We’re serializing author Jonathan Wood’s short, “The Nyarlathotep Event” here at GeekDad for the next two weeks, which is set in the same world as his debut novel, No Hero. The first chapter of No Hero is available for free, and the novel is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other independent book stores.
If you missed the first installment, check it out here:
The Nyarlathotep Event :: Case File #2 :: Rescue
8:15 pm, The Oxford Playhouse, Oxford, England
There is romance to the idea of the Man Alone. Abandoned, desperate, he reaches deep inside and finds the will to go on, to do what must be done, to save the day.
But when the Man Alone is being beaten to death by a pack of insane theater-enthusiasts, the idea of back-up has a little more charm.
In those moments there is little better than a co-worker blowing a homicidal Laura Ashley fan off your chest with a blast of electric blue light.
Clyde — co-worker extraordinaire, and MI37′s resident magician — stands over me, lightning playing between his fingertips.
It’s hard to express my gratitude. I go with, “Guh-th-fuh.”
“You’re welcome, Arthur.” As he helps me up, a man in a three-piece suit leaps up on a chair in front of us, growls.
Clyde raises his free hand. “Al morath cal arnum.” Blue light explodes and the man pinwheels away over seats, head snapped back.
“You know,” Clyde says, picking at his tweed jacket, “I really should invest in some sort of robe. With stars and moons on it. Proper old school stuff.”
I have other concerns. Like putting a bullet in the interdimensional avatar of fear and chaos on the stage whose fault this all is—Nyarlathotep.
Except the stage is empty.
“Target’s moving,” I say. “Out back. Now.”
A mass of drooling, enraged Oxonians stands between me and the stage. As one, they bay their madness.
“Lobby?” Clyde suggests.
I move. A raving student comes at me. I use both fists to club him to the floor.
The lobby is stark in its emptiness. And we’re moving now. The chase is properly on. You’re mine, you interdimensional bastard.
From nowhere, a yellow clay jar arcs through the air. I duck. It explodes against the wall behind me. Gas rushes out, a red mist. I duck, but an arm of vapor circles my head. I breathe-
A wall of flesh rises, engulfing. Jackals chase me across a desert. Water closes over my head, tentacles wrapped about my ankles, pulling, pulling.
-and crash to the lobby floor. I gasp, claw at my eyes. Three figures in ragged yellow robes are streaming through the street door, curved knives held high.
I reach for my gun.
My gun beaten out of my hand by the Laura Ashley-wearer back in the auditorium.
The first of our attackers is yards away. He stinks of decay. I catch a flash of teeth. Jaundiced skin. Black pits of eyes.
“Clyde!” My voice slides up to an octave I try to avoid hitting in public.
He slams out an arm. “Al morath cal arnum.” Electricity crackles. A strobe flare of light. The leading attacker flies backwards, spiraling through the air, colliding with his fellows.
I pull myself up, still blinking away the after-effects of the attacker’s gas. “We need to get out of here.”
“The Children of Nyarlathotep will stop you!” One of the yellow-robed men is pulling free of the tangled pile of his fellows. “We will come for you in your dreams. We will unseam your sanity.”
Clyde mutters something under his breath. The man’s head slams to the ground, tongue lolling.
“Shall we go?” Clyde smiles at me, holds open the street door. I step out. Time to get finally get the bas-
I stop. I stare. The streets. The city.
Where has Oxford gone?
The road, once paved and straight, is a twisting roller coaster of asphalt and cobbles. Limestone storefronts have curled into blackened husks, glass bulging like blisters. Dreaming spires have stretched to the sky, points drawn out like knife blades. The citizenry scream, and caper, and cower.
The madness is spreading. It’s not just in the citizens, it’s in the city’s walls, its streets, its soul.
And seriously, even an interdimensional avatar of madness is a Tim Burton fan?
“You know,” I say to Clyde, “I cannot wait to find this bastard and shoot him.”
Read the next installment, The Nyarlathotep Event: Case File #3: Countdown.