The Thing That Should Not Be

by Steven Cuffari

1

Aaron Cohan was studying dead and protolanguages at Miskatonic University in Queens, NY and was awarded a summer internship with Professor Bram Thimsley of the Cryptolinguistics department. The internship was to help Thimsley complete his lifelong research of ancient languages.

He was a shy, nerdy kid, who some might have called a ‘social misfit.’ His only friends were his roommates and his beautiful neighbor, Cherri Tortani.

“Hey man, do you wanna smoke?” asked one of his roommates, Armando Rodriguez.

“Yeah man, chill with us, it’s the beginning of summer vacation!” added his other roommate, Phill Washington.

“No, I’ve got to get to school, sorry guys. And you know I don’t smoke.”

“School?!” they shouted in unison. They laughed hard and coughed on smoke as he closed the door behind him.

The campus was walking distance from his house. On the way, he ran into Cherri. She was a cross between a goth-girl and a cheerleader.

“Hey Aaron, what’s up?” she said. “Can I walk with you?”

He mumbled something incoherently which she took as a “yes.”

She was always really friendly to him, but still he got nervous around her.

“So what are you doing this summer?” she asked.

He stuttered out something about the internship.

“Oh that’s cool!” she said. “You know I love ancient stuff! Hey, do you like “Savage Beast?” she asked. “They just came out with a new album!”

“No, I don’t really like metal,” Aaron managed to say.

“Really? I thought you’d be into them. They’re always writing about ancient myths and creepy stuff like that. You should check them out.”

Aaron agreed silently.

“I can make a copy of the new album if you want. It’s called ‘Stranger Aeons'”

“Ok,” he said.

“Cool, so I’ll come by later?”

“Uh-huh.”

They approached the school.

“I’ve got to go,” he said.

“Ok, see ya.” Cherri smiled at him and watched him walk away. 

2

Aaron called out into the empty rooms of the Cryptolinguistics department. It seemed like the place was deserted and smelled as ancient as the languages that were its subject. Strange artifacts lived on the walls and shelves. They were lined with books, some of which seeming as though they’d disintegrate at a touch.

He looked over their strange titles in various extinct scripts. Nearly salivating at the vast selection of tomes before him, he let his imagination run wild. He had learned how to translate many ancient languages into modern English and loved the mystery behind the words.

“Aaron?” said a low voice.

He was startled at professor Thimsley’s sudden presence.

He was a middle aged man, tallish and rotund, and wore a bushy beard and glasses.

“Oh hello, sir. You frightened me.”

“That’s okay,” Thimsley said with a smile. “Most people are frightened just by being here,” he said, pointing at a skull sitting on a shelf.

They went to Thimsley’s office and sat down.

A strange stuffed animal stood on Thimsley’s desk in an attack posture.

Aaron looked into its glassy eyes, mesmerized.

“Well, congratulations,” Thimsley began.

Aaron wrested his attention from the odd little creature’s stuffed carcass. “Thank you, Sir. Uh, for what, sir?”

“First of all, you can stop calling me ‘Sir.’ Call me Thimsley. It’s what my colleagues call me. Second, congratulations for getting the internship. It was a very difficult choice. But your CV is impressive. You were the only applicant who was able to translate all of the languages on the exam.”

“Thank you, Sir.”

“Thimsley.”

“Yes, Sir. Thank you, Sir. Thimsley, Sir.”

“Just Thimsley.”

“Yes, Sir. Thimsley, I mean. Just Thimsley.”

The conversation was littered with stuttering and mumbling from Aaron and Thimsley’s attempts at making him feel comfortable.

“Sorry, Sir. Thimsley. Sorry, I…”

“It’s okay. Your first assignment is easy. Read this, become familiar with it.” He handed him a thick leather book with the image of a strange creature on the cover. “The structure is similar to the bible, but the content is much older. It’s called the Book of Gods.”

“Wow, how old is this?”

“Well, it looks older than it actually is, but it’s very rare nonetheless. It’s the only modern English translation in existence. The source text is from the Simmerian period. Are you familiar with that era?”

