Alan (II/IV)1

1 a history best understood, perhaps, by those familiar with Lovecraft; but whether it is better to have seen Monsters, Inc. as well is left unsaid.

for gods come into the world on a certain schedule. Some in antiquity; some in the distant future; some not so far from now. It’s 1980. Early 1980, not 2004.

In about three months, the dark beast Alan will be born.

The gate to Earth shines with seven colors. These are not the colors of a prism. A prism would not recognize them, save perhaps as black sheep colors long separated from the family. The colors would hurt mortal eyes and minds. They squirm. They writhe. They sicken. The gate is not a thing that the world should know, but on neither side do the owners care.

It’s a world of fiends on the other side. A world of aberrations. It’s a world of things that don’t deserve to live.

Sometimes, the government of that world agrees. Sometimes, they decide that one of their own must go. In chains or cuffs or a plastic bag they imprison them. Then they throw them through the gate. What happens then — it doesn’t matter to the world of fiends. They don’t care about such things. They’re alien. They’re uncaring. They’re Abhorrent, Inc.

Azzy sits in the great tower of Abhorrent, Inc. He’s surrounded by the muffled, maddened ranting and thin, monotonous whining of his executive VPs. He is the demon-sultan of Abhorrent, Inc., whose name no lips dare speak aloud, who gnaws hungrily at the fiend-world in his inconceivable, unlighted boardroom beyond normal time and space. He is nuclear chaos. He scares because he does not care. He non-thinks a thought. He makes an un-gesture.

Mr. Thotep rises and makes his presentation. “We’ve trimmed the ranks again,” he says. “Another few tossed through the portal into the human world.”

Azzy gibbers and bubbles.

“An excellent insight, sir. It’s never enough.”

Mr. Thotep bows. He leaves the room. He walks into the main operations center for Abhorrent, Inc.

“You,” he says. “You. You.”

He picks them at random. They have done nothing untoward. They simply exist. But crawling chaos wraps around them and chains them and binds them and escorts them to the gate; and throws them through.

Mr. Thotep smiles. He walks back towards to the boardroom.

Alan is a fiend. He stands in the main operations center. He plays his flute. A maddened piping results. Then he takes it from his lips. The piping continues. The flute does not need his mouth to play.

Alan thinks. This is an unusual activity for a fiend. Then he steps forward and regards the gate.

“I do not care,” he says, firmly. “Emotions . . . are meaningless. Compassion is meaningless. They are useless frivolities, and anyone who understands the world, they understand this.”

He tilts his head to one side. “Yet,” he says. Not far from him, Mr. Thotep pauses. Mr. Thotep turns, and narrows his eyes.

Alan sets down his flute, and its mad trilling stops. Then his body ripples, and he takes a human form. He walks towards the gate.

Mr. Thotep rubs his chin with his red right hand.

Alan flexes his fingers. Claws pop forth. His skin ripples and hardens. His teeth grow sharp. He is prepared. Then he steps through.

Mr. Thotep sighs sadly. “The boy had talent, too,” he says. Behind his eyes, an inhuman fury rages; but he simply walks to the elevator, and presses a button, and spirals up its shaft to the boardroom again.

There’s a shivering and a shimmering, and Alan steps out of the gate. People look up at him. They grin ferally. They’re used to fiends coming through. They’re used to fiends coming through in chains. These are the kind of people who like fiends and aberrations and abhorrent things. As long as they’re in chains.

One of them steps forward. He’s got kind of a swagger. He’s smug. “Welcome,” he says, “to the Earth Division.”

As his head goes rolling to the side of the room, he notices that Alan is not actually chained.

In the Earth Division of Abhorrent, Inc., dozens of screams rise; and blood splashes against every window; and the roof of the sprawling estate bursts open, and Alan rises through it; and there’s a wind all around him; and in that wind, gristle, and bits of meat, and eyes. He flies ten miles before he lands, crouched, elegant, and with long black hair flopping over his eyes. Then he straightens and looks around, as the last of the wind scatters people parts across the grass.

He walks to a pond, and squats beside it. He reaches into the water and fishes out a toad. He holds it in his hand.

“Black Tsathoggua,” he says. “You have sunk low.”

The toad writhes in his hand and becomes a centipede, a sinuous black form with a hundred feet. It becomes filth. It becomes a fly. It becomes a widow spider. It becomes a mad dog, large as a man, and falls from Alan’s hand. It becomes a shapeless twisty thing, and eddies back.

“Have a care,” the toad-god says. “I was worshipped in lightless places when yet the world was young; and you are a god as yet unborn.”

Alan pierces the twisty thing with one claw and pins it to the ground. “Vanity is a mortal thing.”

Its features twist. It sags. “It is so; I am made small.”

“How?”

“I was cast, bound and powerless, into the hands of foul men; and they molded me and shaped me to their vision.” Tsathoggua oozed back from around the claw, a bit of flesh like shadow still pinned to the ground, and became once more a toad. “If their minds had encompassed my nature, then I would have turned their world to madness; but instead, they refused to know me, and shaped me to their ends. I am their god, now, and by their will the filth and fear of the outer wilds.”

