THE PATIENCE OF JEDIDIAH OWENS
Another attempt at some Lovecraftian merriment. I think ol’ Jed became a banker after his transformation. Or a time-share salesman.
Jedidiah Owens had waited almost fifty years for this night: the Moon was in its right phase; the stars in their prescribed alignment, all of the necessary preparations were in hand. And well that it was so, for he was old now; the 97 years of his life had left him with little of the former vigor he had once enjoyed in his bent and shriveled frame. After the long years of patiently waiting, this night would see their glorious reward: health, stamina, and youth would soon be his! He could cast aside this blasted cane and walk upright once again like a man; not a withered crone. Debilitating sorceries and powers which were beyond his present physical capabilities would be his to command! He trembled with excitement at the imminent eventuality.
The room in the house wherein the ceremony was to occur had long since been prepared in anticipation of this hour. Owens now repaired to that chamber, locking himself within, unnecessarily perhaps, for it was unlikely that his endeavor would be interrupted given the remote location of the old pile and the dubious reputation it enjoyed amongst the locals. Still, carelessness is worse than a thief.
The harsh glare of the single electric light depending from the ceiling illuminated a pentagram and its attendant arcane symbols drawn within a circle on the floor. Owens had used paints compounded of rare ingredients which he had prepared according to the instructions he had found in the proscibed therimoire of the nineteenth-century witch, Maria Korski-Romanov: Secrets de Sorcellerie. In the center of that circle, in the center of the pentagram stood a tall lectern upon which the accursed book itself lay open to a certain page and ready for the ceremony.
Pure white beeswax candles were lit; one for each point of the pentagram. But a single ominous black candle, described in the text as la chandelle noire, and containing the rendered flesh of a murderer mixed with the blood of his victim, burned; affixed to the lectern, its black, polluted smoke rising in stinking streams staining the ceiling above and casting its grim light over the yellowed pages of the witch’s spellbook there. The electric light was switched off. Everything was inspected one final time for any minute imperfections which could cause the spell to go awry. At that thought he shivered involuntarily: such an occurrence was something that could not be imagined!
At last, Owens was satisfied. Casting a long look at the antique clock mounted on the wall as it struck the appointed hour he breathed a rattling sigh, girding himself for what must happen next. Stepping into the center of the painted design on the floor he positioned himself at the lectern before the blasphemous tome, in the flickering light of the Dark Candle.
Clearing his throat once, gripping both sides of the lectern with his mottled, bony hands and summoning what strength he had, Owens began to read from the book, chanting in a powerful voice that belied the frailty of his ancient appearance.
“Veni ad me! Veni ad me! Veni ad me!” He repeated the last phrase of the enchantment again and again.
The white candles guttered and the room grew dark as he completed the sorcerous invocation; the walls, the ceiling, even the floor beyond the enchanted ring faded slowly into a boundless infinity of blazing, pulsating stars. Eventually, the hypnotic panoply of stars soon began to fade; the floor and lectern began to fade; Jedidiah Owens himself began to fade, all replaced by darkness so black and complete and powerful that the very concept of light was stricken from his mind. In this state Time was no more, his human mind unable to comprehend these unexpected results was overwhelmed by fear and misgivings. In this discorporated state, enveloped in absolute, eternal night, Owens was devoid of any physical sensation anchoring him to the mortal world.
Then to his horror, an eye opened: a pale green, phosphorescent sclera surrounding a slitted iris of black like that of a crocodile. More eyes like the first began to open all around him and a chorus of soundless voices moaned, if voices they were, softly as if at a great distance growing louder and more urgent as they drew nearer to the terror-stricken soul of Jedidiah Owens. The chorus became an unendurable chaotic cacophony driven by a terrible, searing cosmic wind storming through his mortal being, sweeping away his soul in a typhoon of indescribable vileness! Having no voice to scream he could not scream. No longer a physical being he could feel nothing but the despairing knowledge of his impending dissolution! Jedidiah Owens’ final thought was a certainty that this was not the bargain he had sought to strike.
That which had been Jedidiah Owens returned to consciousness some hours later in the gray light of predawn lying upon the floor next to the overturned lectern. The candles were burnt out and slumped over in their places in the pentagram. On the floor where it had fallen from the toppled lectern lay the putrid sludge of the Dark Candle. The pages of Madame Romanov’s book were torn and scattered about the room. But That which had been Jedidiah Owens felt strong with a surging vigor; a strength that the other Jedidiah Owens had not felt in fifty years. It smiled; a predatory crocodile smile.
The Thing now calling Itself Jedidiah Owens thrust back the curtains shrouding the window and gazed out upon Its new world and the eyes with which It regarded that world were the soulless eyes of a hungry crocodile. And if one dared to look closely into the ocular blackness of the irises which had formerly belonged to Jedidiah Owens, a brave soul, a foolish soul, a doomed soul might discern a hive of many, many other similar eyes, also cold and hungry, gazing back.
Fascinating vut I must admit I don’t relly understand it.
I can’t find how to edit comment above and my eyes do not let me type accurately.
Thanks for reading. I’m glad that you found it interesting. My old eyes often betray me as well.
Wonderfully horrible, suspenseful, atmospheric fun!
(Fear nicely exacerbated by the elucidatory introduction.)
Just the response I was going for! I will admit that after not having read it myself in quite a long time I can see that it could be improved. Thank you!