Of Things Wraithlike and Most Uncanny: Lowlands-L’s Crypt
Of Things Wraithlike and Most Uncanny: Lowlands-L’s Crypt


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by Thomas Mc Rae

Vera Lewis woke from her light nap feeling wonderful, stretched sensuously, and looked over at her bedside clock. “Hell’s bells! Look at the bloody time! If I don’t hurry I’ll be late for the Kinderspiel!” She slid from the bed putting on her bathrobe as she did so. “You! Charlie is it? Thanks for the fun but now you can get dressed and leave. I must get myself ready. I’ve a big night ahead.”

“Happens to be John. Anyhow, what’s your hurry and what the hell is a Kindispell? Some sort of quiz show? Come back here and I’ll give you real quizzing.” As Vera rushed to the bathroom she called back “It’s a play done by kids and my daughter’s in it. I must get ready and you must go. Leave your phone number and I’ll ring you tomorrow. Thanks again.”

As she enjoyed the caresses of the shower water on her body she thought about the night ahead. She was going to meet some very important people and it was all thanks to the professor. Who knew where this function would lead her? She’d been told that her life could be changed forever.

Vera was a single mother with a five year old daughter, Rose. She’d been married to a business executive who spent months at a time overseas, leaving her on her own. Well, a girl had to have some entertainment and Vera found hers in a singles bar in town. Unfortunately hubby concluded a Chinese deal much earlier than expected and arrived home to find her in bed with a handsome youth.

Divorce followed but she received decent alimony and the house. She had found she was pregnant but he refused to acknowledge the child as his. Poor Vera was left on her own with a boring daughter to bring up and no more amorous dalliances.

As she dressed she recalled the lucky break that had come her way. A year ago she had taken Rose to the park one morning. She was seated on a bench, bored to tears as usual, while the child played on her own. That was when she met the professor for the first time.

A jolly looking elderly man with the most gorgeous long white hair and beard approached her raising his hat. A true gentleman in this day and age?

“Good morning, dear lady! May I please sit and discuss an important matter with you?” A suspicious Vera nodded in assent. If this old guy tried to get fresh she could handle him with ease. The gentleman sat beside her. “I am Professor Joseph Gillman, internationally recognised child educator. I have taken the liberty of watching your daughter over the last week or so and I believe she may be a suitable candidate for my early learning programme. May I please invite you to bring her to my college for a series of tests? She could go far in life as they say.”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” replied Vera “I could never afford the fees for such an education.” The elderly gentleman smiled “Fees? Dearest lady, let me assure you that tuition at our college is free if Rose passes the tests. Transport will be provided to collect her each morning and return her in late afternoon. So what say you to that?”

Vera realised that at last she could have some freedom again and maybe even resume her singles bar activities. “Well, professor, I would miss having Rose with me all the time but if it is for her benefit I will let her take the tests.” The charming professor informed her that, if convenient, a car would collect her and Rose at 8 am the following Monday. Monday arrived and a handsome young chauffeur drove mother and daughter some distance across town finally parking outside a large imposing building. “Our college, Mrs Lewis.”

He escorted her inside where the professor stood waiting “Welcome, dear lady! Welcome! James here will take little Rose to the testing lab and you may either wait for what can take several hours or be driven home by James. He will return Rose around 4 this afternoon. But … do come into my office while you make your decision.”

He opened a door and let her enter the room first, a rarity those days. “Professor, you are one of the few surviving gentlemen.” “All our pupils are taught appropriate conduct as part of our curriculum my dear. Do sit down on the couch where it’s comfortable and ask me any questions you feel need answering.” Vera took the proffered seat and gazed around the room. Several paintings hung on the wall depicting strange creatures in even stranger landscapes.

Modern Art she supposed as were the small sculptures of bizarre humanoid beings. One large figure on the professor’s desk particularly struck her attention. Carved from dark stone it depicted a crouching entity of irregular shape with long narrow wings and what appeared to be an octopus emerging from its shoulders. If she ever got to know the professor better she must ask him about those figurines. Had someone like Picasso carved them?

