‘You have almost found me, my little Scotty Mells; you now bear witness to the prison of the Great Old One.’
Scotty’s perception is slathered in tactile darkness. His only connection to the outside world now is a small hole about the size of a pinprick. Through it Scotty can smell the dust of The Keeper’s Finds, he can taste the dry blood in his mouth, he can feel the cold glass as it slowly warms to the temperature of his dirty forehead. Scotty can see the cloudy green smoking pipe sitting between a petrified monkey’s hand and a small drinking glass that looks like a laughing skull, but he can’t hear a thing going on in that outside world. Not in here. In here there’s only the tame roar of the Great Old One.
‘I was sealed within this pipe before the dawn of humanity on Earth by a being like me, a being who does not follow the laws of time’s passage. He feared my power, Scotty Mells, he feared the power of all those who he imbued into the items held within this gulag, but he feared my power the most.’
“I fear your power,” Scotty Mells whispers into the glass, his jaw barely moving at all. “I fear and respect that which you’ve grown to attain, but I do not fear you. I love you, Great Old One.”
The Great Old One bellows disgusting, sick laughter. ‘Then you shall release me, Scotty Mells, and I shall share with you the secret of higher existence. So long as you walk the holy path which leads to my emancipation, you will have the strength to pres–’
Scotty’s consciousness zaps back through the pinprick, drawn by the falling of the shopkeep’s hand on his shoulder. The voice of the Great Old One is left behind, reduced to a sinister wheezy breathing. Scotty can hear all the objects bound within the display case breathing, the sound rattling his ears like beans in a maraca.
“You… you still breathing?” the shopkeep asks.
“Breathin’,” Scotty answers as his ragged lungs empty and the breathing of the jadeite pipe grows louder. “Breathin’, yes, you hear’ih’too? You hear’ih talkin’?”
“You said what now?!” the shopkeep – Cyrus, that was the man’s name, that’s what he said on Omingle – says, removing his hand from Scotty’s shoulder.
“The pipe,” Scotty whispers. As his own breathing becomes more labored, the pipe’s breathing only grows louder in his ears. “That green pipe with all the angles. It’s speakin’ t’me.”
Scotty can feel the tension aloft on the air fall away. Cyrus says, “Ah, I see what you’re gettin’ at. Here, why don’t you stand up for me and I’ll unlock the case so you can get a better look.”
Lifted by the will of the Great Old One, Scotty feels himself rise from the floor and leap back two feet. Cyrus begins to talk but Scotty doesn’t hear him, he’s too focused on the pipe, the glossy green pipe with the scratched-up bowl, but those aren’t scratches, are they? To an oblivious mortal they may look like scratches, but Scotty Mells knows better. Scotty Mells knows the secret of the jadeite smoking pipe, Scotty Mells knows who is held within its foggy crystal body, what old greatness is kept there by the precise curvature of all those scratches in the bowl. Scotty Mells knows the jadeite smoking pipe is a prison, he knows the scratches are a complex metaphysical lock, and he knows how to break it and set the prisoner free. The only question is, where will he get the her–
Cyrus places the bowl in Scotty’s hands. The bowl is now full of lush green herbs; it was empty in the case but now it’s full, the herbs appearing there as suddenly as the presence of the lighter appears in Scotty’s pocket.
“Ah, like that, do ya? Yeah, it’s a nice piece, made of jadeite if I’m not mistaken. Came along with the whole case, believe it or not – guy who brought it here said all the stu–”
The Great Old One’s laughter consumes Scotty’s perception. He doesn’t dare look away from the pipe, he couldn’t even if he wanted to. He hears only a twisted, demented laughter booming between his ears. The Great Old One has control now, there is no more Scotty Mells… and then there is. Reality is brought back by a ripple of air inches above Scotty’s head, followed by the feeling of release below his waist, but Scotty’s not in the secondhand shop anymore. He’s in the forest beyond the parking lot, laying in the dirt beneath a bushel of ferns and leafy shrubberies. He has some semblance of an awareness of how he got out here – there was yelling, shooting, more yelling – but it’s mostly all a blur. A black, hazy blur.
One thing is clear though, one thing has stayed clear since the moment Scotty laid eyes on it – the pipe. Scotty still has the pipe clutched in his hands, it’s still packed to the brim with luscious green herbs, it still breathes its raspy breath. It still contains the Great Old One, and Scotty still must free Him. He’s about to ask the pipe what to do next, but it answers before he can form the words.
‘Go west now Scotty Mells, trudge through the forest until you come to the clearing beneath the power lines. You will follow the wires until they bring you to water, and there you shall perform the ritual. There you shall set me free. There you shall learn the secrets of higher existence. There you shall be released from the bindings of the mortal coil.
‘There, you will be saved.’
With the cursed jadeite smoking pipe clenched weakly in his hands, Scotty Mells runs through the Treeburgian forest. His feet catch on rocks and exposed tree roots, bringing him to the ground many times, but Scotty always gets back up. He makes no move to avoid the brambles and so their thorns tear through his already tattered clothing, ripping deep, drooling streaks of maroon into his flesh, but he does not feel the pain. He finds the clearing beneath the power lines, and as he blindly follows it towards the shores of the Monksville Reservoir his vision clouds over and his hearing becomes a buzzing static, but Scotty does not falter, he is guided by the Great Old One, by the one who shall forever free him from the restraints of his mortal existence, by the single brilliant star shining in a cloudless evening sky, and so he doesn’t stop running until he reaches the rocky dirt beach at the water’s edge.
