Fear Strikes Out!byStultus©
Synopsis: Once Brad just wanted to be the best pitcher in Baseball, but Hastur the Unspeakable has other ideas for him! A Halloween story.
Sex contents: Not a lick.
Genre: Lovecraftian Horror
Codes: Insanity & Horror
Originally Posted at SOL: 2009-10-21
Thanks to my usual cast and crew of Editors, especially Dragonsweb and of course Sue, along with the contributions from several other Advance Readers!
Every baseball pitcher needs some sort of edge. We're a superstitious lot, prone to searching endlessly for that one little mantra or pill that will make our eye just a little more focused, our curve ball just a little sharper and give us that extra bit of confidence to throw that fastball into the strike zone on a 3-2 count. The ability to stand on that pitcher's mound lost in your 'groove', unafraid and eager to mow down your opponents.
Once upon a time, players sucked down little green amphetamine pills like candy to give then this 'edge', then came the steroid era, and now players line up like droves in their doctor's offices to get prescribed drugs for their alleged Attention Deficit Disorder. Anything to get that edge or that bit of groove.
As Monsanto Chemicals boasts, "Better living through chemistry".
My problem was that try as I might, I couldn't quite find my edge no matter where I looked for it. Me, the former high school great pitcher, Brad Aldebaran was stuck, seemingly for good, down in Double-A league ball unable to progress any further. I had been my club's first round draft pick a few years ago and had been inked in nearly from the start to swiftly climb through the minor leagues and soon be a permanent starter for my major league club... but it now seemed unlikely to ever happen. Everyone in the management of the organization now openly looking at me with disappointment. I was soon to be accounted a failure -- something that was utterly unacceptable to me.
I needed to find my personal little edge... and I found it late one fall after the minor league season was over while I was attending my small local University in Arkham, Massachusetts, near my home town. While taking an entry level chemistry course, I became extremely interested in the private research of Geoff, the graduate student teaching my class. Sensing my curiosity, and grateful for my light course load of studies, he allowed me to often assist him, and in return I found my liquid edge being brewed right before my very eyes... a potion distilled from a rare underwater South Pacific plant found in and near the forbidden atoll of Thu Thu. This far remote island was rumored by some - my chemistry mentor claimed - to be near the ruins of the lost underwater nightmare corpse-city of R'lyeh. A fearsome place, built in measureless eons behind history, by the vast loathsome shapes that seeped down from the dark stars. There lay the great unspeakable menaces and their hordes, hidden in green slimy vaults below the surface waiting for when the stars were right, to emerge and once again rule the surface world. Or so Geoff told me, with a laugh.
Quaint, but this folk legend was of secondary interest to me, I was more interested in the pure scientific results my mentor seemed to be obtaining. An anthropologist friend of his last year had studied a remote tribe high in the remote Chinese highlands of Leng that used this rare elixir to 'divulge the truth of the world' and at great risk he had brought back a small sample for my chemist friend to analyze and reproduce. It took Geoff nearly a year, but he had now finally succeeded. By distilling the potent extracts of this rare marine plant, combined with another equally rare essence obtained from the strange and forbidden West African island of Sao Aynum-Dam, he had drafted a most potent elixir that promised to hone every physical sense into razor sharpness.
This seemed to be the answer to my prayers! I begged him to allow me to be the first to test his concoction, but first he insisted that he try his elixir upon some laboratory test animals first, and I reluctantly bided my time to wait yet awhile further.
The animal testing study did not go well at all. A multitude of rabbits, a pair of cats and a dog were all tested in turn to extremely discouraging results. While there was no physical harm done to the creatures, each had an extreme psychological shock after even the slightest dosage, becoming completely terrified of us and cowering in the back of their cages. Each refused thereafter to take either food or water and all in turn slowly died of self-inflicted want in their cages, literally willing themselves to die. Naturally, this was not at all what Geoff had in mind. He declared the formulation a complete failure and placed the remaining three vials of the elixir into a hazardous waste burn bag to be destroyed in the furnace and placed these in a box with the rest of his chemical waste.
