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The Ghost at Gaffney's Grave [Halloween2015]

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posted on Oct, 29 2015 @ 11:00 PM
Part I - The Legend of Alimander Gaffney

I suppose the first time I heard of the legend of Alimander Gaffney was when I moved to Peacham Vermont in the early 1980s. My Grandparents had lived in Peacham Vermont almost their whole lives and when my folks moved us back there from Boston I started to hear my Grandfather's stories. Gaffney wasn't a subject the townsfolk talked about much so for most of my early years I just assumed the story was made up by my Grandfather.

The whole tale centered around the supposedly ancient standing circle of stones that could be found just outside of town. They called the place Devil's Hill. Most of the surrounding area had been cleared away for farms or for lumber but there at the base of Devil's Hill the trees were tightly packed with gnarled bark and weirdly winding trunks that made them stand out from the standard evergreens and deciduous trees that ordinarily dominated the New England landscape. It wasn't that these twisted trees didn't lose their leaves or change their colors but they seemed to do so far slower than the other trees and the whole of Devil's Hill always had a strange aura of warm air even in the coldest winter. The hill was, in some of the older stories, said to be a conduit straight down into the light-less depths of Hell itself.

At the top of the hill the trees wouldn't grow and it was here that stood the strange formation of stones carved with monstrous shapes of eldritch lore and long forgotten myth from dim eras of human prehistory. It wasn't quite a henge and lacked the precise astrological placement of most of the European stone circles but it was widely considered to pre-date the settlement of Peacham in 1775.

Experts had been out to study it on numerous occasions and always they came away more and more uncertain of how to date the site with any accuracy. Some said it was fairly new, perhaps even no older than the Civil War, and may have been a hoax designed to entice tourists though no evidence could be found that anyone had ever profited from ownership of the site. Another set of archeologists argued that the site was built by the Missoquoi people before the European settlers even arrived in North America. Others believed enterprising Norsemen had reached New England and erected the site. Still others believed that it was built long ago, in Paleoindian times, and some even believed it had been there before the first Native American settlers had come across the continent and reached New England.

This is where Gaffney came in. Gaffney, according to the legends, was a Professor of Astronomy at Miskatonic University who came to town just after the Civil War. Peacham, then a town of just over twelve hundred, was hit hard by the war, losing over forty men in the conflict. Naturally many folks thought it a bad time to have some snooty intellectual sticking his head into the town's business while they were still mourning their losses. Despite Gaffney's occupational predisposition his interest in Devil's Hill started almost immediately. The man would eat a modest breakfast at quarter to five in the morning every morning at the Inn he was staying in and then with a check of his pocket-watch head off at five-thirty on the dot to Devil's Hill with a small personal telescope, a set of archeological excavation tools and his characteristic cane.

The cane was odd not just for it's appearance but for the fact that Gaffney was still quite a young man when he moved into town and showed no sign of struggle on the occasions that he was forced to walk without it. It looked ancient and though the stories were quite sure it was made of wood all of the legends said that the wood had a strangely tough feel to it and an almost metallic sheen. The carvings in the wood of Gaffney's cane were even more troubling than the implacable material from which it was constructed. Reports varied but most said the carvings were of wildly imaginative chimaeras arranged almost as if on a totem with each bizarre animal more strange than the last.

Gaffney, by all accounts, was a rather shy man but eventually as the months moved along he began to ask the townsfolk about Devil's Hill. Most of the men and women of Peacham were tight lipped about it but the older folks, the ones who had direct contact with the original settlers through their own grandparents, told him many stories. The first of these stories centered around the so-called hill-folk but these hill-folk were not the mischievous fairies of European folklore but something altogether different.

It was said that they could sometimes be seen in the steep valleys where the howling wind ran deep into the mouths of the forgotten caves they called home. Sometimes, on still nights in the dead of winter when no insects could be humming in the trees, the settlers would hear a low trilling hum like a thousand locusts. The humming would grow louder and louder until the sky seemed to shake and as it reached zenith the stars above would lose their place and begin dancing in the sky. The superstitious folk of Peacham were terrified of this violation of the laws of nature, of God, and of good common sense.

Many believed these creatures were demonic although no one ever claimed to know for sure. There was some primal instinct that drove people to avoid talking about or seeking out these hill-folk. They were inhuman whatever they were and if occasion called to even mention them at all they were always painted with all the negative superstitious labels that could be mustered without being described in any detail.

It was the reported astronomical abnormality that fascinated Gaffney most of all for he had heard similar tales from around the world. The library at Miskatonic was full of old tomes, scrolls, papyri and all manner of manuscripts both ancient and modern. From studying these Gaffney had found dozens of reports from the ancient world of lights in the sky and the resounding hum that preceded them and the subsequent moving of celestial bodies in strange and aberrant ways with no heed to gravity or the laws of physics. There were many stories from all over the world, including those told by the Native Americans, of a race of intelligent beings still living in the secluded hillocks and deep hidden delves that no one had yet explored.

Some said that Gaffney believed the stories full-stop and had converted to an ungodly and otherworldly religion, worshiping and attempting to commune with the hill-folk. Others thought the man was just interested in gaining fame by discovering some new celestial phenomenon. There are stories of people passing-by Devil's Hill when the Professor was hard at work and hearing that unsettling insect hum be answered in turn by human speech, albeit speech in an unknown and altogether inhuman language.

posted on Oct, 29 2015 @ 11:03 PM
Part I continued from above...

