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Title: A Blinking Light up on the Mountains of Madness (Chapter 4 of 5)
Fandom: Welcome to Night Vale/Cthulhu Mythos
Author: tikistitch
Rating: M
Characters/Pairings: Cecil/Carlos, Telly the Barber, John Peters (you know, the farmer), the City Council, Big Rico, Intern Dana, various characters from Lovecraft
Warnings: AU. Cursing
Word Count: ~30,000
Summary: 1930s-era AU (yes, really). Carlos, an impoverished graduate student attending Miskatonic University, joins an expedition to the Antarctic. But the explorers get more than they bargained for when they stumble upon a weird lost civilization.
Notes: At the end.





“Thank you for this, Telly.”

“Anything for our scientist,” said the barber, who was standing over Carlos, snip-snip-snipping his sheers through the air in giddy anticipation of pruning the scientist's dark, tangled mane.

“So, that guy with the sour face thinks it's too long?” asked John Peters who, despite being, you know, a farmer, was hanging out in Telly's barber shop, reading the magazines whilst he chewed on a stalk of grass. Sitting in the barber chair, Carlos nodded, causing Telly to jerk his head back into position. “Why don't you tell him to go hang himself?”

“Well, I'd like to, but he's the head of our expedition.” Carlos turned his head again, and Telly turned it back again.

“I thought you were the big boss?”

“Only in Cecil's mind.” Carlos heaved a sigh, gazing sadly into the mirror. Cecil quite obviously thought Carlos hung the moon. It had aggrieved the radio host so much when Carlos told him, honestly, that he needed to rejoin his expedition. Well, it was really the only rational course, wasn’t it? He needed to get back to the camp, and then back to Arkham, and school….

“So … does this mean you're going back?” asked John. Telly suddenly stopped his compulsive snipping.

“Yes. I’m going back,” Carlos told his reflection. He watched in the mirror as his two companions suddenly exchanged intrigued glances.

“You don't suppose-?” said Telly.

“We could ask him!” said John.

“Ask me what?” asked Carlos.

“The Wish Book!” said John as Telly suddenly dumped his scissors leapt for a low shelf. He pulled out a Sears mail order catalog, cradling it like a precious thing.

“You could bring us back our packages!” said Telly. “We've all got orders in from the Wish Book!”

“I ordered a brand new stainless steel pitchfork,” said John. “And some crabtree seeds. I'm a farmer, you know!”

“And I've ordered brand new shears constructed of the purest tungsten!” said Telly. “And whale oil mustache wax.”

“I'll see what I can do,” said Carlos. He pushed his glasses up his nose and peered at the book Telly had unfolded before him. He didn't believe he'd ever seen this particular version of the Sears catalog before: it had an entire section devoted to tasteful eyewear for your camel or dromedary.

He somehow didn't have the heart to tell them that once he left, being an impecunious graduate student, the chances of ever making it back to this part of the world would be slim.

“Oh, it's time for the show,” said John, running to switch on the radio. The radio set crackled to life, and a familiar, comforting voice emerged from the large speaker.

“Terrible news listeners. It's about our town’s favorite newcomer, Carlos.”

Carlos cringed as Telly spread a cloth cape out over him.

“I've just gotten news that dear Carlos – dear, brave, beloved Carlos – is going to get his perfect hair cut!”

“Can we shut that off?” grumbled Telly.

“And not just by any barber, no! But by the treacherous Telly, the vile villain who always cuts hair far, far too short.”

Telly reached for the radio dial while a grinning John swatted his hand aside.

“How will our small town endure this tragedy? I cannot say. I cannot say! But if you do see Carlos – sweet, valiant Carlos – please tell him that we have a friend of his waiting for him at the station.”

Carlos was out of the chair, heading out the building, before Telly could yell at him to give the cape back. John sat back and chuckled.



“Gedney!” said Carlos.

Gedney blinked at Carlos, a confused look in his eyes.

“Intern Dana found him,” said Cecil, indicating the bright-eyed, dark-skinned young woman standing nearby.

