I gazed inward and saw naught but phantoms, apparitions that, churning, laced my soul with doom. I did not mind that this was so, for I had wearied of clumsy humanity and its uncouth realm, wherein they danced in joyful delusion beneath an expiring sun. I felt nothing but disdain for their mindless frolic as they chided my malcontent. I felt kinship with my phantoms only, they who wheeled around my heart and taught that organ deadening palpitation. Thus here I lounge, in this lonely and shallow indentation in the earth, far from the tedious others and their hallucinations of glee, their shrieks of paltry elation, their eyes so bright with shining stupidity. I sank deeper into prudent earth and its discreet embrace, and shut my eyes to pale earthly light so as to peer inward, to where my phantoms roiled; and I did not look away as they touched me with their anxious paws and helped me to melt into their danse and its unearthly rhythm, wherein my mortal heart found further deceleration, an elder palpitation that pulsed behind my eyes and taught them to envision an obscure realm where dreams are grown diseased. That sickness unto death disintegrated me, and as phantom particles I lifted upward toward the abyss of night; and then I reassembled and found my feet secured on the solid surface of the cemetery wall, on which I walked through mists of barren twilight, and through a thin veil of fog I watched a daemon star, the name of which I had once known but now that name had been forgotten – thus I could not call to it. Still, its eerie illumination served as beacon, guiding me along the ledge until I reached a place where a sluggish river wound its lethargic way. I beheld the bridge below, whereon I could cross the weary river to its other side and thus walk through the wavering field beneath a violet heaven, unto the cyclopean tower of bleached stone; and I marveled at the way the surface of that tower shimmered, as if it consumed nourishment from the daemon star that illuminated its rocky façade. I knew that this fiendish refraction was such as I had never experienced in dull wakefulness, with eyes that looked outward only; and because of this, I smiled, for I knew beyond doubt that I was free of vile reality, wherein fools celebrated their stupidity. I had found that spectral inner sanctum, wherein my isolated soul could dream in poetic darkness. And thus I moved toward the pale tower, and to its bleached stone I touched my shadow hand; and I spilled through its arched threshold and floated up the winding steps that took me toward the violet heaven, where called one daemon star. And in the upper reaches of that cyclopean tower I found the chiseled square that served as rough-hewn window, through which I could lean my phantom essence; and as I leaned my inner phantoms stopped their churning and spilled through my ghostly eyes, drifting to and transforming the single star, from which there fell one single beam. And to that beam my airy substance squeezed through the stony portal; and on that beam I crept to the daemon star as it began to take on the aspect of my phantoms, wherein I sacrificed one final remnant of mortality so as to join the churning conclave.
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.
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