Despite protests from some of the townspeople Gaffney got a grant from the University to set up a new Observatory to peer out into the pristine Vermont sky. In 1899 the telescope was finally completed and put into place and Gaffney could truly be one with the stars. Reports say that he grew increasingly obsessed with his work and would shut himself away for weeks on end appearing gaunt and malnourished when he finally reappeared. He would often refuse help and when Miskatonic attempted to staff the Observatory with other scientists he was furious and in several cases was violent and abusive toward the other astronomers. Soon enough Miskatonic revoked their funding and fired the Professor. The Observatory, and Peacham, were now his permanent home.

The last time anyone saw Alimander Gaffney was in June of 1908. After three weeks without human contact the old man came stumbling into town rambling about his discoveries. He claimed to have been vindicated, to have actual recorded observation of the peculiar electromagnetic phenomenon that had long been mistaken for moving stars in the night sky. He also claimed to have numerous audio recordings linking the movement in the sky to some ancient rites still conducted in secret places in the deep woods. In between his lengthy spans of coherence talking about the scientific observations and measurements he'd made Gaffney reportedly made numerous predictions about the future and allusions to forces lurking just on the periphery of human discovery.

They were out there, Gaffney had said, and they were only waiting for the right confluence of events to move back into the light after being in the shadows for the tiny window of time that made up human history. A black era of darkness, of reverence to evil and to dark indulgences of the flesh, was upon the world and there was nothing the goodness or mercy of the human soul could do about it. Gaffney told the townspeople of his plans to leave and the next morning, at five-thirty on the dot, he walked out of town and never returned.

Though they lacked a body a few members of the community raised enough money to erect the man a headstone. His work seemed to disappear with him and rumor had it that Miskatonic had confiscated not just measurements and observations but had also taken his personal diaries and a series of gramophone and wax cylinder recordings dating back into the 1880s.

Within a decade of his disappearance the ghost started being seen. The prevailing belief was that Gaffney had sold his soul to the Devil or to whatever forces lurked in the woods and would rise again each morning at quarter to five and precisely at five-thirty his ghostly form could be seen moving from his grave to walk along Old Cemetery road all the way down into the woods and back up to Devil's Hill. There at Devil's Hill Gaffney would revel in the dark rituals he had enjoyed while alive and chanting and humming and hollering could be heard. The stars above would move, twisting in that perverse and unnatural dance, just as they did in the older legends. When Gaffney's ghost was done with the ritual, his lust for communion sated, his ethereal form would head back to its eternal slumber in the cemetery.

It was this latter part that made up the most well known part of the legend. All of the ties Gaffney's story had to even older and stranger tales that dated back to the settling of Peacham and even farther had been somewhat lost. It had taken my Grandfather quite a bit of prying during his lifetime to collect all the bits of the story and patch together a piece-mail version of the legend.

Part II - Atop Devil's Hill

The story was one that I grew up with and that all of my friends came to know as I relayed it to them, and they told their friends. Peacham was, and still is, a small town and when I was growing up in the 80s it was even smaller than it had been in Gaffney's day. Everyone knew the story of Gaffney's ghost rising again to perform rituals over on Devil's Hill. It seemed that for the older folks in town it was bad luck to bring up the story and when they did they always left it at Gaffney being a queer old man and nothing more. For us kids growing up it was fun to imagine the ghost of Gaffney rising from his grave to seek council with whatever devils or spirits were dancing round the stones on Devil's Hill. On cold winter's nights sometimes I imagined hearing that slow-build hum, and the howling of subhuman speech and the strange languages that Gaffney supposedly used to answer the hill-folk back.

As I grew older I grew more daring, culminating in a visit to Devil's Hill when I was about fifteen. On a dare from an out-of-towner friend I headed out there at quarter to five in the morning with a posse of curious jeering peers at my heels and climbed through the twisted branches of the trees at the base of the hill. It was already a warm summer's morning and I could feel the sweat dancing down my forehead as I moved through the densely packed trunks of the ancient trees and finally crested the hill and stepped into the clearing. I could still hear my friends calling in the distance as I caught my breath and felt my blood freeze.

posted on Oct, 29 2015 @ 11:06 PM
Part II continued from above...

I'd never actually seen the stones and I guess some part of my fifteen year old brain had always assumed they themselves were just part of the legend. Here they were, seventeen stony protrusions embedded in the soil in an oblong circle and at their center what looked like a pedestal or altar. The grass was fairly tall to start but as I grew closer I could see that the grass around the center circle of stones was matted down heavily and in several places I could make out what I thought might be footprints left by an enormous boot. Alongside the footprints and matted grass were several wedge shaped indentations in the dirt.

Although my heart was pounding, and every inclination told me I should flee, the adrenaline of completing the dare and the curiosity of seeing the stones for myself drove me to study them a bit further. Most of them were a greyish-green in color with a moss or lichen of some kind covering the surface. I brushed away the debris from one of the larger stones which stood nearly as tall as I was and saw the first of the carvings.

The contorted figure seemed so lifelike and yet it was unlike any form of life I could have ever imagined. The body was vaguely humanoid and seemed bowed or hunched in a painfully tormented way while the head, if it could be called such, seemed to protrude from the creature's chest and be painted in a sideways smile. The teeth did not look like teeth at all which only added to the demented look of the thing for they bore a closer resemblance to the thick baleen of a large whale. Four fur-covered tarantula-like arms sprouted from either side of the body and a mass of seething wet tentacles bristled like ooze encrusted hairs on both the back and torso of the thing. Even in still image it seemed alive and the repulsion I had toward its vibrant and yet ancient depiction was palpable.