Carlos embraced Gedney, pounding his back. “We're very grateful to you, Dana.”

Gedney emitted a sort of sound halfway between a squawk and a purr.

Dana smiled. “Found him in a penguin nesting area. You guys gave me the idea.”

“But we were just there the other day,” said Carlos.

“There are several smaller nesting areas near the edge of town,” Dana explained.

“He'll probably be a tiny bit shell-shocked for a while,” said Cecil as Gedney picked up a raw fish and downed it in one gulp.

“Um, yes,” said Carlos.

Dana was smiling at him. “He's kind of cute. My family could take him in for a few days. Get him eating cooked food again. I mean, I assume that’s what he liked, before?”

Carlos nodded, and Cecil said, “Thanks, Dana.” She led Gedney, waddling and flapping his hands, out of the room.

“Thank you, Cecil. I can't express how grateful we are – I am – for this.”

Cecil shrugged. He wasn't meeting Carlos's eyes. “You're going to hunt a Shoggoth,” he said, his voice strangely flat and emotionless.

“It's not a hunt, Cecil. We're not even bringing guns! Prof. Dyer simply wants to find a preserved specimen. Like Lake did with the Old Ones.”

“Guns wouldn't do you any good. Shoggoths don't die.”

Carlos shuddered. Somehow, he knew the radio host was speaking the truth. “Cecil, people back at the camp are in danger. My friends!”

Cecil finally looked up, his voice barely audible. “Please don't go.” He made to leave the room.

Carlos stood in his way. “Do you know anything that can help? Do the Shoggoths have any weaknesses? Anything at all?”

“Nothing.” Cecil sighed and pushed past Carlos.

“It was good knowing you, Cecil. You're- You're a good person. I wish-” But Carlos couldn't make himself go on. “Goodbye, Cecil.” He forced himself to turn to leave.

“The face.”

“What?” Carlos turned around.

Cecll's eyes were red-rimmed. “The face. If you can stand looking at it: it's supposed to drive men mad, but you may be.... You may be different. But the face is more sensitive. So they say. Though God knows who 'they' are, and why they're spending their time meddling in our affairs.”

“I’ll remember that.”

Cecil’s voice was soft: he appeared to be speaking more to himself than to Carlos. “And they’re telepaths. They’re sensitive to radio waves. That’s how the old ones controlled them. Though obviously it didn’t work terribly well in the end.”

Carlos gripped Cecil's shoulders. “Cecil. Thank you. I- I will see you again. Soon!” Cecil shuddered, and Carlos found he wanted nothing more than to take the frightened radio host into his arms. However, with an effort, Carlos removed his hands and strode out of the station, trying to effect a confidence he in no way actually felt.



The Shoggoths were reputed to dwell in the highest, most remote part of the city, alongside the mountain range. Big Rico had drawn a map for him, since Carlos hadn't the heart to ask Cecil about it. The restaurateur had warned them strongly that the area was dangerous. His wife had prepared them some kind of sandwiches for the trip. Since the bag was moving, making a sort of throbbing motion, Carlos hadn't bothered to open it, but merely stuffed it in his pack with the map and a thank you.

Despite what he had told Cecil, he also tucked his pistol into his pack.

And so they set forth, the three of them, Prof. Dyer taking the lead. Danforth, who barely spoke, followed along, and Carlos was at the back. They stopped a couple of times on the way so Danforth could make a rubbing of a particularly interesting hieroglyphic picture or two, although Carlos suspected the graduate student was simply trying to delay the inevitable a little longer.

Carlos pulled his jacket tighter around his shoulders. It was actually getting cold up here, as they gained in altitude after ascending a number of stone staircases and ramps. Only the centermost part of Night Valhal-La was still occupied – by humans, that is – so as they drew near to the building they were seeking on the outskirts, the structures became much worse for wear. They ended up frankly scrambling up piles of rubble, Carlos and Danforth stopping from time to time to help the now lagging Dyer, who firmly insisted on coming along all the way to the end.

