Down and Out in R’lyeh

In his house at R’lyeh, dead Cthulhu farts in his sleep.

If you’re dank like me, you gibber up the Old Fuck’s brainspout, crouch in there full gargoyle on his raggedy roof, wrap your gash around the slime-lung chimney, and huff that vast and loathsome shit like the space-curdled milk of your mama’s million terror-tits. Up you get, fœtid freak-babbies of the ultradeep! The nightmare beyond time and geometry and madness has an upset tum-tum. Whiff up those gargantuan gastrointestinal fugue-bubbles! Clog down the occult emanations of the Elder God! When his antediluvian ass-bombs explode all over your needy neurons, you’ll smell the apocalyptic expanse of frozen galaxies screaming forever into a red and hungry void—and just a hint of fresh eucalyptus.

That’s all Shax and Pazuzu and my own personal self were after that night. Just a couple of eeries looking to get squamous, to swipe a little snatch of wholesome fun from the funktacular funerary fundament belonging to the Big Boss, a hit big enough to drop our brains out the bottoms of our various appendages and forget the essential, unalterable, sanity-shearing truth of our watery and unfeeling cosmos:

R’lyeh sucks.

Seriously. The heaving, putrescent streets swollen with black spores of dementation and the bilge water of a hundred billion nightmares, the crawling hallucinogenic slime choking every unreal gutter and askew alley, the tacky interdimensional shopfronts selling rubbish nobody wants, the ugly, kitschy non-Euclidean central business district brooding and moping up in your face, the noxious monoliths, the howling sepulchers, the best minds of your generation destroyed by madness starving hysterical naked dragging themselves through the gentrified neighborhoods looking for something to do, it’s all just the fucking worst. Trust me. I was born here. I was into nuclear chaos beyond the nethermost outposts of space and time before it was cool.

But anyway.

Be me: Moloch! Dank as starlit squidshit, antique in the membrane, maximum yellow fellow! Only five thousand years old, still soggy behind the orifices, belly full of piss and pus and home-brewed, small-batch disdain for all he beholds. Keeps his tentacles proper pompy-doured and his fur 100% goat at all times. Keeps his talons on the sluggish pulse of the nightmare corpse-city that never sleeps, demoniac city on the edge of linear consciousness, cancerous kingdom of the corpulent and pustulant and decadent and stupid, the big boring phony sell-out rotting apple under the sea.

Not THE Moloch. Obviously. That guy’s a blue-chip maniac rocking a truly eldritch trust fund and a gentrificated uptown charnel house. But when you’re nine hundred and ninety-seventh among the thousand young of Shub-Niggurath, the Black Goat of the Woods, ain’t nothing left for you but the motherfucking dregs. Mom ran out of eldritch names way before I slithered along. Could’ve been worse, though. My little sister’s just called Shit. Shit’s all right. Takes after Dad more than me. (That’d be the Deadbeat All-Dad of Ages, serpentine thunderfuck lustlord Yig, not that he ever bothered to come to our moonball games or birthday orgies.) Shit doesn’t have any arms or legs and you can see through her snakeskin and watch her organs ooze and squeeze according to some primordial rhythm unheard by man, but she lets me crash on her couch and eat her boyfriends whenever I want, so it’s always been yellow between us. Shit’s got that virus youngest beasties catch sometimes where they gotta prove how much smarter and busier and more hideously evil they are than everybody else all the time, so she works her cloacas off downtown for some effulgy gloon on the Planning Committee—to which I say, how the fuck do you plan the descent of the known universe into bloody infinite shrieking madness? If you have to have a board meeting about it, what’s the fhatgn point?

But enough about my brood. Shit happens, what can you do? I’m not about to ooze out a cute little suburban drama where everything’s wrapped up in an hour and all the junior-league cyclopean horrors end up devouring the minds of the innocent as a family. I’m not gonna jaw you some dusty epic about the fœtid glory of the Old Ones, neither. They’re old. Who cares? You wanna glaak some toothless horror shambling along playing shuffleboard uphill both ways in the bloodtide, you got plenty of other options. Save that necronomicrap for prime time. This here’s public access. This here’s Radio Free R’lyeh. Harken to the electrostatic-enigmatic low-budget belch-howl of the low-rent disaffected disasters roaming these dumb slime-streets where there’s nothing to do but seethe.

So there we were, Shax and Pazuzu and me, three eeries out on the town, all messed up with nowhere to go. Shax was my number one cultist back then, the girl-thing I was yigging on the semi-regular, a three-eyed psychic gelatinous pyramid topped with the lushest blood-seeping tentacles you ever saw. What can I say? I’m a sucker for redheads. Shax was shubby as all hell, a carnivore hungry for the meat of Moloch, up for my proboscis in her protuberances anytime, anywhere. She loved horses and schizophrenia and untranslatable manuscripts from before the dawn of time. A total nerdy little misko at heart, but my Shax had a body that drove me mundane. Sometimes she’d get this far-off cosmic look in one of her eyes mid-yig, but only because she’d swapped her vast, stygian consciousness into some poor bastard from Nowhere, Massachusetts and was strolling around a cheese shop or whatever in his skin while I whispered sweet nihilisms into the hear-hole of some boring mundflesh whose most unexplainable encounter to date had been doing his taxes.