I took a deep breath and stared up at the sky trying to get my mind off of the twisted hunched figure in the carving. The stars were still partially visible in the pre-dawn sky and I was suddenly awestruck by how close they felt. I do not mean awestruck lightly in the sense we use it today when we describe a visit to the Grand Canyon or seeing a rainbow. I fell to my knees. The hill itself wasn't all that raised from the surrounding landscape and yet I felt exalted as if I was being thrust into that infinite expanse headfirst. In some ways the sensation I felt was awe-inspiring and beautiful but in another sense it was deeply unsettling and unnatural. It reminded me heavily of the stories of the stars moving to and fro in the sky of their own accord as if suddenly untethered from the natural laws that usually held them in their far distant positions relative to our own. I could hardly breathe as I stood there enveloped in that deep blue gulf of infinity waiting for the ghost of Gaffney to arrive.

Feeling dizzy I forced myself to look away from the stars and my eye was caught by the pedestal of stone in the center of formation. I felt a chill cross my bones as I recognized the altar for what it was but to my relief the stone was stained with a green which I associated with chlorophyll, not blood. There was an acrid odor the closer I got to the central altar and I could actually feel my eyes start to water as the caustic smell truly struck me. I found myself worried that the legends might be true and that the site might indeed belong to some strange still surviving ancient religion. Or, more dramatically, was that acidic smell that of sulfur and brimstone, the legendary contents of hell itself?

I worried that someone was watching and that I might be defiling someone's sacred, or perhaps Satanic, religious site just by being there. Were the members of this cult real? Were they watching me? Would they come for me? The hair on my body stood at attention and time seemed to pass impossibly slowly. The voices of those that had dared me to stay and egged me on became infrequent until dying out altogether and yet I remained. For stupid teenage reasons I stayed fearing that if I chickened out and left before five-thirty I would be branded a coward.

I hesitated to touch any of the other stones or reveal any of the other carvings. I found myself imagining that the stones were vibrating, singing almost, resonating with a humming energy that seemed deafening. Even as five-thirty passed me and the stars vanished from sight there was no sign of Gaffney or the hill-folk or any soul living or dead. When the sun finally rose over the horizon the dare was completed.

I can recall taking a deep calming breath as the dizziness and fear that had dominated the ordeal faded. The stones were silent now and as I walked in the shade of the ancient trees and avoided the twisted roots that threatened to trip me I found myself rationalizing that the whole experience was in my mind. I was never thrust up to meet the stars and hearing the stones sing was likely all in my head. After that my friends dared me to visit the site again but to go in the depth of Winter when the legends said the hill-folk were most active. I declined each time they asked and always cautioned any other kids stupid enough to want to go there against it.

When I told my Grandfather of the experience on Devil's Hill he just looked at me and nodded his approval of my decision not to go back. There are some legends left better undisturbed, he told me, and some religions and superstitions that are best left unspoken of and forgotten.

Part III - The Twisted Cane of Gaffney

I left Peacham to go to Dartmouth College in the fall of 1995 and studied sociology there for a year before deciding it just wasn't for me. Needless to say dropping out of an Ivy League school put a bit of a rift between my parents and I. I didn't go back home but instead took some criminal justice courses at a Community College and ended up as a police officer working near Concord, New Hampshire. I spent about five years on the force there until my Grandfather was diagnosed with cancer in the spring of 2002. Luckily I managed to get a job with the Caledonia County Sheriffs Department and within a year had purchased a small house just outside the limits of Peacham. I stayed there and helped my Grandmother and parents through the loss of my Grandfather.

Just before my Grandfather died he left me several boxes of his old stuff and one very special item he told me he'd bought at an auction a few years back. It was a cane that he claimed must have been the one that belonged to Alimander Gaffney. Sure enough the cane was made of an impossibly hard dense wood with a peculiar metallic sheen to the finish placed over it. The seemingly petrified wood beneath was carved with intricate carvings of various real world animals alongside mythical beings and monsters some of which seemed familiar - like one depicting a great sea-serpent battling a whale - but the others were harder to identify. Being more concerned about his health at the time I put the cane away in my attic and thought little of it.

posted on Oct, 29 2015 @ 11:09 PM
Part III continued from above...

It was only years later that my interest in the cane and the legend of Gaffney was renewed. Caledonia county is fairly peaceful with very little violent crime to speak of and in between the occasional dispute between neighbors or lovers and ticketing speeders there wasn't all that much excitement working for the CCSD. I sometimes found myself driving through Peacham at all odd hours of the night with my eyes lazily drifting across the New England landscape. The rolling tree-covered hills interspersed with lakes took on altogether different countenance when the winter months robbed many of the trees of their leaves. There was a stillness unlike any other to those winter nights and though I saw nothing on my patrols through the area there were a few times when I thought I could hear the ungodly cries of the creatures that lived in those valleys left unperturbed by humankind for untold eons.

I wanted to explain away those sounds as merely hallucinatory, the fanciful invention of a superstitious mind that wanted desperately to believe the stories told to it in youth by a beloved relative. I would have succeeded in convincing myself had the calls not started coming in. It was October of 2011 when the first call arrived, a series of strange lights reportedly seen rising over the gravestones along Old Cemetery road. Naturally I requested to be the one to investigate the sightings assuming that the report was related to old Gaffney's ghost but each time I went out to interview eyewitnesses they were too shy to reveal any details beyond their anonymously given reports to the dispatcher.