“Well, dearest Vera, what would you like to know about our college and its courses? Ask and thou shalt receive as they say.” She enquired about school hours and was surprised to learn that, if accepted, Rose would be collected and returned each day, Saturdays included. “She will receive an intensive course so the extra day is essential and we also have an optional special sunday service for the pupils with lunch afterwards.”

“And you are sure that all this is free? No hidden charges?” “I assure you, dear lady, that this is the case.” Vera had one final question “But tell me please who pays for all of this? Are you a millionaire or something.” The professor laughed “We have a board of special directors who supply all our needs from their private sources so we lack for nothing. A day may come when you can meet them personally. They enjoy parents/ company I assure you.”

There was a knock at the door. “Ah, dear lady, that will be James. Shall he drive you home now or will you wait?” So it was that Vera found herself being driven home by this dishy bloke. Once there, for the first time in years, she travelled into town for lunch and a few drinks on her own.

At the college the professor looked at the stone statuette on his desk chuckling “And she never once asked what courses her daughter would be taking.”

That afternoon on the dot of four the car drove up and a smiling Professor Gillman emerged holding Rose by the hand. Vera wondered, had she proved suitable or not. “Congratulations, dear lady! Rose is a more exceptional child than even I anticipated. Just sign those documents and her classes will start next Monday. Our sole condition is that you make no mention of our College to anybody else. Keep it dark, as they say. We do not wish to be deluged by ambitious parents with moronic children.”

Vera signed the papers with relief. “Now, dearest Vera, I do hope you will allow her to attend the half day Sunday Service and lunch starting this week. It will allow her to meet the other pupils starting our course before she starts.” Vera was only too delighted to agree; week after week without that damned child bothering her all the time? Her life was changing for the better at last.

After the professor left she asked her daughter about the tests, “Oh, I had to try and move things without touching them. People asked me to draw things then some funny talking beasties came and spoke to me. They looked scary but they were nice and they told me stories and said they were my new friends.” “Oh is that so, Rose? Very nice, dear,” said her disinterested mother. Wasn’t it odd how young kids could create such fantasies?

Sunday arrived as did the promised transport. “No need for you to come along, Mrs Lewis,” said James, “Parents tend to put the kids off at our services so you’d best stay at home.” They drove off leaving Vera with several hours of Sunday freedom for the first time in four years. In future life promised to be wonderful.

She spent a leisurely morning and afternoon; when Rose was returned in mid afternoon he was so tired she went directly to bed for a few hours rest. Afterwards she seemed to be much chirpier than usual; religion was obviously good for her. Dinner at six, some play time on her own, then back to bed ready for the first day at college.

Vera smiled as she completed the final steps applying her makeup, she really was still quite a looker. Those directors would realise this when she turned up at the Kinderspiel in her slinky black cocktail dress. Over the last year she had netted quite a few men in her special singles bar. They joined her in pleasant morning/early afternoon dalliances at her place, his, or an adjacent “pay by the hour” hotel. Life had become one sexual adventure after another with no commitments.

Pity that evenings with Rose still had to be tolerated. While her ex had given her custody of the, then, unborn child, the house and a generous allowance were conditional on her raising the child to adulthood. Farm it out and she was out. A subtle form of revenge if there ever was one.

Her daughter’s crayon drawings were strange to say the least. In some she saw what seemed to be the ugly creature portrayed in Gillman’s black statue, apparantly holding human beings. Weird.

One evening Vera heard little Rose talking loudly in her room, she seemed to be praying. How sweet! She stood at the door listening but the child’s words were indistinct although she clearly hear “Mummy” stated several times but who on earth was this “ChootLooHoo” the kid mentioned? Probably somebody in the Bible she never read that junk … too damned boring.

All in all the last year had proved enjoyable; then things began to get really promising. On a Friday four weeks ago she had been invited to attend a parents’ meeting at the college. As usual she was driven there by the dishy James. Now there was someone she really would like to get to know a lot better.