“So what is your relationship to this Cecil person?” asked Dyer when they had stopped for a moment’s rest.

Carlos was taking a drink of water from his canteen. He hesitated, choosing his words carefully. “Cecil has been a guide for me in this place. As have several of the other citizens.”

“Citizens? Balderdash. They’ve all gone mad.”

“All of them? But Cecil-“

Dyer snorted in derision. “Haven't you figured it out yet, Carlos? Cecil is obviously a radio operator from some expedition that lost its way.”

Carlos was silent for a moment. Was Dyer implying what he thought? He caught Danforth’s eye. The graduate student shrugged, as if he had heard Dyer’s speculations before. “So you’re saying, all of the citizens of Night Valhal-La-“

“It’s no great mystery Carlos. Think! Be rational, instead of carried away. Consider how many lost expeditions have tried to conquer this part of the world.”

Carlos could scarcely believe what he was hearing. How could a man of science ignore the evidence in front of him? “You think these people are all lost explorers? Every single one?”

“Stands to reason. A frigate gets trapped in the ice, so the crew has to spend a winter down here, and sends a party or two overland….”

“Dyer, that can’t be the entire explanation. There are children here. And schools! And even a local government, though the effectiveness is questionable.” Carlos smiled slightly, remembering his frustration with the tap-dancing City Council.

“Isn’t that usually the case?” muttered Danforth.

“Nonsense. It all has a rational explanation!” Dyer insisted.

“It most certainly does. But is it the one you’ve apparently settled upon?” Carlos felt his cheeks were flushed, but not from exertion, nor the altitude. In the corner of his eye he could see Danforth looking back and forth between them, nervous as a puppy.

Dyer rose to his feet, looking Carlos up and down. “You surprise me,” he said. He turned and pointed up the hill. “If I am not mistaken, that is our goal, is it not?”

Both Carlos and Danforth directed their gazes up the mountain. Indeed, there stood the structure Big Rico had described, a weird, five-sided façade that abutted the hillside. This was the mouth of a great tunnel that led deep into the very center of the great mountain range.

The entrance to the building had partially collapsed, so they edged, one by one, over the crumbling piles of masonry and slipped inside, igniting their flashlights. They heard the sound of water dripping. Carlos cast his light around. The structure was in bad shape, as portions of the ceiling had caved in along the way.

“What's that smell?” asked Danforth. Indeed, it smelled rank inside: as bad as the Old One, rotting in the sun, but with something foul added even to that. A broken egg left in the pantry.

“Sulphur,” said Carlos.

“I wouldn't wonder if there's volcanic activity nearby,” said Dyer.

“Great, that’s just what we need,” grumbled Danforth. “Boiling lava.”

“Buck up, Danforth,” said Dyer. “Come on.” And without waiting for a reply, Dyer turned and proceeded down the dark, fetid tunnel.

Danforth crinkled his nose in disgust, but Carlos nodded to him, and they followed Dyer. The air grew increasingly rank as they drove deeper and deeper into the mountain. Danforth pulled his scarf over his nose to keep out the stink, but still his eyes watered.

“Wait!” said Carlos after both Danforth and Dyer had gone ahead. They returned to his side to stare at something he’d found on the floor. He spread his hand over what was an impossibly large, five-pointed footprint.

“And Old One!” said Danforth immediately. “An Old One was walking here.”

“Hold on to your senses, Danforth,” Dyer scolded.

Carlos was squinting at the ground, trying to keep his hand from trembling. “It’s like the prints I found back at the camp.”

“What prints?” asked Danforth.

“Just before I left. After Lake’s samples had been stolen, or blown away.”

Danforth hunkered down next to him. “You think they walked away, don’t you?” he whispered.

Dyer was clucking his tongue. “Oh, nonsense. Those specimens were dead!”

“As my friend Cecil puts it, how could you ever tell?” asked Carlos. He aimed his flashlight back down the tunnel, towards the entrance. “This entrance is near to the mountain pass.”

“If they had walked over the pass,” said Danforth.