I walked the cemetery grounds eventually coming to Gaffney's grave, or at least the stone that was assumed to be his. It was unmarked save for a grotesquely misshapen G that looked like it had been carved decades or more after the stone was laid. All around the grave the grass seemed matted down and I began to wonder if some intrepid kids hadn't come out with flashlights daring each other to investigate the gravestone in a similar incident to what had happened to me. The crushed empty energy drink can and scattered cigarette butts at the grave site seemed to support my hypothesis and so I endeavored to brush off the incident and move on.

Another call came in from Peacham the day after Halloween and this one said that not only were lights seen dancing over the graves but that there were lights in the sky as well that seemed to dance to the same rhythm as those in the cemetery below. This time one of the townsfolk did talk to me, an older man named Geoffrey who had been a friend of my Grandfathers who said that he had been walking along Old Cemetery road fighting off a spell of drunkenness when he saw the lights across the field and through the trees dancing in the cemetery. He watched the lights utterly spellbound as they eventually rose up into the sky leaving behind a smaller set of lights that continued to sway for several minutes before dissipating.

I headed out to the grave again fighting the cynical notion that some more kids had decided to haunt the cemetery grounds as part of a Halloween prank. When I arrived I found the grass around the grave once more tamped down but there was no trash or debris and no sign that any kids had been there. Curiously there were a dozen or so strange wedge-like indentations in the Earth. They weren't shovel marks or anything indicating grave robbing but they were there all the same size, some twelve or thirteen inches long, and about three feet apart. Even stranger was the mark against the gravestone. Where once a lone G was carved now, in a green dye, there was an odd but strangely familiar marking, not quite a letter but not quite a hieroglyph either.

As I stood by the grave I also noticed a pungent odor in the surrounding area that grew stronger the closer I got to the mark on the gravestone. The acidic smell seemed sulfuric and instantly triggered the memory of my experience atop Devil's Hill all those years earlier. After photographing the odd glyph and taking a sample of the oozing green dye I left the scene.

It was then I remembered the cane and the odd carvings and it was then too I remembered Gerald Horner. During my brief time at Dartmouth I had met Professor Horner. Horner was Professor and leader of the Anthropology department and had a keen interest in the folklore of New England, be it the stories believed by the Natives or by the European settlers and their ancestors. Horner was also a graduate of Miskatonic University and in one of our conversations we discussed the legend of Alimander Gaffney at length. Horner had heard of the man as one of the more infamous to call Miskatonic both Alma Mater and place of primary employment. The story with Gaffney told around campus was that he had run off to join a cult and gone mad. I had happily filled in the blanks to Professor Horner that Gaffney had lived out the remainder of his days communing with the hill-folk of Caledonia County Vermont.

With that curious odor still lingering in my nostrils after my shift I decided to dig the cane from my attic. I had taken a photo of the marking on the grave with my phone and compared it to one of the symbols etched into the cane. They were similar but somewhat different with the symbol on the grave bearing a distinctive hooked X that was absent on the cane. The dye that was used to make the symbol, I learned later from tests, was a combination of plant material and was mostly chlorophyl. Several days later there was another call, another sighting of dazzling lights in the sky, this time accompanied by a sighting of a completely translucent man, an actual apparition. Upon return to the grave I found another strange symbol left on the stone. This time the green dye seemed to be deeply embedded in the pores of the stone, as if oozing its way out from the inside.

posted on Oct, 29 2015 @ 11:12 PM
Part III continued from above...

Eventually curiosity got the best of me and I emailed the Professor several photos of the cane trying to show him in detail the carvings as well as photos of the headstone markings in hope he could identify them. A few weeks later I got an excited and exuberant email back from him.

On the first carving of the swirling stars you see this lengthy skeletal creature, almost like a snake, but with these weird disjointed limbs barbed with hairs. The detail is exquisite and seems to depict a creature known as Soras the Destroyer. Strangely enough the myth isn't American but comes from Germanic lore and the only depiction I've seen is in the 13th century manuscript of the Book of Eibon, which of course supposedly had it's origins in the ancient writings of the Hyperborean peoples, one of the lost tribes of Atlantis. Of course it's all steeped in legend but the depiction is very similar to Soras. In the story recorded in Eibon the serpent descends from the stars and devours an entire village before finally a masked wizard once thought to be in league with the devil banishes the serpent.

Your suspicions about the second of the cane's carvings may be correct, those may indeed be the hill-folk of New England legend worshiping Soras and those other monstrous forms. They are more insect-like in their depiction here, some depictions show them with a more crab-like appearance or even with tentacles and strange proboscis for eating. And there below them are seven black stones above the head of that Octopus-looking figure. It's a frightful image but not one without precedence in the lore if you dig deep enough. I believe it to be representative of the sunken city of R'lyeh.

The two symbols on the grave are not from Eibon, but I was able to track them down. You are right that the symbol on the cane is different from the one on the grave. Both the second grave glyph and the one on the cane appear in the Vatican's manuscript of the Necronomicon, Codex Dementus. With the hooked X however I could only find one appearance, that exact symbol appears in an old manuscript called Templus Lucium, or Temples of Light. It's a hard book to track down and even harder to pin down a date to but most of the scholars I talked to who would actually say anything told me it dates to the late 9th century. The actual manuscript is a combination of old Viking and Norse legends written in Latin. The symbol is associated with the stages of a ritual, it literally marks the middle point or liminal stages of a ceremony

If I may I would like to come out there personally and investigate, I am due a leave of absence from my teaching duties anyway. I cannot wait to discuss with you what Gaffney and by extension your Grandfather and you might have uncovered!

