.

 

Some things are never meant to be seen by the eyes of men nor are they ever meant to be known of by men. The unspeakable blasphemies I have seen in my dreams rank amongst those forbidden sights and notions. For on that night of the twenty-second of June 1866 I swear that I did not dream rather I lived those events. Again I was in the creeping black voids of space and a chill wind whipped across my face, I fancied I hear a scream as of a woman in excruciating pain. As I drifted further into that infinite abyss I heard the screams in varying degrees of inexorable pain always intensifying. The whole scene was maddening. Stars looked down upon me as if monitoring my every movement, black voids swirled around spitefully under my feet and the call of astral hounds echoed with indescribable decibels. Yet even the baying of those astral hounds was dwarfed by the hellish sound of agony that rang throughout all the space and spoke of nameless terrors doing nameless things. The cold practically slid inside me and I had the sensation that I was being invaded, as if some other being was taking over the fabric of my being and imposing its own will into my actions. I was drawn ever onwards throughout the torrid depths and soon all turned to black yet that soul-renting scream continued and invoked supernatural fear in the very core of my soul.

 

The woman’s disembodied agony carried on and escalated into a cacophony of  terror that bespoke of endless torture. Drawn along by the force that had coldly seized me I drifted forward in the darkness, knowing without seeing where I was heading.  The fiendishly cold wind suddenly ceased and revealed a more sinister sound that it had been hiding. That mocking laughter from hell that I had heard during the first dream. Only now it seemed far away and it rose as the tortured screams stabbed through the space-air as if unseen to me some devil or daemon sat by and laughed in response to the woman’s pain. A convulsive shudder trickled down me as the cold force evaporated from my body, as I felt the last traces of that Antarctic chill leave me a splendid bloodcurdling scream of indescribable terror and injury rose in a howling crescendo before falling deathly silent, the daemonic laughing followed it hysterically and my ears burned with it. My blood froze as the stars and swirls of space returned to my vision and the sounds of mining as of many hundreds of pickaxes hacking against bedrock intruded into the silence that the last of the hellish laughter had created. My head ached with the multitudinous noises and a gnawing dread played at the back of my mind. A blindingly bright image materialised before me and I beheld an impossibly large luminous object covered in craters and albino earth and to my undying horror I knew the source of the noise. All over the object were forms, ghostly and pale shades of people, men, women and children all with placid featureless faces solemnly mining at the object’s surface with eldritch pickaxes. If I were not already mad then the sight of these silent ghost workers must have surely pushed me off the edge for I awoke screaming like a lunatic and clawing at the air in front of me.

 

The whole of the next day I lived in fear of the coming night. I resolved to draw all the curtains in the house and instructed the servants to hide my telescope and lock the doors after nightfall. I spent the whole day in the spacious living room slumped in my favourite yet antiquated chair trying to make sense of the pseudo dream I had experienced. It was possible I was merely insane yet the lurking fear which still gnawed incessantly at my mind warned of unnameable terrors that were all too real. I had come to the conclusion that the luminous blinking star was the root of my crazed terror filled dreaming and that perhaps the star and my insanity were linked, perhaps it served as a mental trigger which when glimpsed conjured up all my fancied fears, whatever the reason I was determined to not seek out and look upon that star during the impending night. At first I was true to my resilience and remained seated even when the ornate grandfather clock of my family struck midnight, curiously I was not tired and sat with my eyes open glaring at the open fireplace where the embers flickered in unison. I tried to eliminate all thoughts of the star but it was hopeless. I found that I could think on nothing else, even though it was away from my view it seemed to call my name from its place in the sky, beckoning me through some supernatural medium. I grasped the arms of my chair until my knuckles went white and fought the urge which rose up inside me to wonder outside and gaze dumbly at the luminous and blinking star of wonder. The restraint took up all of my energies and I began to sweat with the exertion, the celestial thing was out there, I knew this, and it wanted me to look upon it, it wanted me in its thrall so it could plague my dreams in its unspeakable way. What seemed like an eternity was only an hour and after stealing a glance at the grandfather clock I knew I could not sustain my self restraint much longer. Part of me was inclined towards going outside and peering at the star for I half wondered what imaginations it would bring to my dreams but the part of me which was wholly sane and rational guarded against the glowing fiend for though I knew not how or why, I knew the star wanted me.

