The Echo of Echoes
Written and illustrated by Andy Paciorek,
With special thanks to Andreea V. Balcan .
The day will come when you will be forced to take sides. There will be no luxury of apathy, no sitting on the fence, for those who do not oppose nor conform, will be crushed underfoot without mercy. The time will come to decide, whether humanity itself is worth defending against all odds or whether self-preservation and abandonment of your own species and everything you ever thought you knew is the wiser option. Either way you will lose.
I sit here within this circle of stone sisterhood, scribbling my thoughts into my notebook with my papers scattered around me. My back reclining against the monolithic matriarch of Long Meg herself; I would rather, in what may be my last moments, be nestling my head in the lap of a living woman rather than a petrified witch of legend. Yet so foul now is the miasma of horror that exudes from my every pore, that I fear I would be shunned by the most lowly drug-addicted harlot. But not for any satiation of carnal desire do I crave the company anyway, so sombre and wretched has my demeanour been of late that there is no amour nor affection residing within my being. No, I would wish more for such a thing for the sensation of comfort and warmth, a reminder of what it means to be human, perhaps the illusion of hope that everything is going to be alright, that the world as we think we know it is not going to end. But everything is Not going to be all right! I have heard the echoes and the end times approach.
Perhaps I should explain how I came to be here on the dawn of this wintering day, here on the moors of Maughanby near Penrith, and how my life came to be in such disarray. Until recently I was a journalist, not for some mighty media empire or broadcasting giant, but merely a reporter for a local rag, The Westmoreland & Cumberland Chronicle, but still I was good at my job … too good. Attention to detail was my downfall, in career and in life. Closer scrutiny of certain local cases, recent and then as I delved further, I discovered historically, started to reveal strange patterns. In investigating myriad cases, - disappearances, strange deaths, thefts of religious and artistic artefacts, vague connections kept appearing regarding the names and properties of the Mordrake and Moorecroft families. Loose connections I grant you, nothing concrete to directly incriminate, yet I feel .. I know, that this is due to skilled concealment and repression of evidence on their part and of their associates from both sides of the law. From my research into both of these houses, I learnt that this was a skill that they had honed over centuries. Tracing the family trees back beneath dark soil to their tangled and gnarled roots, I discovered a hazy trail of mystique and maleficence weaving back to Brigante times and probably beyond. Oh yes, names had changed over time, but the blood lines remained strong and true, if at times mutated by interbreeding.
Though the names of Demdike and Chattox and the like may be familiar to readers of the accounts of North British witchcraft, the names of Mordrake and Moorecroft are mysteriously absent, yet in terms of esoteric involvement and influence these families were and still are at the heart of weird and woeful occult, heathen practice. Sacrifice and slaughter and sexual deviancy are as endemic to them as the wealth and respect that they have gathered about themselves.
I took my findings to my editors, Mr Leigth and Mr Bradley – two of the most different characters ever to work together. I had left my car-keys in the office one evening and had returned to collect them, when from behind closed doors I heard them discussing both my report and me. Actually it was only the heated voice of Bradley I heard; Leigth, though in many ways the dominant character of the pair is a man of few words. Bradley ranted about good reporters gone bad and law-suits from wealthy respectable members of the community who kept themselves to themselves, and a tirade of how the paper was concerned with facts and not works of fabulous fiction. So it was the next day, that Mr Leigth called me into his office and to cut to the chase, basically informed me in a gentle and tactful manner that I was due a rest and was required to take leave of an indefinite period. I was livid, but could say nothing and did as was bid. Yet I continued my research and it took me in an unforeseen direction, wide reaching in both geography and fields of study. And though my report was buried in favour of the usual and mundane tales of cattle markets and rescues of careless tourists to the lakes and hills, my research did not remain unknown to those parties it directly concerned. In my investigation, I learnt to my dismay that Mr Leigth was a close and personal friend of one Mr Algeron Moorecroft.
That my career in the press had come to an end was without doubt and was the least of my worries. Though I was nothing but an insignificant ant in the families’ grand plans, it is an undeniable fact that the fate of many an ant is to be trampled beneath the heel of a heavy boot. Though I doubt there was anything I could do to halt their cataclysmic ambitions (of which I was only becoming aware at that point) I knew I might be considered an irritation, best rid of. I wondered only whether they would try to conform me or simply to annihilate me.
They made it known to me that I was known to them. They made their displeasure apparent, not in so vulgar and obtuse a manner as verbal threat or poison pen letter; instead they spoke to me in dreams, telling me to desist. But these were not the worst of my night-thoughts by any means. As my research intensified and I delved further into the past and further across the globe, unearthing more and more dark buried secrets, nightmares of terrible landscapes, abnormal practices and malformed, grotesque beings infested my every sleeping moment. I had little respite when awake, but I could at least then try to master my own thoughts, even if the skin of what I considered reality peeled away before my eyes like the layers of a rotten onion.
