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the Nameless City

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Author Topic: the Nameless City  (Read 247 times)
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Posts: 4530

« on: February 27, 2007, 12:15:59 am »

Suddenly there came another burst of that acute fear which had
intermittently seized me ever since I first say the terrible valley and
the nameless city under a cold moon, and despite my exhaustion I found
myself starting frantically to a sitting posture and gazing back along
the black corridor toward the tunnels that rose to the outer world. My
sensations were like those which had made me shun the nameless city at
night, and were as inexplicable as they were poignant. In another
moment, however, I received a still greater shock in the form of a
definite sound--the first which had broken the utter silence of these
tomb-like depths. It was a deep, low moaning, as of a distant throng of
condemned spirits, and came from the direction in which I was staring.
Its volume rapidly grew, till it soon reverberated rightfully through
the low passage, and at the same time I became conscious of an
increasing draught of old air, likewise flowing from the tunnels and
the city above. The touch of this air seemed to restore my balance, for
I instantly recalled the sudden gusts which had risen around the mouth
of the abyss each sunset and sunrise, one of which had indeed revealed
the hidden tunnels to me. I looked at my watch and saw that sunrise was
near, so bracing myself to resist the gale that was sweeping down to
its cavern home as it had swept forth at evening. My fear again waned
low, since a natural phenomenon tends to dispel broodings over the

More and more madly poured the shrieking, moaning night wind into
the gulf of the inner earth. I dropped prone again and clutched vainly
at the floor for fear of being swept bodily through the open gate into
the phosphorescent abyss. Such fury I had not expected, and as I grew
aware of an actual slipping of my form toward the abyss I was beset by
a thousand new terrors of apprehension and imagination. The malignancy
of the blast awakened incredible fancies; once more I compared myself
shudderingly to the only human image in that frightful corridor, the
man who was torn to pieces by the nameless race, for in the fiendish
clawing of the swirling currents there seemed to abide a vindictive
rage all the stronger because it was largely impotent. I think I
screamed frantically near the last--I was almost mad--of the howling
wind-wraiths. I tried to crawl against the murderous invisible torrent,
but I could not even hold my own as I was pushed slowly and inexorably
toward the unknown world. Finally reason must have wholly snapped; for
I fell babbling over and over that unexplainable couplet of the mad
Arab Alhazred, who dreamed of the nameless city:

That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death may die.

Only the grim brooding desert gods know what really took place--what
indescribably struggles and scrambles in the dark I endured or what
Abaddon guided me back to life, where I must always remember and shiver
in the night wind till oblivion--or worse--claims me. Monstrous,
unnatural, colossal, was the thing--too far beyond all the ideas of man
to be believed except in the silent damnable small hours of the morning
when one cannot sleep.

I have said that the fury of the rushing blast was infernal--
cacodaemoniacal--and that its voices were hideous with the pent-up
viciousness of desolate eternities. Presently these voices, while still
chaotic before me, seemed to my beating brain to take articulate form
behind me; and down there in the grave of unnumbered aeon-dead
antiquities, leagues below the dawn-lit world of men, I heard the
ghastly cursing and snarling of strange-tongued fiends. Turning, I saw
outlined against the luminous aether of the abyss that could not be
seen against the dusk of the corridor--a nightmare horde of rushing
devils; hate distort, grotesquely panoplied, half transparent devils of
a race no man might mistake--the crawling reptiles of the nameless

And as the wind died away I was plunged into the ghoul-pooled
darkness of earth's bowels; for behind the last of the creatures the
great brazen door clanged shut with a deafening peal of metallic music
whose reverberations swelled out to the distant world to hail the
rising sun as Memnon hails it from the banks of the Nile.

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