 

The call burned in my mind and I relented, getting out of my chair I went with a franticness to the back door and learning it was locked, I retrieved the spare key from my bedroom which I had not bothered to hide away from myself. Opening the door I was greeted by the dark void of night and the starry sky and I felt oddly elated as I looked up and began searching for that star. My search did not last long for it was impossible to miss its glowing mass. Like an intoxicated idiot I gazed with amazement as it glowed and blinked and changed shape before me. Sleep struck me like a thunderbolt and I fell to the ground. What a fool I was to seek out the star for the dream that followed disturbed me greatly. As before, I was in the sprawling nothingness of space and a deathly silence prevailed throughout the depths. I fancied I could hear my heartbeat fast and frantic as it was. This time it appeared that I was free to do as I pleased, no force drew me along and I could move wherever I wished to. I was oddly pleased by this new freedom but as I happened to glance upwards fear reached out and claimed every fibre of my being. What I beheld was I believe, the moon or rather, a moon for it could not possibly be the amiable moon that watches over the earth during the dark hours. No, this thing was a gross and malevolent parody of the moon, what induced such cyclopean fear in me was that this moon had an evil and leering face as of some gigantic astral daemon, hideously profound and reeking with untold evil this face looked down at me with an animal hunger. I was glad for my freedom to move now for I turned and fled.

 

In the depths of space I ran like a hare chased by innumerable hounds, my fear was so heightened I think I garbled the lord’s prayer as I ran yet strangely I could hear no sound of my own. I ran and ran yet seemed to never get any further away from that bestial moon. The daemonic laughter crackled above me as if mocking the very notion of my escape, though it was disembodied laughter of this I was fairly certain I still did not dare look up. As I ran through that abominable abyss of dread a host of terrible voices invaded my head all speaking to me in dread tongues of which none were human, from these voices I could ascertain one common word amongst the guttural and primitive syllables and that word, I shudder to even repeat it verbally and to write it I dare not to if it can be avoided but alas, it cannot be avoided now. The terrible word they all shared was: Sl’ubketh.

 

Unmentionable horrors can be conjured up with a single word. Although when I heard that infernal name I did not shudder for I was unaware of the malign terror it implied. I awoke on the twenty-fourth of June 1866 in a state of pure madness for I had spent my dream energies on escaping from things that should not be plausible to even conceive let alone gaze at with waking eyes. I had a quick breakfast and then ran out into the streets and resolved to locate the Imperial Library of London. I hailed a carriage and arrived at the library just after midday. Immediately after I paid the driver I rushed inside with all the franticness of a madman and noisily clambered up the Edwardian style staircase to the fourth floor with complete disregard to convention. I was a rational man during most of my life but now desperation caused me to seek out a certain tome which I had only ever heard of from the superstitious lower classes or from eccentric friends. The book I hunted for was the Ars Notoria, an infernal volume which was supposed to be of great value to demonologists. I would never have sought after such a blasphemous tome if it were not for the insane fear that star invoked in me and the name I had heard which even then had stirred contempt within me. After conversing with one of the librarians, a man whom I perceived to be slightly older than I, I was able to get my shaking hands on the library’s single copy, though when I told the man the name he eyed me suspiciously before going to retrieve it. I could not loan it for some reason so I had to content myself with studying it there. After nearly an hour of flicking through and beholding the damnable things the book contained I found the name Sl’ubketh mentioned on a singular page written in Latin. Fortunately I had a decent enough command of Latin to decipher some of the text. What I found worried my already shaken soul even more.

On the origins of Sl’ubketh the book would not mention and I thank God that it doesn’t for surely if such a thing can exist, wherever it came from must contain more of its kind and that thought enough would have driven the most rational thinker utterly insane. It was a daemon thing, a merciless and hateful entity which resided in the stars, I shuddered as I read this. The baneful daemon is said to devour the souls of people and consign them to work for eternity on his accursed mines in the stars. I think I must have gone ghostly white when I read this for I had seen the very horrors which this book told of. Being only a page, the details were rather scattered and unintelligent yet what I learnt was enough to shake me to my very core and to learn that the daemon employs the use of certain stars to entice unwitting souls to his domain I fainted with a pitiful yelp. I awoke with the librarian shaking me and was thankful that he did, I got a carriage back home and waited for nightfall.

