Scoop Satire: The Calculator of Cthulhu
The Calculator of CthulhuSatire by Lyndon Hood
with no apologies to H P Lovecraft
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My doctors have sensed that I am holding something back, that secret is ravaging my mind. Yet I cannot speak of it. If my story became know, it would surely tear apart the gossamer veil that lies between mankind and insanity.
The most recent doctor, a young man, suggested I might write down, secretly, the unspeakable memories I can never share. At first, I could not endure the bare thought of revisiting those horrors, even in private memory. But now, here I sit, beside the kindling fire as night falls, and my shaking pen writes these words.
I still cannot think of the affair of the Prime Minister of New Zealand without a shudder of unmitigated horror.
The days have turned to weeks, since my wild flight from Wellington. Fear, and the immediate preservation of my body, have given way to a fear for my soul. And I brood continually upon the things I have seen, upon certain astronomical events and upon recent discoveries in subatomic physics. The dread I feel – for myself and for all of humanity – has only expanded.
I wish they had never built that monstrous apparatus under the Swiss Alps. Its dangers have so often been guessed at, never for the right reasons.
I confess I had never been a friend to John Key, and that I opposed his unusually rapid rise to power. But I never spread any of those peculiar rumours about him, dismissing them as the envious fictions that power inevitably attracts. I do not speak in personal emnity, though recent events have changed my assessment of those rumours.
Now, I remember one that had all the marks of an urban legend – a set of stories with different circumstances, matching only in the most gruesome details. Saying that at various times and places, he was known to have shot off his own mouth, yet appeared entirely unharmed immediately after.
I gave those no more credance than the other stories, such as the one about how he'd killed a guy, just to see if he could get away with it if he smiled and claimed it was part of his economic programme.
Nobody saw anything unusual in the Prime Minister's behaviour. He had become, if anything, more relaxed and charming.
Yet recently certain of his personal habits had become more pronounced. He would produce strange items – "statistics", he called them – perhaps regarding Australia, or employment, or Women's pay, the number of children failing at school or the sufficiency of evidence for driver blood/alcohol laws – that did not seem to have come from any recognisable data set of this Earth.
Just then I was, partly due to my own eccentricities, at a loose end or – as I thought – I might not have given the matter any thought. And I also began to wonder why his Ministers were one by one ceasing to appear in public for interviews.
I began a methodical search for a clue as to what mysterious process he had used to manufacture those facts.
Soon I found the deeper tunnels, below the pre-European foundation of the Parliament buildings, and the disturbing markings which my torchlight revealed on those walls.
And I knew that my search had been subconciously driven by some subtle recognition.
As a youth I had chanced on certain arcane volumes, and acquired a secret passion for these bizzare and secret histories – though I was never quite certain if I took it seriously. In truth, my first thought of political life was sparked by a rumour that the Parliament library contained a copy of the fabled Necronomicon (though it proved to be a woefully incomplete Latin version of the mad Arab's writings).
My investigations took to hidden sites all around the world – a passion for travel that bemused my colleagues. I have puzzled over worn inscriptions in half-sunken Venetian crypts and shuddered at distorted friezes uncovered in abandoned Tibetan temples, amidst the shrill, arcane piping of the Himalayan winds.
I see now that every moment was a step on the path that brought me here.
As I journeyed ever deeper into those underground passages, the strong the often-remarked scent of despair and madness that clings to Parliament became gradually stronger. I was on the point of turning back, overwhelmed by the stench, when I heard movement in front of me, and saw light.
A kind of cavern opened up at the intersection of several tunnels, filled with a sourceless, pale green light. Strangely-carved arches vanished upwards into dark cyclopean vaults. A robed figure was capering manically in the eldritch glow, consulting the marks that filled the limestone-dripped walls and scribbling notes on scraps of paper that littered the sandy floor.
At first I did not recognize him – how could I have? But it seems he was fully aware of my presence. I drew a shocked breath as the Prime Minister turned and spoke to me.
"See!" he said, "I told you! We are catching up with Australia – if you use percentages!"
And his waving hand forced my attention to the whiteboard my eyes had instinctually tried to avoid.
