Unearthly Awakening, by W.H. Pugmire

I want to kiss you.

It’s true, I have not bothered to see you since that strange yellow day.  I’ve been preoccupied with that house on Benefit Street, and the area adjacent to it.  You never mentioned that wooded plot of land, so I suspect you haven’t really investigated the neighborhood of the shunned house.  You have been excited by its legend – but it’s just a story for you, not something that dwells in haunted reality.  I was mesmerized as you spoke of it, that day of yellow light, and so I could not resist going to look at it after we had our little meal.  Everyone in the café on College Hill was talking about the yellow day, and we never did get any explanation of the phenomenon.  Do you remember the shadows of the clouds on the pavement as we walked to our rendezvous?  Have you ever noticed the shadows of clouds before?  I’ve been aware of shifting light, of brightness turning into shade as clouds obscured the sun; but this was different, this display we saw crawling on the pavement, the unnerving shapes of the grotesque clouds that crept across the sky as we watched them through the yellow light.  Do you remember how nervous it made you, to watch those shadows play across the surface of my eyes, so that the substance of my jelly orbs seemed transposed, exchanged with alien element?  I smiled when you mentioned it, as I am smiling now.

It was the yellow day that brought to your mind the yellow house and its unfathomable aura.  You had mentioned it, briefly, once or twice; but on this occasion you expounded on its history, and spoke so acutely of its place in the history of haunted Providence.  You mentioned that Poe had often walked past it, on his way to court Mrs. Whitman, or as he journeyed so as to dream in this burying ground to which I have spirited you.  Perhaps Poe sat on this very slab that cools our bums.  You mentioned the history of that yellow house (it looks so pretty now, alas, so clean and unspoiled), of the tale of how two gentlemen entered it so as to pierce its mystery, with only one of them emerging alive and semi-sane.  They had gone into the shunned house with cocky scientific assurance; but they were unnerved by the patches of mould that took on such suggestive shapes (similar to the shapes of those clouds we viewed as we peered upward through the yellow light of that strange day), and their health was sapped by the titan thing that burrowed beneath that house, the dead yet dreaming enigma.  How enticing your voice sounded as you spoke of it, on that yellow day, and how impossible it was for me to resist walking down College Hill after our tête-à-tête, so as to touch my hand to the yellow wood of the lower section of the house on Benefit Street.  And I did indeed sense something – but it didn’t surge from the house itself, but from the adjacent wooded area.  I pointed to the little spot on our way to this burying ground, just before we passed the shunned house.  You paid scant attention and merely glanced at the black fence and the region beyond, the wooded hillside.  I had been instantly drawn to it, on the day of yellow light, for woodland had always been a kind of asylum for me from the world.  I loved how time seemed to stop in wooded realms, how removed I felt from the age of men as I was sheltered by trees and shadow.  So I stepped away from the shunned house and walked through the black iron gate, onto the small patio of brick.   I looked at the growth of shrubs and their large leaves, all of which appeared unnatural in the haze of the yellow day.  There was, beyond the other end of the black iron fence, a path of large stones, on which I walked toward seven lengths of eight stone steps that took me up toward the wooded realm.  I glanced beyond my left-hand side, over a wooden fence and into the back yard of the shunned house; and I saw the nebulous shadow on the ground there, that might have been the shadow of a malformed cloud, although the area was almost entirely shaded with a canopy of trees.  The stone steps ended, replaced with three tilted steps of wood.  The pathway curved, and I walked upon its sod, into the small grove, and saw the thick old tree that was different from all others.  How dark the place suddenly seemed, unmarred by the sallow light of the yellow day.  There was but one hint of illumination, a phosphorescent growth of mould that blighted the surface of the thick and ancient tree; and I was curious at the shape of that growth, of how it seemed to form a fungous face from which minute threads of mist emanated.  Something in the shape of that pale fungi drew me to it, so as to investigate its form and fragrance – for it had an aroma that was such as I had never inhaled, an intoxicating bouquet that intensified as, standing just before it, the fleshy surface expanded subtly and threw off infinitesimal streams of sickly mist that floated to my nostrils, which sucked them in.  And at the sound of my sudden ecstasy, the curious face of mould curled what might have been a mouth, and the shape was so inviting that I could not resist but press my lips onto it.

And so I have come to you, on this foggy day in Providence, and lured you from your little world among the university lads, and held your hand as we walked past the little park adjacent to the shunned house.  And we walked the streets where once Poe trod, and climbed down the steps that led to the winding walkway that took us into this enchanting burying ground.  And isn’t it strange, as we sit upon this tabletop tomb, how the fog seems to take on a pallid tint, like unto the haze of that curious yellow day?  Your large eyes are so lovely as they study the spots of mould that begin to blossom on my face.  Caught in sudden perplexity, you cannot move as I tilt toward you and press my mouth to yours, as the tiny stems of mist seep from the spongy patches on my face and so intoxicate you.  You will not protest as I peel one soft tissue of fungi from my visage and place it on your tongue.

I want to kiss you, one last time.

Wilum Hopfrog Pugmire is a writer of horror fiction based in Seattle, Washington.  His adopted middle name derives from the story of the same title by Edgar Allan Poe.  Strongly influenced by the works of H. P. Lovecraft, many of Pugmire’s stories directly reference “Lovecraftian” elements (such as Yog-Sothoth of the Cthulhu Mythos). Pugmire’s major original contribution to the Cthulhu Mythos is the Sesqua Valley, a fictional location in the Pacific Northwest of the United States that serves as the primary locale for much of his fiction. According to his official biography, his “goal as an author is to dwell forevermore within Lovecraft’s titan shadow.”  Pugmire is a self-proclaimed eccentric recluse as well as “the Queen of Eldritch Horror.”  His stories have appeared in major horror anthologies, and collections of his fiction and poetry have appeared under small press imprints such as Necropolitan Press, Mythos Books, Delirium Books, and Hippocampus Press.

Visit W.H. Pugmire’s page at Amazon.com to buy his books!

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Story art by mimulux.

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2 responses to “Unearthly Awakening, by W.H. Pugmire

  1. Like Bruce said, I found this tale hauntingly poetic, and even romantic in that sort of sanity-crushing way.

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