“Hush, babby,” I gurgled into Shax’s puncture-wound ear, into the mind of my new mammalian friend. “Just do what feels yellow and you and I will trip the light traumatic. You can’t get pregnant your first time. Everybody’s doing it. Come on, I promise I’ll still dissect you in the morning. Pretend you’re at the dentist. Just say Iä!

Shax always knew how to keep things eldritch in the sack.

Pazuzu was my eerie from the minute I gibbered out of the spawn-sac and into this trashbin world. Out of one bitch, into another. He ate his mom when he was little, so me and Shit pretty much adopted him into the Niggurath brood. Who would notice one more? Even if he was a Ghast and not a whatever-the-fuck-we-are? Mama Shub strangled Zuzu as lovingly as any of us. These days he’s another regular denizen of Shit’s couch. He kind of looks like a walking, talking, noseless scab on kangaroo legs. Straight up fœtid, was Pazuzu. All the squirmy young shubs hungered him. But my man didn’t have a cultist then. Didn’t care about getting off. Mostly what Zuzu slavered after was to get squamous and hunt himself some gloons. Not THE Gloon. Not the guy named Gloon. You don’t hunt that dank little piece of slug-ass. Not that Elgin-marble-looking motherfucker. The slug-god Gloon slithers out the eyes of that effulgy Greek statue it rides around in like a john sliding out of a rented prom limo and it hunts you. Naw, Zuzu hunts posers. Barely-larval yuppie scum with Old One pedigrees who gibber around trying to look like Gloon and talk like Gloon and corrupt the mortal world like Gloon when they’re nothing but a bunch of shoggo fuckboys who couldn’t corrupt a goddamn gumdrop without daddy’s protective runes. They’re so fucking dun that when we call them gloons, they think it’s a compliment. But I get Pazuzu. Always have. He kicks those kruggy pukes in the face and feels like he’s making a difference in the world. He isn’t, but, you know. Let a scab dream.

So Friday night, its hour come at last, slouched towards R’lyeh to be born. Shax and Zuzu and me beheld the sunset from the roof of our slumslime apartment henge, guggo for something fat and plasmic and new. You can actually sort of see the sun from down here, through the mundsmog of the South Pacific, stuck all over with mortal fishing boats like flies on blue flypaper. R’lyeh isn’t underwater per se. Don’t believe the brochures. It can’t even get that tired Atlantean schtick right. No, this fhtagn little backwater burg is bounded on all sides by a semi-aqueous transdimensional multi-reality beehive of space-time (comes in Pacific Blue, Sanatorium Green, and Classic Black for all your decorating needs!). It keeps the civic saltwater content at a steady dripping mucous. And inside the corpsified beehive lies the rotting honeycomb of cut-rate depravity I call home. I said before: I was born here. I won’t die here because I am infinite, unfathomable, beyond mortality and morality and corporeality, but I’ve never gotten out. How can anyone expect me to be a yawning horror of the ultradeep when I’ve never left the town I grew up in? Never met anyone but the same glabrous tentacled faces staring on the subway, never heard anything but last millennium’s Top 40 chants and prophecies blaring out of big, ugly doomboxes, never seen anything but the inside of this Old Ones Retirement Village where the streets are paved with quivering denture cream and the Early Elder Special starts at four every afternoon and everything worth anything has already been sucked dry by the gonzo appetites of our goddamn parents.

Oh sure, every once in awhile, the human world falls asleep at the wheel and crashes into us, and some shard of their incomprehensibly stupid one-note reality runs aground in the black light district and we all crowd in like fat shoggo tourists, flashing and yelling and poking the native wildlife, but that party goes down on the rare and seldom, and if there’s anything more excruciatingly boring than R’lyeh’s best and brightest, it’s a goddamn human being. For real, between you and me, what is their problem? These mundflesh morons act like the angle of the emerald emanations from the Gates of the Silver Key cut their flesh to hanging ribbons. They swan around wailing and moaning like the non-Euclidean geometry of netherdimensional architecture flays their minds down to the throbbing thalamic core. But I got eyes, too, and all I see are dirty green traffic lights and urban blight. We did learn some excellently eldritch words from the last brood that came babbling through, though. Oh shit, oh fuck, oh shitfucking dammit, what the hell is that thing?

Blah blah blah.

So up the rooftop Shax took a drag on a fat, hand-rolled tome she got from my man Nyarlathotep, who sells papers and shred out of his dirty bookshop down on Id Row. Papa Ny, now, that beast is pure uncut misko through and through. That’s why he and Shax get on so dank. Two creeps in a crypt. Papa Ny wears his human costume 28/9, even down here, even when he’s sleeping. But on the inside, that cat’s a literal bookworm, sliming his excrescence up on his ancient manuscripts like an awkward shub on his first dancefloor. I’ve seen his stash. Those woodcuts are yellow as hell, antique porn for the R’lyeh literati, such as they are. And to make a little extra gleeth on the slant, Papa Ny cuts the endpapers out of whatever forbidden text he’s mad at that week, fills them with black Yith-spores scraped off the customers-only sink after hours, and sells them dag cheap, on account of which, he’s about the only Elder any of us can stand, and we get to smoke our tomes real nice up here on the roof.