Alan straightens and licks clean his claw with his yellow teeth. “This does not accord with my desires for the world,” he says.

Then with his eyes Alan sets Black Tsathoggua afire; and from that fire, rises a great and terrible thing, amorphous and horrid. It regards him for a moment, perhaps with hunger, but no mortal thing could truly know its mind. Alan stands firm, and his eyes hold a challenge; and it is not a challenge that interests the toad-god of K’n-yan. Into the earth Tsathoggua goes, to lead chthonic, wicked nations in their blasphemous and unholy rites.

Alan walks into the town. He walks into a woman’s house, despite her vigorous protestations. He makes a Sign, and takes her mind from her; and regrets it as quickly, but what is lost, Alan cannot return. Ending the mewling creature’s misery, he walks to her bed, and looks beneath it. A glittering thing of iridescent spheres rolls back, covering itself in dust; but Alan’s eyes are sharp; and it sees its reflection in those eyes and goes still.

“Why?” Alan says.

Yog-Sothoth writhes its way out. “It is the monster’s way,” the creature says.

“The monster?”

“I was the greatest,” Yog-Sothoth says. It swirls up into the air and hangs there, the spheres of its being a map of all the worlds. “To bind me was a blasphemy and an abomination, even by the standards of Abhorrent, Inc. But bound I was; and cast through here; and the monster made pronouncement that I should be the least of gods. The god under the bed. Under every bed. The creeping thing. The ringing spheres. The dream, forgotten on man’s waking.”

Alan smooths hair away from his eyes. “‘Monster?'”

“A human word,” Yog-Sothoth says. “Something he claims for his own.”

Alan frowns. “But why?”

“He claims our natures as his own corrosion.”

Alan reflects. “And he has done this to you all?”

Yog-Sothoth chimes.

“This ends.” Alan reaches out a finger, and touches a sphere; and its surface ripples and shakes, and to the chiming, cheerless thing there comes a change. The bonds of creeping chaos fall away, and with them the lesser bonds the monster made; and Yog-Sothoth is the One-in-All, the All-in-One, the Beyond-One, the living essence of the sweep of dimension, space, and time; and no more is there Yog-Sothoth in the room.

And so he passes from one to the next, in three months’ time. Shub-Niggurath, bound in shapeless fears of reproduction and freedom; the Yellow Sign, shining with beauty, bound in sunflowers in a lady’s garden; the Great Race, spinning to gather power on the California hills; and one by one they rise, and the world becomes malign. Then, finally, on the cusp of his own birth, he finds them.

Through the window, he looks. He sees the girl first, and his eyes begin to burn. Then he sees the monster.

The girl turns her head. She sees him in the window. She mouths, “Alan.”

He sets his claws upon the window, and it shatters, and the wall tumbles down; and sunlight pours into the house; and the monster turns. He adjusts his shiny tie.

“You’re the one I’ve heard about,” the monster says. “The one that didn’t get bound.”

“Yes,” Alan says. He glances at his claws. Somewhat embarrassedly, he wipes the gore off them onto the sides of his jeans. It’s an uncomfortable situation. “You’re the monster?”

“Would you like anything? I have tea. And fish!”

There’s a strange mood entering Alan’s mind; but he shakes it off. The clock in his mind ticks. He has two minutes until the moment of his birth. He steps forward. Then he stops. There’s a light burning about the girl, and he can’t pierce it.

“It’s rotten,” the monster says, encouragingly. “I fished it out of the sewer this morning. In case you came by.”

“I don’t like rotten fish,” Alan says. “I like rotten people.”

The monster tilts his head to one side. “I could cut off the girl’s finger.”

Alan presses his body against the light, but can’t force his way through. He frowns.

“Oh,” the monster says. “You can’t actually get to me. I figure, I’d have to throw the food to you. But it’d be cool. You could catch it in your mouth. Like a seal!”

“I am a thing immeasurable,” Alan says. “I am an unbound fiend.”

“You are the god of one of the girl’s hopes,” the monster says. “You are in the process of being born. All you have done before this moment is dream and fantasy.”

“A human would not hope for me,” Alan says.

“The world is as it is,” the monster says. “First, one dreams of angels; then of fiends.”

The monster takes out a knife. He uses it for cutting fish. Alan frowns. He pokes at the light around the girl.

“You could ask for help,” the monster offers. “Ask Black Tsathoggua. Ask Yog-Sothoth. Ask Shub-Niggurath.”

“That,” Alan says, “would just be stupid.”

“No more,” the monster says, “could one hope for help from you.”

It is the moment of Alan’s birth; and the monster moves forward, swiftly; and the flashing of the tie and the chaos in Alan’s mind are one; and the knife goes in through his eye and out through his crotch, in one great ripping blow; and of the dark beast Alan, few legends have been told, and no more are there to tell.

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