He took her to the professor’s study where several other young women were already standing around holding glasses of wine. Gillman greeted her, “Ah, Vera! A few parents have yet to arrive, do have a drink. There’s wine and soft drinks on offer. Name your poison as they say and come meet the other parents.” James acted as her escort. She was intrigued to see that each of the other women also had a handsome young male companion.

When Vera chatted with some of the other nine ladies present, she felt she was among kindred spirits. None made the usual parental boasts about their children, in fact they were not mentioned. She soon learned all, like herself, were single parents and suspected they also regarded their youngsters as millstones around their necks.

Two more women arrived and Gillman announced, “Our number is complete as they say.” He then informed them … “Ladies I have great news for you. In the evening, a month from today the children will be holding their annual Kinderspiel. You are requested to come and watch this children’s play and afterwards each and every one of you will meet the directors. Transport will, of course, be provided as per usual as they say.

It is imperative that you all attend as our Benefactors must approve each parent if her child’s studies are to continue. I promise you they are more than capable of changing your lives forever in ways you cannot envisage.

Now. More drinks and snacks are available after which you and your child will be driven home by your usual delightful drivers.” A dozen cars for a dozen women? The directors had to be loaded with money.

That month passed all too slowly and Vera could hardly wait for the great event. On most nights now she heard Rose praying in her room but was unable to understand the language.

She also noticed the child practising complex dance steps probably in preparation for the Kinderspiel. That would probably be dead boring, a load of kids doing a childish play. The meeting with the directors would make the ordeal worthwhile.

The scheduled Friday morning finally dawned and Rose was collected as usual. About the same time an official in the Council’s Planning Department rang a developer to inform him his application to demolish a long disused bank building had finally been approved.

Permission to replace the building with a block of luxury units had also gained council blessing. Work, however, had to start by 8 a.m. on the following Monday or the deal would be null and void. The official put down the phone with a satisfied smirk. The die was cast. He rang another number and …

Vera collected one of her virile young men from the singles bar and they returned to her place for some fun and games. She shuddered with memories of their erotic pleasures as evening fell and she awaited the handsome James. One way or another this promised to be a night she’d long remember.

James drove up on time “Ready, Vera? We know each other so well now I hope I may call you that?” They drove off and for the first time she noticed how windows of the vehicle automatically darkened making their route to the college unclear. She did not know its exact location but what the hell? They’d soon be there.

As James escorted her up the college’s imposing stairs he put an arm around her waist. Very promising! “I’m afraid the professor cannot be with us at this time Vera, he is busy organising the night’s functions. Nonetheless, my colleagues and I will be delighted to look after you, ladies. Come with me into the prof’s study for a light supper buffet and some drinks.” Even more promising.

Vera and the other women enjoyed the standup buffet of superb dishes. Afterwards they circulated sipping their wine. If this was how Rose ate at College she was better fed here than at home. Vera wandered over to take another look at the odd black statue on the professor’s desk, she noticed a large, hide bound, ancient-looking volume was on the desk.

“No point trying to read that Vera.” said James “It’s written in an ancient arabic script only the prof and a few others can understand. In any case you will notice there is a lock keeping the contents secure. Its title is THE NECRONOMICON and it is priceless. It’s the only surviving copy since the one at Amherst university disappeared.”

Vera reached out to touch the leather binding but drew it back quickly when James said, “They claim it is bound with human skin.” “But why keep such an awful thing at all?” she enquired. “It is alleged to contain very old knowledge which in the hands of one who understands it can unlock the secrets of this and other universes.”

Vera turned her attention to the black statuette. “What’s the story about this man with wings and an octopus where his head should be? ” James smiled “Not a man, Vera, and that octopus you say is set on top is actually head of the most ancient entity of all. Leader of what some would call gods, it has long influenced this planet and beyond.” He stroked the figure lovingly “Male? Female? Whatever? Who knows the nature of Cthulhu? It is claimed to have come from another dimension with others of its ilk to dwell here when the world was still very young.

