Andre M. Pietroschek

Otherworldly - An Expired Copyright Drama (Lovecraftian Horror)

 

OTHERWORLDLY aka From Beyond Again

Another Lovecraft story and my suspicions about it.
© Andre Michael Pietroschek, all rights reserved

 

Horrible beyond conception was the change that had taken place in my best friend, Cindy Tillinghast. I had not seen her since that day, two months and a half before, when she had told me toward what goal her physical and metaphysical researches were leading; when she had answered my awed and almost frightened inquiries by driving me from her laboratory and her house in a burst of fanatical rage. I had known that she now remained mostly shut in the attic laboratory with that accursed electrical machine, eating little and excluding even the employees. But I had not thought that a brief period of ten weeks could so alter and disfigure any human creature. It is not pleasant to see a sexy woman suddenly grown thin, and it is even worse when the baggy skin becomes yellowed or grey, the eyes sunken, circled, and uncannily glowing, the forehead veined and corrugated, and the hands tremulous and twitching. And, as if added to the show on stage, by a repellent unkemptness; a wild disorder of dress, a bushiness of dark hair white at the roots now, the cumulative effect is quite shocking. But such was the aspect of Cindy Tillinghast on the night her half-coherent message brought me to her door after my weeks of banishment. Such the specter that trembled as it admitted me, candle in hand, and glanced furtively over its shoulder as if fearful of unseen things in the ancient, lonely house set back from Benevolent Street.

 

That Cindy Tillinghast ever was allowed to study occult sciences was a familial mistake. These things should be left to the disciplined and responsible academics, for they offer two equally tragic alternatives to the person of feeling and action; despair if she fails in her quest, and terrors unutterable and unimaginable if she succeeds. Tillinghast had once been the victim of failure, bankruptcy, and melancholy; but now I knew, with nauseating clarity of the moment, that she was the victim of success. I had indeed warned her ten weeks ago when she burst forth with her tale of what she felt herself about to discover. She had been flushed and excited then, talking in a high and unnatural, though always pedantic, voice.

 

“What do we know”, she had said, “of the world and the universe about us? Our means of receiving impressions are absurdly few, and our notions of surrounding objects are infinitely narrow. We see things only as we are constructed to see them, and can gain no idea of their absolute nature.

 

With five feeble senses, we pretend to comprehend the boundlessly complex cosmos, yet other beings with a wider, stronger, or different range of senses might not only see very differently the things we see, but might see and study whole worlds of matter, energy, and the life which lie close at hand yet can never be detected with the senses we have. I have always believed that such strange, inaccessible worlds exist at our very elbows, and now I believe I have found a way to break down those barriers. I am not joking. Within twenty-four hours that machine near the table will generate waves acting on unrecognized sensual organs that exist in us as atrophied or rudimentary vestiges. Those waves will open up to us many vistas unknown to man, and several unknown to anything we consider organic life. We shall see that at which dogs howl in the dark, and that at which cats prick up their ears after midnight. We shall see these things and other things which no breathing creature has yet seen. We shall overleap time, space, and dimensions, and without bodily motion peer to the bottom of creation.”

 

When Tillinghast said these things I shuddered, for I knew her well enough to be frightened rather than amused. But, she was a fanatic and drove me from the house. Now she was no less a fanatic, but her desire to celebrate her triumph had conquered her resentment, and she had written me imperatively in a writing style I could harshly recognize. As I entered the abode of the friend so suddenly metamorphosed to a shivering gargoyle, I became infected with the terror that seemed to lurk in all the shadows. The words and beliefs expressed ten weeks before seemed bodied forth in the darkness beyond the small circle of candlelight, and I sickened at the hollow, altered voice of my host. I wished the employees were about and did not like it, when she said they had all left three days ago. It seemed strange that old Gregory, at least, should desert his mistress without telling anyone about it. It was she who had given me all the information I had on Tillinghast after I was repulsed in her rage.

 

Yet I soon subordinated all my fears to my growing curiosity and fascination. Just what Cindy Tillinghast now wished of me I could only guess, but that she had some stupendous secret or discovery to impart. Before I had protested at her unnatural spying into the unthinkable; now that she had succeeded to some degree I almost shared her spirit, terrible though the cost of victory appeared. Up through the dark emptiness of the house, I followed the bobbing candle in the hand of the shaking parody on man.

