My knowledge of the thing began on Thursday, the seventh of September, with the imprisonment of my cousin Isaac Derleth for crimes related to drunken micturition in the town square. I paid his bail and, at his request, escorted him to a local tavern. I puzzled immediately over his paleness of skin and redness of eyes, and the manner in which he surveyed passers-by, as though they might have been sent to fetch him under the orders of some loathsome, unspeakable man-catcher.
It was not until he was deep into his cup that he offered something of an explanation for his finding such solace in the numbness of drink. My cousin spoke of strange weekend mornings when he had been called to report, for his soldiers, in the grip of dread Cthulhu, had imbibed weird liquors to excess, and smashed their automobiles into trees in mad worship.
His glass shook from trembling hands as he reported vile convocations in carnal temples, where men were seduced physically and monetarily by the gyrations and obscene waddlings of hideous, naked sirens of no small renown among the lost people of Sarnath.
These creatures took some of his men to marry, their minds held in thrall til they sought nothing but the acquisition of Coach bags and queer, Scentsy incense. Isaac himself had encountered what he named “formless servitors,” servants of slothful Tsathoggua, who hid behind masks of human flesh and enslaved servicemen in diabolical vehicle contracts at 19% APR.
The woeful tale of the events leading to his confinement disturbed me greatly. I excused myself, desperate to get free of that place, but not before he grabbed me by the coatsleeve and whispered a strange jumble of guttural noises in my ears. I have been unable to forget it since then. His father, my dear uncle August, had bequeathed his collection of ancient inscriptions and manuscripts to me upon his death in Providence. It was to this collection that I turned, feverishly searching for the words cousin Isaac had whispered.
To my eternal regret and fear, I have found them. Isaac’s word echoed the words of a squamous, half-bred collection of near-human creatures, known for their fearsome hatred of all men and lust for non-judicial punishment, the word-breaks being guessed at from the cadence of his speech: ph’nglui mglw’nafh First Sergeant Article 15- wgah’nagl fhtagn, which, being translated into the speech of common men, reads “in the 1st Sergeant’s hands, your Article-15 waits, dreaming.”
Loathsomeness and unspeakable errors wait in the minds of the junior enlisted, and decay spreads throughout the strange geometries of the barracks. A time will come when the terrible words of the Article-15 will be read aloud that all men may hear and tremble — but I must not and cannot think!
The walls! My god, the walls!
Lee Ho Fuk and She-Ra contributed to this article.