Reader, if you have come this far, and have a fragile constitution, turn away, I beg you. What I have to relate is not for the faint of heart. It concerns the work of the late HP Lovecraft – a man I’m sure many of you will know. He is dead, thank God, lost to the lightless realms of silence and dismay. Yet his devilry survives, and now, against all laws of nature and humanity, it has been resurrected in a new, limited edition.
Tremble, for it has come to pass that a group styling itself The Folio Society has today released an illustrated edition of Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories onto the unsuspecting world. What intention they have I know not, but it cannot be wholesome, for they have also let loose a further abomination: a limited edition of 750 copies, each one sheathed in a green and purple box as shifting and impenetrable as the souls of its creators.
Worse is yet to come. For my enquiries reveal that The Folio Society – long may that name live in infamy! – is advertising its mutant offspring for sale, at the price of £75 and £345 respectively. Reader, I pray, do not click on this link, because it will take you to their website. That, thankfully, is the only place the monstrosities are available, as the publishers of Britain do not accept The Society’s wares in bookshops. There is still some decency left in the world.
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Those are the facts. But how, you may wonder, do I come to be in their possession? Now I must tell of my own shame, for against my better judgement, I have seen a copy of this work; touched it even, running my shaking fingers along its leathery binding. I have gazed at the illustrations, conjured by the black arts of the artist Dan Hillier. I have read the preface, and glimpsed therein the madness of the writer Alan Moore.
A man of purer spirit would have resisted, but something lured me, something eldritch and yearning. It was a sunny spring day and I was busy with other things: yet, as if under a spell, I took a detour, accepting The Society’s invitation to view their latest work. I was greeted in friendly fashion by a man and two women, who claimed to be employed by the group (I do not recall their names, nor can I find their place of work, although I have run through the streets many times since calling its name). We discussed the news of the day, including Donald Trump’s election as President. Then, at a sign, one of them ventured into a back room. They had, they told me, something I would like to see. Oh dark, dark day! That I stayed and did not leave! But once they brought out the Lovecraft, I was transfixed, like a butterfly upon a pin.
I started with Moore’s preface – and, at first, nothing seemed amiss. Moore described the “unease and abhorrence,” he felt about Lovecraft’s politics and prejudices; and his condescension towards the New Englander’s sesquipedalian prose, “burdening each clause with adjectives and archaisms, far too fond of indescribability.” Reading, I felt a surge of relief, for it seemed to me as if common sense had at last restored itself. But as I plunged on, unable to stop, it became clear that all was lost. Moore had been seduced by Lovecraft! “One of the twentieth century’s most radical experimental writers,” he hailed him, adding that he was “magnificently visionary.” Blood wept from my eyes as I beheld Moore’s granite final sentence: “I envy your exquisite nightmares.”
I must have blacked out because when I awoke I was back in my office. Bright morning light streamed through the open window. Birds sang infectiously of spring. Everything seemed as it always was. Then I opened my browser, navigated to Twitter dot com, and realised that nothing could be more different.
It is said that to glimpse an Elder God is to be sent immediately insane. Had the entire world been shown that forbidden sight? Had the unveiling of Lovecraft changed the very pattern of time itself? Only that, it seemed, could explain what I witnessed there, in this, the darkest timeline. I swooned, screaming as I did so the name of the succubus that stretched its writhing feelers up from the depths of night. The name which befouls my sleep and bloodies my lips. The name: Juicero.
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