This always happens to me. This always always happens to me. I never have any luck. Michèle Cameron hated her life. She had scoured New England's libraries in vain looking for the one book she needed to complete her research on witchcraft in early America. She had been ridiculed because her research presupposed something real about the superstitions that permeated the dark, cowering settlements on the edge of civilization. She only needed that book to prove to everyone that early American witches were not all necessarily misunderstood Wiccans. She knew there were people who walked into the deep boreal forests to perform acts of unspeakable power, people who had attained powers greater than those men were meant to have. That one book, Ceremonies of the Witches' Sabaoth, if ever she could find a copy, would put those powers in her grasp and she could prove conclusively the hysterias in early America over witches had their roots in properly-inspired fears.
But she hadn't found the book, she had $150 left to her name, nowhere but her car to live, was in a blinding rainstorm on some rural New Hampshire road full of potholes, and her car was breaking down. Just marvelous. I've always wanted to take a stroll in the freezing rain. By myself. At night. Joy.
She had passed a town not too far back, maybe a mile or two ago, and figured on making a call to AAA from there. At least I'm lucky I wasn't on the Interstate. There wasn't anything helpful along I-93. The side roads always had a farm or a hamlet every two or three miles. Maybe my luck could be taking a turn?
She made a u-turn and drove into the town just as the smoke pouring out of her engine made it impossible to see the road ahead. The rain had even lightened up. How nice. I won't get drenched.
She couldn't see any lights on in the town. Just dark, brooding buildings in various states of disrepair. Dingy, moldy clapboards clinging desperately to rotting frames. No cars on the streets, no goods in the shop windows. Great. I found a quaint little ghost town at the perfect time.
She got her umbrella and got out of the car, anyway. What did she have to lose? At worst, she would get wet, cold, and bored. She was already cold and bored in the car, and wet didn't seem that much worse to her.
There are a lot of really neat totally abandoned buildings here. Just what I always wanted. Forget my luck taking a good turn...
Then Michèle noticed a flicker of light in a building a few blocks away from the main road, past a deserted service station and several empty lots. She didn't mind the greenish color or the strange luminance it gave off. She was rather strange herself, so who was she to judge? It was a light and light meant something useful could be there.
The building was a farmhouse, where presumably a farmer once lived who grew what crops he could in the now-empty lots. Just a few more yards past the farmhouse was the great New England forest, a thick green wall that mocked mankind's efforts to cut it back. The farmhouse itself was barely one room wide, but was three stories tall. The light came from a small, greasy window on the side facing the street. Michèle walked around to the side of the house facing the forest, where the front door was.
She walked up the steps to the door and knocked.
She knocked again.
Whoever lives here sure is taking a long time to answer the door.
She looked for a doorbell. There wasn't any. She knocked again.
She tried the door and it opened. Here goes...
Michèle turned to her right, to see what the source of the greenish light was. The light suffused through the plank door in front of her. As she walked up to the door, it faded quickly. She opened the door in time to catch her last glimpse of the light as it seemed to ooze through the ceiling.
What on earth? How did it do that?
The air became very tense.
The hairs on the back of her neck stood up.
Michèle spun around in terror to confront what dropped through the ceiling behind her. The green mass of tentacles, ooze, and slime shambled closer to her. It was at least eight feet tall and made sounds that should not be heard upon this earth. She stumbled backwards into the room, backing into the far wall after only a few steps. She wished she could melt through the wall, but only felt the room close in on her.
The thing moved closer, deliberately. It raised its tentacles and revealed a huge, beaked maw, opened in anticipation. Michèle closed her eyes and screamed...
... and lived.
The thing had moved back and no longer had its tentacles or maw in a threatening posture. Michèle noticed her neck felt sore. As she touched it with her left hand, she saw her right hand extended, holding the amulet that formerly hung around her neck. Panting, she tried to recall what was on that amulet.
Whatever it was, it would be best to use it in its current function now and forego looking at it directly until a later time.
What is this I'm holding? She thought, regaining some of her calm as the thing remained still.