That night, Shax was burning down a flyleaf off the Book of Azathoth, sucking up the purple smoke through seven slits in her protoplasmic face and exhaling misty dodecahedrons out over the power lines and train tracks and horror-shards of our drowned and drowning city. Pazuzu scratched his scabby balls and knocked back a forty of the skunky, hoppy black bile he insisted on brewing in Shit’s closet. She hates the smell, but Shit’s way too nice to say anything. How the two of us can have come out of the same cloaca is just beyond.

“Fuck this,” grunted Pazuzu. “I’m sober as a goddamn archeologist. I wanna get bloody squamous. 100% iridescent. Straight obliterated. I wanna yank my brain out through my nose, boil it in beer, and beat the shit out of it with a fhtagn hammer. Lurk me?”

I did, indeed, lurk him completely. So did Shax. Her tentacles twisted and lithed above the apex of her gelatinous pyramid-head.

“Iä! Iä!” she ululated. “Screw this babby shit to the seafloor.” She threw down her tome and crushed it beneath her protean bulk. “Eeries, let’s hunt down some real ichor tonight. I wanna get ordinary. I wanna be totally fucking mundane! Thoroughly, balls to the wall, XXX normal.”

This meant gibbering down to the Psychotic Pnakotic for pints of san with rationality chasers. I didn’t have the gleeth for that kind of action, no how, but Shax usually covered me. She’s a Yith, which is kind of like being in the mafia, except with psychic parasitical spores instead of tommy guns and zoot suits. Zuzu only ever tolerated Shax because she never acted like the richie she was, really. Shax ate shit and puked despair like a real sheol proletariat princess. Like the rest of us. So Zu carefully ignored all the times she picked up our tab.

I groaned. When I groan it sounds like an owl’s death-scream. It’s my dankest feature.

“I’m not gonna let your mopey tentacled ass get between me and a fœtid high, you fhtagn misko,” laughed Zuzu, hopping off the roof ledge and running one meaty hand through his pustulant, blood-crusted pompadour. “We’re taking the subway and if you whine about it, I’ll kick your beak in. And then I’ll tell Mom you went to bed at eight with a glass of warm milk and a book so you could be fresh for work in the morning.”

If Shub-Niggurath, the Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young, heard that noise, she’d paint the nursery with my intestines.

But you gotta understand, public transportation in R’lyeh is a fucking shitshow. Remember that decomposing transdimensional honeycomb knowledge I threw your way earlier? It’s the naked truth. This crapheap town is full of holes—and the holes move. Look—R’lyeh is old as balls. R’lyeh sits at the crossroads of a million planes of sickening unreality. And R’lyeh does not invest in infrastructure. You can walk down the Uvular in Gugtown, dank and antique as you please, flip a corner, and peer down into the bottomless red cavern of Yoth. You can park in the frozen maze of East Yuggoth and come back to find the volcanic pits of Voormithadreth have totaled your accursed chariot without so much as leaving a note. Nyarlathotep’s porn shop on Id Row? That’s actually in Carcosa, which isn’t anywhere near R’lyeh as the squid swims, but the old bitch-town wore a hole in its filthy sock, and now you can trip over a nightworm in Kadath and land face-down in Carcosa if you don’t look both ways before crossing universes.

So the subway is no-go in Moloch world. I’m not about to shoot my shit through Gug-gnawed subterranean tunnels underneath this cyclopean clown car and end up drinking on freaking Saturn with a bunch of giant cats. No, thank you.

But for my eeries, anything. Anything, forever, always.

And that’s how it happened. That’s all it was. Our fœtid, degenerate quest, the dark crusade that would echo down through the centuries like one of Cthulhu’s grand farts was just a Hadean beer run through the toilet bowl of the cosmos. Lurk this and lurk it well: the fancier the history reads, the trashier it really was.

Only one hobo Shoggoth barfed and pissed on my feet at the same time the whole way there, and there appeared where it was supposed to be after only an hour of the wyrmcar screaming profanities at us. All nameless horrors considered, I call that dank.

So a half-breed goatsnake, a Yith, and a Ghast walk into a bar. Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

Most all the fiends and mutants in the plushy-ass eel booths of the Psychotic Pnakotic swiveled their heads and floating globes and writhing antennae to stare at me and mine. R’lyeh’s a pretty conservative squat when you get right down to it. Yiths with Yiths, Ghasts with Ghasts. But I didn’t give a fhtagn because I’m not a fucking racist. Shax wound one of her crimson tentacles around my neck and we gibbered up to the bar. Shragga was manning the taps. She’s got a drill for a face but she’s basically yellow.

Shax smeared a dream of becoming and unbecoming on the bar. It glowered ultraviolet netherhot, curdling into pestilent lumpcream. Shragga shrugged. Shax’s gleeth was always dank here, even if she wobbled in with her Niggurath cultist boy-thing and embarrassed the high-end clientele.

“Three hits of san with lucidbacks, Shraggs,” my girl-thing oozed, right eldritch and shameless.

“We gotta dress code, Yithling,” Shragga’s drill whined, ground, spun. “Blackest of ties. Writhe here a minute, I’ve got a couple of old exoskeletons in the back.”