Part IV - Liminality

To say that the next few weeks changed my life would be an understatement although the impact of the truth won't likely reach the rest of the world until it is too late. I had never been one for superstition and even the nominal Christianity with which I was raised meant little to me for most of my adult life. Now I consider myself horribly unfortunate to have stumbled on that most ancient of religions that serves as both root and ultimate master to those faiths we consider comforting and familiar.

The Professor arrived on the 17th of November 2011. Snow was already on the ground but the next week's forecast remained clear. We decided our best bet was to stake out the cemetery at night. It had been approximately a week since our last call and the discovery of a third mark, one that the Professor had associated with the chaotic Proto-Egyptian deity Azathoth. The night sky above was crystal clear. Peacham was a very rural town and so the skies were uncorrupted by the normal light-pollution of big cities and street lamps. The quiet bleak serenity of Winter came long before the solstice this far north and fell particularly hard amidst the pastoral ancient beauty of the Vermont backwoods.

As we sat in my car the Professor anxiously prattled on about his studies at Miskatonic while holding tight to Gaffney's cane. He told of how most of the other schools in New England shunned the study of such texts as the Book of Eibon, the Umbra Filum (Shadow Strand), the Book of Ardoron and the dreaded Necronomicon. Even more strange was his admission that he believed many prominent and old University's around the world were keeping alive a secret cult that stretched back beyond the reach of most modern religions. The Ivy League schools were typically the destination of the sons and daughters of wealthy businessmen and prominent politicians and those who graduated from them often did so on the fast track to wealth and fame of their own.

There were always whispers, the Professor told me, of secret meetings and organizations on campuses often under the illusion that these were dedicated to occultism or might even be Luciferian in nature. The Skull and Bones was one such organization with Miskatonic having it's own group, the Uria Parl or Shadow Congress. Yale, Harvard, Dartmouth, Princeton, Miskatonic, they all had their own ties to some sort of cult the members of which often emerged to become Presidents, Wall Street fat cats and leaders of industry. The true nature of this cult, Horner suspected, was far older and more sinister than the Abrahamic occultism or Satanic delusions that served as a smokescreen behind which it could hide.

Gaffney, perhaps, had been a part of that cult. A cult that believed that before humanity had even crossed into North America across the Bering-Strait land bridge other intelligences had colonized the North American continent. Indeed, as the Professor explained, it wasn't just the North American Continent that had been colonized but the entire world that had been a stop-over for creatures from some forgotten eon of Cosmic time. It is no mistake, he told me, that the gods in the oldest legends rise from the sea, dwell beneath the Earth, or descend from the stars and that much of human folklore talks of fairies, elves, mermaids, demons and trolls driven to hide from human encroachment of their homes in the hills and beneath the Earth and under the waves.

“The cumulative gist of the legends is that human progress beat back the Elder Things and drove the World that Came Before deeper into the shadows,” the Professor explained, “ Until its interaction with the human world became less and less and the beliefs that let us commune with that world became more and more obscure.”

posted on Oct, 29 2015 @ 11:16 PM
Part IV continued from above...

Despite my own inclination to believe that something strange was going on to create such consistent reports of lights in the sky I was taken aback by the strange beliefs outlined by the Professor. He was an academic and a man of science and hardly the sort who I would have expected to take folklore as reality even if it was his area of expertise. He seemed genuinely interested in finding out if there was any truth to it all. All of this talk, of old manuscripts and dusty scrolls, of pages inked in blood and writ by madmen spurred to visions, served to disturb me deeply despite my skepticism. There was something compelling about the way the pieces fit together. The stories of monstrous or mischievous spirits and creatures dwelling up in the hills fit well with the idea that they were not originally of Earthly origin but had colonized the Earth when mankind was still in its infancy.

There was such deep time left still largely mysterious despite the advancements of science, archeology and geology. The idea that fragments of this shadowy civilization might lurk just beyond the light of our discovery was exciting and frightening all at once. Although the Professor believed in this cult I found myself wondering if he truly believed the stories themselves, the grotesque and irreligious myths of things from elder eons that colonized Earth from some starless region of untold space.

We watched the graves until well after midnight after which time we ran out of things to say to one another and drifted in and out of sleep. The serene darkness closed in and the November wind whispered down through the trees and cascaded down from snow-topped hills and across fields of drifting snow. I could make out the moonlight shifting down through the swaying ancient trunks that marked Devil's Hill in the far distance beyond the graveyard. Even from a distance it looked as if an odd emanation of heat was rising from the ground there. A shiver shot through me when I thought I could see movement and hear the howling of the hill-folk but Horner sat tight still half-asleep and so I assumed I was just hearing things.

Just before five in the morning the Professor woke me with a nudge. I protested sleepily and wiped my eyes as he tried to direct me to look at something in the graveyard beyond. The sky was still almost pitch-black and just above the trees in the distance I could see a shimmering blue-white orb. It was larger than any star but its placement beneath the moon made me assume that it was merely Venus being abnormally bright. After a few moments though the light grew brighter and closer and began to pulse and shimmer even more before dipping down below the tree-line. Once along the ground the orb took on a wisp-like shape leaving a phantasmal stream of ethereal light as it danced eerily across the graveyard and stopped. The orb hovered there over a single grave for a few moments before splitting itself into two smaller orbs that orbited each other briefly before breaking away.

The Professor and I were nearly frozen from a night in the cold car but managed to get out of the car to get a closer look. The two orbs were pulsing in and out now, vanishing for intervals of three or four seconds before flickering back to life. Soon the orb on our left was gone and now in it's place was the barely visible form of something else, something quite physical and something that looked very human. The bowed shoulders, bent back and general posture and outline were clearly those of an older man. For a moment I marveled at the seeming regularity of it, old man Gaffney appearing right where he should be at quarter to five in the morning.