Vera said, “Other dimensions, that’s nonsense surely?” “I don’t know about that,” replied James, “After all, scientists like Einstein and Sagan have speculated on their existence. They could be as close as the thickness of tissue paper to our universe yet unreachable, or are they?”

These alien settlers are said to have built a vast city called Rlyeh with a strange geometry. They ruled from it for millennia then a time came when the stars were not right and they fell into deep, near dead, comas. Rlyeh is claimed to have sunk deep beneath the ocean.

The Necronomicon tells how this Great Old One, although in oblivious sleep, influenced the minds of human beings when they evolved on earth. It still may with some sensitive persons.

Other lesser Great Old Ones can still pass between the dimensions at times assisted by those who dreaming Cthulhu has influenced. The writer of the Necronomicon was one such but the knowledge he gained finally sent him .”

“Cthulhu supposedly lies comatose awaiting a time when it can return to full life. Great will be the rewards for humans who assist him. Other statuettes around Prof’s study represent some of the lesser Old Ones.”

Vera quietly thought this was a load of garbage but James was so sincere and so very, very sexy. He continued, “The prof has a scrap book of news cuttings going back over many years. Back in the 1920s a derelict yacht was found with a sole survivor on board. He reported the discovery of an island newly raised from the depths. On this were strange ruins made from gigantic stones.

Several of the crew died exploring those ruins then a monstrous beast emerged which killed even more. Two crewmen managed to escape, on eof whom died raving mad. No island was found when investigators followed the co-ordinates given. Strange things exist in our seemingly stable world Vera. Prof Gillman and we ex pupils of his College seek to learn more about them.”

Vera moved off to chat to some of the other mothers about more mundane matters. It grew later then the professor’s voice came from a loudspeaker in the room. “Ladies, I am afraid we must now end our festivities. The time has come, as they say, for our playlet to commence … the directors await you.”

The study door opened and the children entered in a line. Each took his or her parent by the hand and led them down the corridor singing a song of strange melody and incomprehensible words. They were led to another door then down a staircase with an iron rail into a large basement.

The male escorts followed and positioned them before a large curtain. The children passed through another door. “Off to change into costumes,” James whispered to Vera who stood bored already. Where were those directors? She wondered. Why were there no seats? How long would this thing go on for? She felt James put an arm around her fondling the side of her right breast. Interesting! What next?

She whispered to him, “When you take us home afterwards why not stay awhile after Rose has been put to bed? We could talk some more about those Old People.” “All depends on the directors,” James whispered Vera

Vera listened to the others murmuring around her, how much longer must they wait for this boring show to get started. Gillman’s voice again seeming to come from all directions, “Dear ladies, our show is ready to begin, as they say. Watch in wonder and enjoy—The Kinderspiel!”

There was haunting flute music and the lights slowly dimmed leaving the area before the curtain illuminated. From the door at the side emerged eleven strangely dressed small figures wearing octopus-like masks and with long narrow wings fixed to their backs. Was Rose among them?

The children danced slowly in time to the music in a ballet forming ever changing patterns. The music became faster, wilder, and the dancers followed suit, leaping and gyrating. Suddenly the flute stopped and the dancers wandered aimlessly; they lay down and stretched out as though asleep. What did this mean?

The music resumed gently, dreamily, and Rose entered dressed normally. She rubbed her eyes as though tired then lay down apart from the others and simulated sleep. For a while there was only the slow gentle music of the flute. Rose stirred as though dreaming then she seemed to awake, got up, and started a slow dance that got her ever closer to the sleeping figures.

She approached them and gently raised each one back on his or her feet. The masked children began slowly spinning around as Rose circled them. Wild drumming took over from the flute which responded with equally wild tones. The masked children began performing an energetic dance with much jumping and spinning, Rose joined in and the others embraced her as they all danced from the room. There was silence …

Everybody burst into applause. What had promised to be a boring kids’ show had turned out to be quite a performance. The children returned to the room in normal clothing and stood before the curtain to acknowledge the clapping, bowing as one. Gillman’s voice rang out again. “Now, my dear ladies, the time fast approaches when each and every one of you will meet the directors.” Vera watched with anticipation as the curtains slid open to reveal a concrete floor with a brick wall to its rear; nothing more.

