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Authors: Brian Stableford

Tags: #mythos, #cthulhu, #horror, #lovecraft, #shoggoths

The Cthulhu Encryption

BOOK: The Cthulhu Encryption
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Table of Contents

BORGO PRESS FICTION BY BRIAN STABLEFORD

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION

DEDICATION

AUTHOR’S NOTE

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

CHAPTER EIGHT

CHAPTER NINE

CHAPTER TEN

CHAPTER ELEVEN

CHAPTER TWELVE

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

CHAPTER NINETEEN

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

BORGO PRESS FICTION BY BRIAN STABLEFORD

Alien Abduction: The Wiltshire Revelations

The Best of Both Worlds and Other Ambiguous Tales

Beyond the Colors of Darkness and Other Exotica

Changelings and Other Metaphoric Tales

Complications and Other Stories

The Cosmic Perspective and Other Black Comedies

The Cthulhu Encryption: A Romance of Piracy

The Cure for Love and Other Tales of the Biotech Revolution

The Dragon Man: A Novel of the Future

The Eleventh Hour

The Fenris Device
(Hooded Swan #5)

Firefly: A Novel of the Far Future

Les Fleurs du Mal: A Tale of the Biotech Revolution

The Gardens of Tantalus and Other Delusions

The Great Chain of Being and Other Tales of the Biotech Revolution

Halycon Drift
(
Hooded Swan
#1)

The Haunted Bookshop and Other Apparitions

In the Flesh and Other Tales of the Biotech Revolution

The Innsmouth Heritage and Other Sequels

Kiss the Goat

Luscinia: A Romance of Nightingales and Roses

The Mad Trist: A Romance of Bibliomania

The Moment of Truth: A Novel of the Future

An Oasis of Horror: Decadent Tales and Contes Cruels

The Paradise Game
(Hooded Swan #4)

The Plurality of Worlds: A Sixteenth-Century Space Opera

Prelude to Eternity: A Romance of the First Time Machine

Promised Land
(Hooded Swan #3)

The Quintessence of August: A Romance of Possession

The Return of the Djinn and Other Black Melodramas

Rhapsody in Black
(
Hooded Swan
#2)

Salome and Other Decadent Fantasies

The Tree of Life and Other Tales of the Biotech Revolution

The Undead: A Tale of the Biotech Revolution

Valdemar’s Daughter: A Romance of Mesmerism

The World Beyond: A Sequel to S. Fowler Wright’s The World Below

Xeno’s Paradox: A Tale of the Biotech Revolution

Zombies Don’t Cry: A Tale of the Biotech Revolution

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION

Copyright © 2011 by Brian Stableford

Published by Wildside Press LLC

www.wildsidebooks.com

DEDICATION

For Elaine

AUTHOR’S NOTE

T
HIS STORY IS THE
fifth in a sequence; although the story is independent and self-contained, some reference is inevitably made to the earlier elements of the series. “The Legacy of Erich Zann” can be found in a Perilous Press volume in company with a short novel from outside the series,
The Womb of Time
, while
Valdemar’s Daughter
and
The Mad Trist
make up the two halves of a Borgo Press/Wildside Press double.
The Quintessence of August
is also published by Borgo/Wildside.

I was first struck by the potential narrative utility of the wordplay fundamental to this story when I heard it deployed in a fascinating paper by Minwen Huang of the University of Leipzig, “The Haunted House of Science Fiction: Modern Ghosts, Crypts and Technologies,” presented at the inaugural conference of the Gesellschaft für Fantastikforschung in Hamburg in 2010. I am very grateful to Ms. Huang for making the full text of the paper available to me, in order that I could plunder it piratically.

“Captain England having sided so much to Captain Mackra’s Interest, was a Means of making him many Enemies among the Crew; they thinking that such good Usage was inconsistent with their Polity, because it looked like procuring Favour at the Aggravation of their Crimes; therefore upon Imagination or Report, that Captain Mackra was fitting out against them, with the Company’s Force, he was soon abdicated or pulled out of his Government and marooned on the island of Mauritius….

“Angria is a famous Indian Pyrate, of considerable Strength and Territories, that gives continual Disturbance to the European (and especially the English) Trade: His chief Hold is Callaba, not many leagues from Bombay, and has one Island in sight of that Port, whereby he gains frequent Opportunities of annoying the Company. It would not be so insuperable a Difficulty to suppress him, if the Shallowness of the Water did not prevent Ships of War from coming nigh; and a better Art he has, of bribing the Mogul’s Ministers for Protection, when he finds an Enemy too powerful….”

