Easter '96 - Session 14c

14c. Cavern of Changes

---       CAVERN OF CHANGES          ---
---            (18.6.96)             ---
John's Story - Part 1

I was frantically struggling underwater with one of those fish-men. I
tried desperately to hold my breath but in the end it was all too much for
me. The last thing I remember before blacking out was cold musty water in
my mouth, rushing down my throat, choking, suffocating... 

I came to and found myself suspended head down above a vast drop down to a
flat stone expanse studded with stone pillars. The phallic imagery was not
lost on me but I decided that I had more important things to worry about. 

My ankles were lashed by something firm yet yielding to a massive wooden
beam - it felt almost as though I was being held by a strong pair of
hands. All around were other beams, with wailing, crying people attached
as I was. Nearby I could see the Prof who made some odd unintelligible
noises in my direction. When I tried talking to him I couldn't hear my own
voice and he didn't seem to register what I was saying. Nor could any of
the others suspended nearby: I could attract their attention but they
seemed unable to grasp my point [!]. Every so often people would drop from
the beams; after this had happened a few times, a pattern emerged [a red
squidgy one on the floor]: those who struggled as they fell ended up
dying, in the way one would expect somebody to die after falling sixty
yards onto a stone floor, while those who fell calmly, without struggling,
disappeared before they hit the ground. I concentrated on remaining calm
if and when I fell; within seconds the Prof dropped like a stone. I hoped
that he'd noticed that those who struggled went "splat".  Almost
immediately, the same thing happened to me; it felt like the material
supporting me had given me a small push and then I was falling,
f.a..l...l....i.....n......g! I tried to remain calm; a difficult thing to
do when dropping fifteen stories towards solid ground. The ground rushed
dizzyingly towards me and just as it seemed I would meet the ground and in
an instant be dashed to pieces... 

I was falling through soft whiteness, like a cloud, then through utter
void, black and infinite, then cloud again, on and on, falling,
falling...I was aware only of myself and of no-one else - and yet,
strangely, I seemed not to be aware of myself: not in any normal way at
least. But then, what was normal? Is it really normal to have a body?
Surely not, I began to feel, as I fell, or rather drifted through the
ghostlike wisps of cloud and the utter blackness. 

And then I became aware of a Presence: a large disclike body, fleshy and
caressed by a thick tongue which moved gently across its surface. In an
instant all doubts about who or what I was were removed as the Presence
began to communicate with me in a new but somehow perfect way. It was more
than comforting, it was better than satisfying, this communication was
beyond communication. 

And then I was gone from that place and in another: a small wooden
structure in which stood a mortal human-thing. I felt empowered; commanded
even - the need to obey was strong in me. 

My conciousness swung away from there and once more I was aware of being
somewhere new: a blackness, a limitless space - but not a void:  lines of
bright lights stretched ahead of me. The lights merged into streams of
brightness and then I reached the place where I knew that I must do what I
had been ordered to do. And I had been ordered to Kill. To Kill the
human-things who had built among the trees the unnatural tower-thing in
which I found myself. I found its unnaturalness distasteful and more
importantly I could smell Life - so sweet and satisfying. My strong wings
carried me into the air and then down towards the human-things who uttered
their stupid, slow noises and feebly brandished unnatural devices in their
claws.  I needed Life - I needed to obey, to kill, to kill lots of these
ugly creatures - and yet, I hesitated. I couldn't understand why I didn't
shred, maim and kill with no thought but to obey and to sate my huge
longing for Life. But I stalled and merely shrieked a cry of rage and
frustration at the human-things. One of then swung a piece of unnatural
grey stuff at me but it missed. I lunged forward again but could not kill
- I shrieked again and sunk my teeth into the nearest human-thing limb:
Life flooded out, utterly delicious.  Then one of the other human-things
threw a piece of unnatural grey stuff at me at great speed. It fucking
hurt - the little bastard! Nothing was going to stop me killing them now,
nothing! And then there was a bright flash of colourless, all-encompassing
light, fired by one of the loathsome creatures - my soul was mirrored in
its searing light, and when it went away, some of my mortality disappeared
with it. All doubt flew from my mind...but suddenly unspeakable pain
assailed me, mind-searing, impossible pain. How can there be so much pain
in the whole Universe? 

Part 2...


I awoke to find myself in a hospital bed. I was covered in bandages and
both of my legs were in plaster. The Prof was in the next bed along; other
patients occupied further beds. As far as I could see, it was a perfectly
ordinary hospital ward. Attempts at communication with the other patients
drew a blank - they seemed, like those who had been suspended from the
beams in that fantastic dream I had just had (it was a dream...surely?),
to be unable to understand what I was saying.

I could, however, talk to the Prof; however, we had hardly discussed our
present situation before a doctor approached us and told us that we had
been involved in an appalling head-on collision with a lorry; other cars
had been involved and there had been casualties. I tried to reconcile this
story with what I remembered.  Surely all that business about the beams,
falling, that big old lump of dough and flying around like an overgrown
budgerigar had been a dream? But what about wrestling with those fish-men
and blacking out in the tunnels?  I was tempted to assume that that had
been a dream as well. Perhaps the Prof and I had been injured during that
madcap car-chase when we were all trying to escape from Swanson's goons on
that winding forest road. But I remembered reaching the town...things had
gone weird then. Had I been in a crash? Was everything in that town - the
double-dutch writing on the newspaper, the glowing mask (shit! where was
the mask? I thought in sudden alarm) and those fish-men - where they all a
dream? But I remembered it all so vividly - surely I hadn't imagined it? I
fell into a troubled sleep, my last thoughts a desperate hope that the
Rev, the Doc and Jeremiah had got the mask. 