Shragga shuddered back with meaty arms full of black clattering crabskin armor that hadn’t been sheol since the Cretaceous, whistle-screeched through her drill-face, and poured out three shots of thorazine plus three tall glasses of Providence tapwater. The PP’s got a pipe that goes straight up to New England and suckles at the municipal mundflesh supply. Zu and me licked sea spores off Shax’s stomach.

One, two, three; grab, slurp, devour, then sucked sour slime off the Providence pipe to chase it down.

Fhtagn, iä!” Zuzu yelled.

The rest of the pub goggled and gurgled and gleeked at us like they never saw anyone enjoying anything in their whole infinite existence before.

God, this fucking neighborhood.

Used to be an antique place, very goat, full of artists trying to get back to their roots and hone their craft, create a warm sense of community delirium, drive the mundflesh to a really authentic eternal madness. But then the Old Fucks moved in with their gleeth and their gloons and their penthouse sepulchers and organic organ banks and locally-forced whole food cannibal bistros and now it’s a shoggo wasteland of narcoleptic zombie demi-gods who couldn’t give two deranged toadshits for anyone under a hundred thousand years old. Back in the day, you could dance at the Pnakotic. Get your underground shubstep electrotrance tentaclecore maenad groove on. Now we had to sit uncomfortably in some dead crab-god’s claw-me-down stench just to get a drink while the upper crusty glared at us like zoo creatures.

Shax swiveled to me, her three globular golden eyes pulsing, her seventeen irises contracting to one hideous human mundeye. “The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents,” she blurted.

“What the fuck?” I giggled.

“Pick up some butter and flour at the store on your way home!” she howled. “The bank keeps calling about our mortgage!”

Pazuzu slapped the pub-floor with one massive kangaroo leg. “Fhtagn iä! Can you feel it? Mundmouth McGee is in the house! What do you want for dinner tonight, sweetie? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our son got into Brown next year?”

“Who cares?” I giggled again. I couldn’t stop. I could hardly wheeze out words when the lucidity kicked in and my essential Molochness gibbered off.

“Hello,” I yelled, as if possessed, without meaning to, without any hunger to: “my name is Moloch, nine hundred and ninety-seventh son of the Great Black Goat Shub-Niggurath, the Outer God, the All-Mother, and I am an alcoholic. Are there cookies in the back? Debbie always brings pecan sandies.”

“Welcome to Mom’s Diner, how can I help you?” screamed Zuzu. “How can I help you? How can I help you? How can I help you?”

But it doesn’t last. Lucidity has a seriously krug half-life. Our undermatrices can’t hold on to the mundo psychfest. It all fucks off back to pecan sandie-land and dumps you in a ditch on the side of the multiverse with drymouth and aching tentacles. We were stuck inside ourselves again pretty quick, a sad brood of dun miskos raging uselessly against the sinferno, the exact opposite of what we hungered.

“I hate my life,” I whispered. I couldn’t tell if that was me or the san talking.

So we decided to blow that squalor and go glean our eerie Bifrons and shake him down for some furtive fungiform fun.

Bifrons, now, Bifrons is a dank fhtagn Mi-Go, the Fungus Among Us, a sheol mushroom man who truly has his gills together, guggo for anything and antique as a china cabinet. You gibber over to Bifrons’s flop if you want to get your corpus collosum fully corpse-thrusty skull-strummed. The shiitake scenester laired in a scumlord paradise, waterfront view over a black river of boiling slime that pours eternally into one of R’lyeh’s puckered sphincters, the A-Line that leads through the youth-infected artisanal slums and terminates at a certain Mr. Yog-Sogoth’s amorphous, radioactive, but surprisingly elegantly lit pad. What can I say, the Thing from Beyond knows window treatments.

Bifrons does not know window treatments. His flop beholds like a schizoid sewer worker’s night terrors. Mold wriggle-gibbering in wallpaper patterns, rags and bones and fugue-pus and broken wine glasses everywhere, Shoggoths yigging idiotically, robotically, in one corner, a mouth-faced Gug smashing his skull into Bifrons’ good mirror, a dehydrated Yith crumbling into nihil within reach of the kitchen sink, the floor more spore than rug.

Home sweet home.

Bifrons doesn’t charge. He does his song and dance for the jingles and tingles. It’s some kind of fetish, I guess. He sweats technicolor dreamvenom the whole time and it’s kruggy but Moloch doesn’t judge. Gotta get your yig on where you can in R’lyeh. You’d think an insane chthonic carnival of a shriek-powered city pumping out waves of delirium into the seven seas would have some kind of nightlife. But this is pretty much it. Door-to-door traveling fucksters trying to keep up our enthusiasm for the latest and greatest howling silver vacuum.

“I got leftovers,” the preternatural portobello puled in our direction. “You hunger?”

Bifrons tossed Zuzu a mundo Chinese takeaway carton half-full of sweet fried chunks of a divorced mid-level import/export manager’s jabbering shredded psyche swimming in anchovy sauce. One, two, three; grab, slurp, devour. Bifrons stroked the greasy slopes of Shax’s pyramid with his creeping fungoid fingers, which was not at all sheol by me, but you gotta stay yellow if you wanna get squamous with the crimini element around here.

“Everybody goat?” Bifrons lisped thickly, his mushroomy otherflesh beginning to crawl with rainbow glowsweat.