“Of course,” Aaron said nonchalantly, excitedly ogling the book.

Thimsley was pleasantly surprised. “Really? Well, good. Up until now, this book was considered a myth itself. This will provide us with a key to unlocking the Simmerian language, kind of like the Rosetta Stone.”

Aaron read a few pages and came to a strange word he couldn’t pronounce. “Cha-thul…Cha-too…” he said out loud.

“Ktulu,” Thimsley said with a grin. “It’s got various spellings, but that’s the pronunciation as far as we can tell. He’s just one of the many gods in the pantheon. In any case, we’re not interested in that, just the Linguistics.” He smiled sarcastically and laughed, “We’ll leave that other stuff to the Anthropologists.”

“Ktulu…” Aaron repeated, testing out the word on his own lips. He continued to stare at the book and ran his fingers across the strange image on the cover.

“Do you have any questions?”

“Where did you get it?”

At the question, the professor went silent and looked away from Aaron. It was as if he were off in another world.

“I… I can’t talk about that right now…” he said morosely.

Aaron wondered what the professor wasn’t telling him.

“Well, if that’s all, we’ll meet again at this same time next week.” Thimsley forced a smile and waited for a response.

Aaron was ogled the weathered leather book.

Thimsley cleared his throat to get his attention.

“Oh, yes, Sir. I mean Thimsley. Same time next week, Thimsley. Thank you.” He got up and went toward the door, almost colliding with the wall, fondling the book as he left.

Thimsley watched him go out and smiled, shaking his head at his quirky and humorous temperament. “Oh and Aaron…”

“Yes?”

“Be careful with that book.” Thimsley said. “It cost more than you can imagine.”

“I will. Thank you, Sir.”  

3

Once he got home, Aaron immediately began to work. He cautiously and meticulously took notes and cross-referenced everything on the internet. He devoured the book, but sometimes had to read certain passages multiple times. It was filled with strange names of people, creatures and places that he had never seen before and couldn’t pronounce. He worked feverishly, but ignored no detail. He was halfway through it when his concentration was broken by the doorbell.

“Hey guys, can you get that?” he shouted downstairs.

No answer.

“Guys?” he said, looking around for his roommates. Again, they didn’t respond. He answered the door himself and was surprised to see Cherri standing there.

She waved a CD at him. “Hi! Can I come in?”

As he searched for the right words, she walked past him and came inside.

“So, wanna listen?” she said, making herself comfortable.

“I’m kind of busy,” he said.

“Aw, come on! Too busy for me?” she said coyly. “I thought we had a date.”

Aaron blushed.

“Come on. It’s the summer. You’ve got to have some fun…”

“I don’t know. I have work to do…”

“But you’ll love this. Look.” She showed him the cover of the album.

It said ‘Savage Beast’ in pseudo-archaic script and below that was the band’s symbol. It featured a creature almost identical to the one engraved in the leather cover of the book that Thimsley had given him.

His eyes became wide with curiosity, and he reached out to take it from her.

She was happy to give it to him and smiled proudly. “Do you want to listen to it?”

“Yes,” he said. “Sure.” He was more interested in the image than in the music.

“Great!” she said, grabbing it back from him. “Where’s your room?”

He pointed upstairs.

“Do you have a stereo in there?”

He nodded.

She dragged him upstairs and immediately began going through his things. “Wow!” she exclaimed, picking up the book Thimsley had given him. “Look at this!”

He laughed nervously. “Yeah, I know. Be careful with that okay?”

“Sure, have you read this?”

“I’m about halfway through. I started it a couple of hours ago.”

“Wow, you’re a fast reader, huh?”

“I guess so. But, really, please be careful. It’s a rare book.”

“Ok, don’t worry…” She flipped through the book and a certain page caught her eye. “Oh, my god! Check this out!” she said and held the book up to his face.

“I haven’t gotten to that part yet,” he said reaching for it.

“It’s so cool!” she said, retracting the book. “Here put this on,” she said, handing him the CD.

He put it on the first track, and Cherri sat down at his desk, reading the book with wide-eyed interest.

