Outsider: A Tribute to Lovecraft

Evelyn leaned against the gate, her honeyed hair shining in the pale embrace of the moonlight. Although I tried to keep myself from staring her beauty did not allow me any resistance. I knew her face well from the newspaper articles on her family. I also knew she waited for her lover; for their midnight rendezvous. As I gazed upon the outlined beauty of Evelyn I saw she was looking to my window. My shame-filled face looked away from the intimate moment I had been stealing.

I sat down to read my book, but I couldn’t keep my mind on it. I kept glancing around and criticizing my surroundings. Even in the lamp’s glow I could see the bare and dingy apartment and wondered if this was my destiny, if somehow my entire life would be like this.

Sighing, I decided to resign to my bed for the night, cursing my boring existence.

It wasn’t long before I awoke to someone knocking on my door. I rolled out of bed, unable to think of anyone who would be at my house at this hour. I quickly pulled on some pants and stumbled for the door, silver strings of moonlight filtered into the room, providing me with enough light to see where I was. Just then, my foot stubbed the door frame; jamming my toe back with such force it brought tears to my eyes.

The rapping increased in both frequency and volume as my fingers fumbled on the latch. When the knob turned and the door opened I was in shock to find the blonde Evelyn on the other side. I realized who she was about ten seconds before she collapsed on the floor. For a moment I could not move even to breath, but then I looked up and down the narrow hallway, worried that someone had seen the wealthy heiress collapse at my door.  I may have been poor, but I was not a simpleton, and I knew such circumstances would not look well upon my character.  When I was certain we were alone I hefted her into my arms and carried her to the bed.  Once she was safely secured I scoured the apartment and managed to come up with twelve candles that I placed around the bed so that I could have enough light to check her over.

Once the candlelight streamed across her face I found myself staring at the beauty which I had always watched with careful gazes, dreamed about with silenced lips: her ivory skin, the delicate curve of her cheekbone, the satin curls of her hair, and the eternal blue of her eyes were only enhanced by the amber glow that now filled the room.

I placed my hand against her chest and could barely feel the thump of her heart against her ribs, and her breathing was slow, shallow, and almost nonexistent. Pulling on my coat, I headed for the door intending to get help. Then the same fear that had caused me to search the hall ground my footsteps to a halt.  I was nothing but a workman, and she was a high-class princess. I was trapped, bound where I stood by the knowledge of my own condemnation.

Unable to do anything else, I sat with her and prayed violently for her safety.  I spent most of that night draping a cool rag across her brow and listening to the murmuring of her sweet voice as it told the tale of her feverish nightmares: goblins chasing her through the park, vampires biting her tender flesh, and sorcerers in dark hoods enchanting her skin.  It never occurred to me to actually check her skin to see if her nightmares were real.  Nothing she described could have been possible.

But, nevertheless, the intensity of her fear and panic was so vivid I could almost picture them as she spoke.  I felt the chills sweep across my back and spread like wildfire as the hair on the back of my neck bristled to life.

Her face was contorted with pain. When she finally settled down I began to relax, and soon enough I too was carried into that violent world of nighttime demons.

I awoke sometime after dawn; choked out of a nightmare so realistic my mouth was full of the bittersweet taste of my own blood.  I looked around the color soaked room for signs the demon fog had followed me into reality. Reassuring myself that it was only a dream I remembered Evelyn’s late night visit and looked to the bed, it was empty.  The resting place was surrounded by nothing more than clumps of molten wax.

Had that been a dream too?  The candles an act of a delusional mind?

I paced the floors with worry.  I would be locked up for sure if they found out about this, only this time they’d been leading me away in a straightjacket.  After a while I began to calm down, time’s easing hands healing the raw wounds of my insecurity as it did most everything else.  It felt as if I were still dreaming as I climbed into my work clothes.

It wouldn’t matter to the bill collectors if I was crazy or not, they would still want their money.

That night I was two blocks away from the apartment building when I saw the police trolley.  The dingy-gray night did nothing to help the scene.  On an instinctual move I sought refuge deep in the alley shadows as I approached my building.

I stifled a cry of surprise as I stepped next to a trash bin and rats scuttled over and around my feet.

I crept up and listened to the officers.  Bits and pieces of their conversation floated up to me like poison:

“Last person saw her alive said she went in this building…..one room we can’t get into…..name was Evelyn Riley…..light brown hair…..blue eyes…..can you help us….open your doors, we’re looking for a murderer….break down the one place where no one’s home.”

Dying, I was slowly dying in that alley.  I had lived and worked my entire life to die here with the vermin.  They were breaking into my apartment, the vivid, dreamlike encounter had been real and now I had to wonder if there any traces of her had been left there.  My blood ran cold and my breathing stilled, one solitary trace of her and I was a convicted man.  They wouldn’t have any pity on me; my word was nothing and could be tossed away as easily as dust laid to the wind.

Even though my heart counted out the passing moments as constant thuds in my ears, it felt like an eternity passed as I waited for the officers to report back on what they had found. My knees were weak from fear, and even the sound of my pounding heart seemed as if it were causing too much noise.

