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At the Mountains of Madness and Other Tales of Terror by H.P. Lovecraft
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Aug 12, 2010

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bookshelves: 1900-1949, fiction-that-speculates
Read from July 25 to August 08, 2010

** spoiler alert ** To save you time, I shall summarize this novelette for you. If the subject comes up at a cocktail party, (1) pretend you've really read it, (2) find cooler cocktail parties. But, really, this has some INTENSE spoilers.

AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS (Now with additions to satisfy the whiners)

Okay, so, there's like TEN scientists, and it doesn't matter what their names are, because none of them have personalities. For the purposes of making this more exciting, lets say their names are Michael, Eh!, Jacob, Ceridwen, Caris, Jason, Manny, Brian and Aerin. And, by the way, now would be the appropriate time to turn all the lights off, except for maybe a few candles to get a spooky mood going.

Okay, so! Our brave crew of scientists are going down to the South Pole to study something Scientific. Lets imagine it's the effects of global warming. They're gonna check to see how much more ice has melted, and whether or not the penguins are sweating to death and whatnot. But, when we get down there to the pole, there's a big snow-storm! Some of us are kinda big pussies, so we don't want to fly to the research site and maybe die on the way, so we let the most courageous ones go first. So Ceridwen, Brian, Jason, and Eh! all hop into the plane and fly into the snowy sky.

We cowards are all hanging around and playing Mario Kart and arguing about whether Jay-Z is the new Frank Sinatra, and, if so, whether Beyonce is Dean Martin or Sammy Davis Jr. We're waiting on messages, but we're all on T-Mobile, and you can't even get service in fucking KANSAS CITY on T-Mobile, so you aren't getting SHIT at the south pole. Every now and then, though, our associates manage to get a text message through to us. The first one is all like,

WEIRD BUILDINGS, REMINISCENT OF ROERICH PAINTINGS, ALSO OF CHAPTERS FROM THAT OH-SO-HARD TO LOCATE TOME, THE NECRONOMICON, WRITTEN BY THAT CRAFTY FOREIGNER, ABDUL AL HAZZAD BIN LADEN.

And we're all like, "Yeah, I remember that old, impossible to find tome. I was flipping through its shadow-laden pages for no reason whatsoever this one time. So, there's general agreement: sounds like Necronomicon, chapter 5: "On Scary Arctic Architecture and Other Scary Things Too."

Meanwhile, Ceridwen was building a small hospital with her bare hands, crafting perfect rectangular bricks out of snow. Jason, who was practicing his quickdrawing skills, said, "Do you want any help with that?"
"Nope," Ceridwen said. "It's just a small hospital; it shouldn't take me too long."
Meanwhile, Eh! was standing in a snowdrift in deep meditation. Focusing her qi energy, she pitched a ball of focused, dense air forward, and used it to explode the head off of a snowman that Brian was making.
"Stop doing your ninja moves on my snowmen, Eh!" Brian said. "That's the fifth snowman you've ruined!"
With a shrug, Eh! turns toward a high plateau of ice and begins focusing her qi once again. With another blast of air, she caused an avalanche of frozen ice shards that levelled the rest of Brian's snowman army.

Back in cowardville, the phone vibrates again, and says WE FOUND SOME FREAKY, HALF-VEGETABLE-HALF-ANIMALS THAT SEEM PERFECTLY FROZEN. WE'RE GONNA DESCRIBE THEM FOR LIKE 1000 WORDS, BUT YOU AREN'T GONNA HAVE A FUCKING CLUE WHAT WE'RE SAYING, and then they do. When they're done describing the strange beasts, they say, WE'RE KINDA FREAKED OUT, IT LOOKS LIKE SOME STRANGE ANCIENT RACE HAS LIVED HERE IN THE PAST. WE ALL AGREE IT SOUNDS LIKE THE "ANCIENT ONES" FROM THE NECRONOMICON, CHAPTER 7.

Now, we were all excited about the scientific possibilites, so much so that Jacob thoughtfully scratched his ironic beard, and Caris jizzed in his pants. We waited, and we waited, but no more texts arrived.