So I shunned sleep, I drowned myself in caffeine and through the shadier contacts I had made as a matter of course of my newspaper work, I armed myself with a hearty supply of amphetamine.
But I have not spoken of their plans have I? Well not here, there are many folders of paperwork and files on my computer back at my house detailing my research, but already I suspect they may have been destroyed. The plans of the Moorecrofts and Mordrakes, and not only them but of kindred dark souls across the entire globe were nothing less than the end of the world itself. To be more precise they planned to be the heralds and the conduits through whose means the Old Gods would return to rule the earth for future aeons.
The Old Gods … the forgotten monstrous force of eternity, their presence hidden from the masses, but known and served for centuries and across numerous nations by certain clans and families. The fools! Blind and greedy in their devotion to those foul eternal monsters, they think they will be rewarded for their obedience to the Ancient Ones but once they have paved the way of the New Dawn, set the machinery running for the re-emergence of the Outer Gods, they will have served their purpose and course and be utterly destroyed like the rest of mankind. Of that I am sure! I say re-emerge for they have never left this world, least not all of them. Many of greater and lesser degree sleep beneath the soil, within the mountains, below the lakes and oceans. Their tendrils spread across the entire planet, yet there are places where their presence still is more manifest – in the frozen wastes of the Artic and Antarctic, in New England, the Himalayas, regions of North Africa and in Asia and here in sleepy, beautiful Cumbria.
I know how this must sound – the sleep-deprived, chemically polluted ravings of a man close to the edge. Yes, though I teeter on the precipice, I have never been more lucid. I even now emit a laugh, not the roar or a lunatic, but a small weary smile of gallows humour as I think on the irony of Bradley’s words. Fiction – Ha! All the miserable facts of everyday existence are the fiction, masks concealing the huge clandestine truth of existence. It is in the fantastic fiction of novelists and poets, in the images of artists where the real truths have if not entirely revealed, been most alluded to. What may be considered imagination or inspiration is instead sensitivity to the unknown things. There is more fact in the purple prose of the notorious Providence pulp-writer than in all the newssheets of the world.
It is inevitable that it is so, of such magnitude is the presence and manifestation of the Great Old Ones that from the dawn of time to the dusk of their awakening and the midnight that falls at the death of the universe, ripples of their being have undulated back and forth across the vast dimension of time. It is to be expected that such echoes would touch the minds of and be represented as best possible by those of an openly creative disposition. It is there, manifest in the grotesque visions of Hieronymous Bosch, in the perverse ink-lines of Alfred Kubin and in the strange half-sleep drawings of Austin Osman Spare.
It is there in comic-books and celluloid – Kubrick felt drawn and revealed truths without perhaps knowing it in his choice of literature to film – masked orgies, madness in the mountains, the worship of a devastating force, violence on the streets of a broken society, even in the silent sentinel monoliths the monstrous presence is manifest.
Oh, they may claim other sources of inspiration, find other explanations to claim the monstrous genius as their own, but would they have dared admit that they didn’t know or even if they did know from where those thoughts and images truly sprung?
The echoes resonate in some of the lines of Gogol and Baudelaire, of Rabelais and Poe. William Blake knew it, he felt it – when he spoke of an eternity in a grain of sand he may well have spoke of the Old Gods; of their great cosmic fractal entity that replicates eternally from the microcosm of a molecule of a speck of dust on the scale of a butterfly’s wing to the ravenous nebulae that span light years across the depths of space. The echo of echoes, the harmony of chaos – the discord of logic, the end of the beginning and the beginning of the end; such is the magnitude of the Ancient Ones. Resonating through time they are the Ouroboros of the archaic alchemists – the infinite serpent that continuously devours and gives birth to itself.
The echoes have of course been felt by others, still and growing stronger as the days approach. Manifest not in words of novels or poems, or on marks on paper or canvas but as acts of the most saddening violence and depravity. The world grows insane; lurid, tragic news-clippings gather by my feet, headlines screaming “Gruesome Torture-Den Found in Whitehaven Shed”, “Archaeology Students Die in Mysterious Circumstances”, “More Strange Disappearances at Ashness Bridge” “Young Mother Murders Newborn Son” … the list goes on and on. More and more people turn now to drink and drugs to blind their nightmares and waking horrors, as the Ancients stir from their womb of sleep, their presence becomes felt more by even the less sensitive. And there are other signs – the fluorescent froth that floats on Windermere heralding the awakening of the amphibious underlings of the breathing darkness. The black beacons are once more lit on the hilltops, invisible to many but drawing others to their death. And in the wider world, rioters take to the streets as nature rebels also wreaking more and more environmental disasters.
Long hours I spent in my house engrossed in newspaper stories and genealogy papers, and in books and articles on science, witchcraft, ufology, meteorology, astronomy, clairvoyance, cryptozoology, applied mathematics, ley-lines, earth mysteries and many more diverse and esoteric subjects besides. I was gripped by the practice of reading and reinterpreting the riddles of Meso-America and of the Middle East, and the lines of grimoires and Enochian script and other eldritch tomes. Then what seemed at first like random and strange abstract jigsaw puzzle pieces began to lock into place displaying a weird and terrifying truth. Synchronous interconnections of people and places and events of past, present and future revealed themselves.