 

The electricity seemed to be turned off, and when I asked my guide she said it was for a definite reason. “It would be too much. I would not dare”, she continued to mutter. I especially noted her new habit of muttering, for it was not like her to talk to herself. We entered the laboratory in the attic, and I observed that detestable electrical machine, glowing with a sickly, sinister, violet luminosity. It was connected with a powerful chemical battery, but seemed lacking energy, for I recalled that in its experimental stage it had sputtered and purred when in action. In reply to my question, Tillinghast mumbled that the permanent glow was not electrical in any sense that I could understand.

 

She now seated me near the machine, so that it was on my right, and turned a switch somewhere below the crowning cluster of glass bulbs. The usual sputtering began, turned to a whine, and terminated in a drone so soft as to suggest a return to silence. Meanwhile, the luminosity increased, faded again, then assumed a pale, mixture of colors which I could neither place nor describe. Tillinghast had been watching me and noted my puzzled expression.

 

“Do you know what that is?”, she whispered. “That is ultra-violet.” She chuckled oddly at my surprise. “You thought, ultra-violet was invisible, and so it is but you can see that and many other invisible things now.


Listen to me! The waves from that thing are waking a thousand sleeping senses in us; senses which we inherit from eons of evolution from the state of detached electrons to the state of organic humanity. I have seen the truth, and I intend to dish it to you. Do you wonder, how it will seem? I will tell you.” Here Tillinghast seated herself directly opposite me, blowing out her candle and staring fiercely into my eyes. “Your existing sense-organs-ears first, I think, will pick up many of the impressions, for they are closely connected with the dormant organs. Then you will be ripped out of the delirium. Do you have heard of the pineal gland? I laugh at the shallow endocrinologist, fellow-dupe, and sycophant lackey of the Freudian. That gland is the great sense-organ of organs.

 

I have found out. It is like extended sight activates and transmits visual pictures to the brain. If you are normal, that is the way you ought to get most of it. I mean get most of the evidence from beyond.” I looked about the immense attic room with the sloping south wall, dimly lit by rays that the everyday eye cannot see. The far corners were all shadows, and the whole place took on a hazy unreality that obscured its nature and invited the imagination to symbolism and phantasm.

 

During the interval within which Tillinghast was silent I fancied myself in some vast and incredible temple of long-dead gods; some vague edifice of innumerable black stone columns reaching up from a floor of damp slabs to a cloudy height beyond the range of my vision. The picture was very vivid for a while, but gradually gave way to a more horrible conception; that of utter, absolute solitude in infinite, sightless, soundless space. There seemed to be a void, and nothing more, and I felt a childish fear which prompted me to draw from my hip pocket the short-barreled revolver I always carried after dark since the night I was mugged in East Providence.

 

Then, from the farthermost regions of remoteness, the sound softly glided into existence. It was infinitely faint, subtly vibrant, and unmistakably musical, but had a quality of surpassing wildness that made its impact feel like a delicate torture of my whole body. I felt sensations like those one feels when accidentally scratching the ground glass. Simultaneously, there developed something like a cold draught, which swept past me from the direction of the distant sound. As I waited breathlessly I perceived that both sound and wind were increasing; the effect being to give me an odd notion of myself as tied to a pair of rails in the path of a rapidly approaching freight train. I began to speak to Tillinghast, and as I did so all the unusual impressions abruptly vanished. I saw only the woman, the glowing machine, and the dim apartment. Tillinghast was grinning repulsively at the revolver which I had almost unconsciously drawn, but from her expression, I was sure she had seen and heard as much as I, if not a great deal more. I whimpered due to what I had experienced, and she bade me remain as quiet and receptive as possible.

 

“Don't move”, she cautioned, “for in these rays we can be seen as well as we see. I told you the employees left, but I didn’t tell you how. It was that dull-witted housekeeper. She had turned on the lights downstairs after I had warned her not to, and the wires picked up sympathetic vibrations.