Then, he collapses from exhaustion, and doesn’t wake up until the next morning. But that’s okay, that’s just fine – the Great Old One has nothing to do but wait. His monstrous voice is the first thing Scotty hears in the drowsy semi-delusional moments after he wakes back up.
‘It is time, Scotty Mells. It is time to set me free. Time for you to ascend. Are you ready, my son?’
“I’m… ready…” Scotty spews like the flecks of blood that accompany the coughing fit which follows his words.
‘Sit up and bring the pipe to your lips…’
Scotty Mells leans back against a tree, as he’s unable to sit up by himself, and brings the jadeite pipe to his lips. The mouthpiece taps feverishly against his teeth as his thin hand trembles under its weight. “Wait…” he says, letting his Parkinson’s-stricken arm fall back to his side, spilling out all the herbs. “All my teeth fell out, what…”
‘I have given them back to you, Scotty Mells, as a gesture of good faith. You have heard my true voice, you have felt my highest power flowing through your filthy veins, you have felt my loving touch which heals the dying. You must now free me, Scotty Mells, and you shall experience all I have to offer you.’
“But I… I can’t lift…” comes out of his mouth in a mousey squeak. Scotty Mells is beginning to fade.
‘Then I will lift it for you.’
Scotty’s arm, steady as steel, rises from the dirt and brings the mouthpiece of the jadeite pipe to his lips. The bowl is repacked, and with fresh herbs, by the pungent smell; all he needs is a lighter. He reaches into his left pocket with his free hand and pushes it to the bottom, then guides his gnarled fingers through the hole in the hardened fabric.
“No…” he moans. “My pants are all torn, the lighter fell out in the woods. I cannot free you, Gre–”
‘You can and you will,’ the Great Old One says with a tone of impatience. ‘You must, Scotty Mells, and I will help you do it.’
Scotty feels his left hand pull itself out of his pocket and rise over the bowl. He sees himself point one finger at the herbs, and from the tip of that finger sprouts a vile black flame. Scotty inhales the noxious smoke until the bowl contains only ashes, and he does not exhale. He has no reason to exhale – he’s taken the Great Old One into his body, he’s freed Him from the prison. Scotty stands, feeling the Great Old One’s power within him, feeling it surge through his muscles and veins, feeling his body heal and return to prime form; he feels his feet leave the ground as the horrible black light swirls around him. Scotty Mells is on his way up.
Then, a great fire engulfs Scotty’s lungs. He’s forced to let the smoke out in a series of painful bloody chokes. The pipe falls from his hand and shatters against a rock. Scotty falls from levitation, landing on jolts of pain as the shards impale his back and puncture the wind out of his dying lungs. When he opens his eyes, he sees the Great Old One.
He does not have a body, not in the physical sense. He does not have a scent, nor a sound, nor a shape; He is merely darkness, a thin, transparent shade, a hazy shadow with no body to cling to, a slimy black film, a cognizant corrupted cloud of pollution of the consciousness afloat between Scotty’s face and the inviting blue sky above. He speaks to Scotty in that same powerful lion’s roar he heard inside his head when he first entered the doomed hall that is The Keeper’s Finds.
‘You have freed me, Scotty Mells. And now, I shall free you.’
Scotty lets out a yelp as a thick, jagged shard of jadeite pulls itself from his back. It tunnels through the dirt like a mole rat and bursts out next to Scotty, spewing debris all over his healed body, then floats into the air above him. It lands softly on his belly, as if it were a simple feather.
‘Feed me your soul, my little Scotty Mells, and I shall feed you the nectar of immortality. You shall be a god, Scotty Mells; all you must do is renounce your mortality. You know what you must do to be saved, Scotty Mells.’
And Scotty Mells does know what he must do; he’s known since before he met the Great Old One, since before he became enslaved to the incense djinn, since before he was the last human left to toil in the toxic swamplands of the Treebug industrial park. Scotty takes the jagged shard of jadeite in his right hand and wades into the cold waters of Monksville. He brings the shard to his left wrist and slices deep, releasing a torrent of crimson, then takes the stained shard in his left hand and repeats the action on his right wrist. Then, feeling the push of the Great Old One, Scotty Mells falls face-first into the reservoir. The final thing he draws into his ruined, polluted lungs is not a breath of air, but a shocked gasp of murky brown water. Then, there is darkness…
Hello Commons, this has been the third subchapter of the eleventh story from Convenient Incidents, an anthology of fifteen interconnected short stories which revolve around a man by the name of Hilter Odolf Williamson.
Convenient Incidents is part of the Third Spiral, an anthology of sorts called The Here and Now which is comprised of stories told from the various planes of Existence.
Convenient Incidents is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.
I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.
If you like Convenient Incidents and would like to help support my work, click here and buy an autographed copy of the book (or anything else!) from my store. Alternatively, you can snag a cheaper (and unsigned) copy from Amazon by clicking here.
Be well Commons~