Dyer put his hands on his hips and harrumphed. “I wish the two of you could hear yourselves. You sound like raving ninnies! There hasn’t been a live Old One around these parts in many millennia. They’re extinct. Like the Shoggoths.”

“Raving ninny or not, I’m through with this, Dyer,” said Danforth, who stood up to face him. “It’s too dangerous! I’m going back.”

“Danforth, quit raving and come along.” Once again, Danforth looked to Carlos, who was still contemplating the footprint. Carlos rose and, nodding to Danforth, continued along down the tunnel, but his thoughts strayed to the gun he carried in his bag. Something felt dangerous about the particular strain of madness Dyer was showing.

Danforth was the next to call them to a halt. He had been pausing now and again to contemplate the hieroglyphic marks the Old Ones had carved along the tunnel. These markings couldn’t properly be called hieroglyphics, as they were too detailed, and looked more like cartoons. But this one was especially lurid: it showed several Old Ones lying on the floor. It took a moment to realize it what with their strange body composition, but all of them had been decapitated in a most ghoulish manner. He directed his light towards the very corner of the picture. There was something freakish and massive moving off.

“A Shoggoth?” asked Carlos.

“That would be my guess,” said Dyer, who, of the three of them, seemed almost giddy at the prospect. He walked on.

“Might as well get this over with,” Danforth muttered to Carlos. He tightened his scarf around his face and then strode off, walking abreast with his mentor. They disappeared around a blind corner. That’s when Carlos, who was lingering at the wall, heard the cry. He ran around the corner, bumping into Danforth, who pushed him out of the way and then collapsed along the wall, sinking to his knees and vomiting up seemingly everything he had eaten for the past week.

Carlos turned to see Dyer. The stink was terrible here. But that wasn’t why Danforth was ill: there were two corpses here. Old Ones. Their star-shaped, tentacle heads had been torn clean off their bodies, and they both lay in a pool of clotted black blood.

“What happened to them?” asked Carlos, although he felt he knew the answer.

“We’re close now,” said Dyer. “So close.”

“Too close,” rasped Danforth, wiping his mouth on the back of his sleeve. “Those were alive, Dyer. Alive!”

“Yes,” said Dyer, his eyes shining.

“That’s it. I’m going.”

“No you’re not,” warned Dyer.

“I’m done, Dyer. You can do what you like, but I’m going back.”

“You’re doing no such thing,” said Dyer, pointing a gun at him. Danforth, his face a mask of disbelief, raised his hands.

Carlos felt in his bag: his pistol was gone.

“Wait until my father hears about this!” said Danforth.

“Your father can go hang himself.” Dyer waved the gun, and Danforth, glaring, walked into the tunnel. Dyer turned to point the gun at Carlos.

“Dyer. Think about what you’re doing,” Carlos said softly.

“I’ve thought about it long enough. You don’t know how long I’ve thought it over, boy. We’ll be famous! All of us. Imagine! You might even earn a professorship. You, a poor boy.”

“Dyer-“

“Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!” The cry was soft, like an infant sobbing. Dyer and Carlos both jerked around to stare down the tunnel. Barely visible at the end was something softly luminescent approaching. It was like a bubbling mass, filling the entire span of the tunnel.

Danforth, ahead of them, stood, utterly frozen in the beams of their flashlights.

“Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!” came the mocking voice, its timbre unknown to any earth creature. The dark thing drew nearer.

Dyer, his eyes suddenly filled with tears, pointed the gun, and fired a shot. The thing did not falter. He fired another shot, and another and another, emptying the gun, which he flung down the tunnel.

And then he was running away, as fast as his old legs could carry him.

Carlos, who had somewhat recovered his senses, yelled, “Danforth!” and turned to run as well. He started to run after Dyer, but hearing no footsteps behind him, stopped to look back.

And inky black tentacle glistened in the darkness, reaching out for Danforth.

“Danforth, look out!”

But Danforth stood, insensible, while the hideous protuberance snaked out and entwined around his waist. It chanted, “Tekeli-li, tekeli-li!”