 

It must have been scary indeed. I could hear the screams up there despite all I was seeing and hearing from another direction, and later it was rather awful to find those bloody heaps of clothes around the house. Misses Updike's clothes were close to the front hall switch that's how I know she did it. It got them all. But so long as we don’t move we are fairly safe. Remember we are dealing with a hideous world in which we are practically helpless. Keep still!”

 

The combined shock of the revelation and the abrupt command gave me a kind of paralysis, and in my horrified state, my mind again opened to the impressions coming from what Tillinghast called beyond. I was now in a vortex of sound and motion, with confused pictures before my eyes. I saw the blurred outlines of the room, but from some point in space, there seemed to be pouring a seething column of unrecognizable shapes or clouds, penetrating the solid roof at a point ahead and to the right of me. Then I glimpsed the temple-like effect again, but this time the pillars reached up into an aerial ocean of light, which sent down one blinding beam along the path of the cloudy column I had seen before. After that, the scene was almost wholly kaleidoscopic, and in the jumble of sights, sounds, and unidentified sense impressions I felt that I was about to dissolve or in some way lose my solid form. One specific flash I shall always remember. I seemed for an instant to behold a patch of a strange night sky filled with shining, revolving spheres, and as it receded I saw that the glowing suns formed a constellation or galaxy of settled shape; the shape being the distorted face of Cindy Tillinghast. At another time I felt the huge animate things brushing past me and occasionally walking or drifting through my supposedly solid body, and thought I saw Tillinghast look at them as though her trained senses could catch them visually. I recalled what she had said about the pineal gland, and wondered what she saw with the preternatural eye.

 

Suddenly, I became possessed of a kind of augmented sight. Over and above the luminous and shadowy chaos arose a picture which, though vague, sheld the elements of consistency and permanence. It was indeed somewhat familiar, for the unusual part was superimposed upon the usual terrestrial scene much as a cinema view may be thrown upon the painted curtain of a theatre. I saw the attic laboratory, the electrical machine, and the unsightly form of Tillinghast opposite me; but of all the space unoccupied by familiar material objects, not one particle was vacant.

 

Indescribable shapes both alive and otherwise were mixed in disgusting disarray, and close to every known thing were whole worlds of alien, unknown entities. It likewise seemed that all the known things entered into the composition of otherworldly, unknown things, and vice versa. Foremost among the living objects were great inky, jellyfish monstrosities that flabbily quivered in harmony with the vibrations from the machine. They were present in loathsome profusion, and I saw to my horror that they overlapped; that they were semi-fluid and capable of passing through one another and through what we know as solids. These things were never still but seemed ever floating about with some malignant purpose. Sometimes they appeared to devour one another, the attacker launching itself at its victim and instantaneously obliterating the latter from sight. Shuddering, I felt that I knew what had obliterated the unfortunate employees, and could not exclude the things from my mind as I strove to observe other properties of the newly visible world that lies unseen around us. But Tillinghast had been watching me and was speaking again.

 

“Do you see them? Do you see them? Do you see the things that float and flop about you and through you every moment of your life? Do you see the creatures that form what men call the pure air and the blue sky? Have I not succeeded in breaking down the barrier; have I not shown you worlds that no other living men have seen?” I heard her scream through the horrible chaos and looked at the wild face thrust so offensively close to mine. Her eyes were pits of alien flame, and they glared at me with what I now recognized as overwhelming hatred. The machine droned detestably.

 

“Do you think those floundering things wiped out the employees? Fool, they are harmless! But the employees are gone, are they not? You tried to bed me and steal my ideas. You discouraged me, when I needed every drop of encouragement I could get. You were afraid of the cosmic truth, you damned coward, but now I’ve got you! What swept up the employees? What made them scream so loud? You don’t know yet, eh? You’ll know soon enough! Look at me and listen to what I say, do you suppose there are any such things as time and magnitude? Do you fancy there are such things, as form or matter? I tell you, I have struck depths that your little brain can't picture! I have seen beyond the bounds of infinity and drawn down daemons from the stars. I have harnessed the shadows that stride from world to world to sow death and madness! Space belongs to me, do you hear me?”