“Iä, Biff, my eerie, my mush, iä,” Zuzu hissed.

He was getting bored. Moloch always knows. And when Zuzu gets bored, he starts looking for something to rend. Screams echoed out of the back bedroom and I could tell by the accents of their murdermoaning that it was a high street gloon couple mashing divinities. Probably can’t even cum without reciting the names of their fell ancestors into each other’s waxy hear-holes. If Zuzu clocked the same, it’d get full ghastly frenzy in here with a quickness.

“Iä, Bifrons, babby, do your thing,” I said.

What gets Bifrons off is this: Mr. Morbid Morel worms out his munted wings and the fungal rings of his face start spinning dank and wild. He phases his claws out of the corporeal plane, reaches into your skull, scoops out your brain like vanilla ice cream, sticks it in a dirty glass jar, and shakes the shit out of it until you’re addled and rattled and paddled and straddled, then he shoves your milkshake back and watches your soul jiggle out your orifices.

Here we go.

So Moloch’s in the brain jar and his medulla is smashbang oblongataed into blueberry psychic jelly and when a Mi-Go has your black matter on frappe, shit gets very topsy indeed. Memory yigs itself raw. One minute I’m goggling out a filthy glass jug, next minute I’m little, tentacles barely grown out yet, writhing on the infinite mud flat of my birth under a gape-wound sky where the stars are dying over and over, being devoured over and over, devoured by something vast and gorgeous and unstoppable, inevitable, perfect in its total hunger.

Shub-Niggurath, the Black Goat of the Cosmos, the Digestrix of Aeons, the All-Mother.

My mother.

I reach my stubby little nubs out to her impossible fœtid body. I stretch every soft babby tentacle curling on my cherub-noggin up to her grotesque countenance, her million interdimensional breasts foamy with nightmare milk, her billon lithe squiddy limbs branching and forking like an immense untouchable winter tree. Wee tiny Moloch cries for his mama up in the sky and she screeches ultrasonic daemonoharmonic over the boundless bloodswamp of her thousand sobbing young, her babbies, her brood, the spawn of her wonderful hell-womb.

I love you, Mommy, I love you, I wail but she don’t come down, she don’t wriggle me in her feelers and nuzzle my goaty face looking so much like hers, she don’t even know me from my brothers and sisters, she don’t pick me out and make me special, she just makes like she’s gonna hork up all that starshit she guzzled her whole life like a mama seagull into a thousand writhing gullets and jets. But then she doesn’t. She doesn’t feed us the stars she got to eat when they were fresh and eldritch and sweet. She keeps it all for herself and we starve while Mumma shrieks across the continuum to something else, something prettier, something danker, something better than us. Than me.

I love you, Mommy. Why don’t you love me back?

When Bifrons sleeved me back into my squidsack I was crying hideous, naphtha seeping out my stupid shoggo eyes and stinking up the joint with feelings, dripping kerosene shame onto Biff’s rug in time to the telltale sound of a scabrous mutant kangaroo named Zuzu thump-thump drumming some sorry fulgy skull into the wetwall.

Be me: Moloch, clawed back from his righteous hard-earned squamous, blurred blotto, gibbering around the rank lair of an evil mushroom, staggering down, then up, then down again before scraping Zuzu off a tall, cold, dark drink of trust fund water half out of his madrags with black, ancient blood all over his dumb wormpile face. Moloch, gobsmacked as a bloody mundo in the naked throbbing bonelight of true reality, when he sees the shub that handsome devil is yigging is none but his babby sister Shit, see-through snakebody wrapped around his tarantula legs, fangs all the way out.

“Stop it, stop it, you fhtagn shoggo loser,” hissed Shit.

“What the fuck, Shit?” Zu slurred around the kruggy edges of his Mi-Go trip. “Why you yigging that fuckboy yuppie establishment gloon? You two go suck Elder ass together, too? If you were that hard up I’d have whipped your eggs for you. Why’d you do him for, you mundane bitch?”

My sister uncoiled herself, every inch the serpent daughter of the Digestrix of Aeons. Her hood flared. I don’t think I ever noticed how beautiful Shit was before. And the thing is, up until that second, Shit always spoke full fulgy. I never heard her drop so much as a scrap of yellow dank into her talk. But just then, with her cultist boy-thing bleeding into Bifrons’s crusted space-colored carpet, she swore like us.

“I didn’t hunger you, you dun cunt. Lurk me now? Iä? Call him a gloon? No. That’s Qaatesh. Say hello, Qaatesh!” The worm-faced hunk of her affections coughed and spat out several fangs. “Lurk him. He has a name, just like you. He enjoys long walks on the beach and flaying the minds of smug academics, not that you give a fuck. Gloon, gloon, gloon. That’s all you behold. That’s all you babble. Flapping your gash and farting out this kruggy class war squidshit. You think you’re sheol? Think you’re yellow? Behold me, Pazuzu. I am a gloon. I carry water for the Great Old Ones and I am well dank at it. I am paid in blood and diamonds from the nether reaches of space which means I have the gleeth to spot you two that nice apartment with the big slither-in closet where you make your garbage homebrew ghastbeer and Moloch puts the empty carton of ichor back in the fridge instead of throwing it out every goddamned time. You hunger to savage some fulgy sneerheart gloon? I’m right here. Show me that eldritch deathdick, you shoggo fhtagn fuckaroo.”

