By Mari Ness
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Once upon a midnight dreary, while I in Egypt, weak and weary,
excavated a quaint and curious old tomb of forgotten lore,
suddenly there came a tapping, while I studied a mummy wrapping,
as of someone gently tapping, tapping upon the old stone door –
“‘Tis some tourist,” I muttered, “tapping upon the old stone door –
Only that and nothing more.”
Ah, distinctly I remember; it was in a stifling December –
and the mummy’s crumbling member could hardly help the creepy décor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow – vainly had I sought to borrow –
Magical texts to ward off sorrow – sorrow for my curses galore,
For my family’s half-fish breeding, which brought to us curses galore –
Making us – a sad eyesore!
And the rough linen uncertain rustling of the mummy curtain –
Thrilled me – filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before,
So, that now, to still the beating of its heart, I sat, repeating –
‘Tis some tourist just entreating legends of mummies and of lore –
Some late tourist just entreating legends of mummies and of lore –
Nope, nothing, nothing more!
Presently, the sound grew stronger; hesitating then no longer –
“Tourist,” I said, “oh, tourist, your forgiveness I implore!
But the fact is this mummy wrapping, and the need to do tomb-mapping,
has kept me a bit madcapping – not that I’ve been catnapping!
No, just focused on my wrapping” – here, I opened wide the door –
Darkness there, and nothing more.
Never one for darkness spurning, all my soul within me burning,
I grabbed up my mummy wrapping and pushed my fish face out the door –
“Surely,” said I, “surely, that is something filled with great old darkness –
Let me see if any cultists might be coming to explore,
Let me welcome them and show them passages they might explore –
‘Tis cultists, and nothing more!”
With hardly a single flutter, but with many a dreary mutter,
in there stepped a stately cultist of the cursed days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made she, not a minute stopped or stayed she,
But with calls to a dark lady, perched above the old tomb’s door –
Perched upon a bust of Sobek just above the old tomb’s door –
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
Then this ghastly cultist beguiling my madness into smiling
by the terrifying decorum of the countenance she wore –
“Though you be shorn and shaven, as any cultist who is not craven –
Something else seems graven, written deep into your core –
Tell me what your cursed name is, or which Old One you adore!”
Much I marveled this ungainly cultist would say this so plainly –
An answer full of meaning, so much relevance it bore!
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being,
Would be so cursed in seeing Cthulhu as a chief mentor,
to name Cthulhu – Cthulhu – as an Old One to adore –
under Cthulhu, forevermore!
But the cultist, sitting lonely on Sobek’s bust, spoke only
That one name, as if to prove herself a cultist full hardcore.
Then she, while curses she muttered, crooked one hand – the mummy fluttered –
And to my shock, the mummy uttered, “Cthulhu! Cthulhu now and evermore!”
Yes, that same dead mummy who had not moved in that tomb before!
Now lying still – nevermore!
Startled at the deadness broken by curses so softly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “this is why so many the Great Old Ones do abhor –
Caught beneath some once-dead master, which is quite a disaster,
And knowing mummies move faster, and can spread chaos galore –
I can see why some might dislike the thought of chaos galore.”
Quoth the cultist, “Cthulhu – score!”
“Cultist!” said I –”Thing of evil! Cultist still, mummy or devil!
By Cthulhu that looms below us, by those gods we both adore,
Tell me now – if it’s not too brazen – can you raise a mummy maiden,
to clasp me in its arms, the way no woman has before?”
The cultist smiled, and slit my throat, saying, with an admirable lack of gore:
“Cthulhu now and nothing more!”
Mari Ness lives in central Florida near several lakes and tree covered springs that may be concealing Great Old Ones. Or, maybe not. Her work has previously appeared in numerous print and online outlets, including Fantasy Magazine, Hub Fiction, and Farrago’s Wainscot. She blogs, frequently about nothing in particular, at mariness.livejournal.com. She’s hoping not to get grabbed by tentacles any time soon.