For the past two weeks, we’ve serialized author Jonathan Wood’s short, “The Nyarlathotep Event” here at GeekDad, and we’re finally at the last installment. This story is set in the same world as Wood’s 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 nine installments, check them out here, first:
- The Nyarlathotep Event: Case File #1: Performance
- The Nyarlathotep Event: Case File #2: Rescue
- The Nyarlathotep Event: Case File #3: Countdown
- The Nyarlathotep Event: Case File #4: Portal
- The Nyarlathotep Event: Case File #5: Nyarlathotep‘
- The Nyarlathotep Event: Case File #6: Sweet Dreams
- The Nyarlathotep Event: Case File #7: The I in Team
- The Nyarlathotep Event: Case File #8: Interrogation
- The Nyarlathotep Event: Case File #9: Citadel
Note: This installment contains several words that some might not consider appropriate for young readers.
The Nyarlathotep Event by Jonathan Wood: Case File #10 Rematch
Fear. It’s easy enough to be ruled by it. There are a lot of things to be afraid of these days. Terrorists. Bioweapons. New Lady Gaga songs.
My personal issue with fear is a little more immediate, though. It is seven foot tall, wears red robes, and goes by the name of Nyarlathotep.
And I’m in his citadel, in his dimension, and in this moment, I realize I probably should have brought my gun. My best friend, Clyde, is a government-paid magician, but he appears to have disappeared into madness.
Up until now it hasn’t been too much of a problem. Until now, I’ve been able to take advantage of this being a reality other than ours, and just summoned things by concentrating hard. Apparently now I’m in Nyarlathotep’s actual house, that’s not an option. Not that I don’t try it. I imagine swords, guns, knives, bombs, even Donkey Kong on the off chance I can catch him off guard.
Nyarlathotep steps towards me. He’s got no gun either, but that’s not really an issue for him.
Visions overwhelm me. Rush up at me from the floor, swallow me.
—drowning here, swallowed by surfaces suddenly turned liquid. I can feel them pressing in. Insects scuttering forward, enveloping me. In my mouth, my ears, my eyes. Peeling back my flesh. And beneath I am something other than expected. There is no flesh here, no blood and bone. Hollow glass veins. Crystalline tendons. A hammer descending, to shatter me, obliterate me. Fear building, building. My heart beating faster in my chest until I fear even that. Until it is enough to shatter my fragile body. Overwhelming me. Drowning me—
It could go on and on. Forever. There is so much to fear. To run from. Through the vision I can see Nyarlathotep, hand outstretched, pacing slowly towards me. And I know then that all thoughts of killing him are madness. Because fear can never be killed. It will live forever, beat in my heart forever.
But there, then, I know too, that all of that doesn’t mean fear can’t be overcome too.
I squeeze shut my eyes as the visions press in, but I push back. I gather my breath. I open my eyes.
Nyarlathotep is a step away. His fingers an inch from my throat. I have one hope. One trick this place has taught me. I brace myself. And I laugh.
In his face, I laugh. As loud and hearty as I can make. Trying to avoid the hysteria overcoming me. I laugh, and I laugh, and I laugh.
His hand strikes me and shatters like glass. Nyarlathotep stares at it, disbelieving. He comes on, his arm grinding against me, splintering, fracturing, spilling to the floor in glistening red shards. And then his whole being smashes against me. And he is only so much dust at my feet.
And then his whole citadel trembles. Cracks run through it. The whole of this reality shatters and shakes. And then I am falling, tumbling through a tear in the world, into blackness.
Christ Church College, Oxford
I land with a crack on my back in the center of Christ Church quad.
I lie there panting. I look about me. And I realize, this is it. This is Oxford as I remember it. Regular, normal, boring Oxford. Normal, boring students staring at me, wondering where I’m from. The madness from Nyarlathotep’s reality has been banished.
Clyde, my partner, lost to madness in that other reality, sits up next to me, paws at his eyes.
“I just had the worst dream…”
In my ear, static as my earbud reconnects with the MI37 home office. I hear Tabitha’s voice. “Five, four, three… oh wait. You’re back.” She pauses. “Cut that bloody close. Idiots.”
Yeah. Everything back to normal.
And I smile. Because, really, there’s no place like home.