Danforth was jerked off his feet, finally, too late coming to his senses, screaming in terror. Carlos knelt down and frantically dug in his pack, looking for something – anything – he could use as a weapon. He drew out the paper bag with Big Rico’s odd, throbbing sandwiches. With a cry of disgust he tossed it down the tunnel, rummaging for a knife.

The Shoggoth froze. It threaded a tentacle out towards the bag, humming all the time, the intonation almost like a question, “Tekeli-li, Tekeli-li?”

The bag fell open, and the tentacle withdrew as if it had received a shock. While Danforth hung from one tentacle, still sobbing for help, a couple of sandwiches undulated out of the bag and stood, pulsating, on the floor of the cave.

And then a very weird thing happened: the part of the Shoggoth nearest the sandwich started to shape itself into something resembling a hideous copy of a human face, with an array of glistening green eyes surrounding a protuberance that was like a desecrated version of a nose.

The relentless chant quite suddenly fell away, and was replaced by something that resembled radio static.

And then, as Carlos would swear to the end of his life, he perceived a familiar voice. “Carlos! The face!”

Carlos suddenly brought to mind the improbable tale of a swimmer caught in the jaws of a shark. He balled up his fists, rushed to the Shoggoth, which now appeared to be delicately sniffing at the sandwiches, and offered it a firm smack in the “nose.” To his utter shock and delight, the thing suddenly seemed knocked out of its senses. It fell back, its “face” area suddenly disorganized, and it dropped Danforth.

Wasting no time Carlos rushed to Danforth’s side. Gripping him around the waist, he half carried him away, running as fast as he could along the tunnel. “Come on! Come on!” They raced down the tunnel as if the devil himself was after them, which was not too far from the truth, and after what seemed like hours threw themselves up on the pile of shattered masonry that marked the tunnel entrance.

Dyer was outside, looking half crazed, panting and red-faced.

Danforth dove at him, tackling him to the ground. “You fucking asshole!” he shrieked, hitting him again and again and again in the face.

Carlos, with some effort, pulled Danforth off Dyer. “Both of you! We’ve got to get out of here, now!” He gave Danforth a shove down the hill, and then helped a now bleeding Dyer lurch to his feet.

“I had no idea,” muttered Dyer. “No idea.”

“You’re a shit head!” yelled Danforth. “I’m telling my father!”

“Danforth,” said Carlos. “Fuck you, and fuck your rich father. Now get out of here, or I’ll throw you to the Shoggoth.” He turned. “You too, Dyer.” And so, the bedraggled party limped its way back into town.



Carlos perched on the trunk of Cecil's jalopy out in the radio station parking lot. He was still wearing his fur coat. He peered up into the night sky. It was so different down here, the familiar constellations turned on their heads.

“Carlos?” Cecil was standing beside him. He had come up so quietly. “They said you wanted to see me.”

“I do.” Carlos stared at him. Cecil looked relieved, but quite tired, as if the events of the past day had somehow aged him.

Cecil tentatively moved closer. His voice, usually so sonorous, had a small quaver. “What is it now? Is there some new threat? Shoggoths? Old Ones?”

“Cecil.” Carlos paused, weighing how to put it all into words. At last, he simply said, “I can't stop thinking about you.”

Cecil was stunned into silence. For the first time Carlos could remember, he actually looked surprised. The radio host drew nearer, his eyes fixed to the ground, almost shy. “Is- Is that a good thing?”

Carlos reached out and yanked at Cecil's tie, tugging him close, so he stood between Carlos's thighs. “It's a very good thing,” he whispered. Still gripping the tie, he leaned forward and gave Cecil a very brief kiss.

Cecil batted his eyes and then smiled, his entire face lighting up in the soft moonlight, a beam of pure joy. He leaned in, resting his forehead on Carlos's, hands placed on the tops of scientist's thighs. He sighed, as if the weight of the world was off his shoulders. “I'm so happy you're safe.”