The heavy metal music filled the room with twisted sounds and throbbing rhythms. It seemed as if every sound was intent on evoking horror and fear.

The lyrics were cryptic and reminiscent of the ancients, which he liked. He listened with the curiosity of an anthropologist and a scientist.

The band was very good at creating an atmosphere of doom and foreboding.

Aaron listened intently and involuntarily began to slip into the imaginary realm that the music wrought with each trill and flourish.

“Hey!” Cherri exclaimed, breaking his trance. “Do you have candles?”

“For what?”

Cherri smiled. “Oh, I just want to… try something,” she said.

“Ok. I think there are candles in the kitchen. I’ll be right back.”

While he was gone, Cherri fondled the book fascinated with its contents.

“So what do you want these for?” Aaron said when he got back.

“Well, it says here, that if we line up the candles in the shape of a pentagram and recite this incantation, we can call Cha-thu…Cathu…”

“Ktulu?”

“Yeah, something like that. We can call this “Ktulu” with this incantation.” She showed him the verses. “We can say them to track six from “Stranger Aeons.” It’s an instrumental,” she said.

“Why do you want to call up Ktulu?”

She looked at him and wondered. “I don’t, fuddyduddy,” she said, playfully hitting him. “I just think it would be fun. Don’t you?”

Aaron didn’t really see the fun in performing a silly ancient ritual. Still, he said “Yeah, I guess.”

“Anyway, I know it’s corny, but let’s do it!”

Reluctantly, he agreed.

They set up the candles and the stereo.

“Ready?” she asked. “You have to read it with me.”

“But I don’t know the song.”

“That’s okay, just go with it. You can do it!”

“Ok.”

Cherri drew the drapes closed, lit the candles and shut the lights off. The next moment, she was dancing slowly to the music in the candlelight. She took Aaron’s hand and swayed with him.

The song was slower than the others they had been listening to. Even more dramatic and foreboding. The deep gossamer guitar sounds were almost alien, just hinting at a world beyond reality.

Cherri pulled Aaron closer to her. “1, 2…” she counted.

Reading from the book, they chanted the verses in time with the music. The result was slightly odd and cacophonous, but appropriate.

At first Aaron was nervous and felt strange singing, but as the song went on, he became more comfortable and began to sway along with Cherri. He let down his guard and opened his mind to it. He let his imagination go.

There was a strange sound coming from deep behind the music as it swelled to its climax. A slight breeze began to swirl in the room, that they didn’t notice. Within a few seconds, the breeze became a wind and the candles went out. The bedroom door slammed shut, and the candles suddenly came back on.

When the light was restored, their bodies were pressed up against each other.

Aaron had never been that close to her before, or any girl. The music died down and he began to come back to his senses. His natural shyness returned and he composed himself, slowly pulling away from Cherri.

She noticed his timidity return and thought it was cute. She always did. “Hey… come here,” she said, pulling him by the hand. “Wasn’t that cool?”

Aaron’s face became warm and his heart pounded. He began to feel even more anxious, to the point of painful discomfort and recoiled from her. He wanted to say something, but he didn’t know what.

Cherri grimaced.

“I, I’ve got to get back to work,” he said blowing out the candles.

“Oh, but I, I thought maybe…” It was Cherri who now stammered. She was usually good at getting the attention of the opposite sex, but with Aaron it was a challenge.

“I’m sorry,” he said.

“No, no. It’s my fault really.”

“Cherri, I…”

“No, it’s okay,” she said and looked at her watch. “Actually, I have to go.”

“Ok, well maybe we could, uh…”

“Yeah, sure…” she said, leaving the room. “I’ll see you later.” She forced a smile.

After she left, Aaron returned to his room disappointed in himself. He didn’t know why Cherri always made him so nervous. He wasn’t that way with other girls. He wanted to tell her how much he liked her, but he never got the courage to do so. As forlorn as he was, his dejection was short-lived. He had a lot of reading to do, and he jumped right back into it. He finished the book before the end of the night. When he was done, he flipped back through it and re-read portions of it. His curiosity had never been piqued like this before. He went to bed thinking of nothing else and knew that tomorrow he had to talk to Thimsley.

