All Across The Mountain, story by R. David Fulcher at Spillwords.com
Wollwerth

All Across The Mountain

All Across The Mountain

written by: R. David Fulcher

@rdfgoalie

 

The crescent moon hung high above Horned Owl Mountain as James Blackwood made his ascent. It was in the predawn of Easter Morning, and a chill penetrated his flannel shirt and blue jeans as he climbed.
Clutched by his side was his most prized possession, a worn leather-bound copy of the Necronomicon. Written a thousand years ago by a mad Arab, it had somehow made its way across time and space to the backwoods of West Virginia to James’ grandfather, Truit Blackwood.
After reviewing some cryptic references in his grandfather’s diary, James had located the book behind a loose board in the attic when he was ten years old. Since then, while his daytime schooling had focused on mundane subjects, his nocturnal studies involved the exotic spells in The Necronomicon.
Initial studies were focused on minor incantations, the stirring of the wind, or manifesting swarms of insects. Then he succeeded in summoning minor beings from other dimensions, dark fairies, and glowing green worms.
Tonight the stakes were much higher.

***

Parrish Pious awoke in the predawn hours of Easter morning.
After brewing a pot of hot tea, she wandered over to the window to see the dim outlines of the peaked roofs under the moon. Here and there a light shone in one of the windows, adding to the peace of the morning.
Her house was slightly more elevated than most, still within the confines of the town, but close to the skirt of Horned Owl Mountain.
She briefly thought of the hill folk that lived outside of town in the squat cabins that hugged the side of the mountain. Unlike the devout townspeople, faith with the hill folk was inconsistent, and they mostly made an appearance at church when a family or loved one was sick.
Parrish thought of her father’s words which still rang true: “Parrish, if you don’t make time for God, he won’t make time for you.”
She felt a brief pang of regret for those who would miss out on their internal reward due to their inconsistent Faith.

***

When James reached the top of the mountain, he put down his backpack and removed a black robe covered in golden runes. The robe had been his grandfather’s, and the diary had led James to this artifact of his grandfather’s secret life as well.
After donning the robe, he then carefully removed the Necronomicon itself, and opened its well-worn pages to a marked passage.
A sawed-off stump stood in the center of the clearing, and James placed the dark book upon it. Already the wind had picked up, making funnels of twigs, scrub and leaves as if in anticipation of the summoning.
Even the birds seemed on edge; an extra note of shrillness and alarm characterized their cries as they echoed through the night.

James walked over to the edge of the plateau and surveyed the town. The steeple of the town church seemed to him an insult as it rose above the skyline.
What could these small-minded people know of such mysteries, of the gods from the edges of the universe that roamed freely across time and space before their God existed?
His family had been belittled and derided, kept to a meager existence, because they had been different. They would soon know how great his grandfather had been, and how this great blood still flowed in his veins as well.
He suddenly had an image of himself astride a great black worm, a worm as big as a line of tractor trailers, crushing through timber as it rolled inevitably down the mountain toward Main Street itself.
He allowed himself this guilty pleasure for just a moment. Then he returned to the stump.
There was much work to do.

***

Parrish had placed her clothes out neatly the night before. She approached the simple act of getting dressed cautiously and with much preparation as if she were a jury member deciding on a man’s fate instead of a church parishioner.
On this Easter, she had chosen a lemon-colored dress and a matching hat. The hat was a floppy, huge thing; something that Parrish would only wear on special occasions.
After dressing, Parrish returned to the front window. More windows had winked awake along the gentle course of the valley.
She checked herself again in the mirror. A pleasant, if somewhat unremarkable visage greeted her back. She missed her father intensely on days like this. How proudly they would walk down the street, the pastor and his daughter, on the holiest of holy days.
But father was gone, she reminded herself. In his place was that old drunk Father Glavin, a devout but rather foolish man in Parrish’s eyes, one who lacked the passion for the word her father exuded.
Then, Parrish had one of her revelations. They came more frequently these days. She closed her eyes and gave into the vision from on high…
Not a single pew stood empty as row after row of townspeople lifted up their voices to join in singing “Christ the Lord is risen today.” The singing rose to such a level that it almost split Parrish’s ears and shattered the stained glass windows, but they continued to sing. Then pure white fire erupted from the church steeple, sweeping back and forth all along the mountain until the cabins of the nonbelievers were little more than smoldering husks.
Church bells tolled triumphantly at the carnage, and Parrish smiled…