“I thought I might die, and I would never get to tell you…. I would never get to tell you everything.” Carlos gently cupped Cecil's face and kissed him again. Cecil relaxed into him, and they stayed like that for a while, pressed together, just kissing, enjoying the exquisite proximity.

Carlos thought he could spend the whole evening this way, with Cecil in his arms, but then Cecil pulled away. “Come with me,” he said, taking Carlos’s hand. They got in the car, and drove up to an area of town Carlos didn’t remember visiting before.

“Where is this?” he asked.

“This is an older part of the city. My home,” said Cecil. They stopped in front of a most extraordinary structure. It was five-sided, as was nearly everything in the city. But the architecture here was noticeably different than the other parts of town. In some respects, it looked finer and more delicately wrought, as if the designers had given everything a measure of extra care. As the car circled around, Carlos noticed that each particular side was distinctive, as if it had been the produce of five different architects.

They entered through a heavy wooden door that was carved with arcane sigils, and arrived in a high-ceilinged entryway. Carlos gasped and turned all the way around. This room was larger than his grandmother’s entire apartment. Cecil took Carlos’s heavy coat and hung it on a hook, and then lead him into an even grander room. Carlos frankly gaped. There were oddities aplenty here: strange skulls up on shelves, and odd animal pelts hanging on the walls, as well as lovely vases, delicate statues, and all manner of precious stones.

“This is your home?” asked Carlos.

“My family’s home,” Cecil answered modestly. “And yours now. If you want it to be.”

Carlos grinned as Cecil led him through one amazing room after the other, up a spiral staircase and around a gently sloping ramp, finally arriving at what Carlos presumed was his bed chamber, as it was dominated by a large, four-poster bed. Cecil began removing his jacket, and Carlos moved in to help him along, tossing away his jacket and vest, and then unfastening his shirt buttons. He saw that the odd markings visible on Cecil's wrists traced all the way up his arms, across his back, and over his upper chest, although his abdomen below his ribs was bare. Carlos directed his attentions towards this area of bare skin now, tugging at Cecil's belt.

Cecil suddenly backed him up and gave him a little push, sending Carlos back onto the bed. Cecil leapt up and straddled him before he could get up. “No. No belt until you take some of your own clothes off,” he told Carlos, struggling with his shirt.

“Oh, uh,” said Carlos, who blushed slightly when Cecil got the shirt unbuttoned and pulled it open.

“Oh good God, are you wearing long underwear?”

“It was cold! We're in the Antarctic!” Carlos reasoned.

Cecil glared, and then peeled off the undershirt, balling it up and tossing it away with contempt. “We'll get you something more appropriate. Silk!”

“Silk? I'll freeze my balls off. And believe me, you won't like that!”

Cecil had scrambled down to unlace Carlos's heavy boots. He tugged one off and ended up falling on his ass. Carlos, despite himself, started laughing.

“And we'll get you slippers,” grumbled Cecil, tossing away the boot and grabbing the other one. He crawled back up on top of Carlos and they began kissing again.

“This place,” muttered Carlos. “It's really beautiful.”

“You're beautiful. Beautiful and perfect.” Cecil had started to kiss his way don't Carlos's chest.

“I've never been accused of that before.”

“I knew you were coming. I had known for such a long time! But the moment I saw you, I fell in love. I couldn't help it.”

“How did you know I was coming?”

Cecil shrugged. “I know things, sometimes.” He sat up again, straddling Carlos, putting his hands through Carlos's thick black hair. “Thank god that monster Telly didn't get to your hair!”

“You like it this way?”

“Oh yes!” said Cecil, getting his fingers further tangled in Carlos's hair.

“I promise I'll never cut it then,” Carlos whispered.

Cecil came in for another kiss. “Let's get the rest of this ridiculous underwear off, shall we?” he said.

Carlos readily agreed. He pants had begun to feel damnably tight. It was a relief to slip them off. Then, finally, Cecil let Carlos unfasten his belt. And there were no more clothes between them, and Cecil was the most beautiful creature Carlos had ever seen, pale and perfect, and he had never wanted anyone quite so badly.