4

The next day, Aaron woke up early and got himself ready. By the time he left, his roommates were already up watching television.

“Hey man, you wanna smoke?” asked Armando.

“Yeah man, come hang out with us,” said Phill.

“Where were you guys all night?” he asked.

Phill coughed on weed smoke as he laughed.

Armando laughed too and said, “We were out scoring with the ladies. What were you doing?”

He shrugged his shoulders and said, “Nothing. See you guys later,” and he was out the door.

They shrugged in return and kept on smoking, watching TV.

As he walked, he thought he saw something behind him. But when he stopped and turned around to look, there was nothing there.

5

“So you already finished it,” said Thimsley waving the book and nodding.

“Yes, I did. I re-read a lot of it too.”

“You are either a very fast reader or you really are passionate about this.”

Aaron shrugged and nodded.

“Well, I’m glad. That just confirms we chose the right student for this internship. When do you graduate?” he asked.

“Two more years, really one and a half,” he said.

“Graduating early?” Thimsley said. “I’m not surprised. Here, this should tide you over until next week I think.” He handed him a stack of books.

“Thank you, Sir.”

Thimsley stared at him sternly, waiting for Aaron to realize not to call him ‘Sir.’

“Oh, I mean, Thimsley.”

Thimsley’s stern expression turned to a smile, and he laughed. “Don’t worry, Aaron. Enjoy the books and we’ll talk more next week.”

Aaron carried his cumbersome load of books out from the offices of the Cryptolinguistics department and onto the quad. He hadn’t made it very far when he noticed a pair of unsavory-looking men concealing themselves behind a large tree. The goons were wearing hooded black overcoats and their backs seemed crooked, as if they both had humps.

Aaron stopped and looked over at them.

In the next moment, they came out from under the tree and began to walk toward him.

They gave him a bad feeling, and he turned around hastily to go in the other direction when he collided with Professor Thimsley.

“Are you okay?” Thimsley asked, “You look like somebody’s after you.”

“Oh, no it’s just that, uh…” He tried to look nonchalantly over his shoulder at the two men walking toward them. “I’ve got to go,” he said and tried to walk away.

Thimsley stopped him from leaving. He looked over at the two men and grimaced.

All of a sudden, the men stopped and backed up toward the tree.

“Why don’t I give you a ride home?” Thimsley said.

“Uh, sure. That would be great.”

They headed to Thimsley’s car, and the strange men just stood there, watching them leave.

“Where do you live, Aaron?” asked Thimsley as they got into his car.

“Just a few blocks away.”

They stayed strangely silent until they arrived.

“This is it,” Aaron said. “Here on the right,” he said, pointing.

Thimsley pulled over. He had a grim look on his face. “Aaron,” he began. “I have something important to tell you.”

Aaron pretended that he wasn’t moved by his eerie tone. “Ok.”

“Can I come inside?”

“Ok. Let me just check with my roommates.”

Inside Armando and Phill were smoking weed and playing Half-Life.

“Hey guys, my professor is here. Could you put that out?”

They paused for a moment to consider it, then burst out laughing. “Sure whatever,” they said. “We were just leaving anyway.”

Aaron invited the professor in, and his roommates left, snickering. They sat on the couch in the living room.

“I haven’t been completely open about my work.”

Aaron listened quietly and nodded.

“It’s about the ‘Book of the Gods.’ My good friend Charles Shine and I had been searching for it for years. My research hinged on it. When he first told me that he had finally found it, I was beyond excited, as you can imagine. He gave it to me immediately and soon after that. He had become convinced that people were following him. A cult of people, in fact. At first, I didn’t believe him, but now I think I do.”

Aaron remained quiet, not knowing what to say. He wasn’t sure what to make of the professor’s story.

Thimsley expected a response, and when he didn’t get one, he continued. “I think those men that we saw today are a part of that cult. It’s not the first time I have seen them lurking around the campus. I think they are following me. Or more accurately, the book.”

Aaron was about to say something when there was a violent knocking at the door and the doorbell rang.

Startled, the professor asked, “Are you expecting somebody?”