 

From my terrible reading I had concluded that this horror wanted to enslave me on its star mines like it had done to those poor wretches I had seen so solemnly chipping at that star’s surface. How I was to evade this doom I knew not for last night I had proven I could not resist the allure of that star. I was beset with dread and depression as I realised that my chances of escape were slim. Once again I ordered the servants to draw all the curtains in the manor and to lock all the doors, this time I entrusted my faithful butler with all of the spare keys and then sent him home for the night. I waited with all the fear and anxiousness that I suspect one faces before the executioner’s axe strikes. I looked to the grandfather clock to see that it was eleven o’clock. I wished sleep would drift over me, a dreamless and peaceful slumber the likes of which I had not known for four days now but no such sleep or even a hint of tiredness came over me. This I rued for I knew that a repeat of the past night would become inevitable. I tried fruitlessly to restrain the rising urge to seek the star and this time I lasted less than an hour as I found myself rising from my chair and moving as if controlled by some unseen puppeteer. Trying all the doors in the manor I found them all locked and I thanked the heavens that I had such good servants to do their deranged master such a kind act however, in my enthralled and determined state I ascended to the second floor and sought out my son’s old room which had a balcony. Entering it I realised I had not done so since my son lived in the manor and even then only when he was but a mere boy, the power of these emotions coupled with the fact I may never see my son or my dear daughter again if I continued almost stopped me in my tracks and very nearly almost broke the terrible trance I was in. Alas, I was only delayed for soon the call of the luminous star came to me and I tried the doors that lead out to the balcony and finding them locked I did what no sane man would ever do to his own property, I kicked in the slight doors repeatedly and they gave way to my unconventional entrance. Walking on to the balcony I beheld with elatedness the wondrous night sky with the sight of space unveiled and free from interfering clouds. The bright blinking star twinkled as if in response when I found it at last, for it seemed to change location every night and soon I was in the thrall of slumber, falling into a heap onto the balcony.

 

I would say, I think I was to die that night. For the dream, if it can be called a dream and not a nightmare, proved to be a roiling expanse of depravity and terrors from beyond the known world. I was in the familiar setting of space as I had been in the previous three dreams and just like the last one I was free to move as I pleased. Glancing upward I was relieved to see the empty void. A dim light flickered on and off in the distance and around me were the gaseous beings which had spoken to me during the very first dream I had. These gases seemed to be different from the ones I had previously met for they spoke to me in harsh syllables and called out my name and the name of that accursed star daemon in weird and dead tongues not known to man. I ignored them for I knew they were not truly evil and could ascertain no way in which they could harm me being the gaseous masses that they were. I walked in space in the general direction of the flickering light for although I knew it would lead to disaster I did not know where else to go. The nearer I got to the light the more I could hear the chilling sounds of mining and I knew what it was I was walking to then. With a sombre determination I got so close as to look upon the star before me and with horror I realised it was that star, the very star which had so cruelly ensnared me and was the subject of both my awe and terror. Along its surface were pale glowing forms of things that were once people all mining dully and mechanically at it. I realised also that these beings were what emanated the star’s distant blinking. Such terror befell me as a dread voice beckoned to me in a tongue so diseased and malevolent that I cannot even begin to translate, it called my name and invaded my mind and turned my gaze to a space between the rows of ghostly workers where an unused pickaxe was propped against the star’s surface. My eyes bulged wildly with horror as I knew what was happening, this fiendish voice in my head no doubt belonged to that ancient evil which I had read about and whose name I will never repeat verbally and it was attempting to seal my fate and consign my spirit to endless toil while it feasted on my soul like it had done with those poor wretches. Although every fibre of my being warned me of this danger and told me to flee I found myself actually walking towards the vacant space in the line of spirits. My fate was sealed, I could not resist the allure of the daemon’s voice which swirled in my head sounding baleful yet comforting at the same time. I was close now to the star’s surface and could see tiny craters dotted around on it. I knew that as soon as I set foot on the star I would be enslaved to the will of that most hated thing and would be lost to the world forever. I thought of my late wife who would have been disappointed in me at my weakness and my children who would never know what had happened to me, these thoughts as they had earlier resisted my decline did so at this vital moment and I was able to break free from the daemon’s thrall. The ecstasy of escape flowed through my veins and adrenaline pumped through my blood as I turned and bolted away from that abhorrent star. The daemonic voice howled in anger and shouted things that haunt me even now, it called my name in English and tried to persuade me with promises of eternal life and freedom from the constraints of mortality and its needs, I would not be swayed, not after what I had seen and knowing what that thing was. I ran like a dog after a stick and never looked back, I was assailed with all manner of ghastly and gruesome sounds; daemonic howls, the baying of astral hounds, cries of immense torture and what haunts me most, the sound of those terrible mines in the stars.  I ran until my head throbbed in pain with all the noises and I could see the form of the earth in front of me amidst the swirling vapours of space. I passed by more of the gaseous beings who shouted at me to flee and to never look into the stars again. I swore I would abide by their words if ever I awoke from that hellish nightmare. The screams of torture reached a new climax and out from the seams of space came the astral hounds whom I had only known by their howls. They were servants to the unspeakable one and they had been sent to take me back to those mines by their abhorrent master, glistening like stars themselves they were baleful to look on, their great jaws slavered and their golden eyes glared out lifelessly and now that they were closer I could hear the full extent of their maddening howls which threatened the very principles of the space-time continuum and reached decibels and resonance not possible in any of God’s creatures.