Captain Charles Johnson, Chapter V of

A General History of the Pyrates
(1724)

“J’ai lu monsieur Leuret, le sage de Bicêtre

“Et j’ignore pas qu’un poète est un fou.”

[I’ve read Monsieur Leuret, the sage of Bicêtre

And I’m not unaware that all poets are mad.]

Victor Hugo
La Légende des siècles, deuxième série
(1877)

“Ph’nglui mglw’nath Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn”

[In his house at R’lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming]

Reported phonetic version of the chant of

Cthulhu-“worshippers”, as reproduced in H. P. Lovecraft,

“The Call of Cthulhu” (1928)

CHAPTER ONE

THE CRYPTOGRAM

There was a period of time, between the Autumn of 1846 and the revolution of 1848, when my regular meetings with Auguste Dupin—which almost invariably took place in my house, a far more comfortable and readily-accessible location than his apartment—were so frequently complicated by the supplementation of a third party that I almost began thinking of us as a threesome rather than a pair. I could not help borrowing an image from a recent popular feuilleton by referring to us, strictly in the privacy of my own mind, as “the three musketeers”—although I ought to stress that we were by no means violent individuals.

The third party in question could not always be with us, for he was in great demand as a physician, while we were supposedly men of leisure—though certainly no idlers—but for a while, he was present nearly as often as he was absent at our conversational evenings. The man in question was the mesmerist Pierre Chapelain, who had become a regular visitor to my house in late August and early September 1846, when I had suffered a bad bout of heatstroke.

The interval in question was a time of conspicuous rivalries, of which the long battle fought for the public’s attention by the clamorous
feuilletonists
Monsieur Dumas and Monsieur Sue seemed an apt symbol. Since the man who now styled himself the Baron Du Potet de Sennevoy seemed to have thrown in his lot with the self-styled Comte de Saint-Germain and Jana Valdemar to form an allegedly-unholy trinity at the heart of the Harmonic Philosophical Society of Paris, it seemed only appropriate—to me, at least—that his chief rival as a contemporary mesmerist, Chapelain, should have formed a complementary alliance with Dupin and myself, whom Fate had cast as scholars of a more skeptical and less personally-ambitious kind.

The tacit rivalry between Du Potet and Chapelain was a recomplication of the long-standing dispute between the two principal schools of mesmeric theory, the spiritualists and the physiologists. That distinction had become somewhat obsolete as conceptual boundaries had shifted; no one seemed certain any longer as to what such terms as “spirit” and “soul” ought to imply, and notions of the relationship between the human mind and body had shifted considerably since René Descartes had drawn such a clear-cut distinction. Du Potet had apparently started out as a physiologist, convinced that the phenomena of “animal magnetism” were physical in nature and subject to analysis by positivist scientific methods, but now appeared to be a convert not merely to the spiritualist conviction that the mind, or soul, had an independent existence of its own but to the thesis that ancient magic and modern mesmerism were essentially the same thing, essentially ungraspable by positivist thought and action but capable, if mastered, of enormous power. Chapelain had always a much more pragmatic approach, less interested in theory than in the workability and utility of mesmeric practices in the diagnosis and treatment of illness. He remained a conscientious agnostic on such questions as whether various forms of “hallucination” were merely the mental side-effects of bodily occurrences, or whether there really were “diseases of the mind” that not only lacked physical causes but might generate physical side-effects, as the newly-fashionable jargon put it, “psychosomatically.”

I mention that question in particular because it was the one that had been exercising Dupin and myself before the mesmerist’s late arrival, on the evening on which all three of us became collectively involved in what turned out to be the most bizarre of all our “adventures”: occasions when Dupin and I were forced by circumstance to desert mere philosophical discussion for actual confrontation with what I continued, stubbornly, to regard as “the supernatural.” Dupin was, of course, equally stubborn in maintaining that there could be no such thing: that everything that happened, however out of the ordinary it might seem to timid human experience, must be regarded as natural, and must be fitted, somehow, into the coherent order of the universe—or, at he preferred to put it, “the plenum.”

The fact that we had been discussing hallucination that day came to seem anticipatory when Chapelain finally arrived in my smoking-room, in a state of apparent exhaustion and evident exasperation. He had spent a highly stressful day at Bicêtre, where he was often summoned to consultations by the director, François Leuret. He had come directly from the asylum, without having gone home to bathe and change his clothes, so he still retained something of the reek of the place, which could not be covered up by any kind of eau-de-cologne or disinfectant fluid. Chapelain apologized for the slight offensive odor, and expressed the hope that he was not similarly tainted with an imperceptible but far more dangerous “miasma of madness.”

BOOK: The Cthulhu Encryption
5.82Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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