Aaron shook his head and got up to get the door, but Thimsley blocked him.

“Let me answer it,” he said. He approached the door with caution and grim expectation, taking a deep breath before opening it.

“Hi!” shouted Cherri, startling the professor. “Oh, I’m sorry is Aaron there?”

The professor sighed in relief and said, “Sure, he’s right here. Aaron?”

“I’m Cherri, by the way,” she said extending a hand.

The professor nodded and shook it. “Thimsley,” he said.

Aaron came to the door with smile.

“Hey Cherri,” he started. “I’m sorry about yesterday, but I…”

“No it’s okay. It really was my fault. You were busy…”

Aaron’s smile turned into a frown when he saw the men from earlier walking up the path behind her.

Thimsley stepped outside, in front of the men. “Can I help you?” he asked.

They rushed up to him, and one of them pulled out a gun, pointing it at Thimsley’s head.

Cherri screamed and ran inside. “Aaron! What’s going on?!” She hid behind him, looping her arm around his.

They stood inside just beyond the threshold of the door and watched in horror.

“Professor…” whispered Aaron.

“Give us the book,” croaked the man without the gun.

Thimsley tried to keep calm and waved for Aaron and Cherri to go further inside. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he lied, backing inside.

Just as he raised a hand against Thimsley, a man in a brown robe came out of nowhere and punched him in the face, knocking him unconscious. When his partner tried to help him, another brown-robed man appeared, strangled him into unconsciousness and threw him to the ground. It was all over very quickly.

Aaron, Cherri and Thimsley watched in amazement as the two monk-like men dusted themselves off.

“You are no longer safe here. You must come with us,” said one of them.

“Who are you?” asked Thimsley.

“I am Thomas and this is David. We are keepers. We’ll explain later. Come with us.”

“We’re not going anywhere until you tell us who you are.”

Thomas looked down at the unconscious goons on the ground. “These…” he began, trying to find the right word. “Men…” He seemed unhappy with his own choice of words. “Are from the Esoteric Order of Innsmouth, Maine. The Esoteric Orders are spread throughout the world as we are, and they travel in large numbers. If these two are here, then there are more. And you are not safe.”

“Where would you have us go?” asked Thimsley, shaking his head in disbelief.

“We have an underground safe house just outside the city in Long Island. We can take you there.”

“Just one second.” Thimsley turned to Aaron and spoke to him privately.

“Professor, you cant possibly believe…”

“There’s something else I didn’t tell you about the book. A few days after I received the book from Charles, his wife emailed me and told me she had found him at home dead. It didn’t make any sense before, but now…”

“Professor…”

Cherri clung to Aaron. “I think we should go,” she said, horrified.

Aaron sighed and shook his head. “Shouldn’t we go to the police? This is crazy.”

“The police can’t help you. Only we can,” said Thomas. “Our car is over there.”

6

On the way to the safe house, it began to rain. As they got farther and farther from the city, the sky grew darker and more brooding.

Cherri held onto Aaron next to the Professor in the back seat. They all watched the dark scenery pass by outside their windows, each trying to understand what they had gotten themselves into.

“How much farther?” Thimsley asked.

“We’re almost there.”

“We can still turn back and go to the police,” said Aaron.

No one seemed to even acknowledge his comment.

Soon they reached a desolate marshy area. They crossed a creaky old wooden bridge that led out to a small distant island. The solitary house that loomed there seemed older than the thirteen colonies. As they walked toward it, wet grass sloshing beneath their feet, it seemed to be as alive as the confluence of earth and sea that surrounded it.

They crammed themselves in front of the door on the porch and the floorboards moaned beneath their feet.

This is a safe house?” said Thimsley incredulously.

Thomas nodded. “Stay close and keep your arms inside.” He herded them into a black rectangle that had been marked on the floor.

They did as they were told, albeit in confusion.

David flipped a hidden switch and suddenly they were on an elevator plummeting deep into the ground.

Aaron, Cherri and Thimsley moaned and whimpered on the way down. It was like a roller coaster straight to hell.