 

I ran with a speed I never knew I possessed as the space things howled about behind me. Great beads of freezing sweat dripped down my face and for a man of fifty-three I can only attribute my curious speed to the extreme adrenaline rush I had experienced. The Earth seemed closer now yet I doubted I would reach it before those astral hounds ripped my earthly body to shreds and presented their master with my defeated soul. I wished with all my soul that I would reach the Earth and awaken for that is what I felt would happen if I did reach the comforting sight of my home planet and I was propelled by that belief to continue pushing myself even when the howls of fiends rang in the blackness of the void around me. I said a prayer to God and continued onward more than half expecting one of the astral hound to jump on my back and sink its terrible fangs into my flesh. They were gaining on me now and I dared not look back for that reason. A fell daemonic laughter fell across space and mocked me and I remembered with unbridled horror that disgusting parody of the moon with its leering face and I shouted in rage and madness, it was all I could do, I shouted my frustration as I felt my limbs stiffen and begin to slow down and could sense the moon dogs snapping at my heels as the laughter of their master mocked me. I tripped, on what I know not for I was in space yet that is what happened, I stumbled onto my back to behold the great white hound which stalked towards me slavering with its fellows slowly advancing behind it and…that moon in the sky above me sneering with its devil’s face at my defeat. I should have died then as the great hound’s jaws closed down on my face and its cold breath berated me harshly. Yet I awoke to the sound of daemonic laughter ringing in my head on the morning of the twenty-fifth of June 1866.

 

I think I was spared only for the daemon’s own amusement. Perhaps it thought there was some sport in keeping me alive for another day, for it had set its hunting hounds upon me like I was some poor hare. I will never sleep now, I bought a revolver yesterday and even as I write it sits here on my desk, I think before nightfall I will blow my brains out and be at peace.  I must for I have seen those mines in the stars deep in the swirling vortexes of space and I have known their immeasurable horror. I stayed awake all of yesterday and could only resist that star by pressing the revolver to my temple. For I now know the secret horror that preys on the unsuspecting star gazer, I think it has more stars in its fell kingdom and has obviously captured many poor souls. If you read this and have any sense about you to see the truth in my words then you will not gaze at stars for too long if at all for you never know if it could be that star. I will not wait for that laughter to fill my mind anymore, nor that terrible moon, I will find solace from the barrel of my revolver.

© 2012 Marc Cutting


Author's Note

Marc Cutting
Any pointers or criticism is welcome, what do you think of the story?

My Review

Would you like to review this Story?
Login | Register




Featured Review

I found this story through the group for H.P. Lovecraft fans, and I think I admire the style because of the similarity. I wonder through whether borrowing so heavily his fictional syntax for things like 'Sl’ubketh' is going a bit too far? It would be nice if you gave yourself more room to put your own spin on things.

Formally speaking, there are very few spelling errors, but some of the paragraphs look like they're missing a line break between them. Other paragraphs are also quite large, and might be easier to digest if they were broken down into smaller ones.

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

I found this story through the group for H.P. Lovecraft fans, and I think I admire the style because of the similarity. I wonder through whether borrowing so heavily his fictional syntax for things like 'Sl’ubketh' is going a bit too far? It would be nice if you gave yourself more room to put your own spin on things.

Formally speaking, there are very few spelling errors, but some of the paragraphs look like they're missing a line break between them. Other paragraphs are also quite large, and might be easier to digest if they were broken down into smaller ones.

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


Stats

387 Views
1 Review
Added on November 7, 2010
Last Updated on November 27, 2012
Tags: The Dweller in the Stars, horror, short story, paranormal, supernatural, spirit, dreams, dream, demon, demons, space, jupiter, saturn, hound, hounds, wolf, wolves

Author

Marc Cutting
Marc Cutting

Ipswich, Suffolk, United Kingdom



About
Hi all, I love the works of HP Lovecraft and have read all his short stories, I find that horror is a genre that, for all its cliches in the film industry, still endures in literary works and that no .. more..

Writing