Unwilling to watch my final hope and dream being destroyed, I returned later that night and rescued those three vials, replacing them with other vials so that Geoff wouldn't realize the difference. Then, outside, in the great courtyard of Arkham University, I took my first taste of this elixir that promised so much to me... and the results were still rather disappointing. I saw dark things flying about and lurking, just out of the corner of my eye and everything seemed just slightly off balance, out of kilter and place. I felt fear and paranoia, and not a small amount of hallucination; not the confidence that I had so hoped to obtain. I quite understood why our test animals had become frightened enough to want death.
Becoming increasingly terrified of the shadows that were now coalescing closer to me, some assuming near human, but horrific forms, others more toad-like, that blew upon flutes making awful indescribable sounds. I was about to throw away these vials and swear off all further research when one of the shadow-forms drifted closer to me. It was a dark but vaguely human form, its features indescribable except for its slanted eyes; otherwise everything was wrapped up in billowing wraps of phantasmal cloth.
In clear words this dreadful figure whispered the secret of the elixir to me.
"To see that what is and should be, one must use their eyes... to open them to see into the darkness or else to pluck them out in anguish and terror."
With that whisper, the visions and hallucinations I had been experiencing all vanished, and the night returned to normal in the great courtyard.
I did not get any sleep that night, nor the next, but I knew now what I had to do. I bought numerous bottles of normal eye drops from the campus drug store and poured their contents down the sink, then I carefully refilled each of the small plastic squeeze bottles with my elixir. There was enough to fill eight bottles. Enough to 'see' and gain my edge. My hand didn't shake or waver in the slightest as I placed one drop of the elixir into each of my eyes.
Nearly immediately I began to see... really see. I saw the world as it was, how it should be, and the uncountable numbers of things that exist and travel in-between. I knew that I could see a batter's weaknesses and that my pitched balls could be made to travel in unhittable ways. I now had my edge... and so much more.
A toad-faced boy came to knock on my room to see why I had been laughing for so hard and so long but I gave him a few harsh words to speed him on his way, mired in his life of ignorance. How can you explain the light of the sun or the cast of the moon to a blind man? How can you explain an opera or a symphony to the deaf? C'est impossible!
At once I knew my former studies here were over. Already in just a short time I had learned such truths that would take philosophers a life-time to learn, even imperfectly. By holding a simple flower I could see, feel, touch and even taste its exact place in the universe. How it fit in and why, or if it held no value and ought to be destroyed... as most things apparently should be. This thought opened new channels of wisdom and for the rest of the day I wandered like a child discovering a brand new world for the first time. When the elixir wore off at about sunset, I again placed a drop into each eye and once again the 'real true world' came back into focus, perhaps even sharper than before.
Wandering across the campus into the night I once again met my new master and teacher, The High Priest Not to Be Described, waiting for me on the steps of the library, with his billowing ragged yellow silk robes flapping in the ethereal winds that only he and I could see. His words were truth and wisdom and I drank them in as a parched man would drink water. My master had goals for me... new plans of which the game of baseball was only of minimal importance, a 'means to an end' only. Surprisingly I was not at all disheartened to find that my previous life's joy was now of only trivial import. The needs of my Master were now foremost in my thought, as to how I could best serve him and his own dark Master, his God, The Unspeakable One, named Xastur by my teacher, but otherwise known in the western world as Hastur the Unspeakable. The one who would soon feast upon this world... and the unworthy ones now living upon it.
With the earliest light of dawn, my first lesson ended and I was now a man with a mission. By any means necessary, I needed to convince or coerce Geoff to brew yet more of this elixir, as I would need far more than my eight eyedropper sized vials to complete my mission.
That Geoff was both angry to be awakened and adamant that his experiment was done and finished for good meant nothing to me. I could tell with a glance that he was merely food for my master and unworthy to live. With little effort I strangled him quite dead, enjoying the sight of his soul leaving his body to be trapped by a loathsome toad-like creature of the aether that with a long flick of its horrid tongue, grasped and seized Geoff's departing soul. Sensing that I could see him, he pleaded to me for his release, to allow his soul to ascend upwards and not be devoured by this malevolent creature of darkness, but I was ambivalent and disinterested in his fate. His soul was soon utterly devoured and I turned myself to my tasks at hand.