At the bottom, Thomas and David lead them through the cavernous basement. It was a series of tunnels and rooms filled with strange contraptions and artifacts. Other keepers toiled away on various arcane projects. Some closed their doors as the strangers passed.

They were all amazed that such a place even existed and were wide-eyed at the display of seemingly ancient mysteries.

“How far down are we?” asked Thimsley.

“We are beneath the sea here. About two hundred meters beneath the sea,” replied Thomas.

As they progressed, they crossed paths with other keepers, some who looked like they hadn’t seen the light of the sun in eons.

“These are our brothers. We all fight the same fight.”

“And what fight is that?” asked Thimsley. “You have yet to really tell us what is going on.”

“We are part of the Order of Keepers and we fight to keep the world safe from annihilation at the hands of the Esoteric Orders that worship Ktulu. They hope to bring forth Ktulu so that he may exact his revenge on his brothers who betrayed him.”

“It sounds like superstition to me,” said Aaron.

Thimsley grimaced at Aaron for his skepticism. “I’m listening,” he said.

Cherri clung to Aaron, listening intently.

“You see, Ktulu was jealous that humanity worshipped his brothers and not him, so he started a war against them. In a move to stop the war, his brothers tricked him, stripped him of his powers and put him to sleep.”

“And they need the ‘Book of the Gods’ to set him free.”

“Exactly. There are two rituals that need to be recited.”

Cherri swallowed nervously.

“One is to bring Ktulu out of his sleep. And the other is to give him back his powers.”

Cherri moaned and raised her hand. “Um, what would happen if they brought Ktulu out of his sleep?”

Aaron and the professor both gave her a confused look.

“Well, the Esoteric Orders are no match for us without Ktulu. If they wake him, the balance of power shifts toward them, even without Ktulu’s fully restored powers.”

Cherri moaned again, “Oh, okay… just checking…”

Aaron suddenly realized what she was worried about. “Oh Cherri…”

The professor soon caught on as well. “Aaron, what did you do?”

“How was I supposed to know!” shouted Cherri.

“You can’t be serious,” said Thomas.

Suddenly, a frantic messenger came to them and whispered to David, who in turn whispered to Thomas.

“Come! We must retire to the library. We are under attack!”

“Under attack?” said Aaron. “By who?”

A small mob of keepers ran passed them, fleeing an unseen fear, while others stood their ground and prepared for battle.

Aaron, Cherri and Thimsley froze and waited out of morbid curiosity to catch a glimpse of what was chasing them. But before they could see anything in the darkness of the corridor, they heard a bloodcurdling, inhuman scream.

“I don’t think you want to see what made that sound,” Thomas said.

“No,” said the professor. “No, definitely not.” They escaped to the library while an infernal battle raged outside. Beyond the immense doors of the library they heard the dying screams of brave keepers and ghastly roars from unimaginable beasts. Then, as quickly as it started, it stopped.

“What are we going to do?!” cried Cherri.

Aaron was silent and in disbelief. He realized that something horrible had gone wrong, but he refused to believe in the superstitious ramblings of an obsessive group of fanatics.

“If it is Ktulu, then we are doomed,” said Thomas.

“God, this is all my fault…” cried Cherri.

Thimsley tried to console her. “No, you couldn’t have known this would happen. If it’s anybody’s fault, it’s mine.”

A loud thump broke the silence outside. Someone, or some thing had crashed against the heavy wooden doors of the library.

“Isn’t there anything we can do?” asked Thimsley. “Surely there’s a book in here that has some kind of remedy for a situation like this!”

“Perhaps we do,” said Thomas. He and David began to rummage frantically through the stacks.

Cherri was crying, clinging to Aaron. “Oh god!” she screamed. “Aren’t you scared?” Cherri asked.

He was silent.

“Say something!”

Aaron remained quiet and just stared wide-eyed at the library door, clenching the book in his fists, rubbing its leather bindings between his fingers.

There was another loud thump that cracked against the library doors. They swung open and hordes of hooded men and strange creatures entered. They gathered in front of Aaron and the rest of the group. The throng parted and they allowed a single figure to emerge from their numbers.