She remembered. It was that charm she picked up in Newburyport that had been used by 17th-century witches to keep things they had summoned from attacking them. Legend also had it the sign could be used to control the monsters, with the correct language.
Time to see if there's a modern application for my esoteric knowledge...
The formulas were difficult. Michèle did not want to make a mistake. She shut her eyes tightly and began saying the words some people had speculated were not originally meant for human voices. "Ng khow chih'hu thu khuuligsh..."
The thing began to wave its tentacles slowly, forming responses to her words. Thoughts began to form in her mind: strange, alien thoughts she could barely glimpse in her mind's eye. She continued chanting and the thing continued waving.
It wanted to devour her. It was very hungry. Although it did not need to eat, it enjoyed the taste of things on this earth: living, animal things. The taste of life was dear to it. It would obey, though. She knew the words to invoke the geometries and laws that would constrain it. It would obey.
It opened her mind further, showing her secrets of the deep forest, the deeper earth, and the deepest cosmos. She continued chanting as her body went into a trance and her mind became caught up in the terrible beauty of the things beyond what she had ever experienced with her mundane senses.
How many forevers were in that instant of enlightenment, she did not know. She looked upon the thing lovingly, desiring many more forevers with it. She spoke to it in thought and it replied in kind.
It was now very willing to teach and show her more, as long as she chose to remain with it. There would be other prices to pay, but she would learn of those when she got there. Michèle did not care what the cost would be: she was intoxicated with the powers the thing had taught her and longed to have more.
Happily, she returned to the trance and slid into the eternities outside of time with the consciousness of the thing.
"Well look who's here! Miz Mousie!"
Michèle continued through the Miskatonic University student union, unperturbed by Mark Hamilton-Jeeves (the Third)'s braying. She kept a quiet, knowing smile on her lips.
"Where you been, looking for broomsticks again?"
Michèle sat at the counter and ordered a glass of lemonade as she looked over the menu.
Mark walked up behind Michèle. "Hey, just answer my question, Mousie. Where you been?"
Michèle swiveled around on her stool and looked quietly up into Mark's eyes.
Mark chuckled and looked around at his football team buddies. "OK, guys, we got a looney one, here. A real head case." He held his beer mug over her head. "What say we try a little Chinese Beer Torture therapy on her?" The guys laughed.
"Pour that beer on my head and I'll rip you apart."
"Huh?" Mark didn't expect Michèle to have said something like that so calmly.
"You heard me. Pour that on me and I rip you apart. Completely."
Mark didn't like the way she punctuated "completely" with such a chipper tone in her voice. "You're crazy. Nuts."
"Brilliant command of the English language there, Mark. You give hope to immigrants everywhere."
"But I was born he-"
"Born here, yes, we know. That's what makes it all so funny. Now put that beer down before you get hurt."
Mark didn't know why, but he put his beer on the counter. This was not how it was supposed to go. Mark torments Miz Mousie with the funny thing on her e. Miz Mousie gets mad and turns red. Mark pours beer on her head or something along that line and everyone laughs with Mark at Miz pathetic little smarty-pants Mousie.
Now he was hanging out on a limb and she was on the main trunk with a saw. He had to get control of the situation to save his face. "Uh, yeah. I forgot you don't like to drink beer. It's too hard on your wittoo tummy!" Back in charge.
"I still don't like to drink beer, but I bet I could drink you under the table."
Huh? She said she had never touched the stuff in her life. What gives? She was on Mark's home ground when she got to beer drinking. "Let's go, then."
They went to a table and faced off. The guys brought over three pitchers. Mark said, "I figure you'll get as far as one sip. The rest is for my victory party." The guys loved that one.
Five pitchers later, Mark lurched forward, hit the table, bounced off it, and landed on the peanut shells on the floor. Michèle sat up proudly, holding court over the body of the fallen quarterback.
Michèle drank a linebacker and two offensive linemen under the table before Mark's crowd had had enough. They could not believe she had consumed more beer than four of their biggest drinkers could handle, and hadn't even gotten up to go to the bathroom through it all.
