The Yeards of Madness: Part I, by T.P. Goodcraft
How long ago I had swooned I could not say. I knew only that Peabody had fled and that I was alone. An eternity could have passed, an age could have ended, and I would not have known, for the obsidian dark in which I awoke was eternal and impenetrable. The grotesque and maddening terror that had driven me into tenebrous unconsciousness promised to overwhelm and plunge me once more into nightmare plagued insensibility. Though the situation in which I found myself was dire, I awoke only by degrees, slowly slipping loose from the weighted lethargy that had shackled me in slumber. My breath rasped through my lungs and the thin air of the altitude made me as lazy as a negro.
In the dark, I groped all about in a frantic effort and my searching fingers touched the rough canvass of my trusty traveling pack. The frenzied palpitations of my heart slowed somewhat as I clutched the pack to myself, its reassuring weight an anchor in the abyss. Crawling on my hands and knees, I renewed my search. Once or twice I recoiled, for in my desperate search, my fingers brushed against things carved onto the side of the stone walls. These forms, cold, hard and utterly misshapen filled my mind with gibbering horrors seldom dreamt of in the sunlit world. But here, in the dark, in the cold, far from the shuttered demesne of Modern Man and his comforting and fanciful notions of reason and logic, here imprisoned at the top of the world within the ancient, icebound ruins of the Yearded Ones, nameless and phantasmal terrors, conjured from the stygian abysms of the primordial mind were all too easily brought into being.
Despite my halting search, I soon found the electric lamp. When I had swooned, my fragile mind overwhelmed by centipede-like horrors conjured from the depths of my imagination, the lamp had fallen to the ground and its argent glow had been summarily extinguished. I feared that the fall might have damaged the lamp and that I would be trapped without any source of light in this shadowed, arctic fastness. My fingers, half numb from the cold despite my heavy gloves, fumbled at the switch.
There was a click, its sound magnified in the frozen stillness of the air, and the lamp flickered erratically to life, its wan light as uncertain as the radiance of a daylight star. “Lamp, be true,” I adjured and held my breath, afeard that the tiniest disturbance in the air would snuff the electric light like a candle. I only dared to breathe when the stuttering glow became a steady radiance.
The lamplight was a mixed, if not outright cursed blessing and I shuddered involuntarily as my eyes roamed across the walls. The Yearded Ones! Hideous though the twisted carvings and statuary were, revealed by the thick beams of light that poured forth in torrents from my lamp, their nightmarish shapes were preferable to the crepuscular terrors that lurked in the inky blackness of the obsidian dark. More terrifying than any gargoyle yet sculpted by Man, these marmoreal grotesqueries clustered thickly along the walls, and glared obscenely down upon me with raptor-like fury. Built upon cyclopean proportions, the statues of the Yearded Ones towered above me, ascending past even the light of my lamp until their obscene forms were mercifully hidden in the shadowed upper reaches of the hall.
How had I come to this? Entombed at the top of the world without hope of escape! I recalled with bitter irony my enthusiasm when I was selected to participate in the arctic scientific expedition. Being selected was a great honor and I, along with scores of the greatest minds Western Civilization had yet produced were only too happy to accept the invitation of the respected Professor Z. Zedd to attend him as he boldly ventured forth into the great white north and wrested the secrets of science! from the frozen wastes. Professor Zedd recruited his cadre of Men of Science so as to draw deeply from the experience of the greatest scientific disciplines: economists to evaluate the the arctic for future industrial exploitation, raceologists to study the degenerate Eskimos, astrologers to pierce the Northern Heavens with their telescopes, meteorologists to study the remnants of fallen meteorites, biologists to study the plethora of exotic and hardy life expected to be found inhabiting the ice fields, and philosophers from the Objectivist school to properly interpret and refine the discoveries that were made, all these and more Professor Zedd drew into his fold. Of the these men, only myself and Peabody survived the initial catastrophe, and now, perhaps only I remain. Shudders racked my body as the memories of the events the bound me to my unhappy fate rose unbidden to the forefront of my fear wracked mind…
- Zap Rowsdower