“Hi Mr. Wilcox.”
“Hello, Raymond, nice to see you again. Has Henry got you doing his work for him?”
The two young men were each carrying loaded cardboard boxes in their arms and stopped to respond despite the weight held inside each. “Mom mentioned she needed these put out in the garage, dad,” Henry defended himself, “and when Ray heard her, he volunteered to help.”
“Well, if this weather would ever clear up, I’d mention that the grass needs cutting and maybe he’d help you with that too,” Henry’s father said with a look to the grey sky. “It’s been raining for days now. Seems a plain old cloudy day is the best we can expect.” He brought his attention back to his son and his friend. “Well, those look heavy. Go ahead and do what your mother asked, Henry. See you guys later.”
The boys went on their way without a word as they labored beneath the weight of the boxes. Eventually, they reached the side door of the garage and Henry set his box on the ground with a thud and a rattle.
“Careful,” scolded Raymond.
“What is in there anyway? It feels like rocks.”
“That’s none of your concern,” Raymond snapped. “Just show it to me.”
“Okay, okay,” Henry said and fished around his pocket for a moment before producing a key. Then, after glancing around to be sure the coast was clear, he opened the door.
As it creaked open, a sliver of clouded daylight allowed them to see the dust hanging in the air of the garage interior. Immediately, the repugnant smell met them. While Henry recoiled and pulled his t-shirt to cover his mouth and nose, Raymond breathed it his, inhaling all of its musky, rotten stench with anticipation. Immediately, Raymond pushed in past the doorway and began inspecting the floor of the garage, at first with a patient reverence and then with the furtiveness of a growing panic.
“Where is it?” he asked aloud, then, without Henry’s answer coming quickly enough, he lunged at him and grabbed him by his shirt. “You said it was here. Where is it?”
“Take it easy,” Henry urged. He slowly dragged the boxes into the garage, turned on the light and as it buzzed above their heads he locked the door behind them and navigated past his father’s old Subaru into the opposite corner. There, an old section of drapes covered something that protruded form the concrete floor and the terrible smell heightened. Awkward points stuck out and at the spots where the drape touched whatever horror lie beneath, there were moisture spots soaking through the heavy fabric.
Without wanting to touch any of these spots, Henry carefully grasped two dry sections of the material between thumb and forefinger and with the announcement of, “So gross,” slowly pulled it away.
Raymond gasped as he caught his first glimpse of the blocks of odd stone sticking out in strange directions. The angles at which they met one another was reminiscent of an M.C. Escher work. They brought to mind the Penrose staircase and forced one to think they could not possibly exist in the manner in which they did except for the fact that there they were before you.
The sight was exactly what Raymond had been dreaming. He smiled at the collection of strange blocks, greenish slime oozing off of them in the fluorescent light of Mr. Wilcox’s garage workspace. He would barely have been able to believe what he was seeing had it not been for the fact that it was all so very small.
The smile left his face and Raymond became flushed. He wheeled on Henry and demanded, “What is this? This is not what you showed me. Where is that which you showed to me?”
“This is it,” Henry insisted as he backed away. “This is what I showed you.”
“This?” he shouted. “This is tiny! This is diminutive! This is not fitting of the powers which you claim to have brought me here to witness!”
“I didn’t bring you here to witness anything but these weird slimy rocks,” Henry corrected him, somewhat offended by the manner in which his new friend was speaking to him. “I was minding my own business, drawing this in my notebook during Science class and you insisted on knowing where I had seen it. You wanted me to show it to you.”
“It was supposed to be massive,” Raymond argued and raised his hands above his head. “It was supposed to be of a size and scale beyond comprehension.”
“We never talked about how big it was. You did most of the talking. I told you it had sprouted up out of the ground in my parents’ garage after that mild earthquake. How big did you think it could have been?”
Raymond sighed as he realized the question meant the defeat of the righteousness to his anger. He moved forward and asked, “What of the portal? Where is it?”