 

Things are hunting me now-the things that devour and dissolve-but I know how to elude them. It is you they will get, as they got the employees. Stirring, dear sir? I told you it was dangerous to move. I have saved you so far by telling you to keep still. Saved you to see more sights and to listen to me. If you had moved, they would have been at you long ago. Don't worry, they won't hurt you. They didn't hurt the employees, it was watching that made the poor devils scream so. My pets are not pretty, for they come out of places where aesthetic standards are very different. Disintegration is quite painless, I assure you, but I want you to see them. I almost saw them, but I knew how to stop.”

 

“You are not curious? I always knew you were no scientist! Trembling, eh? Trembling with anxiety to snatch even the ultimate scientific advance I have discovered? Why can't you move then? Tired, nervous, or even afraid? Well, don’t worry, my false friend, for they are coming. Look! Look, curse you, look. It’s just over your left shoulder.”

 

What remains to be told is very brief, and may be familiar to you from the newspaper accounts. The police heard a shot in the old Tillinghast house and found us therein. Tillinghast dead and me unconscious. They arrested me because the revolver was in my hand, but released me in three hours after they found it was enervation and nervous shock which had killed Tillinghast and saw that my shot had been directed at the noxious machine which now lay hopelessly shattered on the laboratory floor. I did not tell very much of what I had truly seen, for I feared the coroner would be skeptical. But from the evasive outline, I did give, the doctor told me that I had undoubtedly been hypnotized by the vindictive and homicidal madwoman.

 

I wish I could believe that doctor. It would help my violated nerves, if I could dismiss what I now have to think of the air and the sky above me. I never feel alone or comfortable, and a hideous sense of imminent dread haunts me, whenever I am tired or sick. What prevents me from believing the doctor is the one simple fact that the police never found the bodies of those employees, who they think Cindy Tillinghast had murdered.

 


End of the Story.

***


Suspicions:

  • So, from the basics of the story, we got a protagonist in a very convenient scenario. The protagonist is the only witness of what had happened, and no evidence opposes any statement. Plus, the protagonist had hours at the crime scene to recover from his shock and remove any contradicting evidence, or rearrange evidence to fortify his description of what happened. Certainly, it is possible that a vengeful, former friend just went batshit and forced the protagonist into a self-defense situation by craving revenge. But, like with the Statement of Randolph Carter, it includes several suspiciously convenient factors, which any criminal would recognize as a splendid opportunity to get away with crime and put the blame on somebody else instead.
  • Cindy Tillinghast articulates herself mostly in rants, outbursts, theories, and pseudo-litanies. A friend not even getting the idea to at least think about calling for medical help IS a useless to false friend.
  • A very simple possibility: The protagonist destroyed the machine on purpose, with Cindy Tillinghast here dying from shock and exhaustion. The motive? With that pineal gland awakened our opportunist, Mister Innocent could outwit future victims. Also possible: With some research, or some unmentioned stolen research notes from Cindy Tillinghast, the protagonist could later invent his machine with witnesses about his invention being the supposed original. A suspicion more successful audio drama producers already articulated, when they made envious academics raid the Whatley farm of the Dunwich Horror, and turned the solitary protagonist of Lovecraft's From Beyond story into a trio of academics competing with the original Crawford Tillinghast.
  • Hence, I am not articulating my paranoid impressions of reading and spoofing the story. Instead, I am contemplating what I call the borderline, or common ground, of crime fiction or true crime with fictional horror stories. In a world of capitalism-induced corruption, it is always wrong to pretend that one person's misbehavior or mental health state excludes the chance of anyone else abusing the situation for their foul play or financial benefit.
  • One further note: The only person claiming that the house and the vicinity were vacated aka empty was the protagonist. Even a sharp sensed protagonist could not look into all directions and listen carefully while also being in dialogue with Cindy Tillinghast. Hence, only naive readers get that easily fooled. A car could drive by without being noticed, homeless could scavenge outside without the protagonist even realizing it, animals could be there as well, and so cold the more stealthy and less violent prone cultists, who would care only about the result, a gateway opened, but not about who gets insignificant academic credits for it.
  • Further, everybody who had to prepare a Cthulhu roleplaying adventure story for narration at the gaming table. The roleplaying with physically present human beings instead of computer gaming also would know the opportunity of using the same story with different explanations. Like in example the Eilean Mor aka Flannan Island Mystery being explained by fans of true crime, but also by fans of supernatural horror, old pagan witchcraft, or supposed abductions by science fiction kinda alien species interfering.
  • If the original story is copyright-free in your country, you might even do your pastiche or spoof of it, and tweak it yourself. Pastiche is a glorification of a story and spoof means a mockery of a story.
  • Now, another option, which is sad but true kinda history from that age: Let us say the fictional Cindy Tillinghast herein would have been Afro-American. In around 1920 by date. That alone would make her the target of both, sexism and racism fully turned against her. Envious cock wielders are unable to accept a woman being smarter and more productive than a man. Violating her and dumping her into a loony bin or conveniently having her collapse, like victims of gaslighting and that weird term ghosting are supposed to end. Covert crimes can seem weird and surreal, but they are real crimes committed by real people.
  • And, again, we find such in true crime just as often, as in fictional horror or supernatural mystery. Foul play is not defined by the trick or weapon used to make it work. Hence, a poison murder is just as much homicide aka murder, as a knife stabbing or releasing the dogs on some unsuspecting wanderer. Be those dogs real doggies or Hounds of Tindalos.
  • The factual reason for not having written my spoof of the original story in detail stems from a spinal injury, the subsequent lack of sleep, and the fact that my hardware and software are outdated. By now money would allow me higher quality synthetic voices, which even cough, breath, and sneeze. But, this is only a podcast done in a home office, as reducing the coronavirus measures two times made the infection numbers rise again, so Germany, where I still live, renewed some lockdown laws.

