The Nyarlathotep Event by Jonathan Wood: Case File #5, Nyarlathotep


Yes, you read that right: Nyarlathotep!

As you’ve likely noticed by now, 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 four installments, check them out here:

Note: This installment contains several words that some might not consider appropriate for young readers.

The Nyarlathotep Event: Case File , Nyarlathotep

Christ Church College, Oxford England

One thing I’ve always liked about Kurt Russell movies is that they end.

That sounds wrong…

I like that they conclude. Evil is defeated. The good guy wins. A sunset is ridden into.

In real life you face down a horde of angry cultists, close an interdimensional portal, high-five your spell-slinging partner, and then you find out there’s a seven-foot tall avatar of fear and chaos who’s all pissed about it and manifested behind you when you weren’t looking.

In real life this shit never ends.

Having never faced an interdimensional avatar of fear and chaos before, I go with the nearest weapon to hand and throw a rock at him.

Apparently this avatar–Nyarlathotep is his name–is made of sterner stuff than that.

So: plan B.

It may not be overly heroic to run and hide while getting your friend to do the fighting, but my friend knows magic and I don’t, so this may not be as bad as it initially looks.

Clyde mutters something under his breath, flings out his hand. Electricity crackles.

And then Clyde flies eight feet through the air and lands in a crumpled heap. Sort of the opposite result to the one we were going for there.

God, I wish I’d thought of a plan C.

In its absence, I stick to cowering. Nyarlathotep steps toward Clyde. He stretches out a robed arm. The impression of a hand and its end–a claw, black leather skin, yellow nails–and then gone, or denied. On the floor, Clyde screams.

What would Kurt Russell do? Possibly not the smartest question, but it’s stood me better than you’d imagine in times of need.

Except Kurt Russell would probably charge the guy yelling. The man alone. Guns blazing.

A stupid, stupid plan.

Except I don’t have any better ideas.

There’s a broken chunk of wood on the floor, one end a jagged ruin of splinters. It looks sharp.

I grab it, brace myself, burst from cover. I level my weapon. I charge.

As it turns out, the key to a good battle cry is timing. Too early and, well…

Nyarlathotep turns, swings his arm from Clyde to me. Clyde finally lies still. And then-

Fear breaking over my skin like water, drenching me, drowning me. I can see it all. The inevitability. The end. He’s here. Our harbinger. Our prophet. Our Nyarlathotep. He comes bearing this truth: this world collapsing under its own ragged weight, burying us in flesh and concrete; we will chew on our friends, our families–a desperate, animal need to consume, to feed, to survive. An utterly ridiculous, utterly futile urge.

I’m standing inches from him. Just standing. Weeping. Knowing how foolish this all is, how much madness it is. I stare at the wood in my hands. Better I just end my own life with it. Better I chew off the hands holding the wood. Better I claw out my eyes. Better I gut myself and feast on my own-


Breath bursts out of me. Something heavy and hard colliding with my back, sending my stumbling, staggering towards, towards…

The wood strikes Nyarlathotep’s gut. It slashes through the robes. Reams of cloth without end. Still the weight drives me forward, drives the wood in. And it feels I’m crossing some terrible boundary, as if I’m wounding myself. Then: a glimpse of skin–black, yellow, green with pus. I gag, and then the wood carries on, and on, and in, and the figure, the god before me, Nyarlathotep, convulses, heaves, collapses. And the wood goes on, and in, and before my eyes, he dies.

A feeling like a whip crack inside my skull. And Jesus, did I… was I…

There’s a pile of red rags on the floor next to me. I’ve fallen down. Clyde is on top of me. I’m holding a charred stump of blackened wood.

“Sorry about that,” Clyde says, picking himself up. “Think I was trying to stop you from killing him. Did a bit of a number on me, old Nyarlathotep there. Good thing I tripped and knocked you, really. Clumsy bugger that I am.” He nods several times, as much to himself as to me.

I shake my head, try to clear the shrieking madness Nyarlathotep put in there. And I see the rags on the floor. Empty. Dead. Nyarlathotep… concluded.

I smile. Because that’s an ending I can really enjoy.

Read the next installment, The Nyarlathotep Event: Case File #6: Sweet Dreams.

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

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