I recoiled in terror as I saw those monstrous calculations, that obscene, non-Euclidean arithmetic – inscriptions that were half numerals, half grotesque symbols representing realities far removed from our own.
I made the mistake of trying to understand it, and was trapped by its mesemerising insanity. Those conclusions that seemed to shift from one moment to the other! The unhallowed divisors he had used to derive such fiendish percentages!
Yet even as my brain swam I knew I had yet to uncover the full extent of this horror. For surely this man who was once human – and was in between times a currency trader – could not have become the creature of illogic I saw before me without the company of another, without the example of some shambling monstrosity of pure madness coaxing from beyond the edges of reason.
And at that moment, I felt the atmosphere change. An increasing wave of stale air flowed from one of the further tunnel mouths. It steamed as it rose, forced from unthinkable, scorching depth by the rapidly rising bulk of some gibbering creature of the black pit.
In a moment that I believe saved my remaining sanity, animal fear overcame my mental paralysis. I turned and ran.
Behind me I heard the Prime Minister, who had turned to welcome the tunneling force of unreason that was surely approaching, call after me in dismay:
"But you can't go – you haven't met the Minister for Economic Development!"
My limbs ached and my lungs burned, but knowing what was behind, mere bodily pain could not slow my flight. It was something far more insidious that drove me near to despairing collapse.
As I desperately ran towards the imagined safety of daylight, I sought to measure my pace towards my goal against certain milestones I thought I saw in the far distance. Yet as I sought to check my progress against this arbitrary goal, I found these milestones had vanished, or had never existed at all. Without them, I suddenly feared all my tremendous efforts might be making no progress at all, or even sending me racing in the wrong direction, back into the hole I had come from.
Even space itself: I think I ceased to believe in anything. Shub-Niggurath! The howling Nyarlathotep! Ïa! Ïa! Cthulhu fhtagn!
Yet, partly because I had no other ideas, I kept running. Somehow, I emerged alive.
When I tell the doctors I am horrified by the Government, and would do anything to change it, they think I am making small talk.
The truth, and the source of my enduring horror, is that we are governed by creatures capable of such hideous computations, whose relationship to what we call reality is a matter of personal convenience, in whose mad grip established fact crumbles into incoherence.
Somehow they projected into our brains an image or safety, a steady hand on the tiller. Now, like one awakening from a dream, I find that every sphere of Government is being destroyed and rebuilt. Rebuilt in the lunatic image of its incomprehensible builders.
And I ask myself how they can wilfully distort the properties of accepted underlying reality.
But is not 'charm' a property of those quantum particles those scientists and engineers foolishly seek to summon in those cthonic tunnels under Switzerland?
And can it be coincidence that mere days after I saw those half-real calculations distort known reality, a gigantic explosion rippled across the hemisphere of the Sun closest to earth? I am told that the storm of that cataclysm is, even as I write, reaching our atmosphere and causing an eldrich glow in the night sky. I dare not look.
No doubt many think me mad. I have done nothing to discourage it, and I certainly had no need to counterfeit the symptoms of nervous collapse. The only one I have heard to doubt it is the one who knows the whole truth.
But I had to take a tangled path to escape that tangled web. If I simply fled without explanation, I could not be sure of my safety. Even here, hundreds of miles distant from that buzzing hive of madness.
I had to leave – as permanently as I could – without suspicion of true cause of my flight. I could not have my colleagues on the scent of the horrible truths that have destroy my happiness. And I had to show the irrational powers which I fled that I could remain silent.
The desperate solution I devised was as follows: I sent an anonymous letter attacking the leader of my own party around the press gallery, leaving clues to be sure that it would be traced back to me within the day.
They insisted I leave, and will do anything they can to stop me going back. They imagine themselves triumphant. If they knew the truth, how they would envy me.
As I write, and the Southern sky glows greenly, I have indeed found a certain strange peace. Setting these events on paper has put them in an inexplicable order.
It only remains for me to throw these closely-filled sheets into the fire. I must do it now – to be certain these horrific secrets spread no further.
In a moment.
Someone is knocking at the door.
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