He walked up to Aaron and removed his dark hood. Surprisingly, he was a man, not a monster.

Aaron faced him stoically.

Cherri was aghast, surprised that anyone, let alone Aaron, had such courage.

“Aaron, be careful,” warned Thimsley.

None of them, not even the keepers, knew what to do at that point.

A froggy voice emerged from the man’s throat. “The Book of Gods…” he demanded, extending a hand.

Aaron looked at the book trying to figure out what to do. After a moment of thought, he decided he wasn’t going to give in to fear and superstition. “Sure,” he said. “Here you go.”

“No!” shouted Thomas, who tried to run and block the exchange. David stopped him, handed him a book and whispered in his ear. Thomas smiled and nodded. “Of course,” he whispered to David. “The Book of the Elders…”

The man took the ‘Book of the Gods’ with a smile, and his small form began to rise. He grew taller and taller until he towered over them all.

Realizing his mistake, Aaron cringed in fear.

“Aaron! What have you done?!” shouted Thimsley.

Thomas watched and whispered to himself, “Ktulu…” then began to flip furiously through the ‘Book of the Elders.’

Cherri pulled Aaron by the arm, but he didn’t budge. He stared in horror at the amazing creature before him.

The man that had once stood before them had transformed into a great beast with massive, swirling tentacles which clutched the coveted ‘Book of the Gods.’ Evil, cacophonous laughter bellowed from its bowels.

The thing wrapped a tentacle around Aaron and lifted him up. He was paralyzed. Cherri reluctantly let go of his arm and fell to the floor crying.

Thimsley watched his student get taken away by the unimaginable demon and ran to Thomas’ side. “If you’re going to do something, do it now!”

Thomas stopped flipping through the book and began to read aloud. The creatures didn’t notice what he was doing as they were mesmerized by Ktulu’s transformation.

Cherri screamed out for Aaron as he dangled in Ktulu’s grasp. The thousand eyes of the beast entranced him as its toothy maw opened up below, ready to devour him. The tentacle around his waist tightened. He heard Cherri’s voice below and subconsciously hoped that one day he would see her face again.

Thomas kept reading and soon it began to rain inside the library. Both Thimsley and Cherri focused their attention on Thomas, realizing it was he that was causing it. A few more words and a wind began to blow in huge gusts. Then, above Ktulu, a burst of light appeared and the wind became a vortex. Books began to fly off the shelves, and evil creatures soared through air into the wormhole. Cherri and Thimsley struggled not to get sucked in, bracing themselves on the columns that lined the room.

Aaron felt the grip of the singularity pulling on him and realized that he was about to die. He looked into the gaping orifice below him and his life flashed before his eyes. He had so many regrets. More than he ever would have imagined. But before he knew it, the familiar grasp of gravity had a hold of him, and he plummeted to the ground. His stomach twisted and a surge of pain shot through his leg as he lay drenched and shocked on the ground.

The great Ktulu swirled toward the vortex trying in vain to grab hold of something with his tentacles, inadvertently splattering the bodies of his followers in the process. Then the vortex completely sucked him in. The few demons and beasts that survived slinked away and disappeared into the darkness. All was quiet except for the whimpering of Cherri, who was now holding Aaron in her arms. The ‘Book of the Gods’ landed at their side, like a bird alighting the branch of a tree.

“I think my leg is broken…” Aaron said.

Thimsley and the others sighed in awful relief as Cherri laughed and cried.

“You’re a fool,” said Thimsley to Aaron.

Aaron nodded and closed his eyes.

“Giving him the book actually turned out to be a good diversion,” said Thomas.

Thimsley picked it up and handed it to him. “I think you should have this,” he said.

Thomas took it and nodded.

“We’re all alive thanks to you,” Thimsley said.

Thomas ignored the gratitude. He sighed again, shaking his head and said, “It’s not over, and it never will be.”

They listened to him with grim understanding.

“For as long as he sleeps, he waits.”

 THE END

(Acknowledgments: The title “The Thing That Should Not Be” comes from the title of a Metallica song and, like the song, was inspired by the writing of H.P. Lovecraft. No infringement intended. Peace.)