“The sewer cover?” Henry asked. “Right on the top.”
Raymond turned to inspect the outcropping of unnamed stone that had raised from the Wilcox’s garage floor closer and leaned over what appeared to be a standard manhole cover at its peak. Closer inspection revealed that the markings upon it were not in English, nor in any sort of lettering that either of them had seen anywhere. Anywhere that is, except for the writings that Raymond had kept secret from everyone he had known for years. He ran to the boxes and dug out the books and statues that he had hidden in the bottom of them beneath Mrs. Wilcox’s knickknacks and old rags.
“It cannot be,” Raymond said as he ran with a yellowed sheet of paper in one hand and a small idol in the other back to the stones. “The markings.”
“Yeah, those have always been there,” added Henry, looking Raymond’s shoulder. “My dad says that sewer cover has been there since we moved in. Sometimes it smells bad but it always goes away. We always thought it was just some weird marks somebody had scratched into it. Does it mean anything to you?”
“It means everything,” Raymond said and clutched the paper closer to his chest after noticing Henry was trying to see what strange writing was transcribed upon them. The writing on the sewer cover were ancient hieroglyphics that matched perfectly to an inscription on the base of the idol as well as the writing on Raymond’s papers.
“I don’t know how it is possible, but this must be it. This is R’lyeh,” Raymond said and placed his hands on the sewer cover.
“It’s what?” asked Henry.
Raymond paid him no attention but quickly went about his work of removing carved statues, candles and books from the boxes the boys had carried. He repeated the words, “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn,” several times then stood back.
Henry’s jaw nearly touched the floor. “What the hell is going on?” he asked. “This some messed up voodoo sh…”
“Silence!” Raymond turned and shouted at him. “The time is at hand for the high priest Cthulhu to be rise and lay waste to all that you know and for him to summon the Great Old Ones! You and your kind shall wail as you burn!”
Raymond panted and the two stared at one another in silence. Soon, he turned back to the sewer cover. He expected something to have happened. He slid his hands over the sewer cover again and repeated his incantation but with more desperation in his voice.
“You know what,” Henry said from behind him. “I don’t think we should hang out anymore.”
After a few moments, just as Raymond was about to give up, a low rumble began to emanate from the small pile of stone. Raymond stepped backward and begin to laugh. As the rumbling increased so did the maniacal tone to his laughter and the sewer cover began to tip in on itself.
“Yes,” called Raymond, “rise great Chtulhu!”
When the cover had unexplainably disappeared from site, the rumbling stopped and all was silent for a time. Raymond stepped slowly toward the open hole amongst the rock outcroppings and Henry followed cautiously behind. As the two peered down into the chasm and the darkness that seemed to stretch for thousands of miles beneath the Earth, the distant sound of a large exhale came forth from the space and suddenly something shot out from the gaping hole in the ground into the face of Raymond.
As he fell backward to the floor, he shrieked in horror and flailed his arms wildly about him, trying to remove the thing that spewed itself forth from the depths of Hell from his face.
“Stop,” called Henry. “You’re gonna hurt it.” He ran to Raymond’s side and removed what appeared to be a young, slime covered kitten from his chest and stroked it gently in his arms where it began to pur.
Raymond, in shock, looked to the stone structure, but it had disappeared. The manhole cover was back on the flat surface of the Wilcox’s concrete garage floor.
“No,” he muttered. “It can’t be. I was to summon the great Cthulhu. I, Raymond Castro have studied these ancient texts for years and I was to usher in a new dawn to the time of the Old Ones, yet all that has appeared before me is this cat.”
“He likes me,” Henry said as the kitten nuzzled into his chest. “Wait,” he added and lifted the kitten suddenly above his head and looked up at it. “Yep, he.”
Without a word, Raymond gathered his statues and books. He tucked the papers under his arm and rushed away into the rain, just as the sun was beginning to break through on the western horizon and intended to destroy every one of the items later that night.