***

The top of Owl Mountain shook and trembled. James had continued to invoke the spell, his voice drowned out by the cracking of stone, earth, and wood. The earth opened up by a stunted tree, toppling the tree and spraying a shower of dirt and roots across the clearing. The crevice continued to widen, threatening to swallow up the stone table supporting the Necronomicon.
One slimy black pseudopod probed out of the opening, followed ponderously by another.
Then the crown of the mountain split open as easily as pie crust, and the top half of the beast emerged. There was no delineation between head and body, and thousands of eye stalks lined the dark viscous mass that made up its body, and with only a portion of it above ground, it was still as large as a school bus.
James rushed forward, tripping on his long robes and the loose rocks.
“Yog Sothooth! I am your humble servant! Come forth! Let this world know the might of the Old Ones!”
For a moment the creature paused, and its eye stalks turned as one to regard him quizzically.
Then, like a massive dark horse, it reared up and towered over the young sorcerer. In that moment James understood that no mortal would be spared the hunger of the Ancient Ones, and he covered his eyes just before he was engulfed.
The rest of the beast oozed out of the ground and made its way down the mountain, and soon like the earth, rock, and timber in its wake, James Blackwood was no more.

***

The members of the congregation were on their feet, almost giddy in their Easter finery as they belted out an inspired if somewhat tuneless rendition of “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today:”

Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!
Earth and heaven in chorus say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia!

Parrish felt exalted and she closed her eyes, imagining herself being lifted up on beams of bright light towards the stained glass windows at the height of the church’s apex. The lively clothing of the parishioners made it seem to Parrish like she was floating above a sea of pastels – soft pinks, bright yellows, and subtle key limes undulated beneath her.
The unified voices seemed to shake the very timbers of the building itself, and the creaking and groaning of the wood made Parrish open her eyes as if the earth itself did reply with a tremble as they sang out “Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply.”
Perhaps the earth was cracking beneath them, a proverbial rolling away of the stone in front of the tomb so that the savior could ascend into heaven. Indeed, the eerie sense of the supernatural was heightened when the sunlight from the breaking dawn was suddenly blocked out and the interior of the church darkened.
Parrish wondered if this was a solar eclipse, but normally these were announced weeks if not months ahead of time. God was good indeed if he was manipulating even the movement of the heavenly bodies!
Then suddenly joy changed to palpable fear as the parishioners rushed to the lower windows on the eastern side of the church. This was gesturing and screaming, and Parrish rushed forward to see what all of the fuss was about.
The eastern side of the church faced Horned Owl Mountain, or what was left of it. The entire side of the mountain seems stripped of trees, and following the path of destruction down the mountain all the way to the small cemetery just outside of the church itself was what appeared to be an oily black lake.
But smoothly, unnaturally, the lake was moving in a clearly deliberate manner directly towards them, and there were innumerable swaying eye stalks growing wildly like cattails across the entire mass. A portion of the mass stretched like a river and hovered just above the steeple, throwing the high windows into darkness.
There was screaming as people clambered over each other to get out the door, but Parrish remained in the church, and in a few moments she was alone. Even the Pastor had fled with this flock.
Surely it was a test, and she kneeled before the podium and hanging cross in prayer. God had sent this beast as a test of faith, and Parrish would not be denied her salvation.
Slowly and methodically, the church was enveloped by the beast, until all of the lower windows on both sides of the church went dark as well. Parrish kept repeating the Lord’s Prayer over and over again, even as the hanging cross crashed down to the floor and the beams overhead began to split.
Suddenly the structure imploded and caved in upon itself under the strain, burying Parrish and her hopes of ascension. After the dust settled, it was peaceful again on Easter morning, as silence reigned all across the mountain.

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