My adrenaline raced at the sight and despite being mortally afraid I wore a worshipful smile at the thought that my grandfather had been vindicated and I had a fairly well known academic beside me witnessing this. However my smile soon fled when the second orb, having gone out far longer than the other, shimmered back into existence and took on a form that was incalculably more monstrous in its reality than it had been in depiction. Outlandishly bent at a near ninety degree angle the creature's head appeared snapped off and relocated to the strange gaping maw on its chest which was swimming with cylindrical tendrils. The head itself was far from human the way the moonlight glinted off of the oozing porous surface of the monster's face and the thick cords of baleen-like teeth caused me to be nearly be ill. The creature's torso was covered in a tangled matte of writhing tentacles some equipped with their own grotesque chomping mandibles. The four clearly segmented legs were bristled with long insect-like hairs and each came to a wedge-like tip.

I knew then that those legs had made the indentations around the gravestone as well as being responsible for the similar marks I'd seen as a fifteen year old kid atop Devil's Hill. In fact this creature, in all it's hideous reality, was the same I'd seen depicted in carvings beneath the crust of lichen that now covered those ancient stones. The first set of legs were what usually propelled the creature while the other two were used not for locomotion but for some kind of communication. Gaffney's ghost stood beside the creature staggering to and fro as the monstrosity lifted its second set of legs and began touching them together in rapid dizzying succession. The result was a low hum that came accompanied with a more orderly speech-like series of howls.

I stood there petrified as the thing of nightmares spoke with the apparition in that utterly alien language. The sound as a whole was cacophonous, maddening, with the only hints of ineligibility existing at the higher pitches beyond the tumultuous chaos of that Cicadian insect song. I covered my ears and look at the Professor who was similarly rapt in horror with sweat pouring down his forehead, cheeks and dripping from his chin despite the temperature being below freezing. When at last the ghastly sound stopped Gaffney's fatigued looking ghost grunted out a response. To an ordinary person the ghost's reply would have sounded horrifying, inhuman, and perhaps even demonic. It had equal parts guttural glossolalia of Pentecostal tongues and low frequency humming that served as a crude human recreation of the horrible sounds the creature had made which no human's vocal chords could ever truly utter.

After another short, but seemingly eternal for the Professor and I, exchange between the figures they split up. Gaffney's ghost defied the legend heading away from Devil's Hill rather than toward it while the repugnant slime soaked creature headed off into the woods toward the distant hilltop where its likeness was upon the standing stones. Instinct and memory worked in unison to try to keep me away from that hill but the Professor was not about to give up the pursuit of his answers and I, being the one with the gun, was obligated to protect my community and my world from whatever was truly happening here in the rural backwoods of New England.

posted on Oct, 29 2015 @ 11:20 PM
Part IV continued from above...

With the Professor pursuing Gaffney I took off after the hunched but fast moving thing. To move quicker it used all four legs proceeding in an almost windmill like fashion to propel it across the snow-covered landscape that much faster. I couldn't have kept up if I wanted to but with my heart and last meal both trying to rise up my throat I did my best to keep my resolve. One thing was certain, the curiosity and wonder that had accompanied the legend, that had tingled in my bones when I thought of my Grandfather's words, were lost to the madness and preternatural reality of what lay before me.

For a moment I lost sight of the creature but luckily those distinctive wedge prints led me forward and the trail ended at the base of Devil's Hill. Even from the base of the hill I could hear the chanting, the thrumming of those insect appendages as they collided in feverish unison somehow drowning out the impossibly loud thumping of my terrified heart. I became convinced, as I took my personal weapon (as I was off duty) from its retention holster and pressed on between the tangled trunks of those trees, that the creature was being answered back. A chorus of other loathsome voices seemed to be singing along and to make matters worse the words were becoming ever clearer.

Coryn hur'olm urunai ki'psteros,” the voices called, “Bring to life those who suffer beneath the chains of empty dreams.”

The hill seemed to go on forever and the warm air was choked with that revolting but familiar odor of sulfur and of burning plants. As I rose to the top at last I could see beyond the rim of forever with eternity split before me for the whole of the hill was lifted up into the heavens and the heavens bent down to meet it. Beyond the event horizon of the opening I saw cascading nebulae, sweeping vistas that bent the mind and laid bare eons of time and space as stars burst and the gasses that held galaxies together sped apart with the expansion of the Cosmos. I could see the shadows of revelers beyond, of black membranous wings spread outward and ghastly toothy grins dwelling in cities of black cyclopean stone.

Only then did I see the dozen or so who danced around the stones now. It wasn't just the bent and foul looking hill-folk here but there were humans as well, not ghostly but fully physical singing in those inhuman words that made more and more sense to me. The sky was opened and the stones sang and the participants in the ritual danced.

In a fit of confusion and with my sanity nearly shattered I lifted my gun and fired a shot at one of the men who was dancing naked beside a beautiful woman who did not look altogether human in aspect. The woman screamed then as the man recoiled in pain. I fired another shot, this time aiming at one of the creatures, but unlike with the man the bullet seemed to have no affect. I fell backward then hitting the snow hard and nearly losing consciousness. Through the opening in the sky the stars were churning and somewhere far in the distance were titanic blocks of onyx stone arranged in maddening ways that defied any Earthly geometry.

Cities, empires spread before me and in each scene that flashed there was always someone celebrating. The chanting was reaching an apex now, a zenith of untold revelry. No matter how I steeled my mind against the roaring chaos it kept breaking, with each image being more impossible than the last.