The ancients felt the ripple of echoes, Nostradamus saw the hazy shapes in his pail of water, John Dee heard the faint whispers and glimpsed the vague forms of the Others in the reflections of his black obsidian mirror. In the glyphs and codices of the ancient Egyptians and the ancient Mayans, fluctuations to the common order were recorded but they were vague and more dimly understood for they spoke more of mathematical equations and of astronomy rather than of the horrendous events that will unfold. Much has been said of 2012 but the days of October 28 or December 21 or December 24 may pass unremarkably as the matter of configuration of the sun, earth and centre of the galaxy are just minor recurrent movements, single steps in a much longer dance. All molecules of matter will concur, not in a straight line but as a great expanding Mandelbrot spiral as the awakening occurs. The end may not come upon any of those specific dates, it is in motion already and the calendar becomes meaningless anyway for when the rebirth of the Old Ones and the death of the human aeon coincide birth and death throes will echo and ripple back and forth across the ribbons of time.
And on the fringe, some have spoken of the return of the dark planet, Nibiru, but science has scoffed this with their data and astronomical observation, but their telescopes are faced the wrong way. Nibiru, Planet X … call it what you will, will return but from beneath, not from outward. It will rise from the soil and rise from the sea and explode forth from the mouths of men and beasts.
And he too will return from his slumber at the bottom of the ocean, that great Devil-Fish deity I dare not name. He was sealed within his sleeping tomb for millennia, but I hope it may be possible that he may be trapped again but such folly for I fear his confinement was of his own bidding.
He may be released by the direct intervention of the faithful deviant followers or it may occur through the foolhardiness and greed of deep-sea explorers. The hidden texts declare that the walls of his nadir cell are marked with warnings of all the written tongues of the time – Sumerian, Egyptian, Akkadian and the forgotten languages of the Atlanteans, Lemurians, Hyperboreans and of other forgotten extinct races. But did Carter and Carnarvon pay heed to the warnings on the tomb of Tutankhamun? They did not, and though the curse there was of questionable merit, should this submerged edifice be breached, he will awaken and he will rise and when he does great tsunamis will rage for hundreds of miles inland, drowning cities and claiming multitudes of lives.
I discovered this and many more grim truths in my studies, but what could I do? I could write and warn, perhaps scupper the intentions of certain individuals who seek to bring about the abominations upon the earth, but there were too many others to take their place. I could not turn my mind off; still I dug deeper and deeper into more arcane material. I rarely left my home at that stage, only fleeting journeys to buy fast food, more coffee and cigarettes and the occasional drive into Newcastle or Carlisle to procure more Speed.
But then I noticed I was being watched, being followed and it was no longer safe to stay at home, so I drove and wandered and walked and wondered. I knew I could not run forever, but I wanted more time to learn more, to satiate my self-devouring addiction to this terrible knowledge. And so I eventually roamed here to Long Meg.
And now as I scribble what may be my final words, the light fails suddenly. Does the twilight fall already? I look upwards –the golden sun sinks into a spiralling winter sky of blue and grey and crimson. For all the cruelty of fate and the wasted chances of mankind, this is a beautiful place. The light falls sublimely on the sisterhood of standing stones circling me, in the distance horizon the faint outline of the mounts of the English Lake District. It is indeed a beautiful place … A beautiful place to die perhaps. I know my time is coming, I feel the anticipation of great change … the calm before the storm. I fear it but welcome it more for I know I will not bear witness to the darker times ahead.
They are coming. I see their shadowy forms beyond the edge of the stone circle. Men, no not men, amorphous smoky man –like forms. Perhaps the bodies of men acting as the vehicles of another force, hungry to get out but confined in these mortal vessels until the physics of the planet are altered to suit their needs. Tendrils of purple mist seems to issue from their fingers and to caress the stone bodies of Long Meg’s daughters and is it my fancy or do I hear faint ecstatic sighs emitted from these petrified maidens upon the return and touch of their dark masters?
They come nearer. The faint purple mist creeps beneath the stones approaching me It is strange, they say your life flashes in front of your eyes when death approaches, I hastily scribble these words, but all that comes to my mind is an image of myself within the womb, strange … a comfort mechanism perhaps – I wondered whether before birth I had a vision of my death. Perhaps this is not death but rebirth.
Closer still .. I feel a serene dread and both love and abhorrence for the encroaching beings. I realise I have not chosen a side to be on … the choice is not mine.
My fingers touch the stone of Long Meg and I feel the grooves of a ‘cup and ring’ marking. The design of concentric circles engraved by the crude tools of prehistoric man . Oddly the touch of it soothes me, I recognise it as the eternal spiralling circle of time and existence, reverberations of infinite endless realities – the echo of an echo of an echo…
They are here …