Zuzu just gawped. A big scab over his ear fell off. I gibbered up between them.

“No deathdicks tonight, brood,” I soothed. “Not tonight. What you doing in Bifrons’ squalor, brood-girl?” I smiled my most antique smile, tongue behind the teeth and everything.

My translucent sister-snake smoothed down her hood, eyes still blue fire. “Same as you, Moloch. What? I’m not allowed to have a little fun?”

Just like that, Shit was back to her fancy high street babble, stripped of all that oozy slang.

Bifrons asked us, politely, to fuck off out of his squalor. Can’t blame the shroom. Brawling harshes his lustfronds. My cultist Shax never said a word the whole time. She doesn’t have a brain, per se, so whenever we go Mi-Go she sits in the corner and draws pictures of horses on her jelly belly. She knew horses from all the times she injected her heroin-reek anima down inside some overall-wearing ruralfuck pile of mundflesh. Dunno about horses. They just look like munted goats to me. But I always tell her she’s got dag talent.

“Hey, Moloch,” said Bifrons as I beat the dark aquatic out of there, “watch out for your sister, iä? I worry. You kids are always seething all the time. Just calm down and wait, like the rest of us. Soon enough our time will come.”

Our time?” I gibbered. “Whatever, Biff. I don’t even know what that means anymore.”

I don’t remember whose idea it was. Probably Zuzu. Poor roo had his ichor up and nowhere to spend it. But the dankest shit we ever did always came out of Shax’s rotten mind-bucket. It could’ve been me, even. After all that ungoat business with Bifrons, the featured creature known as Moloch was stone cold sober. And no one can handle R’lyeh at 3 am on a Friday night sober. The streets literally roll up at nine, like slugs shotgunned with salt. You’d kill yourself just to see something interesting go down.

And sometimes, sometimes, events just… unfurl. Nobody hungers it, but happenings hunger all on their own. You gibber down the road with your eeries minding your own stench, concentrating extra hard on not getting in trouble, on being an antique boy-thing, a fine, upstanding, mild-mannered unspeakable horror from beneath the skin of reality, and all of the sudden you’re standing in front of His house, and you don’t even know why.

His house. The biggest, grandest, dankest, moldiest, blackest house in town. Cthulhu Central Station, a swanky-ass mansion high on the hill, swollen up with damp, falling down from neglect. Apparently Mr. C don’t pay his maids too well. All the best for that fat motherfucker, the blue-blood boss man, the Chief Executive Octopus, winner of Most Likely to Rise Up and Devour the World three aeons running, the patrician magician, the insane aristocrat squatting on all our backs, waiting, dreaming, snoring, farting, and scratching his balls in his fulgy fhtagn sleep. And he can’t even be arsed to tip the help.

We three eeries gawped up at His porch, the columns, the stonework, the yawning height and depth and intellect-shearing ostentation of that naff goth wedding cake of a house. That neighborhood was so eel even Azathoth and Hastur got priced out in the Neolithic Era. We hissed at the flowers. No one but no one in R’lyeh could afford a garden—but all around the C-Man’s squalor, millions of black lilies and sicksilver roses writhed and runnelled and strangled each other, gibbering up into empty cottages and walk-ups all around the joint, puking out the windows, living rent-free in houses me and mine could only dream of.

A big, blousy fart-bubble belched up from Cthulhu’s veiny chimney. Oily colors wriggled on its surface as it rose up through the oceanic ultramarine night. We watched as it burst into a polluted rainbow beneath the black lozenges of ships moving silently through the airy, idiot mundworld.

“Best squamous going, I heard,” Shax gurgled. I’d almost forgotten she was there. I’m not much of a cultist when you get right down to it. I know that about myself. I’m trying to work on it.

“Iä, me too, I heard that,” Zuzu growled, still stung, pride still snakestomped. “Only you gotta be 100 percent goat. Quiet like a misko in a library. If you disturb the man’s slumber, it’s bad fhtagn news. He’s cranky when he first wakes up.”

So that’s how we ended up on a rickety rooftop huffing Cthulhu’s farts. Highly recommended; would huff again. They detonate in your brain pan like the birth of cruel galaxies and come streaming out your nose in globs of black opal blood, electric reeking soulpit slime, and I loved it, I couldn’t get enough. Shax turned bright purple and started sobbing like a wee baby slug, Zu slammed his skull against the chimney over and over till he had a dent in his face like a bootprint, and it was the dankest time I ever had or ever will have.

Shax reeled back, her tentacles floating wild uncurled shub-red gorgeous. Her gelatinous body pulsed out-spectrum colors, a ship code I’d never translate.

“Moloch, darling, love of my pythagorean fundament,” she moaned, “we gotta ask, we just gotta ask, what are they waiting for?”

“Who?” Zuzu rasped, wringing his scabby kangaroo tail in his great meatgob hands.

“Come on, eerie,” I sighed, spinning in my own personal gassy squamous. “Them. The Elder Gods. The Old Ones. The Waiting Dark. In his house in R’lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming. This fat fucking octopus right here.” I kicked the gambrel roof twice. “Why’s it always gotta be about the Elder Gods? What the fuck are they waiting for?”