"You guys owe me now, the way I see it. I'll collect on my winnings later on." With that, she got up and walked out of the union bar.
Nobody objected when she invited herself to the next football team party and even Mark danced a little with her. The guys got to like her after a while and began to include her in their plans. She stayed closest to Mark. As she took his suggestions for changing her appearance, he became all the more infatuated with her wit, charm, and monstrous drinking capacity.
She began to wear his letter jacket. Two months later, at the final game of the M.U. football season, she was the first on the field to kiss him at the end of the game, which he had won with a last-second touchdown pass.
If Mark didn't want to do homework, she would do it for him. If he needed a date, she was the only one he would call. Michèle had transformed into the woman Mark always wanted to have: someone who could support him, carry him, be happy for him, and drink like a fish with him.
But did Michèle feel as strongly about Mark? Mark wanted her to want him so badly.
Three weeks before Christmas, he had his answer. "Mark, let's run away and get married."
He was too happy and too drunk to say no. Michèle insisted on having the ceremony in a quiet country church a few days before Christmas. She wanted to honeymoon someplace exotic for the holidays.
They settled on December 21st and Mark invited all his buddies from the football team to be there. The church was in a place way off the beaten path, but Michèle said it would mean so much to her if they could have the wedding in that special little town. Nobody could refuse Michèle that request.
"I love that town, and it would be just wonderful to be there with the one I love so dearly."
"I love you too, Michèle."
Michèle smiled beautifully and laughed.
On the morning of December 21st, Mark and his friends had all gathered in the small New Hampshire town Michèle had picked out. Of all the places she had been doing her research, this one was the prettiest town she had seen. Who could argue with her? The town's few streets were beautifully kept, every window with a flower box and decorative curtains. American flags flew from almost every doorstep. The pine and fir trees stood tall and majestic with their caps of snow and necklaces of icicles. Although the sky was overcast, the town still had a festive anticipation, with everyone walking a little faster than normal, or moving about with more excitement than seemed natural.
The church, though small, was filled with guests. Mark's friends and family sat on the left side, Michèle's invitees on the right. Everyone could barely wait to see Mark and Michèle arrive at the altar.
The wedding began. The pastor stood behind the altar and watched as first Mark, then Michèle, approached. The happy couple looked wonderful in their wedding finery. Before the ceremony began, they turned to face the congregation.
Then Michèle swung her right arm up and struck Mark in the throat. His eyes bulged in pained surprise as she spun quickly and shoved him on top of the altar. She paid no attention to the shocked gasp that rose from the audience when she held Mark down at his throat with her left hand and produced a jagged blade from a fold in her dress with her right.
Mark struggled in vain. Somehow, this woman he once taunted as Miz Mousie had the strength of a giant squid. He could not budge her arm. Why was she doing this?
The crowd screamed as Michèle plunged the blade into Mark's chest. After a few carving motions, she reached in and produced his still-beating heart. Its blood ran down her arm as the pastor, who had remained calm through it all, began to change. He increased in height to roughly eight feet and then lost his human demeanor when it dissolved in a writhing mass of tentacles and ooze.
A large beaked maw appeared in what had been the pastor and Michèle hurled the still-beating heart into it. She then turned to face the crowd as the thing began to consume what was left of Mark.
She laughed as she pointed at Mark's best man and said, "Bring him next!" Her guests transformed into tentacled things like the pastor had done, and they moved to restrain Mark's party and bring the best man forward.
Michèle cut out his heart and began to eat it. As she did, she felt the fulfillment of a desire she acquired after her first visit to this town. She grew in size, sprouting tentacles, changing into a form more pleasing to who she loved. She finished her meal and approached her love, joining with it in dimensions impossible to imagine with mortal mind.
It was right. Although she did not need to eat, it was good to taste the life of another. She and her love ignored the feast in the chapel below as they spent eternities outside of time with each other in perfect union.
Although they had to endure a bit of discomfort from time to time in getting something to eat for themselves and their close friends, they existed blissfully ever after.