Just before he once again he climbed on top of Carlos, Cecil asked, “Have you done this before?”

“No. Not with you.” Because really, that was all that mattered. When Cecil began to ride him it was slowly, almost excruciating. Carlos grabbed Cecil's hips tightly, pulling him down, loving to watch Cecil come undone like that, throwing his head back, pupils blown large, a great void in the middle of those uncanny violet irises. It was tender and violent at the same time, this desire that filled his heart.

Afterwards, they lay tangled together for a while, both just breathing in and out.

Cecil shifted on Carlos's chest. “Tell me about your parents.”

“My parents?”

“I need to know everything about you. Every scrap. Starting from the instant you were born.”

Carlos chuckled, his chest vibrating. “I don't think I remember that far back.” But Cecil pouted so he said, “My parents are dead now. My father worked in a factory that made aeroplanes. He sometimes flew on rescue missions. He taught me how to fly. He taught me everything. And one day, he went out, but he didn't come back.”

“I'm sorry.”

“My mother – she was never well. Not that I can remember. She died soon after. Or it seemed like soon after. So I went to live with Abuelita.”

“Your grandmother?”

“Yes.”

“Brothers and sisters?”

“No. I have a cousin, though. He's like a brother. He's stuck up and annoying. Just like a brother. Here!” Cecil let out a disappointed little grunt when Carlos got up off the bed. He grabbed his eyeglasses, then fumbled with his pants and brought back a wallet. “Here,” he said, fishing out a photo. “Abuelita and me. That's Ernesto, and his girlfriend, Beatriz.”

“Oh. So pretty!” said Cecil.

“She's going to have a baby.”

“First cousin, once removed,” said Cecil.

“I suppose I'll call him my nephew.”

Our first nephew,” doted Cecil. “You know it's a boy?”

Abuelita knows. Sometimes she knows things. Like you I guess.” Cecil squirmed, finding the most comfortable position on Carlos's chest. “You said you knew I was coming?”

Cecil pulled Carlos's glasses off and tried them on for size. “Why can't you believe that? You believe in electrons, but you can't see them.”

“But you thought I was going to leave,” said Carlos, kissing the top of Cecil's head.

“Yes.”

“You would have let me go?”

“I can't keep you here. Not if you don't want to be here.” Cecil tilted his head back to look Carlos in the eye, staring over Carlos's eyeglasses. “But I would have always loved you.”

Carlos smiled. He pulled Cecil towards him and kissed him.

Cecil's handed Carlos's glasses back to him, and his fingers strayed over to Carlos's shoulder. “This is beautiful too.”

Carlos glanced down. He had forgotten about the tattoo. “Oh! That was stupid. Pabodie made us do it when we crossed the equator.”

“But why did you choose this one?” asked Cecil, following a tentacle where it spilled off the shoulder and strayed onto the top of Carlos's chest.

“The kraken? I don't really know. They're lovely and mysterious. I was somehow drawn to it, to the image. And then I had to go back several times, so he could finish the colors. I'm really an idiot sometimes.”

“We'll get you more of them.”

Carlos threw his head back and laughed. “You don't want me to get my hair cut, but you want me to have more tattoos?”

“Yes. I'll mark out all the parts that belong to me. Here, and here, and here,” said Cecil, tracing his fingers down Carlos's chest, down his belly, and then down lower still. Carlos gasped. And then he pulled Cecil towards him and rolled on top of him, kissing him deeply, pressing against him, drunk on his body, his silky hair, his soft skin.



“We're going,” said Danforth. It was like a sigh.

Dyer and Danforth sat across the table from them at Big Rico's, Danforth nibbling at his lunch as if he was still nauseous. Dyer rubbed the split lip Danforth had given him. None of them had mentioned what happened in the Shoggoth tunnel.

Carlos sat with an arm loosely around Cecil, who was tucking into his soup. “Tundra Bluffs,” Cecil said, dabbing a bit of bread into the chowder and then licking a finger. “I wouldn't recommend it. Are you certain you don't want to see some lovely glacial lakes instead? Very romantic!”