Pazuzu thumped his pustulant tail. “The whole system’s rigged,” he chanted, “by the time we’re Elder, there’ll be nothing left for us but the ash-end of the universe. We slobber and serve and ain’t nobody ever gonna serve us. It’s not right. They got it all stitched up nice the way they like it, Yog-Sogoth and Yig and Azazoth and Hypnos and that fat sack of shit down the chimney. Even Mom. Shub-Niggurath herself, I know we love her and all but she spends all day shitting out kids on the dole and fuck me if you and me will ever be able to afford a slavering brood of our own. And then they turn around and call us krugs and layabout shubs when they’re the ones who snooze all aeon instead of rending the mortal world like they always promise. It’s bullshit, Moloch. Bullshit.”

Shax’s three eyes shone hideous, thinking of all those mortal streets she shuffled in her precious bloodpuppets. “You don’t even know how right you are, Zuzu. The mundworld is totally shoggo, believe me. The best they could do against us is cry while they piss their pants. But the Old Ones? Oh no, they just gorge and giggle and yig themselves and dick around while centuries go by and those mundo fucks up there invent nuclear fission. They got everything dank there was to devour and we get squidshit because they were born at the dawn of existence and we weren’t. Because they’re entitled to the whole damn multiverse while we’re entitled to sit on our asses and clap for their crumbs. Why don’t they just fhtagn retire and let the Young Ones come up the ranks a little? I’d be a bloody yellow queen of everything. Come on, you know it’s true! Shax, the All-Devourer, Accursed Meretrix of the Nether Nebulae, Mother of Madness, Flayer of All Things Dun and Shoggo! I’d capture hearts and minds, you better believe. But no, I have to wait, because they love waiting, and maybe when I’m a shriveled old crone I’ll get to devour one measly asteroid if I ask real nice. Fuck that.”

Shax rose up to the dark air, the stubby protuberances beneath her pyramid spinning and smoking furious. She screeched down the chimney.

“Do you hear that, Cthulhu, you sleepy motherfucker? I hate you. I hate you so fhtagn much.”

Then, Shax did something I didn’t even know she could do. Maybe it’s just a Yith thing. She sucked up a breath, sucked it all the way in, withered down to a dried-up triangular old-cheese-looking turd-chip and dove down the slime-lung chimney into the bowels of the house of Cthulhu.

Zu and me exploded into a real cacoph of waits and wheres and whats and Shax you fœtid bitches. We gibbered down the brainspout and busted a dag fulgy stained glass window as quiet as we could so as to crawl in after her. My cultist had re-inflated, re-hydrated, and re-animated in the smack middle of the Great Old One’s Great Old Foyer. Seventeen dimensional staircases corkscrewed all around her, mirrors yawned into nations unknown and unknowable, old mail spewed out from the post-slot in the Great Old Door. And all over everything sprawled the mottled sicksilver sapphire obese and pustulant tentacles of dreaming, waiting Cthulhu, bulging out everywhere, rotto mottled vomit-golden bloodless flesh balloons straining out of doors, cabinets, furnace grates, snoring like a siren out of time, sickly blueblack suckers all down his diseased limbs opening and closing shubbily, oozing hallucinogenic acidslime onto his own nice clean floors.

Shax dug one of Nyarlathotep’s tomes out of who-knows-where and lit it with an orange beam from her lower eye. She kicked one of the wormy tentacles. It didn’t budge.

“Maybe he’s dead,” Zu whispered.

“You wish,” I hissed back. One of Cthulhu’s moony eyes fluttered iris-down in the downstairs bathtub. Shax was in full seethe, turning magenta with righteous loathing. “Come on, Shax, enough. Babby, let’s go. You don’t want this ichor on you. It’s too much.”

Zuzu held out one crusty hand. “Girl-thing, leave this fat bat be. He’s not worth it.”

Shax smoked her peace for awhile. Listened to the shriek-flute of the Boss’s sleep apnea. The end of Papa Ny’s hand-rolled tome flared violet flame in the shadows.

“Fine,” she said finally. “Whatever.”

Mr. Moloch has never done anything so tough in his dun life as getting that granite slab door open without a creak. Mr. Moloch sweat sour green in the dark. And Mr. Moloch, when he got it open, stared across the veranda of the demon of the ultradeep into the crystalline snake-mug of his own sister Shit sidewinding up the stairs.

“I followed you,” hissed Shit before I could pull a repeat of my 9 pm performance of the What Are You Doing Here jive. “It wasn’t hard. You’re very loud.” Shit quick-kissed my face with the prongs of her tongue. “I do love you, Moloch. I try to look out for your dun ass.”