Part V - Strange Aeons

Somehow I got away. I don't remember running. I awoke the next day in my home with panic rushing through me. It was already well beyond noon when I finally found consciousness. With ears red and mind racing I headed out to Devil's Hill wondering what had truly happened during the night and if the lucid nightmares still swimming in my head could possibly be real. Despite the lack of the menacing shadows the malevolent aura of the past night's events still seemed to cling heavily to the area. As soon as I felt the characteristic warm air rush across me I grabbed for my gun only to realize that it wasn't there. I panicked as I reached the top unarmed but there was not a soul in sight and other than a few dozen footprints. No evidence remained that I had shot someone or that there had been such a ritual.

The memory of the events seemed so surreal and yet the images were impressed into my mind vividly. I returned home and searched for my gun but couldn't find it. I called the Professor's cellphone wondering what had happened to him and hoping he might fill in the gaps for me but there was no answer. I reported the loss of my gun to the authorities as well as filing report. I left out many of the more extravagant details mentioning merely that some mischievous lot had been trespassing atop Devil's Hill and that I had fainted and when I came to my gun was missing. I also told them of the Professor but they thought little of it at the time. No one had seen the man come into town as he and I had eaten a modest dinner in my own house before heading out and no one saw him leaving town.

In fact as the days slowly moved past no evidence was found at all of the Professor's visit or of his sudden departure. I began to suspect something sinister after even my emails did not receive reply. Due to the wind the footprints that might have remained to track the Professor in his own pursuit of the ghost of Alimander Gaffney. All I could recall was the general direction and so I set out on the 21st of November. It wasn't more than a few minutes between the graveyard and the first line of trees.

In spite of the bright afternoon sun the trees that towered up here left ominous splotches of shadow along the path I took through the woods. The whipping wind almost seemed to call to me then as if a lost echoing voice in the distance was crying out. The words were impossible to make out but the tone was decidedly human and likely male and so I thought perhaps I'd discover the malnourished half-frozen but still alive Professor Horner. To my dismay the voice directed me rather poorly dashing across the landscape driven by the wind which pulled and pushed the sound in deceptive ways. Still I got the general direction and soon came out into a clearing where a tall dome shaped structure stood in the distance, the old Miskatonic Satellite Observatory.

The light went on in my mind realizing that this place must have been where Gaffney's ghost was headed that night. Dread swam laps in what was left of the shallow seas of curiosity and responsibility in my head as I approached the dilapidated defunct facility. The wooden door was nearly off the hinges and slapping with regularity against the outer wall as the wind threatened to tear it away. Each creak and slam was caught by the howling wind and for a moment I thought I had my explanation for the strange voice that had guided me.

I flipped on my flashlight and peered inside. Some force compelled me within and although I fought it I soon found my first footfalls hitting the old floorboards. Against the far wall was what looked more like a religious structure complete with pews and a podium of sorts. The domed ceiling over the pulpit was plastered with star charts, astronomical calculations and astrological symbols and glyphs both familiar and alien. To my relief much of the writing was hugely old looking like it might go all the way back to the time of Gaffney himself.

posted on Oct, 29 2015 @ 11:23 PM
Part V continued from above...

Out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw movement but when I shone my flashlight in that direction all I saw was another doorway. As I walked toward it I could make out scratches in the floor below and in the door as well, not made by any tool, but wedge shaped, likely made by the feet of the monstrous hill-folk. The door seemed sealed shut but I managed to lower my shoulder and power through the old, but sturdy, lock.

Immediately my face twisted in a cruel caricature, half-crying and half-crazed, for here behind locked door I found the Professor. Mangled beyond imagining but still painfully recognizable I collapsed to the floor and sat with hand over mouth shaking my head slowly. I'd seen a number of murder victims during my time in New Hampshire but I had never seen anything so hateful and cold done to a corpse. I sat for a few moments before my courage finally returned to me at the thought that whatever did this had to still be in the building. It seemed an absurd notion given the small cramped size of the office I was currently in and I shot up fully alert at the sound of creaking wood and a slam of the door.

Nothing. Nothing but that achingly old and ever churning winter wind slamming against the outer door. Wiping the sweat from my brow I turned back to the mutilated body of Professor Horner and at once my vision was drawn to the Professor's hands. I put on one of my gloves and bent down prying the tightly clutched collection of papers from the man's right hand and the twisted cane of Alimander Gaffney from the left. I lifted the papers placing them at once on the nearby table and holding my small flashlight between my teeth as I spread them out.

Here, in full maddening and rigorous scientific detail, were all of the discoveries that Gaffney had made. It wasn't just a diary but records, notes, diagrams, calculations, astronomical charts and plots. Everything was here with all the latent Cosmic horror of untold eons dripping from every drop of ink. I began to read and soon found that the entries had an order to them, beginning with sane observations of a man of a science and gradually revealing a devolution into a cruel and pious zealot. Gaffney had found the hill-folk, only they truly weren't like the fairies and the trolls, although those legends are vague reflections of truth.

Instead they are the Old Ones, the Elder Things, the nameless beings that lived in the vast Cosmic seas of potentiality long before our Cosmos had its current shape and form. In those endless rifts of indelible night intelligences moved and creatures evolved. From their realms of death they had found a way inside our material Universe and in all the myriad of forms they took many of them came down to us through the ages as monsters and gods.