Then, finally, we got one last message:

AAAAAAARRRRRGH! ICK. DEAD.

And we were skeptical about exactly what this means, so we all loaded into the other helicopter. (The arctic storm had lessened, btw.) We flew out there to the research site, and we saw the penguins were indeed sweating to death. But, more importantly, we saw the strange, arctic structures that immediately reminded us of our undergrad perusals of that old, lost and forgotten tome, and also the Roerich painting. (This comparison to Roerich is VERY important: if my imitation were even more close to the original, it would sound more like this:

Roerich, Roerich Roerich. Roerich? Roerich, Roerich Necronomicon Roerich!

[image error]

But, in my efforts to entertain, I will omit much of the Roerich-ing.)

Even more importantly than these strange ancient structures (Roerich) was what we then saw: the mutilated bodies of our erstwhile comrades! Brian was all over the campsite in gloopy red chunks, like someone had broken a pinata filled with raw sirloin. Ceridwen lay with huge bites out of her, as if some large beast had been noshing on her. And, stranger still, Jason's body was in the very small hospital Ceridwen had built with her bare hands. It appeared a surgery had been done on him, very carefully inspecting all of his insides, but leaving him mostly intact. Part of his body was missing, cut away with amazing precision, as if by a laser.

Anyway, this was all incredibly frightening, and we couldn't imagine what had happened to our unfortunate comrades. But we were on a set schedule, so we went to doing our work.

We went in to check out the strange buildings, and Manny is all like, "I'm going to go off alone this way and see what I can find," and we're like, "Okay, whatev." A few minutes later, as we walk with our torches through the very very unpleasantly dark hallways, we hear Manny scream. Like a girl. Then silence.

We pressed on.

Strange pictures were scattered around the walls of these inner chambers, pictures of those strange creatures from the Necronomicon. The pictures told a story of how the creatures came to earth, and how they created life as we know it as a cure for their boredom, and how they grew people in a big bowl, kind of like sea monkeys.

We passed through vast chambers, many of them, for like pages and pages...I mean, hours and hours. By the time we were done looking at all the wall murals, several more of our party had died from boredom.

Jacob was walking along with the torch, and he was like, "Is that one of those ancient whatchamacallits?" And it was: recently dead, looking like it has died out of pure fright. Then, we heard a deep, throaty cackle from down one of the chambers.

Brad said, "What the shit was that?"

And I was all like, "I didn't know you were here, Brad!"

And he was like, *shrug*.

"It sounds like some tremendous bird!" Jacob said.

"Like a really big chicken!" I said.

We noticed a great, foul-smelling fog coming from the darkness before us, like we were buried in a pile of high school gym socks filled with dog poop. We started running and shrieking through the dark, dank, dark corridors. Turkeys are fucking dangerous as hell, and this thing sounded even bigger.

For some stupid reason, Caris was all like, "Let's simultaneously turn and look and see what's back there, looming up from the stenchy darkness!"

So we did. And it wasn't just a chicken. It was scarier than that. It was a big blob of protoplasm flowing forward, with an endless supply of eyeballs and mouths rising to its surface, the mouths howling out in that frightening "cluck, cluck, cluck."

We came to a chamber with some penguin babies in it, and we started field-goal kicking them back into the darkness, hoping to slow down the onset of that protoplasmic horror from the depths of earth's coldest and darkest recesses.

It didn't slow the thing down, so we tripped Brad. Then, Caris tripped on a pocket of strangely dense air. Jacob and I kept running.

description

I smelled feces, and I had a suspicion about what just happened in Jacob's pants. Behind us, behind that wall of rancid fog, we could hear that blob of ancient unknowable soulless funkiness devouring Brad and Caris, and they moaned with pain and horror as they sank into it and were quickly digested.

Finally, we got back outside and ran to the helicopter. Aerin was snoozing in the pilot's seat. We shook her awake and said, "Step on it!"