Was Gillman teasing them? It was then she noticed a large shining disc of ever changing colours set in the midst of this new area. The children moved in to form a circle around it linking hands. The male escorts guided their charges over to form a larger circle around them, hands unlinked.

The professor finally made his appearance wearing a full-length scarlet robe with black cuffs. “Ah, ladies, the hour approaches, as they do say. Watch and wonder while you can.!” Several other older men entered the area, also garbed in scarlet robes. The directors? “Good,” said the professor, “Our special projects team has arrived, let us commence … The game’s afoot, as they say.”

He clapped his hands and strange wild flute music started up. The children began to do a ring dance as the new men took up positions at set intervals around the parents. Violent drumming joined the flute music and the youngsters danced even faster … They and the men around the outer circle began a chanting in a strange tongue. Vera could make out “Io! Io! Yog Sothoth!” chanted repeatedly in rhythm to the drum beats. The lights dimmed and changed to a maroon colour … All hell broke loose!

A misty shape began to materialise within the disc as one of the other women was guided forward by her escort. The robed man behind her followed as she was led towards the shining object. The children opened their ring to allow the bewildered woman through towards Gillman at its edge.

Quickly her escorts bent her backwards. The professor produced a large knife and slashed her throat across so that her life blood flowed into the disc. They threw the dying woman in as well and she vanished along with her blood. The wild music continued. Vera tried to get clear but handsome James held her fast. All around her women screamed and children sang and danced joyfully.

The vague shape within the disc began taking on solid form and revealed something from worst nightmare. Transparent and jellylike with a form that kept changing it had eyelike structures all over its surface. It began to spin slowly and slim appendages emerged from the main body to stretch towards one mother and drag her, screaming towards her shining area. Once within it she simply faded away. The children cheered. The thing made buzzing noises.

More appendages stretched out catching three other victims. Their escorts held them but let them go as they were pulled inwards. Somehow the women managed to grab hold of one another impeding their screaming progress.

Vera felt James relax his grip slightly. That was enough. She freed her arm and stabbed her elbow firmly backwards into the middle of his body. At the same instant she ground her high heel into his instep. He released her with a curse and bent double as she broke free, kicked off her shoes, and ran towards the staircase. The outer guards realised what was happening as she rushed past.

She began to run up the stairs. Halfway, and pursuers well away, it seemed as though she’d made it. She took another step but could go no further as a thin appendage stretched around her body. Even through her clothing it burned. The awful thing dragged her slowly back down the steps, she grabbed the foot of the rail with both hands and held fast.

Little Rose came running up …”Darling, please pull this thing loose from me!” The child smiled and struck at her hands repeatedly forcing her to let go. She was dragged towards the nightmarish entity as Rose skipped around her singing joyfully. Screaming Vera was pulled into the disc; the last thing she heard in our dimension was “Bye-bye, bad mummy”.

One instant Vera was beside the monster, the next she was somewhere else, bathed in maroon light. Great creatures of varied but terrifying forms surrounded her. She could hear other screams added to her own as tentacles and mouths took hold of her body and the agony began. It seemed to take an eternity before it ended in final oblivion. Her first and final meeting with the directors was over.

Saturday morning dawned and Professor Gillman stood on the tarmac of a small airfield near the city waving farewell to his twelve pupils. Having successfully completed their pre-school year they were off for further studies at a more permanent institution in another part of the nation. Even as he watched the plane take off a team was removing all his equipment from the old abandoned bank building. Quite soon he would start anew in another City with his male young disciples to assist.

Monday morning dawned and demolition teams began early to break up a certain old bank building.

Time passed and police investigations into the disappearances of twelve single mothers and their children were placed in “Unsolved files” … Far across the country 12 young children prepared their Kinderspiel …

Deep, very deep, beneath the ocean, Cthulhu and his minions lay dreaming, waiting for the stars to change!

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