Finally, they returned. Their faces grim masks of horror and I knew they had found something hideous behind my walls of solitude. I clenched my chattering teeth together and pressed even closer to the dirt and brick filth that had become my fate. Again I waited for pieces of their conversation to drift to my already tired ears. I did not have to wait long before the scared and timid voices rose and carried in the brittle night:

“I think you should see this for yourself…..not natural…..must be inhuman………no explanation for what we saw…….will make you sick.”

They talked in jumbled sentences with their eyes as large as tea saucers, and skin that had turned stark white against the ebony evening.

My entire body went limp, my legs falling out from under me as I curled in on myself. I was not sure of what they might have found that would have been so horrible, but I did know one thing: my life as I had known it was over. I was now a wanted man: a murderer.  Even the thieves would reject me.

I waited through the night, sleeping and waking in fits as I lay curled against the gutter walls with the trash and rodents, now a citizen of the dark and unseen civilization within the city.

It was still well before sunrise when I was able to make my move from that place.  The police had not yet left but I felt a need to see what they had found in my room.  Clutching the walls, I turned back down the alley and felt my way even farther into the consuming blackness. There were stairs that led to the top of the building next to mine and I climbed them without my shoes, for fear of any small sound that might give me away.  I crawled my way across the roof until I was able to lean over and peer into my bedroom window.  I was only able to see the area around the bed, but what I did gave me nightmares.

Stretched out on my white sheets was Evelyn’s corpse, even in its terrible shape there was no denying who it was.  She had apparently lost a great deal more than her life. Her skin was thin and brittle, clinging to her bones, but this was because all of the vital sustenance that had filled her body was now gone.

Everything.

They had removed her blood, and even some of her organs, but I could see no visible cuts on her, nor any huge puddles that would allow for such a loss.  Her eye-sockets had become two penetrating abysses that peered out from her skull.  Her skin was drawn so close to her bones that it gave her the appearance of a mummy from ancient Egypt.

The fact that this was impossible did not escape me, but the meaning behind the way her body was dressed and treated eluded and disturbed me.

Cold sweat covered my body, chilling me to the bone, but it was not entirely due to the state of her corpse.  Beside the bed lay four clear jars, and placed in each of them there was an organ, sucked clean of its blood. They too looked as brittle as dust, and as old as time, but there was no mistaking them for what they were.

It was then that I gasped, loud and uncontrollable it burst forth from my lips before I had time to choke it back. At the foot of the bed there was another jar, and this one held her eyes. Their crystal blue clarity stared through the glass protectors and into me, not at me mind you, but into me with such pain and knowledge that I could almost not force myself to look away.

I stayed there on that rooftop until my knees stopped shaking long enough so I could sneak away unnoticed by the patrolmen that kept their vigil by my apartment door.  Even hours later as I pulled myself into an old sewage drain to hide from the approaching dawn, those blue eyes followed me into the dream-filled depths of my exhaustion.

I opened my eyes sometime after the cloak of darkness had surrounded me.  My legs were stiff and tingling when I stepped out into the night.  My stomach had become as tight as a knot and my lips were thin and cracked from the lack of water.

I was so preoccupied with my condition that I didn’t notice them surrounding me until I had completely emerged from my hiding spot.  The images that stood in front of me immediately reminded me of Evelyn’s rantings on the night she had lain in my bed.  There were five tall figures cloaked in long dark robes that trailed the ground.  In front of them stood three goblin-like creatures with shimmering blue skin that seemed to glow in the night. Their eyes were red, and each of them had mouths that were covered in foamy blood and drool that hung from their chins in thick stands.  But it was the six people that stood together in a horseshoe shape at the end of the drain that intrigued me the most and made me immediately forget my hunger pains.

Their faces were pale and slacken, void of any coloring except for the gleaming darkness of their eyes.  I knew there was no way this group were policemen, but they scared me far more than any jail ever could.  I stepped into the center of their watchful stare and suddenly found myself being led away with them.  I could not tell you how long we walked or where we went, I can only remember watching as my dusty feet moved in time with theirs.  The men who stood in the back were chanting some soft and lulling song, almost like a hymn.  I kept thinking about the haunting look that consumed their faces.

I eventually found myself in a room although I did not remember going into any house. They encircled me and began chanting, their voices holding me captive. Then I saw her.

Evelyn had moved into the center of the circle with me, her blue eyes now the same hungry black as the others. Their voices rose to a level of noise that hurt my ears and clamored together inside my head. Evelyn motioned to me and I found myself moving towards her, drawn by lust.

I can still see her mouth opening to reveal the brilliant points that had been carved into each of her teeth, making her a beautiful grinning, piranha. For one pristine second the fog that had filled my head cleared.  I have no knowledge of how I got out of that place, only that I was running under the open night sky as their footsteps pounded against the ground behind me. I cut across alleyways and abandoned warehouses in an irrational attempt to disillusion them to my whereabouts.

I have found a deserted building and a room without any windows and a lock on the door. Too weary to go on, I have locked myself in.

I can hear their voices outside the door, and I know they are aware of my presence here.  They have recently begun chanting again and the fog has started to creep back through my brain, caressing all the sore spots. I am certain these creatures will overtake my resistance soon, for I now find myself embracing a part of me which begs to have Evelyn close her mouth around mine and mingle my blood with hers.

I…I think that I have to go now.  I see that.  There is no life for me without Evelyn, there never was.  And all I have now is the chanting; those sweet voices that linger in every thought and urge me toward sweet oblivion.