The helicopter lifted into the air, and Aerin was like, "It smells like you guys stepped in shit." And I said, "It was Jacob," and he said, "Way to narc me out," and I was like, "Dude, it's not a big mystery, maybe next time we go investigate ancient evils you should wear a diaper." He was upset, and, in an attempt to distract himself from the embarassing situation, looked over his shoulder at the receding mountains...and glimpsed something so petrifyingly horrific, so vast and abysmally bleak, horror that Jacob may never fully recover emotionally, and might only speak in sentence fragments for the rest of his life:

"The spires. . . of doom. . . . the ancient blood of souls forgotten. . . the peaks of apocalypse birth. . . the cluttered geography of darkness. . . "

Not to mention he shat himself again.
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Reading Progress

08/04 page 98
51.0% "Holy Mother of Fuck, this guy could make gigantic monsters EATING people boring. In fact, he DOES."
08/06 page 130
68.0% "Lovecraft is much better with sprints than marathons. At the Mountains of Madness (110 pages)? At the mountains of suck my scrotum. The Shunned House (28 pages)? Spooooooky! Review soon."
08/29 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-33 of 33) (33 new)

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message 1: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! Okay, you started out awesome with me being in the courageous group. But then wtf, everyone died in awesomely gruesome ways but I just disappeared? Wtf? I thought the minority would be the first to die but you regressed by not even bothering to kill me!

(love it!)


message 2: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! I never get lost, coward!


message 3: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! Jacob was intelligently lightening his load, so he could run faster.


message 4: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! Knowing Jacob, he was probably going commando. The load was lightened through the leg holes.


message 5: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! He untucked as soon as he entered the arctic structure. Anyway, that travel diet always makes his load into liquid, yaknowwhatimean. It made its way out.


message 6: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! Okay, Caris, I know you love your dollies, excuse me, action figures, but they're not all accurate. See the dolly's knees? Those aren't real knees.


message 7: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! I don't need to know what Jacob does with his knees.


message 8: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! He wears them. Nyah nyah.


Michael To clear up the confusion: Jacob's pantlegs were untucked. Think Hansel and Gretel, only he wasn't dropping candy. Untucked, commando, big boots with wide tops. So, not all of it was left to be devoured by the beast, because some fell into his boots.

Was your maiden name Bridge or Humper, Eh!? I'm sorry that I didn't kill you off. Don't worry, though; I will.


message 10: by Jacob (new)

Jacob For the record, I was actually wearing shorts. In the South Pole. Yeah, I'm that tough.

Also, seeing that cosmic horror caused me to go so mad, I pulled out my eye. Just the one. It turns out cosmic horrors aren't so bad to look at once you get rid of your depth perception.


Michael Eyepatch hardcore.

Yes, now that you mention it, you were wearing those daisy dukes. For future arctic expeditions, keep in mind that daisy dukes and going commando don't mix.


message 12: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! My father's name was Bridge, my mother's name was Humper. My fate is still mysteriously, sadly unknown.


Michael Can somebody message me with how to do that crazy magical thing where you link to a picture? I've figured out regular links now, so maybe I can master the image as well.

My father's name was Bridge, my mother's name was Humper. My fate is still mysteriously, sadly unknown.

If I meet any hot guys with the last name London, Brooklyn, Goldengate, or Madness, I'll totally talk you up. Honestly, Bridge-Humper-Madness would be an even badasser last name.


message 14: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! Thank you, matchmaker Michael. I hope to go on many unsuccessful dates.


Michael Think of me as a less successful Emma.

Think of me as a more successful Iago.

description


message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

I like that I was courageous, but I do not like that I just texted some shit and then died.

I really thought Brad was going to be a surprise baddie too.

Eyepatches are badass.


Michael I like that I was courageous, but I do not like that I just texted some shit and then died.

Hey, I don't like that I don't have a pet zebra. Sometimes we don't get everything we want.

(I may add more to the story later, to address these concerns you have so humbly brought up, Eh! and Ceridwen. Does anyone else feel they were treated unjustly during our trip to the arctic?)


message 18: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! "A dense pocket of air, motherfucker?"

Michael must keep that one! That's pure gold. And probably true, you clumsy oaf.