 


 

Bonus content: The author info, original draft


 

 
“Andre Michael Pietroschek puts into his ebooks & audio fiction, what others only scream through the streets!” - A statement the author often had to agree with, as it honestly depicts some of the good and some of the bad he really tends to embody.

 
Like most survivors, he tends to be deviant, indie, and street-style on topics, which mainstream - “Have the balls to call it edu-fascism!” - seems to impose, as if mainstream society itself IS one of those Lovecraftian cosmic horror entities we only know from fiction.

 

  • Edu-fascism: With decaying cities and thousands of badly done jobs, each time, each place, we still hear & read that not personal dedication, but only theoretical education defines the financial worth of each of us. That is a dysfunctional wrong. And toxic capitalism.



While not flawless, and stubborn about not purchasing better proofreading software BEFORE he earns money by selling his digital works, the author's downtrodden existence makes some readers and critics underestimate, how much work he does properly & how often he was wrongly accused by many and still the one loyal agent of a legitimate cause.


Andre Michael Pietroschek never liked H. P. Lovecraft at all. Same, on August W. Derleth. He became a `Call of Cthulhu´ roleplaying storyteller to remedy their flawed babbling, after all. That kind of teenage-hubris was a real problem in his younger years, but nowadays only seems to be indulged for his amusement, or as fond memories.



With the expiration of copyright, this work is legal, and while far from an extensive effort, it is more unpaid hours of working this text into existence than most would realize. Also remember, that the author ceased most efforts of publishing and that only whimsical rushes of passion and joy still make him upload anything new.

 

Treacherous convenience, when the comfortable delusion we indulged by choice before, still turns out to be wrong and foolish. Some life lessons are different, when roleplayers contemplate those. This ebook is:

  • My version of `From Beyond´, an expired copyright story by H.P. Lovecraft. Basic proofreading for modern times.
    My true suspicions, while reading the original & crafting this variant aka beloved copycat puke.

 

 



Rephrasing and optimizing weren't my priority, as health setbacks blocked me from doing, what made me
ever meddle with Lovecraft's story: I wanted to pin-point the checklists of gaslighting, manipulation, and
criminology, so to prove that my theory about `The Statement of Randolph Carterī COULD be a possible
explanation less beyond the truth. ;-)

Not worth it, as unpaid efforts trigger one of my `allergiesī...
Authors comment

All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of Andre M. Pietroschek.
Published on e-Stories.org on 09/18/2023.

 
 

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