--- UNEXPECTED TENTACLE SESSION 14c --- --- 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? Blackness. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- 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 blackness... ...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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