“I would prefer to have two pilots along,” Dyer continued, while Danforth's lips formed a small pout.

“I'm sorry,” said Carlos, who flicked his eyes towards Cecil. Cecil smiled and patted Carlos's thigh. “I won't be accompanying you.”

“That was not a request,” said Dyer. “That was an order. As the head of this expedition.” Did he sound a little defensive?

“No,” said Carlos.

“You realize that this is tantamount to resigning your position?”

“I am aware of that.”

“Suit yourself, Carlos. I pray your grandmother will find the wherewithal to continue on without your stipend.”

Carlos shuddered.

“I'll warrant she'd rather have a living grandson,” said Cecil, his eyes narrowing.

“You have no part in this,” Dyer told him.

“I have a part in any threat to our scientist,” said Cecil. Carlos looked around in shock: had the room just darkened? And he could have sworn the markings on Cecil's arms had just flicked, like a cat switching its tail.

“We will depart within the hour,” said Dyer. “With or without you, Carlos.” And then, dabbing his split lip with a napkin, he rose and stalked off.

“Danforth, you don't have to go along with this,” Carlos told him.

Danforth pushed his plate away, shuddering. “Yes, I do.” He glanced between Carlos and Cecil, looking apologetic. “I'm a second son of a powerful man. You won't understand. This professorship means everything to me. And Dyer was willing to forgive my … intemperance the other day.”

“Danforth, you should reconsider.” But the other man merely shook his head, and then headed out after his mentor.

Carlos shook his head while Cecil tutted. “Cecil?”

“Yes?”

“Um, I meant to ask you this: you have a cat floating in your bathroom?”

Cecil smiled brightly. “Oh, the one near the sink.”

“Uh, yes. That would be the one.”

“Oh, so you've met Khoshekh!”

Carlos frowned while Cecil continued to sip his tomato soup.



True to Dyer's word, they had loaded the plane and set off for the far mountain range Cecil called Tundra Bluffs within the hour. Cecil had given them a ride to the airfield, though Dyer would not meet Carlos's eyes, and Danforth simply appeared resigned to his fate. Cecil and Carlos watched as the plane taxied down the runway, and then continued watching until it was just a speck in the distance.

“I should probably attempt to contact the base while I'm here,” sighed Carlos. “I somehow doubt Dyer told them of his plans.” He went to his light aircraft and turned on the radio. “Erebus camp, this is Beechcraft. Erebus camp, this is Beechcraft. Over.”

There was silence for a long moment, and Carlos nearly turned off the radio and gave up, but then there was a sudden crackling. “Beechcraft! Carlos! Is that you?”

“Erebus Camp. Atwood, is that you? This is Beechcraft. Over.”

“They've come alive! It's a massacre! Terrible!” There was the sound of someone screaming in the background.

Carlos shivered. “Atwood, what's happening? Tell me what's happening. Over.”

“Help us! Oh God help us!” There was a sharp crackle, and then just static.

Carlos clutched the microphone. “Erebus camp! Erebus camp! Atwood! Lake! Anyone!” But there was no reply. Tears in his eyes, Carlos switched off his radio.

“It's started,” said Cecil quietly.

“Cecil,” said Carlos, hopping out of the plane and grabbing the man's shoulders. “I've got to go.”

Cecil shook his head sadly. “If you want to go, can't stop you.”

Carlos was grasping him. “Come with me!”

Cecil blinked up at Carlos. Once again, he looked surprised. “I- I don't know.”

“Please! They need help! I need your help.”

Cecil went up on his tiptoes and gently kissed Carlos's forehead. “Anything you want, my dear. Anything.”




Notes to this chapter: Fun fact, the first Sears Wish Book was published in 1933. Since the company started out selling farming equipment, it’s actually not so far-fetched that Telly would be buying a pitchfork that way. In case I haven't mentioned if before, “Tekeli-li” is the cry of the Shoggoth, which Lovecraft evidently borrowed from Poe.
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