Shit took in the scene. Her many livers and spleens and lungs and stomachs and hearts pulsed wetly in her cellophane skin. She gawped Zuzu, winking guilty side-eye at her because back at Bifrons’s pad he’d tried to say he hungered her all casual but it was true and she shut that shit down. She gawped Shax, still flushing squamous magenta fury, plasmic pores still full of iridescent ancient fart-gas, sucking on her tome-butt. She gawped me, mutant goatsnake of the hour, just hungering to bolt back to the couch and sleep and another dun day in R’lyeh. But most of all, she gawped that effulgy fucking house, the columns and staircases and mirrors and curtains and beautiful foetid dank things she’d never have no matter how hard she glooned for the big boys, no matter how antique and eldritch she slavered for them, no matter how many eternities she devoted to their worship and their plans and their secretarial needs. And she gawped the lazyfuck octocunt flop of the squid sensation of every nation, the great pharaonic secret she had never been allowed to behold, even at the office holiday party. And the Great Ancient One, bulging out of every orifice in that grand house we’d never be able to buy if we outlived Saturn, was as disappointing as our own mother, useless and wrinkled and old and shoggo as shit.

Her serpent face crunkled and cracked.

Her organs twisted and boiled inside her. She hungered. Maybe she’d always hungered more than me, and I just don’t know anything about anything. I sure as sheol didn’t call what happened next.

My babby sister put her eyes on Shax.

“Burn it down,” Shit said. “Burn it all down.”

Shax grinned. Her pyramid slit itself almost in half to grin that wide. The Yith floated out the Great Old Door and flicked her smoldering tome behind her. It landed in a puddle of Cthulhu’s dreamsick spittle.

And the whole place went up behind her like the Big fhtagn Bang.

Unto the utter end of time and existence, it was the dankest thing I will ever see.

Be me: Moloch! Eldritch as they come, antique as a goddamned china set, maximum yellow fellow! Only five thousand years old, practically fresh-baked, belly full of san and gas and mushroom chemtrails, tentacles a smoking hot mess, fur the opposite of goat. Gawping on the sidewalk at the big ultraviolet hellcloud of Cthulhu’s fancy fucking house burning at the bottom of the sea.

For a minute, I gotta tell you, it felt fucking eldritch, my eeries. I could smell barbecuing god and it smelled like the future. A real future. Our future, a future Young and not Elder.

Then the shriek started.

It gibbered up from the cellar and out of the chimney and then everywhere at once. And the shriek had a color. It had a weight. It had shape inside the smoke and flame. The shriek shattered into shards flying up into the sea, out into the city, slicing through reality like sewing scissors. Shax and Shit and Zu and me fell to our knees, assorted mitts over our hear-holes, ready to babble for forgiveness, mercy clemency, all those fulgy words.

Then it stopped. Cool black water flowed down through the transdimensional doily separating us from the sea, down and through and over the Great Old House, drowning out the fire, the smoke, the shriek, everything, everything, smoothing it back the way it was, like nothing ever went down in there, like fire never even got itself invented in the vicinity.

In his house at R’lyeh, dead Cthulhu rolled over on his giant flabby cosmic belly. The last of the flames turned his infinitely-chambered lardheart as orange as a rotting pumpkin, as gold as the world we’ll never inherit, as soft and corrupt as the first moldering peach of original sin. In his dreaming, the Old One spluttered, groaned, cried out for some mundforsaken mother I cannot believe ever truly existed, and went back to sleep.

But the shards, my eeries, the shards of that antediluvian shriek were still going, shredding through the dimensional dome of our sky, bobbing up into the galleon-clotted mundsea like insane islands. Me and my brood didn’t know it was gonna happen. Believe me that if you believe anything. Everything that happened after that moment, topside and bottom, well, iä, iä, it’s our fault, sure, whatever, but all we ever meant to do was forget how garbage R’lyeh really is for one fhtagn night. Everybody deserves that, don’t they? Once in awhile?

I mean, maybe, just maybe, all that time, Cthulhu was waiting for us.

Two of the black ship-blobs tottered squamous up there in the far reaches of the mundworld. Tottered, gibbered, fell. Plummeted down through the fathoms of the fathoms toward R’lyeh, toward us, me and my Shax and my sister and my scabby sweetheart brother, delinquents junking up the gated community. As the wrecks rocketed toward the plane of me and mine in a champagne apocalypse of ultradeep bubbles, I gawped the names on the sides of the kruggy hulls. Just before they crashed our interdimensional undersea party for good, I got their names graffitied on my venomy heart.

The Alert and the Emma.

What fucking dun names, honestly. Mundflesh’s got no sense of style. Shax hid her face in my shoulder. Shit flared her crystal hood so no one would recognize her and shamble-slithered off down an alley ‘cause she wasn’t gonna take on a speck of shame no matter what. Pazuzu stood fast, though. He squeezed my hand.

“What are you gonna say,” Shax whispered, “when our spawn asks where you were the night the humans landed?”

We watched the ships fall down to us like black, uncertain rain.

Oh, well. There goes the neighborhood.

(Editors’ Note: “Down and Out in R’lyeh” is read by Heath Miller and Catherynne M. Valente is interviewed by Julia Rios on the Uncanny Magazine Podcast, Episode 18B.)

Catherynne M. Valente

Catherynne M. Valente is The New York Times–bestselling author of over two dozen works of fiction and poetry, including Palimpsest, the Orphan’s Tales series, Deathless, Radiance, and the crowdfunded phenomenon The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. She is the winner of the Andre Norton, Tiptree, Mythopoeic, Rhysling, Lambda, Locus, and Hugo Awards. She has been a finalist for the Nebula and World Fantasy Awards. She lives on an island off the coast of Maine with a small but growing menagerie of beasts, some of which are human.

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