The Nyarlathotep Event by Jonathan Wood: Case File #3, Countdown

Reading Time: 4 minutes

We’re serializing author Jonathan Wood’s short, “The Nyarlathotep Event” here at GeekDad for the next two weeks, It’s set in the same world as his debut novel, No Hero., the Lovecraftian urban fantasy that dares to ask, what would Kurt Russell do? 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 two installments, check them out here:


The Nyarlathotep Event: Case File #3, Countdown

“Derrière. To Christ Church College. Five minutes or less. Otherwise you’re responsible for the end of the world.” Tabitha, my handler and MI37′s resident cheerleader, sets the ticking clock just in case my day wasn’t going badly enough.

It had been a simple plan. Go to the theater. Make sure the performer really is an interdimensional avatar of fear and chaos. Shoot him.

All in a day’s work for Agent Arthur Wallace.

Except now I’m chasing the bastard through Oxford transformed. Nyarlathotep — the aforementioned avatar — has vomited up the citizenry’s collective fears and given the place a good basting. Architecture spirals out of control. Streets twist back in recursive loops. Buildings teeter and leer.

Oh, and everybody’s gone mad. The insane cherry on the lunacy cake.

Ten minutes ago

Clyde — MI37′s geek and spell-slinger — passes me a plastic earbud. “Tabitha,” he says. I plug it in. Because who doesn’t want a running job evaluation from a committed misanthrope?

“Screwed that up. Big time.”

I close my eyes. “Where’s Nyarlathotep?”

“Christ Church. Potential reality rip.”

I move. Clyde follows.

Seven minutes ago

Get to Christ Church — simple enough. Run in a straight line from the playhouse.

Except every exit from this bloody traffic circle leads back to where it starts.

“What the hell?”

“Reality leakage,” Clyde answers. “Nyarlathotep’s home dimension leaking into ours, distorting space. The sensible thing, when you tear through realities and summon avatars of fear and chaos is to close the door behind you. But if you’re summoning avatars of fear and chaos then there’s a chance common sense isn’t your primary attribute.”

Which is all lovely to know, but, “How the hell do I get down this street?”

“Time window shrinking.” Tabitha’s voice comes through tinnily in my ear.

“Tabby,” Clyde says, “could you be a love and look up the Entropic Negator? The Phillip’s version”

Which must mean something, I suppose, because ten seconds later, Clyde is repeating the nonsense syllables Tabitha is intoning, and then the world ripples like water, and I get to go down the street I actually want to go down for once.

When did running in a straight line get this hard?

Four minutes ago

If it’s not one thing, it’s bloody cultists.

The yellow-robed man comes out of nowhere. I spin just in time to catch his fist on my chin. I fall down–not very Kurt Russell of me but typical of my brand of heroism. Fortunately Clyde knows magic. Unfortunately, a second cultist sucker-punches him too, which means I have to do something… well, not exactly heroic…

I kick my attacker in the crotch.

That buys me enough time to get up off the floor, and be taken down by a flying tackle from the second cultist.

We roll back and forth while, in my ear, Tabitha intones, “Tick tock. Tick tock.”

It’s more sheer frustration than anything else that lends me the strength to slam my opponents face into the brick. Finally he stops worrying about me and just lies there, insensible.

Just enough time to put the boot in on cultist number one, heft Clyde to his feet, and listen to Tabitha sing a line from The Final Countdown.

Now

Seriously. This is starting to get ridiculous.

The crowd is six rows deep, blocking the College gateway. Students mostly. And not enough sane thoughts among them to rub together and start a fire.

“Five minutes,” Tabitha says.

I look around desperately. Time is not on our side.

And then I smile. Because time might be the answer after all.

“Any chance you can knock that down?” I ask Clyde. I point to the grand clock tower sitting above Christ Church College’s grand entrance. It won’t slow time but it’ll disperse a crowd.

“Tabitha?” Clyde puts his finger to his ear. “The Tesselian blade please.”

A student at the edge of the crowd stops poking at his midriff with a stick and looks at us. He lets out a scream.

The attention of the crowd shifts.

Above our heads the clocks second hand ticks, once, twice.

“Looking. Looking.” Tabitha says.

The crowd lurches towards us.

“Look faster.”

Tabitha starts talking. The crowd starts running. Clyde repeats words. The second hand ticks. Stone work creaks.

The crowd hesitates as one. Looks back. Looks up.

Limestone explodes, ripping out and away. The second hand spins away from the clock. The whole tower leans wildly.

Clyde breaks from his incantation just long enough to yell. “Timber!”

Read the next installment, The Nyarlathotep Event: Case File #4: Portal.

Jonathan Wood is both a geek and a dad–two great flavors that go great together. He posts on twitter as @thexmedic and intermittently blogs at http://www.cogsandneurons.com.

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