I recovered all of Geoff's notebooks and, with his recipe in hand, I brewed more of his elixir day and night until the last of his rare biological ingredients was consumed. This gave me enough elixir to last for a couple of years, I hoped - if I was careful.
The remainder of my winter and spring semesters at Arkham were spent in the library, mostly in the forbidden 'Special Collections' section where the rare and forbidden tomes were kept. The rooms had protections and wards powerful enough to resist the entry of my Master, but he instructed me well in which books I should study and the exact spells and incantations I must discover and then memorize flawlessly. I had much to read and much to learn, if I was to fulfill the wishes of my Master. The special librarians soon became uneasy at my regular presence and it was a near thing that I learned the final rite of summoning that I would need right before I was ejected from the library with firm orders to never return.
I did not trouble myself with the severe revenge that I could have untaken against them. They were all beneath me, as insects are to the greater life forms.
It was the start of the ninth inning of the first game of the World's Series and I was still on the pitcher's mound, tired in body but feeling gloriously happy with every pore of my being. During this game so far, I had equalled Don Larson's memorable 'perfect game' that he pitched in the 1956 World Series; I had not allowed a single hit, base-on-balls, or any other baserunner. This would have been the pinnacle of my greatest childhood dream, but my dreams were much bigger and larger now.
I was nearly out of elixir by now. I had been using the drops more and more often this last year as I made my triumphant progression from the minor leagues to becoming the best starting pitcher of my club. No longer could I stand the sight of this illusional 'real world'; I preferred to live in the shadow world of my masters, this meant using my eye drops more and more often, almost hourly both day and night. My eyes are solid black now and since this disturbs my teammates, I usually wear dark glasses if I'm near people. I rarely ever slept anymore except as in waking dreams when I especially felt the call of my God, feeling him close nearby... and waiting impatiently for me to complete my work.
Soon... oh so very soon.
I've completed my warm-up pitches but I'm buying a little more time by digging away at the pitcher's mound with my shoe, muttering my summoning incantation to my lord and master Hastur the Unspeakable, over and over again. I can feel him nearby, close... almost but not quite through the vale between worlds. Soon he will come! He must come!
There are nearly 70,000 people in this stadium and millions more watching the game on television are praying for me, hoping to see me complete the impossible -- my perfect game... but their spirit fills me to bursting and their energies I direct to other purposes.
The gate is starting to slowly open and I feel the warmth of Hastur's love and his endless hunger upon me. I shall not fail him!
The first two opposing batters return to their dugout in shame and disgrace. I struck them out easily with three fastballs each that they had no hope of batting into play. Muttering my spells, I look upon their backs with loathing and disgust. The players, like nearly all normal humans, look repellant to my eyes; all disgusting, their forms more suited to base animals like toads and insects. Their forms appear reptilian and I can hardly bear to look at them or feel that once we shared a similar humanity or heritage. Now I only feel loathing for them and a desire for my God to feed upon them all as soon as possible, the moment he passes through the gate.
The veil between worlds holds by only a thread now, the merest additional push should break it wide open at any moment. Everyone in the stadium is standing and cheering for me, their willful energy filling me with power... but it is still not quite enough. Sensing my unease, my manager comes out to the mound to calm me down, and the other infield players come join him. Desperate with need to complete the summoning, I cannot bear their vile touches and in agony I rip my hands into the astonished chest of each player in turn to tear their beating hearts out and offering each in turn as a blood sacrifice to Hastur.
It is enough... the Feaster from Afar comes! The skies open above the stadium and a thousand searching tentacles descend to grasp and seize unwilling flesh, ripe for devouring. I hear screams and cries of terror but I am unconcerned. The Unspeakable God shall feast upon their flesh and souls.
I cannot see the terror that surrounds me either. Unable to bear the direct physical sight of my God, my eyeballs are warm and still bleeding in my hands. Nearly immediately a cold unearthly tentacle grabs me, lifting me upwards to Hastur's unspeakable mouth and I laugh and laugh. Truly I am the most blest of his servants and indeed I have received my promised reward -- that I will be the first to be devoured for my God's unceasing hunger!
I shall be joined with my God, one flesh... forever!