Before mankind could even stand upright, before our ancestors could even speak, before the Old Star had even burst, they came down and saw potential in the swirling accretion of gas and debris that would one day be our Earth, our solar system. It wasn't our world at all, Gaffney had written, it belonged only to that species which could truly hold it. For the Old Ones there were countless other worlds beyond the black stone of Yoggoth where great Yog-Sothoth waited to open the gate.

When the stars were right they could return and were already preparing for that glorious day during Gaffney's lifetime and if the stars were not right there were those that had the power to make them so. Gaffney lamented the truth and hated the Old Ones in his initial writings but soon he wrote of happily returning to Devil's Hill to sink into the abyssal reaches of time and space. He told of a future where the Old Ones would reclaim the world and tame the Universe and usher in a new age of revelry and cruelty and abject freedom of will.

For the sake of my sanity I gathered the letters and told no one about them. Even after I alerted the CCSD to my grisly discovery I kept the diaries a secret. The cause of death, despite the garish wounds, was found to be exposure to the cold. He had locked himself in while being pursued, I reasoned, though forensics could find no evidence of forced entry. For a time I was a suspect, due to my strange behavior and my eventual resignation from the Sheriffs Department, at having mutilated the body but with no evidence no charges were ever pressed. Due to the coldness of that Winter the case was largely written off as the death of an old man due to the elements.

I am quite sure now that I am being watched and the longer I keep Gaffney's journals and notes the more danger I am in that they will find me. I have managed to keep moving but the more I look the more I see signs of the cult everywhere. Even the more wholesome and familiar of the American religions now appear to have sinister undertones. Prayer and supplication before an eternal throne. A distant day of judgment when only the servants of God will be spared his wrath. The pieces are there for those who want to put them together, those with enough curiosity to risk their sanity.

These secrets may die with me and so I to am writing of my experiences. I will keep this document near the notes of Alimander Gaffney which will vindicate with science what I have recounted with my layman's intellect. I have also begun to suspect that my Grandfather too had been plagued by these mysteries as he grew older. In the years since the events of November 2011 I have gone through the materials my Grandfather gave me. Much of it is old family photo albums dating back into the early days of photography.

Among the more interesting materials however was a strange wax cylinder wrapped in a note from Gaffney and marked with a tag reading – Rites of the Old Ones, as Recorded atop Devil's Hill Vermont AD 1881. Luckily I do not own, or wish to own, a phonograph to play the old cylinder but I can imagine quite vividly the screeching, howling, and humming and those insidious words that accompany them. The note, scribbled hastily in the handwriting of a madman, reads:

When the dancing stars begin and the gibbous moon is red. The Old Ones will arise and fill our hearts with dread. They dream, in kingdoms far beneath with thrones beyond the sky. That is not dead, which can eternal lie and with strange aeons even death may die.

Our own brief blink of time will one day come to a close and I fear what lies in wait. What hidden truths are buried in the periphery just beyond the reach of our telescopes, the crash of our particle accelerators and the folklore and ghost stories we once enjoyed in our youth? I fear I know too much of those truths but with the writing of my story it is not a burden I need bear alone.

Look to the skies. Listen closely. On those bleak winter nights when all is calm you may see the dead return to life, the stars move from their marks, and hear the Old Ones calling.

The Ghost at Gaffney's Grave

posted on Oct, 30 2015 @ 01:58 AM
The prophet of the GOO's has arrived.

This is by far one of the best lovecraftian stories I've read these last few years.

posted on Oct, 30 2015 @ 05:02 AM
I'm just awestruck. That was amazingly good. Well deserved writer's status should be under your name.

posted on Oct, 30 2015 @ 01:46 PM
That was perfect for Hallowe'en! The Elder Ones seem to be prevalent globally - makes you wonder.....

S&F and a
for 'monstrous shapes of eldritch lore'

Brilliantly written

posted on Oct, 30 2015 @ 02:55 PM
a reply to: beansidhe

Thank you

Seeing as how this is ATS I made sure to work in the idea that the "Powers that Be" might all secretly be Cthulhu cultists. Lovecraft was really a pioneer of the idea that a secret end-of-the-world cult might be in contact with some older darker cosmic beings/forces.

posted on Oct, 31 2015 @ 08:43 AM
a reply to: Titen-Sxull

Ummm...Wow...Howard Philip would be honored...Very Lovecraftian...Titen...

There are so many absolutely wonderful entries in this contest...I gotta tell you though...Lovecraft being one of my fave authors...You do the genre justice...

Ding...Ding...Ding..."winner winner chicken dinner"....

Be well Titen...thank you for such a wonderful read...


posted on Oct, 31 2015 @ 06:01 PM
a reply to: YouSir

Thank you YouSir...

Despite my skill with a thesaurus I'm not sure I can match Lovecraft for verbose atmospheric descriptions but I did my best

posted on Oct, 31 2015 @ 07:43 PM
I have just started to read this and it has grabbed my attention. I really do hope we can track down some pictures!
You may have a fine book here.

posted on Nov, 1 2015 @ 09:42 AM
a reply to: bluemooone2

Thank you

I thought about adding images but then I realized how long the story was when I broke it up and decided I didn't want to make it any longer or force myself to break it up into even more pieces.

posted on Nov, 1 2015 @ 07:42 PM
a reply to: Titen-Sxull

I vote for this one to be in a placing - You had me at the word Lovecraft, and I'm glad I clicked on the link to read this.

Well Done!!!

On the side, I'd recommend holding onto this story - It would be a perfect fit for a Lovecraft anthology.


posted on Nov, 3 2015 @ 11:03 AM
a reply to: fossilera

Thank you very much Fossilera.

I'd love to compile an anthology of weird Lovecraftian stories someday

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