Michael Dude, those dense air pockets will getcha. You should've been on the lookout for them. . . I dodged it. Like a ninja.


message 20: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! My fate is unknown so I probably succeeded in making it out alive and back to civilization, after defeating the horror. Because I'm a real ninja.


message 21: by [deleted user] (new)

zebras bite

You know, zebras bite, fyi.


message 22: by [deleted user] (new)

I would go with otters.

squee!

They bite cuter.


message 23: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! Caris wrote: "If I, The O'Malley, nimble as a mountain goat, succumbed to a rough patch in the air, I shudder to think of what finally became of you."

Maybe I compressed some air in my hands using an ancient ninja technique and then threw that air in front of you. You clumsy oaf.


Michael You dodged nothing. You literarily tripped me.

Better than what happened to Brad. . . If I would've intentionally pushed you down as well, it would've seemed mean-spirited.

I would go with otters.

Now that I'm thinking about it, maybe I'd go with sun bears. . .

description


message 25: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! Yeah, and maybe I'm a Chinese jet fighter pilot.


Michael Fat chance. As the author, I can guarantee the two of you could never sabotage my helicopter. If you tried, lightning would strike you. Doesn't matter that it isn't raining and it's the south pole: lightning would strike you.

P.S. That thing Eh! said about being a ninja is actually what happened, now that I think about it.

P.S.S.

description


message 27: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! Your body was quickly digested, but your soul was reserved for eternal torment.


message 28: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! Wow, I'm so cool! But after some foreshadowing ninja exercises I still disappear. Perhaps I become the nameless dread that causes Jacob to sully his shorts.


Michael By the way, I just added to the story to satisfy those who felt they got the short end of the stick.

Perhaps I become the nameless dread that causes Jacob to sully his shorts.

Perhaps.

Or, perhaps you are still sneaking around inside the bowels of the cave, waiting for your chance to use an air pocket to rupture the heart of that strange beast.

Or, perhaps you were never in the cave in the first place, and the forshadowing was a red herring. Perhaps you still don't know everyone is dead because you've been on a vision quest in the tundra, and now you're trapped there with nothing but a little hospital, nasty monsters and a helicopter you don't know how to fly.

Or, perhaps you're in an insane asylum, and imagined all the events of the story, but you recovered, and thus escaped the new world within your mind, leaving all of us who were trapped there to fend for ourselves. Perhaps that helicopter with Jacob, Aerin and me in it is flying over ocean forever because you never thought of what would happen when we left the South Pole. Mysteeeeeeerious!


message 30: by Jacob (last edited Feb 10, 2011 08:40PM) (new)

Jacob By the way, I just added to the story to satisfy those who felt they got the short end of the stick.

And yet, you still have me crapping myself twice.

Perhaps that helicopter with Jacob, Aerin and me in it is flying over ocean forever because you never thought of what would happen when we left the South Pole. Mysteeeeeeerious!

patch

Eyepatch Jacob is a figment of someone's imagination? Eyepatch Jacob is not pleased...


message 31: by Jen (new)

Jen 50 bajillion points to Ceridwen for the adorable otters.

Also, Lovecraft cracks me up because I got sucked into a game based on his works once and my character was The Hot Girl Scientist. The point of the game was to stop wormholes from opening all over the place and to defeat the monsters that came through the wormholes when we failed to stop the wormholes in time, and each character has some sort of "special power" on their ID sheet thing. Mine was that, since science fiction is totally not science, wormholes could not open near me because Science Says No. Everytime I had the opportunity to use this power I would stand up and throw my hand out and yell "Science!" and throw the wormhole card at somebody else. It was kind of awesome, but has ruined Lovecraft as any kind of serious writer for me.


Michael Honestly, it amazes me that ANYONE takes him very seriously as a writer. There are things that he's good at, but he's entertaining in the same kind of Burger King way as Stephen King or Michael Crichton. He ain't a Nabokov, nor is he even a Heinlein in my opinion. Of course, I'm basing this on the four stories I've read so far...


Michael Next time something bad is about to happen, I'm going to try that "SCIENCE!" self-defense and see how it works out. I don't know, it just seems so. . . unscientific.


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