I awoke again - all was dark. To my left I could see that the Prof's bed
was now empty. What was going on? Why would they move someone with
seriously broken bones? There was something here that didn't add up and I
didn't like it one bit. It sorta reminded me of that case with the
diamonds and that red-headed dame... Anyway, I had to keep my mind on
track. I experimentally shifted my legs to see just how badly damaged they
were - perhaps that doc hadn't been straight with us. My legs felt dull
but not painful. Surely if they were as broken as he'd said they would
hurt like crazy? I moved them more and realised that I'd been fooled. They
weren't broken at all. And my body didn't feel as sore as somebody with
burns all over him would. I moved my legs out from under what I now
realised was a mock-up plaster cast and stood up unsteadily, fighting the
cramps in my stiff legs. No-one else in the ward appeared to be awake and
I walked down the ward between the beds; I must have looked like an
Egyptian mummy in those bandages. Coming to a pair of double doors I
paused briefly, listening for any sound. I heard nothing, so I opened the
doors and slipped quietly into the darkened room beyond. 


Part 3...


I let the doors close quietly behind me and stood there in the gloom,
allowing my eyes to adjust to the absence of light. Suddenly I felt
disoriented and spinning round found that, although I hadn't walked
further into the room, the doors were nevertheless now twenty feet away! 

Still reeling mentally from the shock, I then heard my name whispered.
Without warning, I felt a prick [!] in my arm...then sank into

...and came to gagging and choking; I coughed up globs of thick fishy-
tasting ichor. I was lying on my back in a huge gloomy cavern and as I
overcame the urge to vomit I became aware of the Prof looking at me in
concern. He explained that he had watched, powerless, as one of the
fish-men coupled horribly with my unconscious body. The thought of one of
those things *with* me was more disgusting than I could put into words and
I thrust two fingers to the back of my throat, desperate to expel from my
body any loathsome seed. Retching and vomiting uncontrollably I brought up
thick gelatinous matter and horrible pus-like blobs which pulsed and
twitched as if possessed of some malign life of their own [sorry guys; I
just *had* to get that cliche in]. I stared in horrified fascination at
the noisome slime and then looked away in disgust. 

The Prof and I appeared to be in a smallish cavern with a passage leading
off at one side and an egress in the opposite wall opening into a vast
cavern containing a gigantic subterranean lake, whose depths were litten
with an eldritch dark green luminescence [help, I've been possessed by the
ghost of Lovecraft!]. Water dripped from the walls and the air was chilly.
Not a regular home from home.

Finding ourselves too weak to walk, the Prof and I ate some soggy
sandwiches. I gave one of the pus-like blobs an experimental prod; it
burst, exposing a small tadpole-like creature which twitched feebly before
becoming still. I hoped that there were no more of the horrid things
inside me... Feeling somewhat fortified, we set off down the passage. The
water became deeper as we advanced and eventually, after passing a
fish-man who seemed unpeturbed by our wanderings, we found our way barred
by six of these fish-creatures.

We stood there, unsure of what to do next, then one of the creatures
escorted us back to the small cavern. As the fish-man left us we noticed a
bubbling and turbulence in the lake.  However, For some time we had been
aware that the mask was humming. It occurred to me that it would be by far
the most sensible thing to do to take it out of my (by now soggy and
smelly) trench-coat pocket and hold it. I was aware of it twitching gently
in my fingers.

It was at this point that the Prof started getting irrational and demanded
that I give the mask to him. I reluctantly allowed him to take it but
looked intently as he unwrapped it, to check that it was alright. I got a
nasty surprise when I saw that it was my face that he was unwrapping! It
must have been my face because when I made an expression, or spoke, the
face made the corresponding motions.  And it looked like me as well. The
Prof refused to give it back to me which struck me as deeply unreasonable
behaviour. I've always prided myself on being a level-headed kind of guy -
you have to be in my line of work [ "...digging up the dirt. 

		You get to meet all sorts
		In this line of work." - 
		Dire Straits, "Private Investigations" :)]

I mean, it was my face, after all! So I grabbed it back off him and put 
it back onto my head where it belonged. It was as if I was wearing dark 
glasses but with strangely-coloured lenses...and it hurt! But it was 
strangely comfortable all the same. The pain was intense! I tried to take 
it off (even though I didn't want to, because it wasn't painful at all) 
but I couldn't. Once more, blackness took hold of me...

I felt as though I was dreaming...I seemed to have fallen into the water
of that huge lake but scrambled out and ran after the Prof who seemed to
be running for his life. Maybe he'd seen something horrible in the lake. A
couple of the fish-men appeared as the Prof and I ran through the passage
that had previously been barred by the creatures but they were suddenly
dismembered and so posed no obstacle. We ran out of the end of the
passage, the Prof first, followed closely by me - and there were our
friends - the Rev, the Doc and Jeremiah, standing in a huge cavern (which
